Essence

Ash has always wanted to be a pokemon master. When the time comes for him to pick out his first pokemon, he shocks Professor Oak with a peculiar request. One thing leads to another, and he ends up with a loyal Growlithe. How will this unique situation affect the boy's destiny?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11113835/1/Essence

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4. Kanto 2 Part 2

"Only the toughest trainer around here, last I heard, he was going for his ninety-fifth straight win," said the boy.

Ash whistled. "Damn, ninety-five wins in a row," he proceeded to question the boy. "Where can I find this guy?"

The blonde haired boy gave Ash a toothy grin. "He lives close by! If I show you where he lives can I watch your battle?"

Ash nonchalantly shrugged.

"Sure thing," he reached out for a hand-shake. "I don't think I ever caught your name."

The blonde haired boy respectfully mirrored Ash. "I'm David! Nice to meet you," he looked at Ash curiously. "What about you?

"I'm Ash Ketchum," replied Ash. "Nice to meet you."

Ash went ahead and followed David. The walk to A.J.'s place was pretty dull; this part of the route he was traveling on was for the most part flat and arid. The grass was mostly dry, and the only pokemon to be found were ratatta, raticate, and every so often an infrequent pidgey.

A.J.'s place certainly was not what Ash was expecting. From what he could see, the dwelling was pretty big. It was dome shaped; the roof being patterned with several pink and yellow stripes, reminding him of the cerulean gym. The structure, however, was not what had taken Ash by surprise. The size of the property was what impressed Ash. It was massive, fenced off by countless pieces of large bounded timber. Ash wasn't sure just how much land the fencing encompassed, but if he had to guess it was at least four to five acres.

David led Ash around the confines of the property in search of the entrance. It took quite a long time because of the vastness of the rural estate. The entrance was a bounded log gate; it blended in with the rest of the wooden girder. Above the gate was an erected scoreboard that read, "A.J.'s gym, 95 wins, 0 losses."

"You again, I thought you got your fill last time?" heckled a voice from behind them.

Ash turned around to find a boy that looked to be about a year or two older than him. He had natural wild thick black spiked hair, however, the front was died a nasty forest green. The boy wore a black collared shirt, with a thick erratic streak of red that was almost as vehement as the boy's facial expression. He wore blue shorts that settled right above his knees, and his bright red shoes matched the red streak on his shirt. Ash also noticed that he was carrying a small blue backpack, hinting to Ash that the boy had been out for a while.

David frowned. "I'm not here to battle you."

Ash sighed in response to the discourteous new arrival. "He just came to watch. I'm your challenger."

The boy Ash assumed to be A.J. grinned adamantly. "Is that so, and who might you be?"

"I'm Ash Ketchum."

The fierce looking boy pointed up at the name on the win tracker. "A.J."

A.J. proceeded to push open the large gate, while signaling Ash to follow. "Care to be number 96 kid?"

Ash mumbled something under his breath, as he and Growlithe followed A.J. onto the rural property.

Upon entrance, Ash was flabbergasted. Out front of the lone dome-shaped structure, was an official looking battle field. It reminded Ash of the training ground he had battled Gary on back in Viridian. It was risen up, and made out of earth; Ash assumed it was probably sculpted by a ground-type.

The painted boundaries looked to be even, by result of careful measurement. A.J. climbed up one of the four wooden staircases', embed into a side of the battlefield. Apparently, he wanted to get straight to business. Ash and Growlithe followed A.J. up onto the battle field, and shambled over to the opposing white painted trainer box. They then confidently faced their competition.

"How does one on one work for you kid?" asked the brusque boy.

Ash nodded his head affirmatively. "No complaints over here."

The dark-haired boy looked down at Growlithe, before coaxing him forward. "This ones all you buddy."

Growlithe concurred, strutting forwards toward the center of the battlefield. He looked at the other human intently; patiently waiting for his opponent to be revealed.

A.J. assuredly cast a pokeball in response. "Go Sandshrew!"

The yellow ground-type burst through a flash of bright white light, disclosing itself. It was a burly specimen, much bigger than the one Ash had caught a glimpse of back in Mt. Moon. If he had to guess, Ash would say that it was nearing evolution. Ash could tell that Sandshrew wasn't going to go down easily.

This would be a tough one for Growlithe. The pup was still young. Sandshrew on the other hand, looked awfully experienced. The yellow mouse Pokemon glared down at Growlithe, acknowledging the fire-type.,

The two pokemon circled each other, both waiting for an opportunity to strike. Growlithe wasn't daunted by sandshrew's icy stare. Sandshrew's large overwhelming advantage in experience cancelled out Growlithe's ability to intimidate.

