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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5. Kanto 2 Part 3

They set off once again in pursuit of the rare wild bulbasaur. The deep woods were brimming with normal, grass, and bug-types. He had already spotted several oddish and a few of its drooling evolved form gloom. The trees were littered with dormant metapod, and although his eyes couldn't track them down, he could hear the lively chirping of a few pidgey.

As they followed the scent, Ash internalized the implications of this discovery. Bulbasaur used to be one of the three "original" Kanto-wide starters. But in recent years, they had been replaced by most league certified issuers. They were excruciatingly rare in the wild; approaching high levels of endangerment. There were specific sectioned off parts of the safari zone, north of Fuchsia City, treated as breeding grounds for the grass-type. They were the only pokemon illegal to capture within the reserves' perimeter.

The other two original Kanto starter's were still in widespread circulation. There were enough of them sprinkled throughout the wild to keep up the long-lasting tradition. Professor Oak was one of the only certified issuers in the region that had the type of pedigree needed to give a new trainer a bulbasaur. But as of late, even the good ol' professor had been forced to resort to giving away the foreign Johto region native chikorita, as a grass-type option.

Although it was worth taking into account, scarcity of its species wasn't what fueled his desire to catch the reptilian grass-type. Just like any other pokemon, his interest derived from a bulbasaur's potential. In comparison to other regions, Kanto was relatively dry when it came to quality grass-types. He had no interest in training a common belsprout, or oddish. He'd heard bad things about exeggcute rebelling against their trainers after evolution, and he didn't want one enough to deal with that kind of unruly behavior. Paras, which weren't even a primary grass-type, were basically just valuable for medicinal purposes. Which left tangela as his only viable choice, before running into the bulbasaur unexpectedly.

Catching this bulbasaur, could make a substantial difference in the strength of his team. He could groom it into a powerful grass-type, giving him a rare and useful asset throughout the rest of his travels. It would immediately give him the perfect monster to take on water, ground, and rock-types; which was something that his team currently lacked.

After a tedious walk, the bulbasaur's scent led them out of the brushwood, revealing a vast deep cavity in the center of the woods. It stretched horizontally as far as Ash could see, and at the bottom was a violent raging river. In front of them, laying across the chasm, was an old decrepit bridge. Ash wasn't quite sure just how aged it was, but it had definitely been there for a long time. He checked out the rope that was holding up the suspended planks of wood. From what he could tell it was still pretty sturdy, but he wasn't an expert. It would unquestionably be a risk to cross.

He looked down at his pokemon. "What do you guys think?"

Both pokemon shook their head left to right. It was a unanimous no.

He decided to go with an alternative approach. He returned Growlithe and Clefairy, requiring the lone service of Pidgeotto. Most pidgeotto trainers didn't have the luxury of being able to ride on their flying-type until it evolved. His pidgeotto made him an exception.

Upon release, Ash could tell that Pidgeotto was still sour over the way the chase had ended. Ash tried to make amends by gently running his fingers through Pidgeotto's plumage.

"Come on cheer up," pleaded Ash.

Pidgeotto tried to stay obstinate, but instead fell victim to the high-regard he had for his trainer. He softened his eyes to let Ash know that all had been forgiven.

Ash chuckled, before sharing his current need to Pidgeotto. The flying-type quickly agreed, having no problem with the idea of escorting his trainer to the other side of the gap. Pidgeotto bent over, allowing Ash to climb on his back.

Ash straddled the flying-type's muscular back for the first time. He used his hands to get a secure grasp around Pidgeotto's neck. It was severely uncomfortable. He swore that if he ever was to get serious about flying Pidgeotto, he would buy an adequate saddle. With one powerful flap of the avian's wings, they ascended. The incredible perceptual experience, positively conquered the harsh physical reality of riding Pidgeotto bareback. Ash took a big breath of fresh air; taking every tiny bit of the momentous moment in.

He stared down into the deep chasm. While looking down, it registered to him that he had put all of his faith into the flying-type. His life now depended on the wings of his comrade.

