Chapter 5

I do not own Pokemon. I only own my OCs.

Ash winced as he saw Bulbasaur land painfully on the ground after being thrown by Brock's Onix. The Seed Pokemon landed with a grunt as it struggled to pull itself up with its legs. Despite Angelina's frantic calls, it wasn't doing well.

He had been able to take down Brock's Geodude before, but not without taking a nasty Fire Punch beforehand. Ash would've thought it would be easier for Angelina to take down Brock's first Pokemon, since she had a type advantage and Bulbsaur's vines and powders allowed it to keep a safe distance from Geodude. However, it had taken nearly five minutes for her to down the Rock Pokemon, which wasn't even his strongest.

"Ouch." Nate said with a wince. "Her Bulbasaur's getting his butt kicked down there. It hasn't even been able to land a single hit on that Onix!"

Ash nodded, saying nothing. Both boys had come to Brock's Gym to watch Angelina's match, and the Gym Leader recognized both of them. The area they were sitting was a set of bleachers elevated to the side of the battlefield. A psychic barrier was set up to block incoming stray attacks, but didn't provide any hindrance to their view.

Nate had beaten Brock the day before, the battle coming down to a close face-off between his Pikachu and Brock's Onix. Despite the electric rodent's frail structure, she was able to maneuver around Brock's attacks and deliver the finishing blow with an Iron Tail, before collapsing just a few seconds after Onix. But out of all of them, Angelina had done the least amount of training, and it was starting to show in her performance. The only real training she'd done was some light exercises and battling the occasional Trainer. Brock, wanting to wrap up the battle, called out his final command.

"Dragon Breath!" he ordered. Purplish gas formed in a beam that was shot toward the already exhausted Bulbasaur from Onix's mouth, finishing it. Bulbasaur let out a cry of pain as he was blasted by the attack, throwing him off his feet and knocking him out cold. Angelina stared at her fallen starter, her mouth slightly ajar, before lifting her hand slowly and recalling him back into his ball. Ash saw her mumble a few words to his PokeBall, before attaching it back to her belt.

Brock did the same with his Onix, before walking toward her across the battlefield and giving her a sympathetic smile. "Your Bulbasaur is quite strong and healthy for one of its species." Brock said. "But your technique is sloppy. Have you trained with Bulbasaur much?"

Angelina shook her head. Brock frowned.

"That's your problem." he continued, his voice turning surprisingly stern. "You aren't taking this seriously, and you're relying on your type advantage as an easy cop-out instead of doing actual training. Your friends watching you have put in a lot of work to get their badge. Judging by our battle, it seems you haven't. Come back when you've trained some more. I'd be happy to give you a rematch."

Ash winced. Ouch. He never knew Brock had it in him to be that harsh. Although he supposed he had a good reason for it. He probably got many cocky kids, expecting an easy Gym battle, come into his Gym only to get utterly destroyed by his Onix. He had to nail it into newer Trainer's heads that the Gym challenge wasn't just something you could breeze through. Only the best made it to the conference after all.

Heck, he was partially guilty of doing the exact same thing Angelina did, relying on a type advantage. Dexter had Ice Beam and Petal was a partial Grass-type. However, his Pokemon actually resisted any of Brock's attacks, so the Gym Leader still had a large threat level that couldn't be ignored. Nate had by far done the most training out of all of them to make up for his poor matchup against the Gym Leader. The fruits of his labor meant that all of his Pokemon knew moves to hit Rock-types for super effective damage.

Angelina simply nodded at Brock's statements, her eyes not leaving the floor. Suddenly, she spun on her heel and ran straight out of the gym, rubbing her eyes with her arm.

"Oh boy." Nate breathed out, getting up out of his seat and out of the audience chamber. Ash followed him, running down the steps that led to the battlefield. Brock looked at Ash and gave him an apologetic look. Nate turned around and narrowed his eyes at the Gym Leader, before Ash mouthed an "It's Fine" to the older boy.

They raced through the lobby and burst through the front doors of the Gym, where they found the blonde-haired girl sitting on the steps, crying her eyes out. Bulbasaur's PokeBall was in her hand, and she twirled it around in her hand as tears streamed down her face.

"Angelina!" Nate said, rushing over to her. "Are you okay?"

Angelina turned toward Nate and shot a glare toward him. "Whaddya think dingus!?" she yelled, startling him. "Of course I'm not okay! I just lost a battle and got told off by a Gym Leader!"

Nate, who looked hurt and taken aback by the outburst, started to narrow his eyes. However, before he could fire back, Ash shot a glare toward him. "Don't even think about it, Nate." he said. "I am not getting in the middle of another one of your fights."

"But she-!"

"But nothing!" Ash snapped. "I know Angelina's being a jerk, but yelling isn't going to do anything!"

He turned toward Angelina, and ignored Nate's grumbling in the background. "Look. What Brock said was right. You've been slacking off a lot. But that doesn't mean you can't get better and improve. Do you think Lance became Champion by winning every single battle he took part in?"

Angelina was biting her lip, trying to hold back more tears. Her face was still red from all the crying. But she sighed and shook her head.

"Everyone makes mistakes, but if you work with Saur to improve, there's no reason why you can't win your rematch against Brock." Ash continued. Angelina stopped her sniffling, and looked up at both of them, wiping her face with her sleeve.

Ash grinned. "We'll help you train for your rematch against Brock." he said. He then turned to Nate. "Right, Nate?"

His answer was just a string of grumbling from the bespectacled boy. Ash sighed in frustration. "Right, NATE?" he said, louder and more forcefully.

"OKAY!" Nate yelled back, throwing his hands up in defeat. "Jeez! You're acting like my mom!"

"Yeah, 'cause you're being annoying." Ash said dryly. "Look, Angelina didn't mean it. She's just mad that she lost. Remember when you lost against that Bug Catcher the other day?"

Nate whipped his head around, the fire of rage burning brightly in his eyes. "That kid had like THREE BEEDRILL, Ash!" he yelled, catching the attention of passerby, who looked at him as though he had gone crazy. "Who even has THREE BEEDRILL!? I don't understand! Who's dumb enough to even catch one, let alone three!? And don't even get me started on his dumb cocky grin..."

Ash just smiled, watching Nate go off about the injustice he was subjected to during their time in Viridian Forest. Angelina chuckled, her sour mood starting to lift as she watched Nate's temper tantrum. Even though Nate's yelling was starting to hurt his ears, at the very least he was distracted.

He turned toward Angelina, and noticed the redness of her face starting to go down. "Don't worry." he reassured her. "Soon you're going to walk into that Gym, demand a rematch, and kick Brock into next week. You want to show him what you're made of, right?"

Angelina smiled back. "More than anything."


"I'm telling you. Golduck is a Water and Psychic type."

"No, Nate. It's just a Water type. I've been telling you this for the past ten minutes!"

The two boys were sitting at a table in the cafeteria of the Pokemon Center, talking amiably. It had been several days since Angelina's loss at Brock's Gym, and they'd been training non-stop with her to help her Bulbasaur get stronger. The Seed Pokemon was completely fine with switching pace, and refused to show even a little bit of weakness during training. Ash was just glad that Angelina had taken up the initiative to train now instead of later. Had they had this problem a few months later, he doubted Bulbasaur would be so keen on doing laps around the training area.

Ash and Nate had both given Angelina tips on facing Brock, as both of them had already won their battles against him. Petal was also happy to help Bulbasaur practice Razor Leaf. All-in-all, Saur had grown a lot over the past several days.

The three of them had promised to wait until each of them got their badges before moving on to another city. It wouldn't do them any good to have to travel back to a city just because one of them didn't get a badge. One of the main driving forces for Ash helping Angelina however, was so that they could leave. He was itching to get back on the road again. Who knew how far ahead of him Gary was now?

"But Golduck has tons of Psychic moves!" Nate protested, snapping him out of his thoughts. "And it even has a weird gem on its head! You can't look at a Golduck and tell me that it's not a Psychic-type!"

"Yeah, well your Charmander can learn tons of Dragon-type moves can't he?" Ash replied. "Mind telling me why he isn't a Dragon-type?"

"Because-!" Nate started to counter, but faltered when he realized that he was caught. Ash just grinned widely, sitting back in his chair, watching Nate trying to come up with an excuse for why Charmander wasn't part Dragon. In truth, he wasn't sure either. In the past, Charmeleon and Charizard had the blood of dragons running through their veins, but adaptation to keep up with an ever-changing world seemed to have changed that.

Maybe Professor Oak would tell him. He was practically a walking Pokemon biology textbook.

"Hey Ash!" Nate suddenly exclaimed. "Look! Angelina's battling with Brock on TV!"

Ash turned toward the TV, where sure enough, Angelina was facing off against Brock once more. The blonde-haired girl hadn't been in their room when Ash and Nate had woken up that day, so they just assumed she had gotten an early breakfast. However, when they didn't find her there, they had decided to wait at the cafeteria for a little to see if she'd show up. However, it seemed like she had decided to challenge Brock earlier in the day. Nobody was really watching Angelina's battle apart from the two boys, since not many were interested in beginner's matches.

