Hey all, and welcome to Trainer: Kanto Arc. This is actually going to be a pretty big project of mine, and, yes, it is the rewrite of The Nomad. As I promised, I'm back, so yay! Kudos to me!

Yeah...

Anyway, after reading many Ash-rewrite pokémon fics, I decided to start anew since my previous one pretty much sucked. It wasn't that original, and I didn't like it. So I hope this one turns out to be much, much better.

Without further ado, I present the first chapter of Trainer: Kanto Arc! RR!

XxXxX

Chapter One: The New Friend

In the second bedroom of the Ketchum household, a boy was hurriedly getting ready for the most important day of his life – Ash Ketchum, finally ten years old, was ready to set out on his quest to become a Pokémon Master.

"Ash!' a voice called from downstairs. "Breakfast's ready!"

Ash nodded, stuffing his sleeping bag into his newly-purchased backpack. "Yeah, Mom!"

Ash grinned as he zipped up the bag, only one thought on his mind: Today's the day.

With a spasm of energy, he bolted down out of the room, swinging his backpack onto his shoulder. He ran down the staircase, taking three at one until he landed roughly on the floor, but it didn't matter. Diminutive injuries were nothing to him right now; he felt like he could take a Machamp head on.

Foot tapping with impatient energy, he set his bag at the table, taking in pleasure at the sound of bacon sizzling on the frying pan. He walked up to the kitchen and saw the smiling form of Delia Ketchum sliding bread into the toaster.

"Morning, Mom."

"Good morning, Ash!"

She kissed his head before allowing him to open the fridge. "Are you set?"

"Mhmm." He pulled out a carton of orange juice, twisting the cap open before pouring a generous amount in three glasses. "Everything was already packed in my bag; I was just repacking it to kill some time."

Delia giggled and Ash heard a chuckle from the stairs. Grinning, he turned around to see Red walking down, smiling at Ash wider than ever.

Red was Ash's brother, eight years older to him. He'd started his journey normally enough – got a starter pokémon, defeated Gym Leaders, had a few misadventures along the way – but, along the way, his pokémon had gotten so strong that he'd managed to become the Champion with only a year of experience as a pokémon trainer, the youngest trainer to become a Champion, surpassing Lance and Giovanni and possibly even Thaddeus Blackthorn. He was considered a prodigy, and it a year after he'd given up his position as Champion to Lance and gone off to train to become even stronger. After that, he'd returned to Pallet Town a hero, a symbol, a Master.

Ash wanted to be just like him.

"Hey, Ash," Red said. He looked just as Ash had last seen him: messy black hair, bleary eyes and smile crinkles on his face. His white cotton shirt was tilted to the left, exposing his shoulder, and he readjusted it before smirking.

"You really weren't lying when you said you'd get up early, huh? I thought you were going to end up like poor Ella Rodriguez...Had to wait till fall, didn't she?" Red laughed before breathing very slowly and deeply for a moment, as if a great contentment stole over him; he grinned lazily at Delia. "Wow, Mom, that smells great!"

"I even made meatloaf, you know," Delia replied, casually flipping the bacon strips in the pan. "It's Ashy's special day, after all!"

Much happier at this piece of information, the two boys settled down at the table, making small talk as they awaited their breakfast. As Ash and Red breached the topic of Gym Leaders he'd challenge, Delia departed from the kitchen, skilfully holding three plates in her hands.

"I obviously won't hit one of the lesser gyms," Ash told him as he took two plates from his mother and set them on the table. "That would defeat the whole point of getting stronger. I'll challenge Brock first; I mean, he's not weak, but since most beginning trainers go through Pewter City he has quite a slew of weaker pokémon."

Red nodded. "You're right. I remember when I was a trainer and his dad was Gym Leader, but he nearly defeated Charagon with his Geodude, and I had to use a full team of six to beat him."

Then he smirked. "Still, Brock's not that competent a trainer; he wants to be a breeder, or so I've heard. But his parents want him to uphold the family honour, stuff like that, so you shouldn't face..."

They were still talking when the phone rang, and Ash practically leapt over the table to get the phone despite his mother's remarks. He forcefully swallowed the half eaten chunk of bacon in his mouth as he saw the lab's number on the ID.

He smudged melted butter on the keypad of the phone as he received the call. "E'o!"

The man on the other end of the phone sounded startled. "Er...Hi?"

Ash hammered his chest, forcing the bolus in his gullet to go down. "This – is – Ash – Ketchum speaking!"

"Ah! Good morning, Ash, this is Professor Oak. I'd like you to come in about half—"

"Okay!" he slammed the phone onto the cradle and jumped back to the table, stuffing several strips of bacon into his mouth before he swung the backpack onto his bag. "Gottagomombye!"

"Ash!" his mom chided, but it was too late: her son was long gone. "Red, get him back, won't you?"

Red put on his hat. "Yep."

XxXxX

After Red had caught Ash and brought him back to the house (by ordering his Skarmory Tita to pick him up), the three Ketchums walked to the lab together, talking about Ash's upcoming journey all the while.

...Well, not all the while. Delia and Red spent a good ten minutes laughing at how the youngest Ketchum was screaming like a little girl as he was held in the Skarmory's grip.

"Shut up, Red!" Ash snapped as the lab came in sight, fuming in anger and embarrassment. "So would you if a great dirty bird picked you up like she's going to feed you to your kids! I could feel her talons piercing through my skin! If it would've been one second longer I would've been shred—"

"You know full well that Tita would never hurt you," Red interjected. "She's been carrying you ever since you were six."

"She had?!" Delia said, aghast. "Is that what you'd been doing when I was working at the lab?"

Red paled. "Uh, actually, Mom—" He faltered upon seeing his mom's contorted face. "I – At least nothing happened!"

Delia glared at him. "Pray that nothing happens to you, Red Ketchum! He was six! What're you, stupid? You never apply yourself! You..."

Delia continued to rant on till they finally reached Oak's Lab, and the presence of the other waiting trainers – a tall boy named Gary, a pretty girl, Natalie, and Jack, a young curly-haired boy who had moved into Kanto two years ago – was enough to stop Delia from progressed. Instead, she focused on the four kids, all of whom had wide grins on their faces.

"Hey, Ash!" Jack greeted, raising a hand at him before he grinned at Red and Delia. "Hi, Red. Good morning, Ms Ketchum."

"Good morning, Jack," Delia replied kindly. Red simply nodded at him with a smile on his face. "And you, Natalie, Gary. Are you three ready?"

"You bet I am!" Gary exclaimed. "I can't wait to get my starter and kick ass!"

"Language," a voice snapped.

The doors of the lab slid open to reveal Professor Oak smiling upon the four beginning trainers. He was wearing the same lab coat that Ash had seen him wear every single day, and it seemed to him that the elderly man had an entire wardrobe only for lab coats. There were bags under his eyes, which was no surprise; Oak worked to no end and had a complete disregard for sleep.

"Hello, Red," Oak greeted, "and good morning to you too, Delia."

"Hello, Professor."

"Good morning, Samuel." Delia laughed. "We better let these kids enter the lab right now and take their pokémon, or else that Squirtle is going to blast the two of us into oblivion!"

Oak chuckled. "Righto." He ushered them inside the lab, then focused his attention on the four children. "Now, I assume you four are ready to receive your starter pokémon, yes?"

