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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8. Thunder Part 1

"Imagine yourself projecting a mental barrier. A barrier so strong that it will protect you from all harm," Ash lectured Floette. Ash was on his way to Vermillion City, already on route 5. The two weeks were good for Ash and his pokemon. The constant movement and training kept them busy. It was something they needed to distract them from the events of the hidden village.

Today would be another exciting day for Ash. The joy and pride he got when one of his pokemon mastered an attack and started learning a new one was immense. And last night, Pikachu and Eevee both mastered the moves they were learning, Pikachu with Thunderbolt, and Eevee with Swift.

Dratini had mastered Water Pulse the very same day they left Bill's house. Ash had set him to learn Slam, a move in which Dratini built power in his tail to literally slam his opponent. Since the move was so similar to Iron Tail, Dratini had learnt and mastered the move in a couple of days. It was a record for learning a new move! Even Water Pulse, which Dratini learnt via TM took more time to master!

Not expecting Dratini to master the attack so swiftly, Ash was unprepared when it came to directing Dratini to learn a new move. In the end, he decided to add another element for Dratini to learn, fire. He asked Dratini to learn Ember. It was probably one of the weakest fire-type attacks, but Ash was looking long-term. Ember would set the basis for Dratini to learn stronger fire-type attacks. As the saying goes, you can't learn to run if you don't know how to walk.

Ember is the first attack which Dratini had struggled to learn so far. And by that, Ash meant struggle. Even Iron Tail didn't perplex him so much. On paper, the move wasn't much. Dratini had to spit out a small burst of flame from his mouth. It won't even damage the opponent too much unless it was super-effective on the opponent. But Dratini was struggling. He wasn't able to generate the necessary heat to produce fire in his belly. And unlike with Thundershock where he had Pikachu to help him or Water Pulse which he learnt via TM, Dratini was alone in learning this move.

Ash didn't know to help him. He didn't know how to produce fire in his belly. That was for Dratini to learn. And Ash had faith in him. If he still struggled with the attack when they reached Vermilion, only then would Ash look for alternatives.

Floette too had mastered Double Team and Ash had set her to learn Protect. It was yet another move that would make damaging Floette difficult. Ash hoped that with Wish, Double Team, and Protect, Floette would be able to outlast any other pokemon. The only issue was that Floette was struggling to learn the move. So far, all she managed to do was form a thin shield in front of her that even Ash could punch through. Protect, at its strongest, could even take a Hyper Beam from an enraged Gyrados and still protect its user. Needless to say, Floette had a long way to go.

So here Ash was hoping that some hands-on coaching from him would help Floette make some progress in learning the move. While he generally let his pokemon figure out the best way to learn and understand the move, he thought a little impetus may help. Ash frowned as he saw the shield produced by Floette in response to his words be as flimsy as ever.

He went on to plan B. Simulating a battle scenario. "Dratini, come here!" Ash called out. As Dratini slithered over with a curious look on his face wondering why Ash disrupted his training, Ash directed him to stand opposite Floette. "Dratini, I want you to attack Floette with Dragon Rage. Considering she is a fairy-type, the move won't affect her. Floette, I want you to imagine the Dragon Rage as an attack that can knock you out in an actual battle. Try stopping it with Protect!"

After instructing them, he moved on to Pikachu and Eevee, who were lightly sparring against each other to warm up. "Hello, you two. How are you doing? All warmed up?" he asked enthusiastically. On receiving happy nods in return, he continued. "Alright, we have our third gym battle coming up when we reach Vermilion City. The gym leader uses electric-type pokemon and I am going to use the both of you. Eevee, this will be your first gym battle! How do you feel about it?"

"Eevee!" she bounced on her toes excitedly. "Vee, Vee, Eevee! Eevee, Vee!" she yipped and Ash wished Abra was close-by to translate. He looked around for his psychic pokemon and sweat-dropped when he saw him sitting under the shade of a tree reading instead of practicing Iron Tail. Ever since Ash got books from Bill, Abra has slowly become inseparable from them. While he only read a little before since Ash had to teach him the language, now he read every chance he got. He went so far as to reduce his sleeping to read, something that was hazardous to his growth!

He shook his head as he decided to tell Abra to train after he instructed Pikachu and Eevee. Turning his attention back to Eevee, he smirked. "Guessing from your reaction, you are quite eager to take part in the gym battle. Let's show them your power, Vee!"

"Eevee!" she nodded in return, agreeing with the thoughts of her trainer. She had to sit out of two gym battles already for she was not ready to battle. Now that she had a chance, she would return the faith Ash had in her.

Ash scratched Eevee behind her ears, exactly where she liked it getting a pleased purr from her. "Since your opponents will be electric-type pokemon, why don't we give you a move to counter them? I want you to learn Dig. Start by using paws to dig a hole in the ground."

Dig was an attack that worked as the name suggested. The pokemon dug a tunnel to the opposing pokemon through the ground to attack them from below. The ground typing of the move made it super effective against electric-type pokemon.

Once Eevee understood her instructions and moved away to practice, Ash turned to Pikachu. "Pikachu, with your lightning rod ability, you will be unaffected by Surge's pokemon. However, your attacks will have very little effect on his pokemon as well. To counter this, I will teach you a couple of moves by the time we reach Vermilion City. I want you to start with Brick Break. Now, for Brick Break, the way to learn it is similar to what you did for Iron Tail. Start off with repeatedly punching the tree over there. The pokedex says that Brick Break is powerful chop that uses your internal energy to make it more powerful."