Saur was currently staring down Brock's Onix once more, and in much better shape compared to last time. Onix also seemed to have taken some damage from beforehand. Saur's vines suddenly became withdrawn as he rushed forward toward his opponent, thrusting them forward. Brock yelled out a command, and Onix suddenly buried into the ground, avoiding the Seed Pokemon's Vine Whip.

Ash bit the inside of his cheek. This wasn't good. He'd seen how much damage Petal had taken from Onix's Dig and Iron Head combo, and just like with the Oddish, Saur's additional Poison typing removed its resistance to ground attacks. Angelina seemed to look fearful, and Saur didn't have time to look back at his Trainer for a command before Onix burst through the ground, nailing Saur with an Iron Head and flinging him into the air.

"Stun Spore!" Angelina ordered. Saur's bulb showered Onix in a fine yellow powder, causing it to roar as the paralysis took effect. Saur didn't have time to stick his landing however, and landed on his back painfully, barely managing to get up. However, the damage had already been done, and Onix seemed to grit its teeth in pain.

"Use Slam!" Brock commanded. Onix reared back its tail, intending to crush the little reptile, until sparks started to dance around its body and it roared in pain once more. Angelina looked at the Onix like she had just won the lottery, and shouted a command to Saur.

"Razor Leaf!" she called. Bulbasaur launched a barrage of leaf-like projectiles toward Onix, who could only thrash in pain before they sliced into its carapace. The rock snake let out one final roar before crashing into the ground. It didn't get up.

"YES! SHE DID IT!" Nate shouted at the top of his lungs, startling others in the nearby vicinity yet again. Ash continued to stare at the TV, happy for his friend that she had won her first gym badge. He watched as Brock walked over to the girl and placed the badge in her palm, now making all of them official holders of the Boulder Badge.

The raven-haired boy smiled. Her hard work has been worth it.


"Use Rock Tomb!"

"Destroy those rocks with Razor Leaf!"

Petal's opponent, a young Sandshrew, slammed its curled-up body onto the ground, summoning rocks, which flung themselves toward the Oddish. Petal concentrated, and countered with his own attack, destroying the projectiles with his own. The rocks were no match for his razor leaves, as they sliced through them, turning the stones into rubble.

"Now! Razor Leaf again! Finish this!" Ash ordered.

His opponent, a boy around his age, panicked. "Uh... I... uh... Defense Curl!" he blurted out.

Despite Sandshrew's outer shell being quite tough, the super effective attack was too much for it to handle, and the leaves sliced into its carapace. Once Petal finally relented, the Ground-type uncurled itself, but Ash could clearly see that it was unconscious. The boy sighed, recalling his fallen Pokemon, and Ash did the same with Petal. He offered the boy a smile, which he returned, and took his prize money. Ash looked to his left, where Nate and Angelina were waving him over, and ran to catch up with them.

Route 3, unlike the wild areas between civilization that the three of them had traveled through before, was quite rocky. Ash spied an Ekans slithering into a small hole in between some rocks, and flocks of Spearow flew above them. Luckily they didn't seem to pay them any mind. The truly murderous, aggressive flocks were usually led by Fearow.

Ash kicked a rock in front of him, stuffing his hands in his pockets. Traveling got boring once you started to see the same things over and over again. The monotony was only broken by the occasional Trainer battle, and even then, his Pokemon were more than enough to handle most threats. He did end up losing to one Trainer's Pidgeotto, whose speed was too much for Dexter to get a solid hit on. The Porygon hovered beside him silently, surveying the area in front of them, while Petal hopped along behind them.

Nate and Angelina also had their Pokemon out beside them, and Charmander and Bulbasaur were currently engaged in a competition to see who could keep pace with their Trainers for longer. Nidoran watched their rivalry with mild interest, its ears twitching every so often. The only one who wasn't walking with them was Pikachu, who tended to tire out easily and needed to be in her PokeBall.

Unlike their previous journeys between cities, which would only last a few days, the trek between Pewter and Cerulean City was almost a week. This was because Trainers not only had to go through Route 3, but also they had to journey through Mt. Moon as well as Route 4. Most people didn't actually climb the mountain, instead opting for a straight shot through a cave that ran through it.

Luckily there was a Pokemon Center stationed in front of Mt. Moon where Trainers could rest up, get supplies, and head out. Due to the absence of sunlight in the cave, it was quite cold, and the only light source inside it were the lanterns hung around the area to help guide Trainers through it. Luckily coats, gloves, and flashlights were sold to Trainers in need of them, as well as Repels to ward off the swarms of Zubat occupying the cave.

From what Ash had heard, journeying through Route 3 took around three days, and Mt. Moon took two. From there it was a straight shot through Route 4, which only took a day to travel through.

He heard a growl coming from his left, and saw Nate rubbing his stomach. "I'm starving, guys." he groaned. "Mind if we stop for lunch? My stomach feels like an empty pit."

"I'm fine with that." Angelina added, rubbing her leg. "I just want to rest. We've been traveling for hours."

Ash shrugged. "Fine by me." he said. He sat down on a patch of grass and took off his sneakers, shaking them to get the dirt and pebbles that had been lodged inside his shoe. Petal sat beside him, his leaves glowing in order to photosynthesize. Ash rooted through his backpack and took out his lunch. Luckily he'd been able to save up enough money to get better meals, and started chomping on his nuggets.

The two other tweens did the same, pulling out their lunches and eating silently. Ash pulled out Petal's bowl and poured pellets into it, as well as a few Occa Berries. The Oddish munched on them happily, and the other Pokemon did the same with their meals, including Pikachu, who had been let out by Nate. They sat in a circle, each of them equidistant from each other.

Suddenly Angelina gasped, covering her mouth and pointing behind Ash. The boy gave her a confused look and whipped around to see what she was looking at.

A round, pink Pokemon with large, circular, blue eyes was walking them with a whimsical smile on its face. It had cat-like ears and small paws, and didn't seem at all afraid or disturbed by their presence. It almost seemed to be excited to see them, as though it wanted to show them something.

Ash immediately recognized it as a Jigglypuff. They were Normal/Fairy types that were usually very timid, and it confused him why one would try to come so close to them. They had the fourth largest lungs of any Pokémon, beaten only by Whismur, Loudred, and Exploud. Apparently they were known for their singing, and could adjust their vocal chords to sing at precisely the right wavelength to put foes to sleep.

"It's so cute!" Angelina squealed. "Look at its eyes! Ooh, and look at its little ears, they're so adorable!"

Nate just rolled his eyes. "Ugh. Girls." he muttered. Angelina continued to gush over the Jigglypuff, either not hearing him or choosing to ignore the Jigglypuff pulled out a small microphone from its fur, began to inhale...

...and started to sing.

Its voice was soft and sweet, like a child's, and the Balloon Pokemon seemed to be pretty good at singing too, as it never went off-key. Ash's limbs started to become heavy, and his eyelids drooped at the melody that the Jigglypuff was singing. Despite this, a voice in his head was protesting, telling him to get out of there. For a split second, panic set in, before being replaced by drowsiness. He looked at his friends, who were starting to look groggy as well.

"Angelina... it's putting... us... to sleep..." Ash managed to breath out, each word taking monumental amounts of effort to force out of his mouth. However, the blonde suddenly collapsed, out cold, and Ash heard a thump behind him, who he assumed was Nate collapsing too. Everyone's Pokemon had fallen asleep already, and even Dexter was starting to nod off. However, before it could, Ash called out one more command.

"Dexter... Ice... Beam... freeze... it..." he drawled, before his vision went black.


Ash's eyes snapped open a few hours later, and he sat up, his back rigid like a wooden board. He looked around frantically, momentarily forgetting why he had fallen asleep. Why is everyone else asleep? What happened? And why is there a frozen Jigglypuff sitting next to Dexter?

Oh.

Right.

Dexter was standing, or rather, floating guard in front of the Jigglypuff, whose face was frozen in a shocked expression. Luckily, since Dexter was the last to nod off, it had been able to get off its attack in time before it too fell asleep. The ice Jigglypuff was encased in was starting to thaw, but much of Jigglypuff's body remained frozen. The Porygon, upon seeing its Trainer wake up, hovered over to him. Ash sighed in relief. It was a good thing Dexter was still awake, or else someone might've stolen their stuff while they were asleep.

The raven-haired boy walked over to Nate and shook him. The other boy started to groan and tried to swat Ash away. Ash lowered his eyebrows.

"Nate, I'll ask Dexter to shock you again if you don't get up." Ash said. Nate's eyes shot open and he sat up and looked around, but not before glaring at Ash momentarily.

"That Jigglypuff put us all to sleep." Ash explained, pointing at the ice-encased Balloon Pokemon. Nate's eyes lingered on the Jigglypuff for a moment before turning his attention back to Ash. "Mind helping me wake everyone else up?"

Nate nodded and proceeded to prod his Pokemon awake, while Ash did the same with Petal, Angelina, and Bulbasaur. They all got up with more or less the same reactions, groaning in exhaustion before looking around confused, trying to remember what happened.

"It'll be a few hours before sundown." Ash said, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. "We've lost a lot of time, so we should probably get going."

"Wait!" Angelina yelled, causing Ash to stop in his tracks. "What're we going to do with the Jigglypuff?"

Nate shrugged. "Just leave it here," he said. "It'll thaw eventually. Besides, I don't want anything to do with a Pokemon that'll put us to sleep."