Gary snorted. "'Course we are, gramps!"

Oak nodded. "Good. However, there is a slight hitch in the plan." When everyone looked confused, he continued. "The breeding centre where I ordered the pokémon from got a massive shipping order from Kalos two nights previously. Now, since said breeding centre is the only league-sanctioned centre where Kanto starter pokémon were provided, almost all of them were shipped to Kalos, leaving only a handful, and luckily there were three who met the standards I had kept. One of you will have to wait till next month till fall to receive the standard starter pokémon, or else choose the other pokémon I have to offer."

An uncomfortable silence filled the room. Gary was oblivious about the whole thing and began chatting with one of the lab assistants, since he was sure that he would get his desired pokémon. Ash felt a lump growing in his throat when he realised that none of the others were going to speak up. Sighing, he opened his mouth—

Jack exclaimed, "I'll do it!"

Everyone looked at him in surprise and beamed at him. "It's okay, guys," Jack went on. "I'll take the later one."

Gary smirked. "It doesn't matter which one you take, Jack, 'cuz anyway you're never going to enter the Indigo Conference—"

"Gary," Oak hissed.

Oak cleared his throat and walked them over to the main area, where a circular table held three pokeballs engraved with symbols of fire, grass and water. "Now, as you four know, I'm conducting research on the relationships between pokémon and humans, and I'd like the four of you to do a small project for me – capture as many pokémon as you can, record them with this pokedex—" he held out his hand to a cardboard box beside the table, "—and bond with all of them. Understood?"

"Yes, sir!"

"Good. Now, have you decided which pokémon you want?" Oak asked.

Oh, man.

He'd been thinking about that for years – the voice between Squirtle, Charmander and Bulbasaur. Ever since he'd decided to become a pokémon trainer, it had been incredibly difficult for him to decide between the three pokémon. Each of them were highly priced in the market, ridiculously rare and the best of their type, whether it came to battling, performing, coordinating or the like.

Squirtle, the tiny turtle pokémon. The hardy water-types were the most defensive of the trio. They had tremendously hard shells, formed mainly to protect themselves from physical attacks and also retaliate. Squirtle evolved into Wartortle, which then evolved into Blastoise, great hulking beast with canon-like structures protruding from their shells that could release high pressured blast of water powerful enough o Punch through steel like knives carving into butter. Their skulls could also pack a punch and the species were highly prized for this.

Charmander, the flame pokémon. The fiery lizards would evolve into the massive, notoriously powerful pseudo-dragons, Charizard. Their power and temper were infamous and knew no bounds. Its evolutionary line relied on power and speed, two qualities that could be put to great use to decimate opponents. Fully grown Charizard were known to use Blast Burn, a terrifyingly powerful move like Frenzy Plant and Hydro Cannon which were used to destroy other pokémon. Blue, Gary's older brother, himself had a Charizard and Ash would never forget the day he'd seen the spirited beast in battle.

But no. Ash didn't want a Charmander. Gary had already chosen a Squirtle for himself, and Ash, knowing that the tall boy was Oak's grandson, knew that no one else other than him would be getting the water type creature.

Ash had set his sights on Bulbasaur, the seed pokémon. Bulbasaur was a hardy little grass type with great versatility. It was specialised for halting opposing pokémon with various tactics such as spores, poisons, etcetera and then knocking them out with its superior mass and powerful vines. Although Bulbasaur weren't known to tank attacks, the bulbs on their backs provided nourishment, so they could go on for a long time in battle before getting knocked out. They were prized not only for battles, but also for captures. It was a trainer's ideal choice.

Furthermore, Ash had seen his brother's Venusaur in action, and he was in awe when the beast had knocked out Bruno's Steelix with only one Power Whip. There had been absolutely no competition.

"Yeah, Gramps! I've decided!" Gary exclaimed, jumping up and down.

Oak laughed. "Okay then, you three. Pick your pokémon. Jack, if you would please wait back so that I could give you your pokémon."

Everybody present rolled their eyes at Gary's antics as he swaggered up to the circular table and snagged the pokeball emblazoned with the water droplet. They all knew that he had been crooning about having a Blastoise on his team, and all agreed with him that he only would be getting a Squirtle just to put an end to they spiky-haired boy's rants.

Gary quickly released the smaller pokémon within the pokeball's confines. What came out was a small, blue pokémon with a yellow and orange shell and a curled tail. The creature blinked and registered its surroundings; it glared at Oak momentarily before looking up at the people and grinning, folding its arms cockily.

Gary too grinned back at the turtle and dropped down to his knees. "You look like a tough guy, don't ya?"

The Squirtle snapped his jaws playfully.

"Tell you what: I'm on a journey to become the strongest pokémon trainer there is. You think you got what it takes to keep up with me?"

Squirtle's grin widened and it nodded vigorously. Gary smirked and petted the creature, who cooed under his touch. "Awesome, Squirtle! Let's go and conquer the world!"

Oak smiled. "Good. Now, Natalie, you're next."

Natalie nodded and swept her hazel hair out of her face. She smiled and walked complacently to the table and picked up the flame-engraved pokeball which contained Charmander. She too released the pokémon and petted it. The lizard yawned, showing his ivory-coloured fangs, and grinned when it saw Natalie smiling at it.

"Hi, Charmander." She waved her hand. "It's Natalie. Nice to meet you! Would you like to travel the world with me? I'll make you stronger than any other Charizard in the world!"

Charmander wagged its tail at that. Like any other of its species, it had an unending desire to become stronger. What Natalie said sounded great to the fire-type.

She laughed. "Okay, Charmander. We'll make an awesome team!"

Charmander cooed as its trainer scratched its chin, and Oak chuckled. He picked up the last pokeball and tossed it to Ash. "I guess this is for you then, eh, Ash?"

Ash tapped the release in the pokeball and let out a fairly big, green dinosaurian pokémon with four short legs and a bulb on its back. The pokémon glanced at Ash and sent out two vines, running the appendages along his open palm. Ash grinned at it. "Hey there, Bulbasaur! My name's Ash. I wanna become the greatest Pokémon Master this world has ever seen. Will you help me in my journey?"

The Bulbasaur's eyes widened and it nodded eagerly, a grin splitting across its face. "Cool!" Ash exclaimed.

As they three continued to interact with their pokémon, Ash noticed Jack looking at them rather enviously. Ash felt quite sorry for him, and it seemed that Oak noticed Jack's expression because he said, "Jack, wait here; I'll be getting your pokémon in a minute, fine?"

Jack nodded and smiled at the professor. Oak walked up the stairs to the second level of his lab before jogging down a few minutes later, a pokeball in his hand, making Jack jump in excitement.

"Here is your pokémon, Jack." The boy carefully picked up the pokeball, his hands trembling nervously. Jack stared at the ball in awe for a few moments before Red broke the tension by yelling, "Get on with it!" Everyone chuckled and Jack grinned back nervously.

The curly-haired boy pressed the release button, forcing the pokeball to eject a beam of energy that materialised in the air into a yellow, fox-like pokémon. The creature rotated in its spot above the ground before teleporting away and back in two seconds.

