A/N: Hi everyone and welcome back to Ash and Co. Read The Traveler! This chapter we finally get into the actual story and I'm excited to see how you feel about my interpretation of the characters. Since I'm absolutely terrified of the admins taking down this story for violating their rules, I will be posting the beginning and ending parts of longer statements and sections.

If this bothers you, I do apologize, but let me know with a review and any advice on how to do this more effectively is appreciated. Definitely not the same as novelizing a movie script.

If you'd like to read the story in full, then please go check out the original written by The Straight Elf. It really is a top notch fanfic.

As usual, I don't own pokemon or the Traveler. I just love reacting to them! Don't forget to leave a review and share the story with friends.

Constructive Criticism are welcomed, flames not so much

XXX

"Before we get started, one more quick update," Gira announced, gaining everyone's attention. "As we read, scenes from the book will appear on the tv to your right, so when something interesting happens, don't be surprised to get a visual to go along with the words."

Everyone looked interested and settled in as Professor Oak opened the book and cleared his throat with a hoarse cough. Then he began reading the first words and the tale began.

Today, he reflected, was the most important day of his life… a charizard on the television he had wanted one. The fire pokemon was strong even when it was young, and only got stronger as it aged and evolved.

"Whoa, what's going on?" asked Iris.

"Oh, I know. This was the day I got my first pokemon!" Ash cried out with excitement. It was of course a day he'd always remember well. After all, it's when he met his best friend in the whole world.

"So you wanted a Charmander? Guess that makes considering your Charizard," Cilan nodded.

"Actually, I wanted a Squirtle as my starter," Ash corrected, breaking the poor Pokemon Connoisseur's heart.

"But I beat you too it, didn't I Ashyboy?" Ash didn't dignify the obvious taunt and listened on.

He had made sure to bed early last night… there was no way that he would be late.

"Well at least this version of Ash didn't make me wait," Oak laughed. "Maybe you could take a lesson from him." Ash felt his cheeks glow as Brock lightly jabbed his arm with a laugh.

It turned out that his plan worked great. Ash was ready… since she might not see him for a long time. Instead of listening, he just envisioned himself becoming Champion with his future charizard at his side.

"Ash, you should listen when I'm speaking to you!" His mother scolded lightly.

"But mom, it's not me. It's a me from another universe," Ash whined, but his mother wasn't having it.

"I don't care young man. You need to remember than even Pokémon Masters have to respect their mothers."

"I don't know who I feel worse for, us or the twerp?" Meowth whispered as his partners nodded along. Misty smirked. At least now there was someone else to call Ash out on his idiocy. Serena just patted Ash on the back sympathetically.

"Oh!" His mother suddenly exclaimed, looking past his shoulder at the clock. "You need to get going if you want to get to the lab in time! Make sure you come back here and say goodbye before you leave! I'll have your backpack ready."

"So no parade then?"

Ash smiled at her and nodded, the excitement… a small town that everybody knew that he and a few other kids would be starting today.

In no time at all he was at the large white building… saw that three other kids were standing in front of the doors. Ash walked up nervously, but before he could greet them a familiar, irritating voice broke out from them.

"Oh look!" Gary said arrogantly. "It's the loser. I'm surprised you even showed up – we all know that I'm going to beat you."

"And here we go…" Ash mumbled. The others looked between him and Gary. Gary looked a little abashed. Sure, he had been a bit cocky when they started out, but he wasn't that bad… right?

Ash gritted his teeth but said nothing. The other two kids – a rather short boy named Jonathan and a pretty girl named Amelia – looked uncomfortable with Gary's teasing but were too meek to protest against him.. They just looked down and kept their eyes away from Gary.

"So do you remember the other kids who started their journeys with you Ash?" May asked.

"Yeah," Ash nodded, "they were nice enough, though I guess they left right after getting their pokemon."

"Indeed," said Oak. "Those two did well enough in their gym challenge, but eventually dropped out and returned to regular life."

"Wonder what they'll do here?"

Finally, Ash snapped. "Shut up Gary! I'll beat you when we get our pokemon!"

"Ashy!" Ash gulped and folded under his mother's glare.

"Yeah right." Gary smirked. "A loser like you doesn't have any chance against me! But let's do it. I'll show you what it means to be a real trainer."

"Oh Gary…" Gary did the same under Oaks and the dirty blonde haired girls.

Ash tightly nodded, glaring at Gary. He reigned in his temper, not wanting to start a fight the day he got his first pokemon. He would just have to beat him in their battle.

"Yeah! No way I'm gonna lose to you Gary."

"We'll see."

The rest of the audience ignored the two boys posturing. If they kept quiet long enough maybe they'd actually find out.

The next few minutes… to chatter about what pokemon they wanted and how they would start off.

Jonathan and Amelia would be travelling together, and… would want to travel together to begin with.

"That was nice of them. I'm sure you'll be great friends," Bonnie cheered. Professor Oak and Delia, meanwhile, wondered what it would have been like if their boys had traveled together. A scary thought to be sure.

Finally, the glass doors… as they moved into a small room to the right of the main lab… tension they were feeling, although Gary didn't need it. He had an overabundance of confidence as it was.

"Why would you be tense?"

Ash noticed a small problem. "Professor Oak?" He asked quietly. Oak looked at him curiously, and despite knowing the man for years Ash found himself regretting speaking up. "There are only three pokeballs."

"Oh, that could be a problem."

"You think?" Everyone jumped, suddenly reminded of Gira's presence. Their captor, I mean, host sent the old professor an amused glare. "So why didn't you have another pokemon ready? Would it really have been that hard to pick out another good starter, even if it wasn't a traditional one? I mean, even you admitted to Ash that Pikachu was a handful."

"Well, yes, I suppose it had slipped my mind. It's not often we have more than three children at a time who wish to become trainers, even less likely they would all pass the exam. I'll admit it did slip my mind to prepare another pokemon for the fourth trainer."

"It doesn't matter how it happened really," Ash jumped in. "I wouldn't trade Pikachu for the world."

"Pika pi!"

"Ash is right," Clemont agreed. "Sometimes choosing a pokemon is less about choice and more about having faith in each other."

"That was a good one big brother." Bonnie stared in awe of her brother, while Max rolled his eyes at the fan fair.

"I know that's how I got my Piplup," Dawn agreed, while Piplup leapt onto the table, posing for his captive audience.

"And we wouldn't have it any other way, right buddy?"

"Pikachu!"

Oak looked confused for a moment before he realized the problem.

"Oh! I must have made a mistake." Oak said, cheeks turning red from embarrassment. Ash and the other two trainers looked at each other anxiously, not sure if they would get their starters today.

"See, I admit to it," Oak pointed out.

"Don't worry." Oak said as he saw the look they shared. "You'll all get a pokemon. One of you will just have to wait a few minutes for me to procure one."

They shared a sigh of relief. Oak smiled and continued.

"Now, who is willing to wait on their pokemon? I don't want the others to have to wait."

Everyone shared a moment… he realized he would have to wait but decided it didn't matter. As long as he got a starter it was fine.

"I'll wait." He said sadly. Oak looked impressed with him and smiled.

"How very mature of you Ash," Cilan said with admiration in his eyes.

"Wow, Ash acting like a grown up? I never thought I'd see the day," the dragon girl gasped.

"Hey!" Iris laughed at Ash's outrage. Of course this Ash was still a little kid, no matter how old he got.

"Good. Just let the others get their pokemon…grabbed the squirtle's pokeball. Gary released the small blue turtle and sized it up. Apparently he found it to his liking because he smiled at it.

Jonathan chose the Charmander… Amelia picked the bulbasaur… I have an important announcement."

"An announcement? I don't remember you saying anything like that Gramps?" Gary rubbed his chin.

"Well let's see what this other me has to say then."

Gary grumbled as he returned… I invented a machine called the pokedex. It collects a detailed amount of information… entrusting each of you a pokedex to collect the information for me."

"Oh!" Eyes lit up in understanding.

"I guess that makes some sense, considering how rare a pokedex is," Max reasoned.

In truth, the only people he'd seen with pokedexs were Ash, Dawn, and his sister. Sure there was an odd trainer every now and then who carried one, but to own a pokedex meant you had some connection to a regional professor and earning a pokemon from them was considered a high honor. It usually meant they trusted said trainer enough to help with their research, even if it was just a byproduct of their journey.

With that said he opened up a small bag on a table in the corner and withdrew four small red computers. He handed one to each of them, and Ash looked at curiously before wondering why he had four pokedexes ready but only three pokemon.

"Err, Professor Oak?" He asked. The old man looked at him after he had given Gary a pokedex. "Why did you have four pokedexes but only three pokemon?"

"I have lots of Pokedexes in that bag." Oak explained. He turned back to the new trainers. "Once you activate the pokedex and put your information in it will serve as your identity. Now, the pokedex gives you information on any pokemon you come across. For example, it will give you what type it is, what it likes to eat, what species it is, and will tell you what moves it knows."

Ash's eyes widened as he heard just how much the pokedex could do. Professor Oak continued to list its features, which revealed that it had information like the pokemon's habitat, gender, and a detailed description on the species. When he scanned something with it the pokedex it would give a basic summary of the pokemon, but to learn more about it he had to actually open it up and read.

The fact that a pokedex also offered trainers a virtual library of all known pokemon (at least in that region depending on updates) was another reason earning a regional professor's trust was such a big deal. Owning a pokedex helped with training exponentially compared to those who had to learn on the fly. Being able to call upon vast amounts of data at a moment's notice, it was a trainer's dream. It was amazing that Ash hadn't known about those extra functions until Max had demonstrated them all the way in Hoenn on his sister's. Dawn, thankfully, had read the instructions after receiving it.

"Now that you know what it can do, I suggest you all go outside and get ready for your journey. Make sure to activate the pokedex at your earliest opportunity. Ash, please stay in here."

"So this is it then? When Pikachu and I first meet?"

"Ash, don't forget that this is another world. Who knows what Professor Oak is going to give you," said Misty. She loved Pikachu as much as Ash did. Ok, maybe that's not entirely true, but she still didn't want Ash to get his hopes up only to have them crushed.

Ash grudgingly nodded and waved Jonathan and Amelia… hoped that Oak could find him a charmander.

"Doubtful."

"We'll wait for you, don't worry!" Jonathan said with a smile. "Just come meet us at the gate when you're ready. Amelia still has to get her bag anyways."

