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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16. Kanto 5 Part 3

"Eh, that's how any worthwhile flying-type is," replied Austin with a shrug, "there's a lot of pride in the typing. When Fearow loses it's like the friggin world's about to end. One good victory usually gets him straightened out, though."

Ash nodded. Pidgeotto had only lost one other time, but it had played out identically to Austin's depiction. All it took was one win for Pidgeotto to get out of his attitude funk, albeit he still bears a fair amount of animosity towards the graveler species.

"So…how'd it go, kiddo?" interjected Wallace with a curious cast, "How was the tower?"

"It went really well," answered Ash with a big smile, "I caught a ghost."

"Of course you did," mumbled Austin after taking an oversized bite out of his tofu, "I told you not to come here until you did."

Ash rolled his eyes as Wallace leaned forward with an interested expression.

"What did you catch?" asked the foreign Champion as he scanned Ash's trainer belt.

"I'll show you in a second," said Ash with a smile. "First, I'm going to release my clefairy. It's nice out, and I haven't gotten a chance to see her since yesterday."

"Very well," replied Wallace. "Go ahead.

"You have a clefairy?" asked Austin incredulously as Ash casually unclipped her pokeball from his belt. "How'd you get one of those?"

Ash enlarged Clefairy's pokeball while he answered, "I found her inside of Mt. Moon. It's kind of a long story."

The dark-haired boy proceeded to release his fairy-type. She looked around at her surroundings in a confused manner as the bright flash of light faded into obscurity.

"We're on our way to Saffron City," said Ash to his fairy-type. "A lot has happened since the SS Anne tournament. I'll have Growlithe fill you in later. That way you can ask questions."

Clefairy politely nodded before curiously eyeing Wallace and Austin.

"This is Austin," said Ash as he gestured towards the chiseled faced teenager, "he's a friend. We'll be traveling with him for the next couple of days."

"Hey, Clefairy," said Austin with ogling eyes before directing his gaze back towards Ash. "Dude, she's freaking adorable…"

Clefairy waved to the teen bashfully, after his comment, while Ash lightly chuckled and gestured towards Wallace.

"And in case you don't remember, this is Wallace," said Ash, "You met him aboard the ship. We'll also be traveling with him until Saffron."

"Hello, Clefairy," said Wallace with kind eyes and a benign smile. "It's nice to see you again."

The fairy pokemon respectfully curtsied as she recalled meeting the cultured man on the deck of the giant ship.

"So, how'd you catch Clefairy?" asked Wallace, trying to initiate a good conversation, "You said it was a long story."

"That's because it is," said Ash with a shrug, "However, if you want to hear it, I don't mind telling you guys."

"Do tell," blurted Austin, "I've never actually met a trainer with a clefairy before. I'm sure the story behind the capture is awesome."

"It's definitely interesting," said Ash with a slight smile as he looked down at his precious fairy-type.

His lone female pokemon looked up at him with an affable expression before affectionately snuggling up next to him.

"Well, where should I start?" muttered Ash as he recalled the memory from over a month ago, "I guess the best place to begin would be when Growlithe and I entered the mountain…"

Clefairy instantly perked up. She'd never actually heard the story from Ash's perspective before, nor had she ever really thought to ask.

Wallace and Austin proceeded to sit up in their spots, blatantly engaged as Ash began to tell the story. It took the ten-year-old boy nearly twenty minutes to get through the whole thing, and by the end of it, Wallace and Austin were looking at him with wide eyes and slacked jaws.

"Hold on, so let me get this straight," stammered Austin in disbelief, "So...you're telling me that this old, talking clefable let you take Clefairy with you because you were handpicked by some massive meteor god to take part in their evolution ceremony."

"Mhmm…" said Ash with a simple nod.

"And this talking clefable gave you a chunk of the original moonstone?" asked Wallace, evidently flabbergasted.

"Yup, that pretty much sums it up," said Ash, "Do you want to see it?"

Both older trainers frantically nodded their heads as Ash reached over and grabbed his backpack.

"Clefairy, I need you to step back for a bit," said Ash. "I don't want you to be tempted to touch it. That would be a disaster. You've got a lot to learn before you're ready to evolve.

Clefairy groaned, but obediently obliged. She knew her trainer was right, although she wished he wasn't. She couldn't wait to evolve. With evolution would come a newfound strength that she was incapable of as a clefairy. Unfortunately, the only way to reach the peak of her potential was to wait until she mastered her moveset. Clefable are meant to battle and teach. Clefairy are structured to learn. Other than TM's, a clefable can't learn any techniques after evolution—an idiosyncratic side-effect of some evolutionary stones. Simply put, she had a long, long time to go until she could experience the strength of her elder, enhanced kin.

Once Clefairy was a fair proximity away from the group, Ash pulled out the esoteric stone fragment. It oscillated in color, fluctuating between auroral shades of pink, blue, and purple.

Ash trustingly passed it over to Wallace so that the Champion could get a better look. The turquoise haired master inspected it with gleaming eyes as he gently rubbed his fingers around its crevasses. "It's beautiful…"

Ash could tell that Wallace was a sucker for allurement as he reluctantly passed it over to Austin.

Ash took a brief moment to check on Clefairy, who seemed to be handling the situation quite well, before observing Austin's reaction to the primordial moonstone fragment.

"Well, it's definitely a lot cooler than the normal moonstone I used to evolve my nidorino into a nidoking," said Austin before carefully handing it back over to Ash.

"You have a nidoking?" questioned Ash with interest, "Are they as loyal as people say?"

"Words don't do the species justice," answered Austin with a smile, "They're about as loyal as an arcanine. Maybe even more so if trained right. Don't ever mess with one in the wild, though. A nidoking's loyalty to his herd is extremely dangerous."

"I can only image…" mused Ash as unwanted images of himself running away from a herd of nidoking racked his brain.

Ash's rumination was broken by Wallace's silvery-toned voice. "So, Ash, do you think we can see that ghost-type now?"

Clefairy instantly looked up at her trainer before emitting an inquisitive squeal. She had yet to meet the gaseous apparition.

"Oh yeah," said Ash as he put the moonstone fragment back in his backpack before removing Haunter's great ball from his coat pocket. "I'd almost forgotten about that."