The name immediately registered in Ash's mind: Abra. The pokémon were known to be almost as rare as the Kanto starters as they would immediately teleport away in an instant whenever a trainer came near with the intent to capture them. Those that did catch them had to first make their way into a room with anti-teleportation barriers to prevent the captured Abra from escaping. Although difficult to train, a well-trained Abra would be invaluable in battle due to the number of Moves they could learn via TM and tutoring.

"Whoa!" Jack remarked. He raised one hand, and the Abra flinched – probably to teleport away – but instead it allowed him to stroke its back, comforting Abra.

"I was planning to give you a Pikachu I caught a few days ago; it had been chewing on my computer cables for a week, but..." Oak scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Let's just say he had quite the temper."

The Abra barely made any noise as Jack continued to pet it. It flinched again as Oak cleared his throat to gain everyone's attention.

"Now that you've gotten along with your pokémon," Oak said, "Why don't you get to know a but more about them? From this box, take out one pokedex each – I've set each one up, so you complain about it not being your colour – and scan your partners! Go on!"

They four quickly hurried to the box and searched for their pokedexes by switching them on and entering the IntTraNet app. Ash, Gary, Natalie and Jack received a chrome, blue, dark red and green pokedex respectively.

The three shuffled back to the places and pointed their pokedex's lens at their new partners to scan them. The pokedexes spoke in a voice disguised by a digital filter that Ash recognised as Daisy Oak's.

Squirtle, the Tiny Turtle pokémon. Squirtle's she'll is not merely used for protection. The shell's rounded shape and the grooves on its surface help minimise water resistance, enabling this pokémon to swim at high speeds.

This Squirtle is female and knows the moves: Water Gun, Withdraw, Aqua Jet, Mirror Coat and Aqua Ring. Its ability is Torrent, which powers up water-type moves when it is in trouble.

"Woohoo!" Gary exclaimed, punching at the air. "Ms Ketchum, Gramps, thanks a lot! Squirtle is kick-ass!"

Delia simply smiled while Oak glared at his grandson for the use of such language.

Charmander, the Lizard pokémon. The flame that burns on the tip of its tail is an indication of its health. If it is healthy, the flame burns brightly and intensely.

This Charmander is male and knows the moves: Ancient Power, Dragon Dance, Ember and Smokescreen. Its ability is Blaze, which powers up fire-type moves when it is in trouble.

Natalie smiled at Charmander. "You're really powerful, aren't you, Charmander?"

Charmander grinned and snapped his jaws at his trainer.

Abra, the Psi pokémon. Abra sleeps for eighteen hours a day. However, it can sense the presence of foes even while it is sleeping. In such a situation, this pokémon teleport to safety.

This Abra is male and knows the moves: Teleport and Barrier. Its ability is Synchronise, which allows it to transfer its status ailment on the pokémon that inflicted it.

Gary howled in laughter at the moves Abra knew while Jack, Natalie and Ash glared at him.

Bulbasaur, the Seed pokémon. Bulbasaur can be seen napping in bright sunlight. There is a seed which is embedded in the bulb on its back at birth. The seed grows progressively larger by sprouting and growing as it ages.

This Bulbasaur is male and knows the moves: Power Whip, Magical Leaf, Leaf Storm, Grassy Terrain and Tackle. Its ability is Chlorophyll, which boosts the pokémon's speed in sunshine.

"Great!" Ash remarked. "You look like a strong little guy!"

Bulbasaur snorted. His trainer's assessment wasn't accurate – he was much better!

"Good. Now that you're done assessing your partners, I have something else to give you. These—" he rummaged through the box beside the table which previously held pokeballs and pulled out four small pouches, "are your travel packs! They contain five pokeballs, a few potions, antidotes, paralyse heals, pokémon food cans, and...that's about it!"

The four each grabbed a pack from the professor and stuffed it in their backpacks. However, Professor Oak wasn't done yet.

"Make sure to check up with me every now and then for tips on gym leaders and the like. Although you will be able to keep eight pokémon with you, the two extra pokémon will be locked inside their pokeballs and unable to be used, so inform me if you want to change your roster. Understood?"

The four nodded, and the elderly man grinned. "Good luck on your journey; you are free to go. Be careful of the Spearow on Route One, but they won't attack unless there's a Fearow leading them. In that case, put up a message on SCORPsNet. Stay safe!"

Now that they were free to go, Gary forced a breath out and pointed at Ash dramatically. "Yo, Ketchum! I challenge you to a pokémon battle!"

Ash sighed. He knew this was coming, but he was excited and happy rather than annoyed due to Gary's behaviour. He looked down at Bulbasaur, who was glaring at Gary's Squirtle. "Bulbasaur? You don't mind beating Gary and his Squirtle, don't you?"

Bulbasaur grinned and walked in front of Ash, growling. Squirtle too stood in front of his own trainer and flexed her arms.

Gary smirked. "Squirtle, use Water Gun!"

"Bulbasaur, dodge!"

Squirtle arched her head back before snapping at Bulbasaur and letting loose a high-pressure blast of water at the grass type. Professor Oak wasn't kidding when he said that the starter pokémon he was providing this year were quite powerful for young examples of their species. The stream of water was concentrated and was speeding at Bulbasaur without fizzing out midway.

Bulbasaur simply leapt to the side and avoided the blast of water, which harmlessly struck the floor and made it wet. Squirtle glared at Bulbasaur while the dinosaurian pokémon simply snorted at her.

"Aqua T—" Gary exclaimed.

"Catch it with your vines!" Ash interjected.

Bulbasaur nodded and a thick, green Vine shot out from under his bulb, wrapping itself around Squirtle's ankle and catching her off guard as it hung her in the air upside-down. Squirtle, scared, flailed her arms aimlessly in the air while Gary cried out in alarm; Jack and Natalie roared in laughter.

"Squirtle!" Gary cried.

Ash grinned. "Bulbasaur, smash her into the ground!"

Squirtle groaned as she hit the ground with a thud, and she was spinning in a dizzy manner as Bulbasaur lifted her in the air again. For good measure, the little grass type slammed her to the ground a couple more times before hurling her unconscious form to Gary, who caught his partner with a shocked expression.

"Wha–?" He held Squirtle limply in his arms. "I lost?!"

Before anyone could say anything, he fished out a revive capsule from his bag and poured the powder in Squirtle's mouth before recalling her and glaring at Ash, jabbing a finger at him. "Whatever. You got lucky this time, Ashy-boy. Next time, I'll win. Smell ya later!"

With that, he bolted for the door and ran out of sight. His grandfather sighed. "That boy...I hope he thinks before challenging trainers again. He can really get arrogant sometimes."

The other three trainers were tempted to say more, but wisely didn't. They thanked the professor once again before heading out of the lab with Red and Delia behind them.

"Congrats on winning your first battle, Ash," Natalie said.

Jack grinned. "Yeah. I can't believe you managed to teach that Gay Oak a lesson!"

"Language," Delia snapped, her motherly instincts kicking in.

The three continued to chat about their pokémon until they reached the crossroads that led to Ash's, Natalie's and Jack's house. The other two trainer turned to face Ash and waved at him.

"We'll meet you at the start of Route One, Ash," Jack repeated for the umpteenth time that week. Their plan was to travel together till Cerulean City and then split up. "Message us and we'll get there as soon as possible."

Ash nodded. "Yep. See ya!" He yelled out the last part since Natalie and Jack were already silhouettes in the distance.

