Apologies for the delay. I now realize that trying to make a schedule was a stupid idea. This was a pain in the neck to write, but I managed to get it done at last. Long story short, I will update this story, but I'm juggling three other stories as well (INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG TO CHECK OUT MY OTHER STORIES)
Misty woke up one morning to find that Ash wasn't in bed. The girls finally agreed to take turns in sharing a bed with Ash. That came about after their second group huddle almost suffocated the poor boy.
To make matters worse for them, Pikachu was on the same bed and promptly shocked everyone in the morning.
The orange-haired girl rolled over, to find Ash already fully dressed with Pikachu on his shoulder. He smiled at her, "Hey Mist, did you sleep well?"
"I did, though I was a little disappointed to not wake up in each other's arms. By the way, where's everyone else?"
He scratched the back of his head sheepishly, "Yeah, sorry about that. The others have gone on different assignments in different places. It's just the two of us, as well as Iris and Lana. Mom called me an hour ago and told me about some event in Johto. Iris and Lana weren't really interested in tagging along and wanted to just relax a little. Admittedly, it was kinda hard to get out of your embrace."
She stuck out a teasing tongue and winked, "What can I say? I'm a hardcore cuddler. Also, I'd love to come along! It'll kinda be our first date!"
Before long, the two of them were on a plane to Johto and then hopped on a tram. As they sat in the tram, with Pikachu on Ash's lap, Misty turned to Ash, "So where is this place? You never told me."
He scanned the itinerary, "The place we're headed to is called Fula City and the event is called the Wind Festival. According to some legends, Fula City was once a barren land, but Lugia brought wind to the area after seeing the strong bonds of friendship between people and Pokémon. The people went on to utilize the wind for electricity generation and construct the modern metropolis of Fula. The Wind Festival commemorates Lugia's annual return and its gift of wind for another year."
She dropped her voice almost to a whisper, "Would it count if you brought out your own Lugia?"
He shrugged and whispered back, "Doubt it. I think the one I caught is different, and the one from the legend is the Guardian Lugia. To be honest, I was planning to release mine, because I don't know what I would do with her. She's way too powerful on her own, I just caught her in that raid battle because I kinda had to. Knowing our luck, when we do meet this city's Lugia, I'm hoping to let mine go free with her/him."
Soon enough, the tram stopped and the two disembarked. They walked around, hand-in-hand, just exploring the city. Then, a commotion erupted ahead of them. Ash and Misty spotted three young boys by a lemon cart, confronting a little girl for some reason.
The Pallet Town native's blood boiled, he hated bullies. He stalked towards them just as one boy grabbed a lemon and hurled it at the girl. Luckily, Ash caught it before it could hit the child. The younger boys spluttered in shock, but the older trainers formed a protective wall in front of the redheaded child.
Misty placed her hands on her hips and tsked, "What do you three think you're doing, picking on a little girl!"
The boy who threw the lemon, presumably the ringleader, shot back, "Hey! This is between us and her! But since you are taking her side, Phanpy! Use Rollout!"
A blue elephant-like Pokémon leaped out of the tossed Pokeball and began to somersault towards the couple and the child. Ash wasn't taking it lying down, "Pikachu, dodge and use Iron Tail!"
Pikachu leaped into the air and descended back to earth, with his tail enveloped in a white glow. The mouse's aim was true and Phanpy was down in one hit.
Ash crossed his arms sternly as the boy returned the fallen elephant. He spoke, "Now I don't want to see you picking on her again, do you hear me?"
The boys ran off, and the girl promptly hugged the couple. Misty knelt and wiped away a few tears, "Don't worry sweetie, those mean kids are gone. What's your name? I'm Misty. That's Ash and his partner, Pikachu."
The girl bashfully replied, "M-Margo."
Ash also knelt, "Hey Margo, we were wondering about the Wind Festival. Do you know where it will take place?"
She pointed, "It's that way. I'd love to take you but my daddy is expecting me home."
Ash smiled and gently ruffled her red hair, "Thanks! Will we see you there?"
She nodded happily, "I will be! My daddy's the mayor so my family has to be there."
With that, she ran off in another direction, while Ash and Misty continued in the direction that Margo pointed.
