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.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11863977/1/Road-to-a-Master

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7. Innocence Lost Part 2

FLASHBACK

The village was full of Team Rocket members laughing while kicking and abusing the beaten pokemon. Some of them were torturing them with Tasers and lighters, enjoying the cries of pain from the wild pokemon. One of them had resorted to taking a metal rod and beating an Oddish with it repeatedly as it rolled around trying to avoid more pain. One of them was doing the same to a Ponyta, but was using his belt. Ash felt a surge of anger as he saw one of them take numerous Magikarp, Goldeen, and other water-type pokemon and hold them in the air. When they started flailing due to lack of oxygen, they put them back in water only to repeat the same a few seconds later.

Another member was also using a belt, but he was not using it to whip a pokemon. Instead, he was using it to choke a Ratata. He would continue till the Ratata had fallen into unconsciousness only to shock it awake and repeat. A Rhyhorn was tied up by the vines of a couple of Weepinbell that belonged to Team Rocket. Once immobilised, one of the members had taken a chainsaw and was slowly cutting off the Rhyhorn's leg. In the middle of it all were a bunch of Team Rocket members who were surrounding a woman. They were taking turns at her and the sick bastards weren't even letting her enjoy the bliss of unconsciousness as they kept her awake by repeated kicks and shocks while they continued to pleasure themselves. Her screams rung in their ears, haunting them.

All this was observed by the group of Elite Four members, the Ace Trainers, and Ash as they stared at the scene in muted shock. They were brought back to the present by Bulbasaur who had probably already seen this before it escaped to get help. A feeling of immense hatred and anger rose in Ash as he shouted in anger. He realised that he wasn't the only one. Everyone took out their pokemon to deal with Team Rocket, but none were quicker than Agatha. The aura surrounding her darkened and multiple Gengar rose from her shadow and struck. It was a massacre after that. Ash wasn't sure if they left them alive and to be honest, he wasn't sure if he cared.

The Bulbasaur leapt out of Ash's hands and trotted to its trainer. On seeing her free, it rested down and closed its eyes, satisfied. Its eyes never opened again.

END FLASHBACK

The moment replayed in Ash's mind. The pain, the suffering of the pokemon. The cries of anguish of the woman. The death of the brave Bulbasaur who did everything it could to save its trainer before passing away. And he broke down. He cried and he cried and he cried like never before. The sobbing turned into a wail as Ash let his grief be known to the heavens. He felt something fall on his lap and turned to see Abra there. Tears flowed down his cheeks as well and he suddenly wrapped his arms around Ash and continued crying. Slowly, the rest of his pokemon also joined him as the six of them shared their grief together.

Time seemed to have no meaning for them as they continued to cry. When they finally stopped, Ash felt slightly lighter. He turned to see Lance still sitting there, some grief showing in his eyes as well. They still burned with the fury of a dragon, though. And Ash understood that anger.

"I'm sorry you had to witness that today, Ash. You are much too young to witness such horror." He commented heavily.

"Judging by your expression, you have seen this before," Ash observed. His voice cracked midway through the sentence and was thick with emotion.

The grimace on Lance's face was answer enough. "Yes. This is what Team Rocket is capable of. They are nothing but a bunch of thugs who revel in the pain of others."

"I thought I knew," commented Ash. "I thought I knew what Team Rocket was capable of when I saw them at Mt. Moon. I thought I was prepared. But that was nothing. This was…This was…" Ash struggled to voice his thoughts on the violence he had witnessed.

"I know, Ash. I know." Lance sighed heavily as he ran a hand through his hair. "Anyway, I came here to tell you to not feel depressed by the Bulbasaur's death."

"What?!" Ash shouted furiously. "How can you say that?!"