"But we can't just leave it here!" Angelina protested. "What if it starves? Or gets eaten?"

Ash scratched the back of his head. While he could simply catch the Jigglypuff, he doubted that it would be especially keen on listening to him, since he was the one who froze it for hours. While Wigglytuff were strong Pokemon in their own right, hitting hard and being quite bulky, he wasn't really interested in training one. His eyes drifted towards Angelina who was looking between him, Nate, and Jigglypuff. She did say she wanted another Pokemon, didn't she?

"Then why don't you take it?" Ash suggested, noticing Angelina's eyes widen at the idea. "I mean, we'll have to thaw it first, but if it decides that it wants to come with you, then you can have it. What do you think?"

"Well... I guess..." Angelina muttered. "How are we going to unfreeze it though?"

Ash looked over at Nate, who made eye contact with him a few seconds later. The boy's eyebrows lowered. "Fine..." he grumbled, crossing his arms. "Charmander, use Ember."

Charmander let out a yawn and spat a small fireball at the ice block Jigglypuff was encased in, melting it almost instantly. The Balloon Pokemon fell flat on its face and shook its body to get rid of any excess water. It eyed Dexter warily and glared at Ash, however it looked curiously at Angelina. Ash squinted at it. It wasn't running, which was a good sign. He nodded toward Angelina, and she approached it.

"Erm... hi Jigglypuff." Angelina said nervously, getting down on her knee. The Jigglypuff's big round eyes looked curiously at the blonde. "I'm sorry that we had to freeze you like that. You just wanted us to hear your singing, right?"

The Normal and Fairy-type nodded. Angelina gulped.

"Well... If you want to... you could come with me." the girl continued, giving the Jigglypuff a nervous smile. "I'd be happy to have you with me, and we can work on your singing together and help you get stronger. How does that sound?"

Jigglypuff let out a happy chirp and picked up its microphone. It popped the bottom of the microphone off with its paw, revealing a marker on the other side, and drew a small smiley face on Angelina's hand. The girl's smile grew wider and wider

"Oh this is great!" she exclaimed. "Thank you, Jigglypuff. I promise I'll do my best for as a Trainer and make you happy." Angelina pulled out a PokeBall from her backpack and touched it to the Jigglypuff's forehead, which sucked it into the capsule with a flash of light.

*Shake*

*Shake*

*Shake*

*Click!*

The clicking sound of the PokeBall reached Ash's ears, and he grinned. He was happy that Angelina had been able to get her first capture. She was still learning the ropes of being a Trainer, but she was doing well. Despite getting one of the highest scores on Professor Oak's exam, she still struggled a little at the beginning. However, even with a rough start, she was still proving why she had been able to get top three on the exam.

Nate let out a loud yawn, stretching out his arms. Without a word, he started walking ahead of them, and Ash and Angelina followed, hoping to make the most out of the next few hours to get closer to their destination.


A few days later, Ash, Nate, and Angelina were standing in front of the giant mountain that towered over them. Ash had seen photos of Mt. Moon in pamphlets before, but he personally felt like they didn't do it justice. It was positively ginormous. While it wasn't on the level of Mt. Silver, it was still quite large, standing at a height of over 17,000 feet.

His backpack had considerably more weight than before. Ash had made sure to pack extra rations, Repels, a spare flashlight, and plenty of water. Naturally flowing water inside Mt. Moon was hard to come by, and the last thing he wanted was to be caught in Mt. Moon without any refreshments.

Nate's backpack looked considerably heavier than his however, since he also had to pack food for himself and his three Pokemon. Ash chuckled at the sight of the huge package on his shoulders. It almost looked as though he was carrying a person on his back, and the boy did not looked pleased one bit.

Some backpacks had specialized storage technology that could shrink items down for more convenience. They were mainly for seasoned Trainers that had to carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, such as weeks worth of rations and Pokemon food.

Ash heard footsteps from behind him and saw Angelina stop next to Nate. All of them were wearing thick jackets along with their backpacks as well. While Mt. Moon wasn't freezing cold, the lack of available sunlight made the caves inside much colder compared to outside. Ash doubted their short sleeved shirts and shorts would be comfortable to wear inside there.

"Well, looks like we're finally here." Ash finally said, readying himself. "You guys ready?"

"Yep."

"Nope."

Ash ignored Nate's grumbles, and the three of them walked into the cave. If not for the torches lining the walls of the cave that were set up by the league, it would've been impossible to navigate this place. Ash heard Nate release his Charmander, giving them some much needed heat and light. Ash released Dexter as well. He didn't know why, but he felt safer having the Porygon next to him instead of in his ball.

Despite the uncomfortable conditions, they still managed to find plenty of Trainers to battle, and there were resting stations placed every few miles, large areas illuminated by torches where tents were set up to allow travelers and their Pokemon to rest.

Luckily, Ash didn't need to use these often, as Dexter and Petal were enough to battle most Trainers inhabiting the dark cave. However, there was one battle that was especially close that came down to Dexter and a hiker's Machop. Ash had barely scraped by when the Porygon was able to land a direct hit with a Psybeam though, winning him the match.

Soon the three of them found themselves at a resting station about halfway through the cave. They'd made good progress that day, and despite the fact that Ash wanted to walk more, Nate's constant complaints about his feet hurting were starting to really get on his nerves, so they'd stopped for the day. Not many people seemed to be around, so they had much of the area to themselves.

"It's so dark and spacious in here." Nate said as they sat around a campfire they had built. "I bet if I scream really loud, my voice'll travel for miles."

Before the boy could let loose a yell though, Angelina placed her hand over his mouth, muffling his voice. "Thanks, but I don't need you destroying my eardrums." Angelina said with a frown. Suddenly the girl yanked her hand away from his mouth and gave him a disgusted look. "Did you just lick my hand!?"

"Sure did." Nate said with a lazy grin, clearly proud of what he had accomplished. His smile disappeared within a second however, when Angelina raised her fist.

"I'll kill you!" she screamed, and lunged toward him. Nate jumped back and started running away from her, but Angelina jumped to her feet and chased after him. Ash just rolled his eyes and chuckled at the spectacle. Normally he would tell them to stop acting like babies, but he found this really fun to watch. He turned toward Dexter, who was watching them with mild interest. Petal just looked confused.

"C'mon you two." Ash said, standing up and motioning for them to come with him. "Let's get a bit of training done before the day ends."

The two Pokemon obliged, and followed their Trainer out of the campsite. Before leaving, Ash took his flashlight out of his bag and flicked the switch, creating a shining beam of light. He shined it in different areas of the cave, and yelped when a Zubat suddenly tried to dive bomb him after he accidentally shined a flashlight in its face. Dexter fired an Ice Beam toward it before it could circle back around however, and the Bat Pokémon flew around it and screeched at Ash before flying off.

Eventually Ash was able to find a suitable area several hundred feet from the campsite, where there were a group of large rocks. The area was empty of wild Pokemon, which meant they wouldn't be interrupted while training. Perfect.

He sat down on a small rock, and after making sure he wasn't accidentally sitting on a Geodude (which Nate had done and ended up getting punched in the gut) let out a sigh and straightened his back. Ash pulled out his Pokedex and scrolled through Dexter and Petal's possible moves, his expression one of concentration.

One thing he learned from his battle with Brock was that while he had plenty of offensive options available at his disposal, he lacked supportive moves that could help his team out in the long run. Petal only had short ranged disruption moves and healing, and Dexter pretty much had nothing, aside from changing its type, which was risky. Eventually though, Ash was able to find two moves for each of them that he was satisfied with, and turned to face his Pokemon.

"Alright you two." Ash said, getting their attention. "Great job on your performances against Brock. You both really pulled through, especially you, Petal."

Petal brightened at the praise, while Dexter stayed silent, still looking at Ash expectantly. "I want you guys to start working on new moves. I'm hoping we can get them down by the time we fight the Cerulean Gym Leader."

Ash looked towards Dexter. "Dexter, I want you to start working on Thunder Wave. If you can get it off on an opponent, you'll be able to hit them more often." the boy explained to his starter. Dexter had plenty of offensive power, but being able to cripple an opponent with paralysis could really turn the tides of battle. Thunder Wave in particular involved the user releasing a small, concentrated, short-ranged electric charge that would paralyze the opponent within a few seconds.

"Petal, let's keep working on your powder moves." Ash told the Weed Pokemon. "It'll make your close-ranged battles much easier."

The matter of mastering Petal's powder moves was not actually obtaining the powders themselves, as Oddish and many other Grass-types had access to powders naturally as a defense mechanism. The real challenge lay in dispersing them in such a way that they would be able to cover a large area. Petal's powders, in particular, coated its leaves and the top of its head, but thanks to his toxic nature, were replenished often. Bulbasaur was similar, although its powders were stored in its bulb and could be launched.

Depending on the situation, different spores could be used. A hardy, bulky opponent could be slowly weakened by Poison Powder, a fast opponent would be crippled by Stun Spore, and a flying opponent would drop at the whiff of a shower of Sleep Powders.

Petal nodded at Ash's words, his face screwed in determination. Ash grinned, and turned to his starter. "Dexter, do you mind if I work with Petal? I can pull up some videos of Thunder Wave for you to practice on your own, if you'd like."

