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.


4. The Sisters Part 2

"It can shoot energy beams from its jewel and can fly out of the water!" Ash said to Plume. He figured that he didn't need to be shouting when Plume's sensitive ears could hear him just fine. Plume screeched out a challenge as she launched herself into the air with a single flap of her powerful wings.

"Starmie, use water gun and knock it out of the sky!" The redhead shouted. Ash noticed that she was actually having to talk to starmie instead of blowing on the whistle like the other Sisters. She was evidently less experienced than the other gym leaders.

"Dodge them." Ash ordered. Plume screeched in acceptance even as the water type began to fire powerful jets of water into the air. Fortunately for Ash and Plume the starmie seemed somewhat inexperienced when it came to attacking flying types and couldn't keep up with Plume's incredible speed and erratic movements.

The battle continued on like this for a while. Ash wanted to tire the starmie out before getting in close with a wing attack or another physical move – he knew they could learn psychic and a few other ranged attacks that could put Plume out of commission for the battle – and so far it seemed to be working. Starmie's attacks were starting to become weaker and less focused, which had the added bonus of frustrating his opponent.

Just a few moments before he was about to begin the next stage of the battle by allowing Plume to begin to cause actual damage, his opponent finally became frustrated enough to change her strategy.

"Starmie, use thunder wave to paralyze it!" She cried. Ash frowned at the move. He hoped that Plume would be fast enough to dodge it. Being paralyzed would end the battle if Plume fell into the water.

"Dodge it!" Ash shouted. Mere moments later the starmie shot a small burst of lightning out from its temporarily glowing jewel at Plume. Plume easily swerved out of the way of the attack and screeched in annoyance. The trainer noticed that starmie seemed to recoil from the shriek, which gave him an idea.

"Screech as loud as you can." He ordered. Plume followed his order quickly, which resulted in the starmie being temporarily distracted as it recoiled from the painful noise. "Gust."

"Get out of the way!" The redhead shouted frantically. Unfortunately for her, the starmie was still recovering from the screech when the powerful gale of air slammed into it, hurling it into the water. Ash groaned when he realized that he just gave his opponent an advantage. Starmie would be much more maneuverable in the water.

His opponent also seemed to realize this. "Use rain dance and follow it up with thunderbolt!" She said with a wide grin. Ash's face paled as he realized that this could very easily lose him the match. The added water would amplify the electric attack to ridiculous levels and would easily knock out Plume.

"Evade it. Keep low to the water." Ash said. He couldn't think of a way to get out of this without potentially harming Plume, but he realized that the thunderbolt would do a lot more damage than one of his desperate attempts at salvaging victory.

Plume soared through the air, ignoring the rain drops that were beginning to pepper her body. Ash knew that the rain dance wouldn't adversely affect her, although it might make flying a little bit more difficult. Her feathers were oily enough to keep the water from soaking them through.

The only way he could think of to avoid the thunderbolt was to keep it from ever happening. Starmie couldn't use thunderbolt underneath the water without knocking itself out, so he had to hit starmie hard enough to keep it from being able to complete the attack.

He got his chance soon enough. The starmie exploded out of the water and went high into the sky as its jewel began to glow and send small arcs of electricity ominously into the air. Ash wasted no time in giving Plume an order when he saw the starmie leap out of the pool.

"Quick attack!"

Plume didn't nod or screech in confirmation this time, instead following the order as quickly as possible. She disappeared from her position nearly fifty feet away from the starmie and nearly instantaneously reappeared into its side.

Ash dimly heard Jonathan and Amelia cheer for him as the starmie's attack was disrupted and it was knocked back onto the ground. Plume didn't seem to have taken much damage from the attack, so he felt safe in ordering her to continue the attack.

"Wing attack. Then use fly. Peck if it's still conscious."

Plume called out in confirmation as she launched herself at the knocked over starmie. As it began to pull itself up from the ground, urged on by its trainers desperate pleas, Plume slammed into it with glowing wings outspread. Starmie was thrown back to the ground and Plume launched herself up into the air in order to continue her attack.

"Get up, Starmie!" The redhead cried desperately. "Use swift and watergun!"

It never had the chance to follow its trainer's commands. Plume had fallen into a dive as its jewel began to glow and by the time the starmie was ready to attack Plume had reached it. Ash winced as the starmie was forced onto its back again. The starmie couldn't take much more damage.

Ash's thoughts proved to be correct when Plume finished off his string of commands. While Starmie pulled itself up with its dexterous arms the pidgeotto casually launched itself off of the ground and slammed its beak straight into the starmie's jewel.

The starmie couldn't take any more damage. Its cracked jewel began to lose color and vibrancy as it was knocked unconscious. Ash grinned widely and pumped his fist in triumph as he realized he won. Plume cried out in victory and fluttered over to his shoulder.

He nearly buckled against the bird's massive weight, but managed to hold himself up. Ash kept his grin as he stroked Plume's impressive crest.

"You did awesome." He whispered. Plume lightly pecked his hat in affection as Ash began to walk down from the platform. Daisy, Jonathan, and Amelia were already waiting for him. The trainer had a wide grin on his face as he saw Daisy holding up the Cascade Badge for him.

Before he could take it, Jonathan and Amelia walked over. Jonathan heavily clapped him on the back, sending him teetering. Plume glared at the shorter trainer, but Jonathan ignored her gaze.

"That was great!" He exclaimed loudly. "I didn't think you would be able to get out of that rain dance and thunderbolt combo."

"Yeah." Amelia grinned, pushing Jonathan out of the way. "I wouldn't have thought of using quick attack. I would have just used gust. We're going to have to battle soon."

Ash smiled and nodded before turning to Daisy. The other Sisters had seemingly vanished from the area. His opponent – whose name he still didn't know, he realized – was probably still circling around the gigantic pool.

"Good job." Daisy said with a smile. "Here's the Cascade Badge. By the way," she said to the entire group, "you should all come back when you get better. I want to see how good you get."

"Of course." Jonathan said with a grin. Ash suspected that he wouldn't just be coming back for the battle.

The trainer turned his thoughts away and took the badge from Daisy's hand. He looked at it curiously for a moment, memorizing the smooth curve of the metal, before placing it in his pocket. It could go in his badge case later.