"We got wrapped up in your story," replied Wallace as he used a long, thick stick to move the fire's logs around in order to provide a burst of oxygen to the flame.

"That's cause it was awesome," blurted Austin while tossing his cheap, disposable chopsticks into the fire. "Now let's see it."

In response to his friends request, Ash pressed the release button on his shiny great ball. In a flash of bright light, Haunter was revealed. The poltergeist instantly checked out his surroundings with his angled eyes before using his disembodied hands to comically make funny faces by stretching his shadowy face.

The campsite instantaneously burst into laughter as they watched the riotous ghost-type's amusing display.

"A haunter, eh?" queried Austin as he wiped the laughing tears from his eyes. "Is he always like this because that was freaking hilarious?"

"Outside of battle, I don't think he's ever serious," Ash chuckled. "That's okay, though. Every pokemon's got a different personality. As long as he takes training and battling seriously, I don't have any problem with his antics."

Out of the corner of his eye, Ash blithely watched Haunter entertain Clefairy by humorously crossing his eyes and distending his tongue while Wallace replied.

"Nor should you," said Wallace as he tried to cease his laughter. "It looks to me like Haunter's got a wonderful personality. It's rare that you come across a ghost as charismatic as this one."

"My thoughts exactly," inserted Austin with a grin, "I'm not typically a fan of ghosts, but I like this guy. What moves does he know?"

"Well, he used Shadow Punch, Sucker Punch, Hypnosis, and Night Shade in our battle," retorted Ash while digging through his backpack in search of his pokedex, "Other than those four, I don't know. I'll have to check."

Once Ash finally found his pokedex buried underneath an onslaught of items and clothing, he proceeded to scan his newest pokemon.

"Haunter - the gas pokemon – because of its ability to slip through block walls, it is said to be from another dimension. By licking, it paralyzes its opponents. It causes shaking that won't cease until the victims demise. Typically, they are dangerous pokemon. If one beckons you in the dark, do not approach it. They eat dreams and sometimes life force. In darkness, where nothing is visible, haunter lurks. This haunter is male. current moveset: Hypnosis, Lick, Spite, Mean Look, Curse, Night Shade, Confuse Ray, Sucker Punch, Shadow Punch. Ability: Levitate."

Ash whistled; he wasn't expecting Haunter's moveset to be quite so developed.

"Pretty good…" drawled Austin as he scooted back from the fire and wiped the sweat from his forehead, "especially, for a newly captured pokemon."

"I second that," answered Wallace, "also, it sounds to me like he barely used any of his non-physical moves against you. Interesting…it's almost like he was trying to give you an even battle without status conditions."

Ash scratched the back of his head as he mulled it over. "Is that true Haunter? Did you go easy on me?"

Haunter took an abrupt break from making Clefairy giggle and looked at Ash conscience-stricken. His spikes drooped, and his smile receded into a frown, as he guiltily gazed at his new trainer.

"Yup, you've been caught," heckled Ash as he patted Haunter atop his head, careful to avoid the corporeal spikes. "It's okay, though. No need to feel bad. I get that you wanted to come with me. Just promise me you won't compromise a battle again, okay?"

Haunter quickly lightened up. His spikes erected once again, and his face contorted back into its usual flippant expression as he buoyantly nodded his body up and down. In response to Haunter's peculiar behavior, the group of trainers lit up the campsite with laughter once more. They continued to joyfully visit for about another hour until everyone was hit by a wave of tired yawns.

"We should probably get some rest," said Wallace as he put out the fire. "We've got a lot of ground to cover tomorrow."

"Agreed," retorted Austin as he slipped into his already prepared sleeping bag. "Wallace, what time do you want to get moving?"

"Eh, eight would be good," replied Wallace, "What do you think, Ash?

"Whatever you think is best," said Ash while rolling out his heavy-duty sleeping bag with the help of Clefairy. "I may get up earlier than that to train."

Ash made sure to keep an eye on Haunter, who appeared to be listening attentively while floating around the campsite with a smile on his face. Despite Haunter's evident good-nature, he was still a ghost that liked to pull pranks. Ash felt a little bit more comfortable around the apparition if he knew where he was.

"Alright then," answered Wallace after completely putting out the fire and beginning to get comfortable in his own sleeping bag. "I'll set the alarm on my pokegear to eight.

"Sounds good," snickered Ash as he talked over the already snoring Austin.

Once Ash's sleeping bag was prepared, he reluctantly returned his new ghost-type before sliding inside of it like a chrysalis. Clefairy elected to stay outside of her pokeball for the night. Apparently, she was way too comfortable snuggled up with her trainer to go back inside of her pokeball. Plus, Ash had a feeling she wanted to make sure he was safe. He had already decided to leave Growlithe in his pokeball for the night. The pup deserved some good rest in suspended animation without having to worry about an ambush. Especially, after the events aboard the SS Anne, and today's adventure inside of the haunted Pokemon Tower.

"Good night, Ash…" mumbled Wallace as the Champion drifted off into comatose.

Ash just lay there underneath the night sky, for a couple of minutes, thinking back on the craziness of the past twenty-four hours. As he nodded off, he felt the comfort of Clefairy's small, two-clawed hands grappling onto his shirt.

XXX

Ash jerked up in his sleeping bag as his dreams were dauntingly ambushed by vivid images of Chance Chapman's mangled body and the deceased members of Team Rocket. The ten-year-old boy was drenched in a heavy sweat, and his heart was beating faster than a hyperactive electron.

Clefairy promptly jumped out of the sleeping bag before sporadically looking around the campsite for an intruder. It was still dark out, and she couldn't hear a single threatening signature movement pattern within the surrounding area.

While he desperately tried to calm his breathing, Ash quickly deciphered that his spontaneous anxiety was caused by a nightmare.

"It was just a bad dream," gasped Ash to Clefairy as he surveyed the campsite.

Clefairy slightly relaxed as Ash synchronously noticed that Austin and Wallace were still sleeping. The dark-haired boy took a deep breath, in order to gather himself, while Clefairy unloaded her light body back into the comfortable heavy-duty sleeping bag.

Ash gently patted his fairy-type on the head, trying to quench her distress, before checking the time on his xtranceiver. It was 4:47 A.M. The alarm clock on his device was set for five o'clock anyhow, so he stood out of his sleeping bag and stretched his stiff body. In concurrence, Ash looked down to watch Clefairy imitate him, stretching her tiny compact muscles as well. Ash figured she probably didn't sleep all that much: clefairy are nocturnal after all.