While crossing, Pidgeotto felt capable of anything. Something about having Ash with him as he quelled the skies invigorated him. The assurance he received while convoying his trainer, drowned out the straining physical task of hauling the seventy pound boy.

Unfortunately for both of them, it was a short trip. As Pidgeotto descended to the ground, he had to fight his strong desire to catapult himself back amongst the clouds.

As his flying-type's talons touched down, the boy had to quench his avidity to experience the skies more in-depth. At the moment, the hunt was a higher priority.

The boy carefully hopped off of his pidgeotto, and thankfully grazed the avian's feathers with his fingers. Ash grinned, as his usually crude pidgeotto happily chirped. It was a treat for the boy to witness Pidgeotto in such a happy-go-lucky mood.

"I'm glad you enjoyed that," said Ash. "When you evolve into a pidgeot, i'll buy you a saddle. Then we can go flying together all the time."

Pidgeotto trilled benevolently. The idea of being a valiant pidgeot; soaring through the heavens with Ash on his back excited him. He wanted it now, but figured his trainer had a reason for waiting.

Ash obviously knew that Pidgeotto was ready. It wasn't a matter of his ability. The problem was that Ash couldn't physically handle riding Pidgeotto bareback on a regular basis. And financially it didn't make sense for Ash to get Pidgeotto fitted for a saddle, only for him to outgrow it due to evolution.

Ash released Growlithe and Clefairy. They were delighted to see that Pidgeotto had delivered everyone safely across the downreaching crevasse.

The dark haired boy brought his attention back to Pidgeotto. "We have to start the search again, do you want to stay out?"

Pidgeotto nodded in response, proceeding to take to the skies. He flew around in circles above Ash, patiently anticipating the search.

Ash eyed Growlithe. "Do you have the scent?"

Growlithe yapped a short affirmative; he had already cinched back onto the bulbasaur's fragrance.

"Let's go then," said Ash. "It's starting to get dark."

The dark haired boy, and his three pokemon, reignited the forage. As they plunged back into the woodlands, Growlithe took the lead, beckoning the rest of the team towards the direction of the scent's source. They heedlessly followed, while leaving the difficult job of tracking down the bulbasaur, to the puppy's exceptional olfactory glands.

They trekked through the bosk. As the light from the sun gradually started to fade, the habitats' active pokemon rotated. The woodland's nocturnal species began to awaken, while the day-light inhabitants slowly veered out of sight. Ash observed his surroundings, numerous pink glowing eyes could be spotted from within the thickets.

Ash activated dexter. "Venonat- the insect pokemon. Its big eyes are actually clusters of tiny eyes. At night, its kind is drawn by light. It lives in the shadows of tall trees, where it eats bugs." Ash figured as much. This part of the region was littered with venonat and venomoth. The insect pokemon was known to be relatively docile, but the way their eyes flickered as it became dark looked foreboding.

They tried their best to ignore the bountiful fuchsia colored eyes, existing amongst the darkest parts of the brushwood. As they continued to immerse themselves deeper into the woods, Ash noticed that Growlithe's behavior was becoming antsy. They were close. It was the same way he had reacted when they neared Pidgeotto back in the Viridian Forest.

Ash and Clefairy, continued to lag behind the pup from the ground. Pidgeotto followed inaudibly from the skies. Ash had almost forgotten that the bird of prey was outside of his pokeball; the avian had done such a good job of faintly concealing his presence.

Ash looked down to find the black tips on Clefairy's ears, jittering wildly. "Do you hear it?"

The fairy pokemon gestured a yes with her body language. She was capable of recognizing a being's signature movement pattern. Most pokemon move entirely different from one another, thus making Clefairy's sense of hearing a unique and adaptable tracking method.

Ash watched, as Growlithe peaked his head through a large baggy hedge. He turned back excited, beckoning Ash and Clefairy to follow him through the briar. They did as signaled; tumultuously penetrating the hedge, while covering up their faces. Ash received a couple of irritating scratches, while bustling through the brush. Clefairy managed to follow Ash through relatively unscathed.