Growlithe charged ferociously, using his speed to rapidly cover the short distance between him and his opponent.

Sandshrew coiled itself up into a ball, preparing to use its tough hide to endure whatever attack Growlithe threw at him.

Growlithe pounced on the spherical figure, all the while trying to feel for sandshrew's closing point. Defense-curl had an access point, if Growlithe could find it, he could rip the sandshrew out of its defensive form.

Sandshrew exploded recklessly out of its defensive stance under its own terms. It made solid contact with Growlithe, using its powerful muscular body to knock the canine back a few feet.

Growlithe shook it off, quickly regaining his balance. He reanalyzed the situation and propelled a barrage of embers in the direction of sandshrew.

In response to the loud cracking sound of A.J.'s savage whip, Sandshrew hastily avoided the multitude of fire. This was the first time Ash spotted his opponents course whip. He figured A.J. must have been concealing it in his backpack. He had failed to notice him extract it because his eyes were on the pokemon. Ash understood tough training, but using a whip for motivation was nothing but cruel.

It pissed him off. It was disgusting.

"Growlithe return!" shouted Ash.

Growlithe froze in confusion. The fire-type plodded back over to Ash, he had never heard such a menacing tone from his trainer before.

"What the hell kid!" A.J. bellowed nastily. "We were just getting started."

Ash looked at the kids sandshrew and then back up at him. "Why are you chasing so many wins in a row A.J.?"

The barbarous boy laughed menacingly. "I made a vow that when I reach one hundred wins in a row, I will take the pokemon league by storm!"

Ash figured as much. "You're stronger than me right now, I can see that much. But I hate the way you train your pokemon."

A.J. gave Ash a quizzical stare. "What did you say kid?"

"You would of won this battle; your sandshrew is experienced and strong" Ash pointed up at the pompous score board. "But I refuse to let someone like you, use me to boost your self-righteous ego. If you want to count this as a victory go ahead. Just know that it came from someone that refused to battle an ass-hole that uses a whip to provoke his pokemon in battle."

A.J. was slightly flustered by the boy's bold statement. "Y-ou don't know anything about how I train my pokemon kid! What makes you think you know anything about me?"

"Just take one look at your pokemon!" ranted Ash, as he pointed at the sandshrew. "It's not enjoying this battle; it's battling out of fear!"

A.J. looked down at Sandshrew, and for the first time noticed its trembling body as it stared at the whip in his dominant hand.

Ash turned to David, who was standing to the side of the battle field astonished. "I'm leaving, thanks for showing me the way. I'm sorry you didn't get to see a good battle."

David smiled. "It's fine Ash, no hard feelings."

A.J. looked at Ash menacingly, as the dark haired boy walked out of his mock gym. "Where do you think you're going coward? I'm not done with you yet!"

Ash turned around before walking off of the property. "If you want to battle me make it to the league tournament. If you have yet to change your ways by then, I promise to embarrass you in front of all of Kanto."

"That's a lot of confidence for someone that was about to get beat!" howled the disgruntled pokemon trainer.

Ash laughed. "I've only had my pokemon for a couple of weeks. Give me a little bit of time and we'll see how things play out."

"Pshhh whatever you say kid! I guess I'll see you at the tournament!" retorted A.J.

Ash smirked confidently. "I'll be looking forward to it."

A.J. stared hatefully at Ash's back as he walked away. The kid had made a mockery of him... while forfeiting a battle. He hadn't lost, but for some reason it felt like he did.

Ash looked down at his buddy Growlithe, as they gained distance between themselves and A.J.'s gym. His puppy pokemon looked up at Ash skeptically, utterly confused by what had just happened.

Ash sighed. "Don't look at me like that; I had to make a point."

Growlithe looked ahead blankly, still confused.

"If we were to have kept battling, it wouldn't have proved anything," said Ash. "A win, or a loss, the results wouldn't have led to anything positive."

Growlithe continued to listen intently.

"If we would have lost, he would have obviously kept on going about things the same way. If we would have won, it would probably have made things worse. Chances are he'd end up pushing Sandshrew even harder… using more distasteful methods."

The fire-type started to catch on.

"Sometimes, refusing to battle someone is the only move you can make," explained Ash. "Especially, when it comes to people like A.J."

Growlithe looked up at his trainer discernibly. The boy was much wiser than his age suggested.

"Trust me, I would never back down from a challenge that actually matters," said Ash. "But in a situation like the one back there, the well-being of that sandshrew is more important to me."