Ash quickly suppressed any looming thoughts concerning his nightmare. He couldn't control what his subconscious spewed out during his sleep. Regardless of how frightening waking up to such a collage of images was, he wouldn't allow them to debilitate him. Maybe he'd let Haunter eat his dreams if they started to get out of control.

The ten-year-old boy proceeded to roll up his sleeping bag before stuffing it inside of his backpack's back pocket. He wasn't quite sure how long he'd be out training, but he'd rather not have to rush to do it when he got back.

After hoisting his backpack around his sore shoulders, and affixing his cap over his messy hair, Ash beckoned Clefairy to follow him outside of the campsite. He thought about leaving his sleeping friends a note, but decided it wasn't necessary. If they needed to get a hold of him, they could just call his xtranceiver. Ash couldn't even begin to describe how helpful Bill's unexpected gift to him had been. The xtranceiver simply made everything way more convenient.

It didn't take Ash too long to find an appropriate sized clearing. About a half a mile west of the campsite was a beautiful, verdant glade. It wasn't overwhelmingly large, but there was definitely enough space to have a couple of his pokemon spar if need be. The spattered ground and the encompassing trees were rather moist. Therefore, he figured his fire-types should be fine to train without starting a fire that could endanger the environment.

In addition, situated to the side of the vast clearing was a mesmeric pond. The water was clear, and Ash could spot a multitude of goldeen and magikarp swimming at the bottom. On account of the enticing thought of one day commanding a monstrous gyarados, he momentarily thought about catching a magikarp. However, he ultimately decided against it. He already had a water-type he needed to train up, and magikarp required an unprecedented amount of time and effort to evolve.

In subsequence to checking out the small body of water, Ash addressed Clefairy. "Well, we got about three hours. We didn't do any one-on-one training aboard the SS Anne, so I'm kind of itching to resume mastering everybody's move pools. Do you want to go first?"

Clefairy excitedly nodded her head, signifying that she was ready to get started.

Ash extracted his pokedex from his back pocket before looking up the details concerning the new technique he wanted to teach Clefairy. After a quick review of the properties and steps involving Stored Power, Ash explained the details to his precious fairy-type.

"Alright, so please bear with me. This one sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is," warned Ash as he briefly looked down at Clefairy before gluing his eyes back onto the pokedex's miniature screen. "This is another technique that involves your thaumaturgic energy."

Clefairy instantly released an annoyed groan as she recalled the tedious process of mastering the thaumaturgic energy required to proficiently use Minimize.

"I said bear with me," said Ash sternly, "You've already gained good control over manipulating your internal thaumaturgic energy. It won't be nearly as difficult as Minimize. Properly learning how to conjure and maintain your thaumaturgic energy is half the battle when it comes to learning Stored Power. The rest should come rather naturally."

The fairy-type was skeptical, but decided to cease her complaints. She would master Stored Power regardless of how difficult it was, especially, if her trainer was expecting her to do so.

"Okay…" muttered Ash as he tapped on the pokedex screen, "so, it says here that the first step to learning Stored Power is to simply activate your thaumaturgic energy."

Clefairy looked up at him inquisitively as he continued to explain.

"When you were learning Minimize, we focused on willing your thaumaturgic energy to constrict and expand. A fairy type's thaumaturgic energy naturally desires to either absorb or repel. When you facilitated it into your cells, you were telling your thaumaturgic energy to either absorb the matter within your cells or to repel it, ultimately causing your body to shrink during the absorption phase and expand during the repel phase."

The fairy pokemon nodded, in response to Ash's words, as she looked within herself to test this supposed truth. For a brief moment, she called upon her thaumaturgic energy allowing it to simply course throughout her body without trying to direct it. She could feel the mystical energy's natural pull as it tried to absorb the atmosphere's pencircling molecular components.

She ceased her invisible test as she checked back into what Ash was trying to explain.

"Now, if you repel this thaumaturgic energy from the inside-out without any status moves occurring within the battle, you will create a damaging surge of energy relative to your current powerlevel."

Clefairy liked the sound of that. It appeared to be relatively uncomplicated, just like her trainer had suggested.

"Why don't you try it?" asked Ash while simultaneously backing up. "Let's just see what happens. I'll explain the rest after."

Clefairy murmured acquiescently while waiting for her trainer to create a decent sized gap in proximity. Once Ash was nearly backed up against the clearing's tree line, the fairy-type looked deep within herself. She mentally grabbed a hold of all of her procreated thaumaturgic energy before fighting off the urge to manipulate it in order to minimize. In precedence to pushing it outward, she let it course throughout her body for a couple of seconds. The strain was slightly exhausting, but she managed to expel the power outside of her tiny body.

Ash watched – impressed – as Clefairy's entire body disembogued an iridescent efflux of unrestricted power. The surge was both horizontal and circumferential, albeit limited in overall expanse. Stored Power would primarily have to be used from close range—at least as it stands now. As the opalescent array ceased, Ash jogged back up to his fairy-type.

"Good," praised Ash with a grin. "That was perfect. You repelled your thaumaturgic energy. Now, show me how fast, you think, you can recover it."

Clefairy grunted before converting some of the lunar essence that was stored within her wings into thaumaturgic energy. The flow of energy resulted in an intramural ignition. Her thaumaturgic energy had been restored by the help of her small, mystic wings. Clefairy proceeded to nod, signifying that her energy bank had been replenished.

"That was a lot faster than I expected," muttered Ash as he crouched down to Clefairy's level. "Now, we're going to try and make it stronger."

Clefairy tilted her head as she peered at him with inquisitive eyes.

"The main point of Stored Power is to use it as a counterattack against pokemon that like to boost their strength with status techniques," informed Ash as he detached Squirtle's pokeball from his belt. "Let's give it a try."

The dark-haired boy quickly released Squirtle, who instantly used his eyes to survey the glade. Ash could tell right away that, even though squirtle had been treated with Nurse Joy's restoration machine, he was still recovering from the exhaustion of being pushed to use Torrent against Haunter.

"How are you feeling, Squirtle?" asked Ash as he approached his emotionless turtle pokemon.