On the other side of the hedge, was a decently sized gap in the area. In the center of the glade rested a glistening clear pond. Dwelling around the natural pool, were numerous resting pokemon. Some were asleep, but most of them were astir, lounging about amidst the lush green grass. Some of the pokemon detected Ash, but for whatever reason chose to ignore him. They were mostly in their primary forms; he saw a staryu, a few ratatta, a couple of oddish, multiple paras, and some belsprout. The lone evolved chunky yellow weepinbell laid out lazily. It soaked up the last bit of sunlight as the sun continued to gradually set.

Occupying a part of the clearings' space was a small wooden cabin. The dwelling was nestled in on the opposite side of the basin across from Ash. The small glass windows were illuminated from the inside-out, signifying that the cabin was inhabited. Ash seized the lead; gesturing Growlithe and Clefairy to follow. He waved his arms to catch Pidgeotto's attention, once he had it, he motioned to the avian to stay put. He watched as Pidgeotto nodded from above, the flying-type continued his cycle of repetitively circling the skies overhead.

Ash led his two land-pokemon around the natural pool, and over to the small cabin. He could feel the looming gaze of several pokemon behind him, as he knocked on the cabin door. Ash had yet to spot the bulbasaur, so his guess was that it was inside of the small structure. He hoped that the random spa-like clearing was some type of wild pokemon hideaway. He didn't want to accept the possibility that the bulbasaur could belong to another trainer. The door slowly creaked open, just a sliver.

"Who is it?" asked a trembling female voice, from the other side of the door.

Ash should have guessed. They were out in the middle of nowhere. The owner of the cabin probably wasn't used to getting visitors, especially at this time of night. By the sound of her voice, he could tell she was spooked by his unexpected arrival.

"Just a traveler," replied the boy. "I'm looking for a bulbasaur. We tracked it back to this cabin after we spotted it watching us train."

"You saw Bulbasaur aye," said the girl. "And who's we?"

Ash internally applauded the girls cautiousness. "We, is my pokemon and me."

She hesitantly opened the door a little more. "What kind of pokemon?"

Ash smiled, he could tell she was curious. "I've got a growlithe, pidgeotto, and a clefairy."

The door abruptly swung open.

Ash was finally able to get a good look at the teenage girl. She was petite, with a gorgeous innocent face. Her eyes were a tranquil blue, matching her hair; it was carefully braided into a long pony-tail, accessorized with a light jade-green bow. She wore conservative pink overalls over a crimson red t-shirt.

"Did you say Cle-?" stuttered the girl, as she noticed the little pink fairy-type. "How did you-?"

Ash chuckled; seeing the confused look on Clefairy's face. The young fairy-type had obviously never been filled in on how incredibly rare she was.

"Mt. Moon," stated Ash. "It's a long story."

She nodded astonishingly. "I bet, they're one of the rarest pokemon in all of Kanto. They're about as hard to find as a snorlax, or dratini."

"Yup," stated Ash guilelessly, ready to change the subject. "I'm Ash Ketchum, what's your name?"

The girl smiled; she could tell the boy didn't warrant any trouble. "My name's Melanie, the owner of this wild-pokemon spa."

Ash internally celebrated. The random glade was what he had hoped it to be. "So all of the pokemon here are wild?"

"They sure are," said Melanie. "This place acts as a safe haven for injured or wild pokemon. I'm a pokemon doctor. I do whatever I can to nurse any wild pokemon back to health, whether the damage is physical, or psychological.

Ash gave the admirable girl a friendly smile.

"That's so cool," said Ash. "The wild needs more people willing to do helpful things like that."

She slightly blushed at the praise.

"Thank you," she replied. " I'm afraid I spend most of my time without human contact. So it's very seldom that anyone recognizes my work; it's rather flattering actually."

