Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon.

"Speech"

'Thoughts'

"Telepathy"

Author Notes: And here's chapter 2! :D

Enjoy!

Chapter 2 - The Starting Choice


It was a bright and sunny day in the Hoenn region. Flocks of Taillow chirped and flew calmly through the woods. Smaller Grass-type Pokémon such as Oddish and Shroomish hid around the bushes. Bug Pokémon such as Beautifly and Dustox calmly buzzed around the flower fields and about the forest. It was, in essence, what could be called a perfect day.

On a small dirt pathway between the woods, a young girl was riding a red bicycle. She was ten years old with brunette hair running on both sides of her head, a red t-shirt with a dark blue circle coloring around the neck area, a small blue skirt with dark blue shorts underneath, a yellow bag strapped to her waist, and bright red and yellow sneakers coupled with black socks. Tied around her head was a red bandanna with a Pokéball design on the front right part.

She happily hummed a song to herself as she calmly rode through the forest. Her name was May, a young girl en route to the big dream of many other youngsters, to finally receive her starter Pokémon from the local Pokémon professor, a man known as Birch. She had turned ten a few months ago, but she wasn't as eager as some other youngsters to set out on the exact day she turned ten, which was why she was only setting out on her journey now. She giggled to herself, knowing her younger brother would go the very day he turned ten, probably before the sun even rose over the horizon.

Part of her wondered just what she was getting herself into. She wasn't very knowledgeable when it came to Pokémon. In fact, she didn't even like them that much. Some even terrified her. One of her main reasons for choosing to start this journey was to have an excuse to travel and see the world. That was her main motivator. She had always wanted to see new places outside of her hometown of Petalburg City, and also so Max, her young brother, finally stopped bugging her on how she should go and get her starter Pokémon, seeing as he hadn't shut up about the matter ever since her birthday. Plus, her father, the Gym Leader of her hometown, had wanted her to be a trainer as well, seeing as how he was, well, a Gym leader.

She sighed quietly to herself, thinking the matter over again carefully. How hard could being a Pokémon trainer be? Besides, she got to travel around! With a nod, she settled on keeping going. She knew she was getting close to Littleroot Town, where Professor Birch's lab was located. "I just hope I'm doing the right thing…" May told herself quietly, almost in a whisper. "It'll be all okay!" she commented, in a more loud and cheerful voice. With her father being a Gym leader, she hoped she could reach the expectations he'd have for her.

She then heard a phantom whisper beside her, and a long drawn out 'Duuuuuuskull!' which made her shiver involuntarily. She turned her head slowly and found herself face to face with a medium-sized gray ghost-like Pokémon with a skull as a face, just one eye to cover both eye sockets and brown bone markings across its body; in short, a very creepy and scary Pokémon.

May screamed in terror and sped up in an attempt to get away from the Ghost Pokémon. In her frenzy to get away from it, she didn't notice she had been driven off the road, and her luck ran out as she crashed into a tree head-on. "Ow… I should have… worn a helmet…" she muttered in pain as she slumped down to the ground.

The Duskull came to inspect its handiwork and laughed darkly, pleased to have frightened another human. With a final spectral laugh, it disappeared.

A few minutes later, May recomposed herself and went back to the road more carefully to finish the trip to Littleroot town. Thankfully, Littleroot wasn't that far away from Petalburg City, so it shouldn't take much longer. She sighed tiredly. "I'm not even good with Pokémon… I don't really like them… some trainer I'll be…" she muttered to herself, her tone filled with doubt and lack of self-confidence.

A few minutes later, she rounded the final hill and came to a sharp turn on the road. Straight ahead was a rocky cliff overlooking the city. "Wow! What a wonderful view!" she commented as she looked over the edge of the cliff. While called a "town", Littleroot was by no means small. The town was very picturesque, with several tall buildings and long harbors for big cruisers lined the coast. A few other buildings were a bit more inland. Green was the predominant color of the city, with numerous green areas far to the back of the city. A lighthouse was visible in the distance. May noticed a large cruiser arriving into the harbor. She stared for a few minutes at the sight of the impressive ship maneuvering to dock into the harbor before returning to her bike heading down the hill. Her next destination was Professor Birch's lab.

"Passengers, you may now leave the ship," the ship's speakers announced once the ship and port crews had finishing docking and boarding ramps were lowered.

"At last! We're in Hoenn!" Ash shouted happily, unable to contain his excitement one bit, causing several of the people near them to gaze at him oddly, something that he was well used to so he didn't really care. They waited a bit for the crowd to dissipate along the boarding ramp, seeing as the number of people descending was big and they didn't want to deal with the crowd.

"Finally, a new region," Pikachu agreed. He was eager to get some nice gym battles and a few new adventures, as long as they didn't include Legendary Pokémon trying to destroy everything around them, though knowing their luck, it was only a matter of time before that happened.

Ash paused and fidgeted. "Uumm… now that we're here… where to now?" he asked Mareepishly, having absolutely no clue as to what they were supposed to do once getting to the region.

Bianca facepalmed. "You're kidding right?" she asked lowly, but sadly, part of her already knew the answer to that question.

Ash scratched the back of his head nervously. "No, I'm not kidding, I really don't know, Brock was the one that usually did the planning and navigation."

The currently invisible Latios sighed. "Figures."

Pikachu laughed. "Spent the last week going on about how much you wanted to get here, and now that we're actually here you don't know where to go?" he commented, clearly holding back a laugh. "Yep, that's our Ash."

"Well… the first Gym?" Ash asked slowly.

Latias shook her head, currently disguised as Bianca. "Well, personally, I'd suggest going to meet up with the local Pokémon Professor. I remember Professor Oak suggesting that."

Pikachu nodded. "That, and we need to register for the league."

"Oh right, I had forgotten about that," Ash muttered, nodding in agreement.

"Damn! Where are they?" they heard a voice beside them say angrily. They turned and saw the captain, his Machoke, and several security guards.

Ash blinked. "Where are who?" he asked curiously.

The captain heard him and turned to Ah. He recognized him as the kid with the Latias. "Oh, the two guys I apprehended down at the food storeroom escaped this morning!" he said angrily.

Ash's entire group sweatdropped. "Told you you were underestimating them," Ash said sadly.

The captain paused. "Or maybe overestimated my brig? Whatever, have you seen them?"

