Disclaimer: I do not own anything that is part of the Pokémon franchise. The rights belong to Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures. I shall only use elements from the franchise on this piece of fan fiction for non-lucrative purposes.

Make sure to read the A/N at the end of the chapter before you start planning to murder me.

Chapter One: The First Step

'Well, this is it,' he thought to himself after taking a deep breath as he stood in front of the doors that would lead him to the moment that would define his life from now onwards. It was understandable that he needed to psych himself up in preparation for this momentous occasion.

Ash Ketchum had turned thirteen years of age not a few months ago and having aced his PTLEs (Pokémon Training License Exams) shortly after meant that he could finally get a starter pokemon and set out on his own to journey across the Kanto region, catching and training pokemon and battling other pokemon trainers and gym leaders.

Ever since he could remember, Ash had been surrounded by pokemon, from his mother's Mr. Mime and Ambipom, both of whom had even helped raise him, to the many pokemon that could be found around Pallet Town, both from the surrounding wilderness and Professor Oak's ranch. Ash had fallen in love with the beautiful, powerful and dangerous creatures without even noticing it.

And then, not too long after he realized how much he loved pokemon, he witnessed a titanic battle between Professor Oak's dragonite and charizard, which were the only two of the four pokemon the Professor still kept around, the other two being his alakazam and arcanine, that enjoyed battling and could only do it with each other because only the other was their equal in strength.

At first, Ash had been appalled by the brutality displayed in the battle, with charizard and dragonite seemingly trying to kill each other, but he then had noticed the gleeful expression on their faces as they had exchanged mighty blow after mighty blow. And then he had noticed that he had not been the only one in awe at the battle. What had to be the entire pokemon of population of the ranch had joined him, Professor Oak and his grandson, Gary Oak, on watching the battle between the two titans.

It was in that moment that Ash had learned that most, if not all, pokemon immensely enjoyed battling and possessing strength. It was also that day that Ash, after a quick explanation from Professor Oak, had decided to become a pokemon trainer the moment he was able to do so. His mother, Delia, had been sad but accepting in a resigned kind of fashion, even claiming that she wasn't really surprised by it.

After that, with the direct help of his mother and the indirect help of Professor Oak, Ash had started preparing himself to become a pokemon trainer. Thanks to his mother's part-time job as a caretaker in Professor Oak's ranch, her full job being head chef and owner of her own restaurant, Ash had access to all kinds of pokemon he could interact with. Not only that, but with Professor Oak's lab being a few hundred meters away, he also had access to tons of information about pokemon, which, with Professor Oak's permission of course, he made sure to study every day.

All of that in preparation for this very day. He, along with Gary and another girl their age named Leaf Green, were going to receive their pokemon from Professor Oak, who had decided to sponsor the three of them after he deemed their PTLEs results worthy of his sponsorship. As the regional Professor of Kanto, and unofficially the highest authority in everything pokemon, being sponsored by Samuel Oak was a huge honor that none of them, not even his own grandson Gary, dared to take for granted.

Ash would do his best to deserve Professor Oak's sponsorship every day he spent as a trainer.

One of the highlights that came with being sponsored by Professor Oak was the chance to choose as starter between three rare breeds of Kanto native pokemon: bulbasaur, charmander and squirtle. They were almost Professor Oak's signature when it came to trainers he sponsored, so it wasn't a surprise when they got confirmation about those being the starters they were going get to choose from.

Naturally, Ash had gone and investigated each and everyone of them and their evolutions.

Bulbasaur where the easiest to raise with most of them possessing an easy-going personality that went well with newbie trainers. Also, thanks to them being able to learn status affecting moves early on, they were also perfect for catching pokemon. If raised correctly, they would grow to become the grass saurian behemoth that was venasaur, a literal tank that with the correct skillset could respond to almost every situation.

Next was charmander and they were arguably the hardest to raise and train due to their known stubbornness and aggressive tendencies due to the diluted draconic genes they possessed in their genome. Dragons were easily the hardest breed of pokemon to train and with the charmander line being an almost direct cousin to the Dragons, it was no surprise they could match their stubbornness. Any issue could be solved if the trainer earned the charmander's respect and learned how to work with them early on, however, so they could be given to newbie trainers without too many issues. When fully grown, charizard were masters of both aerial and land-based combat, hitting both hard and fast until something somehow managed to stop them.

And finally, there was squirtle which were harder to raise than bulbasaur because of an ingrained mischievousness that for some reason was found in all breeds of squirtle, but easier than charmander because they weren't as stubborn and aggressive. Squirtle are ideal for new trainers because of this and even when young they could pack a punch if trained correctly. When fully grown, a blastoise's shell was nigh impenetrable and their blasts of water could damage steel. They were heavy hitting tanks that very, very few things could stand up against.

All three of them called to him and Ash believed he wouldn't mind starting with either of them, but he knew that at the very least, he wouldn't be starting with squirtle. Gary had basically laid claim to the water pokemon and even though he felt tempted to pick the squirtle just to annoy him and as much as he disliked the arrogant teen, Ash was better than that and he wouldn't hear the end of it from Gary if he did so. Letting Gary get his squirtle would be an annoyance off his shoulder. He knew that and hoped that Leaf also knew that.

That left either bulbasaur or charmander and since Leaf was a girl and there existed that 'ladies first', it would really be up to her which one he got. Again, it was a good thing Ash really didn't mind which starter he got. He just wanted a pokemon he could call his own, so they could become friends and reach the top of the training world together. That was Ash's dream: to become the strongest pokemon trainer in the world and there was nothing in this world that would stop him if he had a say about it.

Though, he would be lying if he said that he didn't felt some partialism for charmander… oh, who was he kidding. He wanted a fire breathing lizard/pseudo-dragon!

Deciding that ten minutes was enough psyching up time, Ash took a deep breath and rang the bell of the lab. He shifted a bit for a few moments before one of the Professor's aids wearily opened the door and focused bleary eyes on him from behind round glasses.

The young adult offered a smile that was more of a grimace. "Ah, Ash. Just like the other two you are here earlier than you were supposed to," he said and motioned for Ash to enter. As he did so, Ash chuckled uncertainly when he heard the aid grumbling about kids not knowing about the bliss that was sleeping for as long as you could. The aid motioned towards the back of the building past many doors and fancy science equipment that Ash only had a vague idea how they worked and what they were for. "Gary and Leaf along with the Professor should be at the Professor's private workplace. It's the last door to the right."

Ash nodded at him in thanks and made a hasty pace to where he was indicated. When he arrived, he knocked on the door three times and waited. After a moment the raspy and deep, but still pleasant, voice of Professor Oak called for him to enter and with a carefully crafted blank face that hid his nervousness and eagerness, he opened the door and stepped inside.

"Oh, look who finally decided to join us!" Snarked an annoying and a bit nasally voice as a brown-haired boy wearing a purple shirt and black pants that had a sharp face smirked mockingly at him from where he stood with arms crossed leaning against the wall opposite from where he was. "Betcha' gonna be this slow in everything you do, like, pokemon training for example, eh, Ashy-boy?"

Ash's right eyebrow twitched as his fist tightened at his side, trying his best to not react to Gary's snide remarks. It was still difficult even after all this time, but Ash learned that Gary quickly lost interest if you ignored him.

A light brown-haired pretty girl wearing a hat, a blue tank top and a skirt rolled her eyes at Gary before giving Ash a beaming smile. "Just ignore him, Ash, you know how he is. Besides, we haven't been waiting long and it's not like you are late either."

"Ahem, yes," coughed middle-aged man whose hair had more than a few streaks of gray. Gary resembled him a lot. He was wearing a lab coat left unbuttoned over a red polo-shirt, brown slacks and black dress shoes. He gave Gary a disapproving stare that had Gary grimacing a bit before smiling sheepishly with a shrug. Professor Oak shook his head with a resigned sigh before motioning for the three of them stand in front of him.

When they did so, Professor Oak smiled at the three of them. "Now, I know that the reason the three of you came here earlier was because you were eager to get your pokemon and start your journeys and not because you didn't want to keep me off my work from longer than was necessary, but still, this old man thanks you sincerely," he teased them with a grin, unknowingly showing where Gary got that part of his personality from.

Unlike Gary, however, the Professor's good nature teasing resulted in both Leaf and Ash releasing an unseen tension as their shoulders slackened as all of them chuckled in amusement.

When the merriment ended, Professor Oak sobered up but he still had a small smile on his wizened face. "As you know, due to the results you three obtained on both the practical and theoretical portion of the PTLEs, I have decided to sponsor you and this comes with certain perks. Not only will you be able to chose a relatively rare pokemon specimen as your starter, but you will also have access to pokedexes with international data and charge-free access to send your pokemon to my ranch. Very few get these privileges, so I must stress how special this opportunity is."

Oak allowed that to sink and when the three of them nodded in resolute understanding he continued. "Now, with those perks comes a set of requirements that will go a long way in proving that I didn't make a mistake in deciding to sponsor you. The first one, obviously, is to not break any of the laws stipulated by joint Kanto/Johto League in either shape or form. Even the most minor infraction will get your sponsorship revoked. And secondly, I expect objective reports every fifteen days about your progress and the progress of your pokemon no matter how minimal. Failure to do so twice will result in your sponsorship revoked. Are we clear?"

Ash, Leaf and Gary, while a bit intimidated despite the Professor's best attempts to assure them, nodded their heads resolutely. "Yes, sir!"

Oak's smile widened a bit. "Good," he said before he motioned to three plain pokeballs that rested on top of the table behind him. "Here are the three starters I normally give the trainers I sponsor. Bulbasaur is the one on the left, Charmander is the one the middle and Squirtle is the one on the right. Remember, while the have already been tamed and are apt to be given to newly starting trainers, they still have their own personalities and ambitions. Don't forget that as you start to bond with them. With that said, ladies first," he said before moving to the side after giving Leaf an encouraging smile.

Leaf gulped a bit before she schooled her features and she began to walk towards the table. Ash tensed when he saw that she stood up right in front of where the ball that contained the charmander was but his sudden anxiety left him when he saw her start looking at each of the pokeballs. While this calmed Ash a bit, it had Gary losing his almost perpetual smug smirk.