"I bet," chuckled Ash. "If you don't mind me asking, is the bulbasaur I tracked yours'?"

She shook her head left and right. "No, he's not. Bulbasaur's been here longer than any other pokemon though; probably around a couple of years now. Usually pokemon are in and out, but he has been a special case."

"What's wrong with him?" asked Ash, before politely rephrasing his question. "I mean, what happened to him?"

She sighed. "It's quite a story, if you really want to hear it, come on in."

"I think I'll take you up on that offer," stated Ash.

The boy returned Pidgeotto from the skies, before following Melanie inside the cabin. She didn't seem to mind Growlithe and Clefairy coming inside, so he chose to not say anything and just let it happen.

The cabins' interior was a small quaint single room. It reminded him of the trainer hostiles at the pokemon center. The only considerable difference was the small kitchen in the back corner, as well as the table space probably used mostly for meals. The kitchen reminded Ash just how hungry he was. The boy hadn't eaten anything since lunch, which was quite sometime ago.

Melanie must have noticed him eyeing the kitchen, because it didn't take long for her to kindly offer to feed Ash and his pokemon. The boy couldn't say no, he hadn't had a hot meal for about a weak. His pokemon deserved a good dinner as well. Since she was a pokemon doctor she probably had all types of specialized food.

She opened up a large cellar door, hidden underneath a welcoming rug that Ash had failed to notice upon entrance. Inside were hundreds of jars of pokemon food, as well as different kinds of medicinal herbs. Melanie lifted out two different jars of pokemon food, and placed them on the floor outside of the underground storage compartment. Ash watched as she carried the jars over to the table. He had offered to help, but she declined his services.

"Why two?" asked Ash.

"Different pokemon, prefer different food," she said. "Besides, not all pokemon benefit from the same nutrients."

Ash listened intently, as she pointed at one of the jars.

"This is my fire-type mix," stated the girl. "Hopefully Growlithe likes it. He'll be the first to try it; mostly because of the serious lack of fire pokemon in these parts."

She walked over to the kitchen and opened up a cabinet. From inside she retrieved a couple of decent sized bowls, and brought them over to the table.

She then pointed at the other jar of pokemon food. "This is my fairy-type mix."

Ash interrupted. "Why make fairy-type food, when they're typing is so rare?"

"To be honest it's just standard pokemon food," she giggled bashfully. "From the research that i've done, my assumption is that it's the best kind of food for pure fairy-types."

Ash eyed his currently salivating clefairy. Her silly quirk finally made sense, no wonder she loved the stuff so much.

Melanie proceeded to dish up the pokemon food, before serving both Growlithe and Clefairy. She let the pokemon get a quick head start, before walking back over to the tiny kitchen to cook up something for Ash. She whipped him up a hot bowl of steamed rice and tofu, before sitting down at the table while he ate. The ten-year old boy felt like he was in heaven, as he scarfed down the euphoric bowl of food that the beautiful girl had cooked for him.

Ash thoroughly thanked Melanie, before something precipitously popped into his head. "So where is the bulbasaur? I didn't seen him out by the pond."

"He hangs out in the surrounding trees," said Melanie. "He's taken it upon himself to protect the spa while he's here; so he stays in the trees where he can see everything."

She paused. "I'm actually surprised he let you onto the property."

Ash eyed Melanie curiously. "Can you tell me bulbasaur's story now?"

She nodded, with a slight hint of sorrow. "I will tell you as much as I know. I can tell you have taken an interest in him."

Ash nodded, affirming her speculation.

"Like I said earlier, bulbasaur has been here longer than any other pokemon," said Melanie. "A couple of years ago, I found an egg somewhere south of here, relatively close-by."

Ash listened fixedly.

She grimaced, before continuing. "It was buried right next to two dead ivysaur."

Ash sadly gulped, barely getting out words. "Its parents?"

She nodded painfully, as a few tears dribbled from her eyes. "They were scorched by fire; the large pink buds on their backs had been severed and taken."