Soon the festival loomed in front of them, and Misty spotted a nearby event. She bolted towards it, half-dragging Ash with her.
She cheered excitedly, "Come on Ash! This is right up your alley! A Pokémon Catch Race! You got to go and participate!"
He chuckled at his girlfriend's enthusiasm, "Okay! Okay! Lemme get signed up first!"
Soon, Ash lined up with Pikachu on his shoulder and the two were simply stretching. Meanwhile, Misty stood in the crowd and took pictures on her Rotom Phone, making sure to send them to the gang.
When the starting pistol fired, everyone was off. Unsurprisingly to Misty, Ash rocketed into the lead. However, a burly man with brown hair, sporting a red shirt, grey trousers, a yellow and brown jacket and a blue beret, was right on his heels. Earlier, Misty and Ash had overheard him boasting about how he was an incredible Pokémon trainer, but they paid him no heed.
Just as Misty was recording, she felt a tap on her shoulder. They girl turned to come face to face with a tall blonde girl with pink and green highlights on the fringe of her hair, with a pair of red sunglasses resting on top of her head. The girl smiled nervously, "Hi I hope I'm not bothering you; I was wondering where I could find this Pokémon. I'm Risa"
"Hi! I'm Misty, um… I'm kinda new here, but you can find plenty of them in the wild."
Misty turned back to the giant screen, just in time to catch some major drama. Apparently, a Tyranitar had inexplicably gone on a rampage, and Ash and Pikachu were chasing after it, trying to calm it down. Misty couldn't help the smile on her face, this was typical Ash Ketchum behaviour.
Eventually, a well-time Iron Tail managed to knock out the Tyranitar before it could attack some nearby spectators. The two managed to find the source of discomfort, a coil of wire had tangled the large Pokémon and hurt it a little. Slowly, Ash helped it regain consciousness and helped it back to the area.
Suddenly, it wrapped him in a hug. Needless to say, he was caught off guard with the sudden affection. Ash turned to face the Armor Pokémon, when it locked eyes with him. Just then, a flash of recognition crossed him, "Wait… Are you the same Larvitar we brought to Mt. Silver?"
The giant Pokémon nodded, "Ty-ranitar."
Misty came running up, just as he and Pikachu embraced the wild Pokémon. Just then, a man approached him. The man clapped, "Incredible! I have never seen any trainer pull off such a display of bravery! I am the mayor of Fula City"
He took note of Tyranitar's proximity to Ash, "Say… do you know this Pokémon?"
Ash nodded, "I took care of him as an egg when I had to deliver him from Pallet Town in Kanto to Mt. Silver. Along the way, he hatched and… you could say, we bonded."
The man smiled, "Normally, it is against the rules for people to keep the Pokémon they caught. But I'm willing to make an exception for you and Tyranitar. Only because you saved our city and because of your bond."
Ash looked at Tyranitar, joy filling his face. He took out his own Pokeball, as opposed to the competition's Pokeballs, "What do you say buddy? For old time's sake?"
The giant Pokémon tapped the ball with its snout, got sucked in and confirmed the capture immediately.
The man nodded to him, "Congratulations, you have finished 2nd in the competition. Please head this way to receive your trophy."
Eventually the burly man, who they later found out was called Callahan, won the event.
That night, Ash and Misty were sitting, cuddled up in their hotel room. She had already given him an earful for his recklessness, but eventually forgave him with a kiss.
After a while, the two stepped out, as they planned a romantic stroll through the city. Just as they approached the elevator, it dinged and opened, to reveal Risa, who was a mess. Her red dress and white blouse was torn in various places, her makeup was smudged and there were leaves and twigs sticking out of her disheveled hair.
As soon as her gaze fell on Ash, her eyes brightened with recognition. Unfortunately, the elevator doors nearly closed in her face. Luckily, she caught it in time and forced them open. The girl lunged and grabbed Ash, "Finally! I found you!"
Ash and Misty were startled, but none more so than Pikachu. The mouse promptly jumped and launched a Thunderbolt, shocking the trio. After they recovered, and Risa apologized profusely and introduced herself to Ash. She wanted his help in catching the Pokemon that she showed Misty. After hearing about her predicament, he promised to help her.
