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.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10779528/1/When-One-Door-Closes-Two-More-Open

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5. Mt. Moon

It was with Misty's gentle prodding that Ash nervously approached Brock the next morning while the sixteen year old was cooking breakfast. His team walked over with him for support.

"Hey, Brock?"

"Yes?" Brock answered, pouring some pancake batter onto a flat pan.

"Could I ask you a hypothetical question?"

"Shoot." Brock said, placing the pan on the portable griddle he had brought..

"Um, suppose someone told you they could understand the Pokémon language. Would you, you know, think they were crazy or lying?" Ash rubbed the back of his neck.

Brock, concentrating on breakfast, thought he was joking. "Depends. ARE they crazy or lying?"

Ash looked down. "No."

Hearing the hurt in Ash's voice, Brock turned around to see Ash walking away dejectedly. Kiara, Judy, Venom, and Trevor glared at Brock, then sent a concerned look towards their trainer. "Ash, wait. Can you understand the Pokémon language?"

Ash looked at him in shock. "How'd you-"

"Ash, I've raised ten little brothers and sisters. I've learned hypothetical questions usually aren't so hypothetical. So you can understand Pokémon?"

"Yes."

"By understanding Pokémon, what do you mean? Can you interpret their actions and guess how they're feeling, or did you mean you can literally understand what they're saying?" Brock asked, a little confused.

"The second one. You think I'm crazy or making this all up, don't you?" The pure fear in Ash's eyes went straight to Brock's heart.

"Ash, I can tell you're not lying to me. And I don't think you're crazy." Brock reassured him. "But can I test out your ability? Do you mind talking to Onix for me?" Brock knew young kids could have strong imaginations, but this seemed to be much more than that. The way Ash seemed to be so in tune with his Pokémon, and how his team had reacted when Brock treated Ash's statement like a joke made it seem like this could actually be the truth. Plus, Ash seemed to be a sensible kid, not one prone to flights of fancy. Especially since he had actually seemed scared to let Brock know the truth. But Brock was curious, and wanted to know for sure.

"Sure." Ash told him.

Brock released Onix, who let out a battle cry before looking around in confusion. "Where are we?"

"We're on Route 22, Onix." Ash told him.

"What? How?"

"Brock's father came back to take care of his family, and let Brock go to become a Pokémon Breeder. We invited him to join us on our journey." Ash explained.

Onix looked at him in shock. "Can you understand what I'm saying, or are you just guessing?"

"He can understand us." Kiara said before Ash could reply. The rest of Ash's team nodded.

"Onix, can he understand you?" Brock asked. Onix nodded, and Brock turned back to Ash. "It appears that both my Onix and your team believe you, so I think I believe you as well. But just to be sure…How did Onix and I meet for the first time?"

Ash looked at Onix, who told him the story. Once Onix was finished, Ash replied, "You received him as a gift from your father on your tenth birthday. Onix woke you by sticking his head through your window. After you two met, you, Onix, and your father watched the sunrise together."

Brock's eyes widened. "That's right. Do another one! Hmm…How did Onix first learn to use Dig?"

A shadow passed over Onix's face as he recounted the story to Ash. Softly, Ash repeated the story to Brock.

"You were eleven and you and Onix were exploring Dark Cave. Suddenly, there was a cave-in, and the two of you were separated. You wouldn't respond when Onix called for you, so he knew he needed to get to you as soon as possible. He feared you'd be crushed if he tried to break through the rockslide, so he dug a tunnel to get to you. You were unconscious and partially buried under some rocks. For a moment, he feared you were dead, but he nudged you and you woke up. He got you out of there and rushed you to the Pokémon Center because he didn't know where the human hospital was. Apparently, he broke down their doors in his hurry. He said those were the scariest moments of his life."

Brock was stunned. Though that incident wasn't what Brock had been thinking of; he had actually been thinking of the first time Onix had used Dig in battle, it had happened and only he, Onix, and some people at both the Pokémon Center and hospital had known about it. Not even his father knew. And he seriously doubted Ash, a stranger to Pewter City, could have found out about it. And Ash was nowhere near good enough of an actor to pull it off if he had; you could see right through the kid. Brock's last shred of doubt was gone.

"Well, Ash, if there was even the slightest part of me that didn't believe you; it's gone now." Brock said. He turned to Onix. "That was really the scariest moment of your life? I would have thought your scariest moment was when we battled the trainer with the Gyarados." He still felt horrible about making Onix battle that Gyarados. It had been terrible seeing his beloved starter in that much pain because of the Gyarados's vicious water attacks.

"That may have been scary, but it didn't even come close to how I felt during that cave-in. I was so scared that I might have lost you forever. At least I knew you were safe during that battle. And if you're still feeling guilty about that battle, stop it right now." Onix said firmly, knowing Ash would translate the message to his trainer. "I've been your Pokémon for a long time. I know a Gym Leader has to accept every challenge."