The Porygon blinked for a minute, and nodded. Ash quickly searched for a video of a Raichu using the technique, and placed his Pokedex by a nearby rock for Dexter to study. For now, he wanted to focus on training Petal as much as possible. The Oddish was a major factor in his win against Brock, and he had confidence that Petal would be a powerful asset against the Cerulean Gym Leader.

He turned to the Oddish, who was looking up at him expectantly. "Alright, Petal. Now's your time to shine." he declared. "Try and see if you can spray your powders as much as possible. The trick is to hit a wide area, so you'll hit opponents more often. Think you can do that?" Petal nodded, the leaves on his head making a rustling sound.

"Use Poison Powder!" Ash commanded. Petal reared his head back and showered the area in front of him with a fine, toxic powder. Ash pulled his shirt over his nose and mouth during the duration of the move to prevent himself from accidentally breathing it in. Once Petal was finished, he inspected the Oddish's work. The farthest that the powder had traveled was a measly three feet, which wouldn't exactly be helpful in a real match, as an opponent could jump out of the way pretty easily.

Ash frowned. "Try again, Petal." he said. "Maybe jump while you're doing it too. Hopefully that should help."

Soon enough, Petal was able to spread out his powders in a larger, cone-like area. However, Ash had to eventually recall him back into his ball, as the lack of sunlight and cold temperatures weren't doing the Oddish any favors. As the Oddish was sucked back into the ball, Ash put the capsule inside his pants pocket and turned to Dexter, who was idly levitating near him.

"Hey Dexter, how about showing me your progress?" Ash asked the Porygon. The Normal-type blinked and paused, before nodding. Ash smiled.

"Alright then, show me what you can do! Use Thunder Wave" he ordered. Dexter tensed up its body, and Ash looked on in anticipation and interest in his starter's progress.

But nothing happened.

Ash stepped toward Dexter. The Virtual Pokemon's body was still tense, and its head was turned toward a dark area in the cave, almost as though it saw something that Ash couldn't. The boy knew Dexter acted weird sometimes, and he often felt like the Porygon was some sort of enigma that he'd never be able to understand. But this was weird even for it. The boy's stomach started to knot in worry.

"Dexter... are you okay?" he asked the Virtual Pokemon. Suddenly Dexter's eyes flashed red, and it tackled Ash to the ground. The boy yelped as he fell, and looked at his starter, eyes wide. "What's gotten into you!?"

And then Ash froze when he heard voices.

"Proton's such a fucking moron!" he heard a man yell. "Why's he always gotta be such an asshole!?"

Ash heard another man, who had a deeper voice, chuckle. "You'd better watch yourself, newbie." he replied. "Or else you'll be his Crobat's next meal in no time flat."

"Man, fuck this shit!" the first guy yelled out, stomping his foot, the noise echoing through the cave, along with his voice. "Why do the other grunts get to steal Pokemon from those stupid rookie Trainers, and I'm out here doing guard duty!?"

"Because you're new." the other man said bluntly. "Newbies get last pick. If you show Proton that you're a team player instead of a whiny baby, then maybe that'll change."

"Alright, then if you're such a goddamn hotshot, why're you here!?"

Ash's heart was pounding out of his chest as he slowly and quietly crawled behind a rock that Dexter was also hiding behind. He didn't know who those guys were or who this "Proton" guy was, but they sure didn't sound happy. And judging from what the first guy said, they were probably criminals. Once Ash had hidden behind a rock, he was able to get a better look at the men, who were standing around fifty feet away from him.

One of the guys was short and scrawny, and looked like the younger one between the two. He had a small scar running down his eye, and was smoking a cigar. The other man who was much bigger, had a bushy beard, and towered over the shorter one, who was cussing him out. However, what really caught Ash's eye was what they were wearing, black uniforms with a large red R in the middle of their shirts.

Rockets. And unlike the ones that stormed the Pokemon Center, who were jokes in comparison, these guys seemed like the real deal. Ash gulped, and started to crawl away from the two men, motioning for Dexter to follow him. If they saw him and Dexter, no doubt he'd be captured and Dexter would be taken away. He was planning on hiding here until the men were far enough so he could run back to camp and warn the others.

But unfortunately, life isn't that smooth.

"Hey Ash!" a voice yelled out. Ash looked in horror as he saw Nate and Angelina walking toward him, completely oblivious to who he was hiding from and why.

"What the- hey! Some kid is spyin' on us!" the scrawny Rocket grunt yelled out. Ash heard footsteps and felt a hand close around his arm and harshly pull him out of his hiding spot. Nate and Angelina suddenly realized what was going on and rushed toward him as Ash struggled to pull his arm free.

"Hey! Let go of Ash!" Nate yelled, pointing his finger at the two men, although he faltered when he saw their uniforms. "Wait... Rockets? Argh, it doesn't matter! You guys are going down! We beat your coworkers at Viridian City, and we can do it again!"

"Guys!" Ash yelled, pulling with all his might to get his arm free. "Get out of here!"

"Hah!" the smaller grunt guffawed. "I'm afraid that's not an option, brats. Either you hand over your Pokemon or we'll-"

Before the grunt could finish his sentence, a pinkish beam soared through the air, hitting the grunt's feet and throwing him off balance, causing him to lose his grip on Ash. The boy fell to the floor and grunted, and saw Dexter hovering out of its hiding spot and take a protective position in front of his Trainer. Angelina ran over and pulled Ash to his feet, and when the dust cleared, the grunts were still standing in front of them, hard glares on both of their faces.

"The hell is that!?" the bearded grunt said, referring to Dexter, who warbled loudly in response. Normally Ash would be grateful that his starter came to his aid, but as he saw the grunts closing in, he began to panic.

"Get out of here, you two!" he shouted. However, much to his dismay, both of his traveling partners didn't move.

"No way, Ash!" Angelina said. "We're not just leaving you here!"

"You should listen to your little friend, girlie." the skinny grunt snarked. Nate and Angelina released their Pokemon in a flash of light, choosing to ignore him. Jigglypuff looked around in confusion, although the rest of the Pokemon recognized the uniforms that the Rockets were wearing and growled. The grunt's eyes narrowed. "Call off your 'mons and nobody has to get hurt."

"Never!" Nate declared defiantly, his Charmander growling.

"I'm going to tell you again, you little shit." the grunt said much more forcefully as he released an Ariados from his PokeBall. He pulled out a knife from his pocket and twirled it around in his hands. "Call off your pathetic little pets, or else I'll kill all of you. Understand?"

The larger grunt did the same, instead releasing a Raticate that looked almost deranged as froth gathered around its mouth. The Rocket's Pokemon looked to be stronger than theirs, and judging from the sharpness of the Raticate's fangs, it would probably be able to bite clean through Dexter's protective silicone coating. Nate and Angelina seemed to notice this, as they suddenly lost all confidence in their stance.

"Good. Maybe if you're lucky, one of you will be able to join us Rockets." the larger grunt said, pulling out a sack. "Now put the PokeBalls in the bag. I don't got all day, you know."

Ash felt guilt well up in his chest. He might never see his starter again. Dexter, who realized what was happening, looked back at its Trainer with a blank expression, although a tiny bit of fear seemed to seep through its emotionless expression. Tears started to cloud the boy's vision, but he wiped them away and returned the Porygon to its ball.

"I'm sorry." he whispered to the PokeBall, walking toward the grunt and placing it in the sack. Nate and Angelina did the same with their PokeBalls. Nate was trying to hold back tears and Ash saw him swallow a lump in his throat. Angelina was wiping tears from her face as they streamed down her cheeks. Ash noticed the larger grunt unlatch another PokeBall from his belt and pressed the release button to send out a Koffing.

"Koffing, you know what to do." the grunt ordered. "Make sure these kids don't wake up anytime soon."

Thick, green gas started to expel out of the Koffing's pores. Ash started to cough and hack, and it wasn't long before Nate and Angelina started to do the same. He could feel his limbs and eyelids getting heavy, and the last thing he saw before he blacked out was the malicious grins of the two grunts as they watched his consciousness slip away.


Ash suddenly woke up an hour later, his vitality drained and his chest pounding. He looked around and saw that he was in a dimly lit room with metal walls, a single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. He tried to move his arms, but he realized his arms and body were tied to a metal chair. He looked around frantically for any sign of his Pokemon, but found none.

As he looked around, he saw that there were three other boys, who Ash assumed to be Trainers like him, in the same room. All of them were tied to metal chairs as well, a single rope wrapping all around each of them, including him, creating a circle. However, one of the boys Ash immediately recognized.

"Nate!" he yelled, jolting the boy awake. The brown-haired boy looked around frantically until his eyes landed on Ash. His expression was panicked.

"Ash!" he exclaimed. "W-where are we?"

"We're locked up, mate." a third voice said. Ash looked to his left and saw a red-haired boy with freckles on his face that looked a few years older than him. His hair looked disheveled and unkempt. "Did the Rockets knock you guys out too?"

Both Ash and Nate nodded. The boy sighed. "Thought so," he muttered. "Anyways, name's Randy. I'd shake yer hand, but as you can see I'm a little tied up. The boy next to me with the blue hair is Julian. Quiet kid, only just met him a few hours ago when I got tossed in."

