Road to a Master

What if Delia had stepped in and made sure that Ash was prepared for his journey? After all, what kind of woman will allow her only son to travel a dangerous world ill-prepared? Smarter Ash, more prepared Ash. A mix of the games and the anime. WARNING - Chapter 5 is M-Rated for violence and mentions of rape.


10. Damian Part 1

Static filled the air as two streaks of electricity of different sizes made their way to the small bipedal pokémon who took the attacks without flinching. In fact, the electricity seemed to be absorbed by the receiver of the attacks. When the outbreak of electricity disappeared, a small static was released from twin pouches on the cheeks of the yellow pokémon.

"Better!" Ash commented once things settled down slightly. It was a day after Ash had beaten Lt. Surge to win his third gym badge. While Ash had expected to be competing at the tournament on the S.S. Anne, he had been told by the imposing gym leader that Nurse Joy had been misinformed. The last day for receiving the free tickets had been when they had their battle but the ship was to leave after ten days. This would give the organizers enough time to co-ordinate everything as leaving a day after the tickets were given out would have been an administrative hassle.

Ash, while slightly disappointed at first, soon saw the massive opportunity this presented to him to train his pokémon for the tournament. After giving his pokémon their well-deserved rest and picking up supplies for their impromptu ten-day training camp, they left Vermillion City for a small clearing close to the city. Ash had decided to make immediate use of the TM given to him by Lt. Surge the day before by teaching Shockwave to Pikachu, Dratini, and Kadabra.

For Pikachu, who had mastered Thunderbolt, an attack that required more power and finer control that Shockwave, mastering the new move took less than 15 minutes, something Ash honestly expected. This allowed Pikachu to help Dratini and Kadabra, and Ash was excited by how little time it was taking them to learn Shockwave, even if the information on how to use it was downloaded into their brains.

Dratini already knew Thundershock and the know-how of the attack was provided by the TM. All he had to do was generate enough power and learn control. Anyone who knew Dratini knew that power was not an issue for the dragon-type pokémon, and with Pikachu helping him learn how to control the electric current, Dratini was well on his way to mastering the move.

Kadabra was the one that surprised Ash. Having just evolved and knowing only Teleport and Confusion, Ash was hopeful that the psi pokémon would master Shockwave by the end of the training camp. However, an hour into training, his Shockwave was already almost as good as Dratini's. While Dratini could produce the power behind the attack and had to work on his control, Kadabra had masterful control and needed to generate more power. Ash had severely underestimated his newest pokémon as he was able to assimilate the information from the TM efficiently producing Shockwave on his first try, something even Dratini was unable to do.

As Ash was thinking all this, Pikachu got done giving explanations to the other two pokémon. After every try, Pikachu would explain what the other two did wrong or what to improve on and how. As a result, every consecutive try was better. This was Kadabra's idea, and as with all his ideas, it was absolutely brilliant. At the rate at which they were going, they would master the move by early afternoon, maybe even before lunch! His attention was snapped back to the pokémon as the process was repeated with Pikachu once again absorbing the electricity generated by his two comrades.

Once the attacks died down, Pikachu wobbled slightly before releasing static from his pouches in small bursts and finally stabilizing. This was something that Lt. Surge had suggested the previous day, before he left for the gym. Ash remembered that conversation vividly.


"Kid, I have some suggestions for your Pikachu," Lt. Surge said as they were eating a meal at the pokémon centre while waiting for their pokémon to be healed. The burly man had a scowl present on his face as Nurse Joy had taken great delight in teasing him about losing to a rookie when he was allowed to use a member from his actual team. She had threatened him to not injure the pokémon of the rest of his opponents so badly otherwise she would spread the news of his defeat to the entire pokémon community and make sure to make it as embarrassing as possible. Lt. Surge had reluctantly agreed to the terms of the devious woman.

"What is it?" Ash asked excitedly. He knew that even a small hint from Lt. Surge would help make his Pikachu more powerful than any other mundane, electric pokémon. The gym leader was known as a master of electric-type pokémon for a reason!

"From what I observed in our brief fight, your Pikachu is young. For him to be able to keep up with my Raichu, even when weakened, is no small feat. But the speed can be improved further. Win the tournament at the S.S. Anne. I know that the prize money for winning the tournament is large. Invest that money in training weights for your Eevee and Pikachu since they are the speedsters of your team. This will help them become true monsters on the battlefield."

Ash butted in with a question at this point. "While what you are saying makes sense, won't the weights become useless after a while?"

Lt. Surge just smirked at the kid. "Brat, we live in a world where a massive Snorlax can be fitted into a ball the size of your hand. Do you really think that the training weights will be so….simple?" he asked out loud as he was visibly struggling with finding a word to express his thoughts. "Anyway," he snapped back to the conversation, "I'm suggesting you to invest in the weights because they are not cheap. They have settings on them that alter the weight of the equipment as you see fit. Don't ask me how it works, I'm a soldier, not an engineer!" he added quickly when he saw Ash open his mouth and correctly interpreted his question.

When Ash nodded in compliance, he continued. "Other than speed, I saw your Pikachu's diversity in attacks. For a young one to master Thunderbolt is no mean feat. And you've started on him learning non-electric-type attacks as well as evidenced by his Iron Tail and Brick Break. You can help him learn some new moves, that's your prerogative. But, you need to start working on his power!"

"How do I do that?" Ash asked, leaning forward with interest. So far, he assumed that a pokémon grows more powerful as he matures. But, if there was a way to make a pokémon grow more powerful, he was very interested in it!

"Tell me, Ash. Do you know what those pouches on the cheeks of that evolution line signify?"

"Yes. They are pouches that store the electricity for its attacks. They are also the reason why the Pikachu line can use Volt Tackle."

"Yes, that's true. And as the pokémon increases the amount of electricity stored in those pouches, the power behind its moves also increases." After saying this, Lt. Surge kept quiet for a while as he let Ash figure out the meaning behind those words on his own. And he was not disappointed, as Ash shot him a look of a man who had all his beliefs proven wrong at one go.

"What are you trying to say? Are you saying that if a Pikachu increases the storage capacity in its pouches little by little every day, it will have almost infinite power after a few years?!"

Lt. Surge laughed out loud at hearing this statement. "Kid, ever heard of limits? A man, no matter how powerful, can only lift a certain weight, no matter how much he trains. Similarly, the Pikachu line can store only a certain amount of electricity before it reaches its limits. That's not to say that the limit is low. A powerful Raichu, like mine, can defeat even a Dragonite with a Thundershock. Of course, it took us years to reach that level!"

Ash nodded along, that made sense. However, he stopped when another thought came to his mind. "If your Raichu can do that, how did my pokémon defeat it?" he asked curiously. "Even if it was the combined effort of three of my them."

The burly gym leader smirked. "Brat, just because you defeated a Raichu, what makes you think it was my starter?" With that parting commenting, he left Ash alone with his thoughts as he collected his pokémon and left the centre.


