Chapter One


The moving truck rattled along and Ash rattled with it. He tried to separate himself from the strangeness of the situation, from the tiredness and confusion that gnawed at him. Planning for his pokèmon journey had been going smoothly - he had been fully prepared to leave Pallet Town in a week on his sixteenth birthday. To have come home from a day working with the pokèmon at Oak's lab to find the house packed and ready for a move really should have rocked him more than it had.

His mother had seemed tense, though she had tried to pretend otherwise. Professor Oak had been there too, directing his pokèmon with quiet orders. Ash had always seen him as a happy-go-lucky grandfather figure in his life but he'd had an edge about him then, an unmistakable air of danger. Oak had ordered him into the truck and Ash had done so without question.

Thoughts of the Professor drew his eyes towards his companion for this trip, Oak's Alakazam. The powerful psychic had always steered clear of him when he was younger and a little more rambunctious but in the last couple of years, it had made a habit of keeping him company in moments of quiet study in preparation for his journey. It made for an excellent study partner, levitating books and articles towards him a few moments before he was aware that he needed them.

The creature glanced at him from its perch atop a box in the corner of the truck and Ash felt his anxiety ease. He trusted his Mother and he trusted Professor Oak. Moving was a surprise, but not necessarily a bad one. They had been driving for some time and had stopped for meals several times - though oddly, he couldn't remember eating with either Oak or his Mother - which meant they were likely not in Kanto anymore.

For some reason, that thought unsettled him but those feelings were quickly replaced by excitement so strong that it was nearly alien to him. A new region meant new pokèmon. He had spent so long preparing for a journey across Kanto that he'd been able to think about and plan the pokèmon that he wanted for his team. He knew which pokèmon he'd be likely to find at just about every major location in Kanto, and which of those would be good options for his team.

Setting out from a different region changed that. Sure, he'd be able to plan on the fly somewhat but for the most part, wherever they stopped he'd be flying by the seat of his pants. Unknown pokèmon around every corner - literally a thousand new opportunities from the moment he got started. It was exhilarating.

Several hours passed and the journey for Ash proceeding in a similar vein. Trundling along in the van, he and Alakazam being shaken and thrown about by the movement. It was difficult to keep the worry at bay but thoughts of his new journey helped. He didn't know nearly as much about pokèmon from other regions but daydreaming about the ones he didn't know helped pass the time. It also helped ignore the strange, twisting feeling in his stomach, and the headache that came each time he had tried to focus on the things that made him anxious.

It was difficult to tell how much time was passing stuck in the back of a truck. He felt like he'd slept quite a bit and periods of time awake seemed to stretch short minutes into what felt like hours. He quite honestly could have been in the truck for anything between a day and a week - it certainly felt like it had been that long.

The truck began to slow at long last, the brakes grinding and shrieking as it did so, before lurching to a stop. Ash waited for the doors to open, suddenly too nervous to make a move before they did. A heavy metallic thud rang out - someone unlocking the doors to where he was sitting - and the doors groaned open.

Light streamed in, obscuring the person who had opened the doors with blinding sunlight, leaving a silhouette of a woman that he instantly recognised.

"Mom? Are we… Wherever we are going?" he asked.

"Oh Ash," she started. Her voice was quiet, heavy with a sadness that made Ash go stiff with worry. "Yes, we're at our new home. Would you like to come and have a look? Bet you can't guess where we are?"

She finished stronger than she had started but Ash wasn't ten anymore. He knew full-well when his Mother was putting a brave face on things for him. She walked away, calling for him to follow. Something was wrong. He clambered to his feet, legs stiff after sitting for so long and stepped carefully past their belongings to leave the truck.

Hopping down from the steel truck floor, his feet met soft, lush grass and he looked around to try and get a feel for where he now was. The air was crisp but clear and though it was the middle of spring, what felt like an early winter chill nipped at him. They were in a small town or village, on a street lined with quaint wooden houses, all capped with similar leaf-green tiles. They looked to be on the outskirts of town, which was enclosed in tall, dark pines dusted with light snow.

He could see why his Mother would choose this place. A small brook or stream could be heard babbling along somewhere out of sight and the spaces between footpaths and buildings were smothered in a patchwork of different flowers, with a layer of snow lying between each stem. It was, Ash was forced to admit, beautiful. The real giveaway though lay on the horizon. Over the reaching pines to the east loomed an intimidating range of mountain peaks, all capped in white, the tallest in the centre of them all.

Ash recognised it instantly. It was one of the most famous sights in all the world, after all. Mt. Coronet. They had travelled all the way to Sinnoh. Had really been in the truck that long? His mother had moved to the doorway of the closest house, equally pretty as the others in the area, and was having a quiet conversation with a serious-looking Oak. Oak and his mother looked over at him and both smiled and began to approach. He took a step forward too, determination filling him.

Just as he did so, Oak's Alakazam drifted out of the moving van, psychic power levitating it past Ash. It nodded at him as it did so and Ash faltered mid-step. It really was a beautiful little town and a thought crept up on him, unbidden. Growing up, he'd had two heroes. First was Lance, the Champion of Kanto, its protector and strongest trainer. His skill with the powerful dragon-type pokèmon was unrivalled and he was regarded as pretty much unbeatable.

The second, however, was the Champion of Sinnoh. Cynthia seemed to him every bit as strong as Lance but with the added challenge of not specialising in any particular type of pokèmon. Lance's mastery of dragons was complete, but Cynthia had managed to equal his strength and knowledge but with multiple different types. It was an incredible feat and now Ash was in her region. The idea of battling her famous Garchomp - Arceus, just the idea that he might be able to see it in person sent goosebumps running down his arm.