Ash craned his neck around to see a boy with green eyes and blue hair that covered most of his face sitting on the opposite side of him. The boy looked to be even older than Randy, probably around sixteen or so. Julian offered him a nod before turning his head back to its original position.

"I'm Ash." the boy said. He tilted his head towards Nate. "And he's Nate."

"Nice to meet you two." Randy said. "Don't suppose you two got any Pokemon on ya to get us out of this pickle, do ya? The bastards ambushed me, knocked me out, and took my Pokemon, and I've been stuck here ever since. Overhead 'em talkin' about mining or somethin'."

"I don't." Nate said, his voice wavering. The boy tilted his head down. "They... they took my Charmander, Pikachu, and Nidoran. I don't know if I'll see them again." Ash spared him a sympathetic glance. While he was frustrated that Angelina and Nate acted rash and didn't run away like he asked, he was grateful that they cared enough about him to not just leave him.

Randy frowned. "What about you, Ash?" he asked the raven-haired boy. "You got anything that can get us outta here?"

"Well... my starter got taken by the Rockets." Ash said, holding back the lump in his throat. "And as for my Oddish..."

"Wait, I never saw you give Petal's PokeBall to the grunt, Ash." Nate spoke up. "What did you do with it?" Ash looked at him and arched an eyebrow. What did he mean? Of course he did. Petal's PokeBall was... it was... wait, where was it again?

Oh.

Holy crap.

"Petal's PokeBall was in my pants pocket the whole time! " Ash exclaimed, adrenaline surging through his veins. "If I can press the release button, Petal can melt the ropes and you guys can get your Pokemon back!"

Randy grinned widely. "Well that's some real dumb luck if I've ever seen any." he remarked. "Let's see if we can-"

"HEY! I thought I told you weaklings that I didn't want a peep outta ya!" he heard a man bark. Ash heard the door to the dim, cold room burst open, and saw a grunt standing at the doorway. The boy recognized him as the same scrawny grunt that had the Ariados. Randy suddenly went quiet, and Ash glared at the man who was responsible for Dexter being stolen. He seemed to really enjoy pushing anyone around that wasn't part of Team Rocket, especially kids.

"Shut it, Rocket." Julian spoke up, spitting the word "Rocket" like it was venom. "Without your Pokemon, you're nothing but a pathetic loser."

Ash turned around and looked at Julian, horrified. Was he trying to get them killed!? The grunt however, was furious. He walked toward Julian and sent out his Ariados, who started to hiss and spit at Julian. The blue-haired boy didn't look the slightest bit deterred, and looked the grunt straight in the eye.

"I dare you to say that again, brat." the grunt snarled.

"You heard me. Asswipe." Julian said. The boy suddenly spat on the Rocket's face, and the man recoiled in disgust.

"You fucking piece of shit!" the grunt howled, punching Julian in the jaw. The boy grunted in pain, but the man wasn't finished, as he continued to hammer punch after punch onto the boy's face for several seconds, each one leaving a sizable bruise on his face. Ash just watched, gobsmacked, before the grunt finally relented his assault.

"Great. Now I've gotta go wipe my face. Your saliva smells like ass." the grunt growled, delivering a final kick toward Julian's groin before walking away and slamming the door on them. Everyone was silent for a few seconds, until Nate spoke.

"Dude. Do you even brush your teeth?" Nate said, scrunching up his nose. Julian glared at him, letting out a cough.

"I think you should be a little more thankful, Four-Eyes." the boy retorted, clearly trying to brave through the pain he just endured. "I just bought you guys some time. Now release that Oddish you have and tell it to melt the ropes. We don't have much time before that grunt comes back, and there's only so many black eyes I can take."

"O-oh! Right!" Ash said, still shocked at the guts Julian had. After a little bit of fumbling, he finally managed to get Petal's PokeBall out of his pants pocket and press the release button. The Oddish was let out of the capsule with a flash of light, and looked around before his eyes finally settled on Ash, and panicked when he realized the state his Trainer was in.

"Petal!" Ash exclaimed. "Quick, melt the ropes I'm tied up in with Acid! Don't use too much, just enough to set us free!"

Petal nodded, his panicked expression replaced with a determined one, and spat a small glob of Acid, hitting its mark on the ropes. Ash watched as the poisonous liquid started to fizzle, and the rope suddenly went slack as it was severed. All of the boys stood up and flexed their limbs experimentally.

"Oh man! I can finally feel my arms!" Nate said. "Nice one, Ash!"

"Do any of you guys know where the stolen PokeBalls are being held?" the raven-haired boy asked them.

"No, but I think I have an idea." Randy replied. "When you guys got hauled in, I saw the grunts walk away from the room and return not too long after, without your PokeBalls, which meant they left to store them somewhere. Pretty sure they turned right. Which means wherever they're keeping the stolen stuff shouldn't be too far."

Julian turned to Ash. "Does your Oddish know any powder moves?" he asked.

Ash rubbed the back of his head. "Well.. we're working on it, but I wouldn't say Petal's powder moves are exactly battle ready..."

"Well now's a good time to practice then." Julian said matter-of-factly. "Come on, you three. Let's move."

The four boys ran out of the room and Ash scooped up Petal into his arms so that he wouldn't be left behind. As soon as they left the room, they turned right and started running through the labyrinth of pathways that had most likely been dug out of the Rockets to do whatever they were planning to do. It seemed that some spaces had been hollowed out to make rooms, probably to keep prisoners and their Pokemon.

Soon they turned a corner and came across a door with a window they could see through. Nate peered through the window and gasped. "Guys! I see some backpacks and PokeBalls in here!" he whispered to them. "This is where they're keeping the Pokemon!"

Randy walked up to the door and pulled with all his might. "Dammit. It's locked." he said, cursing under his breath. The boy gazed at the door handle, which seemed to have an electric lock attached to it. "It only opens from the inside. We need a key card to unlock the door, and we can probably only get them from those Rockets."

Ash, who was still hiding behind the corner, peered out, and his eyes widened when he saw four grunts walking toward their location. Luckily, it seemed as though they didn't know the boys were there, but if they turned the corner...

"Guys, I think I know how we can get those key cards." Ash said. "But keep your voices down!"

The three boys closed their mouths, and Ash waited in anticipation as the grunts came closer. Forty feet and they'd be right onto them.

Thirty feet.

Twenty feet.

Ten feet.

Ash, using all of his strength, threw Petal into the air. The 9-pound Weed Pokemon flew a short distance, but it was just the height Ash needed. As the grunts turned the corner, Ash called out a command.

"Sleep Powder!" he commanded. Before the grunts even realized what was happening, the entire group was showered in spores. Shocked and angry cries turned into silence as one by one the men fell to the ground, having breathed too many spores in. Ash watched as they fell asleep, oblivious to the fact that four of their prisoners had escaped.

"Quick! Grab their key cards!" Randy yelled. The boys searched through the pockets of the grunts until each of them found what they were looking for, a white card with a black strip on it. Randy swiped the card through the scanner on the door's handle, and a beep was heard as the door unlocked.

The four boys piled into the room, and Julian made sure to shut it. Ash felt immense relief course through his body as he saw all of the PokeBalls laid out on a large table, knowing that Dexter was in one of them. He recalled Petal back into his ball and strapped it onto his belt.

"Alright everyone." Julian said. "Search for your 'mons before someone finds us. Then we get out of here."

Ash gave Julian an incredulous look. "Seriously?" he almost yelled. "You're just going to leave everyone else and their Pokemon here with the Rockets!?"

"Yeah, what Ash said!" Nate piped up. "Another one of our friends is here! We can't just leave her!"

"C'mon Julian, aren't you being a little harsh?" Randy said, trying to sway him. However, Julian remained unmoved and crossed his arms.

"What's important is that we get to the authorities as fast as possible." Julian said firmly. "We don't have the time to go and rescue everyone else. We could very easily get killed."

Ash frowned. While he knew that getting out of here was a high priority, and no doubt the grunt who was watching over them must've realized they escaped, it didn't sit right with him to just leave Angelina here. It would take at least two days to get to the nearest trace of civilization, and by then the Rockets could leave with the rest of the captured Trainers.

"You're outnumbered three to one Julian." Randy said, raising an eyebrow. "Come on. Don't you wanna get revenge on those wastes of oxygen?"

Julian's eyes narrowed, and he didn't say anything for a few moments. Finally he sighed. "Fine." he said with a scowl. "But don't blame me if we end up getting captured again because you guys wanted to play hero."

"Heheh. That's the spirit." Randy said, clapping Julian on the back. Ash turned his attention back to the PokeBalls in front of him, and started searching through them. There were PokeBalls of all different colors and patterns. PokeBalls, Great Balls, Net Balls, Heal Balls... if Ash had to guess, there were probably at least a hundred of them here.

Suddenly a PokeBall caught Ash's eye, and he took it from the pile. It had a gray, circular sticker on its top, and Ash could vaguely see the outline of Dexter through the top. The boy grinned widely and held up the PokeBall, silently thanking Arceus for allowing him to be reunited with his starter again. He saw Nate pull three PokeBalls from the pile and grin widely. Ash smiled at the sight, glad that his friend was able to see his partners again.