Brick Break was a fighting-type attack that could even break through protective shields like Reflect and Light Screen. And it was one of the more powerful fighting-type moves. With Pikachu's speed, Ash was sure that it would be very difficult for opposing pokemon to dodge it and Ash hoped it would make a difference in the gym battle.

Once Pikachu started his training, Ash made his way towards Abra. "Abra! What are you doing?" he asked in a cheerful manner, perhaps a tad too cheerful, something that Abra caught onto immediately.

'Reading' he replied warily.

"I can see that. So, tell me. What was our deal when I gave you the books?" Ash continued, his voice still super cheerful.

'Train. Then read,' Abra replied in a despondent tone.

"And this brings me back to my original question. Abra, what are you doing?" Ash lost his cheerful demeanour and gave Abra a disappointed look.

'But no time to read!' replied his psychic-type pokemon. While Abra had advanced telepathically to speak simple sentences, this is the first time Ash had heard him whine.

He sighed as he sat next to the psi pokemon. "I know it's tough, Abra. You can only stay awake for a maximum of six hours in a day. Tell you what, how about we split the time between your reading and your training? This will give you an hour more to read daily."

'Fine,' came the reluctant reply from Abra prompting a snort from his trainer.

"Good. Now, begin by teleporting as many times as you can till you get tired. Work on Iron Tail after that."

'Yes, trainer,' was the reply as Abra teleported away.

Ash sat there under a tree as he watched his pokemon train. A small frown came on his face as he saw Floette still struggling with Protect. As of now, it looked like the experiment of having Dratini hit her with attacks was failing. Eevee was happily digging a hole in the ground. In fact, it looked like she was enjoying herself. Another snort came out of Ash as he saw Pikachu cradling his hand and rolling on the floor in pain after punching the tree wrongly. He'll learn from it, he mused.

His eyes landed on Abra who had just teleported before he disappeared again a second later. Through continuous training, Abra had reduced the time between each teleport to a second. Still not the instantaneous teleporting Ash wanted but there was improvement and Ash was happy with it. Seeing the sun had risen a little high in the sky and its heat being felt now, Ash took out the egg from his bag. He removed it from the incubator and started polishing it.

This was the most peaceful part of the day for Ash. Watching his pokemon train while he sat quietly and polished the egg lovingly. Ever since he found out that the egg had been traumatized from Bill, he started showering it with more love. It wasn't fair that the pokemon had witnessed violence already and it had not even hatched.

Not much changed for the next hour or so as Ash put the egg back in the incubator and got up to start preparing breakfast. Once ready, which didn't take too much time since all he had to do was prepare a sandwich for himself and put the pokemon food in 5 bowls for his pokemon, he called a stop to the training session.

Meal times were much more enjoyable now that Abra was a part of the team. He would often act as a translator for his pokemon allowing Ash and his pokemon to bond over meals like he had read about in stories. The conversations could be anything from how pleasant the weather was to what the pokemon were feeling about their training. They even had one emotional conversation on Team Rocket and the events at Mt. Moon and the hidden village. That was one liberating conversation as all six of them felt much lighter after it.

Once breakfast was over, Ash instructed. "Eevee, continue what you're doing. Less playing around, though," he said sternly. "You need to be able to dig a hole in the ground immediately. So work towards that. Pikachu, be more careful. Don't injure your hand so bad that you can't continue. Also, use your left hand to practice now." At Pikachu's confused look, Ash elaborated. "Yes, it will set your learning back but at the end of it, you will be able to use the move with either hand. It could surprise your opponent." Once Pikachu nodded to acknowledge the instruction, Ash moved on to his fairy-type and dragon-type pokemon. "Dratini, concentrate on learning Ember now. Floette, you're on your own for learning Protect for the next training session." Seeing all his pokemon understanding his instructions, Ash told them to begin training.

He turned to Abra who had already opened a book to start reading. "What are you reading?" he asked curiously.

'Science,' came the monosyllable answer. Abra always got like this when he was reading. It was fun for Ash and the rest of his pokemon to disturb him as it always got a rise out of him. It was revenge for all the pranks Abra pulled on them in the beginning.

"What in science?"

'Nature.' Again, a monosyllable answer.

"What in nature?" Ash asked with a smirk on his face on seeing the slight twitch on Abra's face at Ash's questions.

'Rain!' Abra's response was slightly more forceful this time.

"What about rain?" Ash was barely able to keep his laughter inside as he questioned Abra.

Ash could see Abra visibly trying to control his irritation. 'Everything. Clouds. Evaporation, Condensation. Storms. Lightning. Thunder. Now, let me READ!' he shouted at his trainer. Ash sniggered as he left his psi pokemon alone. They sat in peaceful silence as Ash once again started polishing the egg. Midway through the training session, he saw Floette still struggling. Wanting to help her but not knowing how, he felt disappointment creeping in. When he met his pokemon, he promised to help them become powerful but doubt was beginning to form in his mind. First Eevee struggled with learning Shadow Ball. Now, Dratini is struggling with Ember and Floette with Protect. What kind of trainer was he if all his pokemon were struggling so much?

Unknown to Ash, Abra was picking up on his foul mood. He decided to stop his reading to comfort his trainer, a big sacrifice for him. 'Trainer,' he said, trying to get his attention. When Ash turned to him, the psi pokemon continued.

'You good trainer. But too kind.'

"What do you mean by that, Abra?" questioned Ash. Was he not supposed to be kind to his pokemon?

'Example, the dragon. Fire hot. Fire burns. Tell dragon to imagine people who hurt hero-Bulbasaur. See if he produces flames then.' Commented Abra as he picked up his book again. He could multitask, right? Who cares, the book is too awesome to put down right now. He just reached a fascinating part about how the air was displaced to form clouds.

