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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8. Kanto 3 Part 3

Ash approached the Kabuto costume, with his pokemon following closely behind. "Okay, so what do I do?"

He used one of his yellow pointed claws to awkwardly point in the direction of a tiny black button that protruded out of the costumes side. "The bloody release button is right here. All you've got to do is push it."

"Easy enough," said Ash, as he bent over to press the button.

As his index finger made contact with the release button, the kabuto costume's shell separated down the middle. A cloud of smoke was released, as the shadowy figure of a man slowly emerged. Once the foggy smoke dissipated, the identity of the young man beneath the costume was more astonishing then the costume itself.

"Holy crap!" bellowed Ash shockingly. "You're Bill Montgomery!"

"That would be correct," said the voice of the brilliant young pokemon researcher. "Thanks for getting me out of that thing. I've been stuck in there for hours. I believe you said your name is Ash Ketchum?"

The dark-haired boy examined the appearance of one of the most brilliant young minds in the world. He looked to be in his late twenty's - his body was slightly on the scrawny side and his facial features were thin and unlined. The young researcher's eyes were a dark-brown. His hair for the most part matched his eye-color, except for the fact that it had a slight peculiar forest-green tint to it. Bill wore a fine, but crumpled, expensive looking crimson-red suit. It had thin green pin-stripes that streaked from top to bottom, and was accessorized by a vibrant green tie. The researcher's dressy outfit most definitely projected a distinct image of wealth.

"That's right…I'm Ash," mumbled the ten-year old boy, somewhat star-struck. "But you…you're Bill Montgomery."

"I believe that's already been established," jested Bill, as he nonchalantly pointed at Ash. "That reaction right there is why I spend the majority of my free time in seclusion."

Before he made a fool out of himself, Ash got a grip on his behavior. "Sorry, I guess I was sort of surprised. It's not every day that one of the more famous people in Kanto emerges from the inside of an extinct pokemon."

"Good point," said Bill. "Besides, you saved my life lad, and for that I owe you more than just a good attitude."

The pokemon enthusiast gratefully shook Ash's hand. "If it weren't for you, I would've had to call upon someone from the league. There's no way to eat or drink in that poxy costume. I'm afraid if I didn't do anything, I could have died like a prat."

Ash nodded; he hadn't thought of that. "Well I'm glad you're okay now Mr. Montgomery."

"Please...call me Bill," said the researcher. "Mr. Montgomery makes me sound like a bloody duffer."

"Alright...Bill it is," chuckled Ash. "I'm glad I stumbled across your lighthouse. I'm assuming it would have been rather embarrassing to call the league over something like this."

"That's correct," heckled Bill. "You definitely saved my bloated pride, although now I feel that I owe you a favor."

"Don't mention it," replied Ash. "Anyone can press a button. I was just in the right place at the right time."

"I will not take no for an answer," retorted Bill. "A debt must be repaid. I shall have it no other way."

"Well if you insist…" said Ash. "What do you have in mind?"

"Being Bill Montgomery has its perks," replied Bill arrogantly, while raising an eyebrow. "Whatever you want, it shall be yours. Judging by your clefairy, it seems you have a liking for rare pokemon…maybe something along those lines?"

Ash immediately declined the offer. "I would rather find my own pokemon."

"You sure?" questioned Bill. "I mean...I can't promise something as rare as a clefairy. But I do have my resources."

"I'll pass," said Ash. "Can I have some time to think about it please?"

"Of course," said Bill, with a smile. "Take as much time as you'd like. If you'd like to sleep on it, you're more than welcome to stay in one of my many guest rooms."

"Really?" asked Ash. "Are you sure I wouldn't be imposing?"

"Imposing…please," scoffed Bill. "This bloody place is too big for me anyway. You can stay here as long as you'd like."

"Awesome," said Ash. "I'll probably only stay tonight though, I'm trying to get to Vermillion before the end of the week."

"Suit your-self," shrugged Bill, before changing the subject. "So what pokemon do you have Ash?"

Ash took a second to reply, as he gestured towards his Growlithe, Clefairy, and Charmander. "I have these three, a bulbasaur, a pidgeotto, and a squirtle."

"A Bulbasaur you say?" questioned Bill, with a raised eyebrow. "Fascinating, has Professor Oak begun to issue them again."

"Nope…my starter was Growlithe," replied Ash. "I actually found Bulbasaur in the wild."

"Interesting…" said Bill, with a hand on his chin. "Does that mean you found Charmander and Squirtle in the wild as well?"

"Kind of," said Ash. "They were both abandoned by their previous trainers."

Bill sadly shook his head. "Bloody ingrates…well it looks like your Charmander is happy now. So at least it worked out for the best."

"That's a good way to look at it," said Ash, as Charmander nuzzled up next to him in agreement.

"All three of these specimens look to be in fine shape," said Bill, as he closely examined Clefairy. "Do you mind if I see your others?"

Ash nodded. "You can see everyone except for Squirtle. I haven't released him since I caught him a few days ago. He needs a restoration machine - it was a pretty intense battle…"

"Understood," replied Bill. "Feel free to release Bulbasaur and Pidgeotto whenever you're ready."

Ash wasted no time. He quickly unclipped Pidgeotto and Bulbasaur's pokeballs, before proceeding to release them within the messy lounge.

Bill's jaw dropped, at the sight of Pidgeotto's monstrous size. "A king…"

"King?" asked Ash. "What do you mean by that?"

Bill's eyes lit up, as he whistled. "Ash Ketchum, that Pidgeotto is a living example of one of the rarest genetic phenomenon on this planet."

"Making him a King?" asked Ash confusedly.

"Essentially," replied Bill. "It's called the king's nature. It's a genetic alteration that is similar to that of a shiny pokemon (a pokemon with a unique color variation). This genetic mutation is recessively passed on throughout the generations. Only about one in a million of its species, possesses this genetic gift.

"One in a million..." reciprocated Ash. "You hear that Pidgeotto, pretty cool, eh?"

Pidgeotto puffed up his chest, and chortled sadistically. He didn't need some stranger to tell him how badass he was.

"Pretty cool...doesn't do it justice Ash," said Bill enthusiastically. "That Pidgeotto is rarer than your Clefairy."

"When you say it like that I guess it is pretty amazing," said Ash.

"Damn right it's amazing," admitted Bill. "Ash this team has incredible potential. You better not waste it."

Ash appreciated Bill's honesty. "I won't…I promise."

"Good…" replied Bill. "All of these specimens bear a vast pool of latent potential. I look forward to witnessing you bring that potential out. You'll be competing in the tournament I presume?"

"That's my plan," said Ash.

"Hmmm…" mumbled Bill. "Maybe I'll come this year, Mr. Goodshow's been bugging me about it for years."

Ash ignored the eccentric Bill's quiet babbling. "So how do you know so much about this so called, king's nature?"

Bill responded quickly, as if he'd been expecting the question. "Follow me."

Ash hastily returned Pidgeotto, and offered Bulbasaur the opportunity to remain outside of his pokeball. Bulbasaur opted to go back inside - the saurian grass-type was still exhausted from the long day of travel.