Ash felt sick to his stomach, as he mumbled. "Who would do something like that?"

She ran her fingers through her own hair, as she replied. "I have no idea, probably poachers. It had to be done by humans, because of the missing bulbs. There are numerous myths that suggest that the bulb on the back of the bulbasaur line can be used to somehow create an elixir of everlasting life."

"Is that why the species has become nearly extinct," growled Ash. "Because of some twisted fairy tale."

Melanie frowned. "I'm afraid so. There have always been laws in place to forbid this kind of inhuman activity. But throughout history, there have always been disgusting power-hungry people that would rather live forever, than preserve their own morality."

Clefairy and Growlithe couldn't finish their food. The story had already caused them to lose their appetites.

"After stumbling upon such a gruesome scene, my first impulse was to run away," said Melanie. "I can still remember the smell, it was atrocious."

"Why didn't you?" asked Ash.

Melanie took a deep breath, before continuing. "It was just so sad. I felt like they deserved a proper burial."

Ash frowned, he couldn't imagine how hard that must have been for the teenage girl.

"I went back to my cabin to get a shovel," murmured Melanie. "I couldn't move the bodies too far by myself, so I dug the grave right next to where they laid."

Growlithe exhaled a quiet cry, obviously disturbed.

"That's when I found it," said Melanie. "Buried in the same spot his parents would be put to rest, was bulbasaur's egg."

Ash wanted to cry. The world could be sickening.

"I obviously took him home," said the blue haired girl. "I couldn't just leave him there. A couple of months later he hatched. My plan was to raise him until he was old enough to go back into the wild, but no matter how many times I've sent him away, he always comes back. A bulbasaur's bulb can't grow in a place like this. He needs to see the world."

Ash nodded, understanding the girl. "Is there a reason he insists on staying."

"Well I think I know, but I can't really prove it or anything," she replied. "Researchers believe a pokemon egg is able to process things that happen on the outside. Most pokemon are born already having memories. Memories that have been accumulated while in their embryonic state. Bulbasaur however, had none. "

"How do you know?" asked Ash curiously.

She placed her hand on her chin. "Pokemon are born with an instinctual skill set. They usually already know a couple of techniques, as well as all of their essential life skills. Bulbasaur was born knowing nothing. I had to teach him what he was, how to eat, how to use his body, how to learn his natural skill set. He was a complete blank canvas; we had to start from scratch."

"But how is that possible?" asked a bewildered Ash.

"I don't know for sure," moaned Melanie. "But, I think it's because of embryonic trauma."

"Embryonic what?" asked Ash confusedly.

Melanie sighed. "Embryonic trauma, is a condition that happens when something catastrophic takes place during a pokemon's rudimentary development. It is a defense mechanism that protects a pokemon from heinous memories, before they are ready to process them."

Ash slightly understood. "So bulbasaur essentially forgot everything, in order to survive."

"It's not that simple," frowned Melanie. "In most cases of trauma, the horrific memories will surface as the pokemon grows. For this reason, I had to do something."

"What did you do?" asked Ash. "How could you possibly prevent something like that from happening?"

"I can't prevent this from happening," said Melanie. "I'm a doctor, not God."

Ash, gave her a quizzical look. "If you can't prevent it, how can you help?"

She smiled, as a tear crawled down her cheek. "I had to tell him about all of the good things us humans can do. I was afraid that if his embryonic memories came back before he had a foundation of understanding, they would consume him in hatred. I told him about pokemon trainers; how they work to make pokemon better and happier. I shared with him good hearted human-qualities, and what people with integrity behave like. I taught him the difference between good, and evil."

Ash scratched his head; it was a lot to process. "So how does all of this play into the fact that Bulbasaur won't leave?"

"Ever since he was little, he's loved the stories i've shared with him about pokemon trainers," said the girl. "It's just a hunch, but I think he's been waiting for the right one."

Ash listened carefully at what Melanie had to say next.