"What are you saying?!" exclaimed Ash not able to believe the words coming from the psychic pokemon.

'Similarly, the fairy. Tell her to imagine her shield protecting her-Bulbasaur. Or any of us. Shield stronger.'

"But that's wrong! You can't manipulate their emotions like that!"

'You can. They understand.' Commented Abra offhandedly.

Ash was conflicted. Abra was right in a way. If he talked to them before telling them this, they will understand. But it was still wrong. In the end, he settled for a compromise. "I'll think about it. Let them work on their attacks on their own for now. If they still struggle, I'll talk to them about it." He decided with finality wanting the uncomfortable topic to be over. Abra just shrugged at his trainer's choice before he returned to his books. He would have done as he said. It was the logical thing to do after all.

Ash just took to polishing the egg with more vigour to try to get the conversation out of his head. A while later, he called a stop to the training session. As the rest of his pokemon cooled down, he turned to Abra once again. "Alright, buddy. Time to stop your reading. We're leaving and you need your sleep."

'But I have just reached the interesting part!' he whined.

"You say that every time I tell you to stop reading. Now, come on."

'I'll sleep lesser, just let me read!'

"You know you can't do that Abra," Ash explained patiently. "Not sleeping is actually harmful for you."

'Stupid base form,' he grumbled as he reluctantly shut his book. He had a mournful look on his face as he saw his trainer pack the books in his bag. Once Ash did so, he recalled all his pokemon back to their pokeball before Pikachu settled on Ash's shoulder and they resumed their journey.

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Since route 5 was so big and it had a lot of trainers on it, the League had constructed a pokemon centre at the middle of the route. And here Ash was 10 days later, an hour or so away from the centre. They had been delayed by a day due to the vicious storm that occurred the previous day. Ash and his pokemon were safe, though. While Eevee, Floette, and Dratini preferred to stay in their pokeballs, Pikachu and Abra stayed out. Pikachu used his lightning rod ability to absorb the lightning falling from the clouds while Abra stared at the storm in fascination. When questioned by Ash, he replied that he was just reading upon storms in the science book and it was intriguing to see it live.

"Pika, Pika!" Pikachu's shout brought Ash out of his thoughts as he looked to where Pikachu was pointing. On recognizing what it was, Ash immediately set off on a run. There, lying down on a rock was a Charmander. It had scratches all over its body but the main thing concerning Ash was the flame on its tail. If the flame on a Charmander's tail is bright, it signifies that the Charmander is healthy. However, if the flame runs out, the Charmander dies. And if the flame on this one's tail was any indication, it wouldn't last much longer

Looking at the Charmander, Ash knew it was in no condition to talk. It would not be able to tell Ash how it got its injuries. He immediately took out an empty pokeball and tapped the Lizard pokemon on its head. Its serious condition was further signified when the pokeball did not even move an inch before it beeped to signify capture.

Knowing time was of the essence, Ash rushed towards the pokemon centre. What should have been an hour's journey was over in half that time as Ash ran all the way to the centre. Huffing and puffing, he made his way to Nurse Joy.

"Hello. Welcome to the Pokemon Centre. What seems to be the emergency, young man?" she asked politely, as all Nurse Joy do.

Ash shoved Charmander's pokeball in her hand and said, "There's no time. It's on the verge of death!"

Taken aback by the statement, Nurse Joy rushed inside with the pokeball in her hand not willing to take a chance in case the trainer was telling the truth. As Ash saw her leave, he saw a much younger Joy, who appeared to be his age, take her mother's place at the counter.

"Is there anything else we can help you with?" she asked.

"Yes, a room for the night, please." He was not going to stay the night at the pokemon centre originally but now he would have to. Not only to see how Charmander was but because Charmander was now his pokemon. The young Joy gave him a key which Ash took with a murmured thank you and left for his room. Once there, he released all his pokemon and told them what happened. As he ended the short tale by saying that they were waiting to see how the newest member of their team was doing, it finally set in Ash's mind. He now had a Charmander, one of the fiercest fire-type pokemon in the Kanto region.

Excitement coursed through Ash's body at the thought of having Charmander on his team. Immediately, his mind went to various training regimens for it which he had designed before leaving for his journey. He nearly started dancing in joy when he imagined a fierce Dragonite flying next to an equally fierce Charizard. He snapped out of his daydream as he remembered something. He looked at the rest of his pokemon and commented. "Guys, and girls," he hastily corrected at the sharp glances thrown his way from Eevee and Floette, "we don't know what happened to Charmander to make its condition so serious. So let's welcome him properly, yeah?"

On receiving affirming nods, they exited the room. Ash went to the cafeteria to eat hot food for the first time since he left Cerulean City. His pokemon were excited as well since they each liked, or for some, were obsessed with different food. Dratini and Floette ate pokemon food contently while eating different food occasionally – cheese came to Ash's mind— Pikachu gorged on ketchup, and Eevee caused the most problem for Ash. She wanted his chocolates! And anyone who knew Ash knew one thing. Ash NEVER shared chocolates with anyone. In the end, he had to buy an equal number of chocolates for Eevee as he did for himself to keep her satisfied.

Abra saw this with a bemused look on his face. He went around trying a little of what each pokemon loved so much. While he enjoyed the chocolate and the cheese, everyone laughed at his disgusted expression after trying ketchup, and the subsequent disgruntled look on Pikachu's face at Abra dissing his precious ketchup.