Bill proceeded to lead the way, as Ash, Growlithe, Charmander, and Clefairy followed him out of the lounge and through a narrow passageway. The corridor was well lit, and just like the other hallways, there were various stone statues and framed photographs. This time Ash was able to clearly make out the images. He came to the realization that some of them were paintings. Ash's favorite happened to be a beautiful depiction of Kanto's three elemental birds of legend. They stood stoically as a trio, dwelling within the fury of their own individual elements.

Ash moved on, continuing to follow Bill down the lengthy corridor. He looked down at each of his friend's faces. All three of them appeared to be eager. Ash assumed that they were just as interested in what Bill had to show them as he was

"Where are you taking us?" asked Ash, as they reached a decrepit door at the end of the hall.

Bill pointed towards the roof. "We're going to the top."

"Awesome," said Ash, as he looked at all of his pokemon. "But what does the roof have to do the king's nature?"

"You sure ask a lot of questions," replied Bill. "Maybe you should pursue professorship?"

"I'll pass…training's my passion," said Ash. "Besides, I can learn a lot by simply traveling the world."

"Good answer," replied Bill, as he opened up the door to another flight of stairs. "A goal without passion will always die out."

"I agree," said Ash, as he looked down at his pokemon. "What about you guys?"

Growlithe, Clefairy, and Charmander gave Ash an affirmative grunt.

Bill scratched his head, as he laughed. "Glad to see that you guys are on the same wavelength. They say a great trainer can distribute his passion to all of his pokemon, no matter what their personality looks like. It seems to me that you may possess this unique quality."

Ash mulled it over. "Hmm…maybe, but I just started my journey. I guess we'll just have to just wait and see."

Ash and his pokemon followed Bill the long distance up the lantern-lit spiral staircase. Ash's legs were tender and sore by the time they had finally reached the top. The long days of travel had definitely accumulated an evident toll on his body.

At the end of the staircase was a thick steel plated door. Bill reached into one of his coat pockets, pulling out a silver ring that obsequiously clung onto a surplus of metallic keys. He fumbled through the ringed cluster, until he found the padlock's corresponding key. The famous pokemon enthusiast carefully inserted it into the keyhole, unlocking the door that led to the roof.

"Wow," said Ash, as he followed Bill through the door. "So this is what it's like to be at the top of a lighthouse."

"Indeed," replied the researcher. "The warmth of the lamp - the breathtaking view - it really is quite the experience."

Ash observantly looked around at his surroundings. The open floor consisted of two distinct sections. The first section was where Ash resided. It was a magnificent view point that served as a spot to look out at the vast ocean. The spectacle was gorgeous. Ash could see the sparkling stars alluringly reflect off the surface of the ocean.

The second section was stationed on an elevated platform - it supported the lighthouses immense pivoting lamp. Ash watched, as the kerosene lamp endlessly revolved in a half-circle, projecting its light out onto the ocean.

"So why did you take me up here?" asked Ash, as he bent over and rubbed the fur underneath Growlithe's maw.

"You asked how I know so much about the king's nature," replied Bill. "Well I figured this would be the best place to explain…"

Bill grabbed the railing at the edge of the view point, as he gazed out at the ocean. "The king's nature is one of several pokemon phenomenon that I have spent my life researching. It's actually the reason why I'm currently shacked up in this bloody place."

"That makes sense," replied Ash, as he joined Bill at the lookout. "But why here? What can you learn in a place like this?"

"Good question," replied Bill. "See... I came out here originally because of the vast amount of knowledge stored in the libraries. My family has owned this lighthouse for generations. Throughout time they have stocked the corridors with all sorts of bloody decorations and books galore."

Ash listened attentively, as Charmander cuddled up next to him.

"But the reason why I haven't left…" sighed Bill. "Well... just listen to this."

Bill removed a small mechanical device from his other coat pocket. It was relatively bland. Its only feature was a small green button that was situated in its center. He pressed the button - Ash reacted with a jolt, as an intensely eerie cry was emitted from the lighthouses broadcast system. Until now, Ash had failed to notice the large, gramophone-like speakers that were built into the side of the building. They aimlessly pointed towards the ocean, calling out to something in the distance.

Ash looked down and saw Clefairy covering her ears. His lone female pokemon was extra sensitive to loud noises, an unfortunate drawback to her acute hearing capabilities.

"What is that?" asked Ash curiously.

Bill smiled. "The biggest pokemon I have ever seen. I recorded its cry right before it vanished back into the depths of the sea."

"That belongs to a pokemon," scoffed Ash dumfounded. "Is it a legendary?"

"Maybe, unfortunately I only saw its silhouette," said Bill. "But…"

"What else could it be?" interrupted Ash, as he racked his brain.

"Its' cry is inexplicably similar to that of a dragonite," said Bill. "My hypothesis is that it's a bloody massive one."

"A massive dragonite?" asked Ash, with large eyes. "But wouldn't that mean…"

"Correct," inserted Bill. "It would make it a pseudo-legendary in possession of the blasted king's nature."

"But that's insane!" gasped Ash. "That would make it like one of the strongest pokemon in Kanto."

"Debatable," said Bill. "It depends on how you feel about the existence of legendaries."

Ash scrunched his face. "What do you mean? It's not like sightings are unheard of...of course they exist."

Bill shrugged. "People still refuse to believe. The human race is…skeptical to say the least. I even know a few trainers that have managed to catch some of the lesser legendaries. It still doesn't put a stop to conspiracy theorists."

Ash rolled his eyes. "People…"

"Why do you think I spend my life focused on pokemon, Ash?" Bill jested. "People are a bloody nuisance."

Ash chuckled, before responding. "Wait, what are you planning to do here? What will sticking around accomplish?"

Bill looked out ahead with glazed eyes. "I wish to meet it."

"How do you plan on doing that?"

Bill pressed the button for a second time, replaying the booming eerie cry. "This howl sounds exactly like a dragonite's call for fellowship. I don't know why…but I believe it's seeking out a friend."

"A friend, eh?" questioned Ash. "Well I hope it finds one..."

Growlithe, Clefairy, and Charmander nodded. They understood how important it was to have a friend. Charmander nestled his head up against his trainer's leg. No one understood how important a friend was more than the previously abandoned fire-lizard.

"Me too, me too," echoed Bill. "I just want to meet it. That would be enough for me. Then I could finally leave this lighthouse satisfied. Dragonite are rare enough as it is, meeting one with the bloody king's nature...well that's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Ironically...that's when it happened...

The same ominous cry that was projected from the broadcast system, was thunderously reiterated from somewhere far across the sea. Ash watched as the shore's waves became significantly larger, which was a strange and sudden reaction.

"My stars Ash, did you hear that?" asked Bill, as he jumped up and down gleefully. "It finally responded!"

Ash simply blinked, utterly flabbergasted at the timing.

"Look out there!" bellowed Bill, as he pointed forwards toward the large body of water.

Leaking out from the obscure horizon was a bizarre and expansive purple fog. Within its depths existed a colossal shadowy figure - it lurked towards them, continuously casting out the, intense, creepy bellow.

Ash's lower lip trembled. "Are you sure about this Bill? That thing's humongous."

"Oh I'm bloody positive," said Bill giddily, with fire in his eyes. "Its' call isn't hostile Ash, there's no need to be afraid."