Ash and Bianca shook their heads. "No, we haven't," they said at the same time.

The captain sighed. "Oh well, I'll just have to report this to port authority and keep inspecting the ship," he said before walking away, his Machoke and the rest of the team behind him.

"Told him they'd escape. Where do you think Team Rocket is by now?" Ash wondered out loud.

"Before the day ends, they'll attack us in a worthless robot," Latios deadpanned.

"I second that," Latias agreed bluntly.

"I third that," Pikachu said flatly. Ash chuckled at the response his Pokémon gave him.

Bianca blinked. "What did they say?" she asked curiously. All she had heard were the Latios's coos and squeals and Pikachu saying his name, so she hadn't understood even a bit. At least she knew about Latias seconding something.

Ash looked surprised for a second, but remembered that only he could understand their regular poke-speech and that Latios hadn't used telepathy. "They said that Team Rocket would probably attack us with a worthless robot sometime today."

"Ahh, they never give up do they?" Bianca wondered idly.

Ash chuckled. "No, they don't. They've chased me for the last two years, and they've always failed."

Bianca raised an eyebrow, surprised at how anyone would have the patience to chase someone for two years, even with countless failures weighing on their shoulders. She turned to look at the boarding ramp and noticed that the crowd had thinned out. "Well, let's get down," she suggested, starting to descend from the cruise liner.

They nodded and followed her quietly.

Elsewhere…

"Hello! Professor Birch?" May called, knocking on the door to the professor's lab several times. "Is anyone here?"

"Coming! Coming!" A voice answered as footsteps approaching the door could be heard from the other side. Seconds later, a young man with forest green hair, round glasses and a lab coat opened the door. He smiled when he saw May. "Oh, hello May, good to see you again!" Joshua, Professor Birch's assistant, said kindly, smiling warmly at her.

May nodded and smiled back. "Hi, is professor Birch here?" She asked curiously, tilting her head to the side to try and see past Joshua and into the lab.

Joshua shook his head. "No, I'm sorry, but the professor is out in the lab's green areas doing some research."

"Ah," May muttered, slightly disappointed. "Think you can give me my starter Pokémon?" she asked curiously.

Joshua shook his head. "No, the professor took the Pokéballs with him. He was supposed to leave them here, but when he set out; he forgot they were still in his handbag. He's been out for a while now so he should be back shortly."

"Okay," May said as she nodded and turned around, baffling the assistant slightly. "I'll go and look for him then. Bye!" With that said, she jumped on her bike and rode away.

"Hey, wait!" Joshua called out to the girl.

May turned to look back for a second. "Sorry, I'm not very good at waiting!" she shouted as she got farther away.

Joshua sighed. "Kids these days, they don't have even a little bit of patience!" he said, shaking his head as he watched May disappear in the distance. He turned and walked back in to the lab.

Several minutes later after asking lots of people for directions on how to get to the lab…

"Hello! Professor Birch?" Ash called, knocking on the door to the professor's lab several times. "Is anyone here?" he yelled.

"Coming!" Joshua called as he opened the door. He was greeted by the sight of a boy with a Pikachu on his shoulder and two girls, apparently twins. "Um, hello?" he asked slowly, wondering who the group was.

"Hi!" Ash greeted cheerfully. "Are you Professor Birch?" he asked.

Joshua shook his head. "No, I'm not. I'm Joshua, professor Birch's assistant. He's out doing some field research."

"Oh, I guess we'll have to wait and meet him later," Bianca muttered, shifting her gaze to Ash.

"Let's go!" Ash announced, turning around and beginning to walk away.

"Where are you going?" Joshua asked, though he already had a good guess.

"To look for Professor Birch, of course! I don't want to wait," Ash answered, causing Pikachu to chuckle at his typical impatience. Latias and Latios sweatdropped, but then shrugged and went along with their trainer. Bianca sighed, not really wanting to walk more and actually pondering the possibility of staying with the assistant, but she ultimately decided to follow Ash. Maybe she'd find something interesting to draw.

Joshua facepalmed. "Kids these days have no patience!" he commented to himself in irritation before returning the lab.

Meanwhile in the forest near the lab, a rather bulky bearded man wearing a lab coat, beige shorts and sandals was hidden in some bushes in the uppermost part of a hill. He had a pair of binoculars and a notebook, in which he was scribbling many things about what he saw.

He was currently doing some research about Pokémon and their relations between individuals of the same group. He was observing a pair of Mightyena and several Poochyena and noting how they behaved towards each other. He had watched different groups of Pokémon earlier, such as a flock of Tailow and a small group of Zigzagoon and Linoone. He noticed the two Mightyena just resting beside each other and watching the group of Poochyena play around. From his place in the bushes he had a good view to the clearing, though a tree near the base of it made his watching a bit harder.

He smiled and began to scribble more things into the notebook. He frowned when he noticed the two Mightyena moving a bit farther away from the clearing, along with some of the Poochyena, but still two of the canine Pokémon remained in the center of the clearing.

"No… stay closer…" he whispered to himself as he saw some of them moving away. He pondered what to do for a moment and settled for moving closer himself. He was certain the Mightyena had already smelt him from a while back since he caught them peeking over at his direction several times. Since he was often investigating and doing research around these parts, the Bite Pokémon probably recognized his smell.

He grabbed his handbag and opened it to put the notebook inside. As he did so, something caught his gaze. Moving the contents a bit, he frowned when he saw three Pokéballs inside. "What the… I was certain I left them at the lab with Joshua…oh, May! I need to get there to give her the starter Pokémon!" he said to himself. He closed the bag, stood up and decided to have one last peek at the group of wild Pokémon before heading back to the lab. He inched closer and, to his dismay, tripped on a lose root from the bush he was in and fell down, sliding down the hill while screaming.

He fell from a small drop and promptly landed on the tail of a little Poochyena that had apparently been resting there the whole time, hiding by the tree and the small drop in the hill. The small Pokémon yelped in pain, flailing around frantically for a few seconds before turning to the attacker. It growled angrily.

Professor Birch looked at the Dark type meekly. "Oh, I'm sorry little one, I slipped and fell off," he apologized, holding his arms in front of him and extending his palms to show the Pokémon he meant no harm and hoping to calm it down.

