I am basing the creature's sizes off of real animals. I decided to make Professor Oak Ash's adoptive family here instead of introducing original characters for family. Their relationship always had that feeling to me anyway.

Also, Ash's Pikachu will remain wild in this story.

I own nothing, please support the official release.

Chapter one: Bulbasaur


"Gramps where's the new trainer?" Ash scowled tapping his foot expectantly.

"I'm sure he'll be here soon shown," Oak uttered, laying a soothing hand on the boy's shoulder.

"How could anyone be late on the most important day of their life?" The idea of it baffled the boy. This day was the one he had been looking forward to for as he understood what it meant.

"Why don't you go ahead and release Bulbasaur? She would love to meet you!" His grandfather said with a slightly strained smile.

"Okay," he said with a sigh and drooping shoulders. He was beginning to regret volunteering to help the new kid; he had been waiting for more than two hours. The thirteen-year-old took a deep, slow breath. The boy couldn't be angry when he met Bulbasaur. She might take it personally and that could take a while to correct. Ash made his way toward the door, his grandfather a step behind him.

Ash watched the newly released Bulbasaur curiously. She was sniffing her new surroundings with the intensity of a young Houndour surrounded by fire hydrants. Finally, the tiny grass-type turned to him. Bulbasaur jumped and backpedaled so quickly that she flipped landing hard on her bulb. The boy blinked at the flailing Pokemon. Had she not noticed them at all? He knelt next to her and to his dismay, her desperate flailing increased. The brown-eyed boy's brow furrowed. What could have made her like this? Or is she just naturally shy? The boy pushed the tiny dinosaur off her back and onto her feet.

Bulbasaur stared at him with clear suspicion, but allowed him to pet her. It took several seconds for the grass type to relax into the sensation. Ash smiled - carefully avoiding showing his teeth - at the now purring cow. "How old is she Gramps?"

"Hmm, If I were to guess, I would say that she's about oneish," the professor said after a moment his gray eyes narrowed thoughtfully.

"How'd you know?" Ash asked while coaxing Bulbasaur into his lap. She crawled onto him with slight hesitation. Ash's lips quirked into a small smile, it wasn't trust, but it was a start.

"Her bulb," his grandfather remarked. The elderly man lowered himself to a knee slowly with a grunt. "An infantile Bulbasaur's bulb is a very light green, and weighs less than a third of what her bulb likely does, certainly not enough to keep her on her back," the gray haired man said offering his hand to the purring dinosaur. Ash's smile widened when she let Oak pet her bulb. As Bulbasaur's purrs increased in volume, she released a sweet scent similar to a freshly baked Oran berry pie. The boy sighed happily, his earlier frustrations forgotten. A light cough expanded the boy's world outside of his new Pokemon. His grandfather had risen - much to Bulbasaur's disappointment - and pointed behind him.

"Sis!" the boy exclaimed happily leaning back as far as he could without dislodging the grass type in his lap. Bulbasaur rolled off his lap with a cry and landed back onto her bulb." I'm sorry!" Ash cried helping the Pokemon onto her feet. She glared at Ash and Daisy. The boy smiled when a familiar snort came from behind him. "Pins how'd the mission go?"

"Usually, you ask the trainer how things went," Daisy mumbled with a pout.

"Sorry," he said, smiling sheepishly. "How're you two?" he asked, this time addressing the Nidoking and the young woman, while patting Pins's massive purple arm. Even with his recent growth spurt, he couldn't reach the giant Nidoking's shoulder.

"We're great! They never stood a chance!" she said proudly her head held high and back straight. Pins snorted and puffed his chest out, making his prodigious ten feet seem even more formidable.

"That's great!" Ash said, grinning widely.

"Very impressive," Oak added with a small smile. The elderly man's sharp gray eyes scanned his granddaughter's and her partner's forms. Ash rolled his eyes; the old man could be as overprotective as his mother.

"Anyway," the boy said, clearing his throat, "this is my new Pokemon, Bulbasaur!" Ash lifted the grass-poison-type from behind him and pushed her toward Daisy. The Pokemon cowered when the Nidoking turned his full attention to her. "It's okay! Pins is just a big Growlithe when you know him!" Ash said, cradling the grass-poison-type. How could I forget how shy, she is, a Nidoking would have seemed like the Great One to her. Let alone a giant like his sister's starter. Pins rolled his eyes; the young monarch seemed to disagree with his comparison to a puppy. The purple poison-type sank to a knee and offered Bulbasaur a dull claw. The grass-type sniffed the claw twice and then regarded the giant carefully. She snorted cautiously at the poison king, no longer frightened but still weary of the Pokemon before her. The Nido rumbled giving the little Pokemon a gentle, almost fatherly look.

"Pins, I think Plains would like to see you," Oak interjected his tone gentle, "Dora would as well I imagine," he added as an afterthought. Pins grunted and lifted Daisy onto his shoulder in a single smooth motion. The king gave Ash and Bulbasaur a wave and offered the professor a respectful nod.

"Guess I'm gonna visit too! Ash have fun! And smack Gary for me!" Daisy laughed as the young monarch marched towards the old bull's territory.

"I will!" the raven-haired boy cried. Bulbasaur hissed and wiggled at his volume." Sorry, girl," he offered smiling weakly. Ash's brow furrowed as he remembered, he was waiting for more than the new trainer. "Gramps where's Wave and Gore?"

"Probably got carried away training again, I swear fifty years together and that Gyarados hasn't changed," Oak said with an exasperated yet fond smile. "Tell you what; I'll go get those two while you and Bulbasaur talk."

"Thanks! Hopefully, the new kid will be here soon too," Ash finished in a mumble. The boy glanced at the sky and sighed, he thought he would have been well on his way by now. The trainer shook his thoughts away and set his new Pokemon down. "Bulbasaur, I want you to come with me!" The grass-type snorted with a look of confusion.

"What I mean is... I want to be the greatest master!" Ash blurted. What am I doing, why am I so nervous about this? A dark green vine tapped his forehead gently snapping him out of his thoughts. The grass-type snorted and gave him another, slightly more forceful tap this time, and stared at him expectantly. Brown eyes blinked uncertainly before gripping the line lightly, and giving it a firm shake. Bulbasaur crooned, her pink eyes lighting up with her happiness. She must have seen Gramps or Jimmy shake. Her first breeder tended to stay to himself - from what Ash understood anyway - so she learned the gesture in less than three months. Impressive.

A faint vibration beneath his feet alerted the trainer and his new partner to Wave's approach. Bulbasaur grunted worriedly and moved to hide behind his legs." Why don't you go back in our ball for now, 'kay?" She warbled and shuffled when the vibrations grew more intense. The boy gave her a last pat before recalling her.

"H-hey I-is this Professor Oak's lab?" An exhausted boyish voice called from behind him.

"Yeah," Ash responded, turning to face the newcomer. The arrival was a heavily panting blond boy of about his age. He wore a blue vest with a green shirt beneath it and blue jeans with a single tear over its right knee. Ash felt his irritation return when he realized this was the new trainer he had been waiting for.

"You're late!" he snarled.

The boy winced, "I know, I'm really sorry! I know that I messed up, but please just let me talk to Professor Oak!" he begged with tears coming to his blue eyes. Ash blinked, suddenly unsure of what to make of the boy.

"It's okay! Gramps isn't mad enough to revoke your license," Ash said hurriedly waving his arms for emphasis. To his relief the boy's crying stopped. "So... what's your name, kid?" Ash asked quickly, he did not want to deal with anymore tears. The vibrations had increased in intensity, he noted idly. The boy had come at a very good time. Curiously, the blond boy didn't seem to have noticed them yet.

"Ritchie!" the blond said with a small smile.

"And I'm Ash! I'll be the one who makes sure you know what the hell you're doing!" Ritchie blinked at his blunt statement. "Some people who start out don't know the difference between Pidgey and Spearow," he added at the boy's confused look. "You might want to work on noticing things around you though," Ash said his tone casual.

"My surroundings," Ritchie repeated slowly. Ash nodded and pointed over his shoulder. The blond had decent reflexes, Ash noted with a nod and a pleased smile. The boy froze at the sight of the thirty-seven-foot long Gyarados winding toward them. Ritchie screamed, making Ash wince at the volume.

"It's okay!" Ash yelled when the boy ran out of air. He grabbed the trainer's shoulders and shook him when it looked like the boy would scream again. "That's just Wave!" he cried.

"Thank you for popping my ear," Oak quipped rubbing his right ear as he approached. Ash turned to face his grandfather and was thrown onto his back by an enthusiastic three-hundred-pound Swinub. The pig licked him sloppily covering his face with saliva. "You must be Ritchie Davis," the professor said with a chuckle.

"I am, sir," the blond affirmed, eyeing the gigantic Gyarados warily.

"You're rather late," Oak pointed out, ignoring his grandson's struggles with the boar. "You could lose your license for this young man!"

"I'm sorry," Ritchie, whispered hiding his eyes behind his hat.

"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to," the old man said, his face stern and arms crossed over his chest. Ash winced, as he finally freed himself from the Swinub. He knew from experience that his grandfather's disappointment was worse than any of his mother's reprimands. "However, I can tell that you genuinely regret your mistake." Ritchie's head shot up so swiftly that Ash worried he'd hurt his neck. The boy's heart shone in his eyes and Ash found himself hoping the boy did well as a trainer. His grandfather reached into his coat's right pocket and procured a single generic Pokeball.

The ball opened to reveal a bipedal yellow mouse with red cheeks a tail like a bolt of lightning and black tips on its long ears. "A Pikachu," Ash said, walking closer to his grandfather slowly." You think giving a boy who's never had a Pokemon a Pikachu is a good idea?" he whispered incredulously.

"I ran out of starters," Oak admitted in a whisper. Wave rumbled, a sound similar to a wave crashing against a beach, from behind them amused. "At least it's not that demonic Pichu that attacked Pins a few years back!"

"How do you even run out of-," Ash's question was cut off by his Swinub bumping him in what he probably thought was a light manner. "Gore, this is serious! You can wait!" Gore grunted and butted him more insistently making the boy stumble. It's only been two days! The boy rolled his eyes, before rubbing his friend's shaggy head. The boar grunted happily and moved into his touch when he scratched behind his ears. He smiled, but a startled yelp brought his attention back to Ritchie's situation.

Ritchie was biting his lip as his grandfather wrapped a piece of his coat around the boy's hand. Pikachu was cowering under Wave's glower. Ash grabbed Gore by his tiny tusks when it seemed like he was going to charge the mouse. "Did it attack him?" he asked blinking incredulously.