Ash gulped. "If you say so…"

The tide ascended, responding to every fragment of distance that the giant covered. As it got closer to the lighthouse, its silhouette became much more distinguishable. If Ash had to guess, he would say that it was probably around thirty-feet tall. Unless the fog was disorienting its image, Ash could tell that its body was bulky and round. It had thick arms, and its legs were encased by the ocean. The creature had two massive wings that, despite their tremendous size, were slightly disproportionate to its colossal frame. The creature's head looked to be oval shaped with a wide pointed horn protruding out of the top of its skull. There was a pair of curious wavy antennae, planted adjacent and symmetric to both sides of the horn - squiggling about aimlessly. The name king's nature didn't fully comprehend the monstrosity of the prodigious dragon-like form. This was transcendent of a king; Divine nature was much more suitable.

"Ash...now that you've acquired a good look at its shadow," said Bill, with a smirk. "What do you fancy it is?"

"I have no doubt..." replied Ash, slack-jawed. "That's a dragonite."

"Indeed," replied Bill, with a smile. "indeed! Indeed! Indeed!"

The purple haze continued to follow the massive dragonite, while it gradually neared the lighthouse. Bill continued to play the recording, convinced that it was seeking its own voice by means of echolocation. Ash highly doubted it though. The lighthouses' lamp seemed to be more than enough of an indicator to draw it in.

The tide was on the brink of reaching up over the cliff-side. Ash thought he knew why. His first guess was that it had to do with the colossal dragonite's weight. But then he factored in the ocean's overall density. It made much more sense for the tide to be raised, simply by the sheer gravitational force the giant created as it plodded through the water.

The titanic dragonite was now close enough that it could without a doubt reach out and snatch them if it wanted to. It remained enshrouded inside of the fog; Ash considered that the eerie purple veil accompanying the dragon was some type of peculiar ability. Based on its purple-tint, Ash assumed that it consisted of draconic-energy. He'd had enough experience with Pidgeotto's twister to be able to deduce that much.

Ash's legs shook, and his heart pounded, as he stood beneath the gargantuan silhouette.

Growlithe dutifully stepped forward, prepared to serve as a distraction. Charmander and Clefairy quickly followed suit. They would willingly give up their lives if the situation turned for the worst. If that's what it took to help their trainer escape, so be it...

"Greetings Dragonite!" bellowed Bill, as he stepped forward, while initiating first contact. "Presuming that is what you are?"

Ash remained still, allowing Bill to handle the encounter.

"We mean you no harm," implored the pokemon researcher. "We just want to be your friends, will you please show yourself?"

The immense dragonite momentarily paused, insinuating that it was internally conflicted.

"I promise!" howled Bill. "You can trust us!"

The colossal dragon disembogued a peculiar outcry, as the surrounding purple fog gradually dissipated. Once the self-induced haze had completely faded, the king's form was completely clear.

It was terrifying, yet magnificent…

"I see…" replied Bill, utterly confounded. "So something like you does exist…"

Ash didn't need an explanation from Bill; he knew what was going on. This creature was beyond unique. It transcended one in a million. Its existence was in fact, divine.

The titanic green dragonite slowly lowered its head, bringing its gaze down to eye level. Its eyes were soft and docile, glowing in a majestic lambent grey. The long ekans-like antennae on its head carefully reached out towards them, looking to make contact with the two astonished humans.

Ash followed Bill's lead and reached out a hand, allowing the beast to feel out his extremity. Its antennae was cold and slimy, but Ash didn't care, he was caught up in the moment.

The dragon took its antennae off of the human's hand, relocating them over to Ash's pokemon. It performed the same bizarre ritual with the pokemon - examining them with its sensory appendages.

"Is that typical for a dragonite?" asked Ash, as the creature reeled back its antennae.

"Not necessarily," answered Bill, just as confused. "But a pokemon of this level can't be compared to the rest of its species. Ash, it's a bloody genetic miracle. To have the king's nature is one thing, but to bear shininess as well; one in a billion."

Ash's attention was snatched by the large creature. It playfully whinnied, as if it was waiting for them to do something. Ash and Bill laughed - Dragonite were well known for their dominantly jolly nature. But this…well it was unexpected to say the least.

Ash took a moment to fully grasp the dragon's features. Its scaly skin was a glossy jade-green. Its striated underbelly contrasted its scales with a creamy off-white color, as it stretched from its neck to the tip of its absurdly long tail. The insides of its disproportionate wings were naturally painted a vibrant purple; it matched the color of the eerie violet cloud that it previously dwelled within. Its snout was round and its nostrils were small. Ash mentally scoffed. The dragon was oddly resplendent.

"What is it dragonite?" asked Bill. "Is there something that you want?"

Ash shook his head. "Bill…remember what you said earlier. I think it wants to be your friend. I believe it's waiting for you to introduce yourself."

Bill smiled. "Of course…sorry dragonite, I got lost within your elegance."

The pokemon researcher welcomingly waved his hand above his head. "My name is Bill. I've wanted to meet you for a very long time."

Dragonite jovially murmured, before setting his lavishing eyes on Ash.

"My name's Ash," said the ten-year old boy. "And this is Growlithe, Charmander, and Clefairy.

The three pokemon exhaled a massive sigh of relief, before introducing themselves in their own individual languages.

Dragonite playfully clapped its hands together, unintentionally creating a deafening vibration. Ash, Bill, and the three released pokemon covered their ears, protecting their eardrums from the booming sonic explosion.

Dragonite apparently seemed to recognize this, it stopped itself mid-clap, slouching its shoulders gloomily in sorrow. The two humans and Ash's pokemon lowered their hands from their ears, as the vibration gradually fizzled out. They mentally chuckled, noticing Dragonite's personified guilty conscience.

"Don't sweat it dragonite!" bellowed Ash. "We're just as happy as you are!"

"Damn bloody right we are!" howled Bill, while mirroring Dragonite's display from earlier by goofily clapping his hands together like a cymbal mankey.

Ash and his Pokemon rolled their eyes at Bill. As adorable as dragonite's display was, it didn't change the fact that it was excruciatingly painful. All four of them were afraid that Bill's reciprocation would encourage Dragonite to recreate the sonic boom. Fortunately, dragonite seemed to be too enthralled with Bill to reiterate the brutally loud noise.

Dragonite used its wiggling antennae to delightfully pet the top of Bill's head, as if the famous researcher was a young eevee kit. Ash laughed hysterically, the scene was almost too comical to bear.

Once Dragonite was done petting Bill, the researcher happily turned to Ash. "I love the bloody guy already, isn't he fantastic!"

Ash nodded in agreement - Dragonite most certainly was an amazing pokemon.

Dragonite excitedly bounced up and down. He turned around in circles while pumping his massive fists in the air. His eyes were eager like a child, as if he was anxiously waiting for something.

"What do you think it's trying to say?" asked Ash, with an amused smile on his face.

"Come on Ash, isn't it bloody obvious," blurted Bill, with radiant eyes. "He wants to play!"

Ash scratched the back of his head confusedly. "I hate to break it to you Bill, but as friendly as Dragonite is, I'm not quite seeing a way to play with it. His monstrous-size complicated things."