"Alright. I've got my Doduo, Drowzee, Magcargo, and Victreebel." Julian said, strapping them onto his belt. "How about you, Randy?"

"Hold on... I still need to get my Cloyster and Voltorb..." Randy muttered, rummaging through the stolen PokeBalls. Nate tapped his foot impatiently as Randy continued to search, until after a few moments he took a backpack from the room, piled in all the remaining PokeBalls into it, and shoved into Randy's arms.

"You can search while we look for the others!" Nate blurted. Randy blinked, before looking toward the ground, where two Ultra Balls lay.

"Oh! Here they are!" Randy said, holding them up with a toothy grin. Nate groaned, and the four of them walked out of the room, Randy holding the backpack with the stolen PokeBalls in them. Despite the fact that they got their Pokemon back, Ash knew they were no match for an entire group of Rockets. Rescuing the others would give them a chance to fight and overpower them.

As they walked through the rocky corridors of the Rocket base, Ash felt a pit of worry start to form in his chest. He'd been told what to do in the event that he and his Pokemon were captured, but he never thought it would actually happen. But now that he did, he was really starting to worry. What if they didn't make it out of here alive?

He didn't have time to dwell on it however, as he suddenly heard loud voices from a short distance away. Ash's eyes widened as he saw Rockets running toward them, shouting at them.

"Get those kids!" one Rocket yelled, releasing three Zubat from his PokeBalls. The others did the same, releasing their own Pokemon, as a swarm of Rattata, Grimer, Zubat, and Gastly started closing in on them.

"Ash! Nate! Go and find everyone else!" Randy ordered them, shoving the backpack into Nate's arms. "We'll hold these guys off!"

"What!? Are you sure!?" Ash asked. "We can help you fight these guys!"

"There's no time!" Randy said. "You two need to scram!"

"Man... I can't believe I'm actually doing this..." Julian grumbled, sending out his Victreebel and Drowzee.

Ash and Nate sprinted in the other direction as fast as their legs could carry them. Ash looked back and his eyes widened when he saw a couple of Zubat slip through and start chasing them, before vines wrapped around their wings and flung them back into the battle. He heard Victreebel's loud screeches as it continued to deal heavy damage to the Rockets, and let out a sigh of relief.

"Ash, look!" Nate called to him, yanking him by the arm as he stopped in his tracks. Ash gazed into the window of the door and his eyes widened as he saw Angelina, one other girl, and two boys bound to metal chairs. A grunt was pacing around them, and he did not look happy. But then again, grunts working here never seemed to have an ounce of positivity anyways.

Ash looked at Nate. "On three, we bust into that room and attack the grunt." he said. The brown-haired boy nodded, and after checking no one was nearby, braced themselves. Ash held up three fingers and started silently counting.

Three.

Two.

One.

Ash swiped the key card and kicked open the door, and before the grunt could react, Nate released all of his Pokemon, who all launched their attacks at the poor grunt. The man screamed in pain as electric shocks, fireballs, and poisonous barbs pelted his body, and his body was slammed into the wall of the room. Ash ran over to the grunt, whose eyes were closed as he was slumped over. He put two fingers on the man's wrist, and relaxed when he realized the man wasn't dead. Good. He hadn't crossed a line.

"Nate! Ash!" Angelina exclaimed. "What're you doing here!?"

"Getting you out of here! What does it look like?" Nate said, a grin on his face. "Let's cut these ropes. Charmander, use Metal Claw!"

Angelina flinched as Charmander's claws easily cut through the ropes, but luckily she wasn't harmed. Nate rummaged through the backpack and took out two PokeBalls, tossing them both toward Angelina. The blonde gasped as she realized what they were.

"My Pokemon are okay!" she yelled out in happiness, hugging them close to her chest. Ash looked toward the rest of the kids, who started to stand up and murmur between themselves. However, the boy of the group in particular, caught his eye as he ran up to him.

"Hey I remember you!" the boy exclaimed. "You're the kid from Viridian City! The one who fought off those Rockets! I'm Satoshi! Remember?"

Nate whipped around and looked at the boy. "Hey, I was there too, you know!" he exclaimed, waving his arms.

Satoshi squinted at the brown-haired boy. "Sorry, not sure I remember you." he said with a shrug

Ash studied at the boy, prodding his brain for a memory of his face. His eyes widened as his memory of that day started to return. "Oh yeah!" the raven-haired boy said, snapping his fingers. "You're the kid with the Pikachu, right?"

"Yep! Oh man, I'm so psyched that you're here! Those lowlifes took Pikachu and the rest of my Pokemon and knocked me out!" Satoshi said, grinning widely. He suddenly eyed the backpack that Ash was holding and gasped. "My Pikachu! There it is!"

The boy took out a particular PokeBall with a Thunderbolt symbol on it and tapped the release button, releasing the electric mouse. The Pikachu looked around for a moment, and after seeing Ash, started to growl, cheeks sparking, thinking he was a Rocket. But then it saw Satoshi and its eyes widened.

"Pikachu! Buddy! I'm so glad you're okay!" Satoshi yelled, hugging his Pikachu tightly. Ash smiled as he got up from his position beside the unconscious Rocket grunt and cupped his hands over his mouth.

"Everyone!" he shouted, causing the two girls and the three other boys to stop what they were doing to listen. "There are other Trainers being held here! Nate and I are going to try and free everyone, but is there anyone else who wants to come with us? We can't do it alone, and we could really appreciate the help! With any luck, some other Trainers we met up with before will find us soon, and we can take down the Rockets from the inside! Who's with us?"

Angelina stepped forward. "I am!" she declared. "If you guys are going to do something stupid and dangerous, I'm gonna need to come along to keep you guys out of trouble!"

Satoshi stepped forward as well. "I'm coming too!" he exclaimed. "I don't want to run away like in Viridian City! I want to fight with you guys!"

Ash grinned, happy that he was able to get some new recruits for his mission. That just left the remaining girl and boy, who both had purple hair and were huddling close to each other. If Ash had to guess, they were probably twins, as they looked to be around the same age. He offered them a pleading look, hoping that they'd break through their fear and help them. Finally, the boy spoke up.

"W-we'll come too..." he muttered. The girl looked at her brother in shock, but didn't seem to want to object, and looked down. "My name is Jet. My sister's name is Skylar. Our parents were Flying-type specialists..."

Ash gave them an uneasy grin. "Well.. thanks, but are you sure your sister wants to help us?" he asked them. "She doesn't seem particularly keen on coming..."

Skylar whispered into her brother's ear for a few seconds, and Jet shook his head. "She doesn't want to, but she doesn't want to leave here alone," he explained. "So she'll help us. Sorry, she's a little shy..."

Well... that's great!" he said. "What kind of Pokemon do you guys have?"

"Psychic types..." the boy said. "My sister has Ghost-types."

"And I have my Pikachu, Pidgeotto, and Butterfree!" Satoshi said with a toothy grin.

"Great. Then Jet and Skylar, you use your Pokemon to scout for Rockets while Satoshi, Nate, Angelina, and I battle anyone who finds us." Ash told them. "Once we gather everyone up and give people their Pokemon back, we'll leave together and alert the police."

Everyone cheered loudly as the plan was set and left the room. Jet set out his Chingling while Skylar sent out her Misdreavus, who after a few murmurs from its Trainer, floated ahead to scout for any trouble. Ash and the rest of the group walked ahead of the two twins, looking around carefully to make sure they weren't being followed. Since the Rockets had placed lights around the area, it was much easier to navigate around.

"Chlingling says that there are grunts coming in from the left..." Jet said softly as the Bell Pokemon let out a soft ringing noise. "We should move..."

Ash nodded, and motioned for everyone to move quickly. No sound was made aside from the shuffling of footsteps, and eventually the grunts passed, unaware of their presence. Skylar's Misdreavus suddenly appeared in front of them, almost giving Ash and Nate a heart attack, and Ash heard Skylar whisper something to her brother.

"Misdreavus senses that there are more people up ahead, but she doesn't know if they're grunts..." Jet said. Ash frowned. As much as he wanted to find out who they were, he didn't want to take any chances. If anything, if they were found out, they'd probably be captured again and put under tighter security, something he didn't want to risk.

"Let's just go find the rest of the prisoners." Ash said. "I don't want to find out if they're grunts or not."

"Oh, I don't think that'll be necessary..." a voice behind him said. Ash suddenly paled. Oh no. This was it. Some grunts had found them, and their escape plan was a bust. He'd never be able to leave Mt. Moon at this rate, and he'd be stuck here for the rest of his life. The raven-haired boy turned around, and his eyes widened...

"Because we already found the rest of 'em!" Randy said, jutting a thumb behind him. The red-haired boy raised an eyebrow as he eyed Ash. "What's with the face? You look like you've seen a ghost."

Ash clutched his chest. "Thank goodness you guys are here!" he exclaimed. "For a second I thought you guys were grunts!"

"Psh, don't compare us to those losers." Randy said, waving his hand. His eyes scanned over the other Trainers. "I see you've gotten us some extra recruits. Nice one, kid."

"Thanks. We beat up some grunt and we found some more Trainers to help us!" Nate said with a grin. The bespectacled boy suddenly noticed the sixteen other Trainers standing behind Randy and Julian. "Oh! Do they need their Pokemon? I've got the backpack right here."