"Yes, It would seem this Pikachu is a bit too wild for a proper starter," Oak said evenly checking Ritchie's makeshift bandage carefully.

"Probably," Ash muttered, glancing at the still cowering mouse. Usually it took a couple months for wild Pokemon to be tame enough for a new trainer to work with them. Given how vicious this Pikachu is, it might never be a starter.

"No!" Ritchie cried.

"No?" Oak questioned slowly turning to face the blond.

"It's my fault! Please let me keep him," the new trainer said seriously. Ash blinked, the other boy looked so resolute. "Please give me a chance, sir!" Pikachu was staring at the boy too shocked to be afraid, even Wave seemed curious.

"If I were to let you keep this Pokemon what guarantee is there that he won't just abandon, or even kill you?" the professor said his expression unreadable. Gore grunted finally having calmed from the mouse's attack. Ash released his closest friend carefully, to his relief it seemed as though the boar's temper had truly calmed. The raven-haired boy and his partner had seen the professor give away hundreds of starters, but they'd never seen him consider giving away one so defiant. Gramps is brilliant when it comes to seeing a trainer's potential, maybe he sees something we can't. Ash rubbed his friend's side soothingly.

"I'd don't know, I just think that we're meant to be together." Ritchie murmured peering into the stunned Pikachu's big black eyes.

"If I give you this Pokemon you'll not be getting a replacement," Oak declared his face a mask of stone.

"I understand the risks, sir," Ritchie said meeting the professor's eyes unwaveringly.

"Very well," the professor said, a slight smile making its way onto his face as he recalled Pikachu. Ash gave him a doubtful look. "He's not as bad as that other one you met a while back," Oak assured him. Wave rumbled from behind the old man and gave him a gentle nudge. "Ah, that's right, we're taking too long here," Oak chuckled sheepishly, "I know! To make up for this I'll drive you boys to the end of the corral."

"Thank you, sir!" Ritchie beamed.

"Thanks, fossil," Ash stated ducking under his grandfather's playful swat. Wave rumbled at Ash and Gore before making his way back to his bay. Gore squealed at the giant's retreating form, "Later, big guy! Take care of the town!" Ash called waving. His grandfather smiled, then went to bring his jeep around while Ritchie gawked at the legendary beast's back.

"Is that the Wave?" he asked breathlessly.

"Uh, ye~ah," Ash drawled blinking at the blond. Had the other trainer only just realized who Wave was?

"He's amazing," Ritchie, whispered, still staring at the serpent's back. Ash smirked and Gore puffed his chest out proudly.

"You have no idea," Ash said, clapping a hand onto the new trainer's shoulder. The boy stared at Wave's now distant form. It was easy to forget how most people must have seen the Gyarados; after all, he'd known the great beast of the sea since birth. Ash smiled, patting Gore's hide the old water-type wasn't the only amazing Pokemon in Pallet. Gore grunted happily and nuzzled his hand. "So whaddya think of my Gore?"

"He's cool," the blond said quickly still staring in the direction of the Pallet Bay. Gore slumped, at being ignored, but Ash only sighed.

"Someday, people are going to look at you like that," he swore to his starter in a whisper. The Pokemon stood at his full height and puffed his chest out confidently. A low rumble from behind, Ash noted. "Gramps is almost here Ritchie." Ash said. Ritchie didn't reply still staring dumbstruck in the direction Wave had gone in.

"You boys ready to go!" Oak called over the roar of his jeep.

"Yeah," Ash called herding Ritchie and Gore to the rumbling vehicle. "I get a front seat," He added, smirking smugly when Gore whined pitifully. "You'll be in the back on your blanket," the trainer told the boar his smirk growing into a grin when the boar whined again.

"You didn't forget anything?" Oak asked as they seated themselves.

"No," Ash muttered, rolling his eyes. He snickered when Gore began nudging Ritchie with a hoof.

"What does he want?" the new trainer asked eyeing the boar with trepidation.

"Rub him of course," Ash said as though it should have been obvious. The black-haired boy rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "He could also be hungry, I suppose," he remarked relishing the blond's look of horror.

Xxxxxxx

"So why'd you really decide to drive us, old man?" Ash asked turning to face his grandfather. "You've gotten plenty of people late with your er- habits so why drive only us?"

"Am I that obvious?" Oak inquired with a sigh. The professor pouted when his grandson gave him a flat look. "About two years ago a Yanma was born in the corral-"

"How's that new?" Ash asked raising a brow.

"You'd learn if you didn't interrupt me, son," Oak said glaring at him petulantly.

"Continue," Ash allowed with a sigh and a wave of his arm. The old man never can just get to the point.

"I will," the professor told them his tone smug. "Now a strong Pokemon being born in the corral isn't a big deal, as you know many Pokemon come to Pallet to build their nests. But… this Yanma is unlike any other I've ever heard of before! At least three feet long at only two-years old!" Oak cried dramatically. Ash glanced behind him and sighed, predictably Gore and Ritchie were being drawn into the story. "Its frightened Nidorina and even killed Raticate with ease, before reaching a year old," the gray-haired professor finished his gray eyes grave.

Now the bug is getting a bit frightening. Ritchie gulped loudly and Gore was glaring out the window suspiciously. "I thought that it would have left with the other young Pokemon for sure, but for some reason the Pokemon has made the corral its home," Oak said after a moment. "Truthfully, I wouldn't have known it was still here if it hadn't attacked Gary."

"It attacked someone!" Ritchie squeaked with a look of horror.

"Is Gary okay?" Ash asked swallowing harshly.

"He's fine, Aria managed to fight it off," Oak confirmed quickly with a wince. Ash sighed in relief and turned when Gore grunted behind him. Ash smiled, the Swinub was trying to squeeze himself through the gap in the seats. The trainer patted his friend's nose gently.

"I'm okay bud," he said with a tired smile, "Just a bit shocked."

"Now you boys understand why I wanted to drive you," Oak muttered his eyes intent on the road, "That Pokemon is going to be a problem for sure."

"Thank you, sir," Ritchie uttered relief clear in his voice.

"Thanks," Ash murmured still patting his Swinub. He frowned when a thought occurred to him, "No trying to hunt it you hear," he told Gore sternly. The boar gave him an affronted huff, and moved back into his seat with what Ash had learned to be a pout. "If we get hurt on our first day Mom would kill us," the boy said seriously. The boar whined pitifully at the statement. "I'll eat all your food myself!" Gore squealed as though Ash were killing him and began nudging his seat urgently with a hoof.

"We're here!" Oak called happily.

"Here already?" Ash questioned, looking taking in his surroundings. His eyes widened at the sight, "Why are we at Viridian?"

"Because I'm a good grandpa who wants his grandchildren to be safe," Oak said, motioning for them to get out of the car.

"You said you were only taking us to the end of the corral!" Ash cried as his grandfather pushed him out of the jeep.

"I lied!" Oak announced his tone bright as he nudged Gore and Ritchie out as well. "If it makes you feel any better you can find plenty of fine Pokemon in the forest, and I'll be going back for Gary too, so he won't be getting any of the young ones either," Oak said easily waving his goodbye. "Have fun kids!" the professor said with a grin.

"I can't believe he lied to us," Ritchie muttered, staring at the jeep in disbelief.

"I can," Ash, sighed. "I was supposed to take you to Viridian and we're here," Ash quipped an awkward shrug.

"Thank you," Ritchie said, shuffling his feet awkwardly.

"Make sure you release Pikachu in the center, just in case," Ash advised while scratching Gore behind his right ear.

"You're not coming with me?" Ritchie asked his shoulders tensing.

"Of course not! You survived meeting Wave, Kanto can't touch you," Ash grinned, "Take care of yourself kid!" he called over his shoulder as he tugged Gore towards the woods.

"I-I will!" Ritchie yelled after him.

He had thought of a thousand ways the day could have gone, but he had never dreamed it would have gone this way, Ash reflected watching Ritchie take his first steps toward Viridian. Gore nudged him and grunted. "Right, it's time we set off," he decided, straightening his pack's strap." I think you'll be happy when you meet our new teammate buddy," the trainer said with a smile. Gore snorted, turning to him. "Not near the city, we'll make some ground, and then set up camp, and then you can meet her." Ash told his starter with a smirk. The Swinub squealed angrily and stomped his hooves, making his trainer's smirk grow into a full grin.

Xxxxxx

"You ready," Ash said priming Bulbasaur's ball. Gore snorted, shuffling in place and staring at the pokeball expectantly. "Okay," he said slowly releasing the grass-type in a scarlet light. Bulbasaur snorted when she saw him, and began to sniff the ground around her. The grass-type squeaked in horror when Gore rushed toward her, accidentally knocking her onto her side. Ash sighed; he had a long way to go with these two. "Gore, you're scaring her, stop it!" Ash commanded pulling the pig by his floppy ear.

Bulbasaur stood slowly, eyeing the Swinub like he was a deadly predator. She's not entirely wrong. Most solitary boars were predominantly meat eaters. "It's okay, Bulbasaur, nothing's going to hurt you," the trainer said his gentle smile at odds with the harsh grip he had on Gore's ear. He knelt next to Gore and began to pat him lightly. "If you don't calm down I'll shave you again," Ash whispered into the swine's ear ominously still smiling gently at Bulbasaur. Gore shuddered, and Ash motioned for Bulbasaur to come closer. The grass-type approached carefully at first but moved more confidently when Gore didn't make any aggressive movements.

Ash rubbed Bulbasaur's bulb as she and Gore sniffed one another, this time with a touch more restraint. Then Gore began licking the dinosaur enthusiastically. She hissed, but didn't seem to be afraid of the ice-ground-type. The trainer smiled at the sight, then blushed when his stomach rumbled. "So, I think it's time we find some food," he said, his blush deepened when Gore huffed amusedly. Bulbasaur warbled before taking off hurriedly with her nose glued to the ground. Is she that hungry? "Bulbasaur wait up!" Ash cried scrambling after the grass-type. I thought the Bulbasaur line was supposed to be slow!

He burst through a small cluster of shrubs and narrowly avoided tripping on Bulbasaur. Ash stumbled and hit the ground hard the impact knocking his breath out of him. The boy groaned he needed to have a serious talk with his Bulbasaur. Gore squealed as he barreled through the shrubs avoiding Bulbasaur, but tripping over his downed trainer. For the second time in thirty seconds, the boy lost his breath. He opened his eyes when he heard a curious grunt near his feet. Bulbasaur was staring at him with her head tilted slightly to the right. The boy stood shakily Bulbasaur supporting him with gentle nudges when he faltered.