Ash translated Onix's words for Brock, who smiled and gave his starter a hug. "Thank you." he whispered.

"That's some ability." Brock told Ash after letting go of Onix. "In fact it's simply amazing! Can you tell me what Onix thinks of my special homemade Pokémon food? And how about…"

As Brock continued to babble, more excited than a child on Christmas morning, Onix gave Ash a slight nudge. "See what you got started? He'll be after both of us for weeks wanting to know everything about me." He rolled his eyes playfully.

"BROCK! Your pancakes are on fire!" Misty screamed. Brock ran back, yelping and trying to beat out the flames with little results. Finally, Onix just threw a Sand-Attack at the pan so Brock wouldn't catch his shirt or the grass on fire. But he misjudged the power of his attack and Brock ended up completely covered in sand, looking like a sand sculpture. But at least the pancake fire was out.

"Sorry." Onix said sheepishly.

"Safety tip of the day. If you have a special ability and want to tell someone, it's best not to do it while they're cooking." Venom muttered to Judy, low enough so that Ash wouldn't hear. She hid a laugh.

…...

With the help of Misty and Ash, Brock cleaned up the sandy mess, then started on a fresh batch of pancakes. He also brought out bowls of his homemade Poké Chow, enough for everyone. Before they sat down to eat, Misty released her Water Pokémon in a nearby pond, giving them their breakfast before heading back for breakfast. Brock released his Geodude, who was just as amazed as Onix to hear about Ash's ability. Ash and Misty set up the picnic blanket and silverware as Brock dished up the pancakes, wondering how the heck Brock managed to fit so much into his bag. Both Ash and Misty were delighted to find out that, unlike themselves, Brock was an excellent cook.

"Mmm, this is excellent." Kiara stated as she took a bite of her Poké Chow. The others agreed, Judy and Trevor eating so fast that Ash was afraid they'd choke. Ash had to hand-feed Venom because the Kakuna couldn't bend down to get to his bowl.

"Do they like it?" Brock asked eagerly.

"Tell him it's terrible, just to freak him out." Venom joked.

"Venom!" Ash scolded.

"What?" both Brock and Misty asked at the same time.

"They like your Poké Chow, and Venom just has a strange sense of humor." Ash sighed. Brock and Misty looked at each other, shrugged and let it go. They doubted they wanted to know what the young Kakuna had said.

"So, how long have you been able to understand Pokémon, Ash?" Brock asked. "Or have you always been able to do it?"

Ash sighed, setting down his fork. "I've had the ability for almost two weeks now."

"You came into it only two weeks ago?" Brock questioned, surprised. "From what I've heard about people with psychic abilities, it starts at birth or early childhood."

"I don't think it's a psychic ability. It all started like this…" Ash related the entire story to Brock. He listened in shock as Ash told the tale of a starter's vicious betrayal and the kindness of a group of wild Pokémon. Misty added in her own part as well, telling Brock about Pikachu's complete and utter hatred for humans. Both Misty and Brock's teams listened in horror, wondering how a Pokémon could do something like that to their own trainer. Ash's own team crowded around him, offering comfort.

"That's awful…" Brock breathed.

"Pikachu's attack WAS awful, but a lot of good things came out of it." Ash said, telling Brock about Kiara and Trevor joining him, and how he had met Judy. His eyes lit up as he talked about the week of training they had all done with the Spearow flock, and all the good times they had had together. His friends couldn't help but smile at the love Ash had for both his team and the Spearow flock.

After breakfast, they decided to work on training. Geodude insisted on sparring with Judy, saying he wanted a rematch. Misty worked with her three Water Types as Metapod worked on his Tackle. Trevor and Kiara sparred, and Ash decided to work with Venom, knowing the Kakuna felt left out due to his lack of ability to move. They came up with the idea of using String Shot to help Venom swing from branches or rocks at his opponents. With the addition of using Harden, the move became even more deadly. Ash could attest to that himself, as Venom had missed nailing him in the head by inches while attempting to swing from branch to branch. Ash playfully nicknamed Venom's new fighting style the Tarzan Tackle. Onix relaxed in the sun while Brock watched the training, offering advice whenever needed. Eventually, Brock went off to go make another batch of Poké Chow.

Ash and Venom were discussing the merits of adding Poison Sting to their new attack when Ash heard a voice behind him. "Ash?"

Ash jumped, nearly landing on his bottom, before turning to see Brock's Onix. "You startled me! How did you get over here without me hearing you?"

The rock snake chuckled. "I have found I can be rather stealthy when I want to be. Anyway, I wanted to thank you, your team, and Misty."

Ash blinked, confused. "What for?"

Onix nodded towards Brock, who had finished with his Poké Chow and was working on a vegetable stew for lunch. "For inviting Brock along. I haven't seen him this happy in years."

