Ash came groggily to awareness in his home bed, one that felt almost unfamiliar after so long on the road one way or another.
What happened? Did I imagine that last bit? Was I so excited about my trip to Isshu that I made up what I think will happen?
Then he focused on the calendar.
Okay. Either I imagined my entire life from the day I got a Pokémon onwards overnight, or I really did time travel. Well, no need to rush, I know there's going to be a Pokémon for me even if I – oh who am I kidding.
Ash jumped out of bed, dressed himself in seconds with whatever was on the floor and dashed off to Oak Labs.
Luckily, by the time he got there the crowd had somewhat dispersed. Everyone was following Gary, and presumably the other two thoroughly forgettable trainers that had started out from Pallet that day – was Gary driving a sports car? At ten? Some people…
Gary had really improved and become more likeable over the course of the… well, the next few years. But then, so had Ash.
Professor Oak was waiting for him in the Lab.
"Ah, Ash my boy, I see you have-" Here the old man's voice and expression turned sour. "-finally arrived for the start of your Pokémon journey. Though, sorry to say, there aren't many Pokémon left here at the lab. Hardly any, in fact."
Ash tried his best to look disappointed, but his heart was too busy going at a hundred beats a minute. Hardly any means at least one… And that means…
"I'm sorry, Professor. I really do want to get going, honest. I just overslept – couldn't get to sleep last night, you know how it goes."
"Indeed I do. Well, I did at any rate, as you get older it becomes less likely you get worked up about such things. But you may be disappointed, the only Pokémon left in the entire lab is this wild Pikachu I caught barely a week ago when it tried to eat the power cables."
Ash was cracking up inside. Power cables! Oh, no wonder Pikachu didn't want to talk about it!
"I'm sure I'll be fine, Professor. I mean, I wouldn't be much of an awesome trainer if I couldn't handle something little like that!"
"Ah, the awesome factor. To be young…" Professor Oak handed over the Poké ball.
Ash immediately opened it up and caught the electric mouse as it formed.
He couldn't help it. Even if this Pikachu remembered nothing of their time together, the trials they had faced together… it was still the same Pokémon he would come to, yes, love like a brother. His mind raced through everything the two had been through together…
And as he contacted Pikachu, the little yellow rodent glomped him.
Ash's now trained Aura senses opened the link and he realized something – somehow, impossibly, Pikachu remembered. Every day they had spent together was as vivid to the other as it was to him.
A suspicion came over him, even as he stood back up from where the tackle had flattened him, a huge grin on his face.
Maybe this was what Sir Aaron had meant about another reward. He wouldn't be alone.
"Well, Professor, I think you may have been exaggerating about how difficult this Pikachu was to handle!"
"I certainly thought I wasn't. You have a true talent with Pokémon, Ash."
If only you knew…
Then Ash had a thought. Samuel Oak, or "Sam" certainly did know that this Pikachu would eventually become close to him, the only question was how soon. What would have happened the first time had Ash got up early? Would Oak have hidden the other Pokémon to preserve the timeline?
Time travel makes my head hurt…
Outside a small crowd was assembled to see Ash off. Nothing like the hordes of vaguely disturbing cheerleaders that followed Gary around all over the place, but a nice send off nonetheless.
"Oh, Ash! Here's your bag. You forgot it when you left in such a rush this morning."
"Hehe, thanks. Sorry about that… I think I broke my alarm clock…"
"Well, you won't need it for a while anyway, if you're off on a journey now, will you." Delia Ketchum was by this point a little choked up, and searched for a distraction. "Er… where is your Pokémon? I don't see a Poké ball."
Pikachu stuck his head up from where he was clinging onto Ash's back. "Pi!"
"Heh, I don't think I'll be keeping any Pokémon in their balls unless they ask me to. It doesn't seem right somehow…"
It was a recent decision to be sure, but Ash felt it was the right one. His Pokémon seemed a lot happier outside their balls for the most part.
Come to think of it, what were the League regulations on maximum number of Pokémon? Was it six with you, or just six per battle, per gym, or per day? It would be good to know.
While he made small talk with the crowd, Pikachu had taken the bag from Ash's mum and was carefully slotting it onto Ash's shoulders.