Ash had immediately tried to act on Lt. Surge's advice. He looked up the price of the training weights from Professor Oak, and realised that even a single set cost more than what he had saved till now. This lead him to think about how much the prize for the S.S. Anne tournament must be before going back to working on the advice Lt. Surge gave him. Since training weights were out, he had to think of how to increase Pikachu's power. Fortunately, it was easy. His Lightning Rod ability allowed him to absorb other electric attacks and could increase the electricity stored in his pouches a little every day by absorbing a Thundershock or two from Dratini. The progress they made in learning Shockwave helped.

"That's enough for today," he said out loud. When his pokémon gave him confused looks, he elaborated. "Pikachu, we don't want you to absorb too much electricity at one go, it would be harmful for you. Lt. Surge instructed us to increase it gradually! Kadabra, Dratini, you have the basics of Shockwave down, now all you need is practice. So, do so for an hour every day till you master it. If after a week you have not mastered the move, we will focus exclusively on it. For now, let's go talk to Eevee. She looks upset." His pokémon nodded in agreement and they moved to where Eevee and Floette were observing the proceedings for the previous hour. He was at a loss for what to teach Floette next and Eevee looked upset when she came out of her pokeball. Ash thought it might be one of those days where she woke up on the wrong side of the bed but since her mood had not improved in the last hour, he decided he needed to address the issue.

"Eevee," he called out. The evolution pokémon looked at him with doleful eyes before looking away from him. It looked like she found a rock more interesting to look at than him since she started a staring contest with it.

"Eevee," he tried again but this time she ignored him completely. "Eevee, come on, look at me." Ash said gently. He raised his hands and started petting her exactly where she liked it but she continued to look away from him. "Come on, Eevee. Tell me what's wrong. I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong with you." He tried again but the results were the same. His pokémon chimed in and started talking to her but they were rebuffed as well. In fact, Eevee seemed to be curling into herself even more.

"Eevee, please tell me," Ash pleaded. "It breaks my heart to see you like this! I love you, Vee!" That got a reaction from her, just not what Ash expected. Eevee turned to look at her trainer and they all saw tears falling from her large, brown eyes. "Oh, Vee!" Ash exclaimed as he scooped her up and cuddled with her. After comforting her for a few minutes, he decided to probe the issue at hand. "What's wrong, Vee?"

Slowly, hesitantly, she started talking in a series of yips. When she finished, she looked away from him and for the first time Ash recognised her emotions. She was ashamed. Of what, Ash had no idea.

'Friend trainer,' Kadabra's voice rang out in his head. 'Eevee thinks that you will be mad at her for losing the gym battle. She says that it was the first time you trusted her with such an important match and she could not even defeat one opponent.'

Ash looked incredulously at the psi pokémon. He then turned his attention to Eevee. "Is what Kadabra saying true? Do you really think I'm mad at you for not being able to defeat that Raichu?" Ash asked in disbelief. When Eevee nodded hesitantly, Ash just sighed exasperatedly. "Eevee, I thought you knew me better than that! I can never, ever be upset at any one of you for losing a battle unless you don't put all your efforts into it! Which you did! And you were absolutely magnificent!" At Eevee's disbelieving look, he elaborated. "Vee, that Raichu was no normal pokémon. Do you remember me telling you guys about how we will face extremely strong opponents from the fourth gym onwards?" Upon seeing a nod from each of his pokémon, he continued. "Raichu was an opponent like that. Due to an unforeseen circumstance, we had to face an opponent like that. And you played a major role in that victory. If you had not damaged it so much in your battle, Pikachu would probably not have been to defeat it." Pikachu helpfully nodded along with that and gave Eevee a thumbs up.

Ash smiled at his starter pokémon before giving Eevee a kiss on her head. "Don't ever think I'll be upset at you for such a reason again, you hear me? I love you, Vee!" It seemed like his encouragement worked as she perked up a little before licking his cheek fondly. Ash laughed happily before turning to all his pokémon. "Come on, let's decide what you all will learn over the next ten days!"

"Kadabra, you will work on mastering Iron Tail and Shockwave. Other than that, you are free to read and practice your psychic powers as you see fit." After Kadabra nodded happily at that, he turned to Pikachu.

"Let's change things up, Pikachu. I want you to start learning a few non-electric element attacks. Start with Signal Beam. This will probably be extremely difficult and time-consuming for you to learn as it is a bug-type attack. Learning this will be similar to how Eevee learnt Shadow Ball, so please take her help with this. Since you are an electric-type pokémon, you have no bug-type energy in you. You will have to feel the energy in the air around you to find the natural bug energy that exists. Meditate to do so, familiarize yourself with it."

Pikachu nodded in understanding and went to train. Ash moved to his dragon pokémon. The bump on his forehead was elongating slightly into a horn and with his height crossing the six-foot barrier, it was obvious that he was on the cusp of evolving, something that pleased Ash to no end. "Dratini, you will start learning Dragon Tail. This attack is similar to Iron Tail. I want you to start by concentrating your dragon-type energy into your tail. Do so till it is entirely coated with energy. You can start working on increasing the speed it takes to divert the energy to your tail after that." Dratini gave a happy coo and moved away to start concentrating on learning the new attack.

"Floette, it's time you learnt more fairy-type attacks. I want you to start learning Dazzling Gleam. To do so, you will have to cover your entire body in fairy-type energy and divert that energy onto your opponent. I want you to start by familiarizing yourself with the fairy-type energy in your body and drawing it out at will." Once Floette started training in her new move, Ash shifted his focus to the last member of his team.

"Eevee, let's have you learn Bite. You will have to channel a bit of dark-type energy into your mouth and bite your opponent viciously. Start with familiarizing yourself with and channelling the dark-type energy. Then work on the strength of your bite. Okay?" Having given instructions to all of his pokémon, he went to sit in the shade of a tree as he observed his pokémon going about their given tasks. He took out the egg to polish, something he often did while his pokémon trained.

He was aware that his pokémon had reached a stage where learning any new move would be a challenge. They now had to know themselves and their energies inside out. It wasn't just a small burst of power and the attack was over. No, now they had to be able to channel and control their energies throughout their bodies, something only Eevee had slight knowledge of from learning Shadow Ball. While it had taken her a lot of time to learn that attack, he was confident that his pokémon would not take so long this time. They all had grown more powerful, more mature in the previous months. And the ten-day stretch of only training with no travelling and minimal battling was the perfect time for them to start this phase of their learning.

The next few hours passed without incident, each one of them concentrating on learning their new attack. Pikachu had quickly sought the advice of Eevee on how to sift through the various energies in the atmosphere and isolate one of them. As Ash was about to call them back for lunch, he felt the egg in his hands shake slightly causing him to freeze. He stared at it in anticipation as he waited for it to hatch. A minute passed, then two. Slowly, time dragged by and the egg remained stationary. Ash frowned, thinking it was a figment of his imagination. He put the incident behind him as he called his pokémon for lunch.