"It must have been difficult, having to raise ten little brothers and sisters all by himself." Ash said sympathetically.

The Onix sighed, his expression darkening. "You can't even imagine how much. I hate his mother and father for doing that to him, for leaving when he needed them, when all those little children needed them. Brock has had to grow up a lot quicker than he should have."

"At least Brock can be free to pursue his dreams now. His father came back." Ash comforted.

"I only hope it stays that way or I'll have to deal with Flint myself." Onix growled. "I don't trust him. I'm worried he's going to just pack up and leave again, making those children go without a father. And I know that when he does, Brock will have to return. Because that's just how Brock is. He puts others before himself, unlike his father."

Ash looked down sadly. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"The only thing either of us can do is be his friend." Onix sighed. "I'm sorry for dumping all this on you, Ash."

"That's okay. And I'll be the best friend I can be to Brock."

"Thank you."

"Hey Ash, could you come over here for a minute? I need to ask you something." Brock called.

"Sure." Ash called back. Both he and Onix came over, knowing he probably wanted to ask Ash a question that involved Onix.

"Lunch should be ready in about an hour and a half, guys." Brock told them, giving his stew a stir.

"You do know you don't have to cook for us, right Brock?" Ash asked. He didn't want Brock to feel like he was obligated to act like some sort of caretaker to him and Misty, especially after everything Onix had told him.

"I know, but I love to cook. Plus, Misty says neither her nor you are any good at it, and we can't have a good journey without decent food." Brock replied. "Oh, speaking of cooking…. Ash, could you tell me if Onix likes Pinap Berries or Nanab berries better in his breakfast food? And would you mind asking your Spearow if…"

Onix and Ash looked at each other with a sigh and a smile. If it took putting up with and translating an endless litany of questions about anything Pokémon related to make Brock this happy; both his oldest friend and one of his newest ones were willing to do it.

…...

"Mount Moon. Doesn't the name sound so romantic?" Misty sighed happily as they hiked up the beautiful trail to the mountain several days later.

"People say a huge meteor crashed into the mountain back in prehistoric times." Brock informed them.

"A meteor?" Ash asked, shifting Venom's weight in his arms. Like always, he had his team out of their Poké Balls, with Kiara riding in her usual spot on his shoulder and Trevor and Judy walking at his feet.

"Is it really true?" Misty questioned eagerly.

"They say it's called the Moon Stone." Brock told them.

"Now that's romantic!" Misty said with a smile.

A scream interrupted their discussion and they rushed over to see a horde of Zubats attacking a young man in a white lab coat.

"Kiara!" Ash called to the Spearow on his shoulder. "He needs our help!" He handed Venom over to Brock as he ran towards the man.

Kiara rushed in, pecking at the attacking Zubat. Using his String shot and a nearby rock to pull himself out of Brock's arms, Venom propelled himself into the fray, knocking several Zubat out of the air. With cries of anger, the Zubat flew off.

The man trembled and looked up at them. "Are you okay?" Ash asked, holding out a hand to help them up.

"You guys are the greatest!" the man exclaimed, jumping up and pulling Ash into a huge hug. Ash wriggled, trying to get out of the man's grasp.

"It was nothing…" Ash groaned, his voice barely audible from his face being pushed into the man's chest.

"I'm talking super fantastic! Two thumbs up! The best rescue I've ever had!" the man babbled. Annoyed, Judy pulled him off Ash, moving between her startled and over-hugged trainer and the weirdo. "Stop it. You're squishing my trainer." she growled.

"They say man's best friend is their Pokémon, and with you and your team, I believe it!" the man continued.

"Um, that's nice…" Ash mumbled, grabbing Judy's arm and backing away slowly.

"I'm so moved!" the man went on. "Such friendship I thought I'd never see, when the Zubat started attacking me! I thought I was done for, when who should arrive, three heroes thanks to whom I'm alive! I'm ALIVE! Thank you!" A bunch of Pidgey flew off at his shout.

"Ookay…" Kiara muttered, flying back to Ash's shoulder. "Ash, this guy is a little nuts."

"You're just realizing that now?" Trevor said sarcastically.

"He certainly doesn't look like the poetic type." Misty stated, looking weirded out herself.

"Should we start running now?" Ash whispered to Brock so that the man wouldn't hear.

"I would." Venom muttered.

"Relax Ash, he's harmless. Eccentric, but harmless." Kiara reassured.

The guy turned back to Ash. "Did I mention how grateful I am?"

"Only about ten times in the creepiest way possible," Judy said, shaking her head.

"Yeah." Ash replied nervously. "Why were the Zubat attacking you, Mister?"

The man gasped. "Never call me Mister! My name's Seymour! Seymour the scientist!" He led them into the caves, Judy continuing to act as a barrier between Seymour and Ash. "See, the cave is all lit up inside! Somebody has strung these lights through the whole cave. But the Pokémon in this cave need the dark! These lights are upsetting them and making them confused!"

