When One Door Closes, Two More Open

On the first day of his journey with his rebellious starter, Ash befriends a Spearow and a Rattata. Ash is seriously injured by Pikachu after saving the young spearow from a Thunderbolt, but the Spearow, her flock, and the Rattata save his life. With not one but two new starters, a strange new ability to understand Pokémon, and a calmer and smarter attitude, a new journey begins.



10. Electric Gym

It was six in the evening and the group sat together eating dinner. Brock checked the map, estimating that they were about three hours from Vermillion. Not wanting to walk for three more hours in the dark, they decided to resume their journey early the next morning.

Sitting next to Brock's new Krabby, who Ash had discovered was named Neptune, Aidan watched his trainer a little worriedly. Ash had seemed a little antsy all day, though he had tried his best to hide it. Maybe he was just nervous about the Gym battle the next day.

Two days ago, Ash, Kiara, Trevor, Judy, Venom, and Aidan had discussed who was going to face Lt. Surge's Raichu at the Vermillion Gym, and Aidan had been chosen. He was the only one who could fight from a distance without making contact, and no one knew if Raichu had Static, an Electric Type ability that could paralyze the opponent if physical contact was made during a battle. Ash had worked with Aidan, helping him boost his Attack and Speed. Aidan had also learned three new moves; Fire Fang, Flame Burst, and Metal Claw. The little Charmander was very excited about his first big Gym Battle the next day, but also a little nervous. He hoped he would do well. He wanted to make Ash proud.

But something more seemed to be wrong with Ash than simple nervousness. Ash was picking at his food, a sure sign that something was wrong, as Ash normally had a huge appetite. Aidan noticed that Ash's other Pokémon, as well as Brock and Misty, seemed concerned as well.

"Hey Ash, you okay?" Aidan asked.

"Huh? Oh yeah, I'm fine, Aidan. Just thinking about the gym battle tomorrow." Ash replied, sounding a little distracted. Trevor and Kiara exchanged a concerned glance, making Aidan even more confused.

They finished dinner and Ash and Misty helped Brock clean up. Aidan went over to Kiara. "Is Ash okay? He seems really anxious about something and I don't think it's just the gym."

Kiara sighed. "You're right, Aidan. It's not just the gym. Come with me; I need to tell you something."


"I can't believe it." Aidan murmured after Kiara told him the story. "That's awful. Why would his own starter do that to him?"

Kiara sighed and shook her head. "I don't know." She glanced over at her trainer, who was setting out his sleeping bag. "I'm worried tomorrow is going to be tough for Ash; having to face the evolved form of the Pokémon that hurt him."

Aidan nodded, understanding what Ash was going through. He didn't know what'd he do if he ever had to face Damien again. "I'll do my absolute best for him in the battle tomorrow."

Kiara gave him the Fearow version of a smile. "I know you will." Aidan smiled back and they both went to rejoin their trainer.


Later that night, Ash lay awake, finding it impossible to fall asleep. He was just too worried about the gym battle tomorrow. I'm being an idiot! he berated himself. Lt. Surge's Raichu is not Pikachu and wouldn't do to Aidan what Pikachu did to me, right? Involuntarily, his mind flashed back to Pikachu's betrayal and the pain and terror he had felt, and he shuddered. Stop being such a coward! he yelled at himself. It's been months; I should be over this by now! What type of Pokémon trainer is afraid of a stupid gym battle? I have to keep my head! I can't fail Aidan out there! He tossed and turned, trying to get to sleep.

"You okay, Ash?" Kiara asked suddenly, startling him.

Ash nodded. "Just a little nervous about the Gym battle." he confessed. "I'm sorry I woke you, Kiara." He kept his voice low, trying not to wake the others.

"I wasn't asleep." she reassured him. "And try not to worry so much about the battle. Everything will be okay. You'll do great and we'll be right there with you." She cuddled closer to Ash, careful not to push any of the other Pokémon sleeping around him out of their places.

Her pep talk made Ash feel a little better. "Thanks." he whispered, snuggling into her side. A few minutes later, he fell asleep.


"We're finally here!" Misty cheered, relieved that they were finally out of the wilderness. "I can't wait to take a bubble bath."

"We'd better hit the Laundromat as well." Brock suggested.

"I want to get my team healed before the gym battle too." Ash added.