He was distracted by the redhead walking up to him. Despite the short temper she had displayed in and before the battle, she seemed remarkably composed.

"Good job." She muttered before holding out her hand. "Look, I'm sorry about being a jerk earlier. My name's Misty."

"Ash." He responded as he shook her hand. The trainer wasn't really sure what to do. Both of them were saved from an awkward situation by Daisy, who smiled and motioned for her sister to follow her.

"Come on, runt. We've got to close down."

Misty shrugged and left. The trio looked at her oddly as she turned back.

"I'm going to beat you soon, Ash! Just you wait."

The group was quiet as the two gym leaders left. None of them were quite sure of what to make of the girl.

"Well, that was weird." Amelia muttered. "Anyways, let's go. We probably shouldn't be out after dark."

"Agreed." Jonathan said. Ash nodded and returned Plume to her ball with an apologetic nod. A few moments later they made their way out of the gym and to the Pokemon Center.

Ash was glad that they had gotten there early. It would give him a lot more time to make excuses and try to save himself from the verbal whiplash that would be sure to follow when he finally contacted his mother.


"Five weeks." His mother said in a terrifyingly calm voice. Ash gulped and had to fight the urge to shut the visual down. She might not be able to do anything to him through the screen, but her eyes made him question that fact. "It has been five weeks since you've called me or sent me a message."

"Sorry." He muttered. Ash didn't really have anything to say in his defense. It was clear that he was in the wrong.

"Do you know how worried I was?" She hissed. "The only reason I didn't have Professor Oak fly me out there was because Jonathan and Amelia's parents told me that they were with you and that you were fine. I didn't even know that you were travelling with them until two days after you left!"

He didn't try to say anything, instead opting to look down in shame.

"I'm not going to tell you to send me a message every day." His mother said in a slightly more relaxed voice. "But you need to remember to call me whenever you get to a city. I was so worried about you."

"Sorry." He repeated quietly. Ash felt extremely guilty about forgetting his mother. Even if he was on his journey there was no excuse for it. "I'll call you whenever I can."

"That's all I want." His mother said with a small smile. Most of her tranquil fury seemed to have dissipated. "Good luck, honey. I'm sure you'll do great!"

"Bye." They said in unison. A moment later the screen went black. Ash sighed, although he brightened up when Nidoran – who had been quietly sitting next to his foot the entire time – carefully butted his head against Ash's leg.

"Thanks, buddy." He said tiredly. "Let's get to bed."

Nidoran chirped at that and twitched his ears. Ash knelt down and carefully picked the small creature up. A few minutes later they were both asleep in the rather comfortable bed the Pokemon Center had provided for both of them.

It had been a long day.


"So, guys, what's the plan?" Jonathan asked as he took a break from devouring his breakfast. "Are we leaving for Vermillion today or are we going to take a few days off?"

Amelia paused in her own ravenous frenzy. "I was hoping we could stay here for a while. Ash and I found a few good spots to find pokemon and fishing poles are really cheap around here. None of us have a water type, so at the very least one of us need to catch one."

"Agreed." Jonathan said with a yawn. "But I'm going to go back to bed soon. I feel like I'm about to go to fall into my cereal right now. Maybe I'll meet up with you guys later."

"Oh, come on." Ash interjected. He had just finished clearing his plate. "You blew us off yesterday to go see that show. Don't do it again."

Jonathan shrugged. "Alright, I'll go. But don't blame me too much if I fall asleep in the middle of what we end up doing."

"We won't." Amelia smirked. "I'm used to it by now."

Their friend rolled his eyes and shrugged again. "Funny. Anyways, where do we buy some fishing rods? We should try to get out early before the other trainers get up."

Amelia and Ash nodded in agreement and continued eating, although Ash tried to think of where he would fish. The older trainers that had hung around the café yesterday warned them to stay pretty far away from each other while they fished or looked for pokemon – apparently the pokemon around Cerulean were slightly skittish and tended to shy away from groups.

A few minutes later they put their cleared plates away and left the Pokemon Center. It wasn't a long trip to the Pokemon Mart, but the crowds slowed them down somewhat. Still, it took hardly any time at all before they were leaving the store with three high-quality fishing rods. In almost no time at all they found themselves at the city boundaries in preparation for their explorations.

"We need to split up." Ash reminded the others when they showed no sign of going their own ways. "Do all of you have a map so that you don't get lost?"

"Yeah." Amelia nodded. "I say we meet up at the Pokemon Center later. Does six sound good?"

The two boys nodded. They awkwardly stood around for a few moments before Amelia and Jonathan ran off their own separate ways, leaving Ash standing alone. He shrugged and withdrew his map. The trainer had spent a few minutes last night marking likely locations for pokemon on it and wanted to be reminded.

Unfortunately, just as he began to put his map up and walk down the road he heard a rather unwelcome voice.

"Oh look, it's the loser." Gary sneered from behind him. Ash groaned and turned around. He'd been hoping he wouldn't have to see his rival again until the Indigo Conference. "I'm surprised you've made it this far. I half expected for Brock to beat you so bad that you quit."

Ash glared at Gary. "What do you want? Still sore about our last battle?"

His rival colored a bit, but retained control over his temper. "Shut up." He growled. "You just got lucky. I didn't think you even knew how to let your pokemon out."

The trainer's glare intensified as Gary continued. Now Gary had a devilish smirk on his face and had withdrawn one of the six pokeballs clipped to his belt.

"You know what?" He asked with a wide grin. "Let's have another battle. I could use some more spending money. How many pokemon do you have?"

"Two." Ash retorted. Gary smiled condescendingly.

"Only two?" He gasped in faux surprise and theatrically pressed his hand to his heart. "I've already got fifteen. I guess I can't hold you to my standards though. Not everyone is as talented as me."

"How about you stop talking and battle me." Ash said stonily. He already had Plume's pokeball in his hand and was tossing it up in the air and catching it. Nidoran could be saved for last. "Two on two. We don't stop until one of us surrenders or our pokemon is unconscious."

Gary nodded with that annoying smirk still firmly on his face. He tapped the release button on his pokeball. Ash did the same.

Ash sighed when the two beams of red light formed into two identical pokemon. Plume was giving Gary's pidgeotto – a massive creature that looked to be near evolution judging from its magnificent plumage – a condescending glare. Gary's pidgeotto simply looked at Plume for a moment before glancing away in boredom.