The Poochyena didn't seem to care, and howled loudly. Birch's eyes widened as two more Poochyena joined to the sides of the one he'd landed on. "Uh-oh…" he muttered. He looked at them for a second and decided to reach for his notebook to make a quick note on aggressive Pokémon behavior, and to his dismay discovered he didn't have his handbag with him. 'It must have fallen off and stayed at the top of the hill…' "Umm, sorry?" he tried one final time.

"Get him!" the Poochyena in the center barked, which of course the Pokémon Professor couldn't understand, but the three Dark-types lunged at him. That he could understand perfectly.

"Aaaaahhhh!" Professor Birch screamed in fright as he ran in circles around the clearing, the three Poochyena hot on his trail.

The two Mightyena came to inspect what was up and saw Professor Birch running around the tree in circles with the three Poochyena chasing him. They shrugged, agreeing it was hilarious and sat down to watch the show.

"Help me! Help me! Heeeeeelp!" Professor Birch screamed as he ran around.

Meanwhile, just a couple dozen feet away, May had been wandering around on her bike, going at a slow and sedate pace while looking around in hopes of spotting the Pokémon Professor. She suddenly heard desperate cries for help. She turned to the right and rode slowly, getting off her bike and leaning it against a tree as she walked the rest of the path.

She came to the top of a small hill. Looking down she saw Professor Birch frantically climbing a tree. She blinked in confusion. "Professor Birch, what are you doing?" she asked.

"Saving my skin!" the Professor answered back. "Oh thank goodness you're here, see that bag over there?" he asked, pointed to the discarded handbag lying on the ground nearby. May looked down the hill to where the professor was pointing and nodded. "Inside are three Pokéballs, open one of them!" he told her, holding to the branch and looking down fearfully at the three Poocheyena barking at him and clawing at the base of the tree. On the farther edge of the clearing, the two Mightyena were snickering.

May carefully walked to the bag so as to not slip like the Pokémon professor had. She took the bag and opened it, looking at all the notebooks inside and seeing three Pokéballs. "Uh, which one?" She asked, turning to look at the professor.

"Just pick one!" the professor urged her. A snap caught his attention. He turned and paled when he saw the branch he has hanging onto start to break under his weight. "Hurry!"

May hesitated, looking at the Pokéballs. "Uh, easier said than done…eh…I'll choose this one!" she said, closing her eyes and randomly grabbing one. She looked at it for as second and pressed the button in the center. The sphere opened and released a small blue amphibious Pokémon with orange cheek and head spikes and a fish tail. The Pokémon blinked and looked around.

"Oh good, a Mudkip!" Professor Birch said in relief.

"So…umm…what's next?" May asked, scratching her head Mareepishly.

Professor Birch would have facepalmed had his arms not been wrapped around the branch securely. "Just call out an attack!"

"Right!" May said enthusiastically. She turned to Mudkip. "Use…uhh…what was that attack again…"

"You don't know what attacks Mudkip has, do you?" Professor Birch asked with a frown. May shook her head meekly. "Just say: Mudkip, use Water Gun attack!" he instructed as patiently as he could. Considering he was hanging from a branch with three rather mad Poochyenas down below, that was quite the feat.

"Mudkip, use Water Gun attack!" May repeated, looking down at the small starter Water-Type.

Mudkip looked around and shrugged. It spat a stream of water at May, soaking her completely. Professor Birch sweatdropped in dismay.

It was at that precise moment that Ash and his group arrived. They came through a few bushes and saw an interesting scene. A heavyset man was up in a tree, hanging to a branch tightly with three small dog-like Pokémon clawing and scratching at the tree trunk. Two larger canine Pokémon-–probably the evolution of the small ones-were lying a bit farther away and were laughing hysterically, and on top of a hill that was about the same level in height as the tree, a small blue Pokémon was soaking a young girl with a Water Gun attack. Pikachu raised an eyebrow. "At least we aren't the only ones that do extremely strange things in public," he commented amusingly, and started laughing.

Ash looked at the Pokémon with interest. "Oh wow! What are those?" he asked excitedly. Latios didn't say anything. He knew Ash would use PokéDex, which of course he did, and besides, Latios was busy laughing at the scene.

The small machine gave a small beep. "Poochyena, the Bite Pokémon. Poochyena is the pre-evolved form of Mightyena. Its biting strength is superior to other Pokémon, and has the endurance to chase opponents down until completely exhausted," it said in a mechanical voice while displaying the image of the small Dark-types. Ash turned it to the other Pokémon. "Mightyena, the Bite Pokémon. Mightyena is the evolved form of Poochyena. They move primarily in packs, working together to capture their prey," it said in the same mechanical tone.

Latias blinked. "Shouldn't we help?" she asked, looking up as the man desperately tried to keep his grip at the branch.

Pikachu laughed. "Nah, this is funny."

Latios nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I find it amusing."

Latias smacked both of them psychically. "Someone could get hurt!" she reprimanded.

It was at that precise moment that the branch snapped, causing Professor Birch to fall off. "Ahhh!" he screamed as he crashed to the ground. Knowing what was to come, he stood up and ran around the tree again, evading the Poochyena. "Mudkip, get down here!"

The small Water-type finally stopped soaking May and jumped off the hill, landing between the Poochyena and the Professor. "Use Water Gun!" he said firmly.

Mudkip nodded and spat a stream of water, soaking the Poochyena completely. They promptly complained that they didn't want a bath now. Smelling the new group of Humans and Pokémon that had just arrived, they decided to run back to the two Mightyena. The five Pokémon ran deeper into the forest, disappearing from sight.

"Hey!" May cried indignantly. "Why did Mudkip only soak me?"

Professor Birch shrugged. "I don't know." May crossed her arms angrily, grabbed Birch's handbag and began to walk up the hill to get her bike.

Ash looked at the Mudkip. "Oh wow, cool!" he exclaimed, pointing his PokéDex at it.

"Mudkip, the Mud Fish Pokémon. Mudkip uses the sensitive radar receptors on its headfin to determine what's going on around it. In a pinch, it can gather enough power to crush rocks," the machine said in a monotone voice.

Professor Birch turned to the new group, only noticing them just then. "Oh, hello!" he greeted them, dusting himself off.