"Thanks, Pikachu. I appreciate – whoah!"
Pikachu had jumped onto the bag now and was sitting on it, pointing imperiously towards Viridian city.
"Well, I suppose I'd better get going. He's even more eager for adventure than I am."
It was about halfway from Pallet to Viridian when Ash swung his pack off his shoulders, sat down, and motioned to Pikachu to do the same.
"Guess you're kind of wondering what happened, right?"
Pikachu answered in the affirmative. Ash sighed.
"I'm not entirely clear myself. But… well, remember what happened at Cameran castle, and then with that Riolu and the Pokémon Ranger?"
Pikachu nodded again.
"Seems that I'm really good at using Aura, especially for a human. Basically, I got sent back in time to stop the end of the world by the creator of the universe, and that – the Aura – is why I got picked. No idea how come you have your memories of the future, but…well, we can wonder that later. For now, we need to think about what to do next. We need to visit Cameran castle to pick up Sir Aaron's gloves, which will make it a lot easier on me, but if we walk there we'll have to beat Brock first. And I don't know if I can bring myself to catch Pokémon I didn't know… before."
Pikachu thought for a second, before asking if Ash couldn't just catch the same Pokémon again.
"And how do you expect me to recognize them, especially if they look just the same as other Pokémon?"
By way of answer, Pikachu covered his eyes, before saying something that Ash translated as 'Aura sight, you fool!'
After a few seconds simply staring, Ash facepalmed and focussed. When he felt the sensation rise up in his eyes, he closed them.
It was the first time using it in the real world. It was breathtaking.
He could see the world, but that was a thing of outlines in grey and black. More importantly, he could see life.
Every tree had a faint green glow around it, and a few stronger points of browner green light indicated what he thought to be Pokémon in the trees. Perhaps they were bugs… the colour presumably had some significance. Pikachu was a blinding yellow that hurt to look at. He would have to test this later.
But there was another bright light, a purplish blue glimmer, moving towards Viridian city from behind him. Presumably still a way off, but there it was. It somehow drew his eye… Perhaps that was Misty, on her as of yet undestroyed bike.
Well, looked like she was an hour or so away. May as well get started on something else that was bothering him.
Opening his eyes, which were momentarily bright blue as the power faded from then, he looked across at Pikachu, who had sat down in the meantime.
"Okay, Pikachu. Something I think you should learn, if you want to."
"The ability and skill to manipulate Aura, of course. Partly because teaching this sort of thing helps the teacher learn as well, partly because it's genuinely useful in all sorts of ways, but mostly because that way you can beat up Rock types."
Pikachu's eyes glistened as he turned to fully face his trainer.
"Okay, close your eyes, breathe evenly. Now, pay close attention to this feeling."
Ash was kneeling in front of his first Pokémon, who was sitting cross legged on the bulge around the roots of a tree along the path.
As he sPoké, he put his hands on Pikachu's, and then channelled at first a tiny amount of Aura, gradually increasing it until the glow was clearly visible.
"Can you feel it? Good. Now, I want you to focus only on that feeling. Pay as much attention to it as you possibly can. Don't worry if it changes, just make sure you can still feel that thrill of power in your hands. Are you paying enough attention? You should be. You are. Good, that's right. Has it stopped changing? Then open your eyes."
Pikachu lazily cracked an eyelid and looked at the glow around his hands. It was yellow, which was interesting. Hadn't it been blue?
Then he noticed Ash was about six feet away. On that realization, the glow died as he startled out of the meditative state.
Ash was grinning from ear to ear.
"Now you know you can do it."
Twenty minutes later, Pikachu could reliably form his Aura outside his body, albeit only as a surface effect.
"Good. Even being able to form Aura means your attacks will be a great deal more potent – it's half the secret of the power of a Legendary Pokémon, that they have good Aura control." Ash chuckled. "In fact, the Eeveelutions have a natural production of a tiny amount of Aura. That's why they have such good focus on their elements. Now, the next step is to try and reduce the effects of your natural element of electricity. When it's a neutral Aura with nothing attached, that's when it's the blue I had. That's the most useful type of any one, and it opens the door to further type compositions. So while you learn to produce untyped Aura, I'm going to be trying to add a type to mine. I'll start with electricity myself, because you're readily available for me to check against. But I think first a little practice on something else. Throw a Thundershock at me."