"That's a pretty small pidgeotto you've got there, Ash." Gary grinned. "Think it can keep up?"

"Can yours? It doesn't look very smart." Ash retorted. Gary kept the grin on his face, responding to Ash's words with a command.

"Get up in the air." His rival ordered. With a powerful push of its massive wings the pidgeotto launched itself up into the air. Ash examined the nearly flawless pokemon in curiosity, trying to find any weaknesses Plume could exploit.

Unfortunately, he found none. The gigantic bird's form was perfect and its bulk would keep it from being affected by many of Plume's weaker moves. It was slower than Plume, however, so that was an advantage. And from what Gary had said about his number of pokemon Ash figured that it wouldn't be nearly as well-trained or skilled as Plume was.

"Fly. Keep away from it as best as you can." He told Plume. His friend nodded before launching herself upward to join her opponent in the sky, voicing a loud shriek of challenge as she pushed upwards. The pidgeotto returned the challenge before diving at Plume with raised talons.

Gary had a smug smile on his face when Plume failed to dodge the attack, despite Ash's calls. Plume barely seemed affected by the attack, however, and had forced the larger bird away with a snap of her sharp beak.

"Screech." Ash ordered. A second later, Plume released a horrific sound that reminded Ash of grinding metal. Gary's pidgeotto was badly affected by it due to its sharp ears and lost focus for a moment. "Wing attack. Follow with peck."

"Focus!" Gary screamed. When the pidgeotto heeded his call, Ash noticed that he had a cocky grin on his face. It shrunk when Plume still managed to painfully jab his bird with her sharp beak, but didn't vanish. "Now use twister. Knock that runt out of the sky."

Ash had a bad feeling about this. He'd never even heard of twister before, although he assumed it had something to do with a wind attack. "Dodge whatever it sends at you."

He hadn't been expecting Gary's pidgeotto to flap its wings and fire a full-fledged tornado at Plume. Ash had to shield his eyes from the massive dust clouds pulled up by the attack.

"Get out of its way!" He shouted, losing his composure. Plume could be hurt extremely badly by that attack if she was thrown into the ground. And then he wasn't sure if he would be able to resist punching Gary in his smug face.

A few seconds later his vision cleared enough for him to see that Plume had mostly evaded the attack, although her feathers were dirty and ruffled. She shrieked in annoyance but waited for Ash to give her an order.

He couldn't think of a strategy. The only moves he had had Plume use would be mostly ineffective against the larger pidgeotto, but he had to do something if he wanted to keep Plume from being blasted by attacks like that twister. Of course, there was one move that the pokedex had told him Plume had, although he had never bothered to use it before.

"Whirlwind!" He cried out in desperation. Plume shrieked and flapped her wings, sending a powerful gust of wind at the other pidgeotto. Ash watched urgently as the pidgeotto tried to dodge the attack due to Gary's urgent shouts, but cheered when it was hurled into the ground. Not even its massive bulk could keep it protected. "Finish it with fly!"

Plume shrieked in acceptance and dived at the injured pidgeotto. Ash had a massive grin on his face as Plume swept down at the other bird and jabbed her talons into its exposed chest with incredible force. The pidgeotto fainted quietly.

"Is that the best you've got?" Ash mocked. It looked like he was right. Even though that pidgeotto was probably one of the best specimens in Kanto it wasn't nearly as well-trained as Plume. "I'm not very impressed."

Gary had a sneer on his face. "I just got that one." He replied. "Let's see if your Nidoran's gotten any better. Wartortle certainly has."

"Good job, Plume." Ash said before calling her back. A moment later he released Nidoran, who growled when he saw Gary. "Get ready, Nidoran. This'll probably be a hard fight."

His rival smirked. "And you won't win this one either. So you nicknamed your pidgeotto? How cute."

Ash glared. "Let's just battle. I have things to do after I beat you."

"Whatever." Gary yawned. He casually released Wartortle, who Ash carefully examined. The turtle was certainly more intimidating than it had been as a squirtle and Ash figured that Gary would have spent a lot of time training it after his loss. His rival never had liked losing.

The atmosphere was tense. Both trainers knew that they had to win this. Ash might have beaten Gary's pidgeotto with Plume, but that was just a warm up for this battle – the real battle. Nidoran and Wartortle were their strongest pokemon and both would serve as the real test of each other's strength.

Ash knew that Wartortle would be slightly faster than Nidoran, so he decided to wait. Maybe he could get lucky and poison Wartortle before the battle really got going. A few moments later Gary made the first move.

"Water gun!" He shouted. Wartortle didn't show any reaction other than opening his mouth and shooting the powerful blast of water at Nidoran. "Follow up with rapid spin. Try to keep away from its spikes!"

"Stand your ground and prepare focus kick." Ash ordered. Nidoran wouldn't be able to jump out of the way of such a fast attack and he didn't want his friend to waste the energy doing so. It was best to prepare for the next stage of the battle. Nidoran recoiled from the attack, but it didn't do much damage.

Nidoran glared intently at Wartortle as it pulled itself into its shell and launched itself at the smaller pokemon. Ash idly noticed that tufts of its fur were still exposed. As Wartortle spun towards Nidoran, Ash grinned. His friend was already jumping up into the air and preparing to use his combo.

It worked to perfection. Wartortle narrowly dodged Nidoran, but was knocked to the ground when Nidoran used double kick. Ash cheered for Nidoran and ordered him to get back. There was no doubt that Wartortle would be much more proficient in close combat than Nidoran due to its superior size, strength, and speed.

"Water pulse." Gary ordered in annoyance. "Then finish the runt off with bubble."

Wartortle was good at following orders. It quickly shot a large ball of water at Nidoran, who failed to avoid the attack. Ash gritted his teeth and gave Nidoran the order to use an attack that could possibly change the tide of battle.

"Confusion." Ash barked. Despite the pain Nidoran had suffered, he stared at Wartortle straight in the eye before Wartortle could use bubble. His eyes began to glow a bright, vibrant pink and slowly grew in intensity.

"Where did you learn that?" Gary shouted in confusion. Ash just grinned as the helpless Wartortle was slowly raised into the air by Nidoran's psychic attack. Despite its struggles it was lifted a few more feet into the air before being thrown away by Nidoran.