"Hi," Bianca replied. The human form Latias gave a curt nod. Bianca looked at the small Mudkip with interest. She crouched down and smiled at it. Mudkip just looked at her curiously. Bianca grabbed a small sketchbook and began to draw the small Pokémon. Mudkip, having nothing to do at the moment, just kept staring at Bianca obliviously.

"Hello, are you professor Birch?" Ash asked curiously, stepping forward until he was in front of the man.

The Professor nodded. "Indeed I am. And you're Ash Ketchum, correct?" he asked, though his tone made it seem more like a statement than a question.

Ash blinked. "Uh, how did you know?"

"Because I saw you in the Silver Conference. You eliminated my main prospect for it, Harrison," Birch answered, hiding a sad undertone at Harrison's defeat.

Ash chuckled nervously. "Uh, sorry?" he said, not sure how to reply to that.

The Pokémon professor laughed. "Oh don't worry, there's no need to be sorry. The best won and that's that. Though, Professor Elm just won't shut up on how much he's been bragging that it was his trainer that won the Silver League," Birch lamented. Ash laughed.

"Figured he'd do that," Pikachu muttered. "Considering how happy he was that that Jon Dickson guy won…"

"Really?" Ash asked.

"I know Professor Oak would be bragging if you won the league to the other professors," Pikachu answered offhandedly.

"I don't think so, Professor Oak doesn't seem to be that kind of guy…maybe," Ash said uneasily, pondering the same thing more intently.

Pikachu laughed. "He would, I just know it."

Ash shrugged. "Well, regardless, its Professor Elm's who's got bragging rights anyway."

Pikachu paused for a second and nodded in agreement. "True."

"So," Professor Birch began to get their attention, looking at the exchange between Ash and his Pikachu with utmost interest, especially that Ash seemed to understand the electric-type completely. "You seem to understand your Pokémon perfectly. That's amazing! It's just like Professor Oak said!"

Ash huffed and glared at Birch. "Just how much has he been rambling about me?"

Professor Birch blinked, noticing Ash's reddish eyes. Those were certainly odd. "Umm, well, it's just that a human that can understand Pokémon to the intimate degree that you can is very rare. It's very exciting for us Pokémon researchers…" he explained.

Ash sighed, agreeing that he had a point. "I guess so."

"Can you understand any Pokémon, or just those close to you?" Birch asked curiously.

"Any Pokémon so far," Ash answered.

Professor Birch reached for his handbag to take some notes, but frowned when he remembered May had it. "Do you mind if I ask you some questions?" Professor Birch asked curiously.

Ash sighed. "You're not going to turn me into some kind of experiment, are you?" he asked, rolling his eyes. Pikachu glared at Birch, clearly voicing that he better not try it unless he wanted to try his best shocks.

Professor Birch laughed. "Oh no, it's just that I'm curious. Oak was right, you're a very interesting kid."

'Uh, Latias? He's good right?' Ash thought, just wanting to be on the safe side.

Latias closed her eyes for a second, allowing her empathic abilities to spread out. While she didn't read Birch's thoughts or mind, she felt the natural emotions coming off from him. "He's good Ash. He's got no bad intentions, its genuine curiosity," the female eon Dragon answered.

"When a Pokémon talks, what do you hear?" the Professor asked curiously.

Ash chuckled. "The same thing you hear, the Pokémon's natural poke-speech. However, as they say it, I somehow…hear or make out actual words and sentences within their speech patterns… it's the best explanation I can give you…I don't know how to put it, exactly."

"Fascinating..." Professor Birch muttered to himself. "How much do you talk to your Pokémon, or they talk to you? Do you maintain frequent talks with them?"

Ash sighed. "You have no idea. Sometimes my problem's actually getting them to shut up."

Pikachu laughed. "Aw, I love you too, Ash," he shot back with an amusing grin. Ash rolled his eyes and gave the electric Pokémon a pet on the head.

Professor Birch stared at them for a second. "Odd…but interesting."

"Back!" May exclaimed, riding back to the clearing on her bike.

Ash turned to look at her and facepalmed when he saw her. He glared to Pikachu. "I forbid you from frying her bike," he said sternly.

Pikachu blinked, taken off-guard by the comment. "Wait, what?" he asked, confused. He paused for a few seconds, recalling what Ash was hinting at. "Oh right, Misty's bike."

Ash nodded. "I don't want another bike on my debt list."

Pikachu laughed and looked away innocently. "Okay, okay, but the last one was repaired eventually, wasn't it?"

"Yes it was, but I don't want to go through the same thing again!" Ash shot back, glaring. Pikachu laughed.

May stopped beside Professor Birch and handed him his bag. "Here's your bag back."

Professor Birch smiled. "Thanks, May."

Ash grinned. "Hello! My name's Ash!" he introduced himself in a very cheerful tone.

May turned to look at him, smiling back. "Hiya, I'm May."

Pikachu tapped Ash once, an annoyed look on his face. Ash chuckled. "Oh, and this is my buddy Pikachu," he said, introducing the electric-type. Pikachu nodded in satisfaction. Latios gave a silent chuckle. "So, are you a trainer?" Ash asked curiously.

May shook her head. "Not yet, I came here to get my starter," she answered.

Ash grinned. "Oh, that's really nice, congratulations!" he beamed, this particular moment bringing back many memories.

Professor Birch grabbed Mudkip's Pokéball and, seeing that Bianca had already finished her rough sketch, returned the small Mud Fish Pokémon back to the sphere. "May, Ash is a more experienced trainer, having already participated in two leagues. You could learn a thing or two from him," the professor suggested.

"Three, actually," Ash corrected. "The Orange league counts too. Even if it was shorter, I still had to beat a really tough Dragonite to win it."

Professor Birch nodded. "Alright, my bad. Three, then."

"Wow," May said slowly, imagining all the places Ash must have seen in his travels.

"So, what were you doing in that tree?" Bianca asked curiously. "And why were the Poochyena chasing you?"

Professor Birch scratched his head Mareepishly. "I was doing some field research on them, and I slipped down that hill and fell, accidentally scaring one of the Poochyena… they didn't take it well," he explained.

Ash laughed. "Oh, no wonder!"

"So Ash, how's Latios?" Birch asked curiously. That had been bugging his mind for a while, especially since Latios hadn't fought in the semi-finals. He figured the Dragon was fine by now, but he just wanted to be sure, plus it was a very nice excuse to bring the Eon dragon topic up and maybe convince Ash to show him off. "I figure he's recovered from the harsh battle with Harrison's Salamence?"