The next day, Ash, Misty and Risa found themselves crouched behind a bush. They peeped out and spotted an Eevee frolicking around in a meadow. Ash grinned, "Alright Risa! Here's your chance! Here, you can borrow Pikachu."
He and Misty gently pushed her out of the clearing, as Pikachu bounded forward and got in a battle stance. As the taller girl trembled a little, Eevee took capital advantage of her hesitation and unleashed a Sand Attack.
A bit caught off guard, Pikachu got blinded, but Ash managed to coax the girl into getting Pikachu to dodge a Tackle. On her orders, Pikachu darted forward with a Quick Attack. She tossed the Pokeball, but Eevee broke out. After defending a Swift with Iron Tail, Pikachu fired a Thunderbolt. That was when she tossed another Pokeball and the capture stuck this time around.
The delighted girl celebrated and wrapped her two companions with a hug. They decided to rest for a bit while Pikachu and Eeevee played around. That was when Risa revealed that she used to be a track and field prodigy until an injury ended her hopes. She managed to recover, but she was too afraid of injuring herself again. Empathizing with her situation, Ash gave her a comforting pat on the back and she blushed a little.
Next to him, Misty smirked to herself, 'I guess we have another one, huh? Jeez Ash, you're a natural at this. Of course, we'll give her time to sort out her feelings first. Can't deny one thing though, she is quite pretty.'
Ash told the blonde, "You know something? I've been through a bit of a slump too. Ever since I started my journey in Kanto, I competed in various leagues but never managed to win. The Kalos and the Alola Leagues was where I got the closest. I lost in the final on both occasions."
He exhaled, "After the Alola loss, I was so devastated that I almost considered quitting. Honestly, I'm still on the fence about that, but I'm just tired of being so close, yet so far."
She reached over and wrapped him in a side hug. Risa whispered, "That win will come Ash, don't worry."
He shot her a grateful smile, until they heard the sound of an approaching motorbike. The trio turned to see Officer Jenny racing towards them. The cop explained that she and her team have discovered signs of minor vandalism at the Wind Festival.
With a look of alarm, the three of them gathered their Pokémon and rushed back to the city. When they reached, they met with the mayor once again. He briefed Officer Jenny on the situation, while Ash and company also listened in.
Ash and Misty immediately volunteered to help with repairs and get the festival up and running again. Risa grudgingly followed them and began to help out. While they worked, the three happened to hear a few townsfolk talking about something known as Zeraora's curse.
The Kanto natives shared a knowing look. Their thoughts were clear, 'This is going to be another one of those adventures, huh?'
As they walked back to their hotel, Ash and Misty spotted some familiar and slightly unwelcome faces in an empty alley. Ash groaned, "Oh no, not again!".
However, it appeared that Team Rocket were not paying attention to them. Ash and Misty hid while James, activated a small device. Sure enough, a holographic screen popped up with a grim-looking man facing them.
"Jessie, James and Meowth! I have been reviewing your activity over the years of your service. There have been a few occasions where you did me proud."
The trio nodded, "Thank you sir!, Giovanni sir!"
The man's mouth twisted into a scowl, "The bad news for you three is that your failures far outweigh your successes. Frankly, I have had it with your failures. You have consistently wasted my time and money on your hair-brained schemes. So, with immediate effect, you three are hereby fired from Team Rocket!"
They visibly paled.
His scowl turned into a thin-lipped smirk, "Fortunately, I am merciful, so all the Pokémon that you have caught at the various regions will be returned back to you."
With that, the boss terminated the call.
The Rocket trio stood there, stunned and staring blankly at the device.
Ash whispered to his girlfriend, "Is it weird that I feel bad for them? Sure, they were a pain in the neck to deal with, but you can't deny that they helped us out in some situations."
She nodded and whispered back, "Yeah you're right. I think we can help them turn over a new leaf."
The couple then approached the depressed trio and Ash cleared his throat. Jessie turned her head dejectedly and simply mumbled, "Oh… It's just you two, the original twerp pair and a new twerpette. Here to blast us off again? Go ahead then, we don't care anymore."
Ash approached them, they flinched, expecting a Thunderbolt. Jessie opened one eye, and he was still standing there, with a sad smile, as were the others.