"Get up and fight back!" Gary roared as he began to lose his composure. Ash gave Nidoran a moment to rest before pressing his advantage. The confusion had taken a lot out of him and Wartortle was having trouble getting back up.

When he deemed Nidoran to be ready, Ash began the fight once more. "Poison sting. Follow up with focus kick."

Nidoran growled as he lowered his body and shot several thin, poison filled needles at the Wartortle. Most were deflected by Wartortle's thick shell, but one managed to land in its vulnerable belly and injected its poison into the creature.

Ash grinned when he realized that Wartortle couldn't keep fighting if he took another major hit. The confusion had battered him pretty badly and now he would be steadily weakened by the poison, albeit a bit slower than Ash had hoped.

"It's time to get serious." Gary said angrily. "Use protect and then finish that runt off with your newest attack!"

He rolled his eyes. Gary probably thought that Nidoran would be defeated by something like aqua tail. Ash knew that Nidoran still had more than enough fight in him to survive Wartortle's attacks. All he had to worry about was the protect.

Although Nidoran went through with the attack – it had been too late for Ash to tell him to stop – it did absolutely nothing against the thin green shield that Wartortle had created. Now he just needed to get away from Wartortle before he could attack.

"Get away as fast as you can!" Ash shouted. Nidoran's ears twitched as he heard the command. He quickly scampered away from the weakened Wartortle, but couldn't have anticipated the water type's next move.

Wartortle reared his head back and shot an icy blue beam of energy directly into Nidoran's back as the small creature ran away. Ash shivered as he felt the air grow cold around them but was too afraid that Nidoran had been hurt to notice.

"Good job." Gary told Wartortle smugly. The ice beam had knocked Nidoran out the moment it had hit, its energy to powerful for the tired creature to resist. Ash was stunned as his friend collapsed to the ground, unbelieving that he had actually lost.

"Better luck next time, Ashy-boy!" Gary said with that same smug grin. "Guess that first time was just a fluke. Maybe you'll get to my level someday." With that he returned Wartortle and walked off.

Ash didn't move except to go to Nidoran's side. The shocked trainer gave him a revive. He patted his friend on the head in consolation when Nidoran looked up at him in sorrow.

"It isn't your fault, buddy." Ash whispered. "It's mine. I should have realized that Gary would be fitting Wartortle up with TMs and power it up as much as possible. I should have been training with you and Plume more."

Nidoran was silent as Ash continued to absentmindedly pat his head. Ash just stared at the sky in confusion.

How he had lost? He had never lost a battle. Trainers much more experienced than he was had been soundly beaten by Nidoran's unpredictability and decent power. So how in the name of Mew had he lost to Gary of all people?

He sighed and pulled himself from his thoughts. Maybe this was a sign. Cerulean was the gateway to the rest of Kanto, where his real adventures and the real trainers were. Gary was just the first of those that could beat him. Nidoran and Plume were strong, yes, but they couldn't win these battles with just the two of them and on their own strength.

They needed to train and he needed to diversify his team. He wanted to progress as far as he could in the Indigo Conference and take the League by storm. He wanted to win.

And he definitely wanted to beat Gary every time they met. Ash frowned and stood up. Nidoran looked up at him in curiosity.

"Let's go, Nidoran." He said with renewed determination. "We've got a team to build."

Nidoran growled in agreement and kept his head high as he followed Ash down the trail. Half an hour later they had arrived at one of the likely spots Ash had circled on his map. The pokemon sat down next to Ash as he sat down and released Plume, who happily released a piercing cry when she was released.

Ash smiled and leaned against a large rock as he cast his large lure into the river. It was nice to relax.


Amelia was bored. There was no other way to put it. She couldn't find any trainers to battle, which meant she couldn't improve. In fact, there weren't even any wild pokemon around to fight. Rattata had made sure of that by snapping at any of the other pokemon he sensed.

Maybe things would be less boring if Jonathan or Ash were here. They were always doing something fun or exciting. Arguing with Jonathan always killed the time and it was practically second nature to them by now.

Ash, on the other hand, would have been fun to battle if he were here. He didn't really talk much in Pallet Town, always with his nose stuck in some book about pokemon or arguing and fighting with Gary. Her face twisted in distaste as she thought of the stuck up boy.

He hadn't been that bad back when they had first started school – and had even been best friends with Ash for a while, she dimly remembered despite what a strange concept it was to her now – but over the past few years he had become even more arrogant than before and became something of a bully in their class, albeit a well liked one.

She shook herself out of her thoughts. If she kept on thinking about Gary she would have the strong urge to punch something. Hard.

Ash was a much better subject. He was nice enough and was clearly going to be an incredibly powerful trainer when he became more experienced and placed some diversity into his team, but for now she would still be able to pose a significant challenge to him.

All three of their little group were unusually skilled – that was something that she had noticed quite soon, once they had begun to sweep nearly every trainer they had encountered out of the way – although Ash was clearly the most powerful. He hadn't even lost a battle yet.

She frowned and wondered whether he would continue his winning streak. It seemed unlikely, although she had to admit that she would like to be the one to do it. Ash was the most formidable opponent right now, although she and Jonathan were close to him in skill level at the moment.

Her thoughts turned to her best friend. She wasn't sure where he had ventured off to, although she assumed it was to a shaded spot where he could take a nap. He had seemed quite tired from their journey and wouldn't be in a very good mood until he'd slept well, so she hoped he did.

Amelia closed her eyes for a moment and stopped thinking. This was supposed to be a time for relaxing and spending time with her pokemon, who were currently asleep and huddled against her.

Rattata was curled up on her lap and seemed to be dreaming, judging from the small twitches on his face and the adorable little growls that came out from his small body. She knew that he would be ready to awake at a moment's notice if he heard something nearing their fishing spot.

Bulbasaur had just recently dozed off and had trapped her right arm under his small, heavy body. She had made sure to loosen it enough to where it wouldn't cut off blood flow and would be easily movable if she actually managed to – wait, there was a pull on her lure.

"Speak of the Giratina." She muttered with a grin, smoothly pulling her arm out from underneath Bulbasaur and taking hold of the fishing rod. It was a rather weak pull, but she could feel it growing stronger.