Pikachu nodded dubiously, and threw a tiny electric shock at Ash. It hit, but barely made him twitch.
"Come on! Something bigger, you know I've handled Thunderbolts before!"
The next shock was more in line with the Thundershock – on their original first day together.
"More! Come on, I'm asking for it!"
Ash was electrocuted about a dozen times a minute for the next half hour, always insisting they keep going over Pikachu's protests.
He ended up looking like he was about to drop from exhaustion.
"Come – huff – on! One more time!"
Pikachu was really worried now, Ash couldn't even keep his eyes open. What was he doing?
"Just – huff – one more, then we – phew – call it quits. Okay?"
The sizzling bolt of electricity flashed towards Ash – and was turned aside by a green shimmer in front of him, arcing off towards the left.
"Yes!" Ash's fatigue seemed to evaporate. "I knew I could do it! I just need to see where it's coming from – and that means Aura Sight!"
The sudden celebration and Pikachu's realization that Ash was trying to make sure he could manage Protect still were cut off by a shriek from the road.
Ash covered his face with his hands.
"We just blew up Misty's bike, didn't we."
Pikachu nodded. "Pi…"
The young gym leader was lying in a heap in the road with the bike collapsed around her. The tyres had been exploded and at least some of the structure looked bent.
Oh, man, it's worse than last time.
If he were the age he was immediately before the time jump, he would have been getting thoroughly flustered over meeting Misty again. Now, though, there was none of that. One good thing about getting younger was that it meant you didn't have to handle puberty for a year or three.
"Can I help you up?"
Misty looked at the boy and his Pikachu over where she had heard the offer.
Her eyes narrowed. So that's where the lightning came from.
"Why should I accept your help when you did this in the first place?"
Ash looked abashed. "Well, it was an accident… and I feel kinda guilty… It feels like my responsibility, right?"
She huffed. "Fine. But you better pay for this!"
"Story of my life…"
"What was that?"
"I don't know what you were talking about. Now, take my hand and I'll pull you up."
On touching the young boy's gloves, Misty had the most amazing experience. Several years' worth of life flowed into her memory, and a light static charge passed into her, tingling at her belt where the Poké balls were as well.
Misty, reacting instinctively, punched Ash onto the floor.
"Okay, Ash! What the hell just happened!"
Ash grinned up at her, unfazed. "What just happened is that, as far as you're concerned, you travelled back in time and so did I. There's more to it, but that's the simple version."
Misty considered this. She was indeed younger than she had been (nooo!), only had three Pokémon (if anything, worse) and was barely outside Pallet Town.
"Okay, spill it. Why, how and why you?"
"The world apparently ended. Some nutcases called Team Galactic tried to take over the world by rebuilding it from the ground up with Dialga and Palkia. Arceus picked me to go back because I was the chosen one, good with Aura-"
Ash stopped for a second. "I'll be willing to demonstrate, and indeed have a go at teaching you, just let me finish first. Anyway, Arceus got another Dialga to throw me back in time to this morning – and apparently I can restore the memories of others of the future. Now, this is Aura."
Ash closed his eyes for a second, and held out a palm. A thin, pale blue fire glowed there for a moment.
"I'm still not really any good with the big stuff, I was more taught how to train than trained, but I know how – well, where – to get the big power and control boost I need."
"Right. Ash is somehow magic." She shrugged. "Seen stranger things travelling with you weirdness magnets. So… we're saving the world?"
"Brilliant. So much for my plans for the decade."
"Not necessarily. I can do the memory thing on any Pokémon – or apparently person – I spent enough time with. Think of it as: you start where you were before the whole mess happened, and you get to go on from there."
"Well… I suppose that makes sense. So what now?"
"Now we try to make it to Viridian before that storm gets here."
Misty looked round. Sure enough, there was a thunderstorm on the horizon.
It was a good few miles to Viridian, and last time she hadn't made it on the bike before the storm caught her.
"Damnit, now I'm going to get wet! This is your fault Ash!"
"Misty?" Ash waited until she was looking at him. "You're a water trainer who spent three hours with a rebreather once."