Growlithe understood, he dropped his head feeling slightly guilty for doubting his trainer.

Ash chuckled. "Don't worry buddy I'm not upset. I get that you wanted to finish the battle."

The orange and black coated pup looked up at his trainer, as they continued on their way. Everyday the dark haired boy found a way to surprise his puppy pokemon.

XXX

A couple of days had gone by since the incident at A.J.'s gym. Ash and Growlithe were stuck in a deep fog, somewhere betwixt Cerulean and Vermillion City. The new route was very green. The dirt path he traveled on winded through an assortment of tall trees, grown amidst acres of thick robust pasture. To Ash's displeasure, the appealing scenery was blurred by the irksome low-lying cloud. It drifted amongst the air in steady suspension.

The past few days had been very tiresome; consisting of nothing but walking, training, and battling. The grind of travel was starting to wear on Ash. His back ached, his legs were heavy, and he was in desperate need of a bath. This was the longest stretch he had gone in between cities. He was beginning to regret the decision not to pass through Saffron.

The dark-haired boy was anxiously waiting for the day that the high lactic acid levels in his muscles lowered, due to muscular development. The human body was a strange thing. Compared to pokemon, it took much longer to build back up brokendown large fiber tissue. Regardless, the process was occurring. He was just in need of some good rest; that way the flesh could reconstruct itself to be stronger and more durable.

Even though they were tough, the past couple of days had been well worth the fatigue. They had gained a lot of ground, knocking out about a quarter of the distance between Cerulean and Vermillion City.

The rewards of training had been valuable.

Pidgeotto was very close to mastering twister. The flying-type was now capable of evenly facilitating draconic energy into a medial sized whirlwind. It was also stable enough to use in a live battle. There was still room for improvement, but Ash figured the avian was only a couple of solid training sessions away from being able to access twister, while using the full extent of his power.

The puppy pokemon's flame wheel was developing nicely as well. Learning to envelope himself in his own flame came naturally, due to all of the ember control training he had been doing with Ash. The only thing holding him back from being able to use it confidently in battle was fire capacity. Growlithe still wasn't quite capable of producing the amount of fire he needed to elevate his body off of the ground and propel it forward, while continuously rotating head over.

Minimize was frustrating, to both Ash and Clefairy. Most pokemon that learned the highly advantageous technique, usually had bodies made up of an extremely ductile substance; allowing them to freely manipulate their body into different sizes. Clefairy's species didn't have that luxury. She had to rely on a unique thaumaturgic energy that was distinct to only a few species. This energy could actually recalibrate every speck of her being, making it possible to shrink in size. Unfortunately, the lack of information on the species as a whole, made it difficult to teach. They'd made some progress, but it was a slow process. And Ash had no way of judging whether the complications were due to lack of experience, or poor execution. Clefairy knew how to access the power, but was struggling with application. Ash had no doubt that they'd come up with a solution. It was just going to take some time...

Battles over the last couple of days had come few and far between. The only memorable one was a match between Growlithe and a trainer's machop. The puppy pokemon was on the verge of defeat, when he used a makeshift version of flame-wheel to knock out the fighting-type. It was a lucky win, but that didn't make it any less satisfying.

As Ash continued to trudge through the deep fog, it gradually thinned out due to a steady rise in temperature. The dark-haired boy and Growlithe could now make out the delightful scenery around them a little more clearly. The trees were brimming with butterfree and pidgey; loitering in the grass were many common pokemon like ratatta and oddish. The surplus of weed pokemon was the first that he'd seen of the species. He was in need of a grass-type, but the prospect of training one of the two-foot blue creatures didn't appeal to him. They were a good source of entertainment though; it was comical to watch the green shrub atop their head fidget around as they mingled amongst each other.

During the beautiful walk, as the fog completely dissipated, Growlithe was the first to spot a lone boy in the distance. As they closed in on the young scrawny boy, it was obvious that he was upset. He sat under the shade of a tree, with his arms holding his curled up legs firmly. His head was buried in his lap, as he hid his face from the world.

Ash wasn't the type of person that could walk by someone that looked to be in need. He approached the solemn boy discreetly, not wanting to alarm him. "Are you okay?"

The boy jolted. He obviously had no idea that someone else was around. He wiped the tears from his eyes, as he gathered himself. "Um, yeah i'm fine. Uhh thanks for asking I guess."

Ash looked down at the boy. His eyes were pretty red. Ash didn't need to see tears to be able to tell that the curly haired boy had been crying for a while.

"If you're fine, then why are you crying?" Asked Ash, as Growlithe neared the child; sniffing him and his navy blue school uniform.