Rattata growled at her when she began to stand up, but landed on all fours when he fell and turned to the water. He began to scurry towards it in curiosity, but she kept him from going to near. She didn't want him getting hurt if it was a powerful water type.

"Stay over here." She ordered. Rattata hissed and drooped his ears. Amelia looked at him guiltily. "I'll give you a treat later."

Her gluttonous pokemon seemed to perk up at that and quickly scrambled over to her. Amelia grinned widely and began to focus on pulling whatever had bitten her lure up onto the ground where Rattata and Bulbasaur could knock it out.

It was a surprisingly short battle. Whatever pokemon she had caught couldn't have been very old or strong yet, or else it would have attempted to put up a stronger resistance to her efforts to overpower it.

Soon enough the mystery was explained. Amelia grunted as she gave a final herculean effort and pulled the pokemon up into the air, revealing a creature with two long, brown-green tentacles and a bulbous body at the top with two large eyes and even larger smooth red orbs above its eyes. She immediately recognized it as a tentacool, a rather common pokemon throughout Kanto and the surrounding regions.

The creature's lack of rarity didn't diminish its usefulness in any way, however. It was common, but because of that there were a surprisingly low amount of trainers that were willing to train them, preferring more exotic breeds instead.

But it could be honed into a powerful weapon and defensive powerhouse in its own right given enough time and effort. Poison types were notoriously difficult to defeat unless you had a pokemon that was effective against them or immune to poison, due to their toxicity to surrounding life and environments. Combined with the fact that few pokemon were effective against them made them a popular choice to wear down opponents.

So she was quick in ordering her pokemon to attack. Gently, of course. She didn't want to injure a pokemon, even if it wouldn't be joining her team in a few short minutes.

"Rattata, hyper fang. Bulbasuar, use stun spore." She ordered. Her friends faithfully carried out her commands and quickly overwhelmed the tentacool while Amelia picked up and prepared the pokeball she had set out next to her bag.

When she was sure the tentacool was helpless against the pokeball her pokemon were ordered to back off. She hadn't brought any revives and she wanted to talk to the newest member of her team before continuing to fish or search for other trainers to battle.

Rattata and Bulbasaur quickly stopped their assault on the helpless creature and backed away. Bulbasaur calmly plodded to her side while Rattata continued to circle around the weakened tentacool, baring his fangs and hissing.

Amelia primed the ball before throwing it. It struck its target, landing on the gelatinous body before rolling off. The ball was motionless for a moment before the button glowed a bright scarlet and opened up, transforming the tentacool into iridescent red energy and pulling it in before snapping shut.

She watched carefully as the ball shook several times. When it finally stopped moving and clicked she walked over and carefully picked the ball up. Amelia looked at it for a moment before releasing Tentacool into the water.

It was almost completely motionless as the waves began to carry it away, but Amelia's sharp eyes caught its tentacles wrapping around some sort of supporting structure in the water that kept it from drifting away.

Amelia made sure it was secure before pulling out her pokedex and scanning the pokemon.

"Tentacool. The Jellyfish Pokemon." The robotic voice said as it began to give Amelia the abridged version of the entry on the pokemon. "Its body is almost entirely composed of water. It ensnares its foe with its two long tentacles, then stabs with the poison stingers at their tips.

This tentacool currently knows the moves: Poison sting, supersonic, acid, toxic spikes, bubblebeam, and wrap. Its ability is Liquid Ooze, which inflicts damage on foes using any draining move."

It had a pretty good move pool, Amelia thought as she looked over the information the pokedex had pulled up. Tentacool tended to learn a vast amount of moves anyways, but for such a young example of the breed it was impressive.

She would have preferred for it to have Clear Body as an ability since it would negate some attacks that would make Tentacool near useless, but she could easily find a way to incorporate Liquid Ooze into her battle strategies. At least it would give her an edge against some grass types.

But now wasn't the time to be making strategies. It was the time to make friends with the newest member of her team. Amelia didn't know what personalities that tentacool tended to display, but she hoped that this one would be easy to get along with.

"Hi." She said cheerfully. Tentacool looked up at her fearfully with its large eyes. "I'm your new trainer and you're my new friend."

It just shrank back, apparently still afraid of her.

"Don't worry." Amelia said soothingly. "I'm not going to hurt you and neither are my friends."

Rattata sent an annoyed glance at her, but she glared back until he calmed down. He was much more irritable than Bulbasaur, but she was sure Tentacool would be able to fight him off pretty quickly. The normal type hated getting in battles with poison types to begin with, so hopefully there wouldn't be a problem.

Bulbasaur grunted in agreement with Amelia and seemed to do the bulbasaur equivalent of a smile at Tentacool. Apparently Tentacool was encouraged by this because it seemed to lose some of its timidity.

"So, do you want to be friends?" She asked. Tentacool stared up at her before nodding. Amelia wasn't quite sure how it knew to do that, but was glad that it did. The trainer wasn't sure how else Tentacool could have said yes.

"Good." Amelia smiled. "We're going to have a nice relationship."

She promptly returned Tentacool before releasing him closer to her. The aquatic pokemon looked at her in confusion as it fell to the ground, but seemed to know not to resist when she began to heal its injuries with the variety of paralyze heals and potions she had brought.

When it was all over with, Amelia transferred him back into the water. Tentacool wouldn't be very happy on land, after all. And when all of her pokemon had returned to their happy positions she threw the lure back out into the water.

Getting her pokemon some extra experience couldn't hurt, she thought as she leaned back against the tree trunk and began to idly scratch the snoozing Rattata's ears. And they deserved to get stronger.

Of course, she didn't especially mind if she didn't find another pokemon to catch or battle. The peace was nice.


"Metal claw." Jonathan yawned. Charmander lazily used the attack on the large rhyhorn, carving deep gouges into its side and knocking it unconscious in a single blow. The rhyhorn's trainer, a large hiker that looked rather disgruntled at being beaten by a kid, returned the ground type and walked over.

"Here's your winnings." The gigantic man scowled. Jonathan casually thanked him for the charity and sent him on his way.

He rolled his eyes when the man was gone. That was the third battle he'd had since splitting up with the others an hour earlier and he had easily won every single one of them. All of them had thought that Cerulean would hold trainers of a higher caliber than the ones they had previously encountered, but so far he'd been disappointed. It seemed that nearly everyone he met was an amateur.