"Okay, so maybe it's not as much of a problem, but still! Besides, that's a thunderstorm and I don't like lightning."
"Ah well. Things get to worst, apparently Pikachu can deflect lightning bolts, so we'll be OK."
The walk to Viridian, even through the thunderstorm, was surprisingly pleasant for Ash without the horde of rampaging psychotic Spearow from last time. Though the occasional flare of yellow/blue across the sky was a slightly less pleasant reminder of how close he was repeatedly coming to wholesale electrocution.
Huh. Strange. Those bolts weren't being deflected so much as bounced right back into the clouds.
After a few hours and a stonker of a storm, the rain slowed to a drizzle, then vanished completely.
Ash was now looking up at the clearing sky in anticipation.
"Ash, what are you-"
"Ssh. I'm looking for a legendary I first saw on this exact day, one timeline ago. Look out for a whacking great phoenix headed west."
"Phoenix? Ash, are you sure-"
"I am very sure. Ho-oh, that's what it is. And I met it later on too – just after you and Brock left."
"I swear! It flew overhead, right about now!"
I see you have come into your power, Chosen One.
Ash froze. "Misty, did you just say that?"
Misty replied, similarly unmoving. "I was about to ask you."
Without moving a muscle on their upper bodies, the two turned to see an enormous Pokémon in the shallow valley to the east of the ridge the road rested on.
I am surprised. Last time my Suicune checked on you, bare months ago, you showed no real sign of what you could inherit. And here you are flaring your Aura with a strength I could have felt clear from Tin Tower.
So, Ash Ketchum of the line of Cameran, why has this change occurred?
Misty staggered over to lie down on the grass. Pikachu was looking confused – he'd believed in Ash, of course, they'd both seen Ho-Oh before – but had not expected the current course of events.
Ash was utterly flabbergasted.
"The line of WHAT?"
There is much to tell, and little enough time to do it. I request a mental link.
"Ergh… Yeah, sure. That needs contact, right?"
The huge right wing moved forwards.
Simply take one of the feathers, that will suffice.
Ash reached out to the Rainbow Wing.
The world fell away.
Colour surrounded Ash, as once more he became a mere viewpoint, looking upon something he could not understand… though there was something about it…
Thought was what it was, he realized. He was seeing the mind of the Legend of the Storm's End, a humbling experience. But there seemed to be some kind of message meant, perhaps, for him. He concentrated-
History. A few thousand people, dressed in archaic outfits and many of them armed, kneeling before an assemblage of all the legendary Pokémon Ash had ever seen – except for the Isshu pantheon – and apparently pledging themselves to aid their nation's protectors.
These are the Chosen, who defined these islands as a contiguous whole. They all possessed gifts that allowed them unusual skill.
War. Battles, from the time of the Jomon to the Meiji restoration. Pokémon, in roles not as companions, but as warriors, shock troops, medics, cavalry.
True battles of the type the formalized sport bore little resemblance to.
And everywhere, the Chosen or other heroic figures in the vanguard.
Peace. Man and Alakazam climbing to the top of a mountain, to meet an aged priest there, a venerable figure seeming to radiate an inner tranquillity.
The man is another of the Chosen's descendants. They were the most powerful, most skilled, the servants of their people.
A flash of movement. The sight of a great flood, and of a strong man pushing, pulling, cajoling and carrying vulnerable Pokémon to safety. The… memory?.. showed everything, even to the man losing strength as the cold sapped his muscles, slipping into the water having saved every other man, woman, child and Pokémon in the path of the flood.
But every line is vulnerable.
The champions died most often, it was the nature of their calling.
Once, every city had one or more. Now, there is often only a single one of the warrior Chosen across an entire island. Johto and Kanto are bereft but for the Dragon Tamers, Hoenn has only the Stone clan, and Sinnoh is overseen by but a single person.
I must beg of you, as one of the heirs. Do you wish to join this elite brotherhood?
Ash was overwhelmed by the news. "So… why me specifically?"
You are of the line of the knights of Cameran castle. Few know it, the line of descent has lost much of its' power and lore over the centuries, never truly recovering after the loss of Sir Aaron. Your father found out, at the end, but died in the discovering. It was he who broke the great wave that threatened to sweep away the inhabitants of Pacifidlog.