Ash was already pumped with energy when he reached his house. He ran up to his room to hastily pack his backpack with items he'd forgotten: his journal, his book on strategies and how to take the best care of one's pokémon, his guide to camping, etc. As he was about to exit his room, his hand was stuck on the doorknob as he took one last look at his room.

He examined his bookshelf, the video games, his half-empty wardrobe, knowing that it would be months before he would take a glimpse of any of it again.

He shut the door firmly and ran down the stairs.

"All set, Ashy?" Delia asked.

Ash flushed in embarrassment from the nickname, but didn't say anything about it. "Yeah."

Delia pulled out a small, gift-wrapped box out of nowhere and thrust it in Ash's hands. "This is a little gift from me," she said. "It's a Pokégear. You can use it to call, text, check the time, listen to the radio, access videos from the IntTraNet, or even use it as a map and get the latest news for pokémon in the vicinity. I took the liberty of putting Natalie's, Jack's and Gary's and Samuel's numbers on it, too."

Ash unwrapped the present; it looked like an advanced wristwatch, with a blue frame. Ash put it on his wrist and smiled at his mom. It would be a lot easier for him to contact all of his friends, Oak, Red and his mom instead of stopping at every major town or city to do that. He couldn't wait to try it out.

"Thanks, Mom!" he told her.

Delia smiled back. "I already put in your trainer data, so it updates automatically to your trainer account. I even put a reminder to change your underwear—"

"Mom!"

"Kidding," she said, laughing.

Then Red got up and walked up to him with a yellow case in his arm. "My turn." He held out the presence to Ash, who looked at it in awe as realisation dawned on him.

"Is that—?"

"Yup." Red was smirking. "That's my old TM case. I put a few of my TMs in there so you wouldn't have to buy most of them, but the newer ones...I don't have them. Still, they're—"

"They're awesome!" Ash exclaimed.

Red looked at his mom and said, "Told you: my present was better."

"It wasn't!" Delia exclaimed.

Ash looked at the two of them and hugged them tightly. "Thanks a lot, Red, Mom," he said. "I'll miss the both of you."

"I'll miss you too, Ash." Ash's mom kissed his head.

"Yeah, Ash. I'll miss seeing you make a fool out of yourself every other minute." Red chuckled, suddenly giving his brother a noogie.

After the two were done horsing around, Ash pulled open the door, but turned around and saw his mom gazing at him sadly. "Ready?"

There was a slight hitch in her voice; Ash's throat suddenly felt clogged. Don't cry...

"Yeah."

She pulled him into another hug and burst into tears. "I love you, Ashy."

Ash nodded. "I love you too, Mom."

"Don't forget to—"

"Yeah, okay!" he yelled, but Delia covered the doorknob with her hand.

She took out his hat from behind her and fit it snug on her son's dark hair. "Forget something?"

"Thanks." He tugged the bill a little lower and walked out of the door.

Delia sniffled. "Be careful, Ash..."

XxXxX

Bulbasaur and Ash were currently walking along Route One along with Jack and Natalie and her Charmander. Two Pokémon Rangers were patrolling the area to save traveling trainers from Fearow or renegade pokémon. All three trainers had been scouting for pokémon to catch, but nothing interesting came up other than the many Rattata and Pidgey.

Bulbasaur tackled all of them to unconsciousness.

They battled one or two trainers passing by, but rest of the morning passed with Ash bonding with his partner – taking about himself, chasing each other, talking about his mom and Red, with Bulbasaur laughing occasionally and striking the ground with his vines.

It was only when Jack let loose his Abra that Ash realised he hadn't nicknamed Bulbasaur. He cursed himself; he had made a mental note the night before to do that the first thing when he met his pokémon.

"When did you nickname Abra?" Ash asked, looking at the pokémon in question as he teleported above his trainer's head.

"Just before I left." Abra teleported once again as Jack made an attempt to catch him by slapping his hands at the creature. "Dad suggested the name, and he agreed. Einstein, c'mon!" Jack complained as the Abra once again teleported away, snickering. "Let me catch you at least once!"

Einstein shrugged and forgot about teleporting, allowing his trainer to catch him and let out a triumphant "Aha!"

Ash turned to face Bulbasaur. "What about it, bud? D'you want a nickname?"

Bulbasaur trilled and nodded in delight; Ash took that as a yes. Ash ran through all the nicknames he'd come up with in the last month to give his Bulbasaur.

"Green?" Ash asked. Bulbasaur shook his head. "Dino?" No. "Bulby – no, I'm just joking, just joking!" he added hastily, as Bulbasaur extended two vines from below his bulb and growled menacingly at Ash.

Ash ended up running through a dozen of nicknames before he finally stumbled upon one that Bulbasaur liked.

"Saur?"

Bulbasaur grinned, pleased. "Okay. Saur it is!" Ash exclaimed.

Saur retracted his vines and nuzzled against his trainer. Ash petted him a few times, then let go of him as he saw Natalie and Jack walking towards them with their starter pokémon at their sides.

"Caught any new pokémon?" Ash asked when they came closer.

Natalie grinned fiercely. "Charmander helped me in catching a Pidgey! He was sooo strong – he knocked that Pidgey down with one Ember!" she recounted. Charmander growled in agreement with his trainer's comment about his strength.

Ash grinned. "Nice. What about Jack? You said that you would help him catch a pokémon since his Abra – Einstein – doesn't have any attacking moves."

Jack's shoulders slumped. Natalie watched him with an expression of pity. "I couldn't," Natalie said. "We chased a Mareep for half an hour, but we lost it. Damn thing was too fast for us."

Jack vented his feelings by aiming a kick at the grass. Ash was about to say some comforting words when a soft shriek split the air.

Ash looked up and saw a Natu perched on the tree, and he grinned to himself. Natu were rarer in Kanto than in Johto, and Ash wanted another pokémon than the common Pidgey or Spearow. Natu seemed like the perfect choice – they would evolve into the powerful Xatu, which were powerful psychic pokémon if well trained.

"Okay, Saur." Ash continued to stare at the Natu, which pecked at its feet and hopped onto the next branch. "We're going to catch that Natu there."

Saur growled in agreement, while Jack and Natalie were watching in interest. He gave the evil eye to the wild Natu, who seemed unaware of their presence.

"Power Whip!" Ash commanded. He knew that Saur was still young and could use Power Whip perfectly, but he could muster up a crude version of it; the attack was simply a scarier version of Vi e Whip. He grinned as he saw Saur's vine glow a weak purple as he focused his energy into it, and he lashed at the Natu to smack it out of—

The Natu jumped up and narrowly avoided the vine, which bounced against the bark of the tree. Ash mentally slapped himself – he'd momentarily forgotten that Natu could sense attacks like any other o psychic type, however small the birds' psychic potentials were.

The Natu shrieked and puffed up and glared at its assailant. Its eyes glowed a ghostly purple as energy formed in its open beak before it shimmered and disappeared into nothingness.

Saur screamed in agony as the Natu materialised in front of him and blasted him with a beam of ghostly energy from his beak. Ash watched in surprised, but he was also impressed – the wild Natu had teleported to come closer to Saur and attacked him with an up-close Night Shade.

"Saur, Magical Leaf!" Ash said. Saur nodded and let loose a flurry of glowing leaves at the bird that sped at it with blindingly and slashed it fiercely. It shrieked in pain and was thrown back, rolling on the ground b e fore it pulled itself up.