The cold featured water-type responded with an alto-toned grunt as he waited to find out why he had been called upon.

"I'm training Clefairy right now," informed Ash while looking Squirtle directly in the eyes. "We're working on a move called Stored Power. I need you to raise your defense with Withdraw. We're not sparring, her technique just requires a pokemon to use a status boosting technique. Withdraw should do the trick."

Most trainers that didn't know anything about Withdraw assumed that it basically just served as a shield. However, even though that is one of its major purposes, Withdraw also acts as a way to temporarily enhance a pokemon's defense by significantly toughening their skin. Ash wasn't exactly an expert when it came to the science involved, but every time a pokemon enshrouds itself, they emit some type of exocrine solvent that strengthens its flesh.

Ash turned his attention back to Clefairy as he explained to her what would happen next. "Now, when Squirtle uses Withdraw, I want you to constrict your thaumaturgic energy. The pokedex says that the user should be able to absorb all of the safe molecules that are close-by. Since status boosting techniques only enhance a pokemon's capabilities, you should be able to absorb Withdraw's essence into your Stored Power."

Clefairy nodded, as she turned her attention back towards Squirtle, while waiting for the water-type to use Withdraw.

"Go ahead, Squirtle," ordered Ash with a nod, signaling for the turtle pokemon to use his defense boosting technique, "Withdraw."

Squirtle instantaneously enshrouded himself within his shell. As he was concealed within his biological shield, he secreted a thin-layer of distinguished keratinocytes out of his epidermis. They instantly spread throughout his reptilian skin and strengthened his flesh.

"Clefairy, now!" exclaimed Ash, excitement evident in his intonation.

The fairy pokemon constricted the thaumaturgic energy flowing throughout her entity, causing her body to soak up all of the molecules lingering in the air around her. She could feel the essence of Squirtle's Withdraw being absorbed into her being as she internally pulled on her thaumaturgic energy like a fishermen yanks on his fishing rod.

As the essence of Squirtle's Withdraw intermixed with Clefairy's thaumaturgic energy, she could feel a slight enhancement within her Stored Power. Once it settled, she opened her eyes before smiling at her trainer in order to signify her success.

"Squirtle, get back!" bellowed Ash, before flashing Clefairy a look that beckoned for her to wait.

In precedence, while Clefairy held on to her Stored Power, the turtle pokemon quickly scuttled over to his trainer without a hint of an expression.

"Now!" blurted Ash excitedly as he focused on his tiny, pink, fairy pokemon.

The fairy-type discharged another blast of polychromatic energy, although this time it was slightly more potent. It was brighter in color and much more extensive. Ash's hair ruffled on account of the burst of wind evoked by the attack. Ash thought that maybe if there had been more status conditions to feed off of, Stored Power could have knocked the hat off of his head.

"Great job, Clefairy!" exclaimed Ash as he approached his fairy-type after the paroxysm had dissipated. "You're already starting to get the hang of it. All we've got left to do is make sure that you can maintain your thaumaturgic energy when there are multiple status moves involved."

Clefairy nodded, gladly welcoming the challenge. Up to this point, Stored Power had been relatively facile.

"Care to do a couple more Withdraws?" Ash asked Squirtle, requiring an abundance of the defensive technique's marrow.

The turtle pokemon shrugged indifferently before stepping out to perform the extremely rudimentary routine. As Squirtle repeatedly began to palpitate, in and out of his shell, Clefairy thought one thing…

Stored Power was a cinch compared to Minimize.

XXX

"Faster!" bellowed Ash as Charmander prepared to unload a Focus Punch into Squirtle's shell encased abdomen.

Despite the turtle pokemon's exhaustion, he dodged in order to avoid the powerful, but slightly laggard, endeavor.

The fire-lizard disembogued a groan of frustration as he loaded another Focus Punch with his opposite claw. His fist glowed within a luminous, white aura while he swiftly tried to bring it down atop Squirtle's hard skull.

The water-type's eyes intensely bulged as he moved to dodge the brisk haymaker. He managed to avoid the powerful punch, albeit only by a mere centimeter.

"Better!" howled Ash from across the clearing with a slight smirk on his face, "but still not fast enough!"

Charmander put forth another disgruntled snarl while he loaded one more Focus Punch.

Ash smiled as he watched Charmander's charge time diminish even more. This time it took him just over a second to procure a full-power Focus Punch. The fire-lizard swung his illuminated fist upward, striking Squirtle underneath the chin with a highly focused uppercut. The turtle pokemon was sent hurtling across the glade, emitting uncomfortable sounding grunts throughout the entire process.

"That's enough!" howled Ash as Charmander charged at a disoriented, but still standing, Squirtle, "we're done!"

The fire-lizard ceased his canter before quickly turning to Ash with a big, cheerful smile on his face.

Ash couldn't help but reciprocate the smile before answering, "Yup, that was it. You finally got it under your complete control. Awesome work, Charmander, I'm proud of you."

Charmander glanced at Ash, and emitted an elated squeal, before scampering over to Squirtle's side. The water-type gingerly rubbed his chin as he gave Charmander a quick nod of respect.

Ash wouldn't say that his water-type necessarily liked anybody on the team, but Ash had definitely come to learn that he at least respected Charmander. Squirtle was hard to read, but it seemed as if the turtle pokemon related well with Charmander because of their similar pasts. Ash had been planning on letting Squirtle rest today, outside of having him use Withdraw against Clefairy, on account of his exhaustion caused by utilizing Torrent. But, the turtle Pokemon insisted that he at least got to help with Charmander's Focus Punch training which, until today, had been a work in progress for the past couple of weeks.

However, finally – on account of Charmander's hard work and dedication – Focus Punch had been mastered.

"That was great," said Ash while he approached Charmander and Squirtle. "We've finally gotten a grip on your current moveset. Next time we train, we'll start to learn a new technique."

Charmander directed his attention back towards his trainer before tightly hugging the boy's leg.

Ash giggled in response to the predictable act of affection. Whenever Charmander felt like he had made his trainer proud, he tended to display a sudden burst of childlike fondness. Ash was almost positive that it was a side-effect of Damian's neglect. Being treated so poorly, for such a long period of time, had obviously taken a deep-rooted emotional toll on Charmander. The fire-lizard blatantly yearned for praise. Good thing Ash was more than happy to oblige.