After a few agonizing movements Leaf made her decision and grabbed the bulbasaur's pokeball, making Ash and Gary sigh in relief. They noted their similar actions and glared at each other.

Professor Oak chuckled as an excited Leaf made her way back to where she had been standing. "I don't think we need to let one or the other go first so go ahead both of you," he said with some exasperated amusement and Leaf giggled as Ash and Gary teared their eyes away from glaring at one another so they could walk towards the table. Gary made a beeline for Squirtle as snatched its pokeball and Ash did the same, with noticeably more calmness, with the charmander's pokeball.

When he saw the three teens just standing there looking awkward, Oak almost rolled his eyes. "What are you waiting for? Go ahead. Release and meet your pokemon." Oak had no fear of them making a ruckus. He had personally made sure they were well behaved… relatively.

From the corner of his eyes Ash watched as Leaf and Gary released their pokemon in a flash of white energy that materialized into their starters. Leaf's bulbasaur's bulb barely reached her knees and it focused calm eyes on Leaf as she kneeled down to talk to it. Gary's squirtle was a bit taller than bulbasaur, easily reaching Gary's, who was taller than Leaf by a few inches, upper knee as it stood in its two hind legs. Gary didn't get down on its level to talk to it but he had the friendliest expression Ash had seen on his face as he talked down at the squirtle, who was looking up at Gary eagerly.

Ash took a deep breath in order to settle his nerves before releasing his pokemon. Charmander was a few inches taller than Gary's squirtle and mostly possessed rich orange colored scales along its body while the scales of its chest, belly and undertail possessed a light tan color. The claws on its forepaws had to be an inch long while the ones on its hindlegs had to be a little longer. The brightly burning orange-red flames on the tip of its tail matched the determination it possessed on its deep blue eyes.

Ash kneeled down and he smiled, careful to not show teeth, when Charmander's eyes focused on him. "Hello there. My name is Ash Ketchum and I'm your new trainer. Do you know what that means?" Ash asked and after a moment Charmander grunted while nodding its head once. Ash's smile widened but still he didn't show any teeth. Charmander would take that as a sign of aggression and challenge and he absolutely didn't want that. "Great. Now that you know who I am, what do say about becoming partners and helping each other become the strongest we can be?"

After his hopeful question, Ash only had to wait a few moments for Charmander's response. After locking eyes with him for what Ash felt like an eternity, Charmander growled and bared its teeth in what Ash recognized was a grin as it nodded its head repeatedly. Now that Charmander had seemingly accepted, Ash allowed himself to grin right back and he reached forward to gently pat Charmander on the head. The fire lizard seemed to like it as it closed its eyes and let out a soft growling sound that almost sounded like a feline purr. It was strangely adorable.

Oak cleared his throat and the three newbie trainers looked up to see the old professor looking at them with approving eyes. "That went extremely well, but considering that I chose to sponsor you, it is to be expected," he said and Ash was reminded that Professor Oak had his moments in which it was obvious from whom Gary had gotten most of his attitude from. "Now, if you could return them back to their pokeball please? I'd like to finish sending you off so I can get back to my work."

The three of them nodded and after a promise of letting them out shortly, the three pokemon were returned in to their pokeballs in flashes of transparent reddish energy.

After that was done, Oak approached them and handed to each one of them a rectangular device and five pokeballs. Leaf's was green with pink accents, Gary's was blue with yellow accents and Ash's was red with black accents. "Those are your pokedexes. They have recorded in them all the information you'd need on pokemon from the Kanto and Johto region and a significant amount on pokemon from the Hoenn and Sinnoh regions. They will also work as your Official League Issued IDs which means that they are irreplaceable so take good care of them. I have taken the liberty of setting them up with your basic information so you can start exploring all its features right away.

And finally, those are five standard pokeballs. Remember that the six pokemon limit is only temporary and it will increase to eight when you possess four major badges, to ten when you possess six major badges and to twelve when you get all eight major badges. Any pokemon you capture beyond your current limit will be sent directly to me. Understood?" When they all nodded he continued. "That will be all. I wish you the best on your journey. Ash, if you can spare a few minutes? I'd like to have a word."

Leaf looked at Ash curiously while the black-haired boy himself gave Gary a curiously look, silently asking if he knew what this was about. Gary scoffed before shaking his head, making Ash scowl at him. Gary snorted before giving a wave to his grandfather and quickly walked out of the room. Ash turned towards Leaf and shrugged. The girl shook her head in exasperation before she bowed towards the Professor, then waved cheerly at Ash before she walked out of the office too.

"What did you need to talk about with me, Professor Oak?" Ash asked the moment they were alone.

"It's about your starter pokemon."

Ash's eyes grew worried when he heard this. "Charmander? Is there something wrong with it?"

Oak blinked before he chortled a bit, immediately calming Ash down without even saying anything. "Nothing of the sorts, Ash. Quite the contrary actually. He, for your charmander is a male, is easily one of the healthiest examples of his species I have seen. You don't have to worry about anything on that front regarding Charmander as long as you take proper care of him, as I know you will," assured anyways the Professor.

"Thank Mew," muttered Ash in relieve before he gave the Professor a curious look. "If there's nothing wrong with Charmander, what about him you wanted to talk to me about?"

Oak clasped his hands behind his back. "I just wanted to make you aware of just how special your charmander is, Ash. Can you please release him?" Ash nodded and with a press of a button and a flash of white, Charmander materialized. Ash smiled down at him and Charmander responded with a barking growl of his own. "Now scan him with your pokedex. Just flick it open, point the scanner at Charmander and press the biggest button left to the lower screen."

Ash did as he was instructed and he was rewarded with a soft ding as Charmander looked at the device on his trainer's hand curiously before tilting his head a bit to try and sniff it. A soft, mechanical androgynous voice spoke from the speakers of the pokedex as an image of charmander appeared on the upper screen while the lower screen displayed several options with sections regarding information about Charmander.

Charmander. The lizard pokemon. The flame that burns at the tip of its tail is an indication of its emotions. The flame wavers when a charmander is enjoying itself. If the pokemon becomes enraged, the flame burns fiercely. Obviously prefers hot places. When it rains, steam is said to spout from the tip of its tail. The flame on its tail also indicates a Charmander's life force. If it is healthy, the flame burns brightly. If it is weak, the flame also burns weakly. Its life would end if the flame were to go out.

This charmander is a male and possesses the ability known as Blaze. It knows the moves scratch, ember, growl and smokescreen. It possesses the egg moves flare blitz and dragon rush but they have not been unlocked yet.

Ash blinked once.


He turned towards the amused looking Professor. "Flare blitz AND dragon rush? What… how…" Ash knew about two of the most powerful fire and dragon techniques respectively and what they were capable off when learned even to a mediocre degree. The fact that his charmander had the innate potential to learn not only one but both of them was almost too much to digest.

Seemingly understanding the situation, Charmander growled and puffed up his little chest in pride.

Oak chuckled. "Well, as you might know, it has been long since confirmed that some pokemon are known to inherit the potential to learn a technique that has been perfected by their parent. It is a genetical wonder that it is still being investigated, despite the years that has passed since the confirmation of this phenomenon. In any case, Charmander here has inherited the potential to learn quite the powerful techniques from each of his parents."

Ash looked down at the still humorously flexing Charmander before turning towards Oak with both eyebrows raised. "Just who are his parents?"

Oak chuckled again. "You actually know them. Charmander's parents are Maya, my dragonite, and Magnus, my charizard."

Ash's eyes widened in disbelief. "What?" He asked almost flatly.

Oak grinned and he raised a hand with one finger held up as if he was about to impart a lesson. "Yes. You see, when pokemon of different genders share at least one egg group and they…"

"I know how pokemon reproduction works, Professor! I don't need a biology lesson!" Exclaimed Ash, an embarrassed blush appearing across his cheeks. Charmander, who stopped his posing, titled his head and looked up at his trainer in confusion.

Oak chuckled. "I know, I know. I was just teasing. You scored perfectly in the written portion of the PTLEs after all. Not even Gary can claim that," he muttered at the end but Ash still heard him. Oak sobered up and he locked eyes with Ash, who straightened up due to the serious expression on Oak's face. "Now, while this gives Charmander the ability to learn dragon type techniques easier and the potential grow in strength even further than each of his parents, I must warn you. With his dragon blood no longer as diluted, his stubbornness and aggressiveness will be considerably higher than normal the moment he starts evolving. I suggest you bond as much as you can with him while he is in this state to prevent any problems further ahead. Do you understand?"

Ash nodded his head sharply. "Crystal clear, sir!"

"Good." Oak nodded before waving him off with an encouraging smile. "Now, off with you. I have important research that requires my undivided attention."

With Charmander having seemingly no issues in keeping up with him by his side, Ash was making his towards his house from Professor Oak's lab.

After being mildly surprised about the fact that Gary had not been waiting for him outside of his grandfather's lab so they could have their first official pokemon battle, Ash felt grateful for it. While he couldn't wait to direct Charmander, his first pokemon and partner, in battle he felt that he needed to learn a bit more about Charmander and bond with him, the Professor's words clearly resounding in his mind, before starting to battle with him.

It was the reason why Ash had decided to keep him out of his pokeball during the short walk from the Professor's lab to his home. Pallet Town wasn't exactly a big settlement and everything was at a comfortable walking distance from any point and everyone pretty much knew everyone. Due to the time it currently was there were only a few people walking down the roads, so Ash and Charmander were only subjected to a few odd, but amused and fond, looks from people.

While they walked, Ash shared with Charmander his dream to surpass all the strongest and most famous trainers in the world, to be recognized as the strongest of them all. Charmander in turn, in his language of grunts, growls, snarls, hisses and barking growls also attempted to share his own dream. Even though he couldn't directly understand Charmander, Ash got the gist of it. Charmander wanted to become a charizard powerful enough to defeat his parents in combat at the same time.