Ash chuckled, guessing that Professor Birch just wanted an excuse to see Latios. He didn't really mind. "Ask him yourself."

Professor Birch looked around for a second, remembering Latios could render himself completely invisible and could be anywhere around without him noticing. "He's out here?" he asked, just to be certain.

"Yep," Ash answered. "He's behind you. Come on Latios, no need to hide. Drop the cloak."

Professor Birch, and May, who was curious as to what all the fuss was about, turned as Latios dropped his invisibility, appearing in a shower of bright blue sparkles. Birch jumped back in surprise at having the rather large dragon appear suddenly in front of him. May didn't do so well, either. "Aaaahhhhh!" she screamed in fright, jumping and hiding behind Birch frantically. She didn't even know Pokémon could turn invisible like that. Latios snorted and barely contained his laugher. Pikachu didn't even bother trying. Bianca and Ash sweatdropped.

"Oh, he looks more amazing in person than on television…" Birch commented, looking at Latios intently and making the dragon feel slightly uncomfortable. He raised his hand to reach and pet Latios, but figured he'd better ask first. "Uh, can I touch you?"

Latios shook his head and flew back a couple of inches. Ash laughed. "Don't worry, he's not the most enthusiastic about people he meets for the first time. It takes a while for him to warm up to someone."

Professor Birch lowered his hand in disappointment, but he had half-expected that. "Oh, all right," he said. He turned to look behind him. "Come on May, its okay. Latios is Ash's Pokémon."

May timidly came out. "Sorry, it's just… uhh, I never knew a Pokémon as big as him could hide like that…" she said, laughing nervously. At least he wasn't as mean as the Duskull she had met earlier. Plus, Birch said the large blue Pokémon belonged to Ash, so it was all cool, right?

Professor Birch smiled. "I must admit, meeting a Legendary in person is amazing."

"Thanks for the compliment," Latios said, looking back warily, though he was more relaxed.

Professor Birch blinked. "Uh, what did he say?"

Ash smiled. "He says 'thanks for the compliment.'"

"Ah," Birch murmured. "I must admit, understanding Pokémon is a very useful ability."

May blinked, just catching up. "Wow, you can speak Pokémon?"

Ash laughed and nodded. "Well, I can't speak it, but I can understand it."

Professor Birch turned to May. "Let's go back to the lab to give you your starter Pokémon, your Pokéballs, and your PokéDex, May," he said, turning to the direction his lab was in and starting to walk down the path. Everyone nodded and followed him.

Once they had exited the clearing the professor had been doing his research in, the ground before Ash trembled slightly as he heard the sound of a twig snapping. "Huh?" he muttered, looking down.

"What is it Ash?" Professor Birch asked, walking forward…and the ground gave away, causing them to fall into a pitfall trap.

"Aaaaahhhh!" they screamed as they fell inside and landed painfully.

Latios looked down, a surprised look on his face. "What the-" Latios began, but he was cut off when a net fell on top of him. He sighed in exasperation, already knowing what was going on.

A ridiculous looking giant robot Pikachu appeared out of hiding from behind a group of trees. The top hatch opened as Team Rocket appeared from within, still wearing their special Dark headbands. "Prepare for trouble, we're back to holes!" Jessie began, a grin on her face

"And make it double, we're digging 'em like moles!" James continued, chucking evilly.

"To protect the world from a painful fall!" Jessie followed, spreading her arms.

"To unite all nations within Team Rocket, both big and small!" James added, mimicking Jessie.

"To denounce the evils of truth, love and dirt mounds!" Jessie said.

"To extend our reach to the great undergrounds!" James said.

"Jessie!" she introduced herself loudly.

"James!" he introduced himself just as loudly.

"Team Rocket blast off at the speed of-" Jessie began, but was promptly interrupted.

"Hey! What's going on!" Professor Birch wondered, supporting himself on his arms over the edge of the pitfall.

Team Rocket blew up in rage. "Don't you dare interrupt the motto!" James screamed angrily.

"The motto's sacred, so shut up and let us finish!" Jessie screeched angrily. Professor Birch blinked in confusion, wondering who the two clowns were.

"Now where was I… oh yeah, Team Rocket blast off at the speed of light!" Jessie said, doing a dramatic pose.

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!" James finished, doing a dramatic pose as well.

"Meowth! That's right!" Meowth said, doing a similar pose in front of them.

"Oh WOW! A Pokémon that talks like a human?" Professor Birch exclaimed in surprise. "This day just keeps getting better and better!"

"Team Rocket! Not you three again!" Ash yelled angrily, pulling himself out of the hole as well. "What the heck is with the hole?"

Jessie shrugged. "It's been a while since we used a pitfall, we felt like trying it again," she answered. She took a remote control and pressed a switch. A hatch opened in the side of the Pikachu-bot, revealing a small gun that fired a Thundershock, causing Birch and Ash to fall back into the hole.

Ash growled in anger. "Team Rocket, you do realize two of my main Pokémon aren't really harmed by a pitfall, right?"

"Eh?" Jessie asked, wondering what he meant.

"Latias, get us out please?" Ash asked kindly. Latias nodded as her human-form eyes glowed, levitating herself and the three humans out of the hole gently.

"He-hey, what's going on?" May asked uneasily, seeing herself apparently flying out of the hole, a faint blue outline around her.

Professor Birch noticed that one of the two apparent twin's eyes was glowing. Knowing from Oak that Ash had also a Latias in his possession, he deduced that the girl was actually the Latias in disguise. "Relax, May," he said gently, turning to look at May.

Team Rocket facepalmed. "Oh crud, we forgot they could do that…" James lamented as Latias set Ash, Pikachu, Birch and May safely beside the pitfall trap. May immediately got behind Birch, eying the really weird girl that had just gotten them out of the hole warily. That did it, this kid's group was weird, just how did that girl do that?

"You mean we dug that hole for nothing? I got all dirty in vain!" Jessie screeched in anger.

Meowth sighed in frustration. "Holes aren't as useful as dey were back in Kanto…"

Latios laughed. "Meowth, do you really think a net is going to hold me down?" he asked, grinning at the feline Pokémon.