I am sorry if discovering this truth causes you pain. I had not thought of the effect it might have.
"No, it's kinda nice. To know that he was… well, a hero. To know that he didn't leave by choice… I always feared that."
You have a noble heart. And I feel that you have already accepted this destiny. Very well, now there is one more issue to handle. Do you know what a Poké ball does to those it captures, that can never be undone?
"Er… never undone… oh! It makes it so that the Pokémon can't be caught again! Because that stops people stealing them!"
Correct. So, I ask this. Catch me in one of your Poké balls, then release me again and let me go on my way. Then do the same with others of the legendary pantheons who request it of you. You are a good man, and we will be safe in this way from those who would seek to chain us.
There was the sense of a grin's reflection, ethereal in the shared world. And who knows. We might pitch in from time to time. Imagine the spectacle at a contest!
"So… is that sort of thing why I occasionally saw people with legendary Pokémon in Hoenn or Sinnoh?"
Same principle, they're presumably well trusted. To be honest, were it not for their duties Pokémon like the Shamouti Lugia would have followed you to whatever end.
But enough. Time marches on, and you have work to do – as do I. But rest assured, I and mine will do whatever we can for your cause. There is, after all, not often a time someone will be able to legitimately say "Arceus told me to do it."
And with that, the link faded.
To those outside less then a second had passed, but they saw quite the impressive blue/gold light show for the brief contact time there was.
Then it was gone.
Ash stumbled as he got used to controlling his body again.
Do you accept this charge, Chosen one?
He looked almost weary for a moment…then pulled himself up again. "Sure! After all, it's not as if I have nothing to show for it this time, so why should I not do something I did before?"
An admirable attitude. And now, the Poké ball?
"Oh, sorry." Ash took out one of his Poké balls from Oak and tossed it at Ho-Oh. The Poké ball did its work and lay there unmoving, at least until Ash picked it up and promptly released the Phoenix Pokémon.
My thanks. And fare thee well.
The trio gazed at the majestic fenghuang as it took to the air and winged off to the west, headed for Ecruteak and the Tin Tower.
Well, at least until Ash jerked as if stung and clawed his Pokédex out of his jacket. "Damn it, I can't believe I forgot! Professor Oak'll have to believe me this time!"
He pointed the scanner at the receding Ho-Oh.
No data. There are still Pokémon yet to be- Ash hit the machine with the palm of his hand. Bzzrt…Compiling…New program structure successfully loaded. Analyzing… Ho-Oh, the Rainbow Pokémon. Sometimes called the Guardian of the Skies, or the Storm's End. Legends claim this Pokémon flies the world's skies continuously on its magnificent seven-coloured wings. It is said that those who see Ho-Oh are promised an eternal happiness.
Accessing… Total remaining Pokémon in National Dex: Two. Conjecture is that they are evolved forms of Porygon. Forme database also still incomplete.
Ash, Misty and Pikachu stared at the little red machine.
"I'd say you broke it… but it seems to contain all the stuff we haven't done yet. How is the professor going to take this?"
"Eh, he's time travelled before, he'll come around. And if he doesn't, we'll just convince his past self in a year or two."
Ash paged though the various pictures of Pokémon that had been recorded for the database, from the bland images of things like Weedle, to Charizard posing against the backdrop of Ash with his hair on fire, to the Phanpy that Ash had raised, to the somewhat startling image of Mew and Mewtwo firing great blasts of energy at one another… and Ash, frozen in the act of running into the middle.
"I don't remember that one. Hey, Ash! Do you remember apparently committing suicide by legendary?"
"Well, when I was getting the short version of my own life something like that turned up…" Ash scratched his head. "But I don't see why I wouldn't recall, it seems kind of important."
Nobody does. The Mewtwo (the Genetic Pokémon) in the picture wiped everyone's minds. But I am electronic, and unaffected.
"Ash, you did remember to clear the cache on that thing once in a while, right?"
Ash was looking a little frazzled. "I'll be happy to answer that in a second, Pikachu, right after we find out why I just understood that!"
Pikachu was not coping all that well himself. "Ka-Pi?"