It was in that moment that Ash and Charmander reached an understanding. The both of them had dreams that almost everyone would consider impossible to reach and currently they only had each other's help to accomplish those dreams. This resulted in Ash and Charmander realizing that the two of them not only had dreams that could be easily tied with one another but they both also had something to prove to the entire world.

And they would.

Ash and Charmander reached his house: a medium sized two floor affair with a decently sized garden on the front and a wide backyard on the back. It was painted mostly white and light yellow while the roof had a rust color.

Ash and the fire lizard crossed the door of the fence and Ash waved at Mimey, his mother's Mr. Mime, who was using his psychic powers to water all of his mother's plants and flowers at the same time using five watering cans that were floating while being outlined by the same glowing bluish color that shone in Mimey's eyes. When the Mr. Mime sent a friendly wave in Charmander's direction, the fire lizard grunted a greeting of his own.

Ash stepped into his house. "Mom! I'm back!" He announced his presence to his mother loudly.

"I am in the kitchen, honey!"

"Alright!" Ash answered before turning to look down at Charmander. "C'mon. Let's introduce you to my mom so we can leave as soon as possible!"

Charmander nodded and grunted, following Ash dutifully.

Stepping into the kitchen, which was easily the most modern room in the house, which wasn't surprising, considering that as a professional chef his mother only worked with state-of-the-art culinary equipment, Ash and Charmander saw Ash's mother and Pomey, his mother's Ambipom, carefully cleaning the kitchen with smiles on their faces.

Ash's mother, Delia Ketchum, was a youthful and beautiful woman that possessed mature facial features. She had brown hair and matching eyes. She currently wore a simple blouse and knee length skirt underneath an apron. Ash snorted at the sight of Pomey wearing a matching apron.

The sound Ash made was enough to tell Delia that her son had come to the kitchen after she responded to his announced arrival and she turned towards him after putting her cleaning utensils down only to squeal in delight when she saw the absolutely adorable (to her) fire lizard standing next her son with confused expression on his face.

Delia rushed towards Charmander and ignored his almost indignant squawk after she picked him up by grabbing him with both hands under his arms. "Oh, Ashy! I'm glad you got the pokemon you wanted and not only that, it's so cute," she gushed before pressing Charmander into her bosom, being mindful of his flaming tail as he squirmed. The squirms stopped and Charmander began to purr in pleasure as she began to softly scratch his back and the back of his head. "He looks kind of familiar though," she mused absently.

Ash blinked at the sight of what he knew as quite the prideful charmander becoming a pile of flaming and purring orange and tan goo under his mother's ministrations. Ash filled that for later and nodded at her. "Yeah. Thankfully, Leaf chose the bulbasaur and since Gary was dead set on a squirtle, that left Charmander for me, who was the one I kind of wanted in the first place. Also, he looks familiar because I'm sure that you have seen him before. He is the offspring of Maya and Magnus, the Professor's dragonite and charizard."

Delia blinked. "Oh. That explains why he looked so familiar. I have taken care of him a few times before in the past. Now that I think about it, he hatched around the time you had your thirteenth birthday about three months ago! It's almost like you were destined to be together. Although, considering his rather special status, I'm a bit surprised Professor Oak would give him out as a starter," she mused as she put Charmander down, who looked a bit disappointed the pampering had stopped before getting a hold of himself and walking towards Ash after grunting indignantly at Delia, who just giggled and cooed at him, much to Charmander's mostly fake annoyance.

Pomey snickered in amusement in the background as he continued dutifully the cleaning duties skillfully using all of its appendages. It was a most impressive sight.

Also, Ash wasn't that surprised about how young Charmander was. All pokemon were ready to start battling and growing strong the moment they hatched out of the egg and Charmander was no different. From that moment on, the speed at which pokemon grew and evolved only depended in the species of pokemon, the amount of techniques they learned and how often they battled.

"So, Ashy, what are your plans?" Delia asked curiously, being extra careful to only show excitement for her son and not the sadness that she felt at watching him grow and go on his own journey. As his mother, giving him her full support in his endeavors was what she was supposed to do. Knowing Ash, he would worry and hesitate on leaving if he saw her sad, so she might as well resist crying her eyes out until after he left.

Ash rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Well, I was planning on heading towards Pewter City first. There is no way I'm going to challenge Giovanny at Viridian and he only accepts challenges from trainers with seven major badges anyways, so the point is moot. I am sure I can catch one or two more pokemon and train them enough to be able to face Brock at Pewter for my first major badge. Then I'll head towards Cerulean City through Mt. Moon and challenge the Waterflower sisters for my second major badge after training my team for a bit. After that is either Celadon City or Vermillion City. I guess I'll make up my mind when I'm there."

Delia, ignoring the uncomfortable feeling that Ash mentioning Giovanni's name so casually brought up, smiled at him. "You are planning on going for all the major badges in order to qualify for the Indigo Conference then, huh?"

Ash nodded his head resolutely. "Of course. There is a reason why they are regarded as major gyms and it is not only because they are located on the main cities in Kanto. It's because they also give trainers the toughest challenges according to their level. If we don't challenge ourselves and put ourselves in situations that will test our limits then we will not grow and never reach our dreams, am I not right, Charmander?"

The fire lizard responded by giving one his barking growls as he nodded his head in agreement with Ash's words.

Delia chuckled and shook her head fondly. "Boys," she muttered, giggling when Ash stuck his tongue out at her childishly in response. "In any case, remember that you don't have to rush anything. You have, after all, around twenty-two months before the next Indigo Conference. That doesn't mean you get to slack off but that you get to also enjoy yourself during your journey."

Since it was the same administration that was in charge for both the Indigo Conference in Kanto and the Silver Conference in Johto, and those two events, which were the biggest ones during the year for each region, took a long time, dedication and coordination to organize, it was decided, for the sake of convenience and effectiveness, that each conference will be held every two years, making it so there was one conference each year instead of two.

Thankfully for Ash, this year's conference had been the Indigo one and it had happened a month after he had turned thirteen years old, which was roughly the time it always happened ever since he could remember. With the PTLEs happening a month after the Conference, everything lined up perfectly to give Ash almost two year to prepare for the next Indigo Conference.

While he could aim for the Silver Conference in Johto, he decided that it wouldn't be worth the hassle. Not only would he have to travel to another region altogether, no matter the fact that he could literally make the journey on foot, specially from Pallet Town, but there was also the fact that it would give him less than a year to travel the Johto region collecting badges and training his pokemon.

If he was honest with himself, Ash preferred a hundred times over having to wait almost two years to participate in a nation-wide competition and take his time building and training his team while not rushing his journey over the option that involved participating on the next Silver Conference, which was due to happen in about nine months.

Ash nodded in understanding at his mother. "I know mom. I will take my time and make sure my future partners are well cared for and trained correctly so we can become the best that we can be by the time the Indigo Conference comes around while also enjoying my journey," he assured his mother, while reaching down to gently rub Charmander's head, who grunted in agreement.

Delia nodded. "That's all I can ask, Ashy," she said before reaching into a pocket of her skirt and producing a sleek looking metal watch with a mainly black with red accents color scheme. "Here. Take this as a parting gift."

Ash's eyes widened as he took the very high-tech looking watch from his mother. "This is…" he trailed off in disbelief as he held the device in his hand.

Delia's eyes gleamed in delight. "Yup. The latest X-Transceiver model shipped directly from Unova but set up with Kanto's specifications," she declared proudly as she watched her son eagerly strapping the smartwatch around his left wrist. In her opinion, it went well with his outfit which consisted of a white and red cap that hid his untamable mop of jet black hair, a sleeveless red jacket with white collar he wore zipped up about halfway up over a short sleeved black shirt, the black pokemon trainer belt that had magnets for pokeballs at the sides, the blue cargo pants and the red and black tennis shoes.

"Despite the rather… strained… relationship Kanto/Johto has with Unova, business is still business. A dear friend of mine that lives there has a few connections that made the acquisition of the latest model a walk in the park. To be truthful, getting it here was the hardest part," said Delia a touch smugly as she smiled at Ash.

Charmander tilted his head to the side in confusion as he watched his trainer look at the metal thingy wrapped around his wrist in wonder. He grunted questioningly.

Unknowingly, Ash responded to Charmander's question as he began to speak. "The latest model of the X-Transceiver not only works as a watch, map and phone capable of fourway videocalls at the same time, but it also has many apps anyone would find useful such as the news and weather apps. It can also connect to the pokenet from everywhere in the world without issues. It can also shoot high quality pictures and videos and has an internal memory of one terabyte. And if that isn't enough, the X-Transceiver can be used to display my OLI ID too! Mom! This is the best gift ever! Thank you!"

Ash declared with a beaming smile before he jumped towards Delia and gave her a fierce and loving hug, making Delia giggle as she returned the hug just as fiercely. Pomey and Charmander exchanged looks. While Charmander grunted questioningly before tilting his head to the side in confusion, Pomey shrugged his shoulders and chittered something at an almost too fast pace. After a few moments Charmander nodded and grunted in understanding.

After a few moments o hugging his mom in both gratitude and goodbye, Ash pulled away and smiled up at his mother, who was still a few inches taller than him. "I'm going to head off now, mom. I'll make sure to make you proud!"

Delia smiled softly at him. "Oh, Ashy, but you already have! The only thing that would make me prouder would be to see you achieving your dreams, which I know you will," she said before pausing for a moment and slowing her smile to widen. "Now, don't let this old woman hold you off longer! Go get your backpack and off with you young man! I expect you to call me at least weekly or every time you are in a major city or any time something worth informing me happens, okay?"

Ash nodded his head with a smile. "Of course, mom! I promise to never go longer than a week without calling you!"

"Good!" Delia nodded before turning around and waving him off. "No off with you! I have a kitchen to clean and you a journey to begin!"

"Right! Bye mom! Call you when I reach Viridian City! Let's go Charmander! I'll show you my room and then we can head out!"

Charmander's answering growl matched the excitement in Ash's voice.

As Delia heard her son go upstairs to look for his backpack, followed by his starter pokemon, only Pomey, who used one of his tails to pat her in a comforting manner while softly chittering, witnessed the tears of both happiness and sadness that trailed down her face.