It was a light-hearted atmosphere around Ash as he started researching the Charmander line on his pokedex. While he was slightly worried about Charmander, he had full faith in Nurse Joy. After all, even if she was facing some trouble, she could easily call for help. Looking up to see if there was any news on his newest capture, he found further proof of his thoughts as he saw a Nurse Joy manning (or was it womanning?) the desk. All pokemon centres could call a reserve Nurse Joy in case the Nurse Joy that works at the centre is too busy.

He went to the Nurse Joy in hopes of asking about the Charmander. "Hello. Is there any news of the Charmander?"

"My sister is still operating on it," came the reply.

"Okay. Any idea how long the operation will take? Also, if it is not too much trouble, can you give the rest of my pokemon a check-up?"

"Sure. Just put their pokeballs in the tray over here. And I don't know how long the operation will take. It can take a few minutes, it can even take a few hours."

"Alright. Thanks for letting me know," Ash smiled politely. He went to his table and called back all his pokemon and put their pokeballs in the tray the Nurse Joy gave him. Once done, he went back to what he was doing before, setting up a training plan for Charmander.

Night fell and still there was no news on the Charmander. The Nurse Joy at the desk told him to go to sleep as she will call him in case he is needed. Ash reluctantly listened to her and went to his room with the rest of his pokemon who were declared in perfect health by the kind nurse.

His sleep, however, was abruptly broken by knocking at his door. He looked at the clock and saw it was just 5 minutes past 6. He groaned as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and stretched. He gave another groan as whoever was at the door knocked again. This time louder. As Ash went to open the door, his pokemon stood wary in case their trainer was in trouble.

On opening the door, Ash was surprised to see Nurse Joy along with an Officer Jenny. "What can I do for you so early in the morning?" while Ash usually got up early in the morning to train his pokemon, he was not a morning person, not by any means.

"May we come in?" Even though it was framed as a question, Ash was sure it wasn't a request from the blue-haired Police Officer. Ash nodded his head and stood aside to let them enter. Once inside, he sat down on his bed as his pokemon crowded around him sensing something was wrong. On seeing that, Nurse Joy smiled while Officer Jenny had a small frown on her face.

"Trainer Ketchum. You gave Joy here an injured Charmander to heal. What is your history with it? How long have you been its trainer?" she asked the questions rapidly as she took out a notepad and a pen to record Ash's answers.

"Umm," Ash started, confused with the barrage of questions. "I met the Charmander on the way here. On seeing its condition, I immediately caught it to put it in stasis since I was unsure if it would survive for long with its injuries. I immediately ran here and half an hour later I gave it to Nurse Joy." He stated truthfully. "Why? What's wrong with Charmander?" he asked.

"Is there any way for me to verify what you said?" Asked Officer Jenny as she ignored Ash's question.

"You can ask Professor Oak. He should have gotten a message when I captured the Charmander."

"Alright, I'll just confirm that and tell you." With that, she left the room.

"What is going on Nurse Joy?" questioned Ash. He was a little worried now.

"The Charmander we found had all the signs of abuse, Mr. Ketchum. By the looks of it, the Charmander was abused for more than a month," she said with a rare frown on her pretty face.

"I've never abused pokemon!" Ash exclaimed indignantly.

"I had my doubts as well, Mr. Ketchum, which is why we're not following normal procedure. If we were, this interview would be taking place at the Police Station. I convinced Officer Jenny to hold it here."

"Oh. Not that I'm complaining, but why?"

"Because when my sister did a check-up on the rest of your pokemon, they were in perfect health and they were happy. Things didn't add up. So, we decided to question you here instead of embarrassing you by dragging you to a Police Station."

"Thank you, then. By the way, you didn't tell me how Charmander was." Ash was really starting to get worried now. He had noticed how both of them kept avoiding that question. Before Nurse Joy could answer, the door opened to reveal Officer Jenny.

"Your story checks out, Mr. Ketchum. I spoke to Professor Oak and he told me that you caught the Charmander yesterday afternoon. I'm sorry for questioning you like this and the inconvenience caused."

"It's alright, Officer. You were just doing your job. But I'm more worried about why you both are avoiding my question when I ask how my Charmander is doing."

Both woman looked at each other before Nurse Joy started talking. "I'm sorry to say this, Mr. Ketchum but your Charmander didn't survive the night. Its injuries were too grave for me to heal." Her voice was sorrowful and you could hear the grief in it.

"What? What do you mean by that?" Ash asked as his whole body felt numb. His pokemon leaned into him as they too felt anguish at their comrade passing before they could even know it. The two women stood in respectful silence as the teenager and his pokemon mourned the loss of their comrade.

After recovering a bit, he asked Nurse Joy with a heavy voice. "Can you tell me what happened to him?"

She sighed before answering. "While the abuse was continuous over a period of time, it wasn't fatal. From what I can say, the previous owner got fed up of the Charmander and released it. The Charmander, not knowing what to do or how to survive in the wild, got caught up in the storm and attacked by wild pokemon. The combination was enough to make the injuries fatal."

Ash looked down as he clenched his fists in anger at what the pokemon suffered. "How are you able to speculate this? It's quite precise guesswork."

"A couple of days ago, a boy by the name of Damien boasted about leaving his "useless" Charmander behind. I'm guessing this is the same Charmander."

"So are you going to arrest him now?" Ash asked angrily. "What?" he asked when he saw the two women exchange looks.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Ketchum," came the reply from Officer Jenny. "There is no way for us to prove that your Charmander was the same Charmander released by Damien. And while frowned upon, there is no rule that disallows the release of captured pokemon. Also, unless Damien himself goes for a check-up of his pokemon, we can't force him to. We can't accuse him of abusing pokemon."