They went into the Pokémon Center where they handed their teams over to Nurse Joy to be healed. As they waited, Ash took a few deep breaths, trying to calm his anxiety. He couldn't go to the Gym a nervous wreck.

"You okay, Ash?" Misty asked.

Ash nodded. "Yeah."

Brock and Misty looked at each other. They could tell Ash wasn't being entirely truthful, but they let it go.

Fifteen minutes later, their call button dinged and the group picked up their teams. Ash released Trevor, Aidan, and Judy. "You ready for the gym, Aidan?" Ash asked.

Aidan nodded.

"Then let's go!" Ash said, trying to sound cheerful. He knew Aidan was excited for his first big Gym battle and didn't want to ruin it for him with his nervousness over nothing.

As they headed towards the entrance, a young boy came running in carrying a badly shocked Pidgey. "You'll be alright, Pidgey!" he told his Pidgey before running over to Nurse Joy. "Pidgey needs help!"

"Why would you use a Flying Type at an electric Gym?" Trevor wondered. "That's just bad strategy." Then he looked at Ash and noticed that Ash had gone pale as a ghost. Judy squeezed Ash's hand, trying to get him to relax.

Aidan noticed too. "Don't worry, Ash. That's not going to happen to me, because we're gonna win!" he told his trainer, trying to sound more confident than he felt. He wanted to show his best side to Ash.

Ash forced himself to relax a bit and gave Aidan a nod and a smile. The group left the Pokémon Center and walked over to the Gym, a tall, imposing green building with lightning bolts painted on it.

Ash knocked on the double doors and they creaked open. The group walked in to find two trainers, a brown haired young woman and a black-haired man with a buzz cut, both wearing military clothing.

"Hello." Ash said politely. "I'm here to challenge Lieutenant Surge for the Thunder Badge."

The male trainer smirked. "Hey, Boss, your next victim's here!"

"Which one?" a booming voice asked and a extremely tall, muscular man with spiky blonde hair stepped out of the shadows.

Brock gasped. "Whoa. He's huge."

"Is he the Gym Leader you have to beat?" Misty asked Ash.

Ash nodded. "Yes. That's Lieutenant Surge."

"Welcome to Vermillion Gym!" Lt. Surge boomed. "Now which of you unlucky souls is my challenger?"

"Me, sir." Ash said in a quiet voice.

Lt. Surge looked down at his clearly nervous challenger. "Speak up, kid! Your voice is tinier than your Charmander!"

Both Ash and Aidan glared at him. "I want to challenge you for the Thunder Badge!" Ash told him.

Lt. Surge smirked. It's working. He's going from nervous to riled up. Now it will be a real fight! "You sure you want to do that? I'm not sure you have the guts. Maybe you should just surrender now!"

"Never." Ash said angrily.

Lieutenant Surge smirked again, and Ash swore he saw an approving glint in his eye. "Then let's get started." They stepped onto the battlefield.

Trevor glared at Lieutenant Surge. "That guy's a jerk." he told Judy as they walked to the bleachers with Brock and Misty.

Judy studied Lieutenant Surge. "Actually, he's not. He's helping Ash."

Trevor stared at her incredulously. "Huh?"

"He's using the old "break you down to build you up" technique. He's deliberately making Ash angry so Ash will snap out of his nervousness. He's daring Ash to prove him wrong and it's working."

"How do you…" Trevor started, but Judy cut him off.

"An older Mankey in my colony always used it to get our younger members into the fighting spirit. Now, shush! The battle's about to start!"

"Go, Raichu!" Lt. Surge yelled, throwing a Poké Ball. The orange Mouse Pokémon appeared, smirking at his opponents.

"Aidan, I choose you!" Ash told his Charmander, doing his best to hide his nervousness from Lieutenant Surge. Aidan stepped forward.

"The Pokémon battle will now begin." a voice announced over the loudspeaker. "Only one Pokémon may be used and no items allowed. The Gym Leader, Lieutenant Surge, has chosen Raichu. The challenger, Ash, is using Charmander. No time limit! Let the match begin!"

"Aidan, Flamethrower!" Ash ordered. The Flamethrower struck Raichu and Lieutenant Surge was surprised to see it actually did some damage.

"Raichu, show them true power!" Lieutenant Surge yelled. "Use Thundershock!" Raichu shot off a Thundershock, much more powerful than anything Ash's former Pikachu had done.