The days passed by in a similar vein. Ash would go from pokémon to pokémon encouraging them as they struggled with learning the new moves. He knew that this part of training was crucial for his pokémon; they would need to master their innate power to become truly powerful. Professor Oak had told him that very few pokémon have a complete mastery of their powers and the ones who did were known throughout history as the most powerful pokémon of that time. Most League Champions, the Elite Four, and the Gym Leaders had one or two pokémon like that. And that boggled Ash's mind. The best of the best in the region had only one pokémon who had reached that level?! Was it really that difficult to reach that status?

Even if it was, Ash's pokémon were starting down that path. Pikachu had a broad understanding of his electric powers and was just starting to tap into what else he could learn. The true test for him would come when he started learning Volt Tackle. Kadabra had evolved recently and was only just experimenting with his powers and getting used to his new form. It would take him a month or two to reach the stage where he tries to start mastering his powers. Floette had started down that path by learning to channel her energy for Dazzling Gleam, a stepping stone for when she learns Moonblast, the pinnacle of fairy-type attacks. Dratini too had started tapping into his draconic energy but the actual work would be when he evolves. He was just laying the foundations for later. Eevee, however, cannot do anything till she decides what she wants to evolve into.

And it looks like there may be progress in what she has finally decided. She had not trained on the second day of the camp, opting to sleep instead. She had only gotten up to eat, after which she was back to sleeping peacefully. She finally awoke around five in the evening and did some light training before Ash called for a halt for the day. The process continued the next day and Ash was wondering if something was wrong with her. He decided to wait for a couple of days to see if it continued and then he would take her to Nurse Joy.

This occurred on the fourth day as well. However, that night Ash was woken up from his sleep by a light scuffle. Normally, he wouldn't have woken up from a small sound like that, but he had had a little trouble sleeping. The egg kept shaking at random parts of the day and then stopping. It never shook more than once or twice. Ash kept thinking it to be a figment of his imagination but after it occurred one time too many, he had finally called Professor Oak to inform him about this earlier that day. The venerable professor just smiled happily and told Ash that the shaking egg was a sign that it was close to hatching. This gave Ash immense joy and the excitement coursing through his body was making it difficult for him to sleep.

He opened his eyes to see Eevee trying to bite a rock. He frowned, wondering why she was training late in the night before getting up to make his way towards her. His footsteps alerted her to his presence as she bounded to him and happily settled into his arms, giving his face a lick.

"Hey, Vee," Ash smiled softly and petted her head. "What are you doing training so late in the night?"

"Vee, Eevee!" she exclaimed pointing to the sky and then the rock trying to explain her reasoning. Ash frowned upon realising that he was not able to understand her gestures, something he could have done a month ago. It seems like he had gotten used to Kadabra translating what his pokémon wanted to say and his interpreting skills had gotten rusty. He would have to amend that. After all, if he can't understand each of his pokémon, what kind of a trainer would he be?

"You want to night?" he asked uncertainly. While he understood what she meant when she pointed at the rock, he was unable to understand what she meant when she pointed at the sky.

"Vee!" came the resolute nod from the evolution pokémon.

Ash thought about this for a while wondering why she was insisting on training at night before the answer hit him. "Eevee," he called out tentatively. "Are you thinking of evolving into an Umbreon?"

"Vee, Eevee!" she nodded happily, with a glint of determination in her eyes.

"You're powerful as you are now, Vee. You don't have to evolve if you don't want to." Ash remembered the conversation he'd had with her three days ago. He didn't want her to take a knee-jerk reaction and end up doing something she'll regret. But it seemed like his words fell on deaf ears as she continued looking at him with the same determined eyes.

"Are you sure?" Ash sighed when her expression didn't change. "Just don't do something you will regret, Vee. I love you no matter what, always remember that!" Eevee licked his face in return before hopping down from his arms and going back to training. Ash just gave her a wry smile before leaving some food out for her in case she got hungry and went back to sleep.

The next couple of days passed by in a blur of watching over his pokémon as they trained (or slept, in Eevee's case) and waiting in anticipation for the egg to hatch. But that night, something different happened. A couple of hours after Ash and his pokémon other than Eevee went off to sleep, they were awakened by the evolution pokémon. They looked at her curiously as she bounded around in excitement. Any question they had was silenced by Eevee calling her name out loud one last time in excitement before she was enveloped in a bright light. Her body started elongating and became more streamlined. The light died down and in Eevee's place stood a different pokémon.

The brown eyes had changed to crimson while the brown fur turned black. Her ears and tail had a yellow band around them while her forehead and legs had yellow rings on them which were glowing in the dark of the night, giving an intimidating appearance. Eevee had finally evolved into an Umbreon.

For a moment, there was silence as everyone digested this development before everyone exploded into action and engulfed the Moonlight pokémon in a group hug. As all of them chattered amicably with the newly evolved pokemon, Ash looked at her with pride. "Congratulations, Umbreon. I'm so proud of you," said as he petted her head.

"Breon!" she said as she nuzzled into Ash's hand for a moment before looking at him with much more intelligent eyes than before.

"How about we all go back to sleep? We can continue training tomorrow and you," he gestured towards Umbreon, "need to acclimatise to your new body."

His pokémon nodded before everyone lay down together to sleep.

The next morning, they all woke up with new rigour for training. Everybody wanted to see how powerful Umbreon was after evolving. To get her used to moving around in her new body, Ash had her spar with Pikachu. And soon it became obvious that Umbreon was faster than before. While Eevee and Pikachu were around the same speed before the former's evolution, now Umbreon was obviously faster. While the difference wasn't too high at the moment, the gap would become higher once Umbreon got fully used to her body.

After the short spar, Ash had them start their training for the day. He often joined his pokémon in the first part of their training as it was a good bonding experience and the first part was all about improving their base stats. Pikachu, Dratini, Floette, and Umbreon would do physical exercises to improve their speed and strength. Ash had come up with a simple exercise that combined the two and was similar to what Lt. Surge had suggested a week prior. Ash would tie a massive rock around their body to act as a weight and ask the pokémon to do sprints. It was easy to do at the moment since all his pokémon were relatively small in stature. While it was easy to do with Pikachu and Umbreon and to a small extent with Dratini, he needed some way to help Floette since he knew this exercise didn't help her too much.

Kadabra spent this time engaging his mind. His physiology meant that the more Kadabra used his mind and the sharper it became, the more powerful he grew. He still had a few books that Bill leant them to go through, and was happily reading them. With the way things were going, Ash would need to buy more books soon as he expected Kadabra to go through the remaining books in the next three days.

After the physical exercise came the free for all dodging exercise. His pokémon sent their most basic attacks at one another and the receiver would only be allowed to dodge, not counter. This was easiest for Kadabra since he just teleported out of the way, but this was also training for him. Teleporting would be the main way Kadabra would dodge attacks in a fight and he needed to get used to launching attacks of his own immediately after teleporting.

After this short but intense session, his pokémon took a much-needed break and had some food and conversed with one another. Today was to get to know Umbreon better and to see how much of her personality had changed after her evolution. Already she was more standoffish than before which wasn't too bad since dark-type pokémon often have a nasty personality. A little standoffishness is mild compared to that.