Bill placed his fist under his own chin, as he mulled things over. "Hmm…I guess that is sort of a conundrum."

Bill all of a sudden jolted excitably.

Ash gulped; he could tell the researcher had just formulated a, most likely, ludicrous idea.

Bill created a flesh-made megaphone, wrapping his hands around his mouth like a tunnel. "Care to stretch your wings Dragonite!"

Ash sighed in relief; the request wasn't as bad as he had originally anticipated.

Dragonite joyfully howled. He lowered his head in preparation, making it possible for Ash and Bill to grapple on. Ash beckoned his pokemon to stay put, before mirroring Bill by climbing onto a groove that was fortunately created by two merging scales. The groove was located at the base of Dragonite's muscular neck. It was far from comfortable, but Ash assumed it to be relatively secure. His thick scales were course enough to grab hold of, but smooth enough that they didn't tear at his flesh. A dragonite's convenient hide, along with its absurd top-end speed, made it one of the more desirable winged pokemon to ride.

Dragonite emitted a harmless growl, ostensibly trying to communicate with them.

Ash had no clue how to respond. Bill on the other hand replied quickly, as if he knew what Dragonite was saying.

"Yup, we're ready whenever you are my friend!" howled Bill, as he patted Dragonite's scales. "Take to the skies!"

Ash gave his three nervous pokemon a brief smile of assurance, before turning to Bill.

"How did you know what it was saying?"

"Maybe one day I can share that with you," Bill replied, with a wink. "But for now, I'm going to have to pretend I have no idea what you're talking about."

Ash was utterly confused. "What?"

He was interrupted by the abrupt gust of wind that Dragonite triggered, as he fully extended his wings. The dragon's body significantly quavered throughout the beginning stage of ascension. Three powerful thrusts of its wings impressively created enough momentum to raise the massive, shiny king, up and out of the water.

Ash scoffed, as he saw dragonite's dripping wet legs for the first time. They were giant and sturdy, similar in build to two immense concrete pillars. Ash's original estimate was off - Dragonite was at least fifty-feet tall.

"Why is he so big?" Hhowled Ash, over the loud crashing sound of the water, as it fell from Dragonite's scales and hit the ocean's surface. "My Pidgeotto is only about twice the average size!"

"I don't know!" bellowed Bill. "Much like Pidgeotto, typically they are all about two-fold the norm! I think Dragonite's monstrous-size may have something to do with the combination of both genetic mutations!"

Their abbreviate conversation was cut-short, as Dragonite rapidly burst into the air. The atmosphere clapped, reacting with a shriek in response to Dragonite's extraordinary speed. If it weren't for the groove in which they were situated, in addition to the fact that Dragonite was skillfully manipulating the air currents, Ash and Bill wouldn't have stood a chance at hanging on.

They escalated through the heavens, increasingly gaining altitude. At no point did Ash feel out of breath; it was obvious that the Dragonite was somehow facilitating excess oxygen into the smoothly manipulated air current. Once Dragonite had reached an awe-inspiring height, the benevolent dragon periodically relaxed his wings. He let the procreated air-current do most of the work, as he leveled out and calmly glided through the inky sky.

Ash and Bill looked down at the magnificent view, while they relaxed within the clutches of Dragonite's massive scales.

"Researchers have deduced that a dragonite can circle the globe in less than sixteen hours," sputtered Bill. "How long do you think it would take this guy, Ash?"

Ash exited a dumfounded zombification, as he mulled it over. "Well judging from a few moments ago...its size doesn't seem to hinder its speed. In fact, my guess is that it has had the opposite effect. Uh…I don't know how to get an exact number, but maybe twelve hours. I'm just guessing though…"

"I reckon it can go even faster," said Bill. "But I guess there's no way to find out unless we actually tried. But it's too late tonight…maybe tomorrow."

"That's up to you," said Ash. "I have to get going in the morning."

"Moving on can definitely be an unfortunate part of life," said Bill sadly, while shaking his head.

"I guess…" mumbled Ash. "But I'm thankful for the little bit of time I've had here. It's been an amazing experience."

"It has, hasn't it?" replied Bill, while gently stroking one of Dragonite's scales. "I mean…it doesn't get much better than this."

"You can say that again," retorted Ash.

Bill once again created a flesh-made microphone, as he blustered for Dragonite's attention. "Are you having fun my friend?"

Dragonite gleefully whinnied, fluttering his wings within the air-current.

Ash reflected within the moment. The world he lived in was brimming with so many unbelievable creatures. Everywhere he went there was something new - something to be learned - people to meet - pokemon to encounter. He'd only just started his journey. There were so many more magical moments, like this one, waiting for him. He could feel it. He hadn't even scratched the surface of what was to come.

Within a month's time, he had: received his first pokemon, left his hometown of Pallet, been chased by a psychotic flock of Spearow, seen what must have been a legendary pokemon soar throughout the heavens, battled his best friend, captured a pokemon that possessed the king's nature, caught one of the rarest pokemon in the region, earned his first badge, captured the three "original" Kanto starters, and helped a few other people along the way.

His journey was just beginning...yet so much had already happened. As he centrally processed his thoughts, realization struck him like a ton of bricks. He had six pokemon. Because of his inability to release Squirtle over the past couple of days, this was something that he hadn't given much thought to.

The maximum carry limit for a beginning trainer was six. This meant that any additional pokemon caught outside of the league-set limit, were automatically teleported to a trainer's designated sponsor. In a nutshell, all of his future captures would be sent to Professor Oak's laboratory, until an official transfer could be initiated from the pokemon center.

This posed a serious problem…

Unless he took a different approach to his journey, the carry limit would destroy his chances at catching the rest of his "living dreams". He owed whatever pokemon he caught the opportunity to be trained to its potential. He couldn't do that if they were forced to sit idly at Professor Oak's lab, while he traveled in between cities for weeks at a time.

Furthermore, he couldn't stand the idea of being away from his current team. His friends were his family - they belonged together. He couldn't part from them…not even for a little bit. The idea itself seemed out of the question. So there was really only two options…

He had to either stop catching pokemon…

Or find a way to bypass the limit.

He was disgusted by the first option, so he desperately racked his brain over the second.

Bill interrupted Ash's intramural reflection. "What are you thinking about Ash?" The dark-haired boy had almost forgotten about the famous researcher, as he intensely thought about his current personal dilemma. "Oh it's nothing Bill don't worr-"

The symbolic lightbulb in his head unimpededly lit-up.

BillBill! Destiny had sent him the solution to his problem in the form of an extremely famous researcher.

Ash intensely looked Bill in the eyes. "I remember reading somewhere that you recently helped modify the league transfer system, is that true?"

"That's correct," replied Bill. "What of it?"

"You offered me a gift," said Ash. "I know what I want."

"And that is…"

"Can you please have my beginner carry limit removed," implored Ash. "You can do that right?"

"Consider it void," replied Bill nonchalantly.

If he wasn't thousands of feet in the air, on the back of a giant Dragonite, he'd jump up and down in pure joy.

"Really!" replied Ash ecstatically. "You can actually do that for me?"

"Well duh," quipped Bill. "I only designed the bloody interface. Besides, the league only has the limit in place because beginner trainers are prone to getting in over their heads. But I've spent enough time around you to know that you're not the typical beginner. You're responsible enough to be an exception, aren't you?"