"Aww, how sweet. I should definitely invite those two over for dinner."

"Speaking of which, is there any food here?" Jessie asked. Her stomach was dangerously close to making some very unlady like sounds.

"Don't worry," Gira replied. "There will be snacks served later in the reading."

"Alrighty then, read ahead," Jessie cheered. "I can't wait until my dazzling self makes a guest appearance."

"Should we tell her to take it down a notch?" James asked Meowth in a hushed tone.

"Why bother? Just let that star crash and burn on its own," Meowth shrugged.

He grinned and thanked… Oak finally came back holding a plain pokeball. Ash… held his hand out Ash practically snatched the small orb out of his hand and stared at it in awe.

Everyone was leaning forward in their seats with anticipation. Pikachu nearly fell off Ash's shoulder.

He pressed the release button and eagerly watched as red energy shot out of the ball and coalesced into a small, pink creature. Ash was momentarily… nidoran looked at him curiously and twitched its ears. The new trainer grinned, but didn't pet him. He remembered that they were supposed to have poisonous barbs on them.

Pikachu fell onto the table in a depressed heap. So he and Ash weren't partners here. No, he'd gotten replaced by a big eared rabbit? No one seemed to notice Pikachu's momentary slip, but Dedenne wriggled out of Bonnie's grip and nuzzled up to the older electric type.

"So a nidoran is your partner then?" Brock repeated. "Not a bad choice. Both male and female are rather docile in their first forms and still follow the standard three stages of evolution all starter pokemon have."

"A truly delectable preparation, but how will this dish compare to the one to which we are accustomed?" (A/N No prize if you can guess who said this)

Ash stood up and aimed the pokedex… summary on Nidoran.

"Nidoran, the Poison Pin Pokemon. It stiffens its ears to sense danger. The larger its horns, the more powerful its secreted venom.

This nidoran knows the moves: Peck, focus energy, confusion, and leer. Its ability is poison point, which poisons pokemon that use physical moves against it."

"How big are its horns compared to other nidoran?" He asked the professor. Oak looked closely at it for a moment before answering.

"That's the first thing you ask?"

"Good question." Max and Iris shared a quick stare down before both turned away.

"I think it's cute," Serena squealed. Those floppy ears, bucked teeth, and big eyes made it look like the perfect snuggle buddy. That is, if you can avoid the poison.

"Quite large." He admitted. "This is an impressive specimen of its breed. It will do quite well no matter what you use it for. I must admit that it has quite the advantage in knowing confusion. One of its parents must have been a psychic type."

"How does that work?" Ash asked, tilting his head deep in concentration.

"Well Ash, when a mommy and daddy pokemon really love each other…" Brock began only to shout in abject terror as Misty yanked on his ear.

"We don't need a lecture Doctor Brock and in case you've forgotten there's a kid here!"

Ash grinned at that and looked at Nidoran. "Do you want to be friends?"

The Nidoran just looked at him and twitched… hold in his excitement at finally having a pokemon. Who needed a charmander? He had Nidoran, which evolved into pretty powerful pokemon.

"I'm surprised this version of you knew that Ash," Misty teased. "This Ash is already way ahead."

"I wasn't that bad!"

As he walked out of the lab he noticed that Gary was waiting outside with a cocky smile on his face. Ash gritted his teeth as he saw Gary and withdrew his pokeball.

"What took you so long, Ashy-boy?" Gary asked as he released his squirtle. The turtle tried to mimic its owners pose, but fell over doing it. Ash had to hold back a laugh as the turtle got back up, but the squirtle still noticed.

"C'mon." Gary said, annoyed at Ash's laughter. "I bet squirtle can beat your pokemon easy."

Ash grinned and released Nidoran. The small pokemon scratched its large ear when it came out and looked at Ash.

"Wait, are we really gonna battle already?" Gary asked.

"Looks like it," said Brock.

The rest of the audience looked on with interest. While this Gary didn't seem much different than his younger counterpart, this Ash certainly was. If this had happened in their reality, all were certain a battle between Pikachu and Squirtle would have ended in Ash's absolute defeat. Type advantage didn't mean anything if your pokemon wouldn't listen.

"Hey, Nidoran. Can you beat… Go get him, squirtle. Use tackle!"

"And I start things off for an early lead!"

His face colored… going over Nidoran's capabilities. He knew that Nidoran wouldn't be very durable… needed to focus.

"Wow Ash, is that how you usually battle?" Serena asked.

"I usually trust my gut and believe in my pokemon to do their best, but sometimes I need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of my team before making a decision."

"$20 poke on Gary," Iris whispered to Misty, who nodded.

"Nah, I'll put $10 on Ash," Dawn replied.

"Dodge and peck!" He cried. Nidoran jumped out of the way at the last second and let the turtle run into the lab's wall. His pokemon lunged at the dazed turtle and rammed its vulnerable underbelly with his horn.

Squirtle cried out in pain, but at the insistence of its trainer it pulled itself up and continued fighting. The turtle… injected the tired squirtle full of venom when it tackled Nidoran, and the turtle was unable to fight.

"Oh no, Poison Point!"

"What's that?" Bonnie asked.

"It's an ability that allows pokemon to poison their enemy through contact, usually with a horn or sharp point. Pokemon like Nidoran make use of it to weaken an attacker so they can retreat usually, but in this case it would definitely give Ash the edge in a battle."

"Very true Max, and the stronger the pokemon the worse the poison can be. A small pokemon like Nidoran wouldn't have too much to work with, but against an untrained squirtle it's another story."

Oak was happy to inform the others, but was almost drowned out by Ash's shouts of victory and the grumbling of Iris as money exchanged hands. No one noticed Gary forking over a big wad of his own hard earned cash to Brock, Clemont, and surprisingly Delia.

Ash cheered Nidoran on for a moment… too shocked that he had lost to bother them. They left Gary with his unconscious squirtle and walked back to Ash's home in euphoria over their win. Ash grinned and jumped almost the entire way home.

"So was I."

His mom was watching TV when they entered the small house. When Ash and Nidoran walked in, she jumped up and squealed in excitement when she saw the small pokemon.

"Oh, Ash! It's so cute!" She cried before scooping Nidoran up. Ash tried to call out a warning before she pricked herself on one of the poisonous barbs. His mom just looked at him admonishingly. She was carrying Nidoran strangely, but Ash realized that it was a position that would keep Nidoran from accidently pricking her.

"Don't you remember?... taught me a lot about pokemon."

"He did?" Ash asked his mother.

"Well," Delia said with a blush now that the focus was on her. "I didn't study that long. Just about as much as any new trainer would, but after some time my parents needed help in the restaurant and I thought cooking was much more fun that battling pokemon."

Ash looked at his mother oddly, not sure if he was more surprised by her admission to studying under Professor Oak or that someone could find cooking better than training pokemon.

Ash blushed in embarrassment… sure it had everything he would need.

Food for him and his pokemon? Check.

A map? Check.

Rope and potions? Check.

"At least you're prepared," Serena sighed.

"Yeah, unlike some people." Max said pointedly as his sister turned away with a face redder than a firetruck.

A few more things… he could see tears in her eyes, but she pushed him out of the door before he could check.

"Awww," most of the females cried, making the Pallet town native blush like his counterpart.

"Alright, we're on the road to bigger and better things!" Team Rocket cheered. When they noticed the strange glances they were receiving James replied, "What? Are we not allowed to be invested with such a compelling story? We enjoy drama too you know!"

"We know, we know."

XXX

The new trainer waved her goodbye and when he was finally out of sight of the house he ran to the gate that separated Pallet Town from Route 1. Ash saw the others waiting on him and both of them looked at Nidoran in curiosity.

"So what happened when you first started out Ash?" Serena asked with those big, innocent eyes. Everyone's turned towards Ash, who chuckled awkwardly.

"Well, Pikachu and I weren't really the best of friends yet, so we had some issues to work out, hehehe…"

"If by issues you mean Pikachu kept zapping you, then ya, you were a regular pair of troublemakers."

The laughter than followed Gira's statement left the whole group wheezing for air. "Though you two did make up by the end of it, so all's well that ends well. Being chased by a horde of spearow is a good way to bring anyone together."

"WHAT!" Came a very high pitched shout. Ash winced when he realized that he'd never exactly told his mom the story of route 1. Actually she might have been the only person in the room not to know.

"Hey, let's just keep reading. What happens next Professor," Ash tried to shift back to the book, but the look his mother was sending him said this conversation wasn't yet over.

"Is that a Nidoran!" Amelia asked excitedly. "That's so cool. I didn't even know the Professor had one."

Nidoran looked uncomfortable… eager to venture out into the world.

"Not a bad start. It's important to know your pokemon's strengths and weaknesses in order to help them improve."

"I'm just glad Ash already has some lovely companions."

It did beg the question though. What about Misty and Brock?

Ash had to return Nidoran after a while. Although his starter… see the battle between Bruno and that Marcus guy last night?"

"That was awesome!" Jonathan said loudly. Ash noticed that a few pidgey roosting in the tree above them fled due to Jonathan's loud voice. "Bruno… the end of Lorelei's match."

"Oh it was great!" Jonathan said boisterously. "Marcus' Gengar… mad over his loss."

"Oh yeah, I remember watching that match!" Ash exclaimed. He'd only gotten to see up till Bruno's onix came out and never did have the chance to find out what happened after. He'd been so caught up with his own journey.

"It was quite the spectacle. Not many can get the better of even one elite four member, let alone two." Oak preached, thinking back fondly to his time with a certain ghost master. She still called from time to time to both brag and berate him. Her spite was probably what kept her going for so long. Those not from Kanto were excited to hear more about the foreign elite four, especially Iris. After her loss against Clair, she could only imagine how strong the her cousin might be. She was eager to find out and maybe, just maybe, she'd get to see it here.

Ash and Amelia listened intently, but eventually… heard about the spearow flock that's been causing trouble… he was terrified of bird pokemon – but Ash wanted to know more.

"Uh-oh." The audience was tense hearing this, especially after Gira's mention of it.

"I thought that Professor Oak had them driven off a few weeks ago?" Ash said, reflecting back to the day that Oak had left with his gigantic dragonite. Gary had been bragging about being taught by his grandfather all day after that.

"How is your dragonite by the way?" Gary asked, not in the least shocked like the rest of their group. "He's getting up there in years now isn't he?"