He was so distracted by the thought, that he didn't notice that Oak and his mother were right in front of him.

"So, Ash," his Mother began with a smile, "did you work out where we are?"

"We're in Sinnoh." He replied, still a little distracted. There was something he wanted to say but for some reason, he couldn't quite remember.

"Spot on! I know it's a little bit sudden and a little bit-"

"Sinnoh is a wonderful region to begin in, Ash," Oak interjected, unusually forcefully, "it'll be an amazing opportunity to hone your skills. Now-" Oak said, before beginning to fish around in his lab-coat pockets. "As we're not at my lab, I don't have my regular selection of starter pokèmon available to me, something I forgot to account for in planning this journey. Fortunately, Delia here rather forcefully reminded me of that on the way here."

His mother looked sheepish but Oak just grinned and rubbed the back of his head before holding out a gleaming red pokeball towards him.

"I caught this personally - just for you. I had a few of my partners scout out a suitable candidate - I believe we've managed to get you something suitably different. Take it, Ash, he's yours."

Ash was almost breathless. So many of his plans had revolved around the choice that all the trainers Oak sponsored had to make. Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle. Grass, Fire or Water. He had dreamed so many dreams of what a journey would be like with all three of them. Now, none of those dreams would come true.

On the other hand, in front of him was a pokeball containing his very first pokèmon. A partner for life. Somebody who would fight by his side for as long as he was a trainer and hopefully, would live by it for long after. He thought of the relationship Oak had with the pokèmon on his ranch that had travelled with him when he was young. He wanted that so badly it hurt, regardless of which pokèmon it was with.

Not to mention the small fact that Oak, the most distinguished authority on pokèmon in the world - a former pokèmon master in his own right - had personally picked this pokèmon out and caught in especially for him.

Everything was happening so quickly that Ash could barely think. He practically snatched the capsule from Oak's hand.

"Thank you, Professor." He said, his voice an awed whisper. He stared down at the red and white ball that seemed to contain within every hope and dream that he'd ever had since the age of about four.

"Well," his mother said, smiling, "let's have a look at your new friend - Samuel wouldn't let me see either."

He looked at him Mom, offering a jerky nod before tapping a small button on the front of the sphere that expanded it to its full size. It now took his entire hand to hold and, hand shaking, he tapped the button again. The lid popped open and a vivid crimson light burst forth. It spiralled towards the ground and coalesced into a small, quadrupedal creature. The pokèmon that looked curiously back at them was about the size of a dog, coming up just below Ash's knees. It had ocean blue eyes that seemed to be smiling, and its body was covered all around in thick plates of iron armour with one solitary spike jutting out from it's back.

"It's an Aron," Oak explained, looking enthusiastically at the small pokèmon on the floor. "They're commonly found in mountain environments in Hoenn, but have found their way into pretty much every major mountain range in the world. They're durable little things and eager to battle - this one in particular was incredibly tenacious despite its age and inexperience. If you train it well, its evolved forms will be incredible boons on your journey, Ash."

Ash knelt to pet his new partner. It seemed strange to scratch at his metallic skin but Aron seemed to feel it as well as a Growlithe might have. The small pokèmon leant into his touch happily and Ash had to steady himself to cope with Aron's weight. That was something he'd have to keep in mind.

After that, everything seemed to move at lightspeed. Alakazam hovered near Ash and Aron as his mother and Oak busied themselves around the truck gathering bits and pieces. He was so distracted by his new friend that he didn't notice that they weren't unpacking house items from the truck - they were unpacking his travel gear.

"Ash!" his mom called, "it's time to get moving - you'll want to get a good amount of the way to Sandgem town before you set up camp."

Ash tore himself away from his new pokèmon, aghast as he finally noticed his travel gear fully packed beside his mother and the Professor. "What? Now? But we haven't got the house set up - I can help with all that, I-"

Ash's mother raised a hand to stop him in his tracks and used it to stroke some out of place hair from his fringe out of the way. "Always so keen to help, even if it means putting aside what you want. You've really grown into an amazing young man, Ash."

"But Mom-"

"I will take care of setting up the house, son - I have Oak and his pokèmon here to help as well. It's time that you got to go and accomplish your dreams." Her smile became teary and her hand moved to clasp his shoulder. "I can't wait to see you at the Conference - me and the Professor will have front-row tickets, I promise."

Oak stepped forward. "Once you reach Sandgem Town, look for Professor Rowan. He's an old friend of mine and is expecting you. He has a pokedex ready to give to you and will be your in-region sponsor for your journey around Sinnoh. Don't be afraid to call either of us with questions - Rowan is just as knowledgeable as I am, and in some areas, moreso."

Alakazam phased into existence beside Oak at that moment and Ash opened his mouth to protest again. The words, however, were gone the moment he tried to find them. And his mouth closed, defeated. He felt excited. And sad. Sad because he would miss his mother, of course, but there was something else there. Another sadness, deeper down.

His mother hugged him and for some reason, he felt afraid.

Goodbyes after that were quick - quicker than he'd expected. Alakazam stayed close to him, an unexpected comfort. He waved goodbye to his mother, tears in both of their eyes and one final glance from Oak's pokèmon gave him the strength to turn and walk away.

His journey's first steps were uneasy and fear-filled and the reasons why seemed to dance around just outside of his consciousness, tangible but utterly out of reach. He had been waiting his entire life for this - so why was every fibre of his being screaming at him to turn around and go back to his mother?

He kept walking.

A re-working of my older pokemon story, now loosely based upon my Nuzlocke playthrough of Renegade Platinum. Hope you enjoy it!