"So we can do nothing?" he yelled. Both women understood his anger, they felt the same way. But, laws were laws, they had to follow them. Both of them pat Ash on his shoulder consolingly as they left him alone.

Ash could not believe it. He knew there were bad people in the world, but leaving a pokemon to die was something he thought only Team Rocket did. To know that there were others was a big shock to him.

'Trainer.' Abra's voice rang out in Ash's mind.

"What is it?"

'This Damien. We will get our revenge!'

"If we meet him, of course we will!" Ash exclaimed determinedly.

'We will meet him.' Abra commented as his eyes flashed blue and Ash was now sure that he would be meeting Damien in the future. And as Abra said, they will get their revenge!

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Burying two pokemon in a week was hard for Ash. Never in a million years could he have imagined this scenario. The only difference between burying Bulbasaur and burying Charmander was the difference in emotions Ash experienced while doing it. For Bulbasaur, Ash felt gut-wrenching sorrow and guilt at his inability to help the Seed Pokemon. But, for Charmander, he knew he had done all he could to save its life. If Nurse Joy could not save it, Ash definitely could not. So, Ash didn't experience the guilt he felt when they were burying Charmander, he felt anger.

As someone who loves pokemon with all his heart, Ash had difficulty imagining a trainer abusing and then abandoning them. What this Damien had done was unforgivable and Ash swore he would get justice for the pokemon he had caught for less than half a day. It was also due to this difference in emotions that Ash did not withdraw into himself as he did when Bulbasaur passed away. Instead, life continued almost normal for Ash and his pokemon, as they all looked forward to the day they would face Damian and avenge Charmander.

A week later, they reached Saffron City which lay exactly between Cerulean City and Vermilion City. When they reached there, Ash and Pikachu could not help but gawk. It was the first time they had seen such a huge city! Huge towers as high as the eye could see were everywhere. Thousands of people roamed the streets each busy with their own work. It didn't take them long to get lost in the city. After all, Saffron City was around five times the size of Pallet Town!

It took some time for Ash to find the pokemon centre. It took so long because the people in this city were incredibly rude. Each and every one of them was so busy with their own work that none of them took the time to even point him in the right direction. The tenth or eleventh person Ash spoke to was finally kind enough to direct him here, otherwise he would still be on the streets searching around.

Sighing with relief at once more having a warm meal, Ash contemplated the events of the last few days while eating. His pokemon were arrayed around him in a circle after being declared to be in perfect health by Nurse Joy as they too were enjoying the treats that usually accompanied Pokemon Centres. It was a chore to get them to eat the normal nutritious pokemon food before they started gorging themselves on the junk food they so enjoyed.

After Charmander's burial, they had made a move towards Saffron City. The days were the same. Training in the morning, then travelling while battling pokemon trainers, followed by more training and then sleep. While slightly monotonous, it was worthwhile seeing his pokemon becoming stronger. Well, it usually was. The last week was more troublesome than the others.

While Pikachu was making progress with Brick Break and Eevee had pretty much learnt Dig - she just had to work on speed now – the others were not progressing much, if they were progressing at all. Abra was getting more and more stubborn when it came to training as he got obsessed with learning and expanding his knowledge. Meanwhile, Dratini and Floette had made no progress with the moves they were currently learning. As time progressed, Ash was gradually contemplating Abra's suggestions. Now, he made his decision. Allowing pokemon to learn the move on their own was not working. He might as well try Abra's method.

The next day found Ash outside the Saffron City Gym. He had contemplated taking the challenge now when Sabrina would have to use her weakened team but he had a gut feeling that weak team or not, she would completely annihilate him. She was not known to be one of the most powerful trainers in Kanto for no reason.

But Ash stood outside the Gym for a different reason. The first was to scope the place out for the future, to get a feel of the place. If he gets to meet Sabrina, it would allow him to try to figure out how she is as a person and as a trainer. The second, and more important reason he was here was because of Abra. It was no secret that the Abra line was studied at this gym. It was no secret either that Sabrina loved the Abra line. Ash was here to see if there he could receive any advice in raising Abra.

As soon as he released Abra outside the Gym, all three of them were startled by a distortion of air in front of them. Ahead stood a pale-skinned skinny woman. Her jet black hair rested on top of her bare shoulders. She was dressed simply in a pink spaghetti strap tank top that ended just above her belly button stretching over her well-endowed chest. The top matched perfectly with her pink tennis shoes and her vivid pink eyes. She wore minimal make-up, not that she needed it, for she was one of the most beautiful woman Ash had ever seen his life.

The blank expression she was wearing till now shifted slightly as a small smile came across her face. "Thank you, Ash Ketchum. It's rare for men to give me a heartfelt compliment." Her voice was as blank as her previous explanation causing Ash to raise his eyebrows. She was talking like he did after Bulbasaur's death.

"No, Ash Ketchum," her voice had a slightly sorrowful edge to it. "I do not talk like this because of what you are imagining. I'm sorry that you had to witness so much in such a short amount of time."

"Can all psychics read my mind this easily?" Ash questioned with a wry smirk as he remembered the psychic who took him to Fuchsia City at the beginning of his journey.

"Right now, yes. Despite the valiant effort your Abra is making to block out my telepathic probe, he is no match for me. In time, he will teach you how to defend your mind. I'm predicting your mind will be better defended when you return to Saffron City to challenge me for the Marsh Badge."

As Ash sucked in a breath on realising the meaning behind her words, she continued talking. "Yes, my name is Sabrina and I am the Saffron City Gym Leader." She gave a slight smirk and said, "Smart decision not to challenge me as you are now. You assumed right, even my weakened team would easily defeat your pokemon."