Ash frenziedly nodded his head. "I think so…"

Bill comfortingly grasped Ash's shoulder. "Well I know so! So consider the bloody limit gone."

Ash smiled. "Thanks Bill, this is going to have a huge impact on my journey."

"You're welcome Ash," replied Bill, as he faced forward. "Now let's cut the chatter and enjoy the rest of our present excursion."

"Sounds like a bloody plan," said Ash, with a momentous grin on his mug.

XXX

Ash could make out the vague images of Growlithe, Charmander, and Clefairy, as Dragonite gradually descended back down to the lighthouse. They were jumping up and down cheerfully. Ash figured they were probably worried sick for the past couple of hours while he was thousands of feet in the air. He felt slightly guilty, next time something like this happened he would ask for their approval.

Dragonite extended his wings, using them to gradually slow down. The giant proceeded to carefully submerge his legs back into the water that surrounded the pier-like cliff-side. Regardless of effort, the controlled splash was significant enough. It aimlessly showered the entire cliff-side, narrowly avoiding the surface of the land.

The uniquely colored, colossal, dragon lowered its head parallel to the lighthouse roof, allowing Ash and Bill to safely disembark. Ash bent down to greet his anxious pokemon. They hastily pounced on him, flooding him with tons of relief-based affection. Ash responded cordially, giving each one of them a brief moment of individual attention.

"Well Dragonite, I guess this is it for tonight," said Bill. "I'm bloody exhausted. It's time for me to hit the kip."

Ash stood up and centered his attention on the massive dragon. "You're an awesome guy Dragonite. I'm glad I got the chance to meet you."

Dragonite lowered his head gloomily, upset that their meeting had to come to an end.

"Don't be sad my friend," said Bill. "There's always tomorrow!"

Dragonite instantaneously perked up.

"Come back tomorrow around the same time," continued Bill, with a smile. "We can go flying again if you'd like."

The humongous dragon-type jumped up and down giddily, unintentionally causing the earth-made pier to shake.

"Relax my friend," pleaded Bill, while frantically waving his arms up and down. "I would like for there to be a lighthouse for you to return to tomorrow."

The king calmed himself down, compromising with a quiet fist pump.

"That's better," laughed Bill.

Ash interrupted. "Unfortunately I'm leaving tomorrow morning, so I'm afraid this is it for now…"

The massive pseudo-legendary noticeably frowned, in reaction to the news that his new friend would be leaving so soon.

"Don't worry," said Ash. "I'll come back to visit sometime. It's not goodbye forever…"

Dragonite's expression changed from hopeless to hopeful, at the prospect of Ash returning someday. He stretched his neck forward, and used his antennae to gently pet Ash on the top of his head. The boy laughed in response to the tickling sensation of Dragonite's sensory appendage. Never in his life had he imagined a scene quite like this.

Once Dragonite was finished petting Ash, he lightly pat Bill on the head for a brief moment, before slowly backing away from the lighthouse. Ash and Bill each waved a hand above their head, as Dragonite used one of his bulky arms to warmly wave back.

"Goodbye my friend!" shouted Bill.

"See ya again someday big guy!" howled Ash.

Growlithe, Clefairy, and Charmander each blustered something in their native tongue, while gazing out at Dragonite's parting form.

The giant dragon formulated its foggy veil, while pouring fourth a heart-felt goodbye growl. Ash and Bill watched silently, as their extraordinary friend gradually trekked farther and farther away, until he eventually vanished out of sight.

"What an exhilarating experience," said Bill, while gazing out at the ocean with his hands planted comfortably on his hips. "What an amazing pokemon."

Ash affectionately pat Charmander on his head, as he replied. "Couldn't have said it better myself."

"You definitely picked a good day to stroll on by," chuckled Bill.

Ash scratched the back of his head bashfully. "Yup, that seems to be a recurring theme on my journey."

"I believe it," said Bill, with a raised eyebrow. "It's rather…fitting."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Ash.

While forcing a yawn, Bill suspiciously looked down at the expensive looking watch that was fastened onto his wrist. "Oh look at that...it's bloody midnight already. Yup, time to hit the kip. Follow me down stairs Ash, I'll show you to one of the guest bedrooms."

Ash was too tired to try and decipher his eccentric friend's bizarre behavior. He ignored it…for now. The ten-year old boy beckoned his pokemon to follow, as he accompanied Bill back down the long winding staircase. It was time to get some rest. Tomorrow morning he would set out once again for Vermillion City.

XXX

It was mid-morning; Ash adjusted the straps on his backpack in preparation for the day of travel. His two fire-types waited loyally by his side, as he stood out front of the cryptic lighthouse door accompanied by a melancholy Bill.

"So you're off to Vermillion, eh?" Bill asked. "It's about a three day trip from here, just follow the coast west."

"Gotcha," said Ash. "Thanks for letting me stay the night."

"No problem my lad," said Bill, with a fake smile. "Thanks for getting me out of that dreaded costume."

"No problem," said Ash, while sensing Bill's grief. "Is something wrong?"

"It'"s nothing," Bill lied. "I'm fine."

Ash skeptically pointed at Bill's agitated eyes. "Why does it look like you're about to cry then…?"

"Dammit Ash!" shouted an embarrassed Bill, as he wiped the minuscule tears from his eyes. "Why do you have to ask so many bloody questions?"

Ash raised an eyebrow…

"Sorry... it's just…I can't usually relate to other people," spluttered Bill. "You're the first real friend I've made in a long time. And it's a bloody shame you have to leave so soon."

Ash internally chuckled; who would have guessed that the great Bill Montgomery was so…sensitive.

"It's okay Bill," comforted Ash. "Like I told Dragonite last night, someday I'll come and visit you again too."

"You promise," mumbled Bill.

"I promise," replied Ash, with a slight chuckle. "You guys are my friends, and friends visit each other."

Bill's mood polarized, as he instantaneously perked up. "You're right! There's nothing to worry about! Blasted me…I always have to take things to the bloody extreme."

Ash mentally face palmed; Bill's last comment was an understatement. The young genius defined the word "melodramatic".

"So how much longer are you going to stay here?" asked Ash, changing the subject. "I know last night you told Dragonite to come back, but before you met him, you were telling me that you were almost ready to move on from this place."

Bill scratched the back of his head. "Good question…I guess I'll stick around for a little bit longer. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'd like to study him as much as I can before I move on."

"Fair enough," replied Ash. "But once you're done here, I think you should come out of seclusion. Judging by those tears, I think you've been away from civilization for too long."

"Oh bloody shut it," quipped Bill, with a smirk. "Speaking of civilization, I made a few calls this morning concerning the favor you asked of me."

"And…?" asked Ash, anxious for a reply.

"It's been taken care of," replied Bill nonchalantly. "I called league headquarters for approval. I don't ask much of Lance, so when I do, he's usually quick to comply."

Ash's eyes ecstatically lit up. "Lance! Like champion of Kanto Lance!"

"That's the one," answered Bill. "He's an old friend. Speaking of Lance, I forgot to tell him about Dragonite. Hmmm…it's probably for the best. That greedy bastard would most definitely try and catch him."