Ash glanced; Gore was circling a tree with pink berries. Ash blinked, pink oval shaped berries? "You were trying to get us food?" he asked Bulbasaur receiving a small snort in return. "Very good, girl Bulbasaur," his Pokemon cooed nudging his hands to her head. The trainer began rubbing small circles on her bulb she definitely liked this spot. The Pokemon had her eyes closed and was making a light purring sound. "I'm really happy that you found this, but please wait for me next time, okay?" Ash requested, lifting the grass-type's chin so he could look her into her pink eyes. "I'm not mad," he said hurriedly when the Pokemon looked at the ground, disheartened.

"I just want you safe," the trainer finished with a smile. He patted her gently, then stood, "Now would you mind getting some berries for Gore? He looks like he's about to knock the tree over," she snorted and sauntered toward the annoyed pig. The Bulbasaur line was a species he'd studied in his Pokedex, but it hadn't mentioned anything about finding their own food beyond grazing. Gramps was right, the only way to truly understand a Pokemon is to see them with your own eyes, Ash thought fondly. This helped solve some of his financial issues too; if Bulbasaur could find fruit, trees then he could afford more pokeballs. The vast majority of the money he'd earned had gone to medicinal potions and his boots. Ash shook his head, it didn't matter right now, he needed to go get some berries before his gluttonous best friend ate them all.

Ash sauntered back to camp with a content smile and a full stomach. There was no replacing his mother's cooking, but those Oran berries had been amazing. He had even stored enough for a decent breakfast for himself and Bulbasaur. She yawned, her pink eyes drooping and her legs seeming to shake with exertion. Ash lifted the tiny dinosaur onto his shoulder. She licked his cheek before settling against his shoulder. A growl drew his attention to his first Pokemon.

Gore was sniffing the air intently and jerked his head toward Viridian. "You think something's going on in the city?" Ash inferred, carefully pulling his small flashlight out. The Swinub growled, regarding every tree and shadow as though expecting potential predators to jump out from behind them. "When we get back to camp, I want you to mark the trees, and I'll make a fire," the trainer told his partner quietly rubbing Bulbasaur's side in soothing circles. There wasn't any need to wake the youngest of the group, not yet anyway. Ash swallowed, he had slept outside plenty of times, but he'd always done so under his grandfather's, or a member of the old man's team, watchful eyes.

Here, though, if a wild Pokemon attacked there was no guarantee they could fight it off. A small tusk tapped his thigh gently. Gore's chin rose confidently and nudged him toward camp. "Yeah, we just gotta keep going," Ash said, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. The boy blinked, the small brown tent and stack of dry wood could only have been their camp. I almost missed it because I was afraid, the boy thought with disgust. Gore was already making his way to the trees surrounding the camp. The Swinub rubbed himself against the largest trees around them so roughly that he tore off their bark, then he sprayed the area near the tent with his Mud Slap. Ash nodded his approval; wild Pokemon had plenty of warnings now. The wild Pokemon should be able to guess Gore's age and size through the markings.

Few in this part of the forest would want to fight a five-year old three-hundred pound Swinub. At least, he hoped they wouldn't. It took a couple tries, but his "spark stone" (as he called it) ignited the dry material they had gathered. Ash sighed tiredly, offering Gore a quick Goodnight before crawling into his tent. The trainer smiled at the sight, Bulbasaur lay curled on his pillow peacefully a content look on her face. Guess I am going to be fighting her for the pillow, Ash thought amusedly as he made himself comfortable in his sleeping bag.

Xxxxxx

The past three days had been relatively boring; the only young Pokemon they had seen had been with their parents or were too quick to catch. To make things worse, he'd seen Nidoking footprints yesterday. Average adults were around six feet tall and weighed about two thousand pounds. They could kill Bulbasaur and himself with ease, and that was ignoring their earth manipulation and poison.

The decision to head toward Pewter had been an easy one. The boy patted Gore's side roughly receiving a pleased grunt from his friend. The weather was wonderful, not too hot for Gore and not too cold for Ash. He suspected the league scheduled the badge collecting this time of year for that exact reason. Most rookie trainers had a hard time during the spring he could only imagine it would be exponentially more difficult in winter. Maybe that's why the Sinnoh League was regarded as the second most difficult? Perhaps Sinnoh would be his next challenge. It doesn't matter right now. He glanced at his watch; eleven was as good a time as any for lunch. "Buddy, I need you to find some water okay?" Gore squealed happily, he recognized the pattern by now and knew it was time to eat.

It's inspiring to watch a master at work. The speed a Swinub could reach when properly motivated would have been difficult for the trainer to match. So, he didn't bother trying, the boar knew to call for his partner when he found his target and could look after himself well enough. A squeal alerted him to his friend's success and location. Ash jogged after the Pokemon, his partner's continued squeals allowing him to find the boar quickly.

Xxxxxx

Ash stretched languidly, savoring the pops in his joints. He patted his resting Bulbasaur's side gently with one hand and fishing another piece of jerky with another. The grass-type had only finished grazing and sunbathing moments ago, and her eyelids were already drooping. The pond was quiet, decent sized, and more importantly, there wasn't any dangerous Pokemon around. A loud splash broke the tranquility of the moment and made Bulbasaur jump from her nap. Gore will always be Gore. He sighed, something's just never changed. Thankfully, the boar knew better than to go into the deeper parts of the water. If anything, dangerous was in the water, it would be there.

Bulbasaur glared at the oblivious boar with her vines extended. It was by far the most aggressive look he had ever seen on the shy Pokemon's face. She poked him with a vine and stamped her foot impatiently. Ash blinked, it looked like she finally wanted to try sparring. At least I hope that's what she wants. "I'm so dumb!" he cried slapping his forehead. Bulbasaur squeaked staring at him wide eyed. "Nothing's wrong! I just have to scan you real quick," the boy said quickly smiling awkwardly.

He still needed to get used to a Pokemon as skittish as Bulbasaur it seemed. "Anyway... this is a Pokedex and it can help me make you stronger," Ash said, holding the small red device out for the dinosaur to sniff. "Nothing bad, you won't even feel it," the boy promised as she inspected the device. The Pokedex came to life with a low hum, to his relief Bulbasaur only flinched." Bulbasaur the seed Pokemon. "This Bulbasaur is female; she is one-year and two-months-old. She knows the moves Vine Whip, Tackle, and Leech Seed. She possesses the ability chlorophyll, which significantly boosts the Pokémon's speed in sunlight."

"Is that why you're so quick?" Ash mumbled to himself rubbing his chin. "Very good girl Bulbasaur! I told you it wouldn't hurt," the raven-haired trainer said with a smile. He rubbed the preening Pokemon's head gently.

A squeal of pain came from the pond. Bulbasaur flinched violently and Ash jumped at the volume. Gore was struggling mightily sending streams of snow and globs of mud at his unseen opponent.

"Buddy, get out of the water!" the boy called urgently. "It's a water type!" Gore grunted, dragging the water-type with his all strength.

His starter's opponent had two large red pincers and four thin white legs. A Krabby, he thought, and a large Krabby at that, the crab had his pincers clamped on the Swinub's tusks. "Powder Snow!" The pig thrashed then blasted the crab with the chilly wind in its eyes.

The Krabby flinched, the opening Gore needed to get under it. With a jerk of his head, the Swinub flipped the Krabby onto its back. "Powder snow on its claws!"

"Stay here," Ash told Bulbasaur quietly as he approached the trapped Pokemon. The boy procured a Pokeball from his pocket. He hesitated; this would be his first capture for his own team. If he messed up there was a chance the Krabby would never respect him. He grinned, as an idea came to him. "Gore, let Krabby, go!" Gore whined disbelievingly, regarding Ash as though he were insane. "I know what I'm doing," Ash said seriously with a shaky voice.

"Krabby, I challenge you to a battle! If you beat Gore, he's the chubby pig, I'll give you all of our Oran berries," Bulbasaur wailed as though he was killing her still Ash forged on, "But if we win, then you have to become a member of our team," the trainer stated, clenching his fists so tightly his knuckles were becoming white. This was a calculated risk; if the Krabby wanted to become a monarch then it wouldn't break its word. Pins, Wave, and Plains were very honor oriented, so he figured there was a good chance Kingler were as well. If it wasn't then it might just try and run off.

Krabby snapped its claws menacingly, and then it moved a few yards away from Gore. The crab stood at its full height and cloaked its face with bubbles. A tactic the rather average Krabby line used to look intimidating.

"Hoh, a feisty guy," Ash smirked.

Gore pawed the ground before blasting a snowy gust at the crab Pokemon. Krabby chirped a battle cry, then it rushed through the attack using its right pincer to shield its eyes.

"Use Mud Slap on the ground!" the boy yelled. The Swinub fired his mud a couple feet in front of the crab. Krabby stumbled only just catching itself with its claws when Gore his it with a Tackle, sending it soaring through the air.

"Now, Powder Snow!" Ash yelled with a triumphant grin. The Swinub did so with glee, freezing Krabby's right claw to the ground. Gore barreled into the crab again, sending it crashing into a tree trunk. "Yeah!" Ash yelled, pumping his fist. Bulbasaur ran out from her hiding place and leaped into his arms squeaking happily. He laughed, hugging the dinosaur tightly, receiving happy licks in return. Krabby was now an official part of the team! The boy smiled, this was one of the best days of his life. "Gore we caught our first pokemon-," Ash's voice faded as he saw his first friend's unmoving form.

"Gore," Ash called slowly setting Bulbasaur down. The boar remained motionless. "Buddy," the boy murmured as he approached the Swinub. He knelt next to his partner scratching behind his ear. To his delight, he received a quiet rumble from the boar. Heart rate is a bit quick for such a short fight, he noted. The trainer sighed; his partner had been sleeping more and eating more since they had left Pallet. He thought that Gore was just being Gore, but it was starting to seem as though the Swinub was becoming ill.

Or he figured out how to get into Ash's jerky and overate.

That was the more likely of the two options. It was a bit shocking how resourceful the simple boar could be when hungry. The boy shrugged recalling his friend and pocketing his Pokeball. Bulbasaur bumped him with her head lightly and crooned staring at Gore's ball.

"He's okay, just needs to take a break," Ash said patting her head with a forced smile. Viridian forest was beautiful and teeming with Pokemon, but Gore's health came first. They would have to stick to the trails. The trainer snapped up so quickly that Bulbasaur jumped in shock.

"Krabby, are you still there?" Ash asked, searching frantically for the small water-type. The water-type wouldn't have gone against its word, would it? The brown-eyed boy bit his lip. How could I be so dumb? Of course, Krabby would leave it was a wild Pokemon.