"I think we should rest there," said Ash while pointing towards a particularly large tree located a few dozen yards away of the main road of Route 1, which was the name of the semi-civilized path that connected Pallet Town with Viridian City. It was filled with mostly plains but one could find a few small forests and rivers too the further into the wilderness one went.

Charmander grunted in acceptance.

Ash smiled down at the fire lizard who showed no signs of discomfort or exhaustion at having been walking without stopping for the last three hours. They had left Pallet Town at about nine in the morning and it was now noon. Ash was feeling a bit hungry and he was sure that Charmander was too, so he decided that it would be the best time to take a break. They were going to reach Viridian tomorrow whether they stopped or not so there wasn't a need to rush.

A few spearow and rattata had approached them with less than friendly intentions in their eyes but a surprisingly intimidating growly from Charmander, backed up by his tail flame flaring up a bit, drove them off before they could become an issue. They had also come across a few pidgey but they all had flew off after catching sight of Ash and Charmander.

The two of them finally reached the tree and Ash took off his yellow and black backpack and he gave a sigh of relief as he took a seat and leaned his back against the surprisingly cool bark of the tree. Charmander made a similar sound as he also sat on his back, showing that while he hadn't been showing sign of exhaustion, he was certainly feeling the effects of walking for so long.

Ash felt like he was starting to understand his starter a little better. The core of Charmander's personality was pride and a drive to be the strongest of his kind in the future. This also resulted in Charmander detesting showing anything that could be perceived as weakness on his part. Despite Professor Oak's warnings, Ash felt like he could certainly work with that.

Ash put his backpack in between his legs and opened the frontmost and smallest compartment and reached into it, his upper limb going into it almost halfway up to his forearm, which would have been physically impossible had it not been for the technology waved into the backpack. Ash didn't really understand all the technicalities and scientific formulas that went into it, but he understood that it worked pretty similar to how pokeballs worked. It even maintained a constant weight of thirty pounds, which wasn't that much considering the sheer number of things he would be able to store, and, since those things would be in suspended animation while inside the backpack, everything was preserved.

Ash pulled out four ham and cheese sandwiches that Delia had prepared for him and he gave two of them to Charmander, who growled gratefully at him before he began to dig in with gusto. Ash then pulled out two bottles of lemon flavored water and put one, after uncorking it open, next to Charmander, who was almost purring in delight at the taste of his sandwich as he devoured them, before he began to eat his own lunch.

That reminded Ash that he needed to acquire 'real' food for Charmander as soon as possible. After a bit of research, Ash had determined the best meal plan for Charmander would be mix the pokemon food developed by the League that contributed carbs, fats and proteins with spicy wild berries which were the ones generally preferred by fire-type pokemon. He left his plan fairly open to change so he could adjust it to Charmander's preferences when he learned them.

Also, Ash knew that a good quality meal plan for his future team was not going to be exactly cheap but he wasn't too worried about it since, as a trainer, he was bound to earn more than enough money for such things. Monetary compensation for the winners in pokemon battles between League sanctioned trainers was quite the motivator for not slacking off as a pokemon trainer.

He had also started out with three thousand poke credits, more than enough to get supplies for his trip to Pewter City… if it was only Charmander and him. While Ash was not about to throw a pokeball at anything that moved, he hoped to catch two more pokemon and train them, along with Charmander, before challenging Brock at Pewter. It wasn't like he was extremely picky, but he did have a few standards when selecting future members of his team.

"Alright, Charmander. I believe our lunch has settled in nicely so what do you say about a bit of training, eh? I'd like to see how you use your techniques before we start battling wild pokemon and other trainers," said Ash as he smiled at the fire lizard.

Charmander, who had been chewing on the empty bottle that had contained the delicious liquid that he had used to wash down the even more delicious food, growled in acceptance as his deep blue eyes gleamed in excitement as he shot to his feet.

Ash laughed in delight. "I like that attitude of yours," he said before picking up the used wattle bottles and putting them in his backpack. He was not about to pollute the environment leaving inorganic waste after all. Ash stood up and walked away from the tree before pointing at it. "Let's start with scratch. Use it against the bark."

Charmander growled before he brandished the claws of his right forepaw, which gleamed wickedly, before he lashed out diagonally towards the bark of the innocent tree. Ash's eyebrows rose in appreciation when he saw the half an inch claw marks that were left in the wake of Charmander's attack.

"Nice," he complimented, resulting in Charmander puffing up his chest in pride. Ash chuckled. "Alright, alright. Now, try growl."

Unlike the other times Charmander had growled today, this time it was noticeably deeper and there was a certain weight to it that had Ash shuddering slightly. Ash knew that the move targeted the primal instincts of pokemon weaker, or at the same general level, of the user of the technique, making them hesitant to attack. It could be useful during low level battles.

Ash nodded at Charmander, doing his best to now show that he had been mildly affected by the move. It would be detrimental to show any weakness in front of a pokemon as prideful as Charmander. "Good, good. Now let's see your smokescreen."

Charmander opened his maw wide and Ash watched as cloud of inky black smoke was spewed from it. He idly noted that it smelled a lot like a burning matchstick but significantly more intense and the cloud was thick enough to prevent Ash from seeing the parts of the trees it covered even if he was only standing a few yards away from it. The technique could be extremely useful too.

After the smoke was dispersed by the light breeze after a few moments, Ash nodded at Charmander with a smile. "Let's see your ember now."

Charmander grunted before he did something that surprised Ash. Instead of opening his maw to use the technique, Charmander gave a light jump before twirling around while lashing out with his tail. From the flaming tip of his tail, several small embers shot towards the tree. They struck the bark with small explosions of fire and smoke. Ash saw that while they didn't set the tree on fire, the scorch marks they left on the bark were quite significant.

That, however, gave Ash an idea…

"Hey, Charmander, have you ever tried to use that technique like you use smokescreen?" He asked and Charmander responded with a shake of his head and small growl. Ash nodded towards the tree. "Try it."

Charmander growled again, this time in acceptance, before rearing his head back and opening his mouth. Ash only had time to catch sight of a few small tongues of flames trailing out of the corners of Charmander's maw before the fire lizard brought his head forward and released, with a snarl, a ball of fire the size of a small basketball directly towards the tree.

Ash and Charmander, both with wide eyes, watched as the blazing ball of fire struck the tree with enough force to make it shake significantly and with an explosion of fire and smoke that momentarily hid half of the tree's bark from their view. When the smoke clearly, Ash's eyes widened even further when he saw that the bark had caught fire.

"Oh, crap!"

Charmander watched as his trainer began to frantically do his best to quench the flames that resulted from the technique his trainer's suggestion brought to life. As he heard his trainer cursing as he tried to not get burned as he put down the fire, Charmander couldn't help but let out a sound that suspiciously resembled snickering.

After successfully preventing a forest fire, without Charmander's help whom had been busy laughing at him to help much too his annoyance, the Pallet Town native and the fire lizard continued their journey through Route 1.

While they didn't encounter any trainer that wanted to battle, they kept running into the aggressive spearow and rattata. This time, instead of scaring them off, Charmander allowed them to get close so he could fight them. The fights, if they could be called that, weren't too difficult and it only took Charmander getting two or three direct hits using scratch and/or ember to defeat them. Fireball, which was how he named the technique that resulted from Charmander using ember through his maw, could one-shot them easily.

Ash made sure to leave the unconscious rattata and spearow partly hidden in the tall grass of the sides of the main road. Pokémon were tougher than what non pokemon trainers gave them credit for and unless the injuries they sustained were fatal or crippling, it wouldn't take them much to regain their health naturally. The injuries Charmander dealt to the pokemon he fought were light at the worst, so it would only take those pokemon a few hours to regain consciousness and their complete health, so he didn't feel guilty about not catching any of them or healing them.

Ash also used these short and easy fights to get used to see in which ways Charmander was comfortable fighting in preparation for when he started meeting trainers that had trained pokemon of their own. Ash was glad to see that Charmander liked fighting both from afar and up close and that his inherent pride didn't make him feel disgust from using tactics such as covering himself with smokescreen to make it more difficult for his foe to hit him.

If Ash understood it right, Charmander prided himself in everything he could do to make himself superior to his foes. Smokescreen was a technique that he knew how to use, and since he could use it to gain an advantage over the ones he was fighting, then it was more than okay to use it. Ash believed that he had never seen a more pragmatic pride before, but if he was honest, it kind of suited Charmander and not limiting himself from doing certain things will only help Charmander realize his dreams faster. Ash could definitely work with that.

"I think we should camp here," suggested Ash as he checked the map app on his X-Transceiver. According to the clock of his mother's gift, it had been about six hours since he had stopped for lunch, tested Charmander's moves and almost caused a forest fire when he had accidentally developed a new move. They have been walking and fighting wild rattata and spearow nonstop for that amount of time. Ash himself was feeling the burn on his legs and he could see that Charmander was also a bit tired despite his stubborn attempts to not appear so.

According to the map, they had made more than half the trip, meaning that they should be arriving to Viridian sometime around noon if they woke up with the sunrise. Luckily, the X-Transceiver also came with an alarm function, meaning that he could set up the time at which he would like to get up.

Ash looked up towards the side of the main road and smiled when he saw few camping tables a few dozen feet away from it. While Route 1 only had two of those, other larger and more occupied Routes possessed many camping sites such as these that trainers could use to take a break while on the road during the day or spend the night. Ash was about to do the latter.

"C'mon, Charmander," said Ash and his mouth twitched as he tried to do as if he had not seen Charmander almost sagging in relief.

The two of them were about two dozen feet away from the closest table when suddenly a brown and tan blur shot out from one of the trees and landed on said table facing them. Ash's eyes widened, as Charmander stood almost protectively in front of him with a snarl, when he saw the biggest pidgey he had seen today looking at him and Charmander almost imperiously from its perch on the table.