As Charmander hugged Ash, the dark-haired boy looked down at his water-type while detaching Squirtle's empty pokeball from his belt. "Thanks for all of your help this morning, Squirtle. I really appreciate it. Now get some good rest, you need it."

In precedence to Squirtle being returned, the turtle pokemon acknowledged Ash's gratitude with a low, ratifying grunt. Despite Squirtle's near emotionless personality, Ash felt like they were slowly beginning to understand one another. Ash just hoped it carried over after Squirtle's impending evolution.

Once Squirtle's pokeball was securely fastened to Ash's trainer belt, Charmander looked up at him with wide, inquisitorial eyes.

Ash shrugged before opening his mouth to speak, "I'll have to look into what I want to teach you next. I know you're eager to keep going, but we actually finished mastering Focus Punch faster than I'd thought. Give me the rest of the day to do some research. By tomorrow, I'll have something for you to work on."

Charmander briefly looked disappointed that he was done training for the day before cheering up when Ash gently patted him on the head.

"Be patient," implored Ash as he placed his hands on his hips, "for now, just celebrate today's accomplishment. You finally mastered Focus Punch. That's something to be excited about. Don't worry about the next task until tomorrow. Okay…"

The fire-lizard soaked in Ash's words before nodding and grunting convivially. Ash knew what was best for him after all. Besides, he had plenty to be proud of. Just like his trainer had said, he'd finally mastered Focus Punch. For today...that was enough…

XXX

Pidgeotto leered at Ash as the fresh faced boy sifted through his pokedex in search of tips regarding Agility. The flying-type was still royally pissed-off on account of his loss to Fearow. And his animosity hadn't lessened now that he knew Ash was traveling with his inherent enemy's trainer—even if it was only for a few days.

Ash looked up from his pokedex with an annoyed expression, and eyed his avian, before shaking his head exasperatingly. "Will you stop it please? You're acting more like a snooty princess than a king."

Pidgeotto bitterly squawked, clearly inappreciative of his trainer's snide remark.

"You're only upset because you know it's true," ragged Ash while rolling his eyes. "It's just one loss—best you get over it sooner rather than later."

Despite Pidgeotto's indisposition towards his trainer's harsh words, he knew that Ash was right. Under normal circumstances, he would have gotten over it by now. He'd still be overwrought; he hated losing. But, he would have moved forward, ready to dish his accumulated anger out onto his next sorry opponent. However, the fact that his victor was a fearow left an overwhelmingly grotesque taste in his beak. His pride had been stomped on. He felt weak and humiliated.

It was a disgusting sensation.

Pidgeotto's self-destructive thoughts were suddenly breached by the sound of his trainer's earnest voice.

"I'm sorry if that was too blunt," said Ash with conviction, "but, a loss, is a loss. It doesn't matter if it is delivered by a fearow or a dragonite. The point is we lost, and we need to get stronger."

Pidgeotto looked down at the ground as he processed his trainer's fervent words. The bit about a loss being a loss went through one ear and out the other. He hated Fearow's species with a fiery passion and that wasn't going to just change on account of his trainer's idealistic oration.

However, there was a lot of truth in the part about getting stronger. He needed to train harder. He wasn't quite as strong as he thought he was. There's pokemon out there that exceeded his powerlevel by leaps and bounds, and he wanted to destroy that gap. He wouldn't stop until he was the strongest flying-type in the world, capable of manhandling anything that thought it could fly in his skies.

When Pidgeotto lifted his head up to his trainer, Ash noticed a fiery glint in the bird's intense eyes. The ten-year-old boy could tell that something he had said had fired his avian up. Ash simply shrugged unsure of what exactly caused the passioned reaction, but it didn't matter. He had provided his flying-type with motivation. Now, it was time to train.

"Are you ready to move forward?" asked Ash while pointing at the information on his pokedex. "After reading this, I'm pretty sure I can teach you Agility."

Regardless of whether or not Ash understood his antipathy – caused by losing to a fearow – Pidgeotto nodded his head. The avian didn't want to waste any more time sulking. His time was better spent training. Hard work was the only way he was going to overcome his current disappointment. He'd grow stronger. It was the one surefire way to make sure that something like this would never happen again.

"Good," replied Ash with a smirk, "let's begin then."

In response to Ash's staidness, Pidgeotto fluttered his wings and chortled sadistically. Although his trainer was typically kind and easy going, when it came to training he didn't mess around. The boy was determined to draw the best out of the pokemon he captured, and nothing would stop him from doing so.

Pidgeotto had lucked out. He knew he had been blessed with the perfect trainer to handle his confusing personality. Ash was someone that could look past any pokemon's character regardless of how vexing it was. The boy always seemed to find a way to press his pokemon's buttons in the right way, no matter of their perturbing disposition—Squirtle and the avian were perfect examples of this.

Ash smiled at his fiendish friend's audacious display before clearing his throat to speak. "Anyways, now that you're focused, I'd like to explain Agility."

Pidgeotto defogged his mind and listened attentively.

"The first thing I'd like to address is Agility's type classification," said Ash, "it's listed as a psychic-type technique."

Pidgeotto cocked his head curiously as he listened to his trainer's explanation.

"The reason it's classified as a psychic-type move, rather than a normal-type technique like Quick Attack, is because the key to its success exists within the mind and not the body," explained Ash.

Pidgeotto emitted a curious squawk as he tried to make sense of his trainer's words.

"Apparently, pokemon that are naturally capable of learning Agility have a chemical stored in their brain that allows their body to nearly quadruple in speed for a short period of time. It works similar to Ivysaur's Chlorophyll ability. Except, it is cognitive rather than physical. At least, that's what the pokedex says. I'm not exactly an expert or anything."

The barbarous flying-type looked at Ash with agitated eyes. It appeared as though the flying-type was slightly confused.

"I know that it's a lot to process, but don't worry," reassured Ash, "even though it may take a while, we'll learn it. Learning Agility is exhausting, but it's not all that complicated. It's just going to take a lot of heart. You're going to be pushed to your limit. Do you think you can handle it?"

The avian looked at Ash with intense eyes as he adamantly squawk.

"That's what I thought," replied Ash with a smirk, "The process is pretty straight forward. I need you to use Quick Attack until you feel like you're about to pass out, due to fatigue, and then I need you to keep going. We're going to break you mentally and then build you back up. There's a barrier in your mind that we need to destroy, and the only way to do that is through total exhaustion."