"So cool…" muttered Ash, with gleaming eyes. "Can you introduce me someday?"

"Sure thing…now enough about Lance for now," retorted Bill. "Anyway, after getting approval from the champion, I called Professor Oak."

"You called the old man," replied Ash. "Why?"

"I had to let him know that your carry limit has been removed," said Bill. "I didn't want him to worry about why he's not receiving any of your pokemon."

"What did he say?" asked Ash.

"Simply that he thought you could handle the responsibility," reported Bill. "And that you needed to call him, along with your mother, as soon as possible. He sounded pretty bloody pissed off that you hadn't checked in for a month."

"Crap!" cursed Ash. "I keep forgetting! My mom's gonna kill me!"

"Crap is right," confessed Bill. "You really shouldn't worry your loved ones any more than necessary. Even I know that..."

"I'll call them as soon as I get to Vermillion City," said Ash, with a gulp. "I hope my mom isn't too mad."

"I'm sure she's more worried than she is mad," said Bill, as he fumbled through his coat pocket. "Anyway, you should take this. It'll make things a little bit easier for you."

In Bill's hand lied a miniature black device. Situated on its watch-like, octagonal, face was a small rectangular LED screen. Bill undid the strap that was fastened around the back, and handed it to Ash.

"Put it on."

"What is it?" asked Ash curiously, as he obediently stuck his hand through the loop and tightly secured it onto his non-dominant wrist.

"It's the latest xtranceiver model," answered Bill. "The league sent one to me a while back so that I could work out all of the kinks. These things haven't been released anywhere yet, they're basically portable videophones."

"Awesome," said Ash. "Are you sure you can give this to me?"

"I don't see why not," said Bill, with a shrug. "They never said I had to send it back."

"Well are you sure you don't want it?" asked Ash.

"Eh...I got a video phone at the lighthouse," replied Bill, while pointing at his own head. "Besides, if I change my mind I can just make one myself. I've got it all up here."

Geniuses…thought Ash to himself, as he held down the lone button on the side, firing up the tiny black device. "Can you give me a quick rundown?"

Bill sighed. "Honestly, it's pretty straightforward. Other than making calls and storing contacts, its only other significant function is a GPS map that allows you to record locations. You're a smart kid. You should be able to figure it out on your own. I already programmed a few contacts for you, so you should be good to go."

Ash nodded. Like Bill said, the main menu only had three primary icons in addition to a settings and tools application. Ash used his finger to touch the tiny little contact icon. The sensitive screen picked up on Ash's touch and loaded the new page. The screen read three names, accompanied by three corresponding ten-digit numbers. His three current contacts were: Mom - Professor Oak - and of course, Bill Montgomery.

"You put the lighthouses phone number in here," stated Ash, as he looked down at the tiny screen.

"Of course I did," replied Bill. "We're friends, aren't we?"

"Yeah, but what if you leave," said Ash.

"No worries, I wrote down your number," answered Bill. "If I leave, I'll make an xtranceiver and program your bloody number into it."

"Okay cool," responded Ash, as he powered down the device. "I'll give my mom and Professor Oak a call later today."

"Good idea," answered Bill. "Give me a call next time you catch a pokemon, I'd like for you to keep me updated."

"Will do," replied Ash.

"You better," Bill retorted with a glare. "Friends keep in contact Ash."

"I will, I will…I promise."

"Okay then," replied Bill with a nod. "If you want to get to Vermillion by the end of the week, you better get moving."

Ash looked down at Charmander and Growlithe beckoningly. "You guys ready to hit the road?"

Both pokemon grunted an affirmative.

Ash gave Bill a friendly handshake, accompanied by an amicable smile. "I'll keep in touch."

"Like I said...you better," replied Bill, with a smirk. "Until then…I guess this is goodbye my friend."

XXX

Ash nervously gulped; he anxiously pressed the icon that corresponded to his mother's contact. Hopefully this conversation would go better than the scolding he had just gotten from Professor Oak. Ash restlessly waited, while the xtranceiver continuously reiterated the same, standard, dial tone.

"Ring…"

"Ring…"

"Ring…"

"Click."

Ash recognized the universal pick-up clack, as his mother's soothing inflection simultaneously reverberated out of the device.

"Ketchum residence!" answered his mother cheerfully. "May I ask who is calling?"

"Mom, it's me…Ash."

"…honey is that really you," answered his mom in a relieved tone.

"Yeah," replied Ash. "I'm sorry for taking so long to call."

"It's okay…" bemoaned his mother. "You're on the phone right now. That's all that really matters, right?"

Ash's chest tightened and his stomach dropped. He'd hurt his mother - he could tell by her evident, strained, tone of voice.

"No, it's not okay," replied Ash guiltily. "I wasn't considerate towards your feelings. I had so many chances to call, but I was forgetful and selfish. Please forgive me."

Ash felt the awkward feeling of tears slowly develop in his eyes, as he fully comprehended the consequence of his forgetfulness. He was glad that his mother's house phone was purely auditory. He'd always hated crying in front of her.

"Honey…I understand," replied his mom, forgivingly. "You just started to live out your dream. You got sidetracked, I get it. Just please remember… while you're out there experiencing the world, promise me that you won't forget your good old mom."

"… I won't, I promise," swore Ash. "I have an xtranceiver now. I can call you whenever I want."

"...really!" squealed his mother delightfully. "That's wonderful news. I'll make sure to save the number on the caller I.D."

Ash took a second to catch up to his mother's sudden change in mood, before replying. "That's a good idea."

"Oh I'm so excited!" she exclaimed. "But how did you afford one?"

"My friend Bill gave it to me," replied Ash. "He said I needed to do a better job of keeping in touch with the people I care about."

"This Bill sounds like a smart guy," answered Delia. "Where did you meet him?"

"At his lighthouse," answered Ash, matter-of-factly. "He owns one on the coast of southeast Kanto."

"You're friend Bill owns a lighthouse," scoffed his mother. "His family must be pretty well-off."

"You could say that," answered Ash. "He's a Montgomery."

"...what!" she bellowed. "You made friends with a Mont-"

"You're friends with B-B-B-Bill Montgomery!" shrilled his astonished mother.

Ash knew she'd react this way. His mother had an obsessive passion for the scientific community, and Bill just happened to be its front-runner.

"Yup," replied Ash. "I helped him out back at the lighthouse...and surprisingly we got along really well. He removed my carry limit and gave me this cool little gadget as a thank you."

Ash heard the unmistakably clear sound of his mom's phone hitting the floor, before it was fumbled around and picked back up once again.

"Sorry," she blurted. "Are you still there Ash?"

"Are you okay?" asked Ash sincerely. "Did you faint or something?"

"Nope…" replied his mom. "You just surprised me, that's all."

"Enough to make you drop the phone…"

"I guess so," she retorted. "Now Ash, I want you to tell me everything that's happened since you left Viridian. Don't leave out any details."

Ash mentally sifted through what he could and couldn't share. Although his mother asked for all the details, there were just some things he just couldn't tell her. She would worry way too much if she knew everything.

"Well, let's see…where to begin," said the boy. "Oh yeah, so the morning after we last spoke on the phone, Gary showed up at the pokemon center. "

Ash's eyes gleamed, as he prepared to continue. "And that's when we both had our very first battle."