"I know we've all had our differences, but for what it's worth, I'm sorry that that happened to you three."
Meowth grumbled, "At least a couple of good things came out of it. First, I don't have to see that smug Persian any more. Secondly, Jessie and James can't stand Billy and Cassidy."
With that, the five of them, plus three Pokémon went back to their hotel. While James and Jessie booked a room, Ash and Misty texted the rest of their friends about the new development. Surprisingly the response was positive from everyone. Then they went back to trying to salvage the festival.
As they worked, Ash and Misty met Margo again, and a girl called Kellie also joined them. The group talked while they worked and Ash even regaled a few of his adventures. Repairs continued for the rest of the day, until Ash, Misty, James, Jessie, Meowth and Risa trudged back to their hotel. Misty offered to let Risa crash with them for the night, which she accepted.
Knowing the former Gym leader, Ash figured out that Misty was trying to get the taller girl into their circle. He shot her a look and she winked at him, prompting him to roll his eyes good-naturedly.
The next day, as soon as they exited the hotel, Ash could clearly tell that something was wrong. After speaking to a few panicked locals, they found out that the windmills were no longer functional and the city's prized possession, the Eternal Flame was stolen.
The former Team Rocket trio immediately insisted that this was not their doing. Eventually, they met with the Mayor once again and he implored them to find the Eternal Flame. Without it, Lugia would not be able to find Fula City and supply it with wind power.
Misty was about to open her mouth, but Ash silenced her with a look. They all went to see where the relic was supposed to be on display. Just then, Pikachu and Eevee picked up a scent and bounded after it. The group gave chase and it lead them to a Smeargle at a nearby lab.
One of the researchers, called Toren revealed that the previous night, there was a break in at the lab and the perpetrators spilled some Smeargle ink. Toren soon joined the group, as he carried a UV torch to check for footprints from the Smeargle ink. Eventually, the trail lead all the way into a forest outside the town.
Back with Ash and company, Mayor Oliver was shocked to discover that the footprints lead to Margo, his own daughter! Unfortunately, she had her hands full with a group of hunters. On the bright side, there was a bipedal Pokémon in front of her, as if it was protecting her. The Pokémon and Ash made short work of the hunters, before the Mayor turned to his daughter and scolded her.
Nearly in tears, Margo spoke about how she met the Pokémon, which was the mysterious Zeraora. As it turned out, she wanted to stop the Wind Festival from going ahead to prevent anyone finding Zeraora. Upon hearing that, his features softened and he gently told her a story.
Ash, Misty, James, Jessie and Risa also gathered around to hear it. According to legend, Zeraora once lived peacefully in the forest with the city inhabitants. Unfortunately, several years ago, the forest was gutted in a fire, due to people's greed and disregard for nature.
Although Zeraora saved many of the wild Pokémon, it lost faith in humanity. Owing to this, Oliver's predecessor lied to the people to protect Zeraora, and forbade anyone from going into the forest.
Suddenly, lightning flashed somewhere in the forest and a fire broke out. Ash jumped into the action straightaway. He called out his Oshawott and ordered a Hydro Pump. Misty called out Starmie and ordered him to do the same.
Meanwhile, Risa was panicking, until Ash managed to calm her down a little. Margo retrieved the Eternal Flame and Ash handed it to the taller girl. He told her that she had to run back and put it back on the pedestal. Risa tried to protest, but he grabbed her face with both hands and forced her to look into his eyes.
"Look… I know you're scared. But if you don't do it, lots of innocent people and Pokémon will possibly die. You're strong and I believe in you. Even your Eevee believes in you. If not for the city, do it for Eevee! As long as you have your Pokémon partner with you, you can do anything!"
Her gaze hardened and she nodded firmly. Kicking off her heels and tying her hair, she assumed a sprinter's stance and took off running. Meanwhile, Mayor Oliver went back to the city to calm the people down, but not before Ash and Misty promised to keep Margo safe. Meanwhile, James, Meowth and Jessie went off to find some more help. Apparently, they heard talk of an old woman who used to work at a nearby power plant before it was later abandoned.