"Ha! It's Electricity-proof!" Meowth said, grinning back at him confidently.

Latios rolled his eyes. "I'm not an Electric-type." With a thought he ripped the net apart.

James made a face. "Nets aren't as useful as they were in the past, either. Thankfully, mechas still come in handy!" he said as the trio retreated back into their robot.

"Guess I was right about the robot thing," Latios muttered.

"You were right about their persistence, Ash," Bianca commented. "I just wonder, where did they get that robot from?"

Ash shrugged. "Beats me, we've never figured out where they get so many mechas from."

"And you never will!" Jessie bellowed, commanding the Pika-bot to fire another net at Latios.

Latios mentally tore it apart again. "That's the best you can do?" he asked, unimpressed.

"Oh hell no!" James shouted, activating a switch. Two electrical spheres within the cheeks of the Pika-bot activated as they started sparkling ominously, releasing a tremendous electrical shockwave blast in all directions.

"You just had to ask!" Pikachu said angrily, glaring at Latios.

"How was I supposed to know?" Latios snapped back.

"Latios, Latias stop that with Luster Purge and Mist Ball!" Ash shouted. Latias reverted to her Pokémon form, not really surprising Birch (who was busy taking notes, seeing Latias and Latios about to enter a fight), but causing May to scream in fright and surprise again. Latias would have apologized for it, but she had no time at the moment.

"Right!" they said as both Eon siblings started glowing as they charged their psychic powers. Latios fired a large sphere of white psychic energy while Latias hurled a swirling orb of reddish mist. As they launched the attacks, Ash grabbed a single Pokéball.

"Phanpy, Go!" Ash shouted, releasing the small hyperactive Pokémon. "Use Rollout!" he ordered. Phanpy nodded immediately, curling into a tight ball and rolling towards the Pika-bot.

Latias and Latios' attacks collided against the incoming shockwave, locking into a stalemate with it, effectively stopping it in its tracks. This allowed Phanpy, whose Ground-typing negated the electricity, to safely pass through it and towards the robot.

"Incoming!" Meowth said in alarm. They had no time or cheap tricks to defend against Phanpy's attack. He collided with the Pika-bot at full force, causing the robot to stumble back slightly and make the circuits powering the shockwave attack spheres to falter, allowing the eon duo's attacks to overpower the attack and dispel it into nothingness. "Get a taste of this!" Meowth said angrily, switching to a different weapon. This time, a big generator on the Pika-bot's back activated, shooting a Thunder skywards, which arched down towards Latios and Latias.

"Stop that with Dragonbreath!" Ash ordered. Both Eon siblings took a deep breath and exhaled plumes of green fire towards the incoming Thunder Attack, creating a midair explosion.

"Oh, no you don't!" Jessie said as she elevated the power feed on the generator.

"Oh, no you don't!" Ash countered. "Phanpy, use Hidden Power on that thing!"

"Yes Daddy!" Phanpy chorused as he glowed, several spheres of white energy forming around him. He shot them at the Pika-bot's back, shattering the generator and shaking up the robot.

"Dammit! We forgot about the runt behind us!" Meowth cursed.

James shook his head. "No! Keep concentrated on Latios and Latias!" he suggested, pressing a switch as the Pika-bot's arm began to open, revealing a bazooka and aiming it at Latios.

"Latios, use Steel Wing on that weapon! Phanpy, use Earthquake!" Ash shouted. Latios quickly sped forward with the great speed his species were known for as Phanpy rose on his hind legs, just a few meters in back of the cheap robot.

"Hey! What about us!" Latias and Pikachu demanded angrily at the same time.

Ash paused. Another hatch in the Pika-bot's other arm opened, revealing a net launcher, giving him the perfect excuse to have them do something. "Pikachu, use Iron Tail to destroy that other weapon. Latias use Ice beam on the windshield to blind them!"

Both Pokémon nodded as Pikachu shot forward with Quick Attack, trying to catch up to the much, much faster Latios, and failing. Latias took a deep breath, charging a sphere of freezing energies in her mouth which was getting bigger by the second. Team Rocket looked at the multiple attackers, wondering what to do. "What do we do?" James asked, shifting his gaze between them.

Jessie growled. "Just fire everything we have!" she screamed. She pressed all the attack switches at once. Sadly, they weren't fast enough.

Phanpy released the Earthquake first, causing a tremor to run across the road and shaking the Pika-bot up. The vibrations caused the electric generators in the cheek to spark and malfunction, making the robot unable to fire another electrical shockwave.

Latios was next. He flew at an extremely fast speed, his aerodynamic body allowing him to move so fast that he reached the arm with the bazooka before it had a chance to fire. He passed beside it, his steel-hard wing slashing across the arm of the robot, ripping the bazooka to pieces and slicing open the arm. Latios grinned at the damage he had managed to do.

Latias' beam managed to get to the robot before the slower Pikachu, hitting the cockpit's glass and covering it with a sheet of ice, rendering Team Rocket blind of what was going on outside. This made their aim with their net launcher fail. As it fired, Pikachu somersaulted over the projectile acrobatically as his tail shined brightly, leaping over the tip of the arm and slashing the shoulder as hard as he could, severing the arm. "Heh, this thing is made of tin foil!" he cheered victoriously as he landed behind the robot, the arm hitting the floor harshly and lying motionless. Pikachu grinned at Latios. "Ha! I did more damage than you!" he taunted.

Latios fumed. "I attacked before the arm managed to even fire at me!" he countered.

Pikachu laughed at him. "But there's still an arm left on your side! I severed the one on my side, so I'm better!" Latios crossed his arms and looked away. Pikachu laughed harder. Latias, Ash and Phanpy looked at them with a blank expression on their faces.

Ash grinned as the Pika-bot flailed aimlessly. "Pikachu, finish that thing with Thunder!"

Pikachu nodded and jumped towards the Pika-bot, heading to the stump of the arm he'd ripped off. "Take… this!" he bellowed, releasing a massive Thunder into the open joint and inside the machine, causing all the circuits to crash and everything to overload from Pikachu's power, electrocuting team Rocket as well. The combination of power from the machine and Pikachu's electricity caused many strays bolts to be fired in many directions. To Pikachu's horror, one of the bolts was heading towards May's bike, which had been discarded to the side when they had fallen in the pit trap. "Noooo! Stop that bolt!" he cried in horror.