Suddenly Ash and Nate found themselces being swarmed by the other Trainers as sixteen different pairs of arms all reached for the backpack, trying to get their respective Pokemon. Within a few moments the bag was quickly emptied, and Randy chuckled.

"Anyways, while you guys were gone, we were able to beat up those grunts and interrogate them.'' Randy explained. "Julian threatened to feed them to his Victreebel if they didn't start talkin'." He laughed. "Those four started singing like Pidgey after that!"

Nate stepped forward. "What did you manage to find out?" he asked.

"Basically they've been here for weeks now, capturing passing Trainers that they find." Julian explained. "They've also been mining for fossils here. Mt. Moon has loads of them buried deep underground, and they've been selling a lot of them for money. Not sure what the money is for though. The grunts couldn't tell us, so we just knocked them out and left."

Ash raised an eyebrow. He'd never heard of fossils being buried in Mt. Moon, but he imagined the League kept that a secret from the general public so that people wouldn't swarm Mt. Moon and damage any potential attempts at researching them. If what the grunts said were true, they'd probably sell for a lot. From what he knew from school, fossil Pokemon lived in harsher environments compared to today, and were quite strong to boot. He wouldn't be surprised if Team Rocket kept a few for themselves to use.

"Hey guys!" Nate yelled, pointing towards an opening in the cave. "I think I see a way out of here! Let's leave this dump!"

Ash and the rest of the Trainers were all too eager to agree, and all of them ran as one group, impatient to get out of here and to safety as fast as they could. Ash saw a tunnel leading towards an opening in the cave, and all of them flooded into the room, light flooding their vision. As they piled into the area however, Ash realized that this wasn't the exit, but something else entirely.

A huge hollowed out area of the cave, illuminated by lanterns and torches, laid before them. Tons of Rocket grunts were mining at the walls, slamming shovels and picks into the rocks. A huge Rhyperior was slamming its meaty fists into the wall, and a cyan-haired individual was standing on a rock, overseeing the operation. By the looks of it, he was the leader, and Ash assumed that this was the Proton guy that the grunt was talking about earlier.

"Pick up the pace, shitheads!" he shouted. "I don't want to see a single one of you rest until this entire area has been emptied!" His eyes shifted over to where the group of Trainers were standing, and Ash felt panic set in as the leader's facial expression twisted into shock, then fury.

"HEY! WHO LET THESE BRATS OUT OF THEIR CELLS!?" Proton roared, catching the attention of the thirty-plus grunts. "GET THOSE KIDS!"

"Shit! We've been made!" Randy yelled as the grunts started releasing their Pokemon. Zubats, Gastly, Raticate, Drowzee, Sneasel, and the occasional Houndour were all released by the grunts. Ash watched Proton yell angrily into a communicator before he jumped down from the rock and started shouting orders.

"ATTACK!" Julian shouted. Everyone started releasing their Pokemon, and after receiving orders from their Trainers, jumped into the fray. Ash released Dexter and Petal from their PokeBalls, and Nate, Angelina, Randy, Julian, Jet, and Skylar did the same with theirs.

What followed next was chaos. Proton's Rhyperior charged into battle and slammed its fist into the ground, creating tremors that knocked over some Trainer's Pokemon, including some that were commanded by grunts. The cyan-haired man then proceeded to release a savage-looking Granbull and Crobat, who dived in as well.

Ash watched as Dexter fired Ice Beams and Signal Beams at the various Zubat and Drowzee, doing its best to spread as much damage as possible. The Porygon ducked as a Raticate dove in for a Hyper Fang, and shocked it with a powerful Thunderbolt. Petal jumped on Dexter's head and started showering the area around the Virtual Pokemon with spores, doing his best to cover as much area as possible. Any Pokemon that tried to get a hit on Dexter would be paralyzed by Stun Spore, before Dexter blasted them with one of its attacks.

Ash looked on as Nate's Pokemon fired attacks from a distance, choosing not to jump into the heat of the battle. Charmander repeatedly blasted away foes with Dragon Rage, Pikachu with Electro Ball, and Nidoran did its best to ward off opponents with Confusion.

Satoshi's Pokemon were putting in work as well. A well-timed Electro Ball from Pikachu blasted a Golbat out of the air, and Pidgeotto sent it flying into a wall with a Steel Wing. Elsewhere, Butterfree's Silver Wind clashed with a Drowzee's Psybeam. The super effective attack was able to overpower the violet beam as the harsh gale crashed into the psychic tapir.

The raven-haired boy was suddenly blown off balance as a Shadow Ball struck the area around his feet. He landed harshly on the ground, clutching his leg in pain and winced. His eyes widened as he saw the same two grunts who had initially captured him starting to close in on them.

"So you're the little pest who helped these kids escape." the scrawny grunt snarled, his Ariados and his Gastly flanking his side. "I should've killed you when I had the chance."

"Any last words, kiddie?" the burly grunt said as he sent out his Koffing and Raticate.

"I'll tell you his last words!" a fourth voice said. "Screw you!"

Suddenly the Raticate was grabbed by the legs and slammed into the ground by green vines, and a pink, circular object slammed into the Koffing, sending it flying into the air. Ash watched as Angelina's Bulbasaur and Jigglypuff rushed by his side and started firing off attacks. Dexter and Petal, who realized their Trainer was in danger, rushed over to help.

"That does it!" the scrawny grunt yelled. "I'm gonna kill you little shits if it's the last thing I do! Ariados, Leech Life on the Bulbasaur! Gastly, Sludge on the Jigglypuff!"

Suddenly a pink laser slammed into the Gastly, causing it to hiss in pain. Another hit the Ariados's side before it could get off an attack on Saur, slamming the spider into the cave wall. Dexter, with Petal on its head, hovered into view and took a position in front of Ash.

"Now it's a fair fight!" Ash shouted. "Dexter, use Conversion and change into a Psychic-type, then go for Psybeam on the Koffing. Petal, use Razor Leaf on the Gastly!"

By now the Koffing and Raticate had started to recover from the initial blows they received, and the larger grunt shouted commands to them. "Koffing, use Flamethrower on the turnip with legs! Raticate, use Hyper Fang on that bird Pokemon!"

"Saur, use Magical Leaf on the Raticate!" Angelina ordered. "Gloria, use Rollout on the Ariados!"

The Koffing released a torrent of flames from its mouth, striking Petal and causing the Oddish to cry out in pain as it was launched off of Dexter's head. The Porygon was too busy using Conversion to dodge, but had been able to change its typing, and was now blasting extra powerful Psybeams out of its beak towards Koffing. The Psybeam hit Koffing dead-on, and sent it soaring into a cave wall. The purple spherical Pokemon slammed into the rocky surface and passed out.

Raticate jumped towards Dexter, its fangs glowing, but was quickly intercepted by Saur's Magical Leaf, which cut through its fur and blasted it off course before it could land a hit. Gloria, Angelina's Jigglypuff, started to spin, and slammed her body into Ariados, who was sent flying. The spider hissed and scuttled forward, sinking poisonous fangs into the Balloon Pokemon's skin, causing it to scream.

"Saur! Throw that Ariados! Quickly!" Angelina yelled desperately. Saur nodded and wrapped its vines around the Ariados's body, trying to shake it off. However, the Long Leg Pokemon refused to let go, and bit down harder. Saur was then blasted by an Ice Beam from Raticate, and landed on the ground painfully. Petal was blasted as well, his body shivering from the cold that the attack possessed.

"Dexter! Psybeam on the Ariados!" Ash commanded. "Petal, use Stun Spore on the Raticate!"

Ariados was blasted off Gloria, who was breathing heavily, as too much poison had entered the Jigglypuff's system. The Raticate hissed in pain as Petal showered it in spores, having recovered from the blow from earlier.

Ash looked behind him, where Saur was desperately trying to fend off the persistent Gastly, who constantly peppered the Bulbasaur with Shadow Balls. The Seed Pokemon couldn't get in close enough to shower it with spores, and it looked like it was close to fainting.

"Dexter! Thunderbolt on the Gastly!" Ash called. The Porygon shot a bolt of electricity towards the gaseous Pokemon, who cried out in pain as electricity coursed through its small body. This gave Saur enough time to deliver the finishing blow with Magical Leaf, the projectiles cutting through Gastly's body. The ghost shivered and let out a scream, slowly falling to the ground, unconscious.

Ash sighed. Two down, two to go.

He watched as an exhausted Gloria tried her best to protect herself from the Ariados running circles around her. It was only a matter of time before the poison would take her out. Suddenly Ariados found an opening and went in for the kill, the Poison Fang doing enough damage to put the Jigglypuff out of condition as it flickered out of consciousness. Once the spider was satisfied, it dropped its prey before moving in on Dexter and Petal, who were currently trying to battle the fearsome Raticate.

Ash's eyes widened as the Raticate's jaws clamped onto Dexter's tail. The Porygon let out a high pitched beep as it tried to shake the Normal-type off, but to no avail. Petal squealed frantically and spat Acid into the Raticate's eyes. The Mouse Pokemon screamed in pain as it let go of Dexter's tail, but the damage had already been done. The Porygon's strength was starting to fade fast, and Ariados ran in to finish the job with an X-Scissor. The Normal-type blacked out, losing its levitation and falling to the ground.