"Which must be why the Zubat left their cave and attacked you." Brock figured out.

"The Paras are planting their mushrooms everywhere, and the lights are drying up all these Sandshrew." Seymour said, gesturing to the troubled Pokémon.

Ash bent to check on the Sandshrew and Paras, giving them a drink out of his canteen. "I can understand Pokémon." Ash whispered to the Sandshrew so that Seymour couldn't hear. "Who's been doing this to you?"

"There's three of them." the Sandshrew murmured. "Two humans and a Meowth. They want the Clefairy's giant Moon Stone."

Trevor gasped. "Those sound like the robbers we saw on the news, Ash!"

"We've got to stop them and shut down these lights." Ash said. He looked at the lights, but he knew that if he tried breaking them, he might get shocked or start an electrical fire. "There's got to be a generator for them or something. If we follow the wires, we might be able to find it. We'll worry about the Moon Stone problem after we get the lights off."

He realized Brock, Misty, and Seymour had left without him and ran to catch up to them.

…...

Meanwhile, Seymour was telling Misty and Brock that he had been patrolling the caves to try to stop the troublemakers that had set up the lights. Ash ran up to them with Venom in his arms. He took a minute to catch his breath.

"Why are troublemakers causing havoc in a cave?" Misty asked.

Seymour stopped walking. "I'm afraid it's because of the Moon Stone."

"The Moon Stone?" Misty asked.

"Exactly." Seymour told her. "The Moon Stone is an awesome boulder; a million years old or even older! Deep in these caves the meteor hides, though no explorer has found the place of the legendary rock from space! We've studied its fragments for many an hour and found that it increases a Pokémon's power. And that is why the attackers are here. They've come to take away the Moon Stone, I fear!"

"Does that guy have to say everything in rhyme?" Trevor grumbled.

"Ever since I was a little boy, I've believed that Pokémon came to Earth from outer space." Seymour continued.

"Outer space?" everyone, both the humans and the Pokémon, exclaimed incredulously.

"And where you ask, is the spacecraft that brought them to Earth? It's in this cave! It's the Moonstone!" Seymour cried.

"Um, I'm not even going to dignify that with a response." Trevor said, rolling his eyes.

"You just did." Venom teased.

"That's, um, certainly an original theory." Misty said.

"Don't you see?" Seymour exclaimed. He tried to grab Ash, but Venom extended his poison barbs and Judy blocked him. Seymour had just enough sense to back off. "The stone belongs to the Pokémon! We humans can't take it from them! You agree with me, don't you?"

"Of course we do." Brock told him, casually stepping between him and Ash, knowing his young friend was just a little bit creeped out by Seymour.

"We need to get these lights down before the damage to the Pokémon in this cave becomes worse. If we find the generator we can shut it down." Ash stated.

"I don't know where the generator is." Seymour told him. "I've been looking."

"I'll help you." one of the Paras Ash had helped said, scuttling up to them. He had higher Defense than his colony and was less affected by the lights. "I saw what must have been the source of power for those painful lights, but I couldn't break it down. It shocked me." He started to move in a certain direction.

"I think that Paras wants us to follow him." Ash told the group. "Maybe it knows where the generator or the Moon Stone is." He didn't want Seymour to find out about his power. He doubted the man could keep a secret.

Paras looked at Judy in confusion. "I thought he could understand us."

"He can, but he doesn't want that guy in the white lab coat to know he can." she replied.

"Ah." Paras tapped Ash's foot with his claw, then crawled further in the cave, stopping to look back at them, signaling to all what he wanted.

"Might as well follow it." Misty said, trying to help Ash. They followed the little Paras down the tunnel. Suddenly, a Clefairy hopped past them, carrying a little Moon Stone. Ash heard, "I have to get this to the cave before the full moon rises! I don't want to be late," but all the others heard was "Clefairy, Clefairy, Clefairy!"

"That looks like a Clefairy." Brock said.

"It's so cute!" Misty cooed.

Ash stepped forward, wanting to warn it about the robbers trying to steal their Moon Stone.

"You can't catch it!" Seymour cried. "It belongs here!"

"Let go of me!" Ash shouted, struggling. "I wasn't trying to catch it! I was trying to warn it about those troublemakers! Didn't you notice that it's carrying a tiny piece of a Moon Stone?"

Seymour let go, and the Clefairy turned to look at them. "Troublemakers?" she said in a tiny, frightened voice, running off.

"Wait! Don't go…" Ash was cut off by the Clefairy screaming in terror. They ran in that direction to find the Clefairy cornered by a Meowth.

"Don't be scared of Meowth!" the meowth said in an intimidating tone.

Misty gasped. "A talking Meowth?"