Pidgeotto put forth a low, slightly distraught laughter. He was sadistic by nature, but that didn't make him a masochist. The content of Ash's words made Agility sound like it was going to be an excruciating move to learn. Good thing he'd gladly welcome any methods in order to become stronger...

The rest of the flying-type's training session consisted of repetitive Quick Attacks until Pidgeotto was nearly drifting into unconsciousness because of overwhelming fatigue. Agility relied upon the destruction of Pidgeotto's current psychological stamina limit. The mind of a pokemon was a complex thing. In the case of learning Agility, Pidgeotto's subconscious concept of his own speed needed to be broken in order to develop a technique that would transform his speed into something to be reckoned with.

The process would be grueling, but the king of Pidgeotto was more than up for the task.

XXX

An hour and a half later, Ash removed Haunter's great ball from his coat pocket. He simultaneously made a mental note to purchase a few more docking clips for his trainer belt, carrying Haunter's pokeball in his coat pocket felt way too careless and cursory…

Ash had spent the last hour and a half training up Ivysaur and Growlithe. Both of his friends were in the beginning phase of learning a new technique, and after carefully analyzing their individual training sessions, it was pretty evident.

The ten-year-old boy was working with Growlithe on a technique called Reversal, which is a physical fighting-type attack that varies in inflictive damage depending on the user's present health. Growlithe was having a lot of initial problems concerning the attack, which was normal. Fighting-type moves were typically difficult to teach a pokemon that didn't belong to the classified type. The techniques came naturally to a fighting-type, but that couldn't be said for a pokemon of another categorized typing. It was especially difficult for quadrupedal pokemon like Growlithe. Their body-type made the required movements much more difficult. However, most of the time, the techniques that were the hardest to learn were the most worthwhile.

Throughout the process of learning Reversal, Ash had a feeling that Growlithe would gain a newfound comprehension of his physical prowess. Sort of like how Clefairy grew tremendously, in terms of controlling her thaumaturgic energy, during the learning curve required to master Minimize. Besides, above all else, the pokedex said Growlithe could learn the technique, and a fighting-type attack would add significant variety to Growlithe's move pool…

Ivysaur was working on one of the rarest grass-type techniques—Razor Leaf. Razor Leaf is a physical, grass-type attack that can only be learned naturally by a few species native to Kanto. Specifically, the bulbasaur and bellsprout evolutionary families. Since bulbasaur have become severely endangered over the years, bellsprout and the foreign chikorita were the only species trainers in Kanto could actually teach Razor Leaf to. Neither chikorita nor bellsprout were necessarily popular, so the impressive attack was rarely seen by the public eye. The pokedex also explained that, through breeding, oddish were capable of congenially learning Razor Leaf. Unfortunately, breeding for selective techniques was a rather arduous and unpredictable process that couldn't typically be relied on.

Therefore, learning Razor Leaf would give Ash a rare and powerful grass-type technique for Ivysaur to exploit opponents with. The fact that it was so infrequently used would give Ivysaur a pretty distinct advantage. A lot of trainers didn't know how to battle a member of his species in the first place. Razor Leaf simply made Ivysaur even more unpredictable.

However, having thought all of that, Ash still had to teach Ivysaur the relatively difficult technique—and today's training session hadn't necessarily gone well. Ivysaur still hadn't figured out how to procure the razor, sharp leaves required for the attack. The pokedex didn't really make it clear either. It explained that it had something to do with the accelerated growth of one of Ivysaur's indwelling, organic seeds. But, Ivysaur had hundreds of choices to sift through, and that would take time—much like finding the right components for Sleep Powder.

Nevertheless, his evolved friend would eventually work it out. Ash had no way to decipher how long it would take, yet he had confidence in his saurian's exceptional intellect. Even though grass-type techniques usually took a fair amount of time to master, Ash figured that Ivysaur could probably get it down in a week or two…

Anyways, Ash's attention was now centralized on evaluating the depth of Haunter's power. He didn't have all that much time until Wallace and Austin would be waking up, and he'd prefer not to hold up the group. Reaching Saffron on time took priority over his training, which is one of the reasons why he wanted to get up early. He didn't think he'd have much time to improve throughout the day. Hopefully, they'd be able to stop and battle some traveling trainers. But, he knew that there were no guarantees. Therefore, he'd have to do his training early in the morning and late in the evening.

Until they rescued Mr. Montgomery, and successfully stopped Team Rocket's ploy to acquire the Master Ball, he probably wouldn't be getting much sleep.

Ash gently stroked Growlithe behind the ears before releasing Haunter. At first, the flash of light that emanated from the release revealed nothing but air. However, after a couple of seconds, Haunter quickly fizzled into his corporeal form, laughing and pointing at Ash's befuddled expression.

The puppy pokemon watched Haunter with an amused countenance. The ghost-type's antics instantly cheered up Growlithe's disgruntled mood, caused by this morning's struggle with Reversal.

"Good morning, Haunter!" greeted Ash with a benign smile as the ghost-type buoyantly floated in the air.

Haunter used one of his shadowy, disembodied hands to welcomingly waved at his new trainer before floating down to Growlithe's level in order to say hello to the canine. The two friendly pokemon engaged in a brief conversation, in their congenital languages, prior to Haunter levitating back up to Ash's eye level.

"I'd like to check out your current moveset," said Ash with a sober countenance, "Do you mind?"

Haunter chuckled while shaking his body left to right signifying that he was up for it.

"Great," crooned Ash as he reached into his back pocket, "give me a second to scan you with my pokedex. I think I remember your whole moveset, but I just want to make sure I don't miss anything."

The ghost-type waited patiently as Ash used the pokedex to decipher Haunter's current available techniques. The dark-haired boy instantly noticed a change in the spectral being's behavior. Haunter seemed to take training rather seriously, which was a pleasant sign. Ash wasn't exactly worried about it beforehand. Haunter had shown his competence in battle against Squirtle. Therefore, despite his comedic personality, he had to have at least taken training semi-seriously. Otherwise, he wouldn't have stood a chance against Squirtle and would probably still be in his gastly phase.