The Natu trembled with vindictive fury as its eyes glowed again, but this time Saur was too fast for it and snagged it with his glowing vine, knocking it away. The bird tumbled on the ground before staying still – it was unconscious.

Ash threw an empty pokeball at it, and Natu was sucked inside the ball, which clicked almost immediately. Ash jabbed at the air. "Great work, Saur!" He extended a hand for a high-five and the grass type returned the gesture by clapping his trainer's hand with a vine. Ash walked up to the pokeball and happily clipped it to his belt.

Jack grumpy dropped to the ground. "Great. Now I'm the only person without two pokémon on my team."

Jack's mood was so sour for the rest of the day Ash reluctantly gave him a TM to teach Einstein so that the Abra would know at least one attacking move. Surprisingly, all of Red's old TMs were reusable, so Ash didn't mind giving his friend a TM.

After half an hour of searching, Jack finally decided on Energy Ball. It would help him in his battle with Brock, since a fair amount of rock-type pokémon were also ground-types, which made them have a quadruple weakness against grass- and water-types. However, Jack found Einstein to be taking one of his incredibly long naps that lasted eighteen hours at that time, so Jack couldn't set off in his search for a wild pokémon. However, with a surly expression, he agreed to catching a pokémon the next day and settled with inserting Einstein's pokeball in Ash's TM case and teaching the move to the Abra.

"I'm tired," Natalie yawned once they finished setting up camp and dinner. "Let's go to sleep. We can cover a lot of ground tomorrow and we might even get to Viridian City!"

Jack nodded. "Yep. Einstein might even wake up early in the morning! Then I can train him and catch another pokémon!" He grinned.

Ash nodded. All they'd done today was battle a gazillion wild pokémon rather than train their pokémon. Ash wanted Saur to get a hang of his egg moves, or at least watered-down versions of them. He would be able to knock out stronger opponents easily.

Within minutes the three set their sleeping bags on the ground and put out the fire as to not attract wild pokémon while they were sleeping. Ash did not want a rogue Fearow chasing them in the middle of the night, however exciting it would be.

He released Saur, but kept the newly-captured Natu in its pokeball. He would heal its wounds the first thing in the morning and get to know it as quickly as possible. At least by then the tiny bird would accept the fact that it had a trainer now.

Saur instantly curled up on the ground and went off to sleep, snoring as softly as possible. Ash smirked. The seed pokémon was really tired today. He covered his friend with a warm blanket and pulled him closer as he entered into his sleeping bag, hugging the pokémon.

"G'night, guys," he called out to Natalie and Jack, who replied with a vague and muffled "Good night" in return. Ash yawned, his eyelids heavy. He could already feel himself sinking into the shadows...

XxXxX

"GAAH!"

Ash flinched as the high-pitched sound pierced his mind. He blinked rapidly, overcoming his drowsiness as he got out of his sleeping bag to take a closer look at the source of the commotion. Saur was already awake, snarling and growling, his vines extended at the culprit. Ash could see Natalie cloaking herself with her sleeping bag, as if it would protect her, and Jack squealing like a little girl as he leapt back in alarm from a great furry...thing.

Ash jumped as he saw a wild Mankey plunge its hand into Jack's backpack and take out a handful of Twinkies from it. Natalie shrieked again as the Mankey stuffed itself with the Twinkies, leaving only the torn wrappers strewn of the ground.

Jack, however, was not scared. He let out a guttural roar – the cry of a man who has been deprived of his rightful Twinkie. He hurled a pokeball and sent out Einstein.

There was a flash of bright light and the Abra materialised on the ground, his head bobbing a few times. Jack groaned – his Abra was asleep, but not for too long. The Mankey did not look impressed by the psi pokémon's sight, and swung at him with a glowing fist.

The Karate Chop struck Einstein on his scalp, and the Abra made a weird sound – a buzzing groan – as he was knocked away. However, that one attack was enough to wake up the creature, and Ash noted that Abra were really cranky when they were forced to wake up from naps.

Jack grinned. "Energy Ball!"

The Mankey whimpered as Einstein let loose a barrage of Energy Balls in succession at his opponent, the green orbs exploding one they came in contact with the fighting-type. Ash winced as he saw Einstein launch two more Energy Balls that struck Mankey in the face and knocked him over.

Still smirking, Jack unclipped an empty pokeball from his belt and tossed it at the Mankey. The red-and-white sphere bounced against they Mankey's nose and sucked it in the form of red energy. One shake, two shakes, three, click. Jack smiled and walked over, picking up the pokeball and looking at it as if it was the biggest gemstone in the planet. A few seconds later he shrunk the ball and clipped it to his belt.

"Finally." Jack grinned, raised the pokeball high above his head and stuck the other hand out in a 'V' for a victory sign. Triumphant, he called out:

"I caught a pokémon!"

Ash and Natalie burst out laughing; even Jack was laughing along with them. Once they settled down, Ash Jack and Natalie decided it was a good moment to meet their new pokémon.

"Sounds good to me," Jack said, "but I need to get a Potion for Mankey, anyway. Einstein gave him quite a beating."

Ash nodded. "I need to give Natu a revive, too. I remember how Saur just knocked it out so easily."

Ash fished out a revive capsule from his medicine pouch and then took out Natu's pokeball. He tapped the release button and a moment later the tiny creature appeared at his side. He popped the revive capsule into its mouth, and Natu immediately blinked and squawked as the medicine's effect took over. Its expression hardened, however, once it saw Ash.

Natu winced as Ash petted it. "Ouch. Sorry for roughing you up so badly, Natu," Ash sympathised. "How about I spray a Potion on you? It'll heal all of your other wounds in a sec."

Natu nodded listlessly. Saur had done a number on Natu and didn't care about the type advantage he faced against the bird. He was really aggressive.

The bird winced as Ash sprayed the Potion on its wound, and they began fading and clearing out fairly quickly. Once they did, it shook its body and continued to stare into the distance, just as it had done before Saur had attacked it.

"Feeling better?" Natu nodded. "Good. Now, Natu, I want to travel the world on a journey to become the strongest trainer. Will you help me on my journey? I'll make you the strongest Xatu ever! How about it? You wanna travel with me and Saur?"

Natu's expression cleared and he nodded in understanding. It then leered at Saur and shrieked at him in anger, making the grass-type snort in amusement.

Ash smirked at the display. "Sure, Natu. You'll get your chance to battle Saur on even terms sometime soon." He flipped open his pokedex and aimed it at Natu, saying, "Hey, Natu, I'll just be scanning you with my pokedex. Alright?"

Natu nodded and continued to glare at Saur, who glared back at the bird.

Natu, the Tiny Bird pokémon. Natu cannot fly as its wings aren't fully grown yet. Due to this, Natu has a highly developed jumping ability. This pokémon flaps and leaps onto branches that are higher than adult humans to pick at the tree's new shoots. This pokémon will sometimes stare intently at something to increase its psychic capability and will turn aggressive when interrupted.

Ash looked at Natu in understanding. Maybe this was the reason why Natu had attacked Saur so fiercely. He made a mental note never to call the bird during its meditation. Turning back to the pokedex, he read on.

This Natu is female and knows the moves: Drill Peck, Leer, Night Shade and Teleport. Its ability is Early Bird, which causes the pokémon to awaken quickly from sleep.