"Dodge it, Aidan!" Ash called. Aidan got out of the way by inches. "Now use Flamethrower again!" Another Flamethrower hit Raichu before it could dodge.

Lt. Surge growled. "Okay, no more kid stuff! Raichu, Thunderbolt!"

Ash knew Aidan couldn't dodge the attack in time. "Counter with Flamethrower!" The two attacks connected and cancelled each other out, causing a small explosion and sending both Pokémon flying backwards.

"You okay, Aidan?" Ash called out in concern. Getting up, Aidan nodded. Raichu got up as well.

"Raichu, Mega Kick!" Lt. Surge ordered. Raichu ran at Aidan, Mega Kick at the ready.

Ash had an idea. "Wait for it…" Despite have no clue what his trainer was up to, Aidan obeyed. Just as Raichu was about to reach Aidan, Ash yelled, "Side-step, now!" Aidan got out of the way just in time, and Raichu, who had been about to kick him, got off balance. "Flame Burst!" Ash called. A ball of fire shot out of Aidan's mouth, striking Raichu.

"Not bad, kid." Lieutenant Surge admitted. He had gotten cocky and clearly underestimated his opponent. He would not make that mistake again. Raichu was panting and a few more good hits could take him out. They had to slow Charmander down. "Raichu! Thunder Wave!"

"Dodge it, Aidan!" Ash called frantically. If that move hit Aidan, he'd be paralyzed!

Aidan tried to dodge, but couldn't completely get out of the way of the widespread wave of electricity in time. He felt his muscles begin to stiffen.

Misty gasped. "Oh no! Aidan's been paralyzed!"

"Aidan!" Ash cried. Should he surrender the match? If Aidan couldn't move, he couldn't defend himself.

Aidan forced himself to get up, fighting the growing stiffness in his muscles. "I'm fine, Ash!"

"Raichu, Mega Punch!" Lieutenant Surge shouted.

"Dodge it, Aidan!" Ash called. Aidan got out of the way, but barely. "Now use Flamethrower!" Aidan tried, but the paralysis took over and he collapsed, unable to move. I'm sorry, Ash. Aidan thought miserably, upset that he hadn't dodged that Thunder Wave in time.

Lt. Surge smirked. "Now finish it off with Thunder!"

Seeing Aidan lying helpless on the ground, about to be struck by Raichu's most powerful attack, sent Ash into a state of complete terror. "No!" he screamed, starting to run over to protect Aidan. Judy vaulted over the bleachers and grabbed Ash's arm, afraid that he would try to jump in front of Aidan and into the path of Raichu's Thunder. Trevor ran down the steps, rushing up to Ash and Judy.

Raichu powered down his attack. "Kid, I could have fried you! What the heck we you thinking?"

Ash struggled against Judy, not even registering her presence in his fear. "Stop! I surrender! Just don't hurt Aidan any more, Pikachu!"

Ash's friends and Pokémon, including Aidan, looked at Ash in shock and worry, and Lt. Surge and Raichu looked at each other, then at Ash, in complete confusion. What had freaked their young challenger out so much, and why had he called Raichu a Pikachu?

Ash snapped out his panic. Looking around, he saw everyone staring at him in shock and he realized what he had said and done. Looking down in shame, he recalled Aidan. "I'm sorry…" he murmured before running off.

Judy and Trevor snapped out of their own shock and ran after him. "Ash!"

Lieutenant Surge turned to Brock and Misty. "What's with…" But they were already running out the door.


Ash ran all the way to the Pokémon Center without stopping. "Nurse Joy, please heal my Charmander!" he gasped, trying to catch his breath. "He was paralyzed."

"Right away." she said, taking Aidan's Poké Ball. "Don't worry, hon. He'll be just fine. " she reassured Ash, seeing his pale, frightened face.

Ash sighed in relief. "Thank you." He took the call button she handed him and walked into the boy's changing room, trying to get his emotions under control without anyone seeing him.

Sitting down on a bench, Ash took a few deep breaths, his body shaking. He couldn't believe how he had acted out there. He had freaked out and completely failed Aidan! What kind of Pokémon trainer was he? Another wave of fear overcame him. What if his Pokémon didn't want him anymore after seeing how pathetic he had been? He curled up his legs, wrapping his arms around his knees, his shaking getting worse. "I have to be better than this. I have to be or I'll lose them. I need to be the trainer they deserve." he muttered to himself.