"Dexter! No!" Ash yelled. He fumbled with the Porygon's PokeBall and returned it before its condition could get worse. Both him and Angelina were down to one Pokemon each, but luckily Petal seemed to be done with the Raticate's shenanigans, as he launched a volley of sharp leaves that dug into the Raticate's skin, and the mouse succumbed to the pain and fell over.

"Guess I'm going to be the one who finishes the job." the smaller grunt said, a maniacal smirk on his face. "Ariados, Poison Fang on the girl!"

The spider rushed forward, fangs dripping with toxins. Angelina's eyes widened and she screamed as the spider jumped, moments away from clamping down on her throat...

Until Saur pushed her out of the way and took the attack.

Ash's jaw dropped as Ariados sunk its fangs into the reptile's flesh, causing him to let out a scream. The sound echoed throughout the cavern as Ariados sunk its fangs deeper and deeper into its leg. Angelina watched the scene with horror as her starter began gritting his teeth to bear through the pain.

And then Saur started to glow.

The Bulbasaur's body shined brightly as his bulb suddenly bloomed and leaves started growing out of its back. His legs and body became larger and more muscular, and his head grew in size as well. Angelina watched the entire spectacle with wide eyes until the glow faded, and where once stood a Bulbasaur now stood a newly evolved Ivysaur. And he did not look happy with the bug currently biting his leg.

Saur's vines quickly wrapped around the Ariados's body, pulling it off its leg, which now had a deep gash in it. Using the last of its strength, the Ivysaur slammed Ariados repeatedly into the cave wall, Ash hearing a crack each time the spider was slammed. The Rocket grunt watched in shock as Ariados was lifted high into the air, before being ruthlessly slammed into the ground. Blood pooled out of its body and its limbs twitched, and it was far from being conscious at this point.

And then Saur fainted, the damage it had sustained being too much, even after evolution. Angelina ran over to her ever so loyal starter's side and pulled out his PokeBall, returning it back into the capsule.

The Rocket grunts looked absolutely flabbergasted that their Pokemon had been beaten by two new Trainers, and before they could run away, Ash narrowed his eyes and shouted. "Petal, Stun Spore!"

The grunts fell over and convulsed as they were showered with the yellow powder. Angelina walked over to them, fists balled at her sides, and slammed her shoe into the scrawny grunt's crotch. The man squealed in pain and gasped for air, and he reminded Ash of a beached Magikarp in the way he struggled.

Ash looked at the rest of the area. Tons of grunts and their Pokemon lay unconscious on the floor. Many of the Trainers had also lost their Pokemon, and the only Team Rocket member left fighting was Proton, who was facing off against Randy and Julian. Ash noticed that Julian's Victreebel, Drowzee, and Doduo weren't in battle, probably since they had already been taken out.

Randy's Voltorb had also been taken out, but Ash noticed him commanding another Pokemon as well. The Pokemon was purplish and was floating in the air. Cotton like tendrils protruded out of its body, and Ash eventually recognized it as a Jumpluff.

However, none of Proton's Pokemon had fallen yet.

Proton's Rhyperior flung rocks at Randy's Cloyster, who respoded by ducking inside its shell and firing back with an Icicle Spear. Jumpluff continued the assault, firing an Energy Ball, pushing the huge stone monster back. Proton's Crobat suddenly slashed Jumpluff across the face with a Steel Wing, leaving a large gash, before Julian's Magcargo started firing rocks at the Crobat using Ancient Power to ward it off.

Granbull swung an electrified fist toward Cloyster's shell, who didn't have time to block it and skidded back from the impact. When the Fairy-type went in for another Thunder Punch, the Bivalve Pokemon clamped its shell shut onto the mastiff's paw. Granbull struggled to pull itself free, and was blasted into the air by Cloyster's Hydro Pump.

Suddenly a fireball flew past Proton, the heat grazing Proton's face. He looked for the culprit and his eyes locked onto Nate, whose Charmander and Nidoran were still ready to fight. The executive's face turned red, but Nate still didn't back down until Proton called out an order.

"Crobat! Use Cross Poison on that son of a bitch!" he yelled. The bespectacled boy's eyes widened as Crobat zoomed toward Nate and sliced into his back with its glowing purple wings. The boy cried out in agony and fell to the ground.

"NATE!" both Ash and Angelina screamed. Crobat circled around to go back to the battle, and Randy and Julian looked on in shock at Nate's unconscious form. Proton's smirk grew wider as he released an Exploud, who let out a deafening cry and charged into the fray.

However, Ash wasn't paying attention to that. He looked on in horror at Nate's body. Charmander and Nidoran stared at their Trainer's form, and something inside them seemed to snap.

And just like with Saur, both of them glowed.

Nidoran's body became bigger and the horn on his forehead grew longer. Poisonous barbs sprouted on his back, and his body became more muscular. Charmander's claws nearly doubled in size, as well as his tail length, the flame on the end of it growing bigger and brighter. A horn-like protrusion grew on the back of the lizard's head, and his midsection grew taller.

When the shine faded, the Nidorino and Charmeleon charged into battle, their only focus being revenge. However, before they could do anything to Proton, Exploud slammed a Focus Punch into them, the impact sending them into a cave wall and knocking both of them unconscious before they could attack.

Julian's Magcargo had already been knocked unconscious by Rhyperior's Earthquake, and Crobat knocked Jumpluff out of the sky with an Air Slash. Granbull rushed forward and pummeled Cloyster's center with a glowing fist, the Superpower knocking it off balance and causing it to lose consciousness. Randy and Julian looked on in shock as they saw that their Pokemon had been decimated.

"Now then." Proton said, cracking his neck. A smirk was plastered onto his face. "Let's make this quick, shall we? Rhyperior, use-"

An explosion suddenly rocked through the cave, and a huge shadow passed over Ash and slammed onto the ground. A giant, yellow dragon stood before him and let out a roar that shook the cavern. Ash looked on in awe at the beast as it turned its head toward Proton, narrowing its eyes. Within a few seconds an Arcanine, Exeggutor, Tauros, and Venusaur ran into the cavern as well as they followed after the Dragonite. The cyan-haired man looked shocked at the intruders, and Ash squinted at the Pokemon in front of him. There was only one man who had this combination of Pokemon.

Professor Oak walked in, his expression serious and hardened. He took out one more PokeBall from his pocket and released a humongous Gyarados, whose roar was even louder than Dragonite's. Murmurs echoed through the cavern from both the Trainers and the Rockets. Samuel Oak nodded toward the Dragonite, who met eye contact with him for a split second. The Dragon Pokemon roared and charged forward, and the rest of Oak's Pokemon followed suit. The only one who stayed behind was Exeggutor, who stomped over to Oak's side.

Ash watched Oak run over to him and gulped. Oh boy.

"Ash!" he yelled. "What in Arceus's name are you doing here!?"

"There's no time to explain, Professor!" Angelina shouted desperately, pointing toward Nate. "Nate's bleeding really badly! He got attacked by Proton's Crobat, and all of our Pokemon except for Ash's Oddish are out of commission!"

Professor Oak's eyes widened at the sight of Nate's bleeding body. "Then we have to leave immediately! But when Nate's safe at the hospital, you two better give me an explanation!" he said firmly. Ash and Angelina nodded, not wanting to get on the Professor's bad side.

"Bec, teleport Nate and his Pokemon next to you and take us to the Cerulean City hospital immediately!" Professor Oak told the Exeggutor. "Tell the others where we've gone. Quickly!"

The Exeggutor suddenly disappeared and reappeared in a flash, Nate's unconscious body as well as his Pokemon's reappearing with him. The Grass/Psychic-type started to glow, and Ash saw lights cloud his vision before they were whisked away.


Author's Note: This chapter was mainly focused on our characters' first encounter with the Rockets, as well as developing Nate and Angelina little more. I decided to make the Rockets much more scary and threatening, after all, they are criminals. The last scene I decided to do in Nate's POV, so that the readers can take in the new information as he does. Next chapter will be focused more on Ash however.

Professor Oak's team was also based off the team that can be accessed by glitching a copy of Pokemon Red or Blue. In it he has a Tauros, Gyarados, Arcanine, Exeggutor, and the starter that you and your rival didn't pick. I also gave him a Dragonite since he has one in the anime.

As always, thank you to everyone who submitted a review, followed, favorited, or even just looked at the story! People showing interest in my work is a big motivator for me to keep going! I'm always happy to respond to any and every review you post. Speaking of which, I'm going to do that right now.

Royal Flamingo: Hey! Thanks for stopping by! And I'm really glad you like the characterization in Adventurer! I made it one of my goals to add more depth to some of the side characters, and I'm glad its paying off! Hope to see you in the next chapter!

AngelFaux: Thanks! Glad to see that you're enjoying how I portrayed Brock!

haziqsaffari2: Glad you like Brock as well! And I appreciate the concern.

Reader: Petal isn't going to be the powerhouse of the team. I'm going to try to give other team members the spotlight in important battles. And I forgot about Drapion haha.

CouchEffect: Yep, you got the foreshadowing right on the money! And I'm glad you like Nate and Angelina too!