"I thought so," Ash mumbled to himself. Raising his voice slightly, he spoke to Sabrina. "I assume you know why I'm here?"

"Yes," she affirmed. She turned to Abra and appeared to begin a mental conversation with him. As they were talking, Ash thought over the strange encounter he had had with her so far. One thing struck him the most. Whenever Abra spoke with Ash, he definitely felt the psi pokemon's mental probe. On the other hand, he had no idea about Sabrina's probe right now. That too when Abra was doing his best to protect Ash's mind! Just how refined was her probe? Was it something only she could do? Or—

"Your Abra will be able to do it as well when he evolves," Sabrina's voice cut through Ash's thought process. "It is a remarkable achievement that your Abra is even able to talk as much as he can. Normally, they reach this stage when they first evolve to Kadabra. I have spoken to Abra and I can reassure you that you are doing a fine job raising it."

"I'm not doing much," Ash bashfully said. After all, it's not every day that such a powerful trainer compliments you. And that is without counting her obvious beauty. "Abra is making all the effort himself."

"Give yourself some credit, Ash Ketchum. You are a good trainer. I can already tell you that Abra is close to evolving. That much I've gathered from my brief conversation with him."

"That's fantastic news!" Ash exclaimed.

"It is. I must admit, I am looking forward to your challenge. You may just be one of the trainers to make me enjoy a battle. It's very rare nowadays."

"Not only will I challenge you, I will beat you as well! That I can promise you. I will get the Marsh Badge, just you see!"

Again, Sabrina gave a slight smile. "You just may, Ash Ketchum. For now, I believe it is time for you to resume your journey. When you return, depending on how powerful your Abra or its evolution is, I may just help train it. Impress me, Ash Ketchum."

"Then I will definitely impress you, Sabrina." He replied, completely fired up now. "You're right, I should resume my journey now. Thank you for taking the time out to see my Abra and me. Bye." Waving his hand, he set off towards route 5 with Pikachu on his shoulder and Abra teleporting onto his back.

"Ash Ketchum!" something in Sabrina's voice made Ash stop and turn around to face her. He saw her pink eyes were glowing brightly, slightly unnerving Ash. "You must be careful. Team Rocket is not done with you. Fate determines that you will encounter them a few more times in your journey. While some of them will end in happy endings for you, others will not. That much I can foresee. Train hard and be careful. You will need it."

Her piece said, she teleported back to the Gym leaving a nervous Ash behind. Gulping at her warning, he started walking to route 5. While walking, he thought about his journey so far and his eyes hardened with determination. He had already promised himself to become stronger and make Team Rocket pay. And fate was giving him a chance to do so. He will take the opportunity with both hands. Team Rocket will not know what hit them!

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That evening, Ash found a nice clearing to make camp for the night. Pikachu, Abra, and Eevee had gone off to do their own training while Ash had kept Dratini and Floette behind. It was time to implement Abra's idea. "Alright, the same arrangement as the last time. Dratini, shoot a Dragon Rage at Floette. Floette, so far I have told you to imagine a barrier that will protect you. Now, I want you to imagine me behind you. If your Protect cannot stop the move, I'll get hurt as well. Imagine making your barrier strong enough to protect me and the rest of us. Can you do that?"

"Flo?" she sent a questioning look at Ash before nodding. He turned to Dratini and nodded at the dragon to send the attack as he stepped away from the two of them. Dratini nodded his head in affirmation to his orders and sent a ball of draconic energy at Floette. Ash hoped that the new approach might help Floette but the result was the same. A thin transparent shield of energy formed around her as the dragon-type attack tore through it with ease and hit her.

"Concentrate, Floette." Ash instructed calmly. The next few tries progressed the same way and Ash was left with no choice now.

"Floette!" his voice rang out through the clearing. "Please come here." The single bloom pokemon went towards Ash with a dejected look on her face as she thought she had upset her trainer again. Ash sighed at her expression. She was normally so cheerful and the disappointed look did not suit her. He put his hand on top of her head and softly stroked it lovingly.

"Flo?" she looked up confused at the sudden show of affection. She expected her trainer to be angry with her, not to pet her with fondness.

"I have a way to help you but you may not like it. I definitely do not like it, Flo," he murmured to her.

"Flo, Floette," she wrapped her arms around Ash's neck or rather she tried to. But since her arms were so small, they were not even wider than Ash's neck. But the sentiment counted as she expressed what she wanted her trainer to do as she looked at him with fierce eyes. Behind her cheerful nature, she was a fierce warrior.

"Are you sure?" at her nod, Ash continued. "Okay then. Forget that it is the Dratini you know who is attacking you. I want you to look back on the events at Mt. Moon. Imagine it is one of Electabuzz's Thunderbolts. Or it is the Crobat that is attacking me, like it did back then. Your move can block these attacks and save me. But as it is now, those attacks will pass through your barrier and hit me. Can you strengthen it?"

He looked at Floette to gauge her reaction and he wasn't disappointed. Her expression changed from contemplative to angry to scared and settled on a steely determination. He knew that Floette was now completely motivated to master this move. She stood in front of the contemplative Dratini who was listening in on the conversation and hit him with a weak Vine Whip when he didn't attack her fast enough for her liking.

Ash smirked at that. This was one of the rare times her warrior spirit, normally buried, was coming to life. He watched with baited breath as Dratini charged another attack. Sure enough, the shield produced by Floette was much stronger than before, it had even managed to remove a bit of power from Dratini's Dragon Rage. While nowhere close to mastering it, this was significant improvement for her first try.