The Meowth glanced in their direction. "You twerps get out of here. It's Team Rocket's cave now!"

"Venom! Use your new attack!" Ash told the Kakuna.

"On it!" Venom replied, using Harden, then wrapping his String Shot around a boulder and swinging into Meowth, knocking him across the cave.

"Ow…" Meowth groaned.

Ash approached the Clefairy. "Are you okay?" he asked softly.

"Yes, thanks to both of you." she murmured, still a little shaken.

Suddenly, Venom began to glow, evolving once again. The new Beedrill tested out his wings. "Yes! I can move now! And I can fly!" He did a barrel roll in the air.

"So, Team Rocket's the ones who have been causing trouble in this cave." Misty stated.

"Trouble?" A taunting female's voice was heard. The woman Ash, Trevor, and Kiara had seen in the news appeared. She was carrying a shovel.

"Make it double." A young man with blue hair carrying a pickax appeared.

"To protect the world from devastation."

"To unite all peoples within our nation."

"To denounce the evils of truth and love."

"To extend our reach to the stars above."

"Jessie." The woman struck a pose.

"And James."

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

"Surrender now or prepare to fight."

"Meowth, that's right!" Meowth got up, rubbing his head, and joined his partners.

While they were reciting their motto, Judy had slipped past them, leading the young Clefairy out of harm's way.

"Yeah, these guys are idiots. My assessment was right." Trevor said, rolling his eyes.

"Hey, I resent that remark!" Meowth yelled. He ran at the Rattata, about to use Scratch. Trevor just rolled his eyes again and countered with a Tackle, knocking Meowth back into the others.

"What are you doing here? Can't you see you're hurting the Pokémon in this cave? Those lights are making them confused!" Brock yelled.

"What a shame." Jessie said with a grin.

"How will we ever forgive ourselves?" James retorted sarcastically.

"We want to get our hands on a Moon Stone so we can power up our Pokémon with it." Meowth said, speaking like he wasn't a Pokémon himself.

"With the Moon Stone in our hands, nothing can stop us!" Jessie exclaimed.

"Well, you're going to have to get through all of us first!" Ash yelled, moving so he was blocking their path to the scared Clefairy.

Brock nodded. "You want a rock? Take one of those and get out!" He pointed to a random boulder.

"Get lost? How rude!" Jessie said.

"Let's teach them some manners!" James continued. "Koffing, go!" A gaseous orb of a Pokémon appeared.

"Misty, keep an eye on Seymour, Paras, and Clefairy. Make a run for it as soon as you get the chance. Judy, help her." Ash instructed. They nodded.

"Go Ekans!" Jessie shouted. "A purple snake Pokémon was released.

"Kiara, I need your help!" Ash told his starter. She flew off his shoulder, assuming a battle stance.

"Here we go!" Brock called. He threw a Poké Ball and a Zubat came out of it.

"When did you…" Ash started.

"I caught it outside the cave." Brock replied.

"Koffing, Smog Attack!" James ordered. The Poison Pokémon released a cloud of thick, gaseous smoke.

"Zubat, use Wing Attack! Blow that smoke back at them!" Brock instructed.

"Got it!" Zubat said, flapping his wings. The smoke went backwards, covering Jessie, James, and their Pokémon in it.

"Good move, Brock." Ash congratulated.

Suddenly, Ekans dived out of the smoke, aiming a Bite at Kiara. Thanks to her quick reflexes, she backed out of the way by centimeters. Zubat wasn't so lucky. He was tackled by Koffing.

"Kiara, use Aerial Ace!" Ash commanded. She slammed into Ekans, sending him back several feet.

"Zubat, Supersonic!" Brock ordered. Zubat opened his mouth and emitted a high pitched shriek, confusing Ekans and Koffing and causing them to fight each other instead of their opponents.

"Oh no! Ekans and Koffing, what's with you weaklings?" James exclaimed.

"Need some help, Kiara?" Venom asked, moving forward. That may have been cheating, but they were dealing with thieves, not participating in a Pokémon League battle.

"Most certainly." Kiara replied with the Spearow version of a feral smile. They rushed at Jessie and James, Venom readying his Twineedle attack and Kiara about to use Peck.

Even Jessie and James weren't stupid enough to think they could handle an angry Spearow and Beedrill with their Pokémon incapacitated. They returned Ekans and Koffing, running down a side cave and screaming, "You may have defeated us, but we'll be back!" Kiara and Venom chased them out of the mountain before returning to their trainer.

"They ran screaming." Venom reported.

"I think they saw that, Ven." Kiara laughed. "Anyway, we chased them out of the mountain."

"I have a uneasy feeling they'll be back though." Trevor murmured. "Everyone needs to remain on their guard."

"Thanks, guys." Ash told them. He relayed to Brock what his Pokémon had said.