Once breakfast was over, Ash decided to hold another common session for all his pokemon, a first of this type. He had held off from doing this before because Eevee would not have been able to take part in this. But now things had changed after her evolution.

"Alright, everyone. Today we'll do something different, something Dratini and Floette started a week ago. Now that you all are growing stronger, I want you guys to start controlling the energies in your body. Be it electrical," he looked at his starter as he said this, "or draconic," he told Dratini, "or fairy," his eyes found Floette's, "or psychic," he nodded at his psi pokémon, "or dark," he finished while gesturing to the Moonlight pokémon.

"Most of you have experience with using at least one attack of your respective types. The only exception is Umbreon who evolved last night. So you all have a basic understanding of your energies at the very least. Now, I want you all to learn how to direct that energy to wherever you desire. It is your energy, it is for you to control, not the other way around."

"Dratini, you already know how to direct the energy to your mouth as you use Twister and Dragon Rage. Now, I want you to start directing that energy to your tail. Don't do anything with that energy, just learn to start controlling how and where it flows."

"Pikachu, you are perhaps the most advanced among all the pokémon," he told the mouse pokémon. "You have learnt how to direct the energy from the sacs on your cheeks to even your tail as you do so for electro ball. I want you to use that concept and send it to your limbs as well. Since you are the only one who knows how to direct it to two different parts of your body, I want you to help the others as well, okay?"

"Pi Pikachu," he nodded in ascent.

"Floette, the same thing as Pikachu. Learn to direct your fairy-type energy to different parts of your body. Once you can direct it to any limb at will, you can work on directing it to your entire body. Once you do so, you can work on Dazzling Gleam."

The fairy pokémon nodded happily. Truthfully, she was struggling to learn the new attack her trainer had instructed her to learn and she was feeling out of her depth. Breaking what she had to do into steps, she at least had a clear direction on what she had to do next."

"Umbreon, I know you don't have any experience with the dark-type energy flowing through your body now. So, you will have to do things differently. You need to learn how to call the energy out. It is all stored inside you. Once you have tapped into the energy, learn to direct it to your mouth. If you can do that, you will be able to learn Bite with ease."

Umbreon nodded happily. She knew she was behind the rest of her family having just evolved, but she would catch up soon. Her pride demanded nothing less.

"I want you and Pikachu to work together," Ash instructed. "You can help him learn Signal Beam and he can help you in drawing your energy out since he has the most experience among all of us in doing so." Once both pokémon nodded to show that they understood, he shifted focus to the last member of his team.

"Kadabra, this lesson is important for you as well."

'What do you mean?' Kadabra asked in surprise. 'Why would I need to learn this?'

"Because you need to be able to control your energy as well. And not just control, but direct it as well. Or have you forgotten that your line can learn attacks like Zen Headbutt or Psycho Cut?" Ash asked with a smirk knowing he had won this round.

'I guess you're right,' Kadabra conceded unhappily.

"Oh, don't look so grumpy," Ash laughed. "Think of it this way. The sooner you learn this, the quicker you will be able to get back to reading to your heart's content."

Kadabra didn't say anything but the narrowing of his eyes showed his displeasure enough. The next second Ash yelped out loud as something hard hit him on the back of his head. He turned around to see a small rock hit the ground. The smugness coming from Kadabra told Ash who was responsible for that.

"Anyway, let's begin training," Ash said as he ignored the sniggering of his pokémon manfully.

His pokémon soon grew serious as they started concentrating on the task at hand. Surprisingly, it took less than an hour for one of his pokémon to make a breakthrough. Unsurprisingly, it was Pikachu who did so. With a loud "Pika, Pika!" Ash turned to see his starter's hands sparkling with static.

"Wow, Pikachu! That was quick! I expected you guys to spend a few days working on this!" Ash exclaimed.

"Pika Pi!" the mouse pokémon exclaimed as the static in his right hand went out and his left hand started glowing white and Pikachu made a chopping motion.

"Of course! You already know how to divert energy to your hands for Brick Break! Congrats, Pikachu. Perhaps you can explain to the rest how you were able to do it." Ash suggested. Pikachu nodded in agreement and started explaining to the rest of the pokémon. Ash smiled in adoration. His starter looked absolutely endearing when he got animated like that. The process must not have been as easy as Pikachu made it out to be as he was explaining for a good two minutes. Once done, he went back to learning how to better control his electric energy.

They continued doing this for the next few hours. Pikachu, having gotten a slight hang of it, continued trying to further his progress. The rest of his pokémon were having little success till finally Dratini's tail started glowing green. It flickered for barely a second before disappearing. But it was progress!

"Brilliant Tini! You almost got it! You're on the right track!" Ash exclaimed proudly. Unfortunately, that was the last thing of note that happened before lunch. After a break to give their bodies some rest, the pokémon went back to trying to learn their new moves. For Dratini and Floette, it was back to trying to control their innate energies, so they trained together. Pikachu and Umbreon went together as well since they needed each other's help for the next stage of their training. Kadabra, on the other hand, settled next to Ash to read a book, as Ash went back to polishing the egg.

The final three days of the camp went by in a similar manner. Unsurprisingly, Umbreon learnt how to bring out her powers since doing so was the easy part. She was now learning how to divert it to her mouth to use bite. There was progress and Ash was confident it would not take too long. Pikachu had yet to make any progress on learning Signal Beam. Dratini and Floette, however, were successful in diverting their innate energies to their limbs (or tail in Dratini's case) and had to progress to the next stage of learning their attack. Kadabra had finally made some progress on Iron Tail but both the psi pokémon and Dratini had mastered Shockwave over the ten days. All in all, Ash thought it was ten days well spent. His pokémon got some good training in and they were ready for the upcoming tournament.


Ash looked around in awe at the magnificence surrounding him. The S.S. Anne was truly breath-taking. Ash had never seen such luxury in his life! The floor had a wooden finish to it and was gleaming brightly in the sun. Lounge chairs were spread around the ship and there was a massive pool in the centre. Tables were spread across the room and all kinds of drinks and cuisine were on them. He could see people already on them enjoying the various luxuries available.

"Pikaaaa," his starter murmured in awe.

"I know, right?" Ash asked Pikachu rhetorically. "It's magnificent."

"ASH! HEY, ASH!" he heard his name being shouted from somewhere. He turned to see his childhood friend waving at him. She was accompanied by a middle-aged man with black, curly hair, bluish eyes and some facial hair on his face. She was wearing a blue shirt with black pants and a yellow-coloured belt.

"Hi, Ash! Long-time no see! How have you been?" Leaf asked excitedly as Ash drew closer to them. Ash blushed as he got his first look at her since they left for their respective journeys. The months on the road had done wonders for her figure, especially her legs which were on display with the short skirt she was wearing. He started at the small shock his starter gave him and mentally resolved to give him a treat later on for the save.

"Hi, Leaf! I've been good! Just won my third gym badge and will now participate in the tournament here. What about you? Are you participating as well?"