"You're not the first trainer that has stopped by here, looking for Bulbasaur," admitted Melanie. "But you are the first trainer that he's let inside of the cabin."

Ash raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

She smirked. "Bulbasaur's been known to scout out pokemon trainers. If he doesn't like them, he gets the other Pokemon to help him chase them away."

"And if he likes them?" asked Ash."

"I don't know," stated Melanie. "But I guess we'll find out, since you're the first trainer he's ever let in here."

Ash moronically pointed at himself. "Wait, does that mean he likes me?"

The blue haired beauty laughed. "I think so. Do you want to find out for sure?"

Ash gave her a toothy grin. "Of course I do!"

The pokemon doctor stood up from her chair. "It's settled then, let's go find Bulbasaur!"

Ash, Growlithe, and Clefairy excitedly followed Melanie out of the cabin. The sun was now completely out of view; it was stunning to see the reflection of the moon and stars, exquisitely depicted across the ponds' clear-water canvas.

The pokemon that were still awake, got up from their resting spots, eager to greet Melanie. The land pokemon traveled around the basin from where they were previously situated. The water pokemon swam over to her, some even emerging from the depths of the pond. Ash watched in amazement. It was obvious that the wild pokemon adored the teenage doctor.

"You guys are too sweet," spoke the beautiful girl. "Have you seen Bulbasaur?"

The crowd of pokemon asked amongst themselves. They didn't need to confer for very long. Bulbasaur revealed himself; using vine whip to swing down from a nearby tree. The saurian landed in front of the confluence. Its resplendent red eyes darted back and fourth between Ash and Melanie. It then eyed Growlithe and Clefairy. Bulbasaur seemed to be evaluating them, at least that's what Ash assumed. The grass-type scanned them assiduously from top to bottom, obviously intrigued.

Clefairy didn't mind. Growlithe however, didn't like it. Something about the reptiles bright red eyes creeped him out. He snarled, only to receive a sudden yielding hand gesture from Ash.

"This is Ash," said Melanie. "He's a pokemon trainer."

Bulbasaur used its four legs, to cautiously draw closer to Ash. The dark-haired boy observed, as the plant pokemon's eyes shifted from a cold icy stare, to a more gentle warm gaze. Ash leaned over, reminiscent of how he approached his initial encounter with Growlithe.

He reached out a hand to pat Bulbasaur's head. "Nice to meet you Bulbasaur, you gave us quite the chase back there."

The saurian hesitated, before dipping its head, allowing Ash to pet behind its short stubby ears. Ash smiled, he could tell Bulbasaur was trying to give him a chance.

"I think he likes you," crooned Melanie, before bringing her attention to Bulbasaur. "Ash is a very kind boy Bulbasaur. He loves pokemon, and would make a great trainer. I think you should consider becoming part of his team."

Ash blushed; he wasn't the best at handling compliments. He looked at Bulbasaur with warm inviting eyes. "What do you say Bulbasaur? Do you want me to help that bulb on your back blossom?"

Bulbasaur's red eyes seemed to set ablaze with enthusiasm, before abruptly settling into a realm of focus. He muttered a few things in his native tongue directed towards Melanie.

Melanie concentrated her focus, in attempt to interpret what Bulbasaur was saying.

"I see; that seems appropriate," replied Melanie. "But let's wait until tomorrow morning, right now it's way to dark."

"What's he saying?" asked Ash, in a confused manner.

"He wants a battle," stated Melanie. "I suggested that we wait until tomorrow morning, when there is light. If you win, he'll go with you."

"Is that true Bulbasaur, you want a battle?" asked Ash.

The reptilian grass-type nodded his head, while muttering something in his language.

"If a battle is what you want, a battle is what you'll get," retorted Ash. "Tomorrow morning it is."

Bulbasaur flashed Ash a look of determination. The boy could tell that the saurian wasn't going to make things easy for him.

Melanie laughed joyfully; she had been waiting for something like this to happen for quite sometime. Her eyes watered bit by bit, at the sight of an answered prayer.