Jonathan shrugged and looked over at Charmander, who had curled up on the warm rock and was trying to sleep.

"Hey, no sleeping." He scowled. "If I don't get to do it, you don't either."

Charmander growled in annoyance and shot a small poof of smoke at him. Jonathan rolled his eyes.

"Quit your whining." He said. "Let's find a nice clearing or something. I don't want to sleep where other trainers might find us. Jerks might wake us up."

The lizard seemed to understand that and stopped giving him the evil eye. Jonathan smiled when he realized his friend wasn't annoyed anymore and released Rhyhorn. Might as well give both of his pokemon time to stretch their legs.

He was careful when the gigantic ground type was released. Rhyhorn could be a bit "enthusiastic" in her greetings and he didn't want her to accidently bruise his leg. She would be terribly torn up about it later and would probably be sulking for the rest of the day once Rhyhorn realized what she did.

So he casually side stepped her initial happy charge. Rhyhorn hurtled past him before finally realizing that he wasn't there. When she turned around and trotted towards him at a much safer pace he let her butt her hard head against his leg in greeting, although he winced a bit as the stone impacted it.

Nevertheless he patted her head – snickering when he heard the stone creature rumble in happiness – before looking over at Charmander. The stupid lizard had already tried to go back to sleep.

"Will you get back up?" Jonathan asked in annoyance. "You're like a snorlax."

Charmander shot another small cloud of oily smoke at him in annoyance, but got up as Jonathan casually waved it away. He waddled over to the trainer's side and waited for Jonathan to scratch his neck.

"How would you get on without me?" Jonathan asked the silent creature as he caved in to his friend's pleading eyes. "Anyways, let's go. I was looking at the map while you beat that rhyhorn – not you," he said when Rhyhorn glanced up at her name, "and found a few spots that look pretty isolated. It should only take about an hour or so to get there."

Jonathan really could sympathize with Charmander's reluctance – he didn't exactly enjoy the prospect of shoving through the tall grass and walking that much on his tired legs either – but didn't throw his friend a bone. Charmander needed to get his endurance up anyways, and walking sounded like a fine way to do it.

Despite Charmander's annoyed snorts of smoke, Jonathan knew that the lizard was following just behind him as they began to set off. The only bad thing about the journey would be that Rhyhorn had gotten excited and charged through the tall grass surrounding the small clearing where he had just battled, forcing them to take her way.

Still, it wasn't as though they were in a hurry. Jonathan cheerfully whistled a random tune as he followed his pokemon's path of destruction through the brush, completely unaware of where it could take him.

Life was an adventure, after all. Why not follow the paths it presented him?


Ash roared in victory as he yanked whatever was biting on his lure out of the water. Whatever it was had to be extremely light – he hardly had the strength to lift a seaking or staryu out of the water – but it put up an incredible fight.

Nidoran and Plume were both waiting for whatever formidable foe Ash pulled out of the water. Plume's feathers were puffed up, making the massive bird seem even more intimidating, while the barbs on Nidoran's back were leaking a clear, potent poison. Ash had made sure to bring plenty of antidote for whatever pokemon would be the newest addition to their team.

While he hadn't exactly been expecting to pull up a gyarados or psyduck, he hadn't been expecting the small blue creature fiercely remaining attached to his lure to have put up such a strong fight.

The horsea was small, but had proved that it had enough fight to earn a place on any newbie's team. It looked strangely angry for its breed and glared at Ash and his pokemon for a moment before it let go of the lure and landed on the ground, although it spit a glob of ink at them as it fell.

Plume easily fluttered out of the way and Nidoran clearly wasn't the target. Ash, however, got a face full of ink that left him gagging and sputtering in an attempt to get the foul smelling and tasting liquid out of his mouth.

He was blind and useless to his pokemon while the horrible ink was covering himself, so he quickly set to wiping as much of it off. Soon enough Ash was able to see, but he knew that his face was stained with ink and would probably be completely black for a few days. But his problems didn't matter. The fight his pokemon were in did.

Ash still couldn't talk – he was still spitting up ink and trying to remove that awful taste from his mouth, although he hadn't thrown up…yet – but he was capable of priming a pokeball and was more than ready to hit the horsea with it if his pokemon began to go too far. The trainer knew that his pokemon would have taken offense to the attack upon him and might endanger the horsea if not stopped fast enough.

As he watched the battle he was pleasantly surprised with his friends' composure. They were fighting hard against the fierce horsea, but were reigning themselves in to avoid causing real danger to it. Ash was proud that they had such good self control.

The battle was incredibly short. Despite the horsea's insane method of fighting – it was firing powerful jets of water at his pokemon incredibly quickly and seemed to have no defense other than a great offense – his pokemon were hardly even disturbed by its attacks.

Plume was simply too fast for them to accurately strike her and seemed to be toying with the water type and Nidoran seemed to be spending more time dodging the attacks than really fighting.

When Nidoran finally became serious and recklessly charged the horsea, the horsea pulled the same trick as before. Ash had to hold in a laugh as Nidoran was sent reeling from a blast of sticky, reeking ink, but felt more than a few twinges of sympathy for his friend.

Nidoran backed off and attempted to wipe his face off on the grass. Ash decided to end this and catch the horsea once Plume had weakened it.

"Gust." He ordered, ignoring the thick feeling of ink on his tongue and the strong urge to gag. Not even spitting had removed it. Plume cried out in acceptance and flapped her powerful wings, sending a strong blast of air at the weak horsea.

Ash was impressed that it managed to stay strong, although he knew it would only take one more attack to knock it unconscious. The horsea had almost no endurance and had to be tired from the struggle it had put up in order to keep from being pulled up with the lure.

"Quick attack."

Plume seemed to flit out of existence for a moment before she appeared in front of the horsea. The force gathered by her speed was more than enough to knock the small creature out and she was no worse for wear when she flew over to Ash and landed on his shoulder.

He smiled and stroked her crest before kneeling down.

"You did good, Plume." Ash said happily. "But could you make sure the horsea doesn't escape? I've got to clean up Nidoran first."

Plume nodded and fluttered over to the horsea. Ash felt a bit of sympathy for the poor water type when he saw Plume delicately put her sharp talons onto its back. If it was conscious it would probably be terrified.