"Oh Arceus no!" she laughed in amusement. "I was always unsure if I wanted to challenge the gym circuit and the last few months have only affirmed my decision. I don't want to challenge the League, Ash."

"Hmm is that so?" Ash asked thoughtfully. He knew that not everyone could or even wanted to be a pokémon master. It was the toughest title to achieve for a reason. "Have you thought of what you wanted to do then?"

"Yep. I'm going to be a Pokémon Coordinator!" she proclaimed enthusiastically.

Ash could see that happening. Pokémon Coordinators were trainers who showed off the beauty of pokémon rather than train them to fight. They were often charismatic and good looking, as Leaf was, Ash's mind supplied to him making him blush once again. Stupid hormones.

"The Grand Festival won't know what hit them, will they?" Ash smirked confidently causing Leaf to giggle. "So, have you decided which region you will contest in first?" he asked knowing that the Kanto region didn't have the Ribbon Cup contest yet. There were rumours that preparations for the Cup were underway and it would take another two years for the inauguration to take place.

"I was originally going to go to the Hoenn Region. But when I was back home preparing for my journey, I ran into Professor Sycamore here," she replied while pointing out the man standing next to her.

"You mean the regional Professor of the Kalos Region?" Ash asked in surprise.

"You are well informed young man," Professor Sycamore spoke for the first time. "To be expected of the rookie trainer who has garnered such high praise from Professor Oak."

"Oh, I'm not that great," Ash replied while rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.

"Don't sell yourself short. The fact that you are competing in the tournament here is a big achievement in the first place. Only the best of the best trainers are here. And if that doesn't convince a person, Professor Oak's word should certainly do. Leaving aside all this, that Pikachu on your shoulder is enough to prove to me how good a trainer you are."

"You got that from just looking at him?" Ash asked in surprise.

This got a wry smile out of the professor from Kalos. "You don't get to be the regional professor of an entire region by being incompetent, Ash. I take pride in my work and I am good at it."

"You were never good at accepting praise, Ash." Leaf giggled. "As I was saying, I was going to go to Hoenn to start my journey but bumped into Professor Sycamore here. His love for the Kalos region was infectious. Not only that, but do you remember Serena? She was with us in Professor Oak's training camp."

"Serena? She was the girl who got that scrape, right?" Ash asked while trying to remember the girl he had spoken to and befriended for a brief time. "Didn't she go to another region with her mother?"

"Yep. She actually went to the Kalos Region. And she too is starting her journey soon. She plans on being a Pokémon Coordinator as well. I thought it would be fun to compete against her," she finished with a grin.

"That's great! Having a rival can really spur you on to get better! Or so I've heard," Ash replied back grinning as well.

"So you've heard? Don't you have enough rivals in Gary and Jonathan?"

"Nah," Ash replied his mood dimming slightly. "I did consider them rivals when I started my journey, but I have a different motivation now."

Leaf noticed his falling mood and was tactful enough to not question him on his statement despite her curiosity. Instead, she changed the topic. "So, where is your room?"

"It's room 27A. What about yours?"

"I'm sharing the room with Professor Sycamore since I am travelling with him. Ours is room 2B. It's one of the most luxurious ones unlike yours which is most probably a simple room given to the trainers," she finished with a frown.

"That suits me fine, Leaf," Ash laughed. "I prefer it actually. I don't know what I'd do with a luxurious room to be honest. As long as there is enough place for my pokémon and I, I am happy."

"Then you needn't worry, Ash," Professor Sycamore said. "All rooms on the S.S. Anne are big enough to accommodate even a Snorlax."

"What? Seriously?! This I have to see!" Ash exclaimed. "It was nice meeting you Professor Sycamore, but I think I'll go and check my room out. I want to see the schedule for the tournament. And see if there's a training room my pokémon can use. Bye, Leaf! I'll see you later, alright?"

"Bye, Ash. You better do well at the tournament! I'm putting money on you," Leaf smirked causing Ash to snort.

"Yes, it was nice to meet you, Ash. Perhaps we will meet again during the trip."

Ash asked around for the location of his room and made his way towards it. As he entered the corridor where his room was situated, he bumped into a girl around his age. She was slender with had grey eyes, wearing black trousers along with a black top and a long black V-shaped cloak, showing a hint of cleavage. But the thing that got Ash's attention the most was her long, wavy, creamy blonde hair. It swayed slightly as she walked and Ash was almost mesmerized by it. The two trainers exchanged a polite hello before walking to their respective destinations. Those destinations, coincidentally, were in the same direction causing the two to giggle at the slightly awkward situation they found themselves in.

They walked together silently for a few seconds before Ash stopped at the door marked as 27A. As he unlocked the door, he heard another door close by being unlocked and being curious, he turned to see the girl unlocking the door to the room opposite his. Seeing this, Ash started a conversation.

"It looks like we'll be neighbours."

"Does look like that. Are you here to go to the Kalos region or are you competing at the tournament?" she asked curiously.

"I'm competing at the tournament. I'll get off the ship after it gets over, probably at Lavender Town. What about you?"

"The same. I actually came here all the way from the Sinnoh Region to compete. My name is Cynthia," she introduced herself holding out her hand. "I look forward to facing you at the tournament."

"Hi, my name is Ash Ketchum," Ash shook her hand. "And this is my starter Pikachu."

"Pi Pikachu!" the tiny mouse pokémon waved at her from his spot at Ash's shoulder.

"Hello to you too, Pikachu," Cynthia smiled beautifully. "May I?" she asked as she lifted her hand for permission.

"That's really up to Pikachu here," Ash grinned at her. He could see she loved pokémon as much as he did. Something Pikachu must have felt as well as he leant into her touch and allowed her to scratch his head. "So, what are you doing here all the way from the Sinnoh Region?"

"Professor Rowan suggested I come here. He said it's a big tournament here and all the Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, and the Champion will be in attendance to scout the potential of the upcoming trainers. I don't know if you know this or not, but the Sinnoh Region has just started its own version of the Pokémon League and does not have an Elite Four or a Champion as such and the Gym Leaders are inexperienced as well. I want to hear the opinion of the elite trainers that are here. And I want a chance to meet my idol," she finished with stars in her eyes.

Ash laughed seeing her excitement. "I know that feeling," Ash commented. "Who is your idol?" he asked interested in her answer.

"The Champion, Lance," she replied with reverence in her voice.

"Oh, yes!" Ash agreed his voice full of remembrance causing his conversation partner to look at him sharply. Her suspicions were confirmed when he continued. "He is someone you don't ever forget meeting. His personality is magnetic and he is down to earth for such a popular figure."

"You've met him?" she asked incredulously.

"Yes," Ash replied, his enthusiasm dimming slightly as he remembered how he met the champion. "Let's just say that I got involved in something I should not have and he ended up saving my life. Literally."

Something about Ash's voice stopped Cynthia from questioning him further. So to distract him, she decided to change the topic. "Hey, you want to find out more information about the tournament together?"

"That sounds like a good idea," Ash smiled at her. "Why don't we go and keep our bags in our rooms and settle in?"