Trevor and Judy rushed out of Vermillion Gym, looking desperately for Ash. "I don't see him." Judy said worriedly.

"Let's check the Pokémon Center." Trevor suggested. "That's the first place he'd go."

They ran to the Pokémon Center, and Judy pushed open the double doors. "Ash?" she called. She didn't see him in the lobby and he wasn't at the front desk.

The double doors opened again and Brock and Misty rushed in. "Nurse Joy, did a boy with black hair and a Pokémon League hat come in?" Misty asked.

"Yes, one did just a few minutes ago." Nurse Joy replied. "Are you his friends?"

Brock nodded. "Yes we are."

"He went into the boys changing room connected to the showers." Nurse Joy told him, motioning towards the door. "He seemed pretty shaken up."

Judy and Trevor ran over to the door Nurse Joy had motioned to, and Judy pushed it open. Looking inside, they saw Ash on one of the benches, arms wrapped around his knees, and shaking like a leaf. He didn't even seem to realize they were there.

"Ash?" Judy said softly, going up to him and touching his arm. Ash flinched for a second, then looked at them, his eyes frightened and haunted. Judy climbed on the bench and hugged him tightly. "It's okay, Ash. We're here." Trevor snuggled up on Ash's other side and Ash slowly began to relax, wrapping an arm around Judy and petting Trevor.

Brock quietly opened the door and peeked in, then closed it again. Misty gave him a questioning look. "He needs to be with just his Pokémon right now. They can help him more than we can." he explained quietly. When the stress of trying to be a father and a mother to his ten siblings had been too much, he had done the same thing; sitting and talking to Onix and Geodude, pouring out his fear, anger, and hurt and being comforted by their strong, steady presence. Brock and Misty took a seat in the lobby and waited for Ash to come out.

After a few more minutes of soaking in his Pokémon's comfort, Ash spoke. "I'm really sorry about this." he murmured.

"You have nothing to be sorry for." Judy said firmly. Trevor nodded.

Ash was about to reply but the call button rang. "Looks like Aidan's done. Let's go pick him up." He looked down at Trevor and Judy gratefully. "Thank you."

"Anytime." Trevor replied and Judy squeezed Ash's hand.

As Ash walked out of the changing room, he saw Brock and Misty waiting in the lobby outside. "Are you okay, Ash?" Misty asked.

Ash nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine now." He was still worried that Aidan would be upset at him over the loss, but he didn't want to worry Misty or for her to pity him. He was embarrassed and ashamed enough over what happened in the Gym.

Ash went up to the front desk and Nurse Joy handed him Aidan's Poké Ball. "Your Charmander's doing just fine." she told him. Ash thanked her, then went over to a quiet corner of the Pokémon Center and let Aidan out. Judy and Trevor waited with Misty and Brock, guessing that Ash wanted to talk with Aidan privately.

Aidan and Ash looked at each other for a minute before blurting out, "I'm sorry." at the same time. They then stared at each other in confusion before asking, "Wait, what are you sorry for?"

"I didn't dodge that Thunder Wave in time." Aidan said. "I should have been faster."

"Aidan, it's not your fault." Ash told him. "Thunder Wave is a widespread move and incredibly hard to dodge. I should have thought of some way to counteract it." Ash looked at the ground. "I'm sorry, Aidan. I should have kept my head out there. I shouldn't have been such a coward…"

Aidan swatted him in the arm, cutting him off. Ash looked at him in surprise with a tiny hint of fear in his eyes. Aidan realized something. He's as afraid of abandonment as I am. All that time Aidan had been worried Ash would be angry at him over losing the battle, Ash had been worried about the same thing, that Aidan would be angry at him. "Stop it. You are being way too harsh on yourself." Aidan scolded. "You keep telling me not to be so hard on myself, now you have to take your own advice."

Ash gave him a small nod, relaxing a little now that he knew Aidan wasn't mad. "Aidan, about what happened out there, there's something I haven't told you…"

Aidan interrupted him. "Ash, if you're talking about Pikachu, I already know. Kiara told me last night." He took Ash's hand with both his tiny paws.. "Ash, I understand. I know what it's like to be abandoned, remember? You were there for me. I will always be there for you."