The boy smiled to himself. Natu had a pretty good moveset, and she even knew Drill Peck – maybe she had a Fearow as a parent? Ash had heard of some pretty weird pokémon romances. It – no, she would prove a good teammate on his team, as well as a great friend in Ash's family.

Ash snapped his fingers to gain full attention once his two friends' glaring match was over. "Say, do you want a nickname?"

Natu's eyes lit up at that. She nodded her head and disagreed with every name he'd come up with for the past ten minutes. Finally, Ash came up with a rather good on, but it was up to Natu whether she would like it or not.

"Delphi?"

Natu chirped happily and nodded in agreement. The name suited her perfectly: as a Xatu, she would be completely mystical and powerful, just like the Oracle of Delphi in the ancient times – or, at least Hoennese people believed it. Ash grinned. "Okay. Nice to meet you, Delphi!"

The newly-named Delphi hopped to Ash and rested on his knee. He pulled out Delphi's pokeball. "We're going to travel now. Do you want stay in the pokeball or outside?"

Delphi replied by jumping up to Ash's shoulder and nipped at his ear, and Ash laughed. "Okay, Delphi."

Ash then looked at Natalie and Jack; the former had already acquainted herself with her Pidgey, who seemed much more mellow that the rest of her species. Jack, who had been watching Ash interact with his Natu, finally decided to send out his Mankey.

"Guys, keep your pokémon at the ready," Jack warned. "I've read that Mankey can get very aggressive."

Saur growled and extended two vines while Delphi chirped and jumped down from Ash's shoulder. Natalie ordered her Charmander to stand by if things went out of hand, and the fire-type responded by brandishing his claws and baring his fangs.

Jack quickly tapped the release button and there was a flash of white light. Mankey scratched his head and gave everyone the classic Mankey glare before looking at his surroundings, as if for an escape route.

"Don't try to run for it," Natalie said, correctly interpreting its behaviour. "Jack caught you fair and square; you're his pokémon now."

"Yeah," Jack agreed. It calmed itself down a bit, but it didn't look any more trusting. "Look, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. You can either accept me as your trainer or not, and if you don't I'll have to train Einstein on you. My Abra," he added upon Mankey's confused expression.

Mankey paled at that, but he still looked fierce. Then, after what felt like eternity, it nodded curtly and Jack smiled as it grunted.

"Can I pet you?" Another grunt. Jack bent forward and ran his hand along Mankey's furry scalp. The creature closed its eyes and cooed under his touch.

Jack asked another question. "You don't mind being my pokémon, do you? You have a choice. I'll not force you," he said.

Ash felt happy that his friend was giving his pokémon a choice. Even if it was an animal, it still had feelings and thoughts, just like any human. Ash wasn't going to force his decisions on any of his pokémon to battle for him. Every one of his captured pokémon deserved the choice.

To Jack's immense relief, the Mankey nodded and even looked a bit happy. Ash was surprised that Jack's face didn't tear from the way he was grinning.

"Great!" Jack said.

Mankey grunted again, and Jack scrunched his eyebrows. "What's up?" Mankey grunted a few more times, and finally pointed at the craggy ground, which was still strewn with Twinkie wrappers.

Comprehension dawned on Jack's face. "Oh, you want more Twinkies?"

Mankey grinned and nodded.

"Uh...okay, I guess. I'll get you some when we hit the store in Viridian City," he said, frowning. Ash knew why – Jack practically lived for Twinkies and didn't like to part with them at all.

Natalie and Ash laughed. "You've got to stock up a lot on Twinkies, Jack," Natalie said, giggling. "And they're not for you!"

Jack glared at her while the other two trainers continued laughing in mirth.

XxXxX

It was after lunch when they ran into another trainer.

They battled a fair amount of wild pokémon as they trudged along the dirt path. Saur and Delphi had got a good amount of action, and so had Natalie's Charmander, Zephyr, her Pidgey, Einstein and Buford, Jack's Mankey. Buford had proved to be an efficient battler, knocking wild pokémon with just one Karate Chop. Zephyr showed-off her flying skills to Delphi, who sadly couldn't fly, and had kept a smug expression until the Natu knocked him out of the sky with a well-placed Night Shade.

It was fun to watch.

The trainer they met was fishing at the Pallet Lake. She wore red sneakers, a yellow tank-top, blue denim shorts and had her orange-red hair tied in a strange ponytail. A cascading waterfall was filling the lake with water, and she was tapping her foot impatiently as she handled her fishing rod skilfully.

The trainer in question perked up as something in the lake tugged her fishing line. She smirked and quickly reeled in the catch, and she shouted "Yes!" as a Horsea broke through the surface and landed on the ground.

The trio of trainers continued to stare in interest as the trainer released a Poliwag that hopped and released a stream of bubbles at its opponent. The Horsea cried out in pain as the bubbles burst and inflicted hurt on it, and the trainer continued by commanding her Poliwag to use Body Slam. The tadpole dropped onto the Horsea with all its weight, knocking it away.

Ash, Jack and Natalie kept watching as the Horsea struggled to get up. The trainer snorkel at it. "Hypnosis!" she cried, and Ash saw the spiral pattern on its belly beginning to swirl until Horsea was caught in a trance and shortly fell to sleep. The girl threw a dive-ball at it and the water-type was caught in a matter of seconds, then treating Poliwag with a cookie moulded out of pokémon food.

"I challenge you!" Ash declared, walking faster towards the trainer.

The girl blinked. "Huh?"

"I said," Ash said slowly, as if explaining to a baby, "I challenge you to a battle. Didn't you hear me?"

The girl smirked. "Sure. How many pokémon?"

"One," Ash replied. The girl nodded and walked a few metres away with her Poliwag. The tadpole pokémon walked in front of its trainer and swished its tail.

"Saur, get ready!" Ash exclaimed. The Bulbasaur growled and stomped at the ground. Poliwag stepped back in alarm.

The girl looked worried, but frowned at Ash. "Aren't you going to use your Natu?"

Ash shook his head. Delphi chirped and nipped at his ear as she rested on his shoulder. "Nah. Delphi's tired, but Saur's itching for a battle."

The girl grinned. "Okay." She looked down at her Poliwag. "Poliwag, use Hypnosis!"

Ash blanched. He realized the girl's strategy: Saur would be asleep because of Hypnosis, and Poliwag would take its time to knock him out. Ash did not want Saur out cold. "Knock it with Power Whip!" he said quickly.

A vine, surrounded by a faint, purple glow, shot at Poliwag and knocked it away just as the pattern on the amphibian's belly began to swirl. Saur appeared a bit drowsy, but he blinked repeatedly and looked fully awake.

Ash grinned. "Great!" he praised. "Tackle!"

The girl had no time to command her pokémon; Poliwag got up only for Saur to charge into him. Poliwag squealed in pain upon being hit, but nevertheless managed to get back up again.

"Ice Ball," the girl ordered. "Then Double Slap!"

"End this with Magical Leaf!" Ash hollered.

Poliwag nodded and formed an alarmingly large sphere of cold in front of its mouth. Then, with a high cry, it launched the attack at Saur, striking the Bulbasaur on his head. The ball of ice exploded and formed a thin sheen of ice on Saur's forehead.

Ash could see Saur shivering and wincing from the super-effective attack. Another hit, and he would probably be out.