"Yeah, I did hear the thing about the cache, it's just I don't know how. Unless it's another thing with Aura, like how I could hear some of the thoughts of that Riolu in Sinnoh."
Pikachu frowned in concentration. "That's probably it. I mean, you already awakened my Aura to some degree, maybe that pushes it over the edge into communication."
"I heard that one as well! Wow, this is awesome!"
Ahem. And yes, that is correct. Normally this would never happen, but then most computers aren't involved in half the stuff that fills the average week for you crazy people. And with no cache clears, I developed a personality. Good thing too, as it means you've essentially done your duty to the Professor and can do other stuff without feeling guilty.
"This is going to be weird…"
"Tell me about it."
Misty had wandered off to where Ho-Oh had been. "Hey, guys, look!"
She was holding a rainbow-hued feather, and a small drawstring bag.
"Sacred ash… how ironic."
"Shut up, Misty."
"It's perfect! I didn't even see the joke before you mentioned what it's called."
"Please, stop. I have enough trouble knowing an ancient prophecy has a pun on my name in it, let me retain a shred of dignity."
"Oh! I just thought, if we're doing everything again that means…"
"You're going to be turned into a Pokémon! Oh, and have to crossdress a few times."
Ash slumped over the sign proclaiming the city limits of Viridian. "Why me, Arceus? Couldn't someone else have been stuck with this?"
Misty was unrepentant. "Because you have a stupid impossible childhood dream most likely, now get going! It's almost dark!"
Ash and Misty walked into the Viridian Pokémon centre. Misty immediately went off to have some time with her Pokémon – and would shortly discover, much to her surprise, that all three had been included in the memory transfer – while Ash headed straight for the computer terminal.
"Pikachu, can you make sure the Rockets haven't turned up yet?"
"Of course. Be nice to see them again, really… Hopefully they won't waste years of all our lives trying to catch me in one of those horrid Poké balls again, though!"
"You're telling me…"
Ash was of course familiar with the way the phones worked this time and was the one to place the call to Pallet, rather than the other way around.
"Ah, Ash my boy!"
Ash felt faintly embarrassed. "Professor… the other camera."
Oak looked round, startled, then brought up the correct camera.
"Eh-herm. Sorry. Anyway, what news, Ash? I take it you made it to Viridian alright. No problems along the way?"
"None at all. And I wish to report on the Pokédex project."
"Well done, my boy! Progress so soon? I hope you found more than Gary. Apparently he accidentally caught a Spearow flock leader and they nearly outflew his car, so he didn't have time even to scan a Ratatta!"
"I have a little more than that, thanks." Ash grinned at the private joke. And, for that matter, the news that the incredibly psychotic Spearow was now Gary's problem. "But first off, I want to tell you something of the utmost importance."
"I'm sure it's not as big a deal as you make it out to be, I mean, things always seem important at ten. But when you grow up, they're not as big a deal as you thought."
Ash dropped the easy humour that he'd developed over the past few years with those he was familiar with. "I know about Celebi."
It was interesting, watching a world famous researcher choke and fall off his chair.
After a few minutes, the conversation resumed. Oak was holding a flask that seemed a little too likely to hold something alcoholic for Ash's taste… but then, everyone had their vices.
"Dear lord. Time travel?"
"Well, it didn't actually involve Celebi, but yes. There was indeed time travel. As far as things go, mentally I'm about fifteen, and have saved the world a minimum of nine times. If this works, it'll make ten, irrespective of all the things I'll stop twice."
Oak took another pull from the flask. "I wouldn't believe you… but in my case that'd be hypocritical."
"I remember that. Tell me, if I got up first were you planning on hiding the other starters?"
Oak looked even more evasive. "Actually, the Charmander hasn't been taken yet. That trainer slept in… stayed up all last night… I hope she gets up tomorrow."
"Right." Ash slid his Pokédex into the peripheral slot. "Transfer all the information, if you please."
"Yeah, may as well."
Professor Oak was glaring at his hip flask and occasionally shaking it.
"Okay, next question. What's the League limit on the Pokémon someone can have with them at one time – and what are the specifics?"
The professor looked thoughtful. "I think it says that all battles must use only up to six Pokémon at a time… but in practice since the belts with the Poké ball supports can't take more than six, people don't carry any that are over that limit."