"I've seen the extent of your Hypnosis," said Ash as he scrolled through Haunter's techniques. "So there's really no need for you to show me that one. Lick is pretty straight forward, and I would rather not have you paralyze any of our friends. How about Spite? That would be an interesting one to see."

Haunter nodded, but then looked at Ash in a confused manner.

It took Ash only about a second to figure out the reason for Haunter's befuddled expression. "Well, the pokedex says that spite is supposed to be a status technique that drains stamina. It doesn't sound particularly painful. I guess you could use it on me."

Haunter gave Ash an undesirable expression as he shook his head. It was obvious that Haunter wasn't a fan of that idea.

"But, I need to see how effective it—"

Ash was interrupted by Growlithe, who cried a determined and adamant yap, clearly volunteering himself to be the subject. The dark-haired boy thought about it, for a brief moment, before making a decision.

"Okay…" muttered Ash, "but, you have to let me give you a potion after Haunter's training session."

Growlithe nodded. Unless it was absolutely necessary, the puppy pokemon didn't typically like Ash to use potions on him. However, in this situation, he wasn't going to argue. Ash's present countenance didn't give him any room to protest.

"Alright, Haunter, will you agree to use Spite on Growlithe?"

The ethereal ghost thought it over, for a short moment, before nodding and putting forth a discordant grunt.

"Alright, I promise I'll heal him later," reassured Ash before turning his attention back towards Growlithe. "Are you ready, buddy?"

The puppy pokemon pronounced a consenting bark as he looked at Haunter with brave, fiery eyes.

Haunter released a cacophonous cackle, prior to using one of his ghostly hands to gesture for Ash to back up. The dark-haired boy proceeded to do as suggested, slightly in awe of his Haunter's thoughtful nature. The ghost-type had a mischievous side, but outside of that, he was an extremely friendly pokemon—which quite possibly would never cease to throw him off.

He'd been taught at an early age that ghosts were typically nasty and vehement. A friendly ghost was about as rare as a wild munchlax or maybe even the endangered lapras. For that reason, his friend was definitely a peculiar specimen, most certainly a diamond in the rough.

After Ash was a fair distance away from Growlithe and Haunter, the ghost pokemon raised both of his shadowy hands. He pointed them directly at Growlithe while entrancingly wagging his fingers up and down. Haunter suddenly emanated a thin beam of black energy. It zigzagged through the air peculiarly before piercing a stationary Growlithe.

The puppy pokemon showed no signs of pain, but instead grew sluggish. Ash could instantly notice a difference in Growlithe's eyes. They looked weary, sort of like he had just exited Hypnosis or some other sleep inducing move.

To be honest, Ash wasn't expecting such a blatant affect. Obviously, Spite worked just fine.

Spite—Check.

"How do you feel, Growlithe?" asked Ash soothingly as he approached the fire-type. "You're okay, right"

The canine pokemon nodded his head affirmatively while slightly panting. It was apparent that Growlithe was tired, but he didn't look to be in pain. Ash took a deep breath; his starter was just fine. It appeared as though the ghostly technique had just caused him to become winded. Other than temporary exhaustion, Growlithe hadn't suffered any damage at all.

"Do you want the potion now instead of later?" asked Ash with a gentle smile.

Growlithe shook his head, signifying that he would rather wait. If it were up to him, he'd avoid the potion all together. He felt like he'd be just fine in a couple of minutes anyway.

"Suit yourself," said Ash with a shrug before addressing Haunter, "Spite checks out just fine. Good job."

After making sure that Growlithe was okay, Haunter proceeded to happily levitate around the glade, clearly enjoying Ash's praise. When he was finished celebrating, he floated back over to Ash's side ready to receive his next command.

Ash scrolled through his pokedex while deciding which move he wanted Haunter to show him next. "Eh, you probably don't need to show me Mean Look. It pretty much works, or it doesn't. Skill level doesn't really affect it. Do you think you've got good control over it?"

Haunter emitted a discordant grunt before nodding his body up and down.

"That's good enough for me," replied Ash with a slight smile before looking back down at his pokedex. "I'll take your word for it."

In response to Ash's trust, the gaseous pokemon's large smile seemed to widen. It was considerably apparent that Haunter was adapting well to having Ash as a trainer.

"Err…unless we're in live battle, I don't really feel comfortable having you use Curse," said Ash while shaking his head. "So, I'll have to wait to see that one."

Haunter dramatically nodded, indicating that he understood Ash's concern. Curse was one of those moves that was only to be used during a dire circumstance. Anytime there was a technique that caused self-inflicting damage, Ash liked to steer clear of using it if at all possible.

"I saw your Night Shade…" drawled Ash, "but, I didn't really get to see how strong it was. How about you show me that one again? Just use it at full strength on air. I'll fill in the blanks."

Haunter nodded before facing the opposite direction of Ash and Growlithe. Like he did when using Spite, the poltergeist raised his corporeal hands. There was a momentary pause, as it appeared that the ghost-type was preparing the attack, before he emitted an immense, dark purple wave of ominous energy. This time it was nearly twice the size of when he used it against Squirtle. Ash's skin crawled in response to the ghostly outburst. It was blatantly obvious that the ghost pokemon had been holding back against his water-type.

Ash couldn't help but laugh. "Wow…that was more than impressive."

Despite Growlithe's exhaustion, he cheered on his new comrade with a series of affable yips and yaps.

Night Shade—Check.

Shaking off his perplexed expression, Ash moved on to the next attack he needed to evaluate. "Confuse Ray is another one of those techniques that either works or it doesn't. Like Mean Look, I'll just trust that you can freely use it. I'd rather not confuse myself or any of my friends. Any problems with your Confuse Ray?"

Haunter shook his head, indicating to Ash that he had Confuse Ray mastered and under his complete control.

"I figured," said Ash as he pointed at a collection of large boulders next to the mesmeric pond. "Now, let's go over there. Those boulders look sturdy. I want to see your Sucker Punch and Shadow Punch at full-strength."

Haunter snickered before following Ash and Growlithe over to the formation of large stones.

The young trainer wiped the sweat from his forehead as he decisively pointed at one of the boulders.

"Use Sucker Punch first," commanded Ash causally, "hit it as hard as you can."

Haunter immediately raised his fist as it was enveloped in a cloak of black energy. The mischievous ghost emitted a surge of dissonant laughter while he swung his fist into the center of the boulder.