A quiet gurgle came from behind him. Krabby was sitting next to Bulbasaur - who seemed perfectly calm in the crab's presence shockingly eyeing him as though he had lost all sense. "You were behind me the entire time, weren't you?" Ash said slowly his face flushed. The crab Pokemon made an odd clicking sound that reminded the boy of a flat tone. "S~o, I'll just capture you," he said awkwardly pulling out a generic red Pokeball. Krabby shuffled nervously, but didn't make any attempt to run when he drew the ball. The water-type was sucked into the ball in a scarlet light. Bulbasaur crooned happily at the ball, not the ball, Ash corrected rubbing his thumb along the capsule, at their new teammate.

Xxxxxx

Ash had never cared to watch the setting sun, no matter how often his mother would bother him about it. Looking at the orange sky and the gray clouds now, the boy regretted never taking her offers. "You did great today," Ash said, rubbing Bulbasaur gently and feeding her a large Oran berry. She purred happily and leaned into his touch as she ate her treat. The trainer hadn't expected her to be able to walk as long as she did. Even if she had needed to be carried a couple times when she'd tired. Maybe catching Krabby got her blood boiling?

"Hey, you there, wanna fight?" A girlish voice called from behind him.

"Sure," Ash answered before he even finished turning. The girl was about his age with black hair, violet eyes, and with the exception of her long pink scarf, dressed entirely in black, except.

"One on one," she said with a grin.

"Good for me," the boy responded priming Gore's Pokeball. "I'm Ash by the way," he added as an afterthought.

"I'm, Janine," the girl chirped priming her own ball. "Go!" Janine cried, tossing her Pokeball into the air.

"It's our first battle," Ash whispered releasing his first friend. The ice-ground-type snorted at his opponent with a glare. Janine's Pokemon was a circular Pokemon with purple fur, large red compound eyes, a pair of white antennas and stubby forearms. It was a Venonat, a poison-bug-type Pokemon with psychic abilities.

"Go get it," the black-haired commanded. Venonat chirped and charged Gore its body surrounded by a white glow. Gore met the bug's charge with his own Tackle attack, throwing the bug several yards back.

"Powder Snow," Ash called. Gore snorted, firing a chilling gust at the downed Pokemon.

"Now!" The dark-haired girl cried. The purple bug chirped weakly ducking under Gore's attack, and fired a thin pink stream at the Swinub. The attack slammed into the ice-type's forehead. Gore squealed backpedaling and shaking his head furiously. Ash winced, on top of the attack's strength; a direct psychic attack could give their opponent a headache.

"Gore calm down, you're fighting!" Ash snapped. The Swinub grunted and shook his head again before slowly turning to face his opponent.

"I give," Janine announced.

"What now?" Ash said confusedly tilting his head to the side. Gore squealed happily, running in a circle, his pain forgotten.

"This is her first fight," the girl said simply lifting the bug-type Pokemon and stroking her purple fur. "You did really great," She whispered. Janine dug into her pocket for a moment before handing him a dollar. "You definitely earned this; you're not bad at all for a rookie!" she chirped.

"Ok~ay thanks," Ash said slowly taking a moment to admire his winnings. The silver paper had a detailed picture of a black dragon with blue eyes and blue fire surrounding its maw, the Dragon King, he realized. "See ya around, I guess," Ash said his tone awkward before turning back to the girl. The boy blinked, she was gone. "That was… very different," he said, rubbing the back of his head. Gore grunted in agreement sauntering to him.

"Time for dinner then," Ash said after a moment. Gore grunted happily and licked his hand. "I'm the best trainer as long as you're well fed," the raven-haired boy remarked rolling his brown eyes. The Swinub squealed indignantly and nudged him lightly. Ash ignored the boar and released his newly captured Krabby. The crab Pokemon gurgled awkwardly at his new companions. It will be another couple of days before that changes. Krabby was willing to fight for Oran berries so that would have to do until he found something better for the crab. Gore would just get more of his jerky and a few berries.

"Bulbasaur are you hungry?" Ash asked, turning to face the green dinosaur. The grass-poison-type Pokemon was resting against the large oak next to his tent with her eyes closed and a look of deep content. He smiled softly; she had more than earned turning in a bit early." Guys, we have to be quiet," the trainer murmured staring at Gore intently. The Swinub glared at him, but remained quiet. Ash tossed the boar a few pieces of jerky that were inhaled mere seconds after hitting the ground.

"Here you go, buddy," Ash said, placing the Oran berries on the ground slowly. Krabby eyed his approaching hand carefully, but allowed Ash to rub its red shell tentatively. The boy pulled his Pokedex out slowly letting the crab Pokemon examine it for a moment. "Krabby the Pincer Pokemon. This Krabby is male and is four-years and ten-months-old. He knows the moves Bubble, Vice Grip, and Harden. This Pokemon has no abilities." Ash was slightly disappointed his new Pokemon didn't have any hidden talents, but he was of good size for his age and seemed honorable enough. The crab's personality wouldn't be a hard one to work with either, judging by his allowing Ash to pet him so soon. He already knew most of Gore's abilities, but it couldn't hurt to check.

"Swinub the Pig Pokemon. This Swinub is male, and is five-years-old. He knows the moves Tackle, Powder Snow, Mud Slap, and the egg move Avalanche. This Pokemon has no abilities." The boy didn't fully understand egg moves, but he did know that it was a technique passed down from a Pokemon's parent. He also knew that the parent had to have great mastery of the move for it to be passed on to its offspring. "Guess your birth parents must've been pretty awesome, bud," Ash said powering down his Pokedex. To his knowledge, Avalanche was one of the best offensive moves an ice-type could learn.

Gore grunted noncommittally far more interested in the large mushroom Krabby had acquired. The boy blinked. When did he find? The crab hissed and cloaked himself with bubbles waving his claws threateningly at the boar. Gore growled, his body temperature dropping low enough that Ash felt a light chill. "Stop it!" the trainer shouted digging for the jerky again." If you're hungry, eat this don't try and steal from Krabby," he lectured quietly, "Just come to me, you understand! I don't want to see that again!" Ash snapped as quietly as he could. The boar whined quietly and nuzzled his hand, seeking forgiveness.

Ash offered his friend the food he seemed to be so desperate for slowly. The boy rubbed his Swinub's large head and sighed. Gore's kind were alive long before humans, in a time where the world was ruled through tooth and claw. The ancient Pokemon's blood flowed strongly in the now purring boar, the thirteen-year-old knew. Ash had never truly thought about the potential difficulties of training such a Pokemon, and now he had three of them. At least Krabby and Bulbasaur wouldn't eat his jerky. The boy rubbed his temples, he could see why that draconic-Pokemon-obsessed-idiot was so well respected this was already stressful.

Krabby kept glancing at him when he thought the trainer wasn't looking. The water-type's looks varied from disbelief to a deep respect. Mother crabs typically didn't raise their children, as far as Ash knew anyway, this could be the first time someone had stood up for him in his nearly five years. Ash had always been surrounded by his family, the idea of not having their love and support was unfathomable. Regardless of what happened before this, you won't be alone again.

Xxxxxxxxx

Viridian forest was rather disappointing. Aside from the Nido and Pidgey lines, he had failed to find any interesting Pokemon. Unfortunately, both of those species tended to live in large groups. Large groups protected by Pokemon who would think of his team as little more than a light warm up on an off day. At least Bulbasaur is ready to try fighting, that's some progress.

Gore grunted quietly, stiffening and glaring at a small tree in front of them. Ash blinked, why was there a tree in the middle of the trail? "Bulbasaur, you want to fight this time?" She shuffled nervously and moved behind. "You don't have to if you don't want to," the trainer said with a strained smile. He thought she would have been ready by now. The boy rubbed Krabby's ball, is it too soon, he wondered. A dark green vine wrapped itself around his wrist firmly. Bulbasaur moved in front of him and squared herself. He grinned; she was clearly nervous but was still willing to try fighting, a fantastic sign in such a young Pokemon.

Gore wasn't glaring at the tree, the boy realized as a small brown paw popped out of the ground. Another paw, then long brown ears and a fox like head. The Pokemon was a young Eevee. Eevee could evolve into eight different Pokemon, each powerful in their own right. They were some of the most sought after Pokemon anywhere. Ash swallowed harshly, this wasn't an opportunity he could waste, he thought glancing at Bulbasaur. If he used her there was a good chance the Eevee could get away, but if, he did not use her then he risked her fragile confidence shattering. He sighed; even an Eevee wasn't worth that price. Eevee growled at them the thick fur on its neck rising.

The boy suppressed his snickers with great difficulty. He knew from experience that the Eevee line could be very proud; insulting it could be a costly mistake. Unfortunately, Gore had forgotten that lesson. The Swinub grunted and turned his back to the fox, a blatant disregard of the little Pokemon. Eevee snarled, this time there was nothing cute about it, and charged Gore a faint white light surrounding it.

Dark green vines slapped the distracted fox knocking it onto its side. The Pokemon whimpered a small reddish patch growing on its side. Ash winced those vines could tear into the armor of a rock type with decent training; an Eevee's hide was trivial in comparison. Bulbasaur stared at her vines in shock finally recognizing her strength.

"Vine Whip, then Leech Seed!" Ash called with an eager grin. Bulbasaur warbled as she pinned the flailing fox with her vines and shot a small seed from her bulb. Bulbasaur's eyes narrowed and her bulb began to glow. Small cracks appeared on the seed. Tiny vines emerged from the cracks and wrapped themselves around the normal-type's head. Eevee whimpered as its energy was stolen.

"You did it!" Ash cried happily, running to Bulbasaur with his arms spread wide. He knelt next to the exhausted Pokemon and rubbed her bulb gently. "I knew you had it in you girl!" Took over a week to get her to fight but well worth it for sure! She cooed happily doing her best to nuzzle him. Three-hundred pounds of Swinub squealed happily and knocked him onto Bulbasaur.

Ash scrambled to get off the whimpering dinosaur. "Are you okay, girl?" He asked examining her bulb. He sighed; it looked like he hadn't fallen on her bulb. A quiet snort drew his attention to the boar behind him. He turned to his friend slowly with a small smile. "No jerky." Ash said simply his smile widening. The look of utter horror on Gore's face was reminiscent of Ritchie's reaction to Wave. It was the most beautiful sight to have greeted his eyes since their adventure began.

"Until Pewter," the trainer continued. The pitiful whine the boar released was music to his ears, and apparently, Bulbasaur's as well, judging by the dark look that she sent Gore. He sent a cursory glance over at Eevee, and then froze. "Gone," Ash whispered searching the clearing desperately. Of course, it used Dig to escape! The boy spun quickly a hopeful look on his face. He was greeted by a still sulking Gore and a confused Bulbasaur.