"Sure. Let's meet here in, say half an hour?" she asked.

"Alright, see you then!"

With one last smile at each other, they entered their respective rooms. Ash let you a whistle on seeing the room. Professor Sycamore was not kidding when he said that even a Snorlax can fit inside one of these rooms for it was absolutely massive. The rooms were probably designed with the pokémon in mind, Ash mused since trainers competing in the tournament were given these rooms and their pokémon could comfortably rest here outside the pokeball. Which is what Ash did as he released all his pokémon.

Together they explored the room. There was a cupboard for Ash to keep his clothes. There were a couple of magnificent perches hanging above the bed for the bird pokémon to comfortably rest. Speaking of the bed, it was absolutely massive. If Ash doubled the size of the bed in his room, it would still be smaller than the bed here. At the side was a massive aquarium for the water pokémon. Beautiful paintings hung on the walls of the room. The room was the most luxurious one Ash had seen in his life which led him to wonder exactly how luxurious the room Leaf stayed in would be.

Once done, Ash decided to have a little talk with all his pokémon. "Listen everyone." Once he was sure that he had the attention of all his pokémon, he continued. "From what I have been able to gather, this tournament is even bigger than what we thought it would be. Only the best of the best trainers have made it, so expect really difficult matches. This is our first chance to show our mettle to the world. Let's do this!" Ash exclaimed causing his pokémon to let out a cheer. They lounged around for a while before it was time to meet Cynthia.

On exiting the room, he had to wait for a couple of minutes before he was joined by the blonde beauty from the Sinnoh Region (not that Ash would tell her that out loud). Together, they went to the area where the tournament would be held. The ship was split up in seven decks. The first floor was where the dignitaries stayed and it was also where Leaf and Professor Sycamore were staying. The second floor was where the trainers competing in the tournament were staying. They were not told about what was on the next three floors but the floor after that was where the tournament was going to be held. The last floor was of course where the staff were staying.

When they entered the floor, they looked around trying to get a clue about where to go. Trainers were moving around talking to each other, laughter and excitement filling the air. Before they could make a decision, they heard someone calling out Ash's name.

Turning to the voice, Ash was surprised to see it was Misty who had called him. Walking towards her with Cynthia, he greeted the aspiring water pokémon master. "Hi, Misty. How have you been?" he asked politely as he exchanged a brief hug with her.

"I am good!" she exclaimed cheerfully. "And how have you been? Lt. Surge was telling me of your battle with him. He seems mighty impressed, something that is no easy feat."

"Haha, well.." Ash mumbled bashfully. Seeing this, Misty rolled her eyes. Same old Ash.

"Are you on such good terms with all Gym Leaders?" Cynthia asked curiously. Misty looked at the new comer with interest, having not seen her before. Ash, noticing this, decided to introduce the two girls to each other.

"Well, yeah," Ash admitted. "There is something about having a good battle with someone that makes you form a bond with them. Cynthia, this is Misty, the Cerulean City Gym Leader. Misty, this is Cynthia, she is from the Sinnoh Region."

"Hi!" Misty exclaimed as she thrust her hand forward for a handshake. "Nice to meet you! What are you doing here all the way from Sinnoh?"

"Nice to meet you too," Cynthia smiled. "As I told Ash, the Sinnoh League has just started. While I have overcome any challenge I have faced in Sinnoh so far, I want to test myself against those of an already established League. I also want to hear the opinion of you guys. The Gym Leaders of Kanto, the Elite Four, and if possible, even Lance," she finished dreamily causing Misty to laugh.

"I'm sure you'll get to know your answer by the end of the week," she said cheekily.

"Hey, Misty!" Ash commented. "You seem oddly cheerful. You were never this happy in Cerulean City."

"That's because I recently caught a pokémon I have wanted since childhood!" she said showing a V with her fingers causing both Ash and Cynthia to lean forward in anticipation. Misty smirked at them before releasing the pokémon. The pokémon that stood in front of them was small, barely a foot tall. What made it easily recognisable was that it resembled a blue coloured turtle. The only odd thing about it was the black-coloured sunglasses it was wearing.

"A Squirtle!" Cynthia exclaimed softly. Her awe was a little understandable since she was not from the Kanto region and Squirtle was well-known to be one of the starter pokémon.

"Yep!" Misty said proudly.

"Where did you find it?" Ash asked curiously. If there were more Squirtle available in the wild, he would love to catch one.

"We had received a report from an Officer Jenny telling us that a group of Squirtle were creating havoc among the general populace. Being the aspiring water pokémon master I am, I went to check it out. End result, I have a new Squirtle on my team!" she grinned.

"What about the rest of the Squirtles?" Ash and Cynthia asked in sync causing them to look at each other in surprise and blush slightly and Misty to laugh.

"They have been sent to a rehabilitation centre," Misty said with a frown. "They have trouble trusting humans. Are you both looking for a water pokémon?"

"Yes," both rookie trainers admitted.

"I'm sure you will find them," Misty said optimistically. "There are a lot of powerful water-type pokémon out there." When both Ash and Cynthia nodded in agreement, she continued. "Do you know the details of the tournament?" On seeing the negative response of both the trainers, she asked them to follow her. She took them to another part of the room with all three of them chatting amicably.

Cynthia, however, stopped midway causing Ash and Misty to look back at her and laugh at her slack-jawed expression. Looking at where she was staring, Ash understood her awe. Misty was leading them to a table where the Gym Leaders of the Kanto Region along with the Elite Four were gathered. And sitting in the middle of the table was Lance, who by the looks of it had taken notice of the little group approaching the table.

"Ash!" he exclaimed, his voice as authoritative as Ash remembered it being. "How have you been? Lt. Surge was just telling us about your battle with him. He has nothing but high praise for your Dratini!" he finished with a smirk on his face.

"Yes, Dratini is one of my most powerful pokémon," Ash acknowledged. "Lt. Surge had to sacrifice one of his pokémon to knock him out."

"Heh, you left me with no choice but to do it, brat!" Lt. Surge said. "That Dratini was too powerful. I doubt it if even my Manectric could have defeated it."

"That's what I like to hear!" Lance laughed. "I'd love to see that Dratini in action in the tournament!"

"You have a Dratini?" Cynthia asked in surprise.

"Yes. I want to see how it compares with your dragon-type pokémon," Ash commented excitedly causing Cynthia to look at him in surprise. "Yes, I figured it out. The way you referred to Lance as your idol was a big hint. It wasn't just the 'oh he is the Champion; he is so awesome' idolisation. You looked up to him for more than just that, you looked up to him as a trainer."

Cynthia smirked. "I thought you would make a wonderful opponent to battle. I don't think I have faced an opponent as brilliant as you, yet. Yes, I have a Gible. And the thought of a battle with your Dratini gets my blood pumping, I have to admit that!"

"This is brilliant!" Lance crowed. "To see a battle between the two of you will be exhilarating, I can already tell! I just hope you guys will be in the same tournament!" This statement caused both the rookie trainers to look at Lance questioningly.