"That's one big bird," muttered Ash in amazement. Normally, pidgey possessed around one foot in height and weighted around four pounds. This one was almost as tall as Charmander, meaning twice as big as a normal pidgey, and its weight more than likely reflected that. It responded to Charmander's snarl with a surprisingly deep chirp and spreading its wings, showing that its wings spawn had to be of a least four feet from tip to tip while continuing to glare at them imperiously.

After seeing the size of the pidgey and it showing a different attitude from the ones they'd seen so far, Ash made his decision.

"I'm going to catch it. Are you up from one more fight, Charmander?" Ash asked his starter as a grin began to appear across his face.

Charmander snarled and a similar expression appeared across his own reptilian face before grunting his affirmation.

The pidgey, unimpressed, chirped and flapped its wings almost warningly.

"Use ember!"

Charmander growled before hopping to the air and twirling around and sending the small embers directly towards the pidgey. After so many fights today, his accuracy with the attack, which had been already decent, had increased even more. The pidgey, however, showed that its bulk didn't affect its speed as it evaded the attack by flapping its wings once and taking to the air in one smooth motion.

With another chirp, the pidgey circled around before starting to fly towards Charmander many times faster than any of the spearow they had faced today with a few streaks of white energy trailing on its wake. Ash recognized the technique immediately.

"That's quick attack. Try to dodge it, Charmander!" Ash shouted as he moved away since he was also on the pidgey's path because Charmander was directly in front of him.

The fire lizard did his best to jump away too but he was clipped by one of Pidgey's wings as he was unable to evade the attack entirely. Charmander snarled in both pain and anger as the pidgey circled around and chirped almost mockingly at Charmander before moving to attack the fire lizard in the same manner as before.

"Focus, Charmander! Use smokescreen! And prepare to use Fireball!" Ash told him, having gotten an idea on how they could win this. The pidgey had the advantage as long as it could keep flying.

Charmander did as told and he released a thick cloud of smoke that covered his form completely before the pidgey reached him. Ash watched in satisfaction as the pidgey adjusted its course and passed above the cloud of smoke instead of through it having lost sight of its target. High in the air again, the pidgey let a frustrated sounding chirp before it began to flap its wings rapidly while facing the cloud of smoke.

Ash's eyes widened when the pidgey began to generate winds strong enough to start pushing the thick clouds of smoke way. "It knows gust too?!" Ash exclaimed, impressed. The longer the fight continued, the bigger was his desire to catch the pidgey. Ash watched as the smokescreen was dispersed and he grinned when he saw that Charmander was ready to unleash Fireball. "Wait for my signal, Charmander!"

The fire lizard acknowledged Ash's words with a grunt.

When the smoke was dispersed, the pidgey gave a triumphant sounding chirp before it used quick attack for the third time in a direct path towards Charmander.

That was what Ash was waiting for. "Now!"

With another snarl, Charmander released the small basketball sized fireball directly towards the incoming pidgey. The bird's eyes widened almost comically as it saw this but its momentum, along with the speed of Charmander's attack, prevented it from swerving out of the way to evade the small ball of flames. It collided with the incoming pidgey directly and a small explosion of fire and smoke resounded as a result.

"Yes!" Ash hissed in victory as his strategy worked almost exactly as he envisioned it.

Not a moment later, a significantly scorched pidgey fell to the ground with smoke trailing off its falling form. It released a pitiful sounding chirp when it smacked against the ground back first, thankfully not landing on any of his wings and injuring them even further. Ash was pleasantly surprised when it began to tiredly struggle to right itself.

"This one is quite tough," complimented Ash since it was the first pokemon to take Charmander's fireball without getting knocked out with one shot. Not only that, but the blow had been even stronger due to it having taken the hit while carrying the no insignificant momentum of quick attack and if that wasn't enough, it had also fallen to the earth quite roughly.

Ash quickly snatched one of the pokeballs that Professor Oak had given him, enlarged it and chucked it towards the pidgey. The technology of the activated pokeball detected the wild pokemon and its course adjusted slightly so it could smack against the still supine decubitus pidgey right in the chest area. The pokeball opened and sucked the pidgey inside in a flash of red energy before snapping close and falling to the ground just where the pidgey had been.

Ash held his breath as he watched the pokeball wiggling for a few moments before releasing it almost explosively when the pokeball stopped moving and dinged with the success of capture.

"Alright!" Ash cheered as the pokeball floated back to him and he snatched it from the air the moment it was within reach. Ash then jogged towards Charmander, who had sat down on the ground, and knelt next to the fire lizard while grinning down at him and patting his head. "You did excellent, Charmander! Thanks to you we have quite the strong friend in our team now! Isn't that fantastic?"

Charmander closed his eyes in enjoyment of Ash's patting of his head before grunting in agreement to his words.

"So, shall we meet them right away?"

Charmander nodded in agreement after a few moments before taking a few deep breaths and rising to his feet. He was not about to show that giant of a bird that he had just defeated any kind of weakness less it got the idea that it was his equal in strength. The only reason Charmander was this tired was because of all the walking and fighting he had done during the day after all.

Ash chuckled before he walked towards one of the tables and saw in one of its adjacent benches. He took off his backpack and pulled out from it one of the potions he had procured to use in case his starter got injured enough that it required medical attention and he was not close to Viridian. It seemed like he was instead going to use it on the first pokemon he ever caught. The thought filled him with excitement.

After getting everything ready, Ash released the pidgey on the table and Ash took a moment to admire its sheer size. Only when it chirped at him with some annoyance did he blink and locked eyes with it. The pidgey was sprawled on top of the table, still scorched, but the imperious expression was still in place. Charmander, who stood next to Ash on top of the bench, growled threateningly, daring the pidgey attempt and harm Ash.

The red eyed boy smiled pleasantly at the bird. "Hey there. My name is Ash. This is Charmander. After we fought and you lost, I captured you. That makes me your trainer. Do you know what that means?" Ash asked.

When Ash said it lost, the pidgey chirped indignantly before sending an indignant look towards Charmander, who looked down at it smugly while snickering. It turned towards Ash when he asked the question and shook its head slowly as its answer.

Ash's smile widened. "It means that we are a team now and that I am in charge of providing you with care in exchange for your obedience. This way, I can help you become the strongest pidgeot to ever soar the skies. What do you think?"

The pidgey once again looked indignant at the thought of being obedient to him despite him saying that he was also in charge of taking care of it. When he mentioned helping her to become the strongest pidgeot, the indignity turned to interest and it locked eyes with him. After a few moments, the pidgey turned questioningly towards Charmander. The fire lizard nodded before giving a few growls and grunts.

Ash grinned in delight when the pidgey turned towards him and nodded before chirping in acceptance. "Alright, welcome to the team, Pidgey!" Ash then grabbed the potion and showed it to pidgey, who looked at it warily. "I'm going to spray this all over your burns to make you heal faster. You'll be back to one hundred percent before you know it. I have to warn you, though, it will sting a bit."

Pidgey looked a bit unsure at the 'sting a bit' part but it nodded in acceptance. Ash carefully began to spray the potion on top pidgey's burns, feeling a bit guilty every time the bird closed its eyes sharply when it stung. Ash wasn't a chemist but he knew that potions somehow accelerated the rate of a pokemon's natural healing factor many times over, depending on the grade of the potion. It sapped their stamina to work, which was the reason why it was recommended to let a pokemon rest after using a potion on them.

While Pidgey sagged in relief as it felt its wounds healing, Ash pulled out his pokedex and pointed it at the avian, who perked up and gave the rectangular red and black device a suspicious and wary look. Ash smiled disarmingly. "Don't be nervous. This will only tell me a bit about yourself so I can start planning on the best way to make you stronger."

Pidgey chirped in understanding and nodded its head before letting it fall against the table again. Ash pressed the button to scan pidgey.

Pidgey. The tiny bird pokemon. Pidgey has an extremely sharp sense of direction. It is capable of unerringly returning home to its nest, however far it may be removed from its familiar surroundings.A common sight in forests and woods. It flaps its wings at ground level to kick up blinding sand. It is docile and prefers to avoid conflict. If disturbed, however, it can ferociously strike back.

This pidgey is a female and possesses the ability known as Keen Eye. It knows the moves tackle, quick attack, sand attack and gust. It possesses the egg move brave bird but has yet to be unlocked.

'I don't know about the docile bit, but she is ferocious alright,' Ash thought with a snort of amusement. At Pidgey's look of confusion, he just shook his head before pocketing his pokedex. "Don't worry. I just thought something funny. Anyways, we are going to camp for the night and training starts tomorrow morning. Would you like to go back to your pokeball or sleep outside after eating?" asked Ash.

Pidgey perked up at the eating part before she lazily chirped and motioned towards one of the trees that surrounded the camping area. Ash took that as she wanting to stay outside. Then, much to Charmander's delight, Ash pulled out more ham and cheese sandwiches that he divided between the three of them. Ash and Charmander took two while to Pidgey one was seemingly enough. Having regained enough strength to stand on her own, Pidgey calmly and gracefully pecked at her sandwich while Ash and Charmander devoured theirs.

For some reason, Ash felt like Pidgey was giving the two of them looks of disgust when they were too focused on their sandwiches.

After they finished eating and could no longer ward off their tiredness with idle attempts of communication trying to get to know each other better, Ash pulled out his sleeping bag and set it on the ground. Charmander curled around next to it with his tail resting on top of his body in order to prevent setting the grass on fire. The warmth coming from Charmander was the reason why Ash decided to not start a fire. Pidgey, having regained a considerable amount of her health, made a short flight to the nearest tree and settled on a tree branch, hiding her head in one of her wings.

Ash for his part got as comfortable as he could on his sleeping bag before setting the alarm of his X-Transceiver for six in the morning. He then pulled out his pokedex and searched for section that had information on the pidgey evolutionary line. He already knew everything there was to know about the charmander line and while he knew the basics for the pidgey line, now that he had one of his own on his team, just knowing the basics was not going to cut it. He still had a few hours before he had to got to sleep in order to not wake up exhausted the next day after all and he was not about to let them go to waste.