"That Bulbasaur," Lance commented, his voice calm in the face of Ash's anger, "got so badly injured trying to save his trainer and the rest of the pokemon in the village. From what I've gathered from Melanie, who was the doctor of this village, Bulbasaur took the role of the protector of this village. And he fought tooth and nail to defend it. Injuries which would have killed a normal Bulbasaur only caused this one to run away to get help. While it could have accepted treatment, it refused to do so till the village was saved. He used every ounce of his energy to bring us to them, and only after we saved the village did he give in to his wounds. Such a pokemon deserves to be saluted, Ash. When you think of it, do so in pride at the spirit of the pokemon and its will to save those precious to it. It doesn't deserve to be thought of in sorrow. Instead, think of it with honour. Because that was one heck of a Bulbasaur! One any trainer would have been proud of having in their team!" Lance finished with pride in his voice.

Ash wiped the tears from his eyes that fell at Lance's words. "You're right. Thank you."

"Don't mention it, kid. And I should be the one thanking you. If you hadn't called me when you did, who knows what would have happened to them. You're a hero today, Ash. Tell me what you want as a reward and you'll get it."

"Hero?" snorted Ash. "How can you call me a hero? If I was a hero, the Bulbasaur would never have died! If I was a hero, I would have reached here sooner and not waited for you guys! If I was a hero," any further comments from Ash were cut off by a hand bopping him on his head.

"You did the right thing, Ash. Those Team Rocket members were too powerful for you. If you had rushed in, you would have lost. And it would be your pokemon that Team Rocket were abusing! Did you think of that?"

"No," Ash mumbled shamefully. "But," he continued as he regained a second wind. "If the Bulbasaur could have survived! If only I was strong enough! I promised myself that I would never feel this helpless against Team Rocket again. Look where it got me! Barely two weeks later, and I'm as useless as before!"

"ASH!" shouted Lance, cutting off his rambling. "What do you know about the Bulbasaur species?" At Ash's confused look, Lance elaborated. "The bulb on its back is its lifeline. It's like the flame at the tip of a Charmander's tail. If the bulb is destroyed, the Bulbasaur dies. The Bulbasaur you found was alive at that point through sheer willpower to help his trainer and the rest of its pokemon. I wasn't kidding when I said that any other Bulbasaur would have died of its injuries long ago! So don't think that the Bulbasaur's death is your fault. It is Team Rocket's fault and no one else's. Do you understand?!"

As Ash nodded, unable to deny the logic behind Lance's words, Lance continued. "As for not being powerful enough, you do realise that you're two months into your journey? Dealing with Team Rocket is my responsibility, Ash. Not yours. Don't let this control you, Ash. Don't do something stupid the next time you run into Team Rocket. Train, get stronger. If you really want to take on Team Rocket and get vengeance, do so. Arceus knows I can't deny you the right to do so after what you saw today. But, call me when you do so again. You are nowhere close to being strong enough to do so on your own. And I'm sorry to do this, but I have to make sure you'll listen to me. Every time you see Team Rocket, imagine them doing what they were doing today to your pokemon. If that doesn't stop you from charging in blindly, nothing will. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Lance." Ash sighed in response. "I understand."

Lance ruffled Ash's hair in response. "Good. Remember, if you need anyone to talk to, you can always call me. Now, about that reward," Lance smirked.

Ash gave a small smile as Lance's words. "Thanks, Lance. And I can't accept a reward today, Lance. It doesn't feel right."

"As you wish, kid. Can't say I'm surprised at your decision."

"How are Melanie and the rest of the pokemon? What will happen to them now?" questioned Ash.

"Melanie is….she's not good." Lance sighed heavily. "She'll take a long time to recover. Her physical wounds are well on their way to being healed, but her mental ones are a different matter altogether. Most of the pokemon are fine physically. They'll heal in a few days. The poor Rhyhorn's leg will have to be amputated." Ash could see Lance's hands had clenched into a fist and it was shaking in barely suppressed anger. "All the pokemon will be sent to a rehab facility. Melanie will be sent to a mind healer as soon as possible. Best not to let such wounds fester. After she has sufficiently recovered, we'll employ her. She can take care of as many wild pokemon as she wants. This time, she'll have our protection!" Lance vowed.