Oak laughed. "And he's still as young and spry as I am. Sure he's not battling nearly as much, but perhaps I should let my old team out and about. Clearing out those spearows would certainly have been a wise move."

"What other pokemon do you have Professor?" asked a curious Max.

"Well, you'll just have to wait and see," Oak replied in that mysterious way all old people can.

The mention of Oak's champion level team did raise some eyebrows. What else did the Professor have up his lab coat sleeve.

"He did." Amelia confirmed. "But they came… have way too good of a type advantage."

"That doesn't sound great. At least with Pikachu you had an advantage over them and some wide spread moves too."

"Yeah, Pikachu's always there when I need him."

"Pikachu!" The electric rodent cheered, happy not to be overshadowed entirely by this new pink partner.

"Hmm, this other twerp's pokemon doesn't seem nearly as special as Pikachu is," Meowth noted.

"It had better be, otherwise we might not even have a guest appearance." The boys sweat dropped as Jessie's inner deva shined through.

"Ember would be able to fight off a few of them." Jonathan whispered as he continued searching the area for birds. Both Ash and Amelia looked at him oddly. "But he would have to get closer before he could really do anything."

Ash shrugged… fist night would be pretty uncomfortable.

They continued on for a bit longer… they'd died from the wild. None of them wanted to be like that.

No one wanted to imagine what it would have been like for any of them to run out of supplies, especially the parental figures. Thank Arceus for Brock and eventually Cilan. Clemont too, but unlike the others he wasn't a master chef.

Ash yawned and wondered where Jonathan… its tail flame would come in handy.

"Why didn't we ever think of that!" The three original twerps cried.

Just as he and Amelia were beginning to get worried, they heard a rustling at the edge of the trees. Amelia released her bulbasaur and Ash was… its tail flame away from Jonathan.

"Not a bad campsite," Brock approved.

"That Charmander seems kind of lazy, doesn't it?" Clemont asked. He'd never seen Ash's, but he had seen Trevor's and it was way more active.

"Put that out before you guys fall asleep." Jonathan said… class had been either too young or deemed too irresponsible to leave Pallet Town.

"And yet somehow our Ash passed." Gary earned a few chuckles, though his tone was not nearly as condescending as usual.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by Nidoran, who seemed… to nod at him enthusiastically. Ash smiled at his starter. "If you hear something, make sure to wake us up."

"Smart when wild pokemon are out and about."

"But most wild pokemon won't just attack for no reason, right?"

"I hope not."

Nidoran nodded and curled up next to him, although he kept his back and its poisonous barbs to the fire pit. The pink pokemon didn't want to hurt his trainer by accident.

Soon enough they were both asleep, tired after their first day on the road.

XXX

Ash yawned as he woke up and stretched his stiff muscles. He looked around and noticed that Nidoran was standing next to him. The small pokemon nipped… Jonathan's sleeping form and lightly kicked him in the back.

"Sleeping in is the best," May sighed along with Max, though for different reasons.

Jonathan just waved her away… rubbed the red spot on his arm where the vine had hit him before returning the irate charmander.

The entire audience lost control as waves of laughter overtook them.

"That's for not getting up." Amelia said with a smirk. "Come on, "we need to get going. It's almost noon."

"I like her," Misty announced, with Iris nodded vigorously.

Jonathan sighed and got out… a horrible shriek broke the serene silence of the forest. Nidoran's ears twitched and turned toward the source – Amelia. Ash curiously looked for whatever had made the normally calm girl scream, and easily identified it.

"Oh Arceus, what now?"

A small purple rattata was pawing at her backpack and had completely ignored Amelia. She flushed from her embarrassment at screaming and turned to Bulbasaur.

"Oh, just a rattata."

"Use vine whip!" She commanded. The grass type nodded and released its vines, which brutally smashed into the small rodent. Rattata growled and ran towards Bulbasaur with its teeth bared. Bulbasaur tried to whip it again, but the rattata suddenly seemed to vanish before impacting the grass type.

Ash watched curiously as Bulbasaur was knocked onto its side by the quick attack. The rattata wasted no time in savagely biting and scratching Bulbasaur, and nearly bit one of Bulbasaur's vines when Bulbasaur used them to pull itself up.

Amelia was digging through… bounced off of the rat, it opened up and shot a beam of red energy at the rattata. It sucked the pokemon into the ball and everyone was silent as it shook three times before finally clicking.

"Not bad, though you should always have a pokeball on hand." Ash, May, and Dawn all looked a bit sheepish, recalling their own first attempts at catching a pokemon.

"YES!" Amelia exclaimed, pumping her arm into the… looked quite happy to be going into his ball. Ash did the same with Nidoran. Neither could keep up with them yet, and Ash didn't want Nidoran to get tired.

"Ah, the memory of capturing your first pokemon," Oak sighed as he drifted off into thought. Everyone else who owned a pokemon went through the same thing. For Ash, it was his caterpie, who he hoped was doing well wherever it was. May had her wurmple, Dawn her buneary, Iris her drillbur, Brock his geodude (because Onix was his first pokemon), Cilan's pansage (which he caught alongside his brothers), Clemot's helioptile, and even Max, who went back to capture his friend ralts.

"Now that that's over," Jonathan said as he put his backpack on, "let's get going. I want to break my mom's time."

They all agreed and set off a few minutes later. Ash hoped that he would find a pokemon or another trainer to battle.

XxXxXx

After about an hour of walking they found another trainer, a girl that was fishing next to the path. Ash grinned and the group walked over to her. He wanted Nidoran to get lots of experience before the first gym leader.

"Hey!" He called out. The girl looked over at him irritably, allowing Ash to get a better look at her. She had orange hair that was tied into a unique ponytail.

"Misty?" Everyone cried. Misty most of all was shocked to see herself. Sure, this is when she and Ash had originally met, along with the destruction of her bike that led to their inevitable companionship. But without Pikachu or a flock of angry bird pokemon, what would happen now?

"What do you want?" She asked in annoyance, clearly not impressed with him. Apparently she expected that he wanted a battle as her pokeball was in her hand.

"Wow, this really is you Misty. Same attitude and everything," Ash acknowledged.

"What's wrong with my attitude?" Misty shrieked, attempting to leap across the couch, but was held back by Brock.

Everyone scooted a bit away from her.

"She's definitely the same no matter what world."

"Do you want to battle?"

"And Ash is always up for a battle."

"Sure." She grinned cockily. "Don't expect to win though. One on one?"

Ash just smiled… Ash recognized as a staryu.

"Now we can see how our Cerulean Gym battle really would have ended." Misty said smugly. She had no doubt this would end in her favor.

"But Misty, this Ash seems just a bit more prepared than ours was when he first started. And don't forget what happened to Gary." Professor Oak's words made Misty's smile faulter for just a second. Still, her Staryu was a real winner. Nothing like that miserable Starmie. (A/N: Seriously for all the times Misty uses Starmie, it almost always goes down in like, one or two hits. Check out Suede's reviews if you don't believe me.)

He waited for her to make the first move. She was definitely more experienced than him, so he would give her a few seconds to act. Staryu wasn't something he knew a lot about, so an indication of its abilities would be nice.

The girl seemed to realize this and grinned. "Use harden and follow up with tackle!"

"An interesting strategy. It's not often you see trainers combining moves, even basic ones like that." Oak commented as the battle appeared on screen.

Ash took a moment to recall the times he'd tried it in the past. Thunder armor, volt tackle and iron tail, ice aqua jet, counter shields. Perhaps move combinations had more of a role in competitive battling than he thought. He'd have to try some new combos once they got out of here.

Ash responded quickly. "Confusion!"

Nidoran's eyes glowed a bright, ethereal purple… get back up for a moment, and Ash hoped that he had gotten lucky and knocked it out with one hit.

Unfortunately the staryu pulled itself back up, but the girl seemed a bit more wary of him now.

"That's what I'm talking about!" Said the overzealous red head.

"Come on Nidoran. Kick its non existant butt!"

"Pikachu!" Pikachu added. He might not be there, but dang it he would always root for Ash.

"Use water gun!" She cried. "Then harden and tackle again."

The staryu seemed to nod at her before turning back to Nidoran, who warily watched its opponent. A second later a strong jet of water erupted from staryu's core, and although Nidoran tried to dodge he was too slow.

Nidoran was stunned for a second, giving staryu… gem seemed slightly duller than it had before. It looked like poison point had come in handy yet again.

"Oh no!" It may not have been her staryu, but Misty couldn't help but feel bad seeing any version of her pokemon in pain.

"Use peck on its gem." He said. Nidoran jumped at the slower staryu and lowered its head. Its sharp horn landed straight in the center of staryu's gem, sending cracks through it and causing a look of panic on the girl's face as her pokemon collapsed.

"NOOOOOOOOOO!" While Misty had a minor panic attack, everyone else had a good chuckle at the girl's expense.

"Now you know how it feels being the butt of the joke," Ash teased.

"Oh shut it you."

"At least your bike wasn't destroyed this time."

Ash grinned and congratulated Nidoran when he realized staryu had fainted. The girl returned her pokemon and grumbled in annoyance, but walked over to him and shook his hand.

"You did good." She admitted. A few seconds later she sighed and dug around in her pockets, pulling out a wallet. Ash watched curiously as she pulled out a few bills and handed it to him.

This turned some heads? Why was Misty giving Ash money?

"What's this for?"

"If you've got more than a thousand pokedollars you have to give the winner of a battle a share." She explained. "It's a pretty new rule, but it's made to give trainers a reason to get better. No one wants to lose money just because they're bad at battling."

"Oh," some people said. It was definitely a strange policy to be sure. The league typically offered trainers a stipend that got them basic supplies and Pokemon Centers covered the rest. Usually anything extra came from families or taking breaks to do manual labor tasks. Earning money for battling pokemon usually only happened for league trainers, Ace trainers employed by the league, or competing in tournaments.

"It's actually not a bad system if you ask me," Gira commented. "Like Misty said, it is a good incentive to get better and focus solely on training pokemon rather than taking breaks because your running low on cash.

Everyone nodded their heads in agreement, Oak especially. Maybe he should suggest this to Lance at the next league gathering. As the region professor, he was always invited, but didn't often have time to attend. Agatha would certainly like the idea if it meant building up stronger trainers.