The next day after waking up, Ash had Charmander and Pidgey run a few warm up drills in which he had them run, or fly in Pidgey's case, a few laps around the campsite and Ash joined them, believing that it would make them respect him more if they saw him training with them. After that he had them have a mock battle with the other using all their moves at least thrice. While this also worked as part of the warm up and morning workout, Ash also used the opportunity to familiarize himself with Pidgey's moves and how the avian preferred to fight.

Doing all of that had taken about an hour and then Ash fed them a few more sandwiches, Pidgey once again only eating one gracefully while Charmander inhaled two. By the time seven thirty in the morning had rolled around they were ready to continue making their way towards Viridian City. Since Ash was also planning on fighting as many trainers as he could on his way, he decided to keep the two members of his team inside their pokeball.

It didn't take them long to find their first opponent.

"Hey, you! Do you want to battle!" A youngster that was around Ash's age that had been walking around a few dozen feet away from the main road suddenly called to him while brandishing a pokeball. He had brown hair and brown eyes and was wearing a shirt, shorts and a normal looking backpack.

Ash smiled while he grabbed Charmander's pokeball. "Sure. One on one?"

The brown-haired boy nodded as he pulled out what looked like a smartphone. "Sure. Standard rules?"

Ash nodded in agreement and he looked down at his X-Transceiver when it beeped. Ash raised it towards his face, ignoring the impressed look on his soon to be opponent's face when he saw his smartwatch, to see that he had received a one-on-one battle request from Jerry Thompson with standard regulations on the League App. Ash knew that the League issued tablets to all none sponsored trainers so they could keep track of everything related to their trainer license such as their rank, registered pokemon, the pokemon they had on hand and their current status, pokecredits, win/lose ratio, gyms that had been bested, etc. Ash quickly accepted the match, noting that the winner will be transferred two hundred pokecredits from the loser at the end of the battle.

"Go, Meowth!" Jack released a cat that had mostly light tanned fur on its body while its hind paws and the end of its curled tail possessed brown fur. Its face was oval shaped and its eyes wide with a completely black slit pupil. It had two whiskers on each side of its face and in between the two protrusions that originated from the top of its head in between its triangular ears, that had black and brown fur, there was cylindrical coin shaped ornament made out of what looked to be gold.

The meowth stood on four legs and it yawned almost lazily before looking at Ash with bored eyes.

Ash silently released Charmander, who snarled furiously the moment it caught sight of his opponent. When it caught sight of the fire lizard, the meowth lost its lazy disposition and looked significantly more focused.

Jack's eyes widened. "Woah! A Charmander!" He turned envious eyes towards Ash. "Are you one of the trainers Professor Oak chose to sponsor this year?"

Ash nodded. "Yes."

"Man, how lucky," said Jack.

Ash felt a pang of irritation at his words. 'Lucky? I worked my ass off studying all kinds of pokemon theory day and night, watched Mew knows how many battles between seasoned trainers and conditioned my body according to the requirements of the League ever since I was ten! How is that luck, huh?! I earned Professor Oak's sponsorship!" Ash thought in annoyance.

While Ash decided to not voice what he thought about Jack's words, Charmander felt the subconscious shift in Ash's disposition and his blue eyes narrowed as his snarl intensified, much to the visible consternation of the meowth and Jack's confusion.

The brown-haired trainer shook his head before grinning. "Alright then! I'll start! Meowth, get in close and use bite!"

Ash raised an eyebrow. "Don't let it. Use ember."

The meowth began to run directly towards Charmander at speeds that matched Pidgey when she used her quick attack, its fangs gleaming as it opened its maw in preparation to follow its trainer's orders. Charmander, however, had other ideas. With a grunt, the fire lizard hopped and twirled around, releasing the small embers of fire directly towards the meowth.

The scratch cat pokemon couldn't evade the attack due to its momentum and it took the small balls of fire head on, hissing in discomfort and pain as its previously pristine fur was marred with several light scorch marks. When the attack ended the meowth glared at the smug looking Charmander with hateful eyes as the fur on its back stood up to attention before it hissed dangerously.

"Meowth, try pay day!"

"Smokescreen. Jump out of the way and prepare Fireball."

The meowth's eyes before it stood in its hind legs and reached back to pull out round golden coins from… somewhere… that it began to hurl towards Charmander at quite the decent speeds. Only a few managed to hit Charmander in the chest and abdomen before he released a thick cloud of smoke that hid him from view and the sound of coins striking against scales could no longer be heard.

"Meowth! Stop! Wait until the smoke clears out and use fury swipes the moment it appears!" Ordered Jack.

It only took a few moments for the inky black smoke to disperse and when it did the hissing meowth charged towards Charmander with its claws brandished and gleaming with energy ready to the be used to slash repeatedly at the fire lizard.

Ash smiled. "Fireball," he said simply and Charmander threw his head forward to release the small ball of flames directly towards the incoming meowth. The eyes of the cat and its trainer widened at having made the same mistake twice and they only had time to realize it before it was too late. Charmander's attack collided with the meowth and its form was obscured by the resulting explosion of smoke and fire.

A moment later the deeply scorched form of the meowth was revealed struggling to keep itself on its feet. Ash nodded at it. "Finish it with scratch."

"Meowth! Use scratch too!" cried Jack desperately

Charmander ran towards the meowth at speeds that were significantly slower than that of his opponent, the claws of his forepaws ready to strike. The meowth did its best to follow its trainer's orders but its actions came sluggish and Charmander easily leaned away from its attack. With a snarl of victory, Charmander slashed his claws across the meowth's chest, making it give a cry of pain before it fell to the ground unconscious.

Ash grinned as he watched Charmander give one of his barking growls in victory as he stood next to the downed cat. "Excellent work, Charmander!"

The fire lizard turned towards his trainer and grunted cheerily before giving a fanged grin.

Jack sighed before returning his meowth back to its pokeball. He whispered his thanks before turning towards Ash with a sheepish expression on his face. "I guess I can see why you were chosen by Professor Oak," he conceded and Ash nodded at him as Charmander walked back to stand at his side. With another sigh, Jack pulled out his League issued tablet and confirmed his loss, grimacing a bit as he became two hundred pokecredits poorer. He turned towards Ash and saluted him. "That was a good battle. I'll see you around I guess," he said before turning around and running away.

Ash blinked before shrugging his shoulders. His X-Transceiver beeped again and he looked down to see that he needed to confirm his win and accept his earnings. When he did so he watched as his 'trainer card' updated, showing that he had one win and zero loses along with the display of the amount of pokecredits he possessed showing the two hundred he had won from the battle.

Idly, Ash checked the other features displayed by the League App. The general information screen displayed his full name, Ash Ketchum, followed by his trainer ID number, AK019910104, his age and date of birth, his place of precedence, Pallet Town, he fact that Professor Oak was his sponsor, his trainer rank, which was F, the lowest rank possible and the amount of pokecredits he possessed.

Ash knew that one's rank depended on the amount of official battles one had participated, the number of wins one had, the number of gyms one had conquered and how far one had gone in League sanctioned tournaments. Each accomplishment was worth a set amount of points and one needed to accumulate a certain amount of points in order to reach the next rank, with each following rank requiring significantly more points than the previous one. For example, the battle he just had had been worth ten points and he needed one thousand points in order to reach the E rank.

Ash spent a few minutes exploring the other features of the League App before a bored Charmander nudged him with his snout. Ash blinked before he looked down at Charmander, who had a mildly annoyed expression on his face, and smiled apologetically. "Sorry about that. I got lost in thought a bit. I'll return you now and release you for another battle. We'll be doing that until we reach Viridian City, okay?"

Charmander grunted and nodded. Ash gave him another smile before he continued walking north towards his destination.

"So that's Viridian City, huh?" Ash mused to himself as he looked at the medium sized piece of civilization that stood a few hundred meters away from where he stood on the main road. With a small mountain range on the west, the immense expanse of the Viridian Forest to the north and a big, beautiful lake filled with crystal blue water to the east, Viridian City was quite the sight to behold from afar.

From where he stood, Ash could see that most buildings didn't rise beyond three or four floors in height in the outer parts of the city but the further downtown you went, the higher the buildings became. Even then, Ash could see that the tallest building couldn't have more than twenty stories.

With a smile on his face, Ash began to walk the final trek there.

As he walked, Ash thought about everything he had done in the past eight hours. It had taken him that long to reach Viridian City because he had accepted all and every challenge that had come his way from the few trainers that he had run across. Including the first trainer with the meowth, he had participated in six battles and one of them had been two-on-two and the others one-on-one.

He had won all of them without too much difficulty. Ash knew that the reason behind his streak was not only because both Charmander and Pidgey were naturally strong, but because of the level of preparation he had, the second-hand experience he had in pokemon battling after watching so many experienced trainers fight and the fact that he had only encountered newbie trainers just like himself.

Still, despite winning all his battles, Ash had learned a lot from them. Not did he know felt like he could tell accurately how both of his pokemon felt the most comfortable fighting, but he had also determined the aspects of training in which he was going to focus with each one of them.

Ash decided that both Charmander and Pidgey had to increase their strength, speed, reflexes and stamina since a strong foundation would make latter specializations more effective.

Technique wise, Ash felt that Charmander had to increase the power behind his fire attacks, learn metal claw and start harnessing his inherent draconic energy. It was plenty obvious why Charmander had to strengthen his fire attacks. Metal claw would be extremely useful when facing Brock, and certainly further into the future. And finally, the faster Charmander started using his draconic energy, which was both more abundant and more powerful than it would be on a charmander without his pedigree, the stronger and easier it would be to harness in the future. According to the pokedex, having Charmander learn Dragon Rage would be the best way to go around doing that.

There were a few techniques that Ash wanted Pidgey to learn before she evolved into a pidgeotto. The first ones would be agility and tailwind. The former would give Pidgey the ability to consciously increase her speed by enhancing everything about her and the latter would give her the ability to manipulate the air around her in a manner that would reduce the resistance it posed when she moved through the air, increasing her speed. The other techniques had to do more with dealing damage: wing attack and twister. The former would give her the option of using her wings as a means of attack and the latter, that consisted in harnessing the thin amounts of draconic energy in the air and shaping it into a twister that would be sent to her opponents, would give her the option of attacking at a distance.