"Good." Ash sighed to himself. It had been an exhausting day. All the emotional baggage was wearing Ash down mentally. Lance saw this, and commented. "Get some rest, Ash. You need it. I'll go oversee the transfer of these pokemon to the rehab facility and then go back to the League. See you later, Ash. And remember, call me if you need anything."

Ash watched as Lance got up and walked over to where the rest of the Ace Trainers were, his Dragonite following him. He turned to his pokemon, and said, "Long day, huh. Let's get some rest." His pokemon all nodded in agreement as they surrounded Ash and lay down together to sleep, once again sharing their grief. The last thing that Ash saw before sleep took him was the epitaph etched on a stone.

Here lies Bulbasaur

Loyal Comrade

Fierce Protector

Brave Warrior

He who kept fighting till the end to save his precious people

May Arceus grant him peace

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Early next morning, Ash woke up along with his pokemon to see an empty village. The Pokemon League trainers had sent the pokemon to the rehab centre, and Melanie had been sent to the mind healer. Looking around, Ash appreciated the beauty of the village for the first time. Lush green grass, trees surrounding the area, a large and clean lake, it really was a great place for wild pokemon.

Looking at his pokemon while eating breakfast, he could see that all of them were still upset. Not that Ash could blame them, he still thought he might break down and cry at any time. The mood was subdued as they ate their breakfast, each lost in their own thoughts. Once Ash washed the utensils, he packed his bag and made a move back towards the main road, his pokemon surrounding him, Abra once again comfortably nestled on his back.

They stood around Bulbasaur's grave, heads bowed as they paid their last respects to him. Once done, they resumed their journey. Again, they stopped as they reached the main route. They looked at the place where the Bulbasaur had come from and created such an impact on their lives. Ash sighed and told his team to keep moving. However, as they were leaving, Ash was stopped by Eevee, who started sniffing the air and walked towards a stone. Once she stopped in front of it, she sniffed it again and started yipping at Ash. Confused, he walked towards it, and asked, "What is it, Eevee?"

She just held her out her paw as she pointed at the stone. Bemused, Ash stared at it. It looked like an ordinary rock. Grey in colour, barely nine inches long. He could not make out what Eevee wanted to say. His confusion rose as the rest of his pokemon went to the stone and they all showed similar reactions to Eevee. They all looked pointedly at Ash as they pointed at the stone.

"What?" Ash asked. He, honestly, had no idea what was going on anymore. Further confusion was stopped, as Abra sent a telepathic word into Ash's mind.

'Egg'

That one word sent a jolt up Ash's spine as his mind reeled with the consequences of this discovery. What were the chances of finding a pokemon egg abandoned over here? Of course, there was the possibility of it not being abandoned either.

"Where are its parents?" Ash asked hesitantly.

The mood of his group seemed to drop even more as Abra spoke 'Gone.'

"What do we do now?"

"Pika, Pika."

'Take it,' came the immediate translation from Abra.

"Are you sure? I don't know the first thing about taking care of it! And the League doesn't allow anyone with less than four badges to have an egg!"

This time it was Dratini who started speaking with Ash. Again, Abra provided the translation.

'Parents hurt. It comes for egg. Can't leave.'

Ash grimaced at what Abra was saying. Dratini had a point. What if its parents were injured and whoever did it came for the egg? He made a decision and told his team to be on guard as he makes a call. He opened his PokeNav and dialled one of the first numbers his mother stored for him when she gave him the device.

The call was picked up after a couple of rings.

"Ash, my boy. How are you? What can I help you with? By Mew, what happened to you, my boy?" Professor Oak asked in askance as he took in Ash's haggard appearance.

"Hello, Professor. I'm fine, just a rough night." Ash tried to smile but even he knew it came across as a grimace. He quickly tried to change the topic. "Professor, I'm calling you because of this." He turned his camera so that the Professor could see the egg. "My pokemon are saying that it is an egg and that its parents are gone. What should I do?"