Now that he didn't have to worry about the insane horsea spitting ink at him he turned back to Nidoran. His friend looked pathetic trying to rub his face against the grass and nearby rocks, succeeding only in smearing the ink further.

"Nidoran." Ash called out. Nidoran's ears twitched and the pink creature slowly waddled over to Ash before he whined sadly. "I know, I know. Just stay still for a moment."

Ash picked up the towel he had brought in order to dry himself off and carefully began to wipe the ink off of Nidoran's body. Most of it was concentrated on his face, although some had landed on his barbs. The trainer made sure to avoid those. His poison would probably end up destroying the ink later anyways.

His job was far less than perfect. Nidoran still had black smeared all over his body, but Ash figured that a quick dunk in the water would get most of it off. Maybe Nidoran would be more amenable to it if Ash joined him. He wasn't looking forward to meeting his friends with a face full of ink.

"Oh well." Ash muttered as he pulled the permanently stained towel off of Nidoran's head. He could still use it, at least. "Nidoran, no hard feelings towards our new friend, all right?"

Nidoran growled at the mention of the horsea, but didn't do anything. Ash took that as acceptance.

"Alright, Plume, you can get off of him now."

Plume glared down at the horsea before fluttering over to Ash's shoulder. He managed to stay mostly upright this time. Ash paused to pet her before throwing the primed pokeball at the unconscious horsea.

It sucked the horsea in before rocking a few times. Ash grinned when he saw it click and staggered over to collect the newest member of his team.

"Plume, could you get up in that tree?" He said to the bird. "I don't want Horsea to be intimidated."

Plume nodded and launched herself into the air before eventually settling in one of the trees whose branches were strong enough to hold her great weight. Ash would have to make sure he released Horsea in a position where he couldn't see the bird.

Nidoran quietly sat by his foot. Ash crouched down and scratched behind one of his large ears before releasing Horsea. Maybe it wouldn't be so violent if it didn't see him as such a large being.

Horsea was still unconscious when it was released, so Ash took the opportunity to scan him with the pokedex.

"Horsea. The Dragon Pokemon." The pokedex began. "If Horsea senses danger, it will reflexively spray a dense black ink from its mouth and try to escape. This Pokemon swims by cleverly flapping the fins on its back.

This pokemon currently knows the moves: Bubble, smokescreen, water gun, bubblebeam, and agility. Its ability is Swift Swim, which increases the pokemon's speed when it is raining or in water."

Ash nodded slowly. Horsea would definitely be a good team mate. It could cover quite a few weaknesses that his team had at the moment. But right now he needed to make friends with it.

The trainer carefully dug a revive out of his pocket and snapped it in half over Horsea's…mouth? Ash wasn't sure. Nevertheless, the powder inside the diamond shaped container went into the Horsea's system, shocking it back into consciousness and repairing most of the damage.

He didn't expect the Horsea to blast him in the face with a weak water gun the second it woke up. Ash hissed in pain as the force of the attack knocked him onto his back. The trainer wearily pushed himself up and realized that Nidoran was about to attack Horsea.

"Nidoran, stop." He ordered calmly. His friend glanced at him and loyally sat back down. Ash wasn't foolish enough to think that the pink pokemon wasn't more than ready to poison their newest team mate, however. Nidoran was quite protective, after all.

Ash turned back to Horsea, who was warily staring at him. At least he wasn't attacking. That could have caused a problem.

"Please listen to me." He said soothingly. Horsea still didn't attack, which Ash took as a good sign. "I've captured you. That means that I'm your trainer and that they," he motioned to Nidoran and Plume, although Horsea didn't look back at the large bird, "are your teammates. I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to help you get stronger."

Horsea perked up at the last sentence. Ash grinned. It looked like he'd found what Horsea wanted out of their relationship.

"I'm wanting to be the best trainer and I think that you can help me toward that goal. Do you think you can keep up?" He asked slowly. Horsea eagerly nodded, the determined spark lighting up in its eyes. "Good. So are you going to stop attacking us?"

A somewhat less eager nod. Ash grinned.

"Well then, Horsea, welcome to the team." Suddenly a thought sprung to his mind. Would Horsea want a nickname? When he voiced the thought to Horsea, the water type nodded.

Ash struggled to think of a name that would fit Horsea. He went through countless names – Blaster, Berserker, and Wave to name only a few, but none of them seemed to fit. Horsea seemed to like the names that had something to do with water more, so he eventually listed everything that had even the most tenuous connection to water until he finally found one that Horsea liked: Torrent.

"Alright then, Torrent," Ash said. The name rolled off of his tongue fairly well and it seemed to fit the fiery Horsea. "Let's get a move on. I want to see what your limits are."

Torrent's eyes narrowed in concentration as Ash returned him and began to walk back the way he came with Nidoran walking by his side. Plume flew high above them, searching for possible challenges to test Torrent on and any threats that they should flee from.


"Wrap and poison sting." Amelia commanded. Tentacool coiled around the other trainer's krabby and bound it with its powerful tentacles. When the water type was defenseless, Tentacool stabbed its stingers into the krabby's hard shell and injected as much poison into it as it could before the krabby overpowered it and forced Tentacool to retreat.

"C'mon Krabby, use vicegrip!" The other trainer – an overconfident teenage boy that had stumbled upon her fishing spot and promptly challenged her – shouted. Amelia rolled her eyes as the krabby slowly pushed itself towards Tentacool.

She didn't even have to tell Tentacool to push itself away. It easily propelled itself a safe distance away from the krabby and awaited her next order.

"Supersonic and follow up with bubblebeam." She said casually. Tentacool's deep red orbs glowed as he sent out a wave of supersonic sound at the slowed krabby. It quickly took effect and disoriented the krabby even further, causing the creature to sink to the bottom of the riverbed.

Now it was just a waiting game, she thought with a smile. The krabby was completely useless now and she could tell that the poison was already beginning to work on its victim.

When it was sure that the krabby was defenseless, Tentacool forcefully ejected a stream of bubbles towards its foe. They pushed the krabby back but didn't do much damage.

"Stay away from it and dodge any attacks." Amelia commanded. Tentacool understood and stayed far away from the rapidly weakening krabby.