Brock frowned. "Ash, I have the strangest feeling we're forgetting something."

"Yeah, I think you're…" Their eyes widened and they shouted at the same time, "Where's Meowth?!"

…...

In a hurry to warn her colony, Clefairy ran from the group, disappearing out of a small gap.

Misty gasped. "Oh no! Clefairy's running away!"

"Clefairy! It's dangerous! Don't leave the group!" Judy cried, running after Clefairy.

Clefairy either hadn't heard them or she was ignoring them, so she started to bounce up a nearby cliff. Judy, Misty, and Seymour climbed after her. Paras had no climbing ability, so he waited at the bottom.

"Clefairy, come back!" Seymour called frantically.

"Meowth's got you now!" Meowth taunted, blocking the Clefairy's path. Trying to get away, she fell off the cliff, hitting Misty in the head. Misty started to fall, and Judy reached out, grabbing her, but lost her own grip on the cliff. They knocked Seymour off the cliff as well. Thankfully, they all landed in a small river.

Meowth climbed down after them, landing on a rock. "All right. Now give Meowth that Moon Stone!"

"Meowth, I'm sure we can be reasonable about this." Seymour stammered.

"No, we can't!" Meowth yelled, launching himself at Seymour.

"You're right." Judy said, jumping in front of Seymour and using a Karate Chop. Meowth went flying backwards, landing about ten feet away into the river. He groaned, got up and did the sensible thing. He ran for his life.

"Hey, is everyone alright?" Ash asked as he and Brock ran up to them.

"Everyone's fine, thanks to Judy." Misty smiled at the Fighting Type.

"Now that Team Rocket's gone at least temporarily, let's find the generator and shut it down." Ash said. Paras once again tapped Ash on the foot, then scuttled back into the cave opening. The group followed it.

A few minutes later, they found the generator. Brock found the switch and shut it down. Then he grabbed a bag of sugar, pouring it into the gas tank.

"What are you doing?" Ash questioned, confused.

"Sabotaging the generator so Team Rocket can't just start it right back up again."

"Oh." Ash replied simply.

"Thanks." the Paras said gratefully. "The Pokémon of this cave owe you for this." He hugged Ash's and Brock's ankles, something that needed no translation.

"You're welcome, Paras." Ash replied.

Brock smiled. "Glad we could help."

"I've got to give my offering to the Moon Stone before the Moon Festival begins!" the Clefairy exclaimed. "Would all of you like to be my guests to the ceremony? Wait, why am I even asking? You humans can't understand me!"

"Our trainer can, but he's trying to keep it a secret." Kiara said, nudging Ash, who was trying to figure out how to respond to the Clefairy without alerting Seymour. "The human with the brown hair and the girl with the red hair know, but the one in white doesn't and Ash would like to keep it that way."

"Okay, I understand." the Clefairy said. She ran a short distance, then looked back.

"I think she wants us to follow her." Ash informed the others, not that the signal needed much translation.

"How do you know it's a she?" Seymour asked, scratching his head.

"Um, good guess?" Ash stammered. Brock rolled his eyes. Ash was a horrible liar. But thankfully, Seymour seemed to buy it.

The Clefairy led them out of the cave they were in and started running up a hill. The group hurried to catch up to her. "Where is she taking us?" Misty wondered.

"It's another cave." Ash murmured.

Trevor nudged him playfully. "Congratuations, Mr. Points Out The Obvious A Lot." he teased.

They entered the grotto, gasping in awe as they saw the giant sparkling rock inside. "It's the core of the Moon Stone…" Seymour breathed.

"It feels like a dream…" Misty murmured.

"So the legend of the Moon Stone is true." Brock said in awe.

"Look! Clefairy's doing something!" Ash pointed out. The Clefairy placed her little fragment of meteor next to the Moon Stone next to the dozens of others. "May the moon spirits accept my offering." she said softly.

Dozens of other Clefairy came out. "There's so many…" Misty breathed.

An older male Clefairy turned to the group and asked, "Who are they? Why did you bring them here, Shawna?"

"They're my friends." Shawna replied. "They saved me when thieves tried to capture me and take my offering piece." The other Clefairy gasped.

"There were two people and a Meowth here earlier. We fear they are attempting to steal your Moon Stone. We chased them away, but they threatened to come back. We do not know if they will." Ash warned.

The Clefairy began murmuring among themselves, wondering if the ceremony should be stopped and the Moon Stone hidden. Suddenly one stepped forward. It was a female with a dreamy expression in her eyes.

"Our Moon Stone will be safe." she said in a soft whispery voice. "It will be protected."

"Luna has spoken." the older male announced. "Her visions never lie. We will continue the ceremony as planned."

"Do you think they want us to leave?" Ash asked.