Ash smiled softly. "Thanks."


Later that day, Brock was carrying groceries back to the Pokémon Center when he suddenly collided with someone. "Oof! Sorry about that!"

"That's okay." the person said. Looking up, Brock saw that it was Lieutenant Surge, his Raichu beside him. "Hey, you're that friend of the kid who challenged me today. What happened with him? He acted like my Raichu was going to kill his Charmander or something."

"Ash had a really bad experience with a Pikachu." Brock told him.

"That does explain things." Lieutenant Surge muttered. "I might be able to help him. What happened? Did it shock him or that little starter of his?"

Brock studied him for a few seconds, trying to see if he could be trusted. Finally, he decided he could. "Aidan, his Charmander, wasn't his starter. That Pikachu was. And it absolutely hated humans, well, hated everyone. Ash saved a wild Pokémon that he had befriended from it, and it turned on him, hurt him pretty bad. Thankfully the Pokémon he saved called her colony and they saved his life, or Ash might have died that day."

Lieutenant Surge's eyes were wide. "No wonder he reacted the way he did. Kid's a fighter though. Some would have just given up after something like that." He looked at Brock. "Where is he? I'll talk to him."

"In the Pokémon Center." Brock answered.

The two stepped through the double doors and Lt. Surge noticed the raven haired kid sitting in the lobby, talking quietly to his Charmander, Rattata, and Mankey. As soon as Ash spotted him though, he stopped talking to his Pokémon and stood up, eyeing them nervously.

"Hello, kid." Lieutenant Surge greeted him.

"Hello, sir." Ash replied respectfully, though his posture was tense and his eyes never left Raichu. "Did you need something?"

"I would like to talk to you for a few minutes. Can you come with me to the gym?" Lt. Surge asked.

Unsure, Ash looked first at his Pokémon, then at Brock and Misty. Misty looked confused, but Brock whispered something to her, then both nodded to him. Still confused about what was going on, Ash gave Lieutenant Surge a nod and followed him out of the Pokémon Center, Aidan, Trevor, and Judy right beside him.


Lt. Surge led Ash to his private office and gestured for Ash to take a seat. Nervously, Ash did, and Trevor and Aidan jumped on his lap while Judy sat on a chair beside him.

"Kid, about our battle today…" Lieutenant Surge started, sitting down on his own seat as Raichu lay down beside him.

"I know I acted like a coward. You don't have to tell me that." Ash said defensively, thinking Lieutenant Surge was going to taunt him.

"Kid, even though you were scared, you were more afraid for your Charmander then yourself to the point where I thought you were going to dive in front of Raichu's Thunder to protect him. That wasn't cowardly. It certainly wouldn't have been very smart, but it wasn't cowardly." Lieutenant Surge replied. Then he let out a laugh. "But then again, I've done crazy stuff like that during my days in the Army too, so I'm not one to talk about smart." Raichu nodded, remembering the time that Lieutenant Surge, then Private Surge, had leapt on top of a dummy grenade that one of the sergeants had suddenly thrown at them and screamed at Raichu and his comrades to run, thinking the grenade was live. After the commanding officer had told him the grenade was not live and it had been a test, Surge had been embarrassed, but the were impressed. Raichu had hugged Surge, then gave him a Thundershock for scaring him.

"Your buddy told me about what your starter did." Lt. Surge added. Ash stiffened. "Don't get angry at him; he wanted to help you and he only told me after I asked."

"I'm not." Ash said.

"And I'm going to say it again, son, you're not a coward just because you were scared. Everyone's afraid of something." Lt. Surge continued.

"You're not." Ash blurted out.

Lieutenant Surge stared at him, then burst out laughing. "Kid, only a fool fears nothing. I have been through many battles and a lot of dangerous missions, and I can tell you, most of the time I was scared out of my wits. I would have been stupid not to be. But do you want to know why I fought in the Army, even though it was dangerous, even though I was afraid?"

Ash nodded.

"As a wise man once said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the knowledge that something is more important than fear." For me, serving my country and keep our people safe was more important than fear. Tell me, son, what made you fight your fear and battle in the gym today?"

Ash took a deep breath before replying. "I want to be the best trainer I can be, the trainer my Pokémon deserve. They, and Misty and Brock, mean everything to me."