Those were the plans Ash had for his team but he had to wait a bit before he could start implementing them. Ash first needed to reach the Viridian City Pokémon Center in order to give his tired team a check up and have them healed if they required it, as they had taken a few hits in the prior fights, and to register himself for the next Indigo Conference. While he could do it even the day before Conference began and it wouldn't affect him as long as he had beaten the number of League sanctioned gyms required to qualify, which was eight, he preferred to do so now and don't worry about it later.

Oh, he also needed to call his mother too. Couldn't forget that.

Ash felt that the two weeks, more or less, that he would spend crossing the Viridian Forest, if he didn't take a detour and kept a steady pace covering a certain number of kilometers each day, would be more than enough to prepare his team for their first gym battle. They were going to spend the day in Viridian hanging out, planning and getting the needed supplies and set out towards the Viridian Forest the first thing in the morning tomorrow.


Ash blinked as the sharp feminine voice brought him out of his inner thoughts and his eyebrows raised into his cap when he saw that he had reached the gates of Viridian City without noticing it. He then focused on the one that called out to him and he blushed a bit when he saw the beautiful, but stern, visage that was a uniformed turquoise haired woman walking towards him with a purpose.

"Erm, is there a problem, Officer Jenny?" Ash asked law enforcer with some nervousness. Ash didn't know how it was possible, but there was an entire family of identical looking women affiliated with all the Regional Leagues that worked as the police force at each city. Those were the Jenny's. The same happened with the Joy's, which were the family in charge of seeing to everything that had to do with Pokémon Centers and pokemon healthcare.

There were many conspiracy theories around them, but Ash didn't bother too much with them. In a world filled with the wonderful creatures that were pokemon, he didn't feel like the bizarre genetic wonder that were the Officer Jenny's and the Nurse Joy's was anything to write home about. Now, if even one of those conspiracy theories turned out to be true…

Officer Jenny stood right in front of Ash with a stern expression on her face and hand of her hips. "That is what we are going to determine right now, young man. Are you a League sanctioned pokemon trainer?"

Ash nodded his head mutely.

"May I see your ID?"

"Of course," conceded Ash before he rose his arm and showed Officer Jenny his X-Transceiver and eyes widened a bit when she saw what had to be the latest model of the most popular smartwatch in Unova. Ash quickly accessed the League app and flipped the screen around so Officer Jenny could take a look. Ash watched as a few different expressions went across her face as she quickly read his general information before she tapped the screen once. When she did that, Ash watched as she sighed and visibly relaxed.

"I'm sorry about the trouble, Mr. Ketchum, but we've been having reports in the past few days about thieves stealing pokemon and other things from other trainers so we are checking everyone that goes in and out of the city," she explained and when Ash nodded she gave him a tight-lipped smile before motioning towards the urbanization behind her. "You may go and enjoy yourself. But, if you see anything suspicious, please report it to the Police Station."

Ash nodded at her. "I will, Officer Jenny. And it was no trouble at all. You are just doing your job."

The smile on the blue haired woman's face became a bit more genuine at his words before she shooed him away. Ash tipped his cap to her before making his way into the city proper.

It didn't take long for Ash to reach the pokémon center and it wasn't because Viridian City was a medium sized city compared to the behemoths that were Cerulean City, Vermillion City, Celadon City and Saffron City. In order to make reaching them in case of emergencies, Pokémon Centers were located relatively close to the outskirts of any settlement that possessed one.

Pokémon centers, as League sanctioned facilities, were obliged to tend to sanctioned trainer's pokemon for free no matter what was needed in order to make sure a pokemon got out of a pokémon center as close as to full health could be achieved. Also, League sanctioned trainers could spend a relatively small amount of pokecredits to spend the night within the rooms inside the pokecenters and to eat from its cafeteria.

Viridian City's pokemon center was a fairly large structure painted white and red. Its architecture consisted of half dome that probably had the medical facilities, second and third floors of the pokemon center. The part that housed the reception desk, lobby/waiting area and cafeteria was not covered by the half dome. Its roof had a big 'P' painted on it and there was a big sphere of a matching color on the face of the half dome. There were many training fields and battling arenas behind the structure of the pokemon center too.

Ash went through the automatic doors when they opened and stepped into the lobby of the pokemon center. There were a decent number of trainers lounging around either watching the news, talking to each other or just apparently waiting to have their pokemon returned. As he walked towards the reception desk, Ash noticed that trainers that looked older than him only gave him a cursory glance while the ones that looked to be about his age gave him looks of interest.

He reached the front desk and he gave Nurse Joy, whom Ash noticed was as beautiful as Officer Jenny, a smile. "Good afternoon, Nurse Joy!"

She responded with a gentle smile of her own. "Good afternoon to you too, young man. How may I help you?"

Ash reached for the shrunken pokeballs of Charmander and Pidgey and put them on the counter. "I would like to get my pokemon checked. I'm sure they have not sustained significant injuries but we have been battling trainers for the last eight hours without stopping so I just want to make sure they are alright. I would also like to register myself for the Indigo Circuit. And finally, I'd like to book a room for tonight."

"Of course," she said before she grabbed the two pokeballs and put them on a tray. She then pressed one of many buttons on her working space and not a moment later a young man wearing scrubs came from the back and took the tray with him. "Your pokemon will be checked both by a specialist and by a machine in order to make sure we don't miss anything so it's going to take several minutes. Can I have your trainer ID number for your registration?"

Ash gave her his ID number, which he had memorized last night, and watched as she rapidly taped at her keyboard with dexterous fingers. A few moments later she finished and reached down towards a compartment and pulled out a badge case that she handed to him. "Your registration is complete and should you get eight official gym badges before the next Indigo Conference you will qualify to participate in it. While everything nowadays is done digitally, the League maintains certain traditions and you will receive actual badges from the gyms you beat." She then reached for another compartment and gave him a key card. "I also booked you a room. The fee is one hundred pokecredits."

Ash put the badge case inside his back pack and slipped the key card into one of his pants' pockets. He smiled at the pink haired nurse. "Thank you!"

Her gentle smile widened a bit. "It was no problem at all. I'll call your name over the speakers the moment we finish checking your pokemon."

Ash nodded at her once again in thanks before he walked away towards the many couches that were neatly scattered all over the lobby. He saw one that was both unoccupied and at a distance from other couches that would allow him some privacy. He was going to call his mother and bothering the other trainers with his conversation would be extremely rude after all.

The black haired pokemon trainer took his seat and when he was comfortable, he used his X-Transceiver to call his mother. She picked up just after the third ring. Her face had a pleasant expression that morphed into a wide grin the moment she caught sight of him.


Ash smiled at her. "Hey, mom. What's up?"

"I should be the one asking you that, mister," she teased before she began to five his background a look. "Are you in Viridian already? Did you catch another pokemon?"

Ash nodded with a chuckle. "I am and I have. I arrived to the pokemon center not even ten minutes ago and I caught quite the pidgey yesterday. We battled our entire way here today since the morning so they are being checked up right now."

Delia's eyes lit up and it seemed like her shoulders sagged in relief. "That's good to hear. Not two hours after you left Professor Oak received a report about a particularly powerful wild fearow that had made roost in Route 1 and had taken over the spearow, making them attack humans and other pokemon in large groups. He made a request for a trainer to take care of it but I was still worried about you."

Ash blinked. "While I did encounter a considerable mount of spearow on my way here, I didn't see anything like that. Perhaps it was taken care off right away," he mused with a shrug of his shoulders.

Delia nodded. "Perhaps," she conceded before her countenance grew excited. "So, you caught 'quite the pidgey'? What's so special about it?"

"Her," Ash corrected with a smile. "Well, first of all she is almost as tall a Charmander, making her almost twice as big as a normal pidgey with a weight that matched her height. Also, while normal pidgey are docile and prefer avoiding conflict, she was the one that challenged us to a battle. And finally, she knew quick attack and gust when I caught her."

Delia's eyes gleamed with interest. "Oh, wow! The pidgey around here normally know tackle and sand attack. And her size… is she perhaps close to evolving? Most pokemon start showing the characteristic of their next form when they are close to reaching it."

Ash shook his head. "Not really. I checked last night since I suspected the same thing. Her crest is the right size, relatively, compared to the rest of her body and it hasn't started to change color either. The same goes for her tail feathers. I doubt, however, that it would take long before she starts showing those changes considering she knows quick attack and gust."

"Mmmh, perhaps she has the elusive King's Nature?"

Ash's eyebrow rose a bit as he leaned back into the couch. "I knew I was forgetting to consider something. Do you reckon she has it? Her characteristics do point in that direction after all."

Delia nodded. "It's more than likely that it's the case. If when she reaches the pidgeot state she is still twice as big as any normal pidgeot has any right to be we can confirm it. That or you can have her genome tested in order to look for the genes associated with the King's Nature. It is expensive though."

Ash shook his head at the last bit. "I don't really care if I confirm it now or later. She has already proven herself as a worthy member of my team by not losing any of her battles and I like to think we work well together. I'd rather spend the money I earn on supplies to help me survive my journey and on things that would help me take care of my pokemon and grow as a trainer."

Delia nodded and gave him a pleased smile. "Well said," she stated before giving him a curious look. "So, you are going to Pewter City next, right? You have to go through the Viridian Forest. There are many types of pokemon there but bug types are the most prominent so you better stock on poison heals and other status curing items and berries."

Ash nodded in confirmation. "Yeah. I'll spend about two weeks there training, battling another training and seeing if I can catch at least on other pokemon that gets my interest. I'm going to spend the rest of the day stocking on everything I'll need for that duration and planning a training regime for Charmander and Pidgey. We will head out tomorrow first time in the morning."

"I see. That's a good plan. Don't forget to call me at least weekly even though I know you will be busy doing all of that, okay?"

Ash smiled a bit wryly. She had told him that before he left after all. "I promise mom. I will even put a reminder to call you every seven days on the calendar app," he said and he grew amused when his mother seemed very pleased with his words. Ash then perked up as he heard the voice of Nurse Joy calling his name and saying that his pokemon were ready for him. He focused on Delia. "I've got to go mom. Sorry to cut this short."