"We don't speak of this," Ash told the green dinosaur seriously, as he lifted her onto his shoulder. "That includes with family," the boy continued giving Gore a sharp look. If the boar told Coco, the ancient Exeggutor might tell his family about this incident. The last thing he wanted was Gary having more reasons to make fun of him. There were already plenty of those. "If you sense anything under let me know," he told Gore when Bulbasaur was secure on his shoulder. Gore grunted his understanding and lowered his nose to the earth.

Xxxxxxxx

We must be getting close to Pewter. He and Gore had battled three trainers in the past four days and witnessed another battle as well. The trainer had never missed a shower as badly as he did now, and Bulbasaur is becoming exhausted by the constant walking. He rubbed the sleeping dinosaur behind her ears. Gore was acting a bit odd as well; the boar tired after long walks but that didn't explain why was so tired in battle. The boar's love of a fight pushed him well beyond what should have been his limit. Their winning streak was unbroken, but the close calls they had had shouldn't have happened at all. Ash sighed, Nurse Joy would know, and if she didn't his grandfather or Daisy would have an idea.

"Halt!" A slightly deep voice called from his left. The voice was young and seemed to be trying too hard to seem intimidating. The boy and his Swinub kept walking; Bulbasaur didn't even wake from her nap. Ash glanced at Gore curiously, was the boar following his lead or just being contrary because he could be? The trainer smirked definitely the latter. "I said halt!"

"I know but you didn't say please," Ash retorted cheekily turning to face the other trainer. His challenger was a few years older than he was; the young man wore an archaic suit of armor with a helmet that was probably meant to resemble a Pinsir's pincer. He held a large net in his right hand and a worn generic pokeball in the other. A bug catcher then, Ash tried not to let that have a negative effect on his opinion of his opponent. Many bug catchers adored their Pokemon, but there were many who raised bug-types because they evolved quickly. Understandable, he admitted, but he couldn't imagine training a Pokemon he didn't like just to get strong quickly.

"Do you hail of Pallet?" the man asked in a condescending tone.

"Yeah," Ash said a sinking feeling in his stomach. Gary must have done something, or the odd man figured out his relationship with his grandfather. Neither option boded well for him.

"I, Samurai, challenge you to a test of strength, ruffian! Two on two," his opponent declared, throwing his net behind him in a way that likely was meant to be cool. Judging by the satisfied expression on the older male's face, he thought that it was.

"Sure, but could you keep it down, she's not even two yet," Ash told him pointing to Bulbasaur. A strong Venusaur lived for at least two-hundred years, at less than two Bulbasaur would be considered a toddler at best and a baby at worst. His opponent ignored him and released a Ledian. Ledian were bipedal bug-type Pokemon with four arms a white belly and red scales covering their back. They were speed-oriented fighters, which meant his best option was unfortunately, sleeping. Gore glared at the bug-type and huffed exhaling a frosty breath that made Ash and Bulbasaur shiver and even covered the surrounding grass in frost. Ash blinked, he didn't remember his partner's breath being so cold a couple days ago.

"You need a break, bud," he told the swine returning him to his ball before he could protest. He drew his new capture's ball. "Now's as good a time as ever," the trainer told the crab quietly receiving a wiggle from the ball. Krabby gurgled at him before turning to face his opponent. Ledian looked down at its opponent arrogantly its wings spread wide and puffed its chest out, an obvious attempt at intimidation. Krabby chirped angrily and clicked his claws threateningly at his larger opponent." Don't let 'im get to you!"

"I'll go first! Use Mach Punch, my friend, then finish it with another," Samurai ordered with a flippant wave of his hand. Ash's eyes narrowed. He thinks he can win in two hits? Ledian chirped, a deep white coating its wings and a far less intense glow coating its fist.

"Vice Grip," the brown-eyed boy commanded. "Don't pinch anything vital," he added as an afterthought when a white glow covered Krabby's right claw. Ledian surged forward, moving so quickly that Krabby could barely shield himself with his right claw.

"No way," Samurai muttered gaping.

Ash grinned; Krabby's claws were wrapped firmly around the bug-type's wrists. "Let it go and use Bubble!" the boy told his water-type.

"Use Mach pun-," Krabby shoved Ledian, and then he blasted it with more bubbles than Ash could count. The boy winced when the defeated bug hit the ground face first. Bubble seemed like a relatively harmless attack to many people, but a great water-type could kill a man with it. And it looks like I'm going to have one. He smirked.

"Don't look so smug, brat! I'll sweep you with this!" Samurai snarled throwing a worn Pokeball. The Pokemon was a dull brown with large gray pincers on its head; it was a few inches shorter than Ash but easily twice the boy's width. The young trainer gaped and Krabby's eyes nearly popped out of his skull, a Pinsir! One of the strongest bug-types found in Kanto. This specimen was on the smaller side though, and the specie's claim to fame was their monstrous physical capacity. "Pinsir take the runt's first attack head on!" Samurai ordered smugly, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Just try it!" Ash snarled, priming Gore's ball. The boy flinched, at the furious chirp from his Pokemon. The water-type charged the giant beetle his claws waving threateningly and taking on a white hue. "Krabby come back!" The crab ignored his frantic calls and raked his claw against the beetle's unguarded belly. Samurai laughed, Pinsir rubbed its stomach. Krabby's strongest attack only gave it a small scrape. Pinsir smashed its pincers together and shot the comparatively tiny Pokemon a look of deep disappointment. Pinsir lifted the crab Pokemon over its head with one arm and tossed him into a tree without any visible effort. Ash was frozen his commands glued to his tongue.

Krabby struggled and failed to push himself up, but still waved his right claw weakly. Bulbasaur wiggled out of his arms-when had she woken- and ran to her downed teammate. She snorted lowering her head beneath him and trying to lift him with her head. "So you want to use her too?" the older boy asked coldly. "Fine then."

"I give up!" Ash said quickly running to his injured Pokemon and positioning himself in front of him. None of his Pokemon, could possibly match that Pinsir, in fact, they could be killed by accident. "Here, take your prize," the boy said quietly offering the bill Janine had given him earlier. He couldn't even bring himself to look the other trainer in the eye. If he could, even he call himself a trainer anymore…

Samurai snatched it with a derisive snort. "You should release your Pokemon," the older boy remarked after a moment. Ash swallowed harshly pulling Bulbasaur close to his chest. "They could do better," Samurai added, giving Bulbasaur and Krabby appraising looks and Ash a condescending one. The boy squeezed the dinosaur to his chest tightly and Samurai rolled his eyes.

"Pewter is twenty minutes from here if you run; your crab will die if you don't," he added nonchalantly strolling away as though he were discussing the weather. Ash flinched, at the blunt remark and returned Krabby. Pokeballs were designed to put a Pokemon into a state of rest and slow the effects of their wounds, hopefully that would buy him time.

"Can you keep up?" he asked Bulbasaur as he straightened his pack's straps. She crooned nudging him with her head gently, pink eyes sympathetic. "Let's go then."

Xxxxxx

"Can you take care of my t-team please?" Ash panted setting his pokeballs on the Pokemon center's main desk.

"What happened?" the redheaded woman asked worriedly taking in his sweat-drenched form.

"I'll tell you later! Just please look at Krabby!" Ash retorted irritably a hand over his chest. "It's an emergency!" With his last word the nurse's entire demeanor shifted, she nodded quickly scooping his pokeballs and rushing through the door behind her. Ash sank to the floor relief coloring his face. Nurse Joy would know what to do she had to. The boy's eyes drooped, his adrenaline fading. Just shutting his eyes for a bit would be fine…

Xxxxxx

Ash opened his eyes blearily a large, warm, and soft body pressed tightly against him. The boy rubbed his best friend's back lightly while stretching. "Krabby!" Ash cried, sitting up so quickly his head swam. A large hand settled on his shoulder and gently pushed him back onto his pillow.

"Not too fast, son," the deep, gentle voice that could only belong to his grandfather suggested.

"Is he okay?" Ash asked, ignoring the professor's words.

"Your Pokemon will be completely fine," Oak said with a sigh. The gray-haired man said, rubbing his temple with a finger. The old man's eyes were drooping and had large bags beneath him. Are they because of me? He averted his eyes from Oak's.

"I want to see him! And where's Bulbasaur?" Ash asked frantically shrugging the man's hand off.

"She's right next to you," Oak deadpanned. The boy looked to his right and sure enough, the grass-poison-type was sleeping with a troubled look on her face. Was she that worried about me and Krabby? The boy he rubbed the sleeping Pokemon's bulb. "They both put up quite a fuss when they woke. Poor Jane had to confine them to their balls to keep them from you," the gray-haired man said with a small smile.

"Can I see Krabby?" Ash asked with a small smile rubbing Bulbasaur's head.

"Of course!"

Xxxxx

His Pokemon could have been killed. A fact he thought he understood, but seeing Krabby attached to so many machines truly drilled the lesson home for the boy. Ash wrapped his hand around the crab's right, and only claw, squeezing it gently. "Don't worry Mr. Ketchum they regroup quickly, your Krabby will be up and battling in two days," Jane said offering the boy a small smile.

"Thank you so much," Ash said quietly his gaze still intent on his wounded Pokemon. This couldn't happen again. He wouldn't allow it, his team would train as soon as they were able, and he would too.

"She's one of the best in Kanto, in fact, this is where I come for Wave's checkups," Oak stated with a reassuring smile. The nurse blushed then muttered something about a sick Miltank and rushed through the door. "Also gets flustered easy," the professor added with a conspiratorial grin. Ash chuckled, he'd missed his grandfather.

"Ash, I can stay-," the professor began.

"No!" the boy interrupted narrowing his eyes. "You've been waiting for months to see Silph! You need to go!" Ash stated. Oak was taken aback by the ferocity in his tone. The old man blinked, and then he threw his head back and laughed. His laughter grew and grew until the professor had to support himself with the wall. "What's so funny?" he snarled.

"Nothing, nothing at all," Oak said wiping his eyes. "Make sure you call me if you have any issues," he said ruffling his grandson's hair. Ash smacked the man's hand away on reflex rolling his eyes.

"Just go!" Ash grumbled with a small smile turning back to his injured partner.

"Make sure you call Daisy!" the gray-haired man said walking away. "Oh and Ash," the boy turned to the professor with a raised brow, "I'm proud of you, you're handling this much better than I could have anticipated!" Oak told him with a warm smile.

"Just go!" the boy growled, turning away to hide his blush. Ash ignored his grandfather's laughs with ease that he had perfected over his thirteen years.