"He can understand us." the Clefairy the older male was calling Luna reported, gesturing subtly towards Ash. "But he's hiding. He fears the consquences if the wrong person learns about the power inside him. With some of the people he has and will encounter, his fear is justified." Ash nearly asked how she knew that, then remembered that Seymour was still in the room and clamped his mouth shut.

The older male nodded to Luna, then walked up to Ash. "We want all of you to stay. You have done our people a great service by protecting our Shawna. Please, stay and watch the ceremony. It will begin in an hour, with the rising of the moon."

"I guess they want us to stay." Brock said, almost getting his pants pulled down by a Clefairy that was trying to encourage him to sit.

"Fascinating…" Seymour murmured. "The Clefairy have formed their own society."

The group sat quietly for a few minutes, then Ash's stomach rumbled loudly, making a few of the younger Clefairy giggle.

"I wonder if it's polite to eat in here." Brock said, glancing at Ash, yet trying not to make it too obvious.

"It's fine." a Clefairy assured.

"I don't see why it wouldn't be, especially if we share our food with them." Ash said.

"Good thing I made enough food for an army." Brock replied.

Misty let out Metapod, who cooed and attempted to jump into her lap, but missed. Giggling, she lifted him up. Brock released his Geodude, Onix, and Zubat as well.

Brock tossed sandwiches to the humans in the group and took out cans of his special Pokémon food. "I improved the recipe based on your reccomendations." he told Ash as he passed him the food he had made especially for Ash's Pokémon. "See how they like it." His eyes said that he was dying to ask Ash a hundred questions but was holding back due to Seymour being in the room. Brock passed Metapod's food to Misty and handed several cans to the Clefairy for them to share.

"This is even better than usual." Trevor stated, digging into his food.

"Let me try some." Seymour said, grabbing a piece right out of Venom's can while the Beedrill was eating out of it. "Hmm, not bad, not bad…"

"Hey! That was mine!" Venom complained.

"Who steals food from a Beedrill?" Misty whispered to Brock, her eyes wide. She wasn't as afraid of Venom as she would have been of any other Beedrill; he was Ash's Pokémon and had saved their lives, but still, to take food from ANY Beedrill…

Trevor rolled his eyes. Wow, he had been doing a lot of that lately. "Apparently him."

…...

A while later, the Clefairy stopped eating and suddenly stood. "The Moon Ceremony begins." the older male Clefairy announced. He placed another small piece of meteorite in front of the Moon Stone, completing the circle. "Moon spirits, accept our offerings and guide those of us that wish to evolve tonight." To the group's amazement, the Moon Stone began to glow. The Clefairy began to dance, chanting a beautiful, yet haunting prayer.

"What are they saying, Ash?" Misty whispered.

Ash turned around to make sure Seymour was not listening. Thankfully, the scientist was occupied watching the Clefairy. "It's a prayer to the Moon Stone. Well, more to the moon spirits. Many are planning on evolving tonight, and it's the Moon Stone that gives them that power." he told her quietly.

"I wish I knew what they were doing." Seymour murmured.

"It looks like some kind of ritual." Brock said, having overheard Ash and Misty's quiet conversation.

"It's almost like they're worshipping the Moon Stone." Misty put in, knowing Ash was doing his best to keep his secret. Shawna nodded, giving Misty a smile.

"Is it because the Moon Stone fell from the heavens?" Seymour questioned.

"Then the legends are true. Maybe the Moon Stone did come from space." Misty said.

"Of course! It all makes sense now!" Seymour exclaimed. "Outer space! Pokémon and the human race will ride the Moonstone into space! First to the moon, then to Mars, then together to the stars! STARS!"

"Hoo boy…" Trevor sighed.

Suddenly, Team Rocket burst in. "Stars? That's our cue!" Meowth said. The Clefairy stopped their dance and shivered in fear. Only Luna seemed unfazed.

"You guys don't know when to quit!" Ash yelled.

"Keep away from the Moon Stone or else!" Seymour was trying to sound brave, but the effect was kind of ruined by his knees knocking.

"Or else?" Jessie said mockingly.

James laughed. "I think we've been threatened."

"The Moon Stone belongs to the Clefairy, not to you troublemakers! Leave this cave at once!" Seymour demanded, his voice shaking.

"What's that unusual sound?" James taunted.

"His knees are shaking!" .Jessie replied with an evil grin.

"Sounds like a wimp!" It was Meowth that spoke this time. Seymour lunged at them and Meowth tripped him.

"My glasses! I can't see a thing!" Seymour cried, feeling around for his glasses.

"Leave him alone!" Ash yelled. Kiara dived between him and Team Rocket, cawing a threat.

"Make us." Jessie taunted him, releasing her Ekans as James released his Koffing.

"We will." Onix growled, moving in front of Brock. No one saw Trevor whisper something to Judy. She nodded quickly, then told Trevor's plan to the Clefairy.

"Show them that size doesn't matter!" Jessie commanded her intimidated Pokémon. "Ekans, underground!"