Ash gritted his teeth as he listened to the hissing sound caused by the dark element grating through the stone's natural matter. The damage was about what Ash expected. The hardy stone turbulently vibrated before showing a plethora of fissure lines. At first, Ash thought that the rock would crumble to pieces, but it ultimately stayed intact. Sucker Punch was mostly known for being an effective quickfire counterattack. If Haunter's Sucker Punch could deal this kind of damage to a boulder of this magnitude, Ash had no doubt in his mind that the harder hitting Shadow Punch would completely decimate one of the burly boulders.

"Great job, Haunter," praised Ash as he patted the corporeal ghost between its posterior spikes.

The ghost-type once again celebrated, by buoyantly levitating around the clearing, before returning to his trainer's side with a massive grin on his face.

Growlithe put forth a supportive bark as he was significantly impressed by Haunter's strength.

Sucker Punch—Check.

Ash cleared his throat before glancing at Haunter with expectant eyes and gesturing towards a fresh boulder, "All that's left is Shadow Punch. Hit it hard."

This time Haunter's face portrayed seriousness as he winded his shadowy fist back. It became shrouded in a dark purple current while shrieking through the atmosphere. Ash was almost forced to cover his ears on account of the vehement scream put forth by the attack.

Upon impact, the sinister energy spread out before emitting an ear-splitting, inharmonious sound that depicted blustering white noise. This time, Ash had to cover his ears due to his close proximity to the strike: the spectral energy's impact was simply way too loud to endure without protection. He kept his eyes open, though. The dark-haired boy witnessed the boulder explode into millions of tiny fragments. He would have been pelted by the aftermath if Haunter hadn't jumped in front of his adolescent body.

Ash stared ahead at the residuum wide-eyed and slack jawed. Haunter was amazing. If Ash had to guess, he'd say his power rivaled that of Pidgeotto. The ghost-type would serve as a powerhouse on his team for years to come. He certainly had a counter for Sabrina now. All he needed to do was teach Clefairy how to defend against psychic incursions, and he had a chance at taking down the psychic virtuoso.

His ghost-type simply laughed, at the fallout of his attack, as he floated around the scattered rubble. He caught a glimpse of Ash's dumfounded expression and levitated within arms-reach. He looked at Ash with curious eyes for a split-second, beckoning for his trainer to drop his guard. The moment Ash started to relax, he used his disembodied hands to comically stretch his face in every which direction.

On account of the powerful ghost's hilarious display, Ash couldn't help but burst into laughter. The dark-haired boy could hear the sound of Growlithe playfully howling as the dark purple ghost saturated them with various comical expressions.

After a couple of minutes of tear jerking laughter, Ash looked at Haunter with amicable eyes, "I have a feeling we're going to make a good team."

Haunter's grin stretched all the way from one side of his face to the other. The gaseous apparition couldn't agree more.

XXX

When Ash and Growlithe got back to camp, Austin was groggily packing up his stuff, whereas Wallace was digging into a bowl of oatmeal. Wallace's Swampert was lounging about on the ground next to its turquoise haired trainer. If Ash had to guess, Swampert was the one that had heated up Wallace's breakfast. After witnessing the insane amount of heat that the water-type was able to procure with scald, Ash figured that the beast could probably conjure a bowl of boiling water in a matter of seconds.

"Good morning, Ash," said Wallace in his silvery-toned voice. "How did your training go? Are you hungry?"

"It went well," replied the ten-year-old boy vaguely before shaking his head, "I had a protein bar on my way back to camp. Thanks for offering, though."

Wallace shrugged before asking another question, "Did you test out that new haunter of yours?"

Ash's face instantly lit up as he looked down at his starter. "He was awesome, wasn't he Growlithe?"

The puppy pokemon nodded his head elatedly as he thought back to the sheer amount of power that the shadowy apparition possessed.

Wallace gave Ash a benign smile, "Good, I'm glad your little detour worked out for you. Now, as soon as I eat the rest of my breakfast and Austin finishes packing up, we're going to head out. We have a lot of ground to cover."

"Sounds good," retorted Ash as he sat down next to Wallace before waiting for both of his older friends to finish up.

Five minutes later, Austin had finally finished packing up the last of his scattered belongings, and Wallace had wolfed down every last bit of his steel grain oats.

Ash's chiseled faced friend had yet to say anything. Either he wasn't a morning person, or he had been bombarded with terrorizing dreams just like Ash. Ash had a feeling it was the latter. Even though Austin was a couple of years older than Ash that didn't change the fact that he was still young. What they had witnessed aboard the SS Anne would have messed up anyone's subconscious. The fact that they both harbored minds that were still developing only made the damage worse.

Austin had clearly been impacted by the gruesome images of the SS Anne's fallen captains. It would probably take him a little bit to get over whatever horrifying images he had woken up to. Nevertheless, Ash had no doubt that Austin would endure the mental anguish. The teenager was strong. He'd manage.

"Are you guys ready?" asked Wallace as he returned his burly, fully-evolved mud fish pokemon.

Austin mumbled his first words of the morning as he swung his backpack over his shoulder, "As ready as I'm going to be…"

Ash adjusted the straps on his own backpack while preparing himself for the voyage to Saffron City, "I'm ready."

Growlithe emitted a low bark as he prepared his mind for the day's travels

"Good…" drawled Wallace while he fiercely clenched his fist, "Team Rocket, here we come."

XXX

To be continued…

XXX

A/N:

I know it's a bit shorter than last chapter, but this should suffice. For the most part, it was a transitioning chapter—not nearly as intense as Kanto 4. Next chapter will more than make up for it. Kanto 6 will consist of Silph Co...I was originally hoping to fit a battle against Sabrina in as well, but that won't be possible. It would end up being way too long. Silph Co. is going to be a lot of words in and of itself. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed chapter 5 and don't forget to review. Tune back in August 13.

P.S. None of Ash's pokemon are the same ones from the canon. Keep in mind that my world's different, therefore the pokemon are different. Pidgeotto is a completely different specimen than the one in the anime, so is Haunter. The three starters are basically alternate takes on the originals; as you can tell there personalities are completely different. Simply put, from this point on, don't over analyze what I do in comparison to the canon. It's a completely different story with completely different pokemon. Thanks for reading.

Much love, vincentgrey21

 
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