XXX

The sun was up; the immaculate light it emitted glistened atop the pond's cerulean surface. The spas' pokemon motioned about, taking part in their daily activities. Ash tightly rolled up his sleeping bag next to the basin. Melanie had offered him an opportunity to stay inside, but he preferred sleeping on the soft natural grass, instead of the hard wood flooring.

The puppy pokemon helped him stuff the sleeping bag inside of the backpack. Ash had explained to him a couple of days ago, that his backpack worked similar to a pokeball. It could carry way more than its outer appearance suggested, due to some strange technology that shrunk the items inside. The only drawback was that it couldn't manipulate an item's weight. Apparently, it had something to do with the properties associated with non-living matter.

"Are you ready for your battle with Bulbasaur?" asked a friendly female voice. "He's been up since the crack of dawn. I told him he had to let you sleep though."

Ash turned around to find Melanie and Bulbasaur casually approaching him. The dark haired-boy readjusted his hat, before answering. "I'm ready whenever you are Bulbasaur!"

Now that the sun was out, and there was an ample amount of light, Ash was able to get a good look at the saurian grass-type. If he had to guess, it was approximately two-feet tall, which was a pretty typical height for a bulbasaur. His skin was bluish-green; Ash had failed to notice until now the dark blotchy spots of brunswick green, randomly scattered across his skin. The plant-pokemon's two short stubby ears, were relatively proportional to his compact snout. Ash wasn't positive, but the green bulb on Bulbasaur's back looked to be significantly larger than normal.

"I would like for you guys to have your battle over there," said Melanie, as she pointed across the basin. "There's more space, and it's far enough away from the cabin."

Ash nodded his head in agreement. "What do you say Bulbasaur, are you ready?"

The squamata reptile grunted his approval. He looked Ash in the eyes, determined to give him a good battle.

Ash, Growlithe, Bulbasaur, and Melanie, traipsed over to where the battle would take place. Ash released Pidgeotto and Clefairy, so that they could watch. Both pokemon had been enshrouded in their pokeballs; they both prefer to get their rest through suspended animation.

"One-on-one!" shouted Ash. "Growlithe's my choice!"

Bulbasaur prepared himself for combat. His scarlet red eyes were fixated on Ash and the fire-type.

Growlithe swaggered forward, ready to take on the red-eyed grass-type. He snarled at his opponent, displaying that he was prepared to engage.

Bulbasaur took the initiative. He charged forward, in preparation for a tackle attack. The grass-type rapidly gained ground; its short stubby legs moved at an expeditious pace. Growlithe waited patiently in preparation to counter. When Bulbasaur got close he hurriedly dodged to the right. Growlithe proceeded to propel from his maw a single ember; it darted through the air at a tremendous rate.

The saurian responded impulsively. He used his vines, and powerfully deflected them against the ground. The unorthodox technique launched him into the air, allowing him to narrowly avoid the ember attack.

The puppy pokemon unleashed a barrage of feverous ember into the air. Growlithe's artifice was to land a blow, while Bulbasaur was defenseless overhead.

Relying on his reputable instincts, Bulbasaur used his vine whip to latch onto an adjacent tree. The grass-type was able to quickly schlepp himself out of the way. He managed to avoid taking the brunt of the attack, however a lone ember managed to clip his side, causing him to wince. Ash was impressed. The bulbasaur had great instincts; he was impulsively aware of how to react under cross-fire.

The plant-pokemon used his elongated retractable vines to swing around the tree. The momentum he gained was alarming, as he catapulted himself towards the fire-type.

"Dodge!" bellowed Ash.

Growlithe parried the blow. He used his advantageous speed to briskly pivot around the airborne bulbasaur. Bulbasaur reacted instantaneously; he used his bulb to emit a violet cloud, as he passed by Growlithe through the air.

The condensed poison-powder eclipsed Growlithe, showering the pup with highly toxic fumes. The puppy Pokemon gratingly barked, it was clear that the poison had caused him to be uncomfortable.