XXX

Ash was about a day and a half away from Vermillion City. He had to admit, the last couple days of travel had been genuinely pleasant. The weather was euphoric; the days consisted of a steady cool breeze, complimented consummately by an ample dose of sunlight.

Battles had been frequent, but not overwhelming. The dark-haired boy had accumulated quite a hefty sum of earnings, and provided his pokemon with a great opportunity to gain some valuable experience.

Growth had been evident amidst his team. However, over the next few days, Ash found it necessary to spend as much time as possible training, while also doing his best not to over-extend the remaining duration of the trip.

At the present moment, his attention was zeroed in on Growlithe, as they worked hard to complete their quest to master flame-wheel

"Ignite and immerse!" bellowed Ash.

Growlithe took a deep breath, before slightly opening his maw. He rapidly exhaled, immediately blanketing his head and forelegs in an ensemble of fire. He simultaneously pushed his inner-flame out of the eccrine glands in his back paws, completing the process of engulfment.

"Create the wheel!"

By intensely increasing the velocity of his flame-based discharge, the puppy pokemon raised his body off of the dirt. He proceeded to further augment the fire that was disembogued by the glands in his back paws, catapulting his body forward at a formidable speed.

Ash smirked in response to the sizzling byproduct of hard-work. The wheel of fire had submitted under Growlithe's will; he skillfully steered his body around the clearing with ferocity.

"That's it!" howled an excited Ash. "You finally got it!"

Growlithe ceased the arrant ignition, sliding smoothly to a sparkling halt. Ash took a brief moment to let Growlithe cool, before congratulating him with a proud pat on the head.

"That was awesome buddy," said Ash. "We finally completed it."

Growlithe happily yapped in response to Ash's praise.

Ash winked. "Now let's do it one more time."

The puppy pokemon briskly bolted, obediently carrying out his trainer's request. He erupted into a ring of fire, swiftly revolving like a reckless bowling ball.

Ash's smile stretched from cheek to cheek. Flame wheel could finally be relied on in battle.

XXX

"You almost had it that time!" cheered Ash encouragingly; as he watched Clefairy's minimize rebound, causing her to jerkily expand back to her typical size.

Clefairy smashed her fist into the ground in frustration. She was so close. All she needed was a little more concentration.

"Don't lose your cool," said Ash. "It's difficult enough when you're level headed."

Taking Ash's advice, Clefairy took a deep breath, relaxing her mind in preparation for another try. She looked deep within herself, locating, and then calling upon the difficult technique's required thaumaturgic energy. She secured it with her mind, before calculating the correct amount of energy for a full-scale minimization. The fairy-type consciously distributed it into her cells, gaining command over every morsel of her being. She squeezed; once the thaumaturgic energy re-calibrated the substance of her cells, she was able to trigger a reduction.

Ash and Growlithe watched, as Clefairy's body illuminated a bright auroral pink, before rapidly shrinking to about a fourth of its original size. Ash anxiously held his breath. The upcoming part was what always gave her the most trouble.

The thaumaturgic energy pulled, wanting desperately to return to its natural niche. Clefairy mentally yanked back in attempt to stabilize the skittish power. It vibrated within her cells, trying to find a way to slip out. She continued to wrestle it with her mind, using every bit of focus she had to maintain its positioning.

Ash looked down to his right - he internally laughed at what he saw. Growlithe was closing his eyes, evidently nervous. His distressed behavior was apparently triggered by watching his pink friend botch so many previous attempts. Ash abruptly frowned. Growlithe's lighthearted nervous display, reminded him of the much more serious problem that he had yet to address. Something had to be done soon about Growlithe's hindering case of social anxiety.

Clefairy mentally attacked the energy, intentionally attempting to force it to submit. It viciously fought back, as if its sole purpose was to frustrate its wielder. This time…Clefairy would not take no for an answer. She encased it within her will, leaving it with nowhere to go, and nothing to do but lie still. The thaumaturgic energy froze; it had no choice but to stabilize.

"Yes!" howled Ash, as Clefairy's external energy ceased to flicker, signifying that she had finally learned to maintain a reduction. "Now hold it."

Clefairy held the minimization for a considerable amount of time, before Ash had seen enough. "Good, relax."

Clefairy instantaneously shifted back to her original size, as the auroral pink cloak of energy dissipated.

Growlithe emitted a congratulatory bark, praising his friend for her hard work.

Clefairy raised a fist in celebration, while panting exhaustively.

Ash smiled. "Good, that's enough for today. Next time we learn to apply it to live battle."

Clefairy smirked; the hard part was now over. From here on out the completion of minimize would be much more enjoyable.

XXX

Bulbasaur determinedly tried combination after combination, mixing various measurements of propofol and fluothane in order to conjure up the perfect anesthetic. Chemical computation was an intricate task. The slightest variance could lead to an entirely different reaction.

"How's it coming along?" asked Ash.

Bulbasaur grunted a short response, cementing his focus on the current task.

"Got it," replied Ash, understanding that the saurian grass-type was in an intense state of centralization.

Propofol is a natural chemical typically used for heavy sedation. Unfortunately, it is a liquid, making it unusable as a stand-alone chemical in sleep-powder. Besides, by itself it's extremely risky. If an improper dosage is given, propofol can cause a lengthy coma. Fluothane is an artificial inhalation sedative, formulated by the mixture of numerous natural chemicals. It isn't nearly as strong as propofol, and isn't guaranteed to put a larger pokemon to sleep. But the fact that it resolves in the form of a gas, makes it the perfect substance for a sleep-powder.

Fortunately, the combination of both propofol and fluothane has the potential to create a flawless anesthetic. In bulbasaur's last battle, he tested his most recent batch. It was almost perfect. It just needed to be a little more potent, which could easily be accomplished by an increase in the infused propofol.

Bulbasaur separated the two solutions brewing within his bulb. He internally examined the last batch of sleep-powder, making a mental note of the exact measurements. He emptied its designated secretion sac, clearing space for the forthcoming concoction. The saurian kept the fluothane's measurement the same, filtering it out of his bulbs biological beaker. He then added the adjusted amount of propofol, before dumping the excess solution back into his near limitless supply of natural chemicals that continuously circulated throughout his bulb.

The saurian grass-type stirred the solution, confident that this would be the final batch. He then proceeded to filter it out of his bulb's natural beaker, and into sleep-powder's selected secretion sac.

It was complete...

Ash observed, as Bulbasaur exited his internal laboratory and came back to the real world.

"Are you finally done?" asked Ash.

Bulbasaur emitted a grunt of affirmation.

"Good, hopefully we come across another trainer," said Ash. "It would be nice to test it before we reach Vermillion."

XXX

"Duel-twister?" asked Ash, as he sat down next to his giant avian. Pidgeotto was presently preening off some of his excess molted feathers, after proving to Ash that he had without a doubt mastered feather-dance.

Pidgeotto stopped what he was doing to shake his head - the name didn't flow.

"Okay…well what about binary-twister?" questioned Ash. "It fits, right?"

The immense flying-type shook his head even more vigorously, signifying that his trainer was getting colder.

"Double-twister?

Pidgeotto blatantly rolled his eyes - double-twister was way too bland.