"What do you mean by the same tournament? Isn't there just one tournament?" Ash asked with Cynthia nodding alongside him.

"Nope. It doesn't make sense to do so. A trainer who has won two badges, no matter how promising, has no chance against a trainer who has won all 8. So, it makes no sense to pit them against each other. Thus, there will be three tournaments. One is for trainers who have won up to three gym badges, the other is for trainers with 4-6 badges, and the last is for trainers who have either 7 or 8 badges.

Accordingly, the week is split. The tournament of for those with 7 or 8 badges will be held on the second and the third days of the trip. For those with 4-6 badges, the tournament will be held on days 4 and 5. And for those with up to 3 badges, the tournament will be held on the last two days before the cruise docks at Lavender Town for most of us to disembark."

"That makes sense," Cynthia commented. "But won't it be better viewing if the trainers with the most badges fought on the last days of the trip?"

"Not really. The spectators will want the best battles at the beginning. Then they will relax and only the enthusiasts will watch the other tournaments." Lt. Surge commented. "Idiots. But that's what you get if the majority of the spectators are rich people."

"True," Lance said. "Now, tell me your names and the category you belong to. I need to mark it in the list I have. I will then assign you your training rooms."

"Training rooms?" Ash and Cynthia parroted.

"Yes. If you have 5 days for the tournament, you can easily train your pokémon some more. We have one training room assigned for two trainers. The two trainers will then have to coordinate with each other about who will have access to the training room and for how long." Ash and Cynthia nodded in agreement before giving their names. Both had won 3 badges in their respective regions and would compete against each other. Ash was assigned training room 52 and Cynthia was assigned room 57, both on the fifth floor.

Bidding the others goodbye, they went their separate ways. Ash and Cynthia walked with each other to the fifth floor where their training rooms were located. It seemed like both trainers had the same idea of getting some training in. They split up once they reached there as Ash walked towards the training room he was assigned. Standing outside the door to room number 52, Ash took out his pokedex and put it in the correct slot for it to be scanned. It served as an identifier and also as a key to unlock the training facility.

On entering, Ash was once again left a little surprised by the sheer size of the room. He knew it was built with the purpose of allowing even the largest pokémon to train inside. He released all his pokémon telling them that it was time to train. Lance had already given them permission to go all out while training so Ash told his pokémon not to worry about holding back. However, before they could start training, his pokémon brought his attention to something on the far side of the room. He squinted his eyes to see something lying on the floor. Taking a closer look, Ash observed it to be a small, orange, quadruped, canine pokémon with black stripes along its back and legs. The fur on its muzzle and tail were cream-coloured, and there was an additional tuft on top of its head.

As raised his eyebrows on seeing that pokémon. He came to the conclusion that it was probably the pokémon of the trainer who had been assigned the same room as Ash. What that did not explain was the Pokémon's condition. It had small bruises on its body and seemed absolutely exhausted. Ash frowned as he realised that the trainer was not in the room nor were any other pokémon. Something wasn't adding up.

Ash never liked seeing any pokémon hurt and alone and so he began to help it. He crushed some Oran berries and gently fed the puppy pokémon. The Oran Berries would help the pokémon regain some of its energy as well as help with the bruising. It seemed to be working as the pokémon slowly opened its eyes. On seeing Ash and his pokémon surrounding it, the pokémon quickly backed away in fear. This caused Ash and his pokémon to narrow their eyes since they saw the movement and immediately started thinking of reasons why it behaved like that. None of the conclusions they were coming up with were pleasant.

"Hi Growlithe," Ash said gently. "My name is Ash, and these are my pokémon – Pikachu, Floette, Umbreon, Dratini, and Kadabra. We have also been given permission to use this room for training and found you lying down when we entered it." Unknown to Ash, as he was giving his explanation to the frightened Growlithe, Kadabra's eyes were glowing with his psychic powers.

The Growlithe nodded hesitantly at Ash's explanation before standing on wobbly legs and moving away from the group warily. It swayed to one corner of the room before opening its mouth and firing an Ember at the wall. It cut off the power of the Ember, only to do so again. It continued shooting Embers from its mouth and not stopping despite its obvious exhaustion. Ash and his pokémon looked on in concern wondering what in Mew's name was that Growlithe doing.

'Friend, Trainer,' Kadabra projected and Ash knew that his psi pokémon was talking to him as well as the rest of the pokémon with how they all turned to him.

"What is it?"

'I peeked into the Growlithe's mind,' Kadabra admitted and continued talking before Ash could voice his disapproval. 'I know you don't like it when I read other's minds without their permission, but that Growlithe's reaction had me cautious. And it's good that I did. You remember that reprobate Damien?'

"Yes," Ash answered with a smile at Kadabra's description of the trainer. The psi pokémon found himself above using common abuses and always came up with words like reprobate to describe those he did not like. Ash found it hilarious to hear Kadabra talk like that and often wondered where he came up with such words as Ash never used them. "There's no way I'll forget that bastard." Unlike Kadabra, Ash had no issues using common slang words.

'The Growlithe belongs to him,' he said gravely. Leaving that sentence hanging for a couple of seconds to let the rest of them understand what he was saying, he continued. 'The Growlithe was apparently bought by that degenerate's father from a breeder as replacement for the Charmander.' Those who knew Kadabra could hear the undertone of anger in his voice. 'The Growlithe has been tasked to learn Flamethrower as in the words of the scoundrel, at least its predecessor, useless as it was, could use that move.'

Kadabra's words caused different reactions among the different pokémon. While Floette and Dratini just looked at the puppy pokémon with sadness, Pikachu's cheeks started sparking in anger. But what was cause for alarm was the sudden drop in temperature caused by Umbreon's anger. The Moonlight pokémon seemed livid and dark energy seemed to be oozing out of her. She could not believe these humans at times.

How could they be so cruel? Was the death of the Charmander not enough?


And that trainer did not even have the nerve to help train the poor Growlithe?! Did he really expect some miracle causing it to magically learn the move?!


I mean, look at friend Ash. He spent so much time helping us get more powerful. He told us exactly what to do to learn something!


And even if we didn't get it in the first go, he only encouraged us. He certainly never abandoned us to do it on our own!

"UMBREON!" the dark-type pokémon jumped at the sudden shout and looked at her trainer questioningly. Said trainer was looking at her in a mixture of wariness and concern causing Umbreon to wonder why. She got her answer as she saw thin wafts of darkness energy escaping her body in anger. Umbreon looked at them in surprise as it had never happened before. As surprise took over her anger, the waves of energy receded back into her.

"Are you okay, Umbreon" Ash asked.

She just nodded her head still wondering what is going on.

"It's alright," her trainer said soothingly. That's another one of the many things I likes about him, he knows how to calm us down. "It's because you have recently evolved. Even Pikachu's cheeks were sparking. You remember that, right?" She nodded again half-heartedly. But friend Pikachu's cheeks sparked but nothing else. No one was in danger of getting shocked when he was angry. "How long has he spent learning to control his energy?" her trainer seemed amused as he was asking these questions causing her to frown. Here is a serious problem and he is joking around? Why I ought to.. but before she could finish her thought, Ash continued. "And how long has it been since you accessed the dark-energy in your body?" She wondered if he had a point asking all these questions. She knew when she had accessed that energy for the first time, it has been 4 days since. Why was he asking such…Oh! She looked away from the rest of her family as she stared at the ground in embarrassment. She turned to furiously glare at everyone else when she heard them sniggering at her. The sniggering didn't abate. At all.