Ash focused on the battle. He didn't have much time now that Growlithe had been poisoned. "Bite/ember combo!"

The puppy Pokemon sprung into action. He leaped forward towards Bulbasaur with intention to clamp on. The grass-type howled, as Growlithe sunk his teeth right below the saurian's bulb. Bulbasaur mobilized his vines, preparing to bring them down on his aggravating opponent.

Growlithe didn't give him an opportunity, fighting through the poison, he inflamed Bulbasaur with a point blank ember. The grass-type shrilled, feeling the full extent of the type-disadvantage. As Growlithe let go, Bulbasaur folded. He hadn't succumbed to unconsciousness, but he was substantially damaged. The grass-type's knees wobbled, as he tried his best to stay standing.

Melanie frowned; as much as she respected and understood a pokemon's inherit need to battle, being a doctor made It hard to watch at times. Especially, when one of the competitors was a pokemon that she loved.

Ash hastily unclipped an empty pokeball from his belt. Bulbasaur had been weakened enough; it wasn't necessary to battle until unconsciousness. He cast the pokeball, and watched as it made contact with a stunned Bulbasaur. The saurian grass-type was engulfed in a fulgent red-light that extracted him into the pokeball. It fell to the ground, proceeding to rattle combatively back and forth. It shook five tedious times, before coming to climactic stop. The sphere clicked; disclosing a successful capture.

Melanie watched as Ash congratulated Growlithe, before he cantered over to her old friend's new pokeball. She brightly grinned, she hadn't felt this happy in a long time.

Ash turned to face the radiant Melanie, after picking up Bulbasaur's pokeball. He reciprocated her smile, before speaking. "Melanie, do you mind treating Growlithe and Bulbasaur before we leave?"

"Of course not!" replied Melanie. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Ash returned Pidgeotto and Clefairy, before following Melanie back into her cabin. The dark-haired boy gently pet his puppy pokemon, as Melanie ground together various medicinal herbs; in order to create an antidote that would cure Growlithe's poison. After tending to Growlithe by successfully exterminating the toxin, Ash returned him. Growlithe needed a good rest in suspended animation, to help quicken the recovery process.

Although Bulbasaur was worse off during the battle, his treatment took a lot less time than Growlithe's. Melanie used a league formulated burn-heal, to instantly cure the mild scorch marks on his back and side. The tiny incisions from Growlithe's bite, were healed without difficulty by one of Ash's potions.

Now that both pokemon were treated, it was time to hit the road. Since Growlithe was recovering, Ash left Bulbasaur out of his pokeball. It would be a good opportunity to bond. Melanie walked them towards the edge of the glade, the spa's pokemon followed, looking to see off their friend .

"Well Bulbasaur I guess this is it," said Melanie. "Make me proud out there."

The saurian held back tears, as he nestled his head affectionately up against Melanie's leg. Her eyes watered joyfully, it was hard to say goodbye to her little warrior. But it was for the best.

"Next time I see you, I hope that you're a big strong venusaur," said Melanie. "With a beautiful blossomed flower sprouting from your back."

Bulbasaur nodded, accepting his adopted mother's passive-aggressive challenge.

"Take good care of him Ash," she said. "And please, remember what we talked about last night."

"He's in great hands," replied Ash. "And when the time comes, i'll make sure he remembers who you taught him to be."

She benevolently smiled. "You're a great kid, you know that?"

Ash scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "Thanks, I try and do the best I can."

Melanie gave Bulbasaur and Ash each a big hug, before saying her final goodbyes. "Please stop by again someday. I'd love to see how much you guys grow together."

Ash and Bulbasaur promised her that they would, before setting off.

The saurian grass-type looked back once, watching the only home he had ever known fade away in the distance.

Ash looked down at his quiet friend. "We'll come back and see her again one day. And when we do, you'll be a force to be reckoned with."

Bulbasaur smirked, as anticipation boiled deep within his spirit.

XXX

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