After a couple hours, Ms. Jane insisted he leave to go get fresh air. Privately, Ash thought she just wanted to be rid of the Swinub that never seemed to have enough to eat. It was hard to blame her considering Gore tried eating a chair. The nurse recommended they go see a pokemon friendly museum with fossils provided by the gym leader of Cinnabar himself. He rubbed Bulbasaur's back in small circles when she tensed, wrapping her front legs around his neck. Being around so many people would be something she would have to get accustomed with. Thankfully, she would not be evolving for at least a year, which meant he could keep carrying her until she was more comfortable. If she ever is, he thought as she burrowed her face into his neck.

Gore was glaring at every passerby suspiciously. Him being social is probably a lost cause. The trainer snorted.

Like most buildings in Pewter, the museum wasn't very visually impressive. The people of Pewter were very similar to their favorite Pokemon, hardy and down to earth. The few things in the city that were eye catching were the statues. Ash was certain the Onix King and the Moon Goddess would have been honored by the tributes. "Don't do anything dumb, or you're going back in your ball," He told his pokemon.

"It'll be ten dollars, sir," the old woman told him with a warm smile.

"Here you go, mam," Ash responded in what he hoped was a respectful tone as he offered her the money. For some reason, he always felt as though his mother was standing over his shoulder in situations like this. He shuddered at the thought of being caught mistreating an elderly woman. The trainer shook his head banishing the thought.

"Wait a moment! You need these!" the woman called after him. She held two long brown leashes in her hands and looked at him expectantly. Ash stared at the woman blankly for a moment then took the leashes. Bulbasaur let herself be leashed without issue but she seemed hurt by the gesture. Ash grimaced; she would be getting a treat tonight. He turned to Gore and received a snarl from his oldest friend. The trainer knelt slowly, "I'll tie it around your leg." The boar glared at him but relaxed marginally and allowed himself to be leashed.

They were definitely getting the best dinner he could find.

Xxxxxxx

The skeleton of a massive dragon with small wings and a small horn stood tall in the center of the room. Per the plaque, an ancient Dragonite was believed to have been among the first Pokemon tamed by men. Like most his age Ash was never particularly enthusiastic about the history of humanity. This on the other hand, he thought, staring at a replica of an Aerodactyl battling a Venasaur, I could learn about every day. Bulbasaur snorted and wiggled out of his grip, she rushed to the display with speed he wouldn't have ever guessed a Bulbasaur could possess a few weeks ago. The little cow sat on her haunches staring at the Venasaur with wonder. "I know you get excited, but you have to stay with me!" the trainer told her sternly as he and his Swinub sauntered to the saurian. She warbled, in what he had learned to be an apologetic tone.

"It's no biggie! Just try and be careful," the raven-haired boy remarked, grabbing the handle of the museum's leash. Ash could more than understand her enthusiasm, though, if it were about Dreyfus and Silver, he would have probably knocked the exhibit over in his eagerness. Does that mean my toddler Pokemon is more mature than me? He shook his head vigorously, that line of thought could never end well for him.

A gentle nudge from a tiny tusk directed him away from the exhibit. Gore was glancing at the Aerodactyl as if he expected it to come back to life and attack them at any moment. Ash nodded, and nudged his grass-type toward the herbivore's section. Bulbasaur kept glancing back at the Venusaur even as she was led away. Bulbasaur were incredibly rare, Ivysaur were even more so, and many believed there weren't any wild Venusaur left. It was likely this was her first time seeing one of the grass titans, or even something comparable to them. He knew he had been very lucky to get Bulbasaur, but seeing the Venasaur truly brought it home. They were among the greatest grass-types in the world. Ash glanced at the tiny cow next to him. And you'll be the best of them someday.

The herbivore section was still being remodeled unfortunately, so they had to skip it. Neither of his Pokemon were thrilled with that revelation, but a trip to the ice age section was enough to keep them content, though Bulbasaur kept throwing the poor workers dirty looks. The trainer considered telling her it wasn't their fault, but he was just as disappointed, and watching them squirm under her glares was hilarious. Ash blinked, his mother was right, he did have a messed up sense of humor. A squeal of excitement and his arm was nearly pulled out of its socket with the force of Gore's charge. "Buddy, what the-", the boy cried, picking up Bulbasaur as he chased after his friend.

"What's with you?" he asked with a scowl. To his shock, the boar completely ignored him transfixed by the display before him. Ash blinked, it had been a very long time since he had been completely ignored by his best friend, six months if he remembered correctly, what was so important. He glanced at Bulbasaur, but even she seemed to have been locked in place. The boy followed their eyes beyond the impressive Cloyster and Kingdra exhibits to the very back of the section. There stood a skeleton of a titan. Its tusks must have been at least three feet long, its shoulder likely stood at about eight feet. Enormous legs supported a frame that could have held more weight than a Rhyperior's were it alive.

"Amazing, isn't he?" A raspy voice said quietly from behind him. The boy and his team jumped barely avoiding crashing into one another. "Not the brightest are ya, kid?" The old man continued with a harsh snort. The man wore a white fedora, thick sunglasses, he had a thick white mustache, and a long cane in his right hand.

"Who are you?" Ash demanded, not appreciating the man's mocking grin in the least.

"It's Blaine, runt, and it's common courtesy to introduce yourself first!" the old man responded his grin widening. Gore growled at Blaine stomping a foot and pushing his head up slightly so the man could see his tusks. Ash grabbed his friend's ear lightly; the boar was very much a herd-oriented creature. An insult to one of them could be enough to provoke a charge, the brown-eyed boy knew.

"It's common courtesy not to insult strangers, old man," the trainer quipped, "And it's Ash."

"Fine, Ash," Blaine said his grin becoming a small smirk. Ash rolled his eyes, could the old man say anything without an acerbic undertone. He turned back to the giant and directed Gore to do the same. "You might be a brat but you've got good eyes. That there is the only one of its kind we've found fully intact, doesn't even have a name."

"Why not?"

"Nothing ever felt right," Blaine said, tugging on his mustache. For the first time the old man was frowning, and had a look of deep frustration on his face. Ash frowned, no name even after a complete skeleton? He glanced at Gore and then back at the titan, their tusks were in separate leagues in size, but the curve of the Pokemon's tusks were similar to that of a Piloswine's. Maybe it was an ancestor. It was hard to imagine a Piloswine reaching such size, but it wasn't impossible to believe.

"What about Mamoswine?" Ash asked turning to face his elder. Mamoswine, a perfect name for what must have been the strongest swine the world had ever known. However, it did look a lot like an elephant too. The trainer shook the thought away quickly, definitely a pig. Gore squealed and licked his hand, it seemed his Swinub approved.

"Mamoswine," the old man muttered as though testing the way the name rolled off his tongue." I like it," he said a moment later his grin returning. "A fitting name for the greatest of their kind," the man turned quickly, making his way toward the front desk. "Time's up, brat! And thanks!" Blaine called over his shoulder. Ash stared after him. What an odd old man.

Xxxxxxx

To their great disappointment, they weren't allowed to sleep with Krabby. Probably for the best, he thought booting up a purple video phone; he might have forgotten to call his sister. Daisy answered almost immediately black bags under her big gray eyes and her lips pulled into a frown. "Where have you been?" She demanded so fiercely that he and his partners jumped. Bulbasaur hid herself under his shirt, shaking and Gore was hiding as much of himself as he could beneath his chair. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," she said fidgeting.

"It's alright… I should've called anyway," Ash mumbled coaxing Gore out from under his chair and trying to pull Bulbasaur out from under his shirt. For a five-pound Pokemon she was surprisingly strong, he could not pull her off. "So...I just wanted to let you know that I'm okay and that Krabby is going to be fine."

"I'm very glad to hear it!" Daisy said with a yawn. "Krabby are great Pokemon, a bit timid, but if you work with it, I'm sure you'll have a great Kingler."

"Timid, huh," Ash muttered remembering the crab trying to fight an adult Pinsir by himself

"I take it yours isn't, then," his sister said with a small smirk. "How big is it?"

"I don't know how much he weighs but he's about as tall as Gore is," the boy said slowly. He glanced at his boar, about two and half feet sounded right.

"He's a bit aggressive, right? And really proud?" Daisy continued, twirling a long lock of her brown hair around a finger.

"How?" the boy asked, leaning back in his chair.

"It's a great sign Ash! Only exceptionally driven Krabby act like that," she asserted with a smile. "And he's pretty big too! You found a real gem!"

"I guess so," he blinked. And you nearly lost him; a part of him couldn't help but think. Ash stood quickly, nearly dislodging Bulbasaur in the process. "I need to get some sleep!" he said with a fake yawn. "I'll call tomorrow," he added with what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

"I love you, if you ever want to talk to me, you can," Daisy told him her smile fading.

"I love you too," the trainer said quietly shutting the video phone down. "Let's go to bed guys," Ash said in the same tone.

Xxxxx

"I'm really glad you're well," Ash told his Pokemon rubbing his hard shell. Krabby gurgled happily pinching his thumb lightly. The trainer smiled, for some reason his water-type had been more affectionate after his brutal defeat. Ms. Jane believed the crab Pokemon had been conscious during the run to the center. His brow furrowed glancing between his partners the boy made a decision. "Guys, I need to tell you something really important," he said seriously.

Ash inhaled deeply, "I want to challenge the Eight!" he blurted. Bulbasaur tilted her head to the side, and neither of the boys seemed to understand him either. Of course, they don't know. "The Big Eight are the strongest gyms in the entire region, they've all produced at least one champion - king - at least one king," the raven-haired trainer lectured seriously. He glanced between them, they all seemed interested. "The leaders of the Big Eight are in charge of the most important cities, and are regarded as the strongest trainers and incredibly hard to beat in your rookie season."

Gore squealed stomping his hooves; his friend's opinion couldn't have been clearer if he could talk. Bulbasaur looked nervous, but she didn't seem as afraid as he'd feared. Krabby clicked as loudly as he could with a single claw. They were going for it then; maybe Bulbasaur would come around to the idea in the coming months. If she didn't then that would be fine as well. By the time they were anywhere near ready to take one of the Eight on, they would have another team member for sure. The thirteen-year-old bit his lip, could he make it to the conference?

No, he shook his head lightly; the conference doesn't matter right now. There would be other conferences, and they needed to get stronger as quickly as they could. Challenging the Big Eight would be the best way to do that. Ash clenched his fists, what happened to Krabby wasn't Samurai's fault, or Pinsir's, it was his. He wouldn't fail his team again.