"So, your pokemon can sense the egg's parents are gone. Do they know what happened to them? It's very rare for pokemon to abandon their eggs."

"They are assuming that its parents were hurt."

"Hurt, huh? If they say that, it's not an assumption, Ash. Pokemon have very strong protective feelings towards baby pokemon, especially about eggs. They are more in tune with nature than we are as humans. If they say that the parents have been hurt, it is because the nature is telling them that. The way the wind blows, the way the grass whistles, the tales they hear from the bird pokemon in the sky. From your team, Dratini and Floette will be able to make such things out in particular. Abra too, when it becomes more mature or when it evolves."

"Then what should I do? I can't just leave the egg here."

"Hmm. Where are you calling me from?"

"I'm on route 25 right now."

"Good, good. At the end of route 25, near the sea, lives an old friend of mine. His name is Bill and he is a pokemon researcher. Take the egg to him. It won't take you more than a few days to do so, depending on how far you are from the place."

"Professor, as you are aware, I am not licensed to carry an egg."

"You have my permission, Ash." Professor Oak laughed. "And not to brag, but it does carry some weight in Kanto. Anyway, how has your journey been? It must truly be a blessing to have an Abra who can converse with you."

Ash smiled slightly. "Yes, it is."

They spent the next couple of minutes conversing, but Ash kept deflecting any questions that were too personal, something Professor Oak noticed. After realising that subtlety won't work, he decided to go for the blunt approach.

"Alright, Ash. What is wrong?" he demanded.

Ash tried to deflect it but Professor Oak would not be deterred. After a minute of resolute questioning, Ash gave in. He told the Professor everything from the Bulbasaur crashing in front of him to what he saw in the village to the Bulbasaur's death. As he spoke, he felt himself grow lighter. At the end of the tale, Professor Oak had gone pale.

"By Mew. I'm sorry, Ash. I never expected any of you to see things like this, at least not for a few years. I'm really sorry, Ash. If you ever need to talk, I'm here."

"Thanks, Professor. But I already spoke to Lance about it."

"Still, if you need another pair of ears to talk to, I'm always willing."

"Thank you, Professor. I should go now. Get this egg to Bill. I'll call you when I'm near the sea to ask for directions."

"Bye, Ash."

"Goodbye, Professor." Ash quickly cut the call. The worried face of Professor Oak discomforted Ash. He quickly put his PokeNav inside and cradled the egg. Now that he knew it was an egg, Ash's feelings towards it changed. Holding it in his hands, he realized how tiny it is. He held it delicately in his arms as he started walking towards the end of route 25.

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The next two days were the worst of Ash's journey. None of his pokemon seemed up for training. The moves they should have mastered by now were the same as they were before the incident. In fact, they were so listless that they didn't even train the last day. And Ash couldn't find it in himself to motivate them either.

He spent the two days eating, travelling, sleeping. It looked like Ash had been taken away and a lookalike robot had taken his place. The only thing that kept passer-by from thinking otherwise were his actions when it came to the egg. He would polish it all day long, showering it with love and tenderness. Ash had made the realization that while he had seen a life being lost the other day, he was holding a new life in his hands. A life that had lost its parents even before it was born.

Knowing what it felt like to not have a father's love, Ash wanted the egg to at least know love, even if not from its parents. Also, even if he did not want to admit it, Ash was using the excuse of the egg to escape from reality. He didn't want to think about the Bulbasaur. He didn't want to think of the cries of the pokemon and of Melanie. He didn't want to think of the laughs of the members of Team Rocket. He was too much of a coward to face his pokemon and help them either. He knew he should, it was his responsibility as their trainer, but it was just so much easier to ignore all that.

Seeing the shore in the distance, Ash quickly called Professor Oak. The Professor frowned upon seeing Ash's condition, which seemed to have worsened in the last couple of days.

"Ash, how are you feeling?"