Lieutenant Surge smiled in approval. "And are you willing to do what it takes to overcome your fear, not just for them, but for you?"

"Yes." Ash replied without hesitation.

"Come over here and sit on the floor." Lt. Surge instructed. Looking confused, Ash did, and Lieutenant Surge picked up Raichu, placing him gently on Ash's lap.

Ash stiffened instinctively and looked nervously at Raichu for any signs of aggression. But Raichu gave him a smile, then curled up on his lap. "It's okay, child. I'm not going to hurt you." Raichu said soothingly and Ash relaxed a little.

"He likes to be scratched behind the ears." Lieutenant Surge said with a smile. Ash lifted his hand, hesitated for a second, then gently began to scratch Raichu behind the ears. Raichu leaned into his touch, letting out a soft purr. Ash gave a small smile and relaxed even more, petting Raichu. Ash's Pokémon smiled at seeing Ash so comfortable around an Electric.

Lt. Surge sat next to Ash. "Not all Electric types are like the one that hurt you, son. For every bad Pokémon out there, there are so many more good ones, like my Raichu and your team. Don't let the actions of one make you miss out on a lot of great friendships. Don't let that Pikachu win."

Ash smiled at him and nodded, knowing Lieutenant Surge was right. "I won't, sir."

Lieutenant Surge got back up and Raichu hopped off Ash's lap. "Now then, meet me at the Gym tomorrow for our rematch at fifteen hundred hours. That's three PM in military terms." he added, chuckling as he saw the confused expression on Ash's face. "And I will not make the mistake of underestimating you again, so use your time to train hard, because I will not go easy on you."

Ash smiled as he stood up. "I wouldn't want you to."

"Okay then, get ready for the battle of your life at three PM tomorrow. Unless you want to give up now." Lieutenant Surge taunted.

Ash grinned again. "Never."

Lieutenant Surge smiled then clapped him on the back, making the small boy stumble forward. "That's what I like to hear!"

As Ash left Lieutenant Surge's office, he stopped and turned back. "Thank you, sir. For everything."

"You're welcome."


When Ash and his Pokémon got back to the Pokémon Center, his friends noticed how much more relaxed he seemed and how there was a new spark of confidence in his eyes. Whatever Lt. Surge had told him, it had brought a huge change to their timid, insecure friend.

"You look like you're feeling better." Misty said happily.

"I am." Ash replied, smiling. "Lieutenant Surge said some things that really helped. And I have a rematch with him tomorrow at three."

"That's great." Misty told him.

"And Brock?" Ash said.

"Yes?" Brock asked.

"Thank you."


After dinner, Ash, Trevor, and Aidan sat together in their room, discussing a strategy for the Gym.

"Okay, our biggest problem is the Thunder Wave attack. I'm not sure how we can get around that one. It's really hard to dodge and too widespread to counteract with Flamethrower like we did with Thunderbolt." Ash mused.

Trevor thought for a few minutes, then his eyes lit up. "I've got an idea. You know Aidan's move Metal Claw?"

"Yeah, what about it?" Aidan asked.

"Well, if we…" Trevor began to explain his plan to the group.

Ash looked at him uncertainly. "Are you sure it will work and Aidan won't just get shocked worse?"

"I'm ninety five percent sure it will work." Trevor replied. Everyone gave him a weird look.

"Trevor's a genius. His ideas haven't failed us yet." Ash said finally. "What do you think, Aidan?"

"I'm game for it if you are." Aidan said. "Ninety five percent is a lot better than zero."

"Okay, it's settled then. We'll try it." Ash decided.


"Our lucky star is shining today, Aidan.' Ash said with a smile as they walked to the Gym that afternoon. He was still a bit nervous, but with all their training, he knew they could do it.

"What star? I don't see it. How can you see a star in the middle of the day?" Misty asked, looking up.

Trevor smacked his forehead with a paw. "It's called the SUN."

Ash laughed. "Actually, it's called a figure of speech, Trev, but you are right." Trevor and Misty blushed, and Judy and Aidan just looked at each other and shrugged.

Ash knocked on the gym doors and they opened. Lieutenant Surge came over.

"You ready to lose, kid?" he taunted, though everyone could tell he was teasing.

Ash just smirked as they stepped into the battle arena. "Never."