His smirk widened as Floette told Dratini to attack her again as she was clearly not satisfied with the results of the last round. He went to check up on his other pokemon knowing that these two would be fine. He went to Pikachu who was punching a small boulder with each hand one at a time. His hands would be engulfed in a white energy for a couple of seconds before disappearing.

"Hey, buddy. How are things going?"

Pikachu turned away from his training, his brows furrowed in concentration. "Pika, Pika!" he exclaimed as he raised his fists, both glowing with the same white energy for a couple of seconds.

"You're close to learning it," Ash confirmed. "Keep working. This is like Iron Tail. The more you practice, the closer you will get to learning this move. For now, concentrate on keeping the energy in your hands for longer. Once you do so, them start punching again."

When Pikachu got back to training, Ash went on towards Eevee who was happily digging a hole in the ground. What had taken her a couple of minutes a week ago was now done in a couple of seconds. Close, but not close enough. Ash wanted her to be able to dig a hole and move it instantaneously.

"Eevee, ready for the second part of your training?" When Eevee yipped in agreement, Ash stood in front of her and placed a small rock on the ground. The purpose of this exercise was for Eevee to dig a passage to her opponent and attack it from below, the rock serving the purpose of the opponent for now. They continued this for a few minutes, Ash encouraging her to get faster each time she used the attack. After that, Ash left her alone to work on her speed at digging the hole as he moved towards Abra.

Ash sweatdropped as he saw Abra reading a book instead of training. He shook his head at the psi pokemon in exasperation as he walked towards him. "Abra, again? Do you really want me to confiscate your books?"

'NO!' Abra shouted immediately. Ash snorted despite himself at the anguish in Abra's voice at the thought of his books being taken away from him.

Ash sighed as he sat next to him. "Then why do you always do this?" shaking his head again, he decided to change the conversation. "I took your suggestion in training Floette and she has improved dramatically. How did you know it will work?"

'I read in book. Stronger if protect others than himself. Fairy is like that.'

Ash raised a brow at the advice. It was a good one. Bulbasaur exemplified that. He felt a little embarrassed that the Abra he caught a month ago was already becoming smarter than him. Of course he knew that Alakazam were supposed to have brains like a supercomputer but he didn't expect Abra to become this smart so soon. "Any other advice you have?" Ash asked jokingly.

'Yes. Hold on.' Abra rummaged around for a book and once he found it, he started flipping the pages as he searched for what he wanted to show Ash. 'Here.' He gave the book to Ash.

As the young trainer from Pallet Town took the book, he saw that it was open to the page on storms. He read as the book described how buildings made sure that lightning didn't hit them. A metal rod is attached to the top of the building and it draws the lightning's electrical charge away. This rod is connected to wires that carry the current to the ground which neutralizes it. Once he was done reading, he looked at Abra quizzically. "Why did you want me to read this?"

'Metal rod transfers current to ground. Our next gym battle is against electric pokemon. Iron Tail can work as the metal rod here.' He stated confidently as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Ash's jaw dropped as he understood what Abra was implying. If that worked… "You're a genius!" Ash exclaimed happily. He immediately called Pikachu and Eevee over to test the theory. While they may be busy training, Ash could not put off the experiment for any time. If it worked as Abra suggested it would, the entire battle against Surge would change.

"Eevee, I want you to use Iron Tail into the ground. Make sure the attack pierces the ground. Pikachu, once Eevee does that, fire the weakest Thundershock you can at her." Both pokemon give him confused looks but comply nonetheless. It took Eevee a couple of tries before she succeeded in breaking the ground. Once she did that, Ash quickly instructed.

"Good. Now, I want you to keep your Iron Tail activated. Pikachu, Thundershock." Again, both pokemon gave him confused looks before complying. A thin current made its way to Eevee who stood there as if she was not able to feel the attack. Feeling hope rising in his chest, Ash instructed once more. "Eevee, keep it going. Pikachu, use a normal Thundershock this time."

A more powerful attack made its way towards Eevee who once again stood there as if she was not able to feel it.

"Pika, Pika?" Pikachu looked extremely confused at Eevee's lack of reaction while Eevee also stood there wondering what was happening.

"Eevee, did the attack hurt?" Ash asked with barely concealed excitement. When she shook her head negatively, he barely restrained himself from jumping up and down. "I have just one more experiment but it may hurt you quite bad if it goes wrong,' he warned Eevee. She just yipped in return while nodding her head.

'She's ready.'

"Good. Eevee, keep up the Iron Tail. Pikachu, Thunderbolt." Once again, the unsure looks were directed his way before Pikachu sent a noticeably weak Thunderbolt at Eevee. Her entire body flashed yellow due to the current of the attack and once it ended, Eevee stood there without a single scratch on her.

"YES!" This time, Ash didn't contain himself as he jumped with joy and turned around to hug Abra. He must have squeezed the tiny psi pokemon too hard for he teleported away from Ash's arms and appeared a few feet away heaving for breath.

"Sorry," Ash mumbled contritely once he saw what he had done. He was broken out of his embarrassment by Pikachu urgently calling his name. he turned around and immediately felt bad at his starter's expression. Pikachu was extremely confused by what happened as he wondered how his most powerful attack failed so spectacularly.

"Sorry guys, I was just too excited. Abra here found a way for us to counter electric-type attacks. The Iron Tail attracts the electric charge from the current and directs it safely to the ground where it is nullified. From tomorrow, I want you" – he pointed at Eevee – "and Dratini to work on piercing the ground with Iron Tail at will. And I want you guys to do it while facing the opponent, not the ground. Now, get back to training."

Eevee immediately bounded off happily at having such a huge advantage against an entire typing of pokemon. Pikachu, on the other hand, slouched back to his training.