Delia smiled at him. "Don't worry about it, Ashy. I'm happy you remembered to call and tell me that you are okay. That is more than enough for me. Now go and give Kanto your best, honey!"

Ash grinned at his mother and said his goodbyes. After she did the same he ended the call and he stood up from the couch and stretched a bit while giving a sigh contentment.

Ash then walked towards the desk and he smiled at Nurse Joy who put the tray containing the pokeballs of his pokemon. "Was there anything wrong with them, Nurse Joy?"

She returned his smile. "Other than a bit fatigued due to the regular battles and a few non-serious bruises, that are already treated, here and there, both Charmander and Pidgey are in excellent health. I'd still suggest you let them rest for what's left of the day though."

Ash nodded and clipped the pokeballs back to the small magnets dedicated to them on his trainer belt. "I was planning on just stocking on supplies to spend two weeks in the Viridian Forest and resting for the rest of the day and leave tomorrow."

Nurse Joy hmmed at him. "Well, if that's the case, the pokemart should have everything you'd need," she suggested.

Ash smiled. "Thank you, Nurse Joy!"

"You are very much welcomed, young man. Make sure to not put too much strain on your pokemon and keep yourself safe."

Ash thanked her before he tipped his hat at her. He then turned around and walked out of the pokemon center. He was going to buy everything he would need for the Viridian Forest and explore Viridian City a bit. Despite not being near ready, or qualified, to challenge the Viridian City Gym, he wanted to take a look at it so he could better visualize one of his future short-term goals. And he had to enjoy his journey a, as much as he could after all.

Later that evening, after buying everything he would need for two weeks in the Viridian Forest, which has costed him two thousand pokecredits, and exploring a good chunk of the city, including the (in)famous Viridian Gym, Ash found himself inside his room at the pokecenter. He had been impressed by the massive structure and its design and seeing it in person had only motivated him further to become worthy to challenge the gym.

Th room he booked looked both simple and cozy at the same time. It possessed a queen-sized bed, a perch for bird pokemon, a few hooks inbedded to the wall to hang clothes, a window that gave him a decent look of Viridian City, an air conditioner and its own bathroom. He had already used the bathroom to wash himself, as he had not taken a shower since yesterday morning. The water, which he had set on room temperature, had felt particularly good.

Ash, wearing red shorts and a black loose tank top, sat on the edge of the bed as he held the pokeballs of Charmander and Pidgey. Since checking them up at the Pokémon Center, he had only released them when he spent about an hour inside the biggest park within Viridian City at the end of his impromptu auto-tour of the city. He was about to release them again since he knew they enjoyed sleeping outside of the pokeball better. That, and he needed to have kind of a talk with them.

In a flash of white, Charmander and Pidgey appeared on the floor in front of him making their respective sounds of greeting.

Ash smiled down at them. "Hey, you two. I've been thinking… and I wanted to ask you if you'd like to have a nickname?"

The response he got was cocked heads to the right in confusion.

Ash chuckled. "I mean, it is known that most pokemon are intelligent enough to understand human speech, which means that they have self-awareness. Usually, Pokémon are referred to with the name of their species and they are fine with it. A nickname is a way for to further identify yourselves, something that will help you differentiate yourself from other pokemon of the same species. What do you think?"

Both Charmander and Pidgey seemed to ponder for a moment before, with a grunt and a chirp respectively, they nodded their heads in acceptance.

Ash grinned. What he told them was only the first reason he wanted to give them nicknames. The second one would be that it'd help him bond with them even more and the third one would be that in the case he faced a pokemon of the same species as one of his own, they would not be confused when they were called by the name of its species.

"Let's start with you, Charmander. Let me see…" he trailed off while looking at the fire lizard.

The name had to be something to do with fire, obviously. It only took him a few moments to come up with some that were decent: Blazer, Pyro, Ignis, Infernus, Rubeus, etc. However, Charmander deserved something more than a decent name. Not only his personality wouldn't match something that was generic but the goals that Charmander had set for himself had to go with how Charmander identified himself.

With that in mind…

Ash slowly began to grin at the fire lizard. "There are many stories about powerful pokemon that used to rule the lands of Kanto and Johto. One of them is about the King of the Fire Dragons. It speaks about a charizard that probably possessed the King's Nature, rumored to have reached a height of thirty feet and a wingspan of almost a hundred feet, more than double of what any charizard could hope to reach. This charizard ruled over a significant portion of Johto and went its entire reign undefeated. It's rumored that the seat of its power is what today is known as the Charicific Valley Natural Reserve and that its remains are somewhere in there. The name the natives of that time gave to this charizard was Igneel. Do you think you can live up to that name?"

Charmander's eyes had been glued to his during the entire time he was speaking and at some point, a grin that matched Ash's own appeared on the reptilian face of the fire lizard. When Ash asked his question, Charmander's blue eyes lit up and the flame of his tail flared up considerably as he gave a barking growl of acceptance of the challenge that almost sounded like a roar.

Ash's facial expression matched the one the fire lizard had. "Excellent. Then, from now on, you are Igneel, the one that shall become the King of Fire Dragons of this time and age," said Ash as he reached down and rubbed the scaled head of his starter.

The now named Igneel gave a purr of satisfaction as he was petted.

Pidgey then chirped a bit indignantly.

Ash chuckled as he stopped his ministrations on Char-, erm, Igneel's head, who gave the not so tiny bird pokemon a look of mild annoyance. "I haven't forgotten about you, Pidgey. Let's see what I can come up with," said Ash with another chuckle as Pidgey gave him an imperious look while puffing up her chest.

Considering what Pidgey would eventually grow up to be, Ash easily came up with a few names that would suit her: Skye, Aeria, Plume, Ventia, etc. However, someone as… queenly… as Pidgey deserved a name that befitted her status. Ash was planning for Pidgey to become the master of the sky, make her able of harnessing the air itself to do her whim by only using pure willpower. That made him think of one of gods of old, Zephyrus, who was said to rule over the winds of the skies of the western regions (Kanto/Johto). However, Pidgey was female and that was male name. But…

Ash smiled down at the tan and brown colored bird. "What do you think about Zephya, a shortened and feminized version of 'Zephyrus', which was the name attributed to the god of wind here in Kanto and Johto. I think it should be a fitting name considering how I am planning on building you up and what you should be capable of doing in the future. What do you think?"

The queenly bird's eyes gleamed in approval at the name and she cried out and puffed up her chest imperiously while she flapped her wings, displaying her wingspan, a few times in what seemed like emphasis.

Ash reached down and stroked her crest gently, getting a soft coo from Pid-, erm, Zephya. "I'm glad you liked it," he said before continuing his ministrations for a few moments, much to the enjoyment of the avian. He then retired his hand and looked down at his two pokemon: his starter and the first one he ever caught. They were looking at him with intense eyes and showing they were ready to face everything the world would throw at them.

Ash grinned. "Tonight, we rest but tomorrow we start working to reach our goals for real. Are you both ready?"

Igneel gave a barking growl before nodding resolutely, the flame of his tail flickering as it burned brightly.

Zephya chirped before nodding and flapping her wings repeatedly, creating a brief breeze that ruffled Ash's hair a bit.

The black-haired trainer from Pallet Town could that they were more than ready, for they were actually looking forward to it.

'And, if I'm honest, I am too.'

Okay, so this is the reason why AHWA was not updated in the past weekend.

I have been a fan of Pokémon my entire life. As in, Pokémon Red was the first game I ever owned and "finished". Why did I put quotations on the word finished? Well, while I did beat the League, I never got around completing the pokedex. I never managed to get my hands on a Mew back in the day. I still owned all the other 150 pokemon, all Lvl 100 (I used to have A LOT of free time. I probably had close to three thousand hours' worth of playtime. Heck, it's likely more than that). My original team consisted of Charizard, Pidgeot, Raichu, Rhydon, Vaporeon and Hitmonchan.

Ahem, getting side tracked here.

I always wanted to write my own fanfic about pokemon and the idea had always been in the back of my mind, what with my muse (what is left of it) focused on AHWA. However, my favorite pokemon fanfiction, Traveler by The Straight Elf, was updated recently after almost a year and I was hit harder than MGK by Eminem's Killshot (Let's be honest here. Shady murdered that dude and he wasn't even trying. Yes. I am a Stan. You can't blame me though).

I tried to write for AHWA first before putting my mediocre skill to this but sincerely couldn't. I only managed to write half of the first scene before I couldn't take it anymore. I HAD to write this before I lost my fucking mind.

And thus, Pinnacle was born.

A few things you have to keep in mind if you want to read this fanfiction:

1)To me, Alola and everything having to do with it does not exist. To me, Pokémon started to lose its essence with Unova and kind of got it back with Kalos, and that's the only reason why I am also including those regions. By that same logic, I will only use elements from generation VI and back.

2)Don't expect Ash to be an idiot and to catch a lot of pokemon. First and foremost, not only this Ash is more mature but he is also a practicioner of common sense and thinking before acting. You will see I am perfectly capable of writing an interesting and exciting story with an Ash that isn't the suicidal type of reckless.

While Ash isn't going to be like Paul that he catches a bunch of the same pokemon and releases the weaker ones, he WILL have standards for the pokemon that will be part of his team. I have already planned everything and I think you will be pleased with the choices I made.

3) I will try to make this world as realistic as possible so expect some grittiness and explicit content of all kinds. Also, do not expect for everything to work exactly like it does in the game or in the anime or in the manga. I will adapt anything I deem it needs adapting in order to fit how I am building this world. If you payed close attention, there was more than one example on this chapter.

Also, by the time this is uploaded my profile should be updated with Ash's general trainer information and his pokemon and their move pool at the end of the chapter. I will repeat this with each update.

Considering how my muse is so over the place right now, you should be getting mixed updates for this and AHWA. Sorry for all inconveniences.

I think that's all for now. Hope you enjoyed it!

Muffin out!

PD: If you can guess from where I got Ash's trainer ID number, you'll get a yet-to-be-bitten cybermuffin!