"My bike!" May cried worriedly.

To everyone's relief, the bolt seemed to bounce off a transparent screen, courtesy of Latias' psychic powers. May sighed in relief and looked at the red dragoness gratefully. "You owe me one Pikachu!" Latias told him, grinning. "You bike destroyer!"

"Alright, thanks!" Pikachu called back as he jumped backwards. The robot exploded spectacularly, sending Team Rocket blasting off, as usual.

"Dammit! Why can't we pull off the kidnapping successfully!" James wondered angrily. "We got beaten senseless like all the other times!"

"No! Why can't we do anything right!" Jessie wailed in despair, a depressed tone in her voice. "We're useless…" she whispered to herself.

Meowth sighed. "At least we figured out holes aren't very useful these days…" he said, trying to find something positive in it. James smacked him.

"Team Rocket's blasting off again!" they cried as they vanished into the distance.

Seeing that everything was over, professor Birch walked over to Ash. He was still holding his notebook, taking lots of notes. "Hey, who were those three?"

Ash sighed. "Just a trio of thieves that have been trying to steal my Pokémon. They always fail."

"Ah," Professor Birch muttered in understanding.

"Their persistence is admirable," Bianca commented. "Their goals, not so much."

Latias, Latios, Pikachu and Phanpy came over. Ash turned to them. "Thanks all of you, you were great!" he praised them.

Phanpy jumped into Ash's arms. "You're welcome Daddy!" he said cheerfully, nuzzling Ash. Ash smiled and petted Phanpy, before returning him to his Pokéball.

Professor Birch looked at Latias and Latios and took some notes. "Wow, you two are amazing!"

Latias smiled. "Thanks!" she said, feeling joyous at the praise. Latios just gave a curt nod.

Professor Birch looked at them. "Uh, what did she say?"

Ash chuckled. "She says thanks."

May looked between Latias and Bianca a few times. "How is it that she…looked like you?" she asked curiously.

Bianca smiled. "That's one of Latias' special abilities. She can assume human form. Since we've known each other for a long time, she likes to copy me."

"Wow… that's impressive," May commented, feeling genuinely interested in Latias now that she knew that the red Pokémon wouldn't try to scare her.

"Well, now that this little…interruption is over, let's head back to my lab," Professor Birch suggested, beginning to walk again.

"Sure," Ash said, walking after him. Bianca followed.

Latias glowed as she reverted back to her Bianca form, causing both Birch and May to stare at her in surprise. She noticed their stares and winked at them before catching up with Bianca. "She's one interesting Pokémon…" Professor Birch muttered quietly, taking some more notes in his notebook.

"Tell him I heard that," Latias told Ash telepathically. "And that I said thanks, again."

Ash chuckled. "Latias says she heard that, and thanks," he repeated. Professor Birch laughed in amusement. Interesting Pokémon indeed.

The walk back to the lab was very uneventful with Team Rocket blasted off, as usual. Once they got to the lab and were greeted by Joshua, the time had finally come for May to choose her starter Pokémon.

Professor Birch smiled and laid out three Pokéballs on the table. "In here are the three starter Pokémon of the Hoenn region. You may pick the one you like the most, or the type you think will favor you the most."

May nodded. "Alright."

Ash grinned. "I remember this moment, when I got my own first Pokémon…it was magical…"

Professor Birch turned to look at him. "Really? Who was your starter?"

"Pikachu," Ash answered, rubbing Pikachu's chin. The electric-type smiled in contentment.

Professor Birch looked at him oddly. "He's not one of Kanto's starters. How did that happen?" he asked curiously.

"I was late for the starter giveaway from Professor Oak, so all the other three starters had already been chosen and the only suitable Pokémon left was Pikachu," Ash answered. "I don't regret sleeping in on that day a single bit. In fact, I'm glad I slept in, right buddy?" he continued, petting the Electric-type. Pikachu nodded in agreement while smiling at Ash warmly, touched. Latias and Latios 'awww'd.'

"Now that's an interesting story," Professor Birch commented. He grabbed a Pokéball and released the first of the three Pokémon, the same Mudkip from earlier. "This is Mudkip May, a Water-type, as you already know."

May looked at it, uninterested. "That thing just soaked me up!" She said, irritated. Mudkip just tilted its head to the side. "It hates me!"

Ash leaned down to be level with the water-type. "Hi there," he said to the Mudkip.

The Mudkip looked at him uneasily, not sure how to react to the very weird Human. "Uh, hello?"

Professor Birch laughed and grabbed another Pokéball. "And this is the Grass-Type starter, Treecko." He opened the Pokéball, releasing a bipedal green gecko like Pokémon with round yellow eyes.

"Wow, cool!" Ash commented, shifting his attention from Mudkip to Treecko.

Professor Birch looked at Ash with amusement. "You're very good with Pokémon, Ash," he said, smiling at the young boy. Ash kept his attention on the Treecko.

May stared at it for several seconds. The Treecko stared back. May took a few steps backwards. "Its creepy…" she muttered, feeling uneasy and breaking eye contact with the Treecko.

Ash chuckled. "Nah, I think he's a cool little fellow."

"And finally, the Fire-Type Torchic," Birch announced, releasing the final Pokémon. It was a small orange chick Pokémon, with three yellow feathers standing out from its forehead.

"This is the one you said evolved into Blaziken during my battle with Harrison, right Latias?"Ash asked, turning to look at the disguised dragon girl.

She nodded. "Yep, this little guy evolves all the way into Blaziken."

Ash stared at the Torchic. "I think he's cute," he commented. Latias giggled in agreement.

"So May, who do you chose?" Professor Birch asked, taking several steps back. He motioned to Ash and Bianca. They got the message and stepped back too, leaving all three starters in the center of the room with May in front of them.

May stared at all three Pokémon lined up on the floor intently, shifting her gaze between them constantly. "Uhh… I don't know…" she muttered and turned to Ash, who was a more experienced trainer. "Hey… who would you pick?" she asked curiously.

"Well," Ash began, looking at the three starters. "I'd pi-" he said, but was interrupted.

"No Ash, let her make the choice on her own, your suggestion might bias her final pick," Professor Birch said sternly.

Ash scratched his head Mareepishly. "Sorry."