"Don't worry," the only human in the room said as he petted her on her head. Ah, that's the spot, she thought happily. She absolutely loved it when he scratched her there. Of all the reasons why she loves her trainer, his head scratching ability has to be at the top! "This is why I am training you guys to control that energy in your body. I am sure that you will have decent control in a few days and such instances won't happen again.

What are we talking about again? She wondered as her mind went numb with pleasure from the head scratching. Oh, he went to the ears! She crowed internally. She realised that her friend had stopped talking and was waiting for a reply. So with great difficulty, she concentrated on what he was saying. She realised that he was talking sense, so she gave him a nod. She almost let out a whine when he got up and stopped the head scratching. She thought of coaxing him for some more before remembering what Kadabra had said and why she was so angry in the first place.

"I'm guessing we can't do anything for Growlithe at the moment?" Friend trainer's voice was unusually grave.

She cocked her head in confusion. She had assumed that he would do his best to help that poor fire-type pokémon. She looked around to see that same confusion on the faces of the rest of the pokémon other than Kadabra. She envied his brains at times. He was ridiculously smart and conversed with friend trainer the most. But he also made conversations between her and her human much simpler so she forgave him. In the end, envious or not, he was a part of her pack.

'Indeed. There is no proof against Damien. Growlithe has no visible signs of abuse and that person, no matter how much I may dislike him, is smart enough to not leave anything that can get him arrested.' Ah, so that explained it. And no matter how much she did not want to admit it, they were right.

"Okay, everyone. Let's start training. Warm up with the dodging exercise for an hour or so and then continue with what you were training in." She nodded before moving to a different part of the room to start the dodging exercise. She loved her new body, she felt so strong in it. She instinctively knew that she could take many more hits now than what she could do before, that was her greatest improvement. And the speed boost made her the current fastest pokémon in the pack, something she loved teasing that mouse with.

Any further thought was cut off as she saw an electric attack coming at her from two different sources. Oh, it is on! She thought excitedly as she nimbly stepped aside and avoided the two attacks with ease born from months of practice. She opened her mouth and released energy in the form of stars at the mouse pokémon. They had formed a rivalry since her evolution, with him not liking her newfound power and with her trying to establish herself as the leader of the pack. The stars, however, were blasted away and the mouse was forced to dodge to attack leaves sent at it by the fairy. Now that was one pokémon she got along with really well! Maybe it was because she too was a girl!

The mock fight continued for a while and Umbreon loved the work out. She loved the adrenaline rush that came with a fight and she was sure that the rest of the pokémon in the pack loved it as well. There was a reason they all wanted to get stronger, to fight strong opponents. She took some time to relax her body and calm her mind, a necessity when trying to learn new moves. As she was resting, she looked around the room to see what the rest were doing. The rest of the pokémon seemed to be doing the same as her. Friend trainer Ash however was talking to the Growlithe. Was he coaching the pokémon? It was highly possible. He was wonderful like that, he truly loved pokémon.

Once calm, she focused on the dark energy her body was filled with. The incident in the morning showed her that she had much more energy inside her than what she thought. Perhaps not much as that mouse, or even the dragon, but it was a lot more than what she was assuming. Which was both good and bad. Good since it showed her how powerful she can be once she controls that power and trains with it to make it grow even more. Bad since it would take a lot of time to control.

She called out the energy inside her body and tried directing it to her mouth. It was not as easy as she thought it would be since the energy wanted to be spread evenly throughout her body. She was trying to force it to shift to her mouth but it was resisting. She had managed to make some progress but it wasn't enough for her to hold in her jaw, forget about actually biting with it.

Gah, this is so frustrating! She thought after a little more than an hour of trying, and failing. She had not made any progress at all! She noticed energy leaking from her body due to her frustration and took deep breaths to calm down. One of the first things friend trainer Ash had taught her was to keep a calm mind and that she can never learn anything if she is frustrated.

Once calmershe swallowed her pride and went to the mouse to ask for his help. As Ash had said, he had the most experience in controlling energy. And he was the leader of the pack for a reason. No matter how much she may want to take that position, she acknowledged him as a leader. While walking to Pikachu, a flash of fire caught her eye and she turned to see a noticeably bigger than before fire from the Growlithe. A swell of love and pride welled up inside her for trainer for helping the poor pokémon as much as he could.

Talking with Pikachu was more like an exchange of information. He needed help with drawing energy from the air, something she understood with how difficult it was for her to learn. But with her help, Pikachu had almost learnt how to draw in the energy, so he had almost finished a third of the work. He'll soon start working on segregating the various energies he'll draw in and find out which is the bug-type energy he is looking for.

She too had gained some insight about how to go about learning Bite. According to the mouse, you can never force the energy to do your bidding. It is a part of you. So, you have to be gentle with it, coax it, work with it. She tried implementing it. This time when she called her powers, she didn't try to force it to her mouth. She tried directing it there and was surprised to see the immediate improvement. Seeing the result, she tried repeating the success with renewed vigour. I am going to master this move, and soon! It's embarrassing being a dark-type pokémon and not knowing a single dark-type attack.

Meanwhile, Umbreon had guessed correctly. Ash had decided on helping the Growlithe. Seeing how exhausted it looked and considering the fact that it had used so much energy that it had fallen unconscious, he knew it needed some nourishment. Carefully preparing a bowl of food, he generously sprinkling some Sitrus Berries on it. Sitrus berries were rare, but their usefulness could not be denied. Professor Oak had told him that feeding a couple of these berries to any pokémon could restore their health by half!

As he approached the fire-type pokémon, he noticed it shying away from him, a scared look on its face. A surge of anger swept across Ash but he buried that inside choosing to focus on helping the abused pokémon. Ash kept the bowl of food in front of it and slowly backed away with his hands raised. Knowing that the Growlithe would not eat unless prompted, Ash started talking in a calm, gentle voice.

"You need to eat, Growlithe. You are exhausted and you need to recover your energy." Seeing his words had absolutely no effect and the puppy pokémon getting ready to fire another Ember, he decided to manipulate it slightly. He didn't know if it was so persistent with trying to learn Flamethrower because of loyalty towards Damien, or fear. It could be either since the Growlithe species were known for their fierce loyalty towards their trainer, but with how scared the Growlithe looked in front of another human, it was probably the latter. Whatever the case, he could use it to his advantage. "If you don't recover your energy, how do you expect to learn the new attack?" he questioned and smiled slightly at seeing Growlithe's ears perk up slightly. "What good would it be if you exhaust yourself in the next 5 minutes and fall unconscious as you were when I entered the room? Better you eat now and practice for longer."

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