Xxxxxx

Before they could learn any moves, they had to perfect what they already knew. In order to use those moves properly, they had to become stronger. Krabby and Bulbasaur were practicing their Vice Grip and Vine Whip on the large boulders of the training ground. It took over two hours for them to find an unused training ground, but it was well worth it, in Ash's mind. Bulbasaur would be learning how to use her Sleep Powder and Poison Powder, if anyone were hit with it they would have to flee the city. Ash didn't have nearly enough money to afford a lawyer. "Keep going you're doing great!" Bulbasaur squeaked tiredly sweat cascading down her face. Krabby acknowledged him with a quick click then went back to his training.

The trainer couldn't have been happier with their work ethic. There wasn't any complaining, any foot dragging, they wanted to get stronger and trusted him to guide them properly. Something warm settled in his chest at the thought. From the moment he knew what a trainer was he knew it was his purpose, seeing his team pushing themselves was nearly enough to make him burst.

The only problem, is what to do with Gore. In the two days they had been waiting for Krabby to recover, Ms. Jane explained why Gore was acting so strangely. He was entering puberty. He would be moody, gluttonous, and aggressive the woman told him sympathy shining in her blue eyes.

Unfortunately, Gore was already a moody, gluttonous, and aggressive boar, which meant Ash, had even more of a challenge than most trainers did with their maturing Pokemon. The first couple of months would be incredibly taxing on the boar physically and mentally, he would tire quickly at times and become frustrated easily. The biggest improvement would be the rapid growth of his ice attacks and size. Gore would gain at least a hundred pounds in the period that Ash was calling his "rebellious phase" and his body would be ready for evolution.

Ash did the math in his head, and realized it would be at least another month until he was ready to evolve. Sadly, there wouldn't be a significant improvement on his partner's intellect, as the boy had been hoping. For now, let's just focus on perfecting ground attacks and stamina. Ash grinned; Daisy recommended a very fun method of improving his stamina. The swine whimpered, he recognized his brother's expression and knew what it meant for him.

Gore collapsed inhaling air in greedy gulps with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Daisy was right, Ash reflected, riding on the boar's back would be great training for the ice-type. It was just as fun as she said it would be too. Not for Gore, but after trying to eat another chair Ash wasn't feeling particularly sympathetic. "How are you guys feeling?"

Krabby chirped quietly raising his right claw slowly in weak a salute. Poor Bulbasaur could barely squeak her eyes drooping. Ash lifted her gently, "Time for dinner," Gore sprung up immediately running to the center as fast he could, much to Krabby's shock. "Don't try and make sense of it," the trainer advised his Pokemon rolling his eyes. "Let's go make sure he doesn't get in trouble." The crab clicked his understanding still staring in the direction of the center with mild awe.


"You want to fight?" Ash asked with a smirk. This would be their last challenge in Pewter, until they came back for the Boulder badge anyway, and he was confident he could win. We need to win. Erika's waiting. "Three on three."

"It'll be a slaughter," the tanned boy with beady eyes said with a cocky smirk. His opponent's smirk grew when he released his Pokemon. The Pokemon was bipedal and had a thick gray boulder like body with four arms. A Graveler and judging by its size it was newly evolved. Bulbasaur's eyes widened when she realized her opponent's bulk. She shuffled nervously, then turned to him worry etched on her face. "Forrest."

"You can do this, girl," the trainer asserted with a smile rubbing her head gently. "Have faith in your training." She warbled quietly turning back to her opponent with a tiny amount of confidence. "I'm Ash."

"Smack Down!" Forrest commanded. Graveler hissed, slamming its hands on the ground and forcing a rock about Bulbasaur's size to levitate in front of it. The Pokemon flung a thick arm out blasting the rock at Bulbasaur with astonishing speed.

The cow gave a horrified squeak barely managing to push herself out of the rock's path. "Keep moving!" Ash ordered. She can't afford to take a direct hit from this Pokemon, the boy thought, Poison Powder wouldn't be enough to put it down and Sleep Powder wasn't nearly ready for battle. The highly precise and energy draining attacks grass-types specialized in allowed them to find the weaknesses in or even bypass a rock-type's stone armor. They would have to rely on that.

Bulbasaur rushed toward Graveler diving behind the small trees surrounding them when the rock-type launched more rocks at her. Graveler snarled, throwing a boulder so heavy that the small tree bent under its weight.

"Geo, Rollout!" Forrest called with a wave of his hand. The Graveler ran a few steps, then it leaped forward landing in a curl and rolling toward Bulbasaur's hiding place.

"Run away!" Ash cried his tone frantic. Bulbasaur peaked from behind her tree before squeaking and diving behind it again. The rock-type barreled through the tree with ease slowing only slightly on impact. After a moment, the grass-poison-type hobbled into his vision with surprising speed. The cow was obviously favoring her right side, but looked oddly pleased with herself.

The rock-type trundled a few yards in front of his trainer looking oddly tired for such a short battle. Did it get by Poison Powder? No that would do anything. Sleep Powder? That would explain Bulbasaur's satisfied expression. Unfortunately, rock and ground-types tended to live in caves populated by Zubat; poison of this level would only be an inconvenience. "Finish this," he told her quietly. She hissed and charged bringing her vines out as she did.

"Smack Down," Forrest stated his tone dismissive. Geo grunted yanking a rock out of the ground and sending it soaring toward the grass-type. She dodged it with ease, hardly slowing as she did. Bulbasaur wrapped a vine around the Graveler's right arm and slapped its unguarded belly with her other. "Mega Punch!" Forrest commanded. The rock-type hissed clutching its stomach and pulling Bulbasaur's vine harshly. The saurian shrieked as she was torn off the ground and through the air. Graveler cocked its glowing fist back with a vindictive gleam shining in its beady eyes.

"Leech Seed!" Ash shouted desperately, clenching his fists. It didn't matter whether it was poisoned if she was hit directly it was over. His Pokemon's aim was true the small seed hit the rock-type between its eyes. The beast of stone flinched upon impact, its fist losing its glow. His partner struck Graveler's stomach again, this time slightly lower. Bulbasaur collided with the rock-type's head, knocking it onto its back.

"Geo!" Forrest cried his eyes wide. For the first, time the boy seemed anxious.

"Now," Ash ordered with a smirk. Bulbasaur narrowed her eyes, her bulb glowing slightly as the seed sprouted several small vines. Almost twice as big as a week ago, the boy noted with pride. A beam of scarlet light engulfed the flailing rock-type. Forrest released his second Pokemon with a scowl. "Come back!" Ash told his tired Pokemon. She had more than earned a rest after that performance; the trainer didn't see any point in pushing her further.

His opponent's Pokemon was a brown quadruped, with dark brown skin and a very thick midsection. It had two holes on its face that Ash assumed were its nostrils, and light brown spots over its body. The trainer blinked, he had never seen this Pokemon before. Who would be best, he wondered his hands hovering over his Pokeballs. "Hurry up!" Forrest yelled his face set in a scowl.

"Fine, fine," Ash grumbled releasing Krabby. It would be best to save Gore, most trainers, saved their strongest for last. The raven-haired trainer doubted Forrest was any different. "Bubble, scale," the boy told his Pokemon quietly, "Remember what we talked about," he continued in the same tone.

"Take Down!" the other boy cried. The hippo like Pokemon huffed before charging an intense white glow surrounding it.

Ash swallowed harshly, Take Down was regarded as twice as powerful as Tackle, a Pokemon built like that using it could kill a young Pokemon with ease. "Just a bit longer," the boy whispered to his anxious crab. The Pokemon shuffled nervously, but held strong, his right claw extended toward his opponent. "Now!" Ash shouted

Krabby clicked as he jetted a widespread Bubble attack at his opponent's feet. The hippo roared in agony and stumbled, losing control of its power as it did. Definitely, a ground-type, the majority of them couldn't stand water. Krabby hit the hippo with a far more concentrated Bubble this time in its face. The Pokemon groaned backpedaling as quickly as it could shaking its head furiously. "Vice Grip!"

"Sand Tomb, guard!" Forrest yelled with a grin. The ground-type groaned, then stomped its front feet.

"Pull back!" Ash cried. Too late, Krabby was already stuck in the quicksand and sinking fast. The crab snipped at his opponent to no avail, the hippo was out of range. "Bubble!"

"Behind it, then, Take Down," Forrest commanded. To Ash's shock, the ground-type darted around his Pokemon's attack easily. He'd never thought it could move that quickly. The crab struggled mightily firing desperate bubbles at the quicksand.

"Harden!" Ash ordered urgently. A white sheen covered the water-type as the hippo barreled into him with its Take Down. Krabby was blasted off his feet, he tumbled end over end as he hit the ground.

"Sandy!" Forrest cried. Ash's brow furrowed, why not push his advantage? After a beat he noticed Sandy was favoring her left side and moving at a snail's pace. That's right, Take Down is a reckless charge that hurts the user as well! Krabby pushed himself up slowly, eyes weary and claws drooping.

"Sandy, Surrenders," Forrest said quietly, "You were amazing," the boy told his recalled Pokemon. "Go, Rocky!" the young trainer shouted, throwing a worn Pokeball into the air. His final opponent was a snake of stone over thrice as long as Ash was tall and about as wide as Gore. It also had a large horn on its head gray head.

"Krabby, return," Ash said wide-eyed. His opponent was an Onix, the favored Pokemon of the Pewter gym for centuries, and with very good reason. Krabby and Bulbasaur wouldn't stand a chance against such a beast, even if it was a fairly young specimen. "Take this seriously," he told Gore upon release. His friend snarled at Rocky without fear raising his chin to display his tusks. Powder Snow didn't have the range to take Onix down before the battle became physical.

He glanced around the field quickly, searching for anything that could help or hinder his partner.

"Stay away from the trees. Tackle then, Powder Snow," Ash ordered in a whisper. Most ground-types hated ice moves; the abrupt change in temperature could kill them at worst. Powder Snow was the only hope they had. The boar's ear twitched, then he surged forward with a white glow surrounding him.

"Rock Throw," Forrest said his tone calm. Rocky roared jerking its head, sending a boulder as large as Graveler at its opponent. Gore rammed the rock, the force of his Tackle sending it back at its master. The snake batted the stone away without visible difficulty, then met the Gore's charge with a swing of its tail. "Bind!" Forrest commanded. Rocky wrapped its glowing tail around the dazed swine and squeezed the flailing boar.

"Powder Snow!" Ash shouted. Gore blasted his opponent's face, making the Onix roar in agony. The boar wiggled out of its grip, then sent another stream of snowy wind at Rocky. The snake was consumed by a scarlet light before the boar's attack could connect.