Poliwag took this chance to follow up with its next attack. It charged at Saur, tail glowing white, and jumped, soaring over to Saur. It front-flipped and slammed its tail on Saur's cheek. The dinosaurian pokémon cried out it pain and Ash frowned, trying to think of a way to get out of the situation.

Finally Saur got a hold of himself and launched a volley of glowing leaves at Poliwag. Ash grinned as he saw Poliwag knocked to the ground, unconscious.

"Good job, Saur!" Ash congratulated. The girl recalled her Poliwag with a frown, but walked to Ash with a smile on her face as she held out the prize money.

"Good job out there." She jerked her head towards Saur, who leered at her. "I knew you were going to win with that Bulbasaur, having a type advantage, but not so easily. I've had Poliwag on me for a week and a half now."

Saur puffed up in pride and grinned at the girl.

"Thanks," Ash said. "Anyway, I never caught you name. My name's Ash. What's yours?"

"I'm Misty," she said, smiling. "I've been training for a year now, but my stronger pokémon are back...home." her face twisted into a scowl as she said that word, but it reformed into a smile almost instantly. "How long have you been training for?"

"Two days."

Her eyes widened at that. "Two days? I thought a month, seeing how strong you were. In any case, pay more attention to your Natu; Bulbasaur are very easy to raise, but Natu are really hard to train. They evolve at a medium pace, but since they can't fly...you've got your work cut for you. I don't think it'll be easy for you."

Ash frowned at her. "Says the girl who lost to a newbie trainer."

Misty flushed furiously at that. "I didn't have Poliwag for long!"

"Anyway, are you participating in the Indigo Conference?" Ash asked.

Misty nodded. "As a matter of fact, I am," she agreed. "This is my first chance participating. I just trained before."

Ash nodded. "Good luck. Maybe I'll battle you and defeat you again," he added, smirking.

Misty snorted at him. "Yeah, right. Bye!"

Ash smiled at her as she walked over to a tree, where a bicycle was kept standing. She sat on the seat and rode over towards Viridian City.

"Nice!" Jack said once Ash walked back to his friends. "I thought that that trainer must've been pretty experienced, but who would've thunked that Saur would be so cool?"

Natalie sighed in exasperation. "It's 'thought', not 'thunked', Jack."

"I know!" Jack glared at her. "It just sounds cooler, alright?"

They spent the rest of the day arguing and calling each other all sorts of unflattering names until Ash finally snapped and told them to shut up. Natalie and Jack mellowed down a lot, and called a truce as the three made their way to Viridian City.

Ash, meanwhile, was planning to begin training Saur and Delphi properly once they reached the Pokémon Centre at Viridian. He would ask the nurse for a training field at the back, since he knew nothing about how to train Delphi, and that Misty girl's words kept replaying in his mind. He already knew how to train Saur; Red had mentored him the past two years and taught him everything about pokémon and the Bulbasaur line once Ash had made his decision on choosing his starter pokémon.

"Let's get there as quickly as possible," Natalie told them. "I want to sleep in a nice bed for a change. This camping stuff sucks."

Jack nodded. "Yeah. My butt still hurts from when I sat on stone...It just dug into my—"

Natalie scrunched her face in disgust. "Eww. I did not want to know that."

"Ditto," Ash agreed, disgusted by this piece of information.

XxXxX

The rest of the journey to Viridian City was quiet. They hardly encountered any more wild pokémon, a good thing, since the trio's pokémon were tired from battling frequently. Ash, Jack and Natalie needed up chatting all the way about their different strategies to use at the Pewter City Gym, and Ash quickly realised that the three of them were not up to the task.

Ash's team was limited only to his Bulbasaur. He did not want to sent Delphi out against Brock, since she would be crushed easily by the rock-type trainer's Onix or Geodude (he typically used those two rock pokémon). Saur was the only option, and he was a rather good one, although Ash had to work on his endurance if he wanted to beat both of Brock's pokémon. Ash would also have to work on helping the creature use Grassy Terrain and Leaf Storm, which were both moves bred into him. From what he'd read, he wouldn't be able to see the true power of the egg moves until Saur reached his final stage.

Natalie was facing a much bigger problem, though. The only pokémon on her team were a Charmander and a Pidgey, and both faced weaknesses towards rock-type pokémon. Natalie was planning to teach Charmander Metal Claw, a steel type move which required the user to strengthen and harden its claws with so much energy that they turned metallic. However, even if Charmander managed to perfect Metal Claw, he would probably be tired from his battle against Brock's first pokémon and would be nothing but a tiny hindrance in front of his second.

Zephyr was out of the question. A single smack from Brock's Onix's tail would knock him out.

Jack would have the easiest time with Brock, so he wasn't worried. Einstein was a bit rough with Energy Ball, since he'd learnt it from a TM at such a young age, but a day of training would make it all okay. Geodude, Rhyhorn and Onix had a quadruple weakness to grass type attacks, and even if Einstein was out cold, Mankey, being a fighting type, could easily take out Brock's final pokémon. Easiest gym battle ever.

The three was shaken out of their thoughts as they saw Viridian City only several meters ahead of them. With a jolt of energy, they raced towards the Pokémon Centre and we're relieved when the finally saw the red-and-white building.

"Hello!" Nurse Joy greeted them. She had a bright smile on her face as she registered the three trainers once the girl ahead of them received her pokémon and walked away. "How may I help you?"

"Um, we'd like to heal our pokémon, ma'am," Ash said politely.

"And we'd also like to register ourselves for the Indigo League this year," Natalie added.

"Certainly. Can I have any ID you three possess?" Nurse Joy asked.

The trio handed over their pokedexes and Nurse Joy placed them in computer slots before returning the three devices a minute later, smiling. "You have been registered. Kindly hand over you pokémon and I'll have them checked shortly."

"Thank you," Jack said. A few seconds later a Blissey appeared at the desk and took the pokeballs to the back to heal their injuries.

"You're most welcome." The Nurse smiled, then gave them an inquisitive look. "Are you three planning to stay the night?"

They nodded at her question. Nurse Joy typed away on her computer and gave them their room keys to use at the Pokémon Centre. Ash, Natalie and Jack walked to the Centre's cafeteria, talking about their goals and idols and basically everything about themselves. Ash, Jack and Natalie remembered their childhood days in Pallet Town until they got into a heated argument about who the best trainer in the Kanto was.

"It's gotta be Lance," Jack said, munching on a Twinkie.

"No way!" Ash exclaimed. "Giovanni is—"

Natalie gasped. "How can you say that Giovanni is stronger than Lance?" she said, aghast. "Lance is the champion; Giovanni is just some random gym leader!"

Ash glared at her. "C'mon! Giovanni became Gym Leader when he was fourteen – much younger than Lance! Lance became Champion only at the age of nineteen, and Giovanni was close to being the Champion one, too; he just lost to what's-her-name of the Elite Four when he was young."

"I know the best thing in Kanto: Twinkies." Jack popped another one in his mouth.

Natalie wrinkled her nose in distaste. "You're going to kill yourself by eating so many."

Jack snorted. "You kidding? So many preservatives in this thing, I'm going to live forever." He ripped another wrapper and started munching on the Twinkie it contained. "Iz teemly deeshus!"

Natalie looked simply revolted. "What?"