"I'm alright, Professor." Ash said with the biggest smile he could muster. It was so fake that the Professor visibly cringed at the sight of it.

"That's….good," he commented. "And your pokemon? Can I see them?"

Knowing that it was an order despite how it was framed, Ash tilted his camera to show them to the Professor. His frown deepened slightly. "Ash, have you spoken to your mother about what happened?"

"Of course not! I don't want to worry her, Professor!"

Making a decision, the professor ignored Ash's statement. Instead, he asked. "So, why did you call me?"

Ash tilted the device to show the professor the seashore in the distance. "I've reached the end of route 25. How do I find Bill?"

"Walk towards the shore. You'll see a narrow lane on the left side of the road a mile or so before the shore. Follow the path to reach his house."

"Alright, will do. Thanks, Professor. I'll see you later."

"No problem, Ash. And I'm sorry." With that, the screen went blank. Ash frowned at the Professor's last words. Thinking them to be condolences for his experience, Ash ignored them. "Come on guys, let's go." He started walking towards the shore while keeping an eye out for the small lane that would lead him to Bill's house.

Five minutes later, he was interrupted by the sound of his PokeNav ringing. Frowning as he saw his mother calling him, Ash tried to put on his best smile as he picked up the call.

"Hey, mum. I'm sorry, but this is a bad time. Can you call later?" he said, wanting to finish this conversation as soon as possible.

"I'm afraid not, Ash." Delia's voice was stern and worried. "I get a call from Professor Oak saying that I need to talk to you. He says that neither you nor your pokemon are looking healthy. And looking at you, I can easily see that. And drop that smile, mister! You're not fooling me with it. Now, tell me. What's wrong?"

Ash tried to deny it. He really didn't want to worry his mother. But, hearing her worried voice, something broke inside Ash as he started crying. All his emotions, which he had been ignoring for the last two days, came back with a vengeance as he let it all out. A few seconds later, Ash felt something on his lap and looked down to see Eevee staring at him with sorrowful eyes. Pikachu climbed up his shoulder, Abra got onto his back, Floette came and hugged him from the front, and Dratini wrapped itself around his neck. And Ash just sobbed. He sobbed because of the cruelty of the world. He sobbed for the lives lost, the pokemon injured, the lives ruined. He sobbed for his lost innocence. Soon, his pokemon joined him as they shared their sorrow for the second time in two days. All this time, Delia just consoled him, wishing with all her heart that she could wrap her baby in her arms and never let go.

After Ash calmed down slightly, he started speaking. He told her everything, including what Lance told him. A good half hour passed as Ash finished his tale. At the end of the tale, even Delia had tear tracks running down her cheeks. "Oh, Ashy. I want you to come back home. I want you within my sight, where you can be safe and sound. But I'm going to tell you to carry on with your journey. Ash, you've got an adventurous spirit. You want to explore the world as you work towards your dream to become a pokemon master.

So, I will ask you this. Why are you ruining Bulbasaur's memory?" As Ash stared at her in shock, she continued relentlessly. "Why are you letting your pokemon do the same? Remember what Lance said? That Bulbasaur does not deserve to be thought of in sorrow. That Bulbasaur was a warrior. Is this how you honour his spirit? By moping around? Not taking care of yourself? Not taking care of your pokemon either? That Bulbasaur had the same drive to be the strongest as you. Honour him by achieving your dream! Honour him by not letting what happened to the village happen to anyone else! Now, stop this brooding. Next time you call me, which better be tomorrow, I want my baby boy back. You understand me?"

"Yes, mum." Ash smiled his first genuine smile in a while. She may have repeated the same words Lance used, but they had a more profound effect on Ash. Growing up with only his mother had made Ash a mamma's boy. And when she gave him advice, he listened. After all, she had already made such an impact on his dream. She set him straight and moulded him to be able to achieve his dream.

"So," he suddenly smirked. "Does that mean you're giving me permission to attack Team Rocket?"