"It's your win," Forrest stated with a frown. The boy offered Ash a gray bill with a strange steel giant with red eyes on it. A hundred dollars, the boy thought, with a quick intake of breath. "Best of luck," he continued politely.

"See ya," Ash mumbled absently patting Gore and staring at the bill. This was the first battle he'd been in that included all the team. The trainer knew that the more Pokemon involved in a fight the more one earned, but holding the hundred dollars was far sweeter than he could have imagined. In the past week, they had learned three moves, won seven battles, and earned a little over three hundred dollars.

Tomorrow morning they would make for Mt. Moon.


Every day the team went on a run together, they trained for as long as possible and Ash spent time researching potential moves and ways to make evolution safe for his young team. So why can't I sleep? He rubbed his irritable eyes gently. Ash thought staring at the sky. At least the nights are good here. He couldn't see the moon fully but the fluffy, lazy; clouds were a remarkable sight in their own right.

He would miss Pewter. He would miss the option to bathe daily and the free food far more though. Ms. Jane told him that Gore would eat more, but even she seemed shocked by the amount the pig could eat. If Ash didn't stop him the Swinub's cause of death would be Pokemon chow. He smiled fondly, five years later and he was still the piglet that could fit in Ash's hand. Ash yawned rubbing at his tired eyes. He needed to go in soon.

The boy felt a small sharp poke in his lower back. He froze, was it a knife? A familiar gurgle made him relax instantly. Ash sighed, it was just Krabby. "You can't sleep either?" The boy asked, rubbing the crab's red shell firmly. The crab chirped angrily, glaring at him with surprising intensity. "I kept you up," Ash stated shifting guiltily. He must have left the door open as well. Ms. Jane wouldn't be thrilled if she found out." Sorry," he said awkwardly. Ash stood quickly, motioning for Krabby to follow.

Xxxxxx

"Maybe we should stay for another week," Ash said casually as he dug through his bag. The pokechow, potions, and cleaning supplies were there; as they had been the last three times, he had checked. The last three times in front of the gate anyway. Gore squealed angrily nudging him with a hoof. The trainer sighed, they set a goal, and if they didn't hurry, it would be impossible. Ash took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He clenched his fists, "Let's go guys!"

After a few hours, the boy was starting to feel silly. They were very ready for the weak Pokemon around Pewter. The trainers in Pewter had spoiled him. Some of them were overwhelming and all of them were challenging in their own way. The tamers outside the "City of Stone" were mainly bug catchers or campers. Ash loathed campers, they stayed in one place for the entire season and only challenged rookies or tired trainers. The vast majority didn't even bother to train their Pokemon. Watching a camper's-who didn't even offer him a name- face change colors after Krabby swept her team had been a thing of beauty.

"You good, bud?" Ash asked, scratching behind Gore's ear. The Swinub grunted stubbornly speeding up. The team had been forced to stop twice because Ash couldn't handle his new bag's weight. Gore hated stopping for anything if he wasn't hungry, so he became their "bag boar". The bag boar did not appreciate being called a bag boar though, Ash thought rubbing his back. Completely worth the pain.

He glanced to his left Krabby was still going strong. Good, the trainer had worried the crab would dry out under the cloudless sky. It seemed like all of his worries had been silly. The only thing left was to set up camp. Bulbasaur sniffed the air loudly. She turned to him and whined gesturing into the forest with her vine. Ash nodded and she darted away her head lowered. The boy was proud that she tried to stay in his sight. At least for a few seconds, then the excitement overwhelmed her and she sprinted deeper into the woods. He sighed, then sprinted after her, at least she waited a bit longer.

Ash swerved around a small tree, ducked under a low branch and barely managed to stop in front of a thorn bush. Krabby, having caught up with him, eyed the bushes for a moment, then the insides of his claws started to glow. Vice Grip made short work of the bushes. Bulbasaur was hiding in the shade of a thick tree across the small clearing glaring at something he couldn't see. Another Pokemon must have gotten their first. Krabby chirped angrily and charged into the clearing with his Vice Grip on.

Ash leaped into the clearing with a curse and his last Pokeball ready. The trainer froze; Krabby was glaring at a small pink creature without a neck and two tiny wings sitting on a very large boulder. A Clefable, a very small Clefable sitting out in the open likely gazing at the moon. He gripped his Pokeball so tightly his knuckles became white. They were among the rarest Pokemon in the world and arguably, the strongest the fairy-type had to offer. He adored his Krabby. The boy blinked, why wasn't Krabby attacking? Was the fairy-type too much? Oddly enough, it looked as though she were ignoring them.

"Bulbasaur, return," Ash whispered. She can't hurt anything on this level and odds are neither Krabby nor Gore can alone. As if on cue, Gore burst into the clearing panting heavily. He squealed indignantly, obviously displeased with being left behind. He must have ditched the bag to catch up, Ash thought. The boar froze, and then turned slowly to glare at the fairy-type. He walked next to the water-type slowly, his eyes intent on the fairy. "Powder Snow and Bubble!" Ash cried.

Ash blinked again, his Pokemon weren't moving. "Guys! You're in a fight!" he whispered angrily. Could it be Gravity? The trainer flinched; the Clefable was mere inches from him! Her large purple eyes peered into his frozen brown orbs curiously. The fairy tilted her head to the right and her gaze looked through him. Ash couldn't move, he couldn't breathe, the fairy's purple eyes freezing him more effectively than any Alakazam's psychic grip.

In the back of his mind the trainer was aware of a rumbling and the ground shaking, he heard a weak squeal and an equally weak gurgle, important he knew, but why? The boy shivered, the air was chilling quickly in a familiar way. "Gore!" he yelled backpedaling so quickly he tripped. Ash fumbled to his feet, glancing searching the clearing desperately. Gore and Krabby were still being crushed against the ground and the giant boulder was gone. Ash swallowed harshly. Did she lift something like that with Gravity?

A warm powerful gust of wind of wind from behind him made the boy stumble. Not wind, the trainer corrected horror settling in his belly like a stone, something exhaling. Ash turned slowly looking into the narrow brown eyes of the largest Pokemon he had ever seen. It dwarfed even Bruno's Onix's length, and was as broad as Wave. The Onix exhaled again, this time knocking the gaping boy onto his back. Onix rose to its full height holding its head high, then slithered away, oddly not making a sound as it did or destroying the trail. Clefable giggled and waved at him as she skipped after the titanic snake.

"Gore, Krabby, you good?" he asked, staring at the disappearing snake and fairy wide eyed. Gore groaned and Krabby chirped. "We just lost to a twenty pound Pokemon," Ash stated blankly. The trainer rose with a sigh. They needed to set up camp soon it was getting late. Bulbasaur seemed to think there was a fruit tree near so we have to get that too, Ash thought as he turned to his Pokemon. Gore was staring at where the boulder, Onix's head, he corrected, had lain with an unusually pensive expression. "Krabby can you find some berries?" Ash requested patting the dust off his jeans.

The water-type clicked before walking to where the fairy had been sitting. Krabby shoved Gore making the pig stumble as he strode past him. Ash gaped, where had that come from? Gore growled and spat a small glob of mud at the crab's back. The water-type chirped angrily as he turned to face the boar with his claws raised. The ice-type snarled and exhaled a frosty breath at the crab. "What the hell are you doing?" Ash blurted.

Krabby shot a concentrated Bubble attack through the wind and into the boar's face. Gore reared back with a pained whine. Krabby shot another stream of bubbles into the boar's stomach, knocking him onto his back. The crab charged Gore with his claws glowing, undoubtedly planning to attack his opponent before he could right himself. Ash cursed as he fumbled for his pokeballs. They're in the bag, he thought with a sinking heart.

A screech of pain snapped the boy's attention back to the fight. To his horror, Krabby was frozen to the ground and unmoving. Gore had a rapidly growing dark spot on his side, blood, he realized with a flinch. They're really going to kill each other! "Gore!" he screamed scrambling toward the swine. His partner ignored him and hobbled toward where Krabby was trapped with his head lowered. Ash grabbed the ice-type's ear harshly and dug his heel in as hard as he could.

"Calm down!" he snarled into the struggling boar's ear. Gore reared back and shook his head wildly, determined to finish the crab. Ash's arms were burning and his breaths were quickly becoming strained with the strain of holding the swine. Only the knowledge that Krabby would die if he failed to stop his friend kept the boy from giving in under the incredible pressure. Mercifully, Gore's struggles were losing strength rapidly. Clefable's Gravity must have worn him out, the thirteen-year old thought. He gave a relieved sigh when the ice-ground-type's strength finally failed him, and he collapsed.

Ash slumped onto his Pokemon as he gasped. Gore huffed annoyed, but allowed him to lie against him without protest. If he can even do that much, the trainer thought with a weak snort. You and me need to work on that temper," Ash told the ice-type with a huff. The boy pushed himself to his feet and wobbled to Krabby.

"You okay?" he asked. Krabby glared at his trainer. Ash shrugged, he was too tired to care about how dumb he sounded. With a harsh tug, the crab Pokemon was freed. The trainer helped the water-type to his feet with a gentle push. Krabby hissed at Gore weakly waving his claw in a manner that was likely meant to be threatening. The Swinub snarled and began dragging himself with his chin toward his opponent. "Enough!" Ash said firmly grabbing the water-type's arms. Anger surged through the raven-haired boy when they ignored him again.

"You two are part of a herd!" he snarled. As he expected, Gore flinched and turned away from him with a whine. Krabby was still defiant, glaring at him, and tugging to free himself. "I expected more honor from a king!" Ash snarled.

Krabby recoiled as though he had been slapped. The proud crab's his eyes were shut tightly and he covered himself with his claws. "No more fighting," Ash said with an exhausted sigh. Gore hobbled to him with his eyes downcast - something he had not done in years - and butted him lightly. The trainer wrapped his arms around his Pokemon's neck and squeezed gently.

From what he understood there were many bitter losses in a trainer's career, but he had never heard of a team being beaten so horribly in the first month of their journey twice. It was completely understandable that they would be angry enough to take it out on one another. Ash looked to Krabby's huddled form sadly. The prideful water-type looked smaller than the trainer had ever thought he could be. Some Pokemon were known to become closed off after a humiliating defeat, he'd read. It was a trainer's job to get through to them. How he dealt with the situation could determine whether the Pokemon could be a true member of their team.

Ash rubbed his temples. This is gonna suck.

Xxxxxxx

The Indigo League will be very different here. For instance, Lance will be his anime age while Karen will be slightly older than her game counterpart. Also, Ritchie's Pikachu is canon Pikachu's little brother. In case you couldn't guess, Pikachu is the demonic Pichu.