"It's that obvious?" asked the boy, while he attempted to rub the red out of his eyes.

"Yeah kind of," confessed Ash.

The brown haired boy sighed. "I guess there's nothing left to be ashamed about if you've seen me cry uh—"

"Ash," said the dark haired trainer, sensing that the boy was trying to ask for his name.

"Hiya Ash," replied the scrawny looking boy, as he shook the dark haired trainers' hand. "My name's Joe."

Growlithe curled up into a ball next to the boy, sensing that he could use some comfort. He closed his eyes as the boy gently pet the creamy colored tuft on his head.

"Your Growlithe sure is friendly," said the boy. "How long have you had him?"

"A couple of weeks," answered Ash. "Are you trying to change the subject?"

"How many badges do you have?" asked Joe.

Ash glared at the curly haired boy. "I have one. Now stop trying to change the subject."

Joe smiled for the first time. "Fine, you caught me."

Ash laughed. "I understand. I have a tough time talking about my feelings as well."

The boy ran his fingers through the front of his own hair, as he answered. "Yeah, I think that it's part of being a boy."

Ash nodded. "I think you're right. Well just know that you can trust me, I might not be the best at emotions, but I'll try and help if I can."

"I think i'll take you up on that offer," agreed Joe. "It's been a long time since I've sat down and talked with someone."

Ash sat down next to Growlithe and Joe. He found a shaded spot and rested his back up against the tree. "So what's got you so upset?"

Joe gulped before speaking. "My classmates."

Ash sighed at the short response. "And what's wrong with your classmates?"

Joe picked up a nearby stick and started to fiddle around with the dirt by his feet, as he explained. "Well I go to school at the Pokemon Technical Institute right up the road. I'm not that good in school, so I'm near the bottom of my class when it comes to grades. The rest of the kids think that I'm some kind of failure because of my scores, so they treat me like dirt."

Ash internally scowled. He'd heard of the Pokemon Technical Institute. It was a preppy school for kids that wanted to go to the league tournament, but didn't want to travel around and earn badges. The only way to get in was to either have a boat load of money, or to get a scholarship after sending in exemplary trainer qualification scores to the school's board of admissions. Despite his mother's wishes, Ash hadn't even bothered to send in his. The idea of sitting at a desk, instead of going out into the world and doing the real thing made him want to vomit.

"I have a simple solution. Dropout and go to the league the old fashion way," said Ash seriously.

Joe sadly chuckled, "I wish it were that easy. My parents paid a lot of money for me to get in."

"So you'd rather travel?" asked Ash.

"Of course I would, but my parents signed me up without asking," he murmured. "And they don't have a lot of money. They've been saving up for this since I was born. So I'd feel horrible if I backed out."

Ash could sense that Joe wasn't going to budge. "Well since you can't leave, there's got to be at least one kid that'll be your friend. It's always easier to drudge through a crappy situation when you got somebody by your side."

"See that's the problem. There are plenty of nice kids in the beginner's class. But there is one girl that controls everything. Her name's Giselle, she comes from one of the wealthiest families in all of Kanto," said Joe.

Ash listened intently, while Growlithe cuddled up closer to Joe.

"She's convinced pokemon battles are a perfect science. So anybody that can't pass the institutes curriculum is trash. She has the entire beginners' class wrapped around her finger, because of her overwhelming social status. For that reason, and the fact that she's a twisted narcissistic sadist, she tortures students that struggle."

The scrawny boy proceeded to reach into his coat pocket. He pulled out a picture of a gorgeous brown-eyed girl. She had on a blue skirt, that formally laid over a white collared blouse. Tied around the collar was a pretty red bow.

"Who's that?" Asked Ash. "She's gorgeous."

Joe blushed red, as he gawked at the picture. "That's Giselle."

"Wait that's Giselle!" shouted Ash surprised. "Why the hell do you have a picture of her?"

Joe scratched the back of his head bashfully. "I hate the way she treats people. I love the way she looks."

Ash inconsiderably groaned. "So do you hate this girl, or do you love her?"

"I can't freaking stand her," said Joe. "But she's hot."

Ash stood up from his spot underneath the tree and brushed the dirt off of his pants. "Alright I got an idea. Can you take me to the school?"

"What are you going to do?" asked Joe skeptically, while raising an eyebrow.

Growlithe got up from his spot next to Joe and trotted over to his trainer's side. The puppy pokemon looked back at Joe expectantly, waiting for the boy to lead the way.

"Before I take you, what's your plan Ash?" asked Joe as he slowly stood up.

Ash cunningly smirked. "I'm going to prove her wrong."