"You mean to tell me that in this world you can make cash for winning?" Jessie asked with dollar signs in her eyes.

"That means we can make more mulla by being our incredible selves!" James cheered.

"Flying off the shelves," Meowth rhymed.

"True, but since when do you three ever win?" Bonnie asked innocently, making the three criminals faceplant.

"Hey, I'll have you know baby twerp that we win all the time. You just aren't there to see it." Jessie argued with the toddler.

"Sure…" was everyone else's response, along with a collection of eye rolls.

"Oh it happens," Gira chuckled. "Honestly Team Rocket's at their best when you guys are nowhere in sight."

The gang looked skeptical and chose to continue reading rather than harp on the issue.

"Oh." Ash said. He frowned for a moment. "What happens if you lose all your money? How would you buy food and stuff?"

"If you have a thousand pokedollars or less you don't have to pay." She explained. "Now, could you please let me get back to fishing?"

Again, everyone nodded along.

Ash didn't say anything… turned to look at Ash. "You beat Gary?" He asked incredulously. "Why didn't you tell us about it?"

"Yeah." Amelia added. "That would have been a great story to tell us yesterday."

"I guess this Ash isn't much of a braggart."

"I am not a braggart," Ash defended himself.

"Maybe not anymore, but back in the day you absolutely were."

Ash fumed, but said nothing. Why was everyone picking on him today?

"Well," Ash began… Every hour or so they encountered another trainer, most of whom were beaten by Ash. Amelia didn't want to do anything until she could get Bulbasaur checked out and she didn't trust Rattata yet. Jonathan battled them once Nidoran began to get tired. He won all of his battles as well.

"Guess you're on a winning streak, Ash."

"You bet I am. Maybe I should catch myself a nidoran?" That thought was immediately interrupted by a super charged lightning bolt from an irritated Pikachu.

"Wait, so is Misty really not joining them?" A voice rang out, making them all realize Misty was nowhere to be seen.

"I guess without destroying her bike, Misty didn't have any reason to chase after Ash."

That was kind of sad. Misty and Ash shared a look, one that said more than their words ever could. They may have started out rough, but their friendship was something neither would trade for anything, not even a new bike.

By sunset both of them were rather tired… exactly like their first campsite, but this one had a small pond right next to it. Not even Nidoran could detect any pokemon living in it so they judged that it was safe.

Everyone took the same jobs… placing one of the last rocks in the small circle. Amelia just scoffed and looked up at Jonathan with an annoyed expression.

"Oh boy. Here comes the fighting."

"We seem to do that a lot," Brock said thoughtfully.

"Well being out in the wilderness can be a stressful time. It's no wonder you all bicker from time to time, but so long as you keep civil then it's just what friends do." Delia hit the nail right on the head and everyone returned her smile. It was infectious after all.

"It's your fault that you got so much wood. What you've got would be enough to keep it burning for a week."

"Oh, shut up." Jonathan grumbled. "Now hurry up and let me put this stuff down. My arms are starting to hurt."

"Were we ever that bad?" Ash asked.

"No never," came the replies of all his camping buddies. Brock and Cilan shared a skeptical look, but stayed quiet.

Amelia rolled her eyes… he began to talk to the others.

"So, the first gym leader is a rock trainer, right?"

"Wait, are they talking about me?' Brock piped up, now intrigued to see how he would be perceived. Would he be similar to his other like Misty or completely different like Ash. Maybe he'd even have, dare he think it, a girlfriend?

"Yeah. His name is Brock." Amelia replied, leaning onto Bulbasaur. "My sister met him two years ago when she started out. He's supposed to be the weakest gym leader, mostly thanks to inexperience. But Jessica said that he was still pretty tough."

"Weak?" Brock said faintly before slumping down.

"Don't worry Brock, these guys don't know what they're talking about. You're plenty strong," Ash claimed, trying to cheer up his longest companion. Brock sent his friend a thankful look, while both Misty and his mother looked on fondly.

"Yeah, forget about that. Amelia's sister thought you were strong." At the mention of Amelia's older sister, Brock was on his feet yet again.

"And once we escape this prison, I will go to my darling Jessica and show her how strong I truly aim. Strong thanks to the power of love!" His proclamation was immediately cut off by a bonk on the head courteously of Misty.

"Love and loathe are pretty close in the dictionary and I'm pretty sure I know which one she'll pick."

"Of course he is." Jonathan snorted. "He's a gym leader. If he was weak the League would find a new one. But I've heard the Sensational Sisters at Cerulean are the weakest."

"Huh?" Now Misty was on the backfoot, her face heating up at the reminder of how her sisters ran the gym before she took over completely.

Ash raised a quizzical eyebrow. "The Sensational Sisters?" He interjected. "I thought those were just performers."

"Oh those three…" Misty steamed, her face matching her hair beautifully.

"It wasn't that bad was it?" Serena asked Dawn, who shrugged.

"I remember them. I actually watched some of their past shows for inspiration before the Wallace cup," May admitted, rubbing the back of her head.

"Nope." Amelia said, shaking her head. "They do a lot of shows, but they're also gym leaders. But I've heard that they're actually pretty tough. My sister lost to one of them the first time. She said that they just didn't care much about the gym and would probably be some of the hardest gym leaders if they were more focused."

"Someone seriously lost to them? Either her sister is a horrible trainer or this version of my sister's aren't nearly as ditzy."

"Guess we'll see."

"Yeah, but who cares about that? I just want to see one of their shows." Jonathan said with a grin. Ash looked at him in confusion.

"Oh great, another pervert," some of the girls sighed. At least Brock was more noble with his pursuits.

"Why would you want to do that? I just want to battle them and get the badge."

"Well," Jonathan said with an even wider grin, "let's just say that they're so popular for a reason. Not all of the people are there just because they're talented."

"Yeah, super pervert."

"And Ash is clueless as ever," Serena lamented, earning a pat on the back from Bonnie.

"What?" Ash asked, receiving no response. "What did I do?"

"What are you guys going to use against Brock?" Amelia asked, returning to their original subject. "I'm just going to use sleep powder on whatever he sends out and then use vine whip or razor leaf if I'm able to teach it to Bulbasaur."

"A sound strategy. It must work here, considering she beat you in our world."

"I'm about to look at Nidoran's entry on the pokedex and see what moves he learns." Ash said with a shrug. "If there's something that would be effective against Brock I'll try to teach it to him. If not I'll either find another way or catch a pokemon that can. How about you, Jonathan?"

That was another smart move that Gary noted separated this Ash from theirs. Many trainers, like their Ash, ran into gym challenges without any clue what they're up against. Some manage to figure things out on the fly, but some never actually make it past even the first gym because they don't prepare and can't adapt. Gary was always sure to research both his opponents before a gym battle and his pokemon to see who had the best advantage. He always made sure to learn everything he could about any new captures to, at least, the ones he planned to use in serious battles. It didn't always play out in his favor, but he'd rather be fully prepared than caught by surprise when he could have seen a move or crazy strategy coming.

"Oh, that's easy." Jonathan said slowly, putting down his pokedex. He had pulled it out and seemed to be looking at the information on Charmander. "It says that he can learn metal claw pretty easily. I'm going to wake up early and try to get him started on it. Of course," he said with a grin, "my dad says there's a loophole… on accident back when he was a trainer and went to the gym. You see, Pewter City's gym hasn't been renovated in a really long time and still has a really sensitive sprinkler system in it."

"Bullshit!" Brock leapt up angrily. It shook everyone because not only did he swear, but Brock almost never raised his voice. "That only happened once and it definitely does not count as a win!"

"But it happened to me and you gave me the badge?" Ash questioned, oblivious to the incredulous looks he was receiving.

"That's how you won your first badge?" Max gaped. "No wonder you lost to my dad that first match."

"Hey, I still got the…"

"He's got a point Ash." Everyone turned to see Gira calmly petting his umbreon as it slept. His fun loving smile was gone, replaced by a serious glare. "You've definitely come a long way from your rookie days, but even you have to admit you didn't really earn your way into the Indigo league."

"What are you talking about? I got all 8 badges, didn't I?" Ash protested, still not seeing Gira's point.

"Yes, but let's discuss those badges. First you battled and lost to Brock. You met with his father, Flint and took some… questionable steps to power up Pikachu. And when that failed the only reason you managed to do some damage was because of the sprinklers."

"Yeah and Brock said I showed real skill as a trainer because I wouldn't try winning on a dumb technicality." Ash fumed.

"Yes," Gira nodded, "and while I respect and agree with your choice, you did get the badge without actually beating Brock in a proper battle. You could have tried capturing a pokemon that actually had a type advantage or at least wasn't outright weak to rock/ground types. Then you got to Cerulean and were almost handed the badge until Misty demanded you battle her for it. You both only used one pokemon in your two on two before there was a minor interruption."

"Hey Jessie, James, didn't we have something to do with that?" Meowth asked.

"Yes you did," Gira replied first, "Thank you for reminding us. So after Team Rocket was dealt with, instead of continuing your battle, Misty's sister's gave you the badge because you did a non-gym related task. A nice one, but not battling a gym leader. Plus they said if you used Pikachu you would have definitely won and as we all know, type advantage means everything and just because something could have happened it counts. I mean, with that logic you should have won every league match."

No one, especially Ash, had a good response to this, so they let Gira continue as he raised a third finger.

"Now against Surge you did actually earn your badge the proper way. No interference and no luck. Just a good strategy and solid teamwork between you and pikachu." Ash looked quite proud of himself, for about three seconds before Gira opened his mouth. "But at the same time, you didn't come up with that strategy. Brock's the one who recognized Surge's mistake evolving Raichu too soon and told you how to beat him. Without Brock, there is no way you'd have figured it out."

"But we still battled and had to implement the strategy," said Ash, desperate to defend his wins.

"True, which is why I do count this as a win for you. So congrats. In your first league you officially earned one of the first three badges and were handed two just because."

"Now hold on just a minute," Now everyone was focused on Delia, who had gotten out of her seat and marched right up to Gira. "I've been quiet long enough, but I will not stand by and let you talk about my son that way. He's a great trainer and while he may be a bit immature at times, that does not give you the right to make light of his accomplishments."

"I'm sorry Ms. Ketchum if I come across that way, but I really do have a good reason for it. I think Ash is a great trainer and while this other Ash has had a much better start than your actual son, I feel that pointing out his shortcoming will be a helpful tool going forward. Professor Oak did the same after his loss at the Indigo conference and look how much he improved immediately after that? He won the Orange League fair and square."