"Koffing, use Smokescreen!" Thick smoke covered the area, making everyone cough. Brock released Zubat, commanding him to use Double Team to remove the smoke. When it cleared, Team Rocket had disappeared. And so had the Moon Stone.

"Team Rocket stole it!" Misty yelled.

"The match was just a trick so they could sneak away with it." Ash realized. A Clefairy handed Seymour his glasses, and Seymour ran out of the cave, trying to stop Team Rocket.

Suddenly, Ash heard laughter. He turned around to see Judy chuckling, clutching her sides.

"JUDY! They just stole the Moon Stone! Why are you laughing?" Ash shouted at his third Pokémon.

She stopped giggling. "I was picturing the look on Team Rocket's faces when the Graveler they just stole wakes up." She and the Clefairy pushed the real Moon Stone, which had been hidden in a dark corner, back into place.

Ash gaped at her. "Huh?"

"I caught on to what they were doing when they started the match." Trevor explained. "Misdirection is a typical thieves trick. I would know."

"Trevor, the only thing you have ever been successful at stealing is Ash's heart." Kiara teased, calming down now that she understood what was going on. Trevor glared at her.

"So, we decided to misdirect them instead." Judy continued for Trevor. "We pulled the switch while you guys distracted them with the match. They should find out in three…two.."

Outside, they heard an angry roar and screaming. Then there was a huge thump and the words, "Team Rocket's blasting off again!" The voices gradually faded into the distance.

Ash looked at his Pokémon in admiration. "You guys are amazing."

Judy grinned. "We know."

Seymour rushed back into the cave. "I saw Team Rocket getting chased by an angry Graveler! It used Rock Blast and sent them flying! But I couldn't find the…" He saw the Moon Stone sitting back in place. "Moon Stone? Wha…How?"

"It appears that the Clefairy and Ash's Pokémon pulled a switch." Brock told him.

The Clefairy thanked Judy and Trevor, then continued with their ritual. "Those who wish to evolve, go and touch the Moon Stone now." the leader said.Several stepped forward, touching the Moon Stone. They glowed, their new form increasing in size and gaining small wings. For those who could not understand Pokémon, their cry became, "Clefable, Clefable, Clefable!"

…...

"I decided to stay with the Clefable." Seymour told Ash and his friends after the ritual had ended.

"Huh?" Ash asked incredulously.

"It's been my life's dream to find the Moon Stone. Someday, I will travel to the stars with the Clefairy." Seymour replied.

"We'll keep him out of trouble." Shawna, who had remained a Clefairy, reassured, taking Seymour's hand.

"Or at least we'll try." one of the new Clefable muttered.

"If you do get to outer space, send us a postcard." Brock said.

They were about to leave when Ash felt a touch on his hand. He looked down to see Luna, who had become a Clefable.

"I am glad what was once hidden from you has become found." she said in the same soft, dreamy tone.

"I…don't understand." Ash admitted.

She smiled sadly. "You will in time. No door remains locked forever. Just remember, what will hurt you will also heal you. And I know both your team and the family who chose you will be there for you when the truth is revealed." Luna gave him a hug, then walked away. Both Ash and his team looked at her in shock.

"Trevor, you're a genius. Do you have any idea what she just said?" Ash asked his starter, making sure Seymour wasn't listening. Thankfully, he was distracted, talking to Shawna about his outer space theory.

"I'm sorry, Ash. I've never been good with those kinds of riddles."

"Just let it go for now." Kiara advised, nuzzling Ash. "We'll probably never figure it out until the truth decides to reveal itself. And Luna's right. No matter what, we will always be there for you."

Ash gave a faint smile, stroking his starter's feathers. "Thank you."

…...

They took leave of Seymour and left Mt. Moon the next morning. "Do you think the Clefairy really did come to Earth from outer space?" Ash asked. Kiara was at her usual place on his shoulder, and the rest of his team walked or flew behind him.

"I don't know, but it's fun to believe they did." Misty said with a smile.

About half an hour later, they reached a sign directing them to Cerulean City. "Well, I guess we're headed the right way." Brock said. "But there's something else scribbled here."

"They say some kids like to write silly notes on these signs. What's it say?" Ash asked.

Brock squinted to read the message. "Gary was here. Ash is a loser?! What the-?"

"Ugh!" Ash screamed. "Loser? I'll show you, Gary!" He ran off, and Kiara had to fly off his shoulder to keep from landing on the ground at the speed Ash was going.

"He dares to call my trainer a loser?!" Kiara screeched. She watched her trainer running off and could tell how hurt he was under the anger. "Ash? Ash, slow down!" She flew off after her trainer, and the rest of Ash's team followed. Misty and Brock exchanged concerned glances before running after Ash as well, with one thought on their minds.

Who the heck is Gary?

 
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