"And how are you going to do that?" wondered the boy. "She's the top of the class, making her the most advanced beginner. That means she's equivalent to a traveling trainer that has three badges."

Ash snickered. "That's a complete joke. People aren't something you can predict with some kind of stupid system. I'm going to beat her narrow minded view of pokemon, and make her rethink her brainless logic."

"To be honest, I think you're in over your head," said Joe. "But things really can't get any worse at school, so I might as well see this plan put into action."

Ash beckoned his new acquaintance forward. "Good, lead the way."

The determined trainer and his Growlithe accompanied Joe, as he led the way to the institution. During the walk, the skinny boy asked Ash a lot of questions, trying to take an interest in him as a person. Ash figured that he was probably trying to make up for the conversation by the tree. Ash ruminated that the boy was probably convinced that he was being a nuisance, which he wasn't. Ash got a lot of fulfillment from helping people, and the the last couple of days were excruciatingly repetitive. He desired a short change of pace.

The school was only about a half-mile from where they originally set off. After following a sign that directed them off of the main trail, the several enclosing trees gradually became fewer, until the new path opened up into a capacious clearing. The voluminous space acted as school grounds; featuring an enormous extravagant three-story structure.

"So where are we going to find Giselle?" asked Ash. "This place is huge. She could be anywhere."

Joe gave Ash a knowing look.

"The rich are creatures of habit," he looked down at the watch on his left wrist. "It's a little after noon, I know where she'll be."

Ash excused the creepy reply and followed Joe once again. The fair skinned boy took Ash around to the back of the school. There were tons of kids scattered about in different places, eating in their respective cliques.

It was lunch time.

Some kids ate at tables, while others found a nice spot on the grass to picnic. Ash received several addled stares. He wasn't surprised, since he was the only person amongst the conflux of students that wasn't wearing a navy blue uniform.

Ash returned Growlithe after taking a look at his overwhelmed friend. He was starting to pick up on the fact that the fire-type didn't do to well around large clusters of people.

Joe brought Ash over to a wide white staircase. It steeply led up to the institutions back door. Sitting on the steps was the beautiful brunette from the picture. She sat elegantly, eating her lunch, while being idolized by a gaggle of mindless admirers.

Ash grimaced, as Giselle bored down on him with a look that was trying to portray his inferiority.

She moved her demeaning glare to Joe, who was clearly intimidated. He set his eyes on just about everything except the delicate girl.

"So you're Giselle,"stated Ash, as he treaded up the first couple steps of the staircase.

She flipped her hair, acknowledging Ash's statement. "Yes, I am Giselle. Who are you?"

Her voice was appropriate. It was soft, and resonated nobility. It was the type of voice you'd expect to hear from a princess.

"I'm Ash Ketchum," he said. "My friend Joe here told me all about you. I've come for a battle."

She looked at him disinterestedly. "It's obvious that you don't go to school here. Not only are you without a school uniform, but you're also calling poor little Joe over there your friend."

Giselle's lackeys snickered in the background at their idol's comment.

"You can't treat people like that," said Ash. "What makes you think that you are so much better than Joe?"

She gasped, obviously offended.

"Are you trying to compare me to that weakling," she said. "We are in entirely different leagues; we come from completely different worlds."

Giselle chuckled snootily. "He isn't worthy of licking the dirt off of my boot."

Joe frowned at that last comment, unmistakably hurt.

Ash scowled, as he walked up the stairs coming face to face with the cold-blooded beauty. "I'm going to prove that you are closer to our world then you think. I come from a small town named Pallet, I only have one badge, and I'll battle you with a type-disadvantage. I'll win and prove to you that your moronic views on pokemon are flat-out wrong."

She gasped for a second time, utterly flabbergasted.

"How dare a commoner speak to me that way!" she stood up. "I will completely embarrass you. I will wipe the floor with your plebeian pokemon! I will make sure you regret ever stepping foot on this campus you disgusting dog!"

Giselle's living doormat's stood up from their spots on the staircase as well, eyeing Ash venomously.

"Prove it in a battle," said Ash. "Your worlds method versus mine."

"Fine you little worm, follow me," hissed Giselle as she stormed up the steps, and violently swung open the door's to the school.

The rest of her worshipper gave Ash a nasty glare, as they followed her up the stare case.

Joe turned to Ash and whispered. "You're crazy, i've never seen anyone talk to her like that."

Ash gave Joe a playful smile. "We're just getting started."