It took everyone a second to realize that, yes, Ash had in fact followed Oak's advice and managed to win a league, even if it wasn't an official one. Perhaps tough love was what Ash really needed.

"Mom, it's ok," Ash said in a much calmer state than most would expect from him. "I'd like to hear how I could have done better."

"But sweetie…"

"Who knows, maybe it will give me some ideas for the future?" Ash said with his trademark smile. Delia knew better than to try reasoning with Ash when he got that look, but still sent a chilling glare Gira's way as she sat down.

"Well then," coughed out Gira. "As for Sabrina," the original trio shuddered hearing that name, an act that did not go unnoticed. "She was a strange case, but we all know you never finished your battle with her. A good option would have been to actually capture haunter rather than trust him to just follow you around."

"Yeah, in hindsight that was kind of a dumb move. Plus a ghost type could have been helpful down the line."

"Indeed. Then we have Erika, who I'll say is partly responsible. After all, she had no right to refuse you from the gym just because you didn't like her perfume line. That and she's kind of a bitch." (A/N: I never liked Erika in the anime, especially how high and mighty she comes across. She says Ash has no empathy for his pokemon, but I mean, come on, the guy literally rescued half his team from being abandoned and saved charmander's life. What the hell lady?)

"That was her reason!" Everyone shouted. Misty and Brock looked a little embarrassed given how they didn't help Ash and even criticized him as well.

"If Erika really is turning away challengers for such a petty reason, maybe it's time the league had a talk with her," Oak muttered darkly.

"I'll be having words with that flower bimbo no doubt," Delia said in the sweetest of tones, which made her seem that much scarier than any pokemon.

"So for that one," Gira said, trying to get the conversation back on track, "you earned it after saving her gloom from a fire. Again, heroic, but not badge worthy. Then for Koga we had another Team Rocket interruption and while you did beat Koga to earn the badge, you got it after beating one of his pokemon."

"Yeah, what's wrong with that?"

"It was a two on two battle and he just forgot about his Venemoth."

"Oh."

"Blaine is actually a fair win for you, though more your Charizard, and the final badge you got after beating these three deadbeats so… not counting that at all."

"Hey!" The three deadbeats shouted, but everyone was distracted by another point Gira made.

"Wait, you mean to say Team Rocket was running the Viridian gym?" Professor Oak asked in shock. "Giovanni was a member of Team Rocket?"

"Oh no, the boss's identity has been blown!" The trio shouted again before Gira silenced them with a hand wave. (A/N: I'm pretending the whole Unova arc with Giovanni never happened. For the first, cannon, meeting between Ash and Giovanni it felt lack luster and just unneeded when we had Team Plasma. Sorry if that bothers you.)

"Who's Giovanni?" Dawn asked, clueless to the Kanto professor's panic. Ash and some of the others who had never met/heard of Giovanni looked to Oak for answers.

"He was the 8th and most powerful gym leader in all of Kanto, but mysteriously disappeared after his gym was destroyed. No one has seen him since. But I'll bet you three know where he is." All eyes turned to Team Rocket.

"And we'll never tell!" James shrieked.

"That's right!" Jessie added.

"Hey that's my line!" Meowth complained and the group started brawling on the couch.

"Ignore them," Gira pleaded as the trio rolled around in their scuffle. "We'll touch on Giovanni more down the line. But back to the topic at hand, Ash, you went into the league with some decently trained pokemon, but you never really stood a chance considering you didn't earn your way in. Your team was unprepared and you favored certain pokemon over others. Ever since then though, you've done it exactly right. This other version of you just figured that out a little sooner and because of it got a head start on his dream of being a Pokemon Master. Keep an eye out and I know you'll learn something." Gira's eyes drifted to the fighting trio. "And you," He held out a hand and all three were picked up in a purple glow. "Behave or else." Jessie, James, and Meowth jumped onto the couch, smiling like perfect angels with beads of sweat on their faces.

"I think we should get back to reading," Oak said as he returned to the last page.

Dawning looks of realization spread across Ash and Amelia's faces. Jonathan looked rather proud of himself, judging by the imperious smirk he wore.

"Wow." Ash whistled. "Looks like you'll have a pretty easy time with Brock if you use a fire attack. I'd have thought they'd get that fixed in a rock type gym."

"Still not an actual rule…" Brock mumbled to himself.

"Well they didn't. But," Jonathan frowned, "I really don't want to take advantage of that unless I have to. It wouldn't really be a win, would it? Just me taking advantage of a loophole."

"At least he knows what it means to win with honor, something you can relate to Ashyboy."

Ash and Amelia nodded… to be a Pokemon Master. Surprisingly, they hadn't laughed at it. Most people did laugh at his dream, thinking that it was just a youthful fantasy that would go away in a few months. But Ash knew that he could do it. He could feel it in his heart.

"How rude," many of the audience said. How dare anyone mock someone's dream, especially Ash's.

The group didn't stop… you could learn how to use double kick?"

"Now that would be an effective move against rock pokemon. Sorry Brock." Max felt bad pointing out ways his friend could be beat, but Brock didn't seem to mind.

"The best feeling a gym leader can get isn't winning every battle, but knowing you pushed your opponent to greater heights in order to achieve victory."

Nidoran nodded before walking over next to the empty sleeping bag and curling up into a ball. Ash wasn't sure if the nod was to get him to shut up and let Nidoran sleep or if it was a real confirmation. It looked like he would have to find out tomorrow.

Ash got into his sleeping bag after putting out the fire. It had been a long day.

XxXxXx

He was woken up by a stinging sensation on his face. Ash yelped and stood up, but got caught in his sleeping bag. When he had untangled himself and escaped it, he glared at the culprit.

Bulbasaur just stared back at him with unblinking eyes. Ash eventually broke the stare and grumbled as he stood up. Nidoran obediently stood next to him as Ash dug around in his backpack for food.

No one, not even Ash, held back their laughter at this.

Nidoran quickly snapped up the… move he was talking about last night." Amelia explained as she recalled Bulbasaur. "It's actually pretty funny."

"How?" Ash asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Jon has no idea how to teach it." She said with a grin, sitting down on the soft dirt. "He's just been telling it to harden its claws or something like that. Charmander just looks up at him and tries to go back to sleep."

"Well, that isn't entirely wrong, but there's more to Metal Claw than just sharpening your claws." Professor Oak laughed. Sometimes it was fun to hear about the antics of his chosen trainers.

"So it's true that pokemon… for some reason. "I actually only have one set of clothes, so I can't exactly wash them in the pond. It would hold us back too long anyways."

"That is kind of true. All our pokemon are kind of like us in some ways."

"What does he mean he only packed one set of clothes! Even Ash wasn't that dumb and he showed up in his pajamas."

"Why do you only have one pair of clothes?" Amelia asked. "That's disgusting! You can't just wear one set the entire time we're on the road."

"Thank you!"

"Well, I sort of got in a rush when I was packing…" He said in embarrassment, scratching the back of his head. "But I left a few pairs with your sister and aunt last time we were flown to Viridian. If they threw them out I'll just buy a few other pairs with that money I won."

Amelia just sighed, clearly used to these sorts of things. Ash decided to get onto another subject before they headed out.

"Are you going to let your rattata out?" He asked curiously…. nod he gave. Amelia flushed and looked down at the rodent's pokeball, lightly tapping it in apprehension.

"I'm still kind of scared of him." She admitted. "He hurt Bulbasaur pretty bad, and I'm afraid he's going to try and attack me if I let him out."

"I guess that makes sense," Delia remarked. "The pokemon here seem a bit more hostile than our world."

"It's true," Gira admitted. "They are a little more bestial, but still have that pokemon intelligence you all know about. It takes a little more effort to control them, which is why there are a lot less serious trainers running around."

"Well, you've got to do it… never going to be released from your pokeball. If you act better we can be friends and you'll get stronger. So make your choice."

"Kind of harsh, but then again, she only wants to be friends. And most pokemon would jump at the chance to get stronger," Gary analyzed.

Rattata's ears drooped… enjoy the traveling and the frequent battles. Nidoran had recovered admirably from his battles the previous day and seemed to be itching for a fight against the other trainers.

"Wow, I really missed out on a lot of battles."

Jonathan had his own good share of battles – winning most of them, more than making up for any losses – but eventually decided that Charmander… Rattata and Ash and Nidoran's insatiably appetite for battling.

"Wow, that Nidoran is just like you Ash!"

"Pika-Pi!"

"Sorry Pikachu, but you have to admit we never had a winning streak like that when we first started out."

"Pika- pi…" Piplup leapt out of Dawns arms and moved to comfort the disheartened pikachu.

"Don't be sad Pikachu. No one could replace you. Let's see that Nidoran stand up to a legendary and win." Serena cooed and she picked up the yellow pokemon for a big hug.

Amelia had proved to be pretty good as well – she was about the same level as Jonathan, and learned how to take advantage of Rattata's small size and surprisingly ferocious temperament rather quickly – and only lost two of her five battles. Ash kept his unbroken streak, much to the annoyance of his companions.

"She's not bad to get a pokemon like that under her control so quick."

One thing that he had noticed was that there were a lot more trainers today, which he judged to be due to their proximity to Viridian City. They couldn't… saw a pidgey perched high above them on a tall tree and grinned. One looked to be slightly larger than the others and looked down its beak at the group, apparently unimpressed with the trainers.

"Wait, is he about to…"

As it shrieked again, fluffing up its feathers… face was pale and he was looking away from the bird.

"Hey Misty, I think Johnathan shares your phobia. Just replace bug with bird." Everyone shared another laugh, all but Misty who shivered at the thought of bugs.

He tapped the button to release Nidoran and… knocking the bird unconscious.

Not bad, everyone thought as some of the younger members congratulated Ash for his win.

"Great job!" Ash cheered as Nidoran walked over to his feet. He leaned down to pat him on the head before returning to the situation. A second later he hurled his pokeball at the pidgey and hit the bird in the wing. The ball bounced off before opening up and sucking the pidgey into it.

Pidgey was helpless to resist in its unconscious state and the pokeball clicked after rolling around a bit. Ash pumped his arm up into the air in victory and walked over to pick the newly occupied pokeball up, reverently attaching it to his belt.