"Don't be silly. I know you won't attack them on your own. I raised you to be smarter than that. And I'm not stupid enough to think that you'll ignore Team Rocket if you come across them. If Mt. Moon didn't make sure of that, this definitely did. All I ask is for you to be careful. And call me if such things happen again. I don't want a call from Professor Oak telling me to call you."

"Will do. I really got to go now, mum. Thanks for the talk. I love you!"

"I love you too, sweetie. Take care now. And stop brooding!"

"I will. Bye!" Ash cut the call, his mood much better than it had been before. He looked at his pokemon and they all saw the familiar spark of determination in his eyes, the one that had been missing for the last couple of days. "I'm sorry, everyone. I should have been there for you guys, but I ignored you. I just could not make myself look at you'll. I was ignoring everything."

His pokemon called out their names as they tightened their hold on his body causing Ash to smile once again. "Mum was right. We've been dishonouring Bulbasaur's memory. From now on, no moping around. We'll train hard. We'll train till we drop. And we'll become the best. Team Rocket may be more powerful than us now, but one day, we will defeat them!" His pokemon cheered at his speech. "We will go to Bill's house now. We will help this egg. After that, we will go back towards Cerulean. We have around two weeks till we reach there. We will train so hard that we will make up for lost time! Who's with me?" Again, his pokemon cheered and with renewed determination, they set off for Bill's house.

A while later, Ash stood in front of a nice looking cottage near the sea. It was one story tall, the walls were a cool blue colour. Big windows were visible on the walls, allowing the sea breeze to flow in. Ash knocked on the door waiting patiently for Bill to open it.

He didn't have to wait long as a few seconds later, the door was opened to reveal a man who was… wearing a pokemon costume? That of an Omastar, too. The hell?

"Hello, may I help you?" the man asked.

"Uhh," Ash snapped back to reality, and said, "Hi, my name is Ash. I'm looking for Bill."

"Oh, yes. Welcome, welcome." He blustered as he stepped aside to let Ash in. "Professor Oak mentioned that you would be coming."

"Thank you," replied Ash as he stepped in. He looked around the living room to see a bit of a mess. Books were kept haphazardly, papers were flying.

"Sorry about the mess. I was busy doing some research," Bill mumbled sheepishly.

"That's okay," assured Ash. "Say, why are you dressed like that?"

"Oh, this? I'm researching the Omastar line and I like to dress as the pokemon I'm researching. It helps me get into character."

"Uh huh," sweatdropped Ash. He quickly changed the topic. "Here is the egg that Professor Oak asked me to give to you." He pushed forward the egg that was in his arms for Bill to see.

"Ash, about that." Bill suddenly turned serious. "Professor Oak told me the circumstances under which you found the egg. He told me that your pokemon sensed that the egg's parents were attacked and barely 5 minutes away was the Team Rocket operation."

"Professor Oak told you about that?" Ash asked in surprise.

"Yes, and if there's one thing you and your pokemon should know," Bill replied as he glanced at Pikachu on Ash's shoulder, "it's that they will get better! I can say that with certainty for I have worked at the rehab centres. All the injured pokemon will recover!"

Ash sucked in a deep breath as he took in Bill's words. "Thank you. So, what does the Team Rocket thing have to do with the egg?"

"It's simple. There's a chance that this egg is the child of one of the pokemon injured by the village."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Ash asked furiously. "I could have called Lance and told him about the egg."

"And what if its parents were gravely injured? Or what if they weren't alive?" questioned Bill.

"Its parents would have recovered eventually. And only a Bulbasaur passed away in that attack!"

"That's what Lance told you."

Those 5 words hit Ash like one of Pikachu's Thunderbolts. He wet his suddenly dry lips and asked. "What do you mean by that?" His words were broken and his voice shaky as the implication of Bill's statement hit Ash.

"Bulbasaur was not the only pokemon who died that day, Ash. There were others as well. Lance didn't want to mention anything to you at that time considering your fragile state of mind."

"And you think I can take it now?" retorted Ash indignantly.