Ash felt a little bit of his sadistic pidgeotto's personality rubbing off on him, as they followed Giselle through the hall and down a short flight of stairs. The descending staircase led to a set of double doors. Giselle turbulently swung them open, just like how she forcibly opened the doors to the school.

Ash internally chuckled, he'd somehow managed to turn the elegant princess, into a wicked witch. He thought back to his encounter with A.J. a couple of days ago. Although he was slightly enjoying himself; he hoped that dealing with crazy people wasn't becoming a side hobby.

The doors opened up to an empty indoor battle facility. It featured a couple of state of the arch battlefields that dipped down even further underground. Ash figured it was to make sure that anything else in the facility wasn't damaged by any stray attacks. Placed to the left of the entrance, was some kind of deluxe machinery. Ash watched as Giselle pressed a couple of buttons on the apparatus' face. Moments later the fancy looking machine delivered a pokeball through a slot protruding from its side.

She turned to Ash. "Well, you ready to learn your lesson urchin?"

Ash rolled his eyes, as he walked down onto the battlefield. He picked a trainers' box; settling in opposite of the brown-eyed girl.

Joe watched as the battle was about to begin. He silently prayed that Ash knew what he was doing. He had said earlier that he didn't think things could get any worse at school. Unfortunately, he had a feeling that if Ash was unsuccessful, Giselle would find a way to make his lack of a social life even more hellish than it already was.

Giselle vehemently bellowed. "One-on-one you insect! We will battle until your pokemon is unconscious!"

Ash laughed. "Don't you mean one of our pokemon?"

She lowered her eye brows disconcertingly.

"No, I mean your pokemon," she said matter-of-factly. "If I said said our, that would be insinuating that I believe you a common worm, have a chance at winning."

Ash scratched his head disbelievingly, he couldn't believe how painstakingly narcissistic the girl was. "Can we just get on with it please?"

Her complexion turned red, as she fumed.

"Your lack of respect is disgusting! I'm going to step all over your pride!" she bellowed, as she she chucked her pokeball out onto the battlefield.

Emerging was an average looking graveler. It looked to be nowhere near as experienced as the one Pidgeotto had lost to on the way to Mt. Moon. The living Boulder smashed two of its large four fists together as it prepared to battle.

Ash smirked. He couldn't have asked for a better situation. If he had to guess, his barbarous Pidgeotto was still sour over his lone defeat nearly a weak ago. This would be a perfect opportunity for his sadistic friend to slightly diminish his sole blemish; against another member of the birds' current most hated species.

"Pidgeotto, come out to play," declared Ash.

Upon appearance, the behemoth Pidgeotto burst into the air. He circled the living slab of rock from above; staring down deplorably with nothing but malicious intent.

Giselle gulped. She had never seen, nor heard, of a pidgeotto that large. It blew the listed measurements out of the water. Pidgeotto were typically three-feet seven-inches in height. This specimen was twice that. The average pidgeotto's wingspan was around five-feet, the one circling above her head was probably pushing on eight. She suppressed any rising doubt, and clung to the fact that Graveler was a rock-type, while Pidgeotto was a flying-type. Graveler had the type advantage.

The evolved rock pokemon peered up at the bird with its small slanted eyes. Ash figured it to be scanning the situation; trying to come up with a plan of action.

Pidgeotto began to feel out his opponent. He used his colossal wingspan to thrust a barrage of half-powered gusts down on the dimwitted boulder. The pressurized wind descended on the graveler, causing it to try and stand firm. The graveler waved back and forth awkwardly. The avian made a wry face. This graveler was significantly weaker then the last one he'd gone up against. By the way its body slightly fumbled, he could tell it didn't have great coordination. Most likely it had just evolved.

"Full-power gust now!" commanded Ash.

Pidgeotto followed orders. With a powerful flap of his wings he hurled a cogent blast of wind at the rock pokemon.

Graveler grimaced, as it was brought to one knee under the immense compression. It dug its fingers into the battlefields tough surface for support; trying to endure the harsh wind.

Pidgeotto seemingly vanished, using a high speed quick attack to descend to the surface. He used his right wing to deliver a slightly weaker gust into Graveler's face. Pidgeotto watched the results unfold, as Graveler grimaced in pain, sliding back a considerable distance. His rooted fingers shredded the terrain, creating a mess of debris.

Graveler gathered himself, coming to a halt. It used two of its four arms to hurl some of the loose bits of terrain in the direction of Pidgeotto. The stone came soaring through the air at a high velocity, in attempt to inflict damage.

"Dodge with quick attack!" thundered Ash.

Pidgeotto ascended into the air rapidly, creating a slight after image. He narrowly avoided the long-ranged attack.