"So I caught pidgey instead of pidgeotto?" Ash asked and Gira nodded.

"Yep, and unlike pidgeotto… or pidgeot I mean, you actually make use of this pokemon more than an occasional Team Rocket blast off.

"I didn't only use Pidgeot for that!"

"Yeah, but you didn't use it nearly as much as the rest of your team and considering you only had 5 pokemon for most of the journey after releasing Butterfree…"

Ash thought about it for a minute and realized that maybe he had done Pidgeot dirty his frist time out. That was one of his problems wasn't it, favoring certain pokemon in battle, especially once he caught more than 6. He should definitely go back and visit Pidgeot some more after this and maybe try working with some of his other members too.

"Is it gone yet?" Jonathan asked… even know you knew what menace meant."

"Wow, he really is terrified of a little bird," Max laughed, but Bonnie smacked his shoulder.

"It's not nice to laugh at other people," her tiny glare wasn't threatening enough to work, but it was cute enough.

"Ha, ha." Jonathan laughed sarcastically, standing… your sister's fault anyways."

"How?"

"What happened?" He asked curiously. Ash had met Amelia's older sister a few times before, although he'd never talked to her very long. She'd seemed nice. Maybe she just liked messing with Jonathan.

"Amelia laughed. "She was showing off her new murkrow after she got back from Johto while Jon was over a few years ago. Jon spent the night and –"

"And that stupid bird decided to watch me sleep." Jonathan said irritably. "I woke up and saw those creepy, glowing red eyes staring at me and freaked out. That stupid bird got scared and decided that I was dangerous so it used nightshade on me. That's when everyone woke up."

There was no stopping it. Everyone, children and adults were laughing their heads off.

"That's… that's so stupid!" Iris screamed so loud that Axew had to cover its ears.

"Well, nightshade can be dangerous if used on a human…" Oak wheezed, not at all sounding as serious as he meant to.

"Oh, I do hope he was alright," Delia frowned.

"Yeah, because you were screaming like a little girl." Amelia said, although… murkrow was pretty funny…

"See, even Ash thinks it's funny."

"I see a place we could set up… feeling Nidoran burrow into his side. The last thing he heard was the muttered conversation between Amelia and Jonathan, filled with laughter and jokes.

"Good to see you thinking ahead."

XxXxXx

Ash practically leapt out of his sleeping bag as a… of the fire and lightly kicked Jonathan in the back. The other boy groaned and turned over but didn't wake.

"Well it's not as bad as a Thunderbolt in the morning."

"Pikachu!"

Ash groaned in annoyance and kicked him… on the first light kick.

"Is something wrong?" She asked once she'd awoken. Ash nodded and explained the situation. Amelia seemed alarmed – she always read about pokemon at school, so she probably knew that nidoran were good at sensing danger – and quickly packed her things.

"Yeah, what's going on?" Clemont asked, adjusting his glasses.

Ash got all of his stuff packed pretty fast. He'd only taken out his sleeping bag and a small bag of food for Nidoran, so there wasn't much to do. By the time he was done Amelia and Jonathan were impatiently waiting next to the tables.

Just as he began to walk over – recalling Nidoran as he did so – he heard what seemed like dozens of loud, shrill cries. All of the trainers' eyes widened as they recognized the familiar call of a flock of spearow.

"WHAT!" Everyone shouted!

"Crap!" Jonathan exclaimed as he began running down the path. "Run!"

"You got to get out of there," Serena shrieked.

"My baby…" Delia whimpered, resisting the urge to get up and grab her Ashy.

Ash and Amelia were only… Several dozen spearow were following the group and some had even begun to overtake them. He could see that several had managed to get in front of Jonathan.

"Oh no," the group, even team rocket, weren't looking too good at the thought of that many spearow.

"You need to run and fast," Misty commanded like no one had thought of it until then.

"Can't they fight them off?" Bonnie stuttered out, clutching her brother like she was the one in danger.

"Not likely. Without a good typing advantage and lack of pokemon if they get caught then Ash and the others are done for." Max answered, only for a fist to clock him on the head.

"Don't say it like that!" May screamed.

Pikachu wasn't looking much better. Of all the times for him not the be there.

The trainer hoped that… territory might be too far to escape from, especially if they were led by a fearow.

"A scary possibility. They can only hope to be that lucky."

As if to confirm his fear, he heard a deeper, more intimidating squawk that rose above the chorus of spearow. Ash cursed… feet behind him kept him going.

"What's worse than a spearow?" The few people that had some idea, but kept it to themselves. No need to cause anyone, cough Delia, any extra worry.

Until he tripped, anyways.

"Of course he did!"

Ash cried out as he fell onto the rough path and skinned parts of his forearms. The others turned back to look at him in panic, but he tried to get them to move on. The spearow wouldn't kill him – very few people were killed by pokemon, and those that were killed using died due to an accident, their own negligence, or one of the powerful, raging pokemon like a gyarados – even if they would probably hurt him a bit. Jonathan and Amelia could just find help and come back to get him.

"Run!" He shouted at his friends, even as the caws of the spearow grew ever closer. "I'll be fine."

The audience was split between their fear for Ash's life and his bravery at staying behind while his friends escaped. It was nice to know the spearow wouldn't kill him, probably, but they didn't want Ash to be hurt either.

Jonathan was all too happy… got her to leave.

"Coward!" Some shouted. Ash's past traveling companions fumed. Outnumbered and outmatched, they would never abandon their friend to be mauled by a bunch of birds.

"Even we wouldn't do something like that," Meowth announced, with Jessie and James voicing their agreement.

Ash closed his eyes and covered his… call something out.

"What?"

Ash began to look up… still couldn't see very well. He began to stand up when he noticed that almost every spearow seemed to have been knocked out, but went back down as he heard the fearow's annoyed shriek.

"Who's there?" Heads were turning as they tried to figure out what happened. Delia's heart soared, greatful to whomever or whatever saved her baby.

He looked back up and managed to see a glimpse… the pokemon – which he recognized as a jolteon – dodge another swoop before the voice called out another command.

"A fearow and a jolteon?"

"That definitely didn't happen," Ash commented as he watched the incident unfold on screen alongside Oak's narration. Maybe this world was even more dangerous than he thought, since fearow didn't show up in those woods till way later in his journey.

His eyes focused on a tall teenager. The mystery trainer had a cap on that hid their eyes and had a wide grin on his face as he pointed at the wary fearow that circled above them. Jonathan and Amelia were standing next to the stranger with amazed looks as they watched the jolteon.

"Hyper beam!" The teenager shouted. Jolteon… swept its head to the side and caught the fearow in the beam.

"What control!" Brock shouted as the older crowd mirrored his face. "To not only focus the attack so perfectly, but to make it follow an opponent shows how well trained that jolteon is."

"What a magnificent flavor!"

Fearow shrieked in panic as the beam swept over its chest, singing feathers and blasting it away. The large bird managed to catch itself slightly before it slammed into the tree and collapsed to the ground in a state of unconsciousness.

Even though they were angry for the fearow attacking Ash, some couldn't help but wince at the damage caused by the hyper beam.

Even if the bird had fainted… fought with their trainers' other pokemon.

"I remember my pokedex saying the same thing when those spearow attacked me," Ash admitted, though he was now curious to look up what other moves the dex labeled as advanced.

"Are you all right?" Jonathan called out as he approached them. His face wasn't quite as pale as it had been when they'd first started running and he seemed to be back to normal.

"Oh yeah, now that the dangers gone you come running back," Dawn fumed.

"Yeah." Ash responded. Amelia looked concerned, but looked satisfied by his answer. He turned his attention to the mystery trainer. "Err, thanks for saving me from those spearow."

"Such good manners," Delia cheered, trying to distract herself from the previous danger her son was in.

"No problem." The other trainer… called the pokeball back to his hand. "But that fearow is the whole reason I'm down here. The League heard about the flock and hired me to capture it."

"Professor, have you heard of this Michael person?"

"Can't say that I have," the professor admitted. "He might not even exist in our reality."

"He's from the Orre region, so he might not have left it."

"Orre?"

"Another far away region," Oak clarified. "It doesn't have any official league, so most of the land is run by criminals and gangs. We've tried offering aide to what little government there is, but we haven't been able to do much."

"Maybe I could…"

"Absolutely not young man," Delia cut off the idea before Ash could even voice it.

Amelia's eyes brightened. "You work for the League?"

"Not officially." Michael shrugged. "I do a few… turns them aggressive."

"Working for the league sounds really cool," Max stated.

"It's the fastest way to work your way into open spots and offers a good chance to earn some cash."

Jonathan just nodded, but… resolutely, puffing out his chest in pride.

"Alright then." Michael grinned. "Let's get going."

"At least they have someone to protect them now."

XxXxXxXx"

They arrived at Viridan… teach Nidoran double kick.

"Finally! This was taking forever."

"What other pokemon do you have?" He asked curiously. Michael perked up, clearly happy with this line of questioning.

"Aside from Jolteon, I've got a steelix, gyarados, arcanine, machamp, and alakazam." Michael grinned, aware of the awed looks on the group's faces.

Amelia spoke up first. "That's incredible!" She exclaimed. "Most of those are really hard to control. How long have you been a trainer?"

"I'll say! This Michael must be skilled to control all of them, especially if they are as powerful as that jolteon."

Gary inwardly smirked. His gramps had unknowingly complimented him, since he had four of those pokemon already and they were quite powerful if he said so.

"Six years, give or take a few months." Michael shrugged. He turned his attention back to Ash. "Why did you want to know?"

"Well, I wanted to know if you… just got to get gravity on your side and then just drop kick."

"Is that really all there is to it?" Ash asked.

"Yup, that's the jist of it," Gary confirmed before his grandfather could.

"Pretty smart of you to ask since you had the chance," Brock agreed. "Though I'm surprised this version of you didn't bother asking for a battle."

"Cause he knows he'd lose and doesn't want to break his winning streak," Misty laughed. Ash silently agreed with her. Even as a rookie trainer, he wouldn't be stupid enough to take on someone that far out of his league.

"How will I know if I've got… it used to the attack enough for it to glow."

"It's actually a lot easier than you'd think."

"I get it." Ash nodded, noticing that both… Persian for a moment as they passed it. Amelia had given it a few scratches behind its ears as she and Jonathan had waited on the others and the feline was purring happily.