"Right, not going along with that custom. I'm taking everyone with me I can, I don't want to leave anyone behind who doesn't want to be."
Actually, I think if I got a satellite uplink then you could use the transfer system at any time! That might help.
"Okay. Next, when is the next tournament at Cameran Castle? I have business there, and fairly urgent at that."
Professor Oak was by now discovering that a motivated Ash ran roughshod over just about anything in his way. From jumping into a clash of two of the most powerful Pokémon on the planet to hurling one of those same Pokémon into a lake to save it, Ash was not one to mess around, that was for sure.
"Er, hang on. The professor typed away furiously at his keyboard. "There we are, it's in about two weeks. Do you want me to enter you?"
"That would be great. And can you also look up the articles on claiming one's inheritance here in Kanto?"
Pikachu looked over from his vigil at the door. "You do not do anything halfway, Ash."
"Well, we all knew that."
"Did… did I miss something?"
"Eh, Pikachu and I are now mutually telepathic. It happens."
Thankfully for the professor, Ash's Pokédex let out the chime that meant it was finished uploading.
All done! Don't stay up too late looking at them!
"Okay. And I'll get back to you on the other stuff."
Ash stretched, and grabbed his Pokédex back from the computer.
"Any sign of them yet?"
"Not that I can see."
"Right." Ash pulled his cap back and shut his eyes.
There. They were somehow obvious in Aura sight, glowing in a more intense way than those nearby. Perhaps this was because he held their memories?
In any case, it was time to put the plan into action.
"Pikachu, with me."
"You got it."
"Well, are we all ready?" Gloved hands twirled a rose in intricate patterns.
"You bet, guys! Dis time we'll do even better than before!"
As should be clear already, this was Team Rocket. And "Before" was when they completed their last successful mission. They stole a sleeping Caterpie.
Not much… but better than they ever get around Ash, that's for sure.
"So many injured Pokémon… all of them for the taking! This was such a good plan!"
"What, ambulance chasing?" James snarked.
"Shut up, this works!"
"Hey." The gang members looked up to see a young boy in front of them, a Pikachu riding on his shoulder. "I want a word with you."
"You? Talk to us? Sorry, we're far too classy for that."
Ash grinned. "Perhaps it'd help if I told you I know you're Team Rocket members, and that you plan on stealing all the injured Pikachu that overloaded in the storm?"
"Well, dat seems about right."
"How dare you!"
James looked confused. "For that matter, how does he know that? And it's not as if Meowth reveals that he can talk very often, yet this guy seems completely unsurprised."
"Never mind that! Get him, Eka-"
Electricity flooded the alleyway, catching two humans and three Pokémon in its' grip.
Ash moved fast, lightly touching first Ekans, then Jessie, then Meowth, James and Koffing.
As he'd hoped, he had known them easily well enough to complete the transfer.
"Right," he began, even as Ekans and Koffing both began to evolve. Huh. Seems like it's knowledge rather than physical training that leads to evolution.
"Here's the deal. I need to save the world. That is why I am back in the past, and why I have restored your memories. So, I am considering this to be a permanent truce situation, similar to all the other times the world or a large part of it has been in danger.
"I do, however, know that you're not going to be all that happy with the idea of just leaving off, so: Every week or three, sure, you can try and attack. But we're going to make it look good. You have evolved Pokémon with years of experience, use them. I'm not planning on being a pushover. We want this to look like you're not bumblers, but elite gangsters who are the only ones who stand a chance against me.
"You make it look good, so do I. We're talking about probably doing some damage to the scenery, at that. And of course any other Rockets that I run across I don't hold back against in any way.
Nothing. Then the outer layer of Arbok's skin cracked off and she emerged from the inside with some relief.
"Oh, damn. This was looking so very awesome and such… then I forgot you're still paralyzed."
Jessie jerked violently and started moving again. "Gah, twerp! How could you forget that?"
Meowth gradually fell over, unable to correct himself with the paralysis still gripping him.
James looked thoughtful "So what happens if we catch other Pokémon?"
"If they're ones you used to have, then I'm pretty sure I can do the same to them. If not, then I'm afraid you're out of luck – you'll have to train them the old way. But I for one got best results by caring for my Pokémon."