Graveler proceeded to hastily fling numerous amounts of debris. Using the newly fractured terrain to his advantage.

Pidgeotto skillfully maneuvered his way around the wide-spread rock-throw, only being grazed a few times by shed fragments of stone. The multiple mock battles between the raptor-like avian and Growlithe had greatly improved Pidgeotto's flight acrobatics. Dodging the puppy pokemon's array of ember was a great way to practice against situations such as these.

Graveler continued his rock throw. With Pidgeotto airborne, the majority of its attacks were useless. It began to unload at a faster rate, causing Pidgeotto to repetitively use quick attack in order to avoid.

"Hit it already!" yelled Giselle in frustration.

"Use its power against it. Counter with whirlwind!" clamored Ash.

Pidgeotto took a second to catch on to Ash's unorthodox plan. He quickly located a safe void amidst the continuous enfilade of stone. He used his wings to muster up an expansive whirlwind. It vacuumed in the surrounding stone, and viciously propelled it back towards its source.

The graveler didn't have a chance to react, as it was bombarded by a more intense reciprocation of its own attack. The rock pokemon shrieked as the rock-filled tornado swept him up; flinging him across the arena. Giselle cursed out loud as her pokemon of choice was on the verge of defeat. All hope was lost when the battered Graveler was finished off by a violently condensed medial purple tinted tornado.

Ash smiled as he watched the slightly incomplete twister fade away, to reveal an unconscious Graveler. Pidgeotto landed next to his trainer, chirping out a sadistic chuckle. The flying-type wasn't necessarily happy about the easy victory, but did thoroughly enjoy the sight of the blacked out graveler.

Giselle fell to her knees, looking visibly disturbed by her demoralizing loss. "I don't understand. I'm at the top of the class, you're a commoner with a single badge."

She quietly ranted. "I had a Graveler, you had a Pidgeotto."

Ash returned Pidgeotto, before nodding at an astonished Joe, who was watching the battle closely from above. He noticed that Giselle's clique looked almost as anguished as she did, as they stared at the scene with tears falling from their eyes.

Ash walked over to the defeated Giselle. At first glance, part of him thought about leaving her like that. He felt like she deserved it. She'd treated him like he wasn't even human, and had tortured Joe for who knows how long. But then he came to his senses. He decided that regardless of how poorly she had treated him, or anybody else, he wouldn't stoop to her level of callous behavior. He held out a hand, silently offering to help her up on to her feet.

The girl felt his hand above her, as she looked up at him, tears were running down her cheeks. "Why would you help me? I treated you horribly and you beat me at my own game."

"Because I feel like," said Ash with a smile. "Now are you going to take my hand, or what!"

She gave him a kind smile for the first time, as she met his hand with her own. He pulled her up to her feet, meeting her face to face.

Joe watched as the two exchanged words, wondering what they could possibly be talking about.

"Do you know why I wanted to battle you?" asked Ash.

Giselle wiped the tears from her eyes, as she answered sarcastically. "To make me eat my own words?"

"Maybe a little bit," jested Ash. "But the real reason was because of Joe. The way you've been treating him just isn't right. I wanted to prove to you that social status, money, grades, statistics; those things alone don't make a good pokemon trainer. I'd be lying to you if I said that they don't help. But they can't be what defines you. There's a lot more to it then that."

A single tear fell from Giselle's brown right eye. "But what if those are the things that define me?"

Ash frowned. "I refuse to believe that. Everyone has good traits. Sometimes you just got to make an effort to find them."

And with those words, Ash walked away. He'd done all he could; the rest was up to her.

Giselle watched as he walked away, ruminating over what she had become. As he reached the steps that ascended out of the arena, she called out to him. "But how do I do that Ash?"

"That's for you figure out on your own,"said Ash. "But, if I could give you one piece of advice i'd say leave this place. Travel. See the world. That would be a good place to start."

Joe overheard the last bit of the conversation, which caused him to seriously rethink things. As Ash walked up the steps, he smiled. Thinking to himself that if traveling could make him like Ash, he'd be willing to tell his parents the truth.

Ash looked back at the reflecting Giselle one last time, before following Joe back outside the school.

With the problem finally resolved, it was time for Ash to hit the road again. With Joe's company, Ash left school grounds and headed back to the main route. The walk was relatively quiet, the dark haired boy could tell that Joe was mulling things over.

"Well I guess this is it," said Ash, as the time neared for the two new friends to say goodbye.

"Where are you off to?" asked Joe. "You never told me."

"Vermillion city," replied Ash. "I'm off to battle Lt. Surge!"