"Pikachu," Ash stopped him having kept an eye on his starter since his reaction to Eevee shrugging of his attacks. "Come here." The mouse pokemon reluctantly went to his trainer and gave no outward reaction to him scratching his favourite spot behind his ears. "You always knew that your electric attacks will not work on everyone," Ash started. "Even in the next gym, they won't work. This is why you're learning Brick Break. Even if someone else has discovered this counter, let them think they have the advantage. We will still beat them using other moves. Right?"

After thinking it over, Pikachu nodded. "Pi, Pikachu!" Ash smiled as the determined glint came back in his eyes. "Good, now back to training!" As Pikachu went back to training noticeably happier, Ash tuned back to Abra who surprise, surprise, was reading again.

"Time for bed, Abra. Your six hours are almost up."

'But, but…' he said as he gazed at the books with forlornly. 'Five more minutes,' he pleaded.

Ash sighed before nodding in agreement and heading back to where Floette and Dratini were. On reaching them, he was pleasantly surprised to see Floette's latest attempt at Protect cut Dratini's Dragon Rage by half. On closer inspection, he noticed Floette looked to be dead on her feet. Numerous attempts at making the barrier must have drained her.

"That's enough. Floette, don't overdo it. Go and rest. No complaints!" Ash raised his voice at the end when he saw her opening her mouth to protest. Complying reluctantly, she went to rest near the tent Ash had set up for the night.

"Dratini, tomorrow morning, you will be taking part in an exercise with Eevee. She will explain it to you tomorrow. For now, let's work on your Ember." Dratini just cooed in response while gazing at Ash knowingly. Ash smirked as he realized that the intelligent dragon-type had already figured out what Ash was going to do.

Seeing that Dratini had already given him permission, he decided to start. "I want you to remember back at Mt. Moon when Team Rocket hurt the rest of us. Remember what Team Rocket were doing at the Hidden Village. Remember what they did to Bulbasaur. Feel the anger burning in you. Unleash that anger! Take it out at that boulder!" Ash shouted passionately.

In response, Dratini roared. The first roar he had ever heard from the gentle pokemon. if there was ever a doubt that Dratini was a dragon, it was extinguished by that roar. He sucked in a huge breath before expelling it out in a manner that Ash could never predict. A MASSIVE, an absolutely MASSIVE Dragon Rage came out of Dratini's mouth. The attack was so powerful, so destructive, that everything in its path was completely obliterated. If that was not enough, the attack continued for a good few feet, extending beyond their vision. Nearby pokemon fled in terror, bird pokemon flew away with haste at the terror Dratini unleased.

"Wow." That was the only word Ash could mutter as he stared at the destruction in awe. He turned to stare at the heaving dragon with amazement. He knew that Dratini and its evolutions grew to be one of the strongest pokemon in the world, but this was the first time he had witnessed some proof of that. As his brain started functioning again, he caught something that made him smirk.

"That was amazing, Dratini. I never knew you had this in you. You're getting more and more powerful every day. While that Dragon Rage was brilliant, it had a tint of orange in it which was fire. Now that you have produced it. I want you to concentrate on that energy and harness it. But you can do it tomorrow. You seem quite exhausted now." Ash wasn't surprised when he nodded in agreement, that attack must have taken a lot out of him.

He decided to stop Eevee's and Pikachu's training as well seeing that his other three pokemon had stopped theirs. They heeded his request, but reluctantly. Especially Pikachu. With the jolt that he got when he realised that his most powerful attack could be nullified so easily, he was more determined than ever to train. Ash wouldn't be surprised if his starter continued training once he went off to sleep.

As they made themselves comfortable, Ash called out to Abra. "Five minutes are up, Abra. Shut the books now." He felt a huge spark of annoyance from the psi pokemon.

'This is getting too annoying! I can't take this anymore!' he muttered angrily.

"Abra?" Ash asked in worry.

He was cut off as Abra was enveloped in a bright white light that blinded him momentarily. Once he got his eyesight back, he stared at him in shock as his body started changing. It started lengthening as his tail also grew bigger. His legs snapped open as it allowed him to stand on his own feet for the first time in his life. The light dies down to reveal Kadabra, Abra's evolved form.

The differences with Abra were noticeable. Kadabra had a red-coloured star on his forehead. Two moustache shaped tufts of fur extended from his snout and he wobbled on his feet, unused to standing on his legs. His eyes were deep set and narrow. Ash was startled as his pokedex beeped.

Kadabra, the psi pokemon. Kadabra holds a silver spoon in its hand. The spoon is used to amplify the alpha waves in its brain. Without the spoon, the Pokémon is said to be limited to half the usual amount of its telekinetic powers. On evolving, Kadabra has learnt the move Confusion.

'There. Now I'm not limited to six hours of sleep!' he muttered joyously. His voice had changed as well, becoming smoother. The telepathic probe was still felt but Ash remembered his pokedex saying that his powers would be halved without a silver spoon, something he would have to go and buy as soon as possible. Another thing he noticed was that his sentence had become more refined, even though he had only spoken one sentence. But, Ash put all of that to the back of his mind.

"Kadabra, did you evolve just to spend more time reading?" he asked incredulously.

'Yes.' He said simply. 'Now, let me read. As a Kadabra, I have to stimulate my brain even more. Read, gain knowledge and meditation should become the norm. That's what Sabrina said, thought I should warn you before you get worried.' With that, he teleported a few feet away and opened his book to start reading.

"Shouldn't you wait till you get accustomed to that form?" Ash asked out loud.

'No. Now, let me read.' And that was the end of the conversation.

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