"So, who would you pick?" Latios asked telepathically so May wouldn't hear them, wanting to know the answer to that question.

'Treecko,' Ash answered. 'He looks really cool.'

Latios chuckled, nodding in agreement. "That he does. If I was a trainer, I'd pick Treecko too."

Latias hummed. "I'd pick Mudkip, he's adorable!"

Latios shrugged. "We all know Treecko's better."

Latias glared at him. "Mudkip!"

"Treecko!" Latios shot back, grinning.

"Mudkip!" Latias snapped, smirking.

"Treecko!"

"Mudkip!"

"Treecko!"

"Mu-"

"I pick Torchic!" May exclaimed, finally making her choice as she crouched down to look at the small chick Pokémon. He began hopping up and down, and then he got closer to May and nuzzled her leg. "Aww, he's cute!" Both Eon twins facepalmed. Pikachu snickered at them.

Professor Birch nodded. "Good choice, May. Don't forget to pick up your Pokéballs and PokéDex," he told her. She nodded.

She signed and looked down at Torchic, wondering what she had just gotten herself into. Now she had to carry a Pokémon around… She walked to the table and took the Pokéballs and PokéDex, putting them away in her bag.

"I know you'll become a great trainer May," Professor Birch said, smiling gently.

May signed. "I hope so too…"

Professor Birch frowned. "May, is something wrong?" he asked. Normally whenever someone got their starter they were leaping for joy.

May put on a fake-cheerful smile. "Oh don't worry Professor, I'm okay."

Ash frowned. 'Hey Latias, what's wrong?' he asked her curiously, wondering the same thing as Professor Birch.

"From what I can sense coming off her emotions, she's feeling very nervous and uncertain about becoming a Pokémon trainer. Remember how scared she was at the sight of me or my brother, or some other Pokémon? That's because she's afraid of Pokémon and perhaps dislikes them. She's very confused about her current status as a Pokémon trainer," Latias explained, using her empathic abilities to read the emotions coming off the young girl.

'Oh. Think I could help her like Pokémon? I really like them,' Ash asked the dragoness.

"I'd advise against it. If you put pressure on the subject for her she's just going to snap. Let things follows their course, Ash," Latias answered as she watched May look down at Torchic, who just stared back while tilting his head.

'Why does she feel like that?' Ash asked.

"I don't know, I'd have to actually look into her mind to find out, but that'd be rude. I'll respect her personal mind space," Latias replied. "Don't worry Ash, its all fine. Let May be."

Ash nodded, trusting Latias' words. He turned to Professor Birch. "Hey Professor, where's the Littleroot Town Pokémon Center? I'd like to register for the Hoenn League."

"I'm sorry Ash, there's no Pokémon Center here in Littleroot, you'll have to go to another city for that," the professor answered.

"And where would that be?" Ash asked.

"Well," Professor Birch began, thinking for a second. "The nearest Pokémon center is in Oldale Town, and after that is the Petalburg City Pokémon Center. Oldale's on the same route as Petalburg, about halfway between here and there. Both places are close to here," he explained.

Ash nodded. "All right."

"So, where to next?" Bianca asked, gazing at Ash.

Ash turned to Professor Birch. "Is there a Gym in Oldale town or Petalburg city?" he asked.

"There's a Gym in Petalburg city, but there's none in Oldale," Birch answered. "You'll pass Oldale Town en route to Petalburg, so you can register there."

Ash nodded. "Then we'll go to Petalburg. Oldale's on the way there, so it should be quick."

Latios laughed. "Assuming we don't get lost."

Ash smirked proudly. "My navigation skills have improved a lot, I'm sure we won't lost," he said confidently. Latias, Pikachu, Latios and Bianca didn't believe him one bit. Ash didn't believe his own words, either. Ash sulked. "Why do I even bother…" he said when he noticed all his friends staring at him oddly.

Latios sighed. "I really hope that the road to Petalburg city is a straight line."

Pikachu shook his head. "We've gotten lost on straight lines before," he said warily. Latios stared at them incredulously.

"Well professor, it was good meeting you. I guess we're going to go to now," Ash said, holding his hand out.

"It was a pleasure meeting you Ash, good luck on the Hoenn League," Professor Birch said, shaking his hand.

Ash nodded. "Thanks a lot. Time to start gathering badges!"

Bianca smiled. "And this time I hope you do win the league."

Ash grinned confidently. "Oh I know I'll win!"

"No you won't," Pikachu said.

"Be quiet, Pikachu," Ash growled.

"That's a good goal, Ash," Professor Birch noted.

"Yeah, thanks," Ash said. "Well, time to get going!"

Ash and his group said their final goodbyes. Ash and Bianca, along with their Pokémon companions prepared to leave for Oldale Town and Petalburg City.

"Hey wait!" May called out, catching up to the group a few feet away from the lab. Ash and Bianca turned around.

"Yes?" Ash asked. Had she forgotten something?

"H-hey," she stuttered for a bit, wondering how to put what she was about to say into words. "I was wondering if I could go with you two," she told them. "It's just that… I have no clue what to do next…" she said, scratching her head Mareepishly.

Ash tilted his head slightly in confusion. "What do you mean?"

May blushed in embarrassment. "Well uh… yes, I got Torchic, but I have no idea what to do now… how to care for it, or… uh, how to catch other Pokémon or just what to do next. I was wondering if I could tag along for now? Even if just until Petalburg, so you can help me get started. I won't be a burden, I promise," she explained, silently wishing that Ash would say yes. That would be a big help for her.

To May's delight, Ash smiled. "Of course you can come, May."

May grinned. "Thanks! Oh, and I'm from Petalburg city, so I know my way there in case you need guidance."

"That's great!" Ash commented, relieved that they wouldn't have to deal with getting lost now. "You're welcome to join us!"

May nodded. "Thanks, just let me go and get my bike," she said, turning around and running back to the lab.

"At least we've got a guide…" Bianca commented. "Now we won't get lost!"

Ash sulked, muttering sadly about his horrible navigating skills. Pikachu, Latios and Latias laughed, nuzzling their trainer in comfort.

Yep, this was turning out to be a very interesting journey.


Author Notes: Well, that was all for Chapter 2!

I hope you all liked it! Oh boy…writing May's initial anime character was a little weird… Well, not what I'm used from most of the anime. Oh well. I hope you enjoyed it!