"Does Michael know that Persian?" Serena asked.

"Oh, maybe Michael and Amelia's sister are friends?" Dawn suggested.

"Or maybe their old lovers, broken apart by a cruel twist of fate," Jessie swooned.

Once everyone had assembled… up in a hug. "Hey, Johnny. You need to come out here with Amelia more. It's been ages since I saw you."

The pairs of siblings in the room sent each other fond smiles.

"Only a few months." Jonathan grinned back as he stepped out of the hug. Now Jessica's eyes moved onto the last member of the group. When she saw Michael, her face twisted into distaste. Ash thought it was odd on the woman's perpetually smiling face.

"Oh, great." She said in annoyance. "It's you."

"Definitely not friends," they all agreed, while Jessie still had her fingers crossed for jaded lovers.

"I'm not particularly happy about… them in, butting its head into Jessica's leg. She absentmindedly scratched it as she showed them to a small room filled with couches and comfortable looking chairs.

"Well that was a little rude, but at least they didn't start fighting," said Delia. "I'm just glad these three finally have a safe place to sleep."

"Have a seat." She said. "I'll be back… an Unown." She said. "Jessica caught it in the Sevii Islands."

"My word! I didn't know Jessica had one of those. Perhaps she'd let me study it?"

Meanwhile Delia shivered, remembering her last encounter with the alphabet pokemon.

"An Unown?" Ash said, meeting the creature's stare with new interest. "Aren't those legendary in Johto? The Thousand Arms of Arceus, or something?"

"Yep." Amelia said smugly. "They're really rare. Jessica's gotten all kinds of people wanting to study it, but she won't let them. She's afraid they might hurt the little guy."

"Arms of Arceus? What a grandiose title," Cilan commented. Oak looked a little put out that Jessica wasn't letting anyone study it.

"Is it very strong?" He asked… watched them with a mix of disgust and bemusement.

"Is that how I ate at your age?" She asked. "No wonder all of my traveling partners left me. That's just appalling."

"Boys…" All the girls muttered. A slight chill went down the backs of every male in the room.

They ignored her, but by the time they'd finished eating Ash and Jonathan had some questions for her. Ash began to ask her about Michael, but Jonathan beat him to it.

"So, what's up with you and Michael?" He asked, swallowing the last mouthful of food. Surprisingly enough he had been the cleanest eater out of all three of them. "He seemed like a nice guy."

"Yes, give us all the saucy details!"

"I think Jessie's losing it," James whispered.

"She can't lose what she never had," Meowth corrected.

"What was that?"

"Nothing!"

Jessica rolled her eyes and… Who is the lucky guy?"

"Gary." The group answered in unison. Jessica laughed but turned serious after a moment, turning back to Amelia.

"Of course it's me. You all just can't handle my pure unmatched skill."

"Then how did I beat you?" Ash prodded.

"Shut it Ashyboy. You didn't beat me, your other did."

"Boys…" Delia's warning tone was enough to make the old rivals back down.

"You sent me a message about… continued talking to Jessica.

"You three have been though a lot. No wonder you're so tired."

Several hours later everyone was full and clean. Amelia… and a pidgey and neither have been out in a while."

"That's nice of you," Serena beamed at her secret crush. Then again, it might not be a secret anymore since she kissed him. THEN AGAIN, Ash probably forgot about that already…

Jessica blinked. "Yeah, that's fine. There's… the bed was rather comfortable looking and there was a small eevee curled up on it.

"So cute!" All the females screamed, desperate to hug the tiny baby pokemon.

He pulled the sheets back so that he could get in, unintentionally antagonizing the eevee in the process. It growled at him in a spectacularly unintimidating manner and went back to sleep. Ash smiled and released his pokemon before he got into bed.

Nidoran instantly walked over… your trainer now everything will be fine. If you don't then I'm going to have train Nidoran on you. What's your answer?"

"Huh, never had to go through this. Most of the pokemon we catch tend to just go along with it."

"Most of the time…" the few trainers that had disobedient pokemon in the past murmured.

"True, your world has an easier time when it comes to bonding with your pokemon," Gira added, "and the weaker the pokemon the easier it generally is to convince them to join you. After all, most pokemon will follow a trainer if they will help them get stronger."

Pidgey tried to meet Ash's eyes but looked downwards. Its chest sunk down a little. Ash frowned at the disheartened bird, although he was glad that it had accepted him as its master. Maybe a real name would return its pride.

"So, do either of you want names?" He asked suddenly. Both of his pokemon stared up at him, although Pidgey nodded. Nidoran shook his head. Ash frowned in concentration as he thought of a suitable name for Pidgey. He'd heard that pidgeot had impressive plumage. "Alright. Pidgey, is Plume a decent name?"

"Names?" Everyone looked to Gira for some clarification.

"Nicknames," he replied. "Most trainers here don't just call their pokemon by their species name. Many give their pokemon their own names, just like all of us have."

That through most of the audience for a loop. They'd never even considered that, since they always treated their pokemon like individuals. Would a nickname really help with that. Ash and the other trainers with pokemon present looked towards their partners with curious eyes, wondering what they might call them instead of the species name.

"Do your pokemon have nicknames?" Bonnie asked.

"Why yes. I don't always call them by it, but my umbreon is named Shade and my litwick is named John."

"Why John?"

"I have my reasons," Gira answered vaguely. (A/N: These pokemon Gira has are based off some of my nuzlocke attempts in past games.)

Pidgey nodded and fluttered its… blackness begin to overtake him. The last thing he felt was the comforting weight and warmth of Nidoran and the eevee.

"Again, awwwwww!"

XxXx

The next morning, everyone was frantically… being nearly hidden beneath his hat – blazed with anger.

Above the large picture that covered nearly a quarter of the page the headlines read in massive print: Trainer Defends Pokemon Center! Team Rocket members at large!"

"Hey, that was us!" Team Rocket shouted. Everyone's eyes widened hearing that bit of news.

"So since I stayed with Amelia's sister, Team Rocket never met me and never started chasing us down," Ash reasoned.

"Wait, I just realized, if this story is about the twerp and we aren't chasing him, then doesn't that mean we just got written out of the story?" James said putting two and two together.

"What! How could they do that? I demand a rewrite!"

Ash didn't have time to read it before Amelia walked over.

"What's holding you?" She asked. Ash looked up and realized everyone else was ready to go.

"Nothing much." He replied and held out the newspaper. Amelia took it and began to look at it. "Now check out the headlines."

"Wow." She muttered, her eyes growing wide as she looked at the scowling face of Michael. "He must be really strong to be able to beat Team Rocket. It says here that he almost captured them with just his Jolteon. They escaped in a…balloon?" Amelia said incredulously. "Who uses hot air balloons for anything?"

"You bet we are!" Jessie praised herself, the anger suddenly forgotten. "He'd have to be pretty tough to take us on." Everyone sweat dropped at that, even her two partners.

"I don't know." Jessica said, butting into the conversation. "But don't try to follow his example. Michael's not my favorite person, but I know that he's strong enough that Team Rocket won't want to bother him. They know their limits and will certainly limit their activities when he's in the area."

"Agreed, you shouldn't be throwing yourselves into danger," Delia stated with no room to argue.

"But mom, we take on Team Rocket all the time," Ash tried anyway.

"You listen to me young man. Fighting these three are fine, but you shouldn't be jumping at dangerous situations just because you can."

"Hey," the three team rocket members shouted, "are you saying we ain't dangerous?"

"Nope." The quick answer was like daggers to the heart as all three slumped in defeat.

"How do you know… fly around to get my badges."

"That seems kind of cheap…" Ash muttered.

"Not really," Brock cut in. "Jessica's pokemon are already well trained, so she doesn't really have to go through the traveling like the rest of the league challengers. She can reactivate her badges again quickly enough and then commit the rest of the time to training.

"That's great!" Amelia exclaimed. "Maybe I'll get to battle you."

"Maybe." The older girl shrugged. "Now, you should go before it gets too late. The Viridian Forest isn't a fun place to be and you need to get as far in as possible. Good luck."

The group thanked her and finally left Viridian, all eager for what was to come.

XxXxXxXx

"It's getting dark. Should we find a… a very good job. Charmander had defeated the others just as easily and appeared to becoming far more skilled with his flames.

"Good," Misty griped, already shaking at the mention of her hated enemies.

Amelia had seemed to take joy in beating the… would be easily defendable against any of the highly territorial pokemon that made their home in these woods.

"Sadly not all trainers are on the same level and the ones that frequent Viridian Forest are usually newbies or casuals."

"Freaking casuals…" Iris muttered, then questioned why she said anything at all (A/N: It's a reference and two cookies to whoever gets it.)

Once their routine had been completed… and quickly fell asleep, putting out the fire before they got into their sleeping bags. The pokemon were left out in order to warn the trainers of any approaching bug types.

"That's great! All the pokemon are really improving."

"Just goes to show how strong one can get when they slow down and put in the work." Gira chimed in.

XxXx

The next two weeks passed in much the… from Hoenn and Sinnoh. Only a few trainers had a more varied team, which showed them as trainers that were in the same situation as the group.

"Two weeks!"

"We only took 10 days at most!" Ash cried out. This other him really was slowing down a lot, probably because he was in a group of three. What caught some of the others by surprise was the variety of opponents the trio faced. They definitely hadn't seen any foreign pokemon the first time around.

All of their pokemon had grown much stronger… it to great effect.

"Huh, I never actually noticed that," Ash mused, tapping his chin. "My pokemon never really changed that much unless they evolved."

"Oh Ash," Brock sighed. He'd often tried pointing out the differences when they traveled, but Ash being his oblivious self couldn't see the subtle changes.

According to their map they were… they were all uncomfortable with the trees.

"Some pokemon just don't do well in certain environments.

Just as they walked out of the clearing, a long, shining blade sliced through the air in front of them. Ash jumped back in a panic, hurriedly releasing Nidoran. He jumped away – closely followed by his shocked companions – and looked at the source of the attack.

"What! Who's swinging weapons at my baby?"

Ash rolled his eyes and sighed as he saw a determined… the sword. Ash noticed that his helmet was slipping to the side as if it hadn't been put on correctly.

"Samurai! I totally forgot about him!" Ash cried, thinking back to his first official pokemon match. The fights with Team Rocket didn't really count since they cheated.