Meowth was still paralyzed. Arbok seemed concerned for a moment, then reached into Jessie's backpack and pulled out a Paralysis Heal.
"Hey, that's right!" Jessie was almost bouncing on her feet. "We have equipment at the moment! Back in the future we spent everything on elaborate traps, balloons and giant robots."
Ash sighed. "So. Are you willing?"
Meowth looked from his human partners to their Pokémon… then shrugged, and sPoké for all of them.
"Seems ta be the best thing ta do."
"Right. Oh, and James? First suggestion is to find some way to sneak that Growlithe of yours out of his kennel and onto your team, you could really do with some diversity."
"Oh, Growlie… How could I have been so cruel as to forget you…"
Somehow, despite the complete ridiculousness of Team Rocket, despite their behaviour… witnessing it, Ash felt like things were right again.
"Okay, see you in a week or so."
"Wait! What are we going to tell the boss?"
Ash turned to walk away. "Just tell him that you were going to attack the Viridian Pokémon centre, but I made a pre-emptive strike and the chance was lost. It's technically the truth, anyway."
"Okay, now, think of electricity. Think of storms, power lines, the corona around an antenna, lightning, everything you know that's connected to electricity, and think: left. Left. You want to think of electricity. You want to think of left. You want the two concepts to go together, to flow into one another like they can't be separate in your mind.
Now, keeping that separation there, move your paws apart again. Electricity. Left. Keep thinking that. Left. Electricity. But the other feeling isn't all electric, so you need it in both paws. Keep that pattern. Keep remembering that. And… open your eyes."
Misty watched, amazed, from her side of the room as Ash coaxed Pikachu into separating the natural electric aspect of his Aura from the energy itself. Pikachu's left paw was crackling with intensely yellow lightning, but the right was a shimmering azure blue.
"Remember how that feels… and see if you can replicate it in a minute or so." Ash stood up from his crouch. "Want me to see if we can unlock yours, Misty?"
"Er, no thanks. I'll pass – at least until we have Brock back with us. That will hopefully lessen the number of times you have to do this."
"Not by much… but thanks for thinking of me."
"Heh… What are friends for?"
Behind Ash a small explosion went off. "Oh for… Pikachu, you're meant to do it slowly at first!"
"You never mentioned that."
"Well, maybe that's because I thought it was obvious!"
"You? Think going slow is obvious?"
"True. But still!"
Misty lay back on her bed with a small smile. "I've missed this…"
Morning broke on a new day in Viridian city. The travellers and their Pokémon got up, stretched, got dressed, went down for breakfast and were abruptly reminded that yesterday's events were not merely a dream, but had actually happened.
Ash, after a few seconds nearly freaking out, remembered some of what Sir Aaron had taught him about emotional control – that is: Recall your purpose, subordinate all to it, and nothing can sway you. That said, don't mind having fun.
Sir Aaron was like that. All serious and staid one minute, then playful the next.
At least I'm coping better than Misty…
"Ohgod! Ohgod! We have to go through Viridian Forest! The Bugs, Ash! You know how much I hate… Bugs!"
Ash stifled a grin. Wonder how Misty would take some of the Pokémon I met in Sinnoh… would a Surskit cause her to short out?
Regardless of that amusing thought, she was still a friend, so Ash resolved to put her mind at ease.
"For goodness' sake, just teach your Staryu Power Gem or something! Or get a fire type…"
Ash, it should be noted, is not good at setting people at ease.
You understand your duty?
You know the honour that we are done?
You are confident in your ability to fulfil this charge?
As confident as any can be.
Then go, and fair weather speed you on your way.
AN: Really, I had to. Watching Ash and Pikachu start all over again would have been heartbreaking.
Just because a friendship is forged by life threatening events does not mean that life threatening events are desirable, and without them... well, here we go.
As should be clear, a lot of battles are going to be fairly easy. This is done for humour and a reprise of the series' events, not necessarily epic battle.
And finally... this is in keeping with the way Pokemon works. Who remembers the whole thing with Sam time traveling? He set that up deliberately with Pikachu, don't think he didn't. Probably why he ordered insufficient Pokemon for the new group of trainers-he-knew-since-childhood.