Ash approached the Pokémon slowly. He stopped when he saw it tense a little. However, Margo continued before Ash could stop her. Zeraora froze for a moment and the girl stopped.
While all this was going on, a group of Pokémon had gathered near the commotion. Margo stepped forward again to try and reason with Zeraora. Unfortunately, it lashed out in a random direction and the attack almost hit some of the Pokémon. However, Ash dived in the way to try and shield them, ignoring Misty's screams.
The Plasma Bolt attack struck him and shocked the trainer. Upon seeing the selfless act, Zeraora snapped out of it. Ash slowly got up, and Misty rushed to help him. She sighed, "You always have to be the hero, huh? You're lucky I know you so well."
With the help of the Mythical Pokémon, Ash managed to convince the wild Pokémon to help put out the fire. Admittedly, they made progress, but was too slow for Ash's liking.
Just then, there was a loud metallic groan in the distance. The couple turned in that direction to see the old power plant slowly whirr back to life. The Pokémon redouble their efforts and push the fire back. Eventually, they all reach Fula stadium, where the fire was at its worst. However, Zeraora had mysteriously disappeared when they moved closer to the city
Oshawott and company tried to keep it up, but were soon running out of energy. Misty spotted a sprinkler system and caught her boyfriend's attention. Ash then had a quick talk with Pikachu, who rallied the Electric types to try and get the electricity back up and running. After they got it back up, Margo rushed off to turn the system on and the sprinklers turned on immediately.
Even with the sprinklers, progress was way too slow. Oshawott slumped over, completely spent, and one by one, the wild Water Types also exhausted themselves. Then, a fresh burst of water sprayed the fire, and the gang turned to see Mayor Oliver and many residents gathered. A number of them also have a variety of Water Types with them.
With renewed vigor, they worked harder to fight the fire. Everyone was making good progress, until there was a loud creak. Ash and company turned to see a weakened support beam about to fall on the ground. Then it broke and plummeted to the ground, with an oblivious Margo right in its path.
The mayor yelled out a warning while Ash sprinted to save the child. However, someone got to her first, Zeraora. Ash and the mayor rushed to the duo, and were relieved to find that she was unharmed.
Suddenly, a pale green light lit up from the corner of everyone's eyes. Mayor Oliver sagged with relief, "The Eternal Flame has been restored at last."
Ash and Misty also sank to the floor, hugging, "Arceus bless her, she did it! Risa actually did it."
To cap off the situation, the wind picked back up and the turbines began to spin again. Ash, Pikachu and Misty led the crowd to the seafront and towards the building that housed the Eternal Flame. Just then, an audible gasp rippled through the crowd. Ash and Misty turned and they spotted a massive Lugia burst from the water and hover above everyone.
Lugia opened its mouth and let out a roar. On cue, the skies were filled with massive dark rainclouds and the rain quickly took care of the fire. Gradually the crowd dispersed, and it was only Ash, Pikachu and Misty. Lugia was still flying around when it decided to land in front of the couple.
Ash took out a Pokeball and approached the Legendary. It tensed upon seeing the ball. Ash stopped, pressed a button and released his own Lugia. His Lugia was considerably smaller, so he assumed that it was just a baby. He spoke to the larger Legendary, "Please take care of her, I just caught her in a Raid Battle because I didn't want anybody to exploit her. Besides, what would I do with a legendary?"
With that, Ash pocketed the now empty ball. Both Lugia gave a small bow in acknowledgement before they both dived back into the sea. Misty placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, "You did the right thing Ash. Now, shall we go back? You still owe me a date."
He grinned back and linked arms with her, "You got it, Mist!"
All in all, they had a great time at Fula City, and Misty even managed to capture a Lanturn. Jessie, James and Meowth also joined in the festivities. Soon, it was time to depart, and the six of them decided to head back home to Kanto. Just before they reached city limits, a voice called out to them. They turned to find Risa and her Eevee running towards them.
Catching up to them, she panted a little and caught her breath. She looked up at them, "Hey I was just wondering if I could tag along with you guys. I've never really had many friends and I thought it would be fun to travel with you guys."
Ash had a broad grin, "Well come on then! The more, the merrier. I can't wait for you to meet my other friends. Also, Eevee will have a lot of fun with my Pokémon."