"Yes." Amelia answered cautiously, a hand on Rattata's pokeball. "Why do you ask?"

A wide grin split across the kid's face and he released his grip on the sword and withdrew a pokeball. He tapped the button and released a large pincir that clicked its large horns ominously at Nidoran.

"I was defeated by a trainer from the town of Pallet!" The kid exclaimed. "Now I must regain my honor. Prepare to be defeated!"

"Guess that means Gary is ahead of them."

"You want to take this?" Ash asked… Pinsir, use hyper beam!"

"What!"

The group's eyes widened and their jaws dropped… pinsir wasn't very experienced with the powerful attack, as it only managed to keep the beam going for a single blast. The pinsir was tired from the attack and collapsed to the ground for a moment, although it began to pull itself up.

"Obviously! What kind of irresponsible trainer would teach their pokemon a move like that without any practice?" Oak was outraged.

"I don't know what's worse, this or what actually happened."

"What happened Misty?" Delia asked, fearing the worst.

"Medapod vs Medapod." Everyone collapsed hearing about what must have been the most boring match in pokemon history.

By the time it was ready to fight again… shouldn't have been able to dodge the hyper beam!"

"Oh get over yourself kid."

"Oh, calm down." Jonathan replied, patting… dozen beedrill burst through the trees, their stingers raised and dripping venom. They instantly zoned in on Jonathan and Charmander, although a powerful ember forced them to stay away.

"So not only did he use a move his pokemon clearly wasn't able to control, but he did it near a nest of beedrill!" Delia looked ready to faint on the spot.

Ash knew he wouldn't be able to… the threat Plume posed and went after the bird. Ash called out a warning but Plume was too slow to dodge the numerous barbs that shot from the beedrill's stingers.

"Oh no! Not Plume," a few shouted, testing out the pidgey's new name.

The poison stings hit their mark and… magnificent bird flew after them, throwing them down to the ground for Rattata with a single flap of its powerful wings.

"No way!" Everyone shouted at once. They were in awe of the massive pidgeotto that single handedly saved Ash and his new friends. Ash watched on, recalling how similar this situation was to when his butterfree evolved, only this time it didn't take nearly losing the pokemon and having to regain its trust.

When all of the bugs had been defeated… back down the path. The others stared at his back for a moment before following.

"Thank goodness they're out of that dreadful forest." Delia praised, still so delighted by Plumes' evolution to save her son. The bird was already one of her favorties.

XX

"What kind of idiot uses hyper beam in woods where beedrill are known to nest!" Jonathan exclaimed, dramatically throwing his hands into the air. "How did he even teach his pinsir that move anyways? There was no way someone that inexperienced actually managed to teach it."

"Probably a TM. That pinsir obviously had no idea what it was doing. Remember how fast Michael's Jolteon used it?" Amelia responded as they entered the Pewter City Pokemon Center.

"TM?" The crowd looked to Gira for an explination.

"Technical Machine. You guys don't have those?"

The group shook their heads.

"Well, they are little circular discs that have information on certain pokemon moves stored on them. Instead of having to train them from scratch, like when Pikachu learned Iron Tail, or just learn them naturally, TMs can be used quickly teach a pokemon the basics."

"How do they do that?" Oak asked, leaning in close. The concept sounded ludicrous, but if it were possible…

"I'm not totally sure, but my guess is they have psychic pokemon transfer a copy of a pokemons knowledge of the move onto the disc that can be transferred to a compatible pokemon at a later date."

"Extraordinary." Oak quickly pulled out a notepad from somewhere and added it to a short list of items to bring up after their reading was complete.

They had arrived at the city roughly an… less imposing than he had imagined, Ash mused as he walked to the heavy wooden door. It had thick slabs of stone at the front, supported by massive wooden beams. The stone only covered the front, though. On the back and the sides it was just an ordinary looking building.

"It's not supposed to be imposing," said Brock.

Ash and the others struggled… although forfeit is allowed. Are you ready?"

"Wow Brock, were you always that straight forward? You seem a lot more ridged than you do now?" May asked, not able to see their Brock acting like this. Brock blushed and scratched his head.

"Well I guess I was a little overwhelmed back then taking care of all my siblings. After my dad took over the gym again I finally had a chance to loosen up."

The group had rather different reactions to hearing Brock's admission. Some were glad he was finally able to relax when he went traveling with Ash, while others thought it was sweat and yet sad he was responsible for so much as such a young age. The older members frowned as they recalled exactly why Brock was in that position in the first place. At least Flint finally maned up enough to come back and face his family.

Ash nodded. Brock stood up and led them to a massive room.

He looked at the massive chamber… no match for me. Go, Geodude!"

"Cute and dangerous!" Bonnie cheered and everyone giggled, even moreso at Brock's attempt to be an intimidating challenge.

A round rock with small, beady eyes and two powerful looking arms appeared in front of Nidoran. It crushed its stone fists together before glaring at the small pink creature. Nidoran growled at it and extended his barbs.

"Go dude go!" Brock called as the gym appeared on screen.

"Get him nidoran! Pikachu!" Ash and his buddy called out as a counter.

"Begin!" Shouted the gym trainer… geodude was knocked out.

The audience was shocked by how fast the battle went. Brock couldn't help but slump a bit.

"Impressive…" Brock muttered… bulk intimidated pokemon and made even a tackle ridiculously powerful. Their bodies weren't very hard, however, and they could be penetrated with the right attack.

"Exactly, that's how I managed it." Gary announced. "Good to see this Ash using his head instead of just throwing Pikachu at every problem."

"Gary…"

"Sorry gramps, but I call it as I see it."

"Focus kick." Ash repeated. Nidoran's ears twitched in confirmation and tensed before leaping up into the air. Onix didn't bother to dodge, confident in its defense.

"Nice, a combo move!"

Brock should have been more… eyes widened and began to shout at his onix to dig again. The onix was too slow to avoid Nidoran's powerful attack.

It was a tense bit of back and forth as the group watched the massive onix battle the tiny nidoran. Many had picked a side, most cheering for Ash and a few joining Brock in cheering on his alter.

Nidoran's feet glowed as it dropkicked… aware of a tall figure just a few feet away from him.

Brock sighed as he and his supporters clapped kindly while the others let out a resounding cheer. "Guess I underestimated your ability. Great job Ash."

"Well don't feel too bad. You still beat me twice in our world," said Ash, shooting his friend a smile.

"You did good." Brock admitted… onix fell to the ground, but handed Amelia the Boulder Badge anyways. Amelia grinned and ran out of the gym after praising Bulbasaur for his victory.

There wasn't much to say about Amelia's battle. Brock said it went exactly as it had in their world, with Bulbasuar taking advantage of both its type and powders to defeat both his team members.

XxX

"Metal claw." Jonathan said. Charmander's… out a rhyhorn. It dumbly looked around for a few seconds before focusing on the fire type. The rhyhorn charged at the lizard, fiercely roaring as it neared its target.

"So Brock, did you have these other pokemon? I don't remember seeing them?" Ash asked, but Brock shook his head.

"No, I only had geodude and onix. I wonder where I got them."

"I can answer that," Gira spoke up, still petting his dozing umbreon. "In this reality, gym leaders need a wider variety of pokemon to challenge people of different levels. What would you do Brock if a gym challenger came to Pewter last?"

Brock paled at the thought. He had only been a gym leader for a short time and thankfully only rookie trainers came to Pewter for a battle, but he realized the error in his lack of variety and not having more powerful pokemon on hand.

"Don't worry about it too much Brock," Gira quickly added. "Your father should have left you some or at least explained it to you, but as we both know he isn't the most responsible." Brock's thin eyes narrowed, but he nodded. It was in the past anyway. He was on his way to being a Pokemon Doctor and proud of it. Forrest had a good line up just like this version of him. In fact, maybe this other Brock was more like his younger brother than himself.

"Metal claw." Jonathan lazily repeated. Charmander… accidently knocked itself out. Jonathan's battle had been shorter than either of theirs and he and Charmander had proven to be powerful fighters. Charmander was…hand the pokeball to Jonathan, who reverently took it from Brock's calloused hands.

"Wow, that ryhorn is dumb."

"Probably why Brock's giving it to the kid."

"Did he just give Jonathan a rhyhorn?" Ash asked Amelia as they stood up and walked out of the balcony.

"That's what I just said!"

"It looks like it." Amelia responded, equally… he decided that I would be able to put the rhyhorn to better use than either of you."

"Sure, definitely not because it's battle ability is equal to a wet sponge and even then the sponge would win." Max said without sympathy.

"So I guess Brock isn't coming with."

"At least Flint decided to have words with him." Brock didn't know how to feel. What was going to happen now that his alter didn't go with Ash and now with his father returning, it was anyone's guess. Hopefully the story would give them a glimpse into his other's life down the line.

"That makes sense." Ash shrugged. "Anyways… eager and determined to get past Mt. Moon and into Cerulean City. It would be a long journey, but by the time they finished they would be much, much stronger.

He grinned and started walking. They might have all the time in the world, but he didn't have all of the patience in the world. Ash wanted to be at Cerulean as fast as he could.

And then he would get to show just how good he was.

"Oh great, here come my sisters…" Misty complained, earning a few quick understanding looks.

"Well that's the first chapter done," Oak announced.

"I really liked it," said Ash. He was learning a lot of things he'd wished he'd known out the gate and already had some new ideas he wanted to test out.

"It will be really curious to see what new team members you have now that your entire journey has changed."

"And you will, as soon as the next person starts reading. Who wants to be next?"

"I will!" Misty snatched the book from the professor's hands. "If anyone is going to be reading about my sisters, it's me." No one thought to argue as she opened to the enxt chapter.

XXX

Well that's the first official chapter of the story everyone. It's long, hard, and lots of fun to write. For those who think I'm being a bit mean to Ash here, I am. It's only because the Indigo league is where Ash was at his worst and the Traveler version of Ash had such a better start. I promise not to keep picking on him too much going forward… maybe.

Either way, please let me know what you think. Any comments and feedback are welcomed, but flames will be doused by my Politoad.

Also, fun question: If you could only have one pokemon in real life, what would it be? For me, there is no doubt I'd pick Nidoking and not just because of the Traveler. It was the pokemon that carried my first Nuzlocke and replaced my starter when it died early on to a bad crit.

Hope to see you all next time as we head on towards Mt. Moon and the next gym.