"Good luck. I've heard he's tough," heckled Joe. "For what it's worth I've never beat him on the schools' simulator."

"Good thing pokemon battles' aren't a video game," Ash snickered. "So what are you going to do? I have a feeling that things will be better at school for you after today."

Joe fiddled his thumbs, as he replied. "I think i'm going to take your advice and tell my parents the truth."

Ash grasped Joe on the shoulder playfully. "That's awesome! I hope everything goes well."

Joe smiled brightly. "Thanks Ash, I hope so too."

"I'm sure everything will be alright," said Ash. "Your parents obviously love you, especially if they saved up all that money to put you in this school in the first place."

Joe scratched the back of his head bashfully. "You sure are a positive guy Ash?"

"And you're a strong kid," said Ash. "And I look forward to meeting you again."

Joe reached out a hand to Ash. "Next time we meet, I hope that we are both great pokemon trainers."

Ash shook his new friend's hand with care. "I expect nothing less."

The two new friends said their final goodbyes, with hopes of seeing each other again some day.

XXX

Clefairy froze, as she heard something bustling around in the nearby brush. It was distracting, breaking the focus she needed to facilitate her thaumaturgic energy into her cells. Minimize was difficult enough when fully concentrated. The burdensome presence looming about wasn't making the technique any easier to learn. She shot her gaze in the direction of the noise, warranting her trainer'ts attention.

Ash used his eyes to follow the fairy-types line of sight. Something had peaked her interest, causing her to relinquish her meditation. Clefairy had been working extremely hard to figure out minimize the last couple of days. She wouldn't abandon concentration unless she had to.

That's when he saw it.

Peaking out of the brush was a wide bluish-green saurian-like face. Its piercing blood-red eyes glared at Ash for a split-second, before vanishing back into obscuration. Ash didn't waste anytime. This was a golden opportunity he couldn't let slip through his fingers. The dark-haired boy released Growlithe, who had been resting comfortably in his pokeball.

"We've got a pokemon to catch!" commanded Ash.

Both Clefairy and Growlithe followed at his hip, as he leaped through the hedge ungracefully. He broke through to the other side, just in time to see the grass-type's posterior bulb retreating in the distance. It used its retractable rope-like vines to hastily escape through the trees. Ash watched momentarily, thoroughly impressed by its innate ability to maneuver amidst the bristling woodlands. He quickly responded, releasing his pidgeotto to join the chase.

"Pidgeotto follow it!"

The flying-type surged into action, using its awe-inspiring aeronautical skills to maneuver through the thick woods. He spotted his target in the distance. It unconventionally used its vine-like appendages to propel itself at an astounding speed. Ash tried to visually keep up with the activity while ensuing at a heavy pace. He refused to let this great chance get away.

"Can you lock onto its scent Growlithe?" asked Ash gaspingly.

The pup reached out with his aromatic awareness. He could smell a plant-like aroma coming from the fleeing pokemon. He latched on, recording the scent in his internal almanac of pheromones.

Ash smiled as Growlithe gave him a firm bark, signifying that the job was done. The boy came to a gradual stop. Anymore more running would cause serious exhaustion. The chase no longer needed to be a sprint; they had the wild bulbasaur's scent. He would let it think that it got away, for now.

"Pidgeotto back to me!" bellowed Ash.

Pidgeotto frustratingly performed a wing-over, and returned to his panting trainer. The eluding grass-type disappeared into the deep woods, enshrouding itself into the grunginess of the busy habitat. Ash could tell his sadistic friend was disappointed. The flying-type loved a challenge, and the bulbasaur's unorthodox acrobatics was giving him a run for his money.

"Get over it," jested Ash. "There will be other chases."

Pidgeotto seemingly rolled his eyes and unexpectedly used his beak to tap the button of his pokeball attached to Ash's belt. He was blanketed in an array of ambient red light, as he quietly returned into concealment. Ash chuckled, he never would have guessed that his barbarous pidgeotto could be such a prima donna. He turned to his other two pokemon. They were giggling quietly to themselves at the ruffians unusual silent tantrum.

As the laughter subsided, the atmosphere of the situation settled on something a little more serious. Ash looked down at his fairy-type. "I need you out of your pokeball right now. Your hearing will be pivotal."

Clefairy nodded, understanding her role in the current task.

"Alright Growlithe," said Ash. "Time to follow the scent."

Growlithe followed orders and extended his aromatic awareness. It didn't take him long to zero in on the grass-type. Unlike at Mt. Moon, he had a reference scent. He pointed southwest; beckoning his trainer and comrade to shadow his lead.

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