"Yes." The simple word stopped all of Ash's anger as the words died down in his mouth. Confusion took its place. "Despite your appearance, I can say that you have come to terms with Bulbasaur's death. You are recovering. Hearing about other deaths will sadden you but it won't affect you as badly as before. At least, that's the impression I'm getting from you and your Pikachu. And if there's one thing I have learnt in my career as a researcher, it's how to read the emotions of others."

"You're right," Ash admitted grudgingly. "It just increases my anger at Team Rocket and fuels my determination to not let anything like this happen again."

"You're a good kid, Ash. Now, wait here. Professor Oak and I foresaw a possible situation."

"What situation?" asked Ash as slight worry creeped into his body. Did he damage the egg by mistake?

"Give me a moment and I'll explain," shouted Bill as he went to another room. He returned a couple of moments later with a pokeball in hand. He released the pokemon inside to reveal a bipedal, canine-like pokemon whose fur was predominantly blue and black. A Lucario. Ash stared in awe at the Aura Pokemon. After all, it is said to be one of the most powerful fighting-type pokemon in existence.

"This is a Lucario," Bill explained needlessly. "I borrowed it from Professor Rowan of the Sinnoh Region for this purpose."

"Why" asked Ash, quite curious about what was going on now.

"Did you know that pokemon are able to sense their surroundings while they are in their eggs. Not usual stuff, only in extreme cases."

"As interesting as that is, what does it have to do with me?"

"If the egg does belong to a pokemon in the village, it would have sensed the pain and anguish in its surroundings, particularly of its parents. If that happens, the pokemon inside can get mentally damaged. However, if it is found quickly and nurtured again, it quickly forgets what happened in its past as it forms a bond with the person who starts nurturing it. It starts looking at this person as its new parent. Separating the egg from its new parent is even more hazardous as it will guarantee the mental instability of the pokemon caused by the trauma of losing its parents once again. If this has happened to the pokemon in that eg, I'm afraid you'll have to raise the pokemon in the egg to adulthood."

"Is there any way to see if the egg here has formed a bond with me?" asked Ash. He didn't really know how to feel. On one hand, he wanted to raise the egg on his own. On the other, he was absolutely terrified of essentially becoming a parent so soon.

"Yes, that is why the Lucario is here. She will read the aura around both you and the egg and let us know." Bill pointed at the Lucario who was sitting cross-legged and meditating. For a minute or so, everyone in the room stared at the aura-pokemon. She suddenly opened her eyes which were glowing slightly and nodded at Bill.

"Well, that's that. Congratulations, Ash. You're going to be getting to raise an egg," said Bill as he smiled excitedly at the teenager sitting across from him.

"I don't really know what to say. I have no idea how to raise an egg. I have no idea how to be a parent!" Ash was having a full-blown panic attack now.

"That's easy, Ash. Professor Oak and I will guide you till the egg hatches. That's not too hard. As for raising the pokemon, just do what you're doing with the rest of your pokemon. From what Professor Oak told me, all the pokemon you've raised so far were babies as well. Not newly hatched, but a couple of months after that. You'll be fine."

"Okay," Ash sighed. "Let's do this."

"Good. This is an incubator. Keep the egg in this throughout the day. Make sure that the egg gets plenty of sunlight. Shine the egg a couple of times a day and you should be fine. Keep the egg warm. That's all there is to it," Bill assured Ash.

Ash took the incubator from him and placed the egg in it. Once secure, he thanked Bill and got up to resume his journey. The discussion with his mother was still fresh in his mind and he wanted to get back to training as soon as possible to recover lost time. Both made pleasantries to each other and Ash soon left.

Bill thanked the Lucario for her services and recalled her. As he was going to his pokemon transport system to transfer the Lucario back to Professor Rowan, he was interrupted by a knock on the door. Surprised, he went to the door and was further surprised to see a sheepish looking Ash standing at the door.

"Hey, Bill. Do you have any books that I can borrow?"

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