A few minutes later she had accepted the money from the put out trainer and had begun to reexamine Tentacool's performance in the battle.

It was fast in the water, although nearly useless on land. Tentacool was adept at neutralizing foes as well and could escape from most attacks that would crush or hold it thanks to its small body.

All in all it had been a success. Tentacool had proved its worth.

Now all that was left to do was get back to Cerulean. It was nearly time for them to meet up again.


Jonathan knew he needed to turn back soon, but he didn't care. He had just wandered into someone's house or workplace – although it reminded strongly of Professor Oak's lab due to the pristine whiteness of the place and the strange machines and computers whose purpose he couldn't divine – and was currently looking at a small clefairy.

He grinned and knelt in front of it. Although he would like to catch it – clefairy were notoriously rare in Kanto, only being found in the depths of Mt. Moon – he realized that whoever owned it would be rather put out with him if he tried. It wasn't so far from Mt. Moon by itself without being captured or bought.

Of course, now he wanted to find whoever lived here.

"Charmander, do you smell anyone?" He said to the lizard. Charmander sniffed the air before pointing to the clefairy.

"Besides the clefairy." Jonathan responded with a roll of his eyes. "Are there any humans that are here?"

Charmander just pointed a claw towards the clefairy. Jonathan sighed and began to turn away. He doubted that the owner of the house would want him snooping through their things.

Just as he reached the door, he heard someone cry out frantically in a voice that almost made him scream out, "Nerd!". Jonathan turned back and looked for the source of the voice. He didn't see anything. Maybe it was just a haunter playing a trick on him.

"Down here!" The nasally voice cried again. Jonathan gaped when he saw the clefairy pointing at itself.

"How the hell can you talk?" He asked in astonishment. "You aren't psychic."

The clefairy crossed its arms in annoyance – an oddly human gesture. It disconcerted Jonathan a bit.

"That's because I'm not a pokemon." It retorted. Charmander nodded in agreement. "My name is Bill and I own this place. I was doing experiments with a transporter, but it changed me into this clefairy."

"Is there a way to change you back?"

"Yes." Bill replied. "See that computer over there?"

Jonathan turned his head and saw a small console that seemed far more boring than the more exotic equipment that littered the rest of the room. He looked over at Bill.


"Good." Bill said in satisfaction. "There's an icon on the screen that has the word 'Activate' underneath it. When I get into the transporter and close the door, press the button."

The trainer shrugged as the clefairy clumsily walked over to the large machine. He guessed that Bill hadn't gotten used to his form yet.

When the transporter's large hatch smoothly closed, Jonathan found the icon and tapped it. He covered his eyes when the machine began to glow a brilliant, impossibly bright white. Jonathan warily looked at the other transporter when the light was gone. A bit of smoke was still seeping out of the machines, but it seemed to be fizzling out.

Jonathan watched in wary fascination as the other transporter's hatch opened, revealing the form of a scrawny man with messy green hair and a pale, thin complexion. He wore an expensive looking suit and looked to be very reserved. All in all it was a bit different than what the trainer had expected.

He had judged Bill to be some scrawny guy with a lab outfit, not someone whose appearance screamed, "I'm richer than you!"

"Thanks for getting me out of that form." Bill said as he stumbled out of the transporter. "I was afraid that I would be stuck like that until one of my acquaintances came over next week."

"Not a problem." Jonathan said with a grin. He looked down to Charmander, who now seemed quite bored. "Anyways, I should probably go. I was supposed to be back at Cerulean a while ago."

Bill nodded. "Of course, don't let me keep you. But before you go, here's a reward." The man dug around in one of his pockets for a moment until he pulled out a crumpled ticket. "I was sent this by one of my friends in the League, but I'm not going. Giving it to you is the least I can do."

"What is it?" Jonathan asked as he took the paper. He looked down at it, but it was just a ticket with a few numbers.

"That," Bill said, "is a ticket to the S.S. Anne, a luxury cruise liner that sails the world. It's going to be stopped in Vermillion City in three weeks, so you should head down that way if you're interested."

Jonathan frowned. "Is it only good for me? I don't want to get separated from my friends."

"Hmm." Bill hummed. "That might be a problem. I've heard that any trainers that can beat Lt. Surge the week before or the two days that it's staying in Vermillion will receive tickets. That's probably your best bet. Anyways, when it leaves it will be going to Fuschia City. Your ticket will get you to Fuschia, but after that you have to get off."

The trainer grinned. "Thanks. This'll help a lot."

"No problem." Bill replied as the trainer ran out of the house.

Jonathan returned Charmander as he ran out the door. As much as he liked having his friend walk with him, the lizard wasn't very fast over long distances. And considering he had several miles to go before he could get to Cerulean he couldn't have anything slowing him down.


"So we just have to beat Lt. Surge to get our tickets?" Amelia asked. Jonathan nodded. "That shouldn't be too difficult. Rattata and Bulbasaur shouldn't have too much of a problem with him. Tentacool might, but I wasn't planning on using him yet anyway."

Ash wasn't so sure. He'd been talking to other trainers here in the Cerulean Pokemon Center Cafeteria that had come from Vermillion. They'd claimed that Lt. Surge had started to put everything he had into his fights, brutally beating opponent pokemon until they had to be rushed to the Pokemon Center.

While he was sure some of it was exaggeration, Ash was just as sure that there was quite a bit of truth hidden within the rumors. Tales of Surge's brutality were famous amongst trainers and anyone who followed the Kanto battling scene so it wasn't too hard to believe that he'd gotten worse. Still, surely the League would have intervened by now if he had been taking things too far.

Even if Surge was going to be more difficult to defeat than Ash would have expected, he was sure that he could still do it. Only Torrent was actually weak to electric types and he was sure Nidoran could beat any of Surge's pokemon in a one on one battle. Of course, they needed to get there before he could come up with any real strategies.

"Alright, so are we ready to leave?" Ash asked, speaking up for the first time. The others looked over at him and nodded. "Good. We need to get to Vermillion in two weeks if we want to have time to beat Surge and explore the area. So let's leave at about noon. That gives us two hours to stock up on supplies."

"Sounds good. Let's get going then." Amelia added in.

They nodded and picked up their bags. It was time to get a move on. Vermillion awaited them.

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