"The challenger, Ash, using a Charmander. The Gym Leader, Lt. Surge, using a Raichu. The Pokémon will battle one on one, with no items allowed and no time limit. Now begin!" the loudspeaker announced.

"Start things off with Tail Whip!" Lieutenant Surge yelled. Raichu swung his tail at Aidan.

"Jump over it, Aidan!" Aidan leapt over Raichu's tail.

"Now use Thundershock!" Lieutenant Surge ordered.

"Dodge it and use Flamethrower!" Ash called. Aidan nimbly dodged the bolt of electricity shot at him, and shot a Flamethrower at Raichu.

"Dodge it, Raichu!" Lieutenant Surge called. Raichu dodged, missing the full force of the attack, but he was hit by the edge of it. "Now use Thunder Wave!"

Well, here goes nothing. Ash thought. I really hope Trevor was right. "Aidan! Metal Claw!" Aidan's claws glowed and the electricity was drawn towards them like a magnet. "Now punch the ground!" Aidan dug his claws into the ground, and the electricity was drawn into the ground, safely away from Aidan. Aidan stood up completely unharmed.

Lieutenant Surge gasped. "What?!"

Ash took advantage of the distraction. "Now use Flamethrower!" Raichu, as much in shock as his trainer, was struck full force by the attack.

"Let's see your Metal Claw handle this!" Lieutenant Surge yelled. "Raichu! Thunder!"

"Dodge it, Aidan!" Ash called, knowing that the strategy wouldn't work with a full-out Thunder Attack. Aidan dodged, missing the full force of the attack by inches, but was still damaged some by it.

"Aidan, are you okay?" Ash asked in concern. Aidan got to his feet and nodded.

"Raichu, Body Slam!" Lieutenant Surge ordered.

"Give Raichu a Flamethrower to the face!" Ash ordered. Aidan shot Raichu with a Flamethrower, but Raichu powered through it, knocking Aidan down.

Aidan immediately got back up, though he was sore. He wasn't giving up that easily. "I'm fine, Ash!"

"Thunderbolt, Raichu!" Lieutenant Surge yelled.

"Flamethrower! Full power!" Ash called. The attacks connected, and slowly Aidan's attack drove Raichu's back. There was a small explosion and a lot of smoke, throwing both Pokémon backwards.

"Aidan!" Ash cried as Lieutenant Surge called, "Raichu!"

The smoke cleared, and they saw Aidan standing, but barely, and Raichu lying on the ground with swirls in his eyes.

"Raichu is unable to battle! The bout goes to Ash Ketchum!" the announcer called.

"You okay, Aidan?" Ash asked, checking over his Pokémon.

Aidan nodded. "Yeah, but that was a tough battle."

Lieutenant Surge sprayed a Max Revive on Raichu, then tossed a Full Restore to Ash, who sprayed it on Aidan. Raichu got up shakily and nodded to his opponent in respect.

Lt. Surge took a badge out of his pocket. "Congratulations! Nice job, Ash and Aidan! As proof of your victory, a Thunderbadge!"

"Thank you." Ash said, taking it and looking at in awe. Then he grinned, picking up Aidan and hugging him tightly. "We did it! Thank you, Aidan!" Aidan smiled and hugged his trainer back just as tightly.

"You should be proud." Lieutenant Surge said with a smile. "You two fought really well together. Keep up the good work in your next gyms and you'll make the Pokémon League in no time!"

"Congratulations." Brock told them, high-fiving Ash.

Ash was about to high-five Misty, but she pulled him into a hug instead. "Good job, Ash! You did it!" she cheered. Ash hugged her back, turning beet red and grinning a bit goofily.

Brock noticed. Aww, young love. he thought with a smile. Now I just need to get myself a girlfriend!

Ash thanked Lieutenant Surge again and the group headed back to the Pokémon Center. Ash turned to Trevor. "Thank you, Trevor. Your strategy worked perfectly and it won us the battle! You're a genius!"

"Yeah, I know." Trevor said smugly.

"Don't get a swelled head or I'll find that strength intensifier to stick it in." Judy joked. Trevor blanched and Ash and Aidan tried to hide their laughter.

"Not funny, guys…" Trevor muttered.

As the group settled in the Pokémon Center for the night, little did they know that the very next morning, they would face their biggest and most dangerous adventure yet.

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