"Do you even want twister to be in the name?" asked Ash. "Or, do you want something a little more creative?"

Pidgeotto indifferently shrugged. He honestly just wanted something that sounded badass.

"What about double-cyclone?"

Pidgeotto perked up a little bit, but still wasn't quite satisfied.

Ash's eyes lit up, as he thought of a name that both exuded power and smoothly rolled off of the tongue. "Twin-tempest…"

In response to at last hearing the winning titlePidgeotto chortled approvingly.

"Twin-tempest it is then," declared Ash.

Pidgeotto nodded, before using his large wings to raise himself from the ground. He relocated a good distance away from Ash, ensuring that his practice wouldn't endanger his trainer. Even though he could doubtlessly execute the technique without fail, he was still testing out the scope of its potential. Basically, he was trying to figure out the exact amount of power he could facilitate into both tempests, before the draconic energy mindlessly magnetized into one massive twister.

Ash watched from afar, as Pidgeotto arduously worked on ironing out twin-tempest. He'd give his flying-type another week to explore its potential, before they started to learn the "essential" agility technique.

XXX

The large boulder fractured in numerous places, before crumpling under the immense pressure of Charmander's focus punch.

"Good work!" praised Ash. "It's gotten so much stronger."

The fluorescent glow that enshrouded Charmander's fist faded. The fire-lizard smiled, as he proudly stared at his dominant fist.

"Pretty impressive," said Ash. "Now we just have to figure out a way to shorten the preparation time."

Charmander nodded his head in agreement, before nuzzling it affectionately against Ash's leg.

"Do you want to take a break?" asked Ash. "Or keep going?"

Charmander puffed up his chest and flexed his arms above his head - a blatant sign that he wished to continue.

"That's what I thought," replied Ash, with a smirk. "Eventually I'm going to have to start forcing you to take breaks."

Over the past week Ash had definitely noticed Charmander's praiseworthy work-ethic. Out of all of his pokemon, he would consider the fire-lizard to be his hardest worker. The fire-type thoroughly enjoyed the grind of training - the feeling he got from pushing himself beyond his limit was rather addictive.

"Okay, well I would like to get a better grip on how we're going to execute focus punch in battle, before we start to learn dragon-rage."

Charmander listened attentively, stretching his short stubby arms while Ash spoke.

"Although your full-power focus-punch is strong enough," said Ash. "The amount of time it takes to charge poses a problem."

The fire-lizard continued to stretch. So far his trainer hadn't said anything that he didn't already know.

"In order to quicken the preparation process," said Ash, while crouching down to meet charmander's eyes with his own. "We're going to have to compromise the technique for a bit."

Charmander squinched his face peculiarly, as he tried to understand his trainer's logic.

"Right now we need to focus on speed," declared Ash, while eyeing his busy Growlithe. "Growlithe, take a break from your jaw conditioning. I need you for a second."

The fire-canine ceased his project of chewing through a dense stone, before obediently scampering over to his trainer's side.

"Alright, so I'm going to have Growlithe repetitively blitz you," informed Ash, as he pointed at Charmander. "You're going to counter with focus punch. I don't care how strong it is. Just keep Growlithe off of you. No other techniques are permitted...and you can't move from that spot."

Charmander readily grunted, while emitting two rambunctious flames from his nostrils.

Ash shifted his attention to Growlithe. "Just throw your body at him and try not to take a direct hit. It'll be good prep for when you start to learn takedown."

Growlithe accepted the challenge, happy to help his lizard friend.

"Charmander are you ready?" asked Ash.

Charmander's tail-flame flickered, as he lifted up both claws in preparation to charge up focus punch.

"Right on," replied Ash. "We start on your movement Growlithe."

The puppy pokemon wasted no time - he loaded his energy into his hind legs before taking off like a gunshot.

Charmander dug his feet into the ground, as he focused his energy into his dominant right arm. He desperately tried to load the technique as fast as possible.

Ash anxiously watched, as Growlithe jetted towards a stationary Charmander. Right before the collision occurred, the fire-lizard's dominant fist glowed vibrantly. The fire-lizard's focus-punch managed to repel Growlithe's sloppy, makeshift, takedown. There was enough power packed into the punch to cause Growlithe to bounce off of him. However, his momentum was merely diverted. Charmander needed much more strength in his quick-fire focus-punch, in order to cause any actual damage.

Growlithe slid across the dirt, as he gathered himself in the process. Charmander swiveled his body around in preparation for the next assault.

Ash smirked, as his two fire-types sparred with passion. Training two pokemon of the same type had turned out to be a blessing. Charmander and Growlithe both pushed each other in a way that only they could fully comprehend.

It was…inspiring.

XXX

Ash was concernedly sitting up in his sleeping bag, while handling Squirtle's pokeball gently. He was in deep thought, trying hard to come up with a strategy to attain the troubled water-type's loyalty.

Growlithe and Bulbasaur burrowed up against their trainer, sensing that he was being consumed by his own thoughts. The puppy pokemon curiously yipped in attempt to procure his best-friend's attention. Bulbasaur waved his vines in front of Ash's line of sight, doing whatever he could to break his trainer's mindless trance.

Ash looked up from Squirtle's pokeball, falling victim to his friend's plot to distract him. "What is it? Why are you guys doing that?"

Bulbasaur used one of his vines to point towards Squirtle's pokeball, while emanating ans inquisitive growl.

Ash sighed, as he caught on to what Bulbasaur was trying to say. "You want me to tell you what I'm thinking about...don't you?"

Growlithe and Bulbasaur nodded, while affirming a yes in their native tongues.

"It's really not that big of a deal guys," said Ash. "I'm just trying to figure out how to deal with Squirtle."

They both curiously tilted their heads, waiting patiently to hear what Ash had to say.

"Well, it's just…" muttered Ash. "I have a feeling he's going to be rather difficult."

Ash switched what hand secured Squirtle's pokeball, before wiping off the sweat that had accumulated on his palm. "I'm thinking about waiting until after we battle Lt. Surge to release him. There's no need to do it before then, and if he rebels I want us to be in a secluded place where no one will get hurt."

Both Bulbasaur and Growlithe nodded their head, understanding their trainer's logic and concern.

"I'm going to need all of your help," said Ash. "Squirtle's pain is deep, so deep that he's forgotten how to feel. It's going to take everybody's influence to get him to open up to another trainer."

His pokemon murmured, accepting the challenge.

Ash sighed, as he looked up into the stars. "Thanks guys, it means a lot.

Growlithe and Bulbasaur snuggled up even closer to their trainer, while gazing at the night sky in wonder.

"By the way," said Ash, changing the subject. "I'm using both of you against surge. Be prepared for a tough battle."

Their eyes gleamed with vigor. They would soon partake in their very first gym battle. Ever since he was told he couldn't compete back at the Cerulean gym, Growlithe had been waiting for Vermillion City anxiously. Bulbasaur had been anticipating a chance to battle in a gym ever since Melanie had explained the pokemon league to him when he was a youngling.

Ash could feel the atmosphere around him shift, as his two friends entered a state of eagerness. He smiled, understanding the feeling. Truth is...he'd felt that way ever since he walked out of the Cerulean gym's door.

XXX

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