Jack forced a swallow. "I said, the food was—"

Overhead, the speakers blared in Nurse Joy's voice: "Ash, Natalie, Jack – your pokémon are fully healed!"

The three grinned and raced to the front desk.

XxXxX

"Thanks a lot, Nurse Joy," Ash said, scratching his Bulbasaur under the chin. "Saur and Delphi were really tired."

Saur crooned under Ash's touch; Delphi chirped happily and leapt onto his shoulder, and Ash buckled slightly under her weight.

"It's all okay," Nurse Joy smiled. "What are you three planning right now? It's past noon; have you and your pokémon had lunch yet?"

Ash, Natalie and Jack nodded vehemently. Then Ash spoke up.

"I was hoping whether any training areas were open. I mean, if they weren't taken up by other trainers."

Nurse Joy looked thoughtful. "Well, I could book one under your name right now, but it would be better if you went training your pokémon at Viridian's Battle Club."

Jack frowned.

"Battle Club?"

"You don't know?" Nurse Joy bent over and pulled out a bunch of leaflets, then handed them over to the three trainers. "Battle Clubs are special facilities meant to help trainers in training their pokémon with the use of advanced equipment. A few Battle Clubs hold tournaments every month, like the one in this city, and the winner receives several prizes: vitamins, rare candy bars, TMs, and sometimes even evolutionary stones, to name a few."

"Woah," Ash muttered in awe.

"They sound pretty good," Natalie said, "but I've never heard of 'em before now."

Nurse Joy nodded. "They were introduced to Kanto quite recently – one year ago, in fact. They're quite omnipresent in Unova, but they've branched out to Kanto, Sinnoh and Johto."

Ash grinned. "So what do we have to do? Fill a form, or something?" he asked.

"No," Nurse Joy replied, "but you will have to pay a fee to use their assets – training rooms, macho braces, the like."

"Thank you," he replied politely.

Jack held up his index finger. "One more question: can we challenge Mr Giovanni today?"

Nurse Joy's face darkened. "Unfortunately, Mr Verres isn't present at the Viridian Gym at the moment. He's busy with some league work, and he'll be back in probably a month. Furthermore," she suddenly added sharply, "I suggest you three challenge him once you and your pokémon have gotten stronger both physically and mentally. Giovanni isn't an easy person to defeat; he lives up to his tales."

The trio nodded silently, grabbed their pokeballs and left the front desk, sitting down at the same table in the Pokémon Centre's cafeteria.

Natalie tapped her fingers against the table. "I think I'll take a day off today," Natalie said. "I think Charmander and Zephyr are pretty tired, and I don't want to overtire them with training constantly. Besides, I need to call my mom and dad, or else they'll kill me."

Ash froze. He'd totally forgotten about calling his mother, and it was only by Arceus' grace that he had been reminder, although unintentionally, by Natalie. If he forgot about calling, his mother would kill him.

"Yeah," Ash gulped. "I need to call home, too."

Jack smirked. "Scared of your mom, Ashy?"

"Scared of her temper..." Ash corrected. "Who isn't?" Jack and Natalie just shrugged.

Ash walked towards one of the video telephones on the right side of the Pokémon Centre. He dialled the Ketchum household number and the video telephone rang a few times before the surprised form of Delia Ketchum appeared on the screen.

"Oh!" his mother gasped. Then she smiled. "Hello, Ash! You called!"

Ash smiled back. "Hi, Mom."

"So, how has your journey been so far?" she asked. Ash got excited again.

"Great!" he exclaimed. "Saur – I mean Bulbasaur, I nicknamed him on the go – got really strong and he defeated so many pokémon! It was only because of him that I caught another pokémon: a Natu named Delphi," he finished, releasing Delphi out of her confines.

The Natu blinked as she came out and chirped at Ash. She turned and, once she noticed Delia, focused on her.

Delia smiled at her son. "That's amazing! I'm really happy for you. How are Jack and Natalie?"

"They're fine. Jack caught a Mankey while Natalie caught a Pidgey."

"That's good," Delia said. There was a short silence, then Delia broke it. "Anyway, honey, I've got to go...I need to finish cooking lunch, and that lab report, too. Will you call me back tomorrow?"

"Yep." Ash nodded. "Bye, Mom."

"Bye, Ashy. And don't forget to change your un—"

"Mom!" Ash yelled furiously. He quickly ended the call and took several heavy breaths before typing in Professor Oak's number.

"Ah, hello there, Ash!" The professor greeted, a smile forming on his face. "I assume you just reached Viridian?"

"Hello, Professor," Ash replied. "Yeah, we reached about an hour ago."

"Anyway, how was the walk along Route One?" Oak asked. "I hope you weren't attacked by any of those tenacious Spearow, Gary had a whole flock behind him because he caught the lead Spearow—" Ash screamed internally in happiness at this piece of information, "he called me a day ago and told me about it. How are Natalie and Jack?"

Ash shrugged. "They're fine. Professor, I have something to ask you," he said.

"You have my undivided attention," Oak said, smiling.

Ash smiled brightly. "I caught a Natu yesterday—"

"—yes, I saw, well done—"

"—but I don't exactly know how to train her. Could you help me?"

Oak scratched his chin. "Hmm...Natu, eh? They grow at a medium pace, but the only problem is their aerial capabilities...not having well-developed wings, they can't fly, so I suggest you train her usage of special category attacks. She knows Night Shade, yes?" Ash nodded, and so did Oak. "Make her hit targets repeatedly to perfect her aim and prowess. As for anything else..." He tapped away on his keyboard for a few seconds before a smile of awe flashed across his face. "Drill Peck? My, my...For that, help her get into the appropriate spinning motion required for bringing out all the power of Drill Peck; it's quite a powerful move. Is that it?"

"Yes." Ash grinned. "Thanks a million, Professor."

"Don't mention it, my boy," he said. "If you need any more help, go to your Natu's entry; there will be several notes on areas where you can improve. Anyway—" he checked his wristwatch — "I need to leave. Goodbye, Ash!"

Ash said the same and turned off the video telephone. He looked down at the pokeballs on his belt, then took a deep breath and grinned.

It was time to train.

XxXxX

A few things to say here:

Yeah, Ash got Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur is actually my favourite starter - the only starter I've chosen that's not a water type. This was my first choice in Leaf Green, 'cause the cover art of Venusaur was so damn awesome. (Sorry, Charmander. You were a close second.)

Next, Ash caught a Natu! Yay! Cookies for everyone (lol, jk)! I didn't want ash to catch the generic Pidgey and Natu seemed. Like a pretty good choice. Also, I used to hate Xatu, but a few years later when I played Heart Gold I LOVED it on my rivals: Natalie and Jack are two OCs I made up (duh). Natalie is more competent, like on Gary's level, while Jack is someone for comic relief. He's never been even half of Gary's or Ash's or Natalie's level. Also, Gary isn't much of a dick here (I hope) but he despises Ash. That'll come up in the later chapters.

Misty also makes an appearance, and here she's going to compete in the Indigo League. The gym leaders are more like their game versions - more on that in the next any case, see ya! Tell. Me what you thought about this chapter, and don't just go onto another page on your browser. Reviews, favs and follows make me happy, and I'll make sure to respond to each review and not just the questions, either by PM or at the end of the next chapter.

-Warsofshadows