Chapter One: The First Step

In the quaint settlement of Pallet Town, morning sunlight filtered into a small bedroom. In that room, a boy was awake and getting ready for quite possibly the most important day of his short life. Ash Ketchum was about to leave home and begin his travels as a Pokemon trainer.

"Ash! Are you ready to go?"

"Yeah, just a second!" Ash called back to answer his mother.

Ash was ten years old. Well, a little older than that. Rather, it had been six months since he'd turned ten, but he and the rest of his class had had to postpone their starting date as trainers. Usually, trainers set off on their journeys once they reached their first decade, but circumstances in the Indigo League had forced them to stagger that date. For the last ten years or so, Indigo had only held its Pokemon League every other year because the region had just gotten out of a major world war.

For nearly fifteen years, the region of Orre had been under the influence of a dangerous rogue military organization called Cipher, who had weaponized Pokemon with their "Shadow" technology. Since Orre was hardly an organized region in the first place, Cipher took power easily with their Shadow Pokemon and when they turned their eyes to the rest of the world, the other regions could no longer ignore them.

What followed was the most brutal war in the history of the Leagues. Tens of thousands of people and Pokemon had died in combat, creating a generation gap so massive that most of the regions now consisted of children and older individuals. Most of the average adult trainers had fallen in the violent battles. Kanto and Johto suffered severe casualties, with Hoenn not far behind. The regions of Fiore and Almia had also participated, and the damage they suffered was so great that they secluded themselves, barring normal trainers from their borders for the sake of protecting their people.

Eventually, Cipher was only destroyed because an incredibly skilled agent from one of its own branch organizations went rogue. That young trainer swept through the ranks of Cipher with a unique capture device and a female partner that could identify the previously unrecognizable Shadow Pokemon. They had infiltrated right into Cipher's core and managed to crush their leader. The regions had gotten lucky.

With Cipher destroyed, the world settled back down, but it took a decade for things to even remotely resemble normalcy as it had before the war. That was why Indigo had added on to the amount of time trainers typically had to get stronger before the League Tournament began. They needed not only stronger trainers, but as many new trainers as possible to fill the huge generation gap. The first tournament that took place immediately after the war consisted of just thirty-two individuals. It was only over the last year or so that they had returned to yearly tournaments.

But new trainers had to wait until the League officially began the competitive season before setting out, which was the reason for Ash's six month delay. Now that Spring had come along, aligning with the start of the new Indigo Tournament season, he could finally leave to begin his journey.

He was just glad that he had passed Professor Oak's exams with flying colors. Oak only accepted three new trainers every six months. If Ash hadn't made the top three scores, he would have been forced to wait until the Fall to start his travels. That would leave him with six months to train for the massive Indigo Tournament, which wasn't nearly enough time to get anywhere that mattered.

Not to mention that Gary would have mocked him until the day he died.

The door to his bedroom opened to reveal his mother, Delia Ketchum. She had a bright smile on her face as always and leaned against the doorway to watch him. "Do you have everything you need?"

"I think so," Ash replied. "All the supplies we got at the store last week are already in my bag. I think the only things I'm missing are Professor Oak's gear and a Pokemon."

"Have you decided which one you want?"

He grinned widely. "Oh yeah."

He'd been thinking about this for years—ever since he decided to be a trainer, actually. It had been incredibly hard to choose just one of the three starters Oak offered to young trainers because they were so varied. Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. All three of the starters were rare and highly prized Pokemon.

Bulbasaur was a hardy little grass type with great versatility. It was specialized for immobilizing opponents with various spores and toxins, which made it invaluable for battles and captures. Bulbasaur could trap a wide variety of wild Pokemon and make them an incredibly easy catch—great for any trainer. Both of its evolved forms only improved on these abilities, and Venusaur were regarded as one of the most powerful grass species in Kanto.

Squirtle was the most defensive option of the trio. Its evolutionary line had developed an incredibly hard shell that was nigh impenetrable from most attacks. Along with its sturdy defenses, Squirtle could pack a punch with high-pressure water blasts, and its hard skull and powerful jaws gave it options to work with close-up. Blastoise was the prize of that evolutionary line; anything that could punch through solid steel plates with hydro cannons was something to be greatly feared in combat.

But Ash wanted neither Bulbasaur or Squirtle. Besides, Gary had basically laid claim to Squirtle already and Ash decided he wanted a different Pokemon than him.

Charmander, the fire type, was Ash's desired partner. Its breed was primed for attack power and speed, two attributes that could be put to great use in battle. Charmander and its evolutionary line could slash enemies with sharp claws and then blast them with intense flames. Even against a Pokemon with a type advantage, their onslaught could usually pull them through to victory. Charmeleon took Charmander's abilities and greatly improved them with enhanced speed and firepower.

But Ash sorely wanted a Charizard. Infamous for their fiery personalities and roaring popularity on the battlefield, the pseudo-dragons were true monsters when properly trained. Even Lance, the Champion of Indigo, had a Charizard at his disposal. The beast of a fire-type was arguably his second most powerful Pokemon despite not being a dragon type in the first place. Ash had watched a battle between Lance's Charizard and Elite Four Bruno's Machamp on TV once. His decision on a starter had been cemented the second that Charizard used a move called Blast Burn to effectively demolish the field.

So he was getting a Charmander.

Delia checked her watch and smiled. "There's no rush, Ash. You've still got an hour before you have to be at the Professor's lab. Come on downstairs and have some breakfast."

Ash shouldered his bag and grinned at the prospect of starting the day with his mother's delicious cooking. "Alright!"

While the Ketchums ate breakfast together for the last time until Ash returned, Delia switched on the TV to see what the latest news was. It was always important these days to stay on top of the current events around the world.

"—and there has recently been a swarm of Tailow sighted near Fuchsia City, likely on their migration pattern further south to Hoenn. Any trainers seeking to catch one, best hurry! Researchers expect the flocks to have passed through Kanto in the next two weeks. That's it for Pokemon News today. Expect the next update tomorrow, same time, same channel!"

Delia sipped from her glass of tea and looked back to her son. "Make sure you keep up with the news while you're out traveling, okay, Ash? You never know when an exotic Pokemon species might be moving into the area you're in."

"I'll remember," Ash replied, then shoveled down the last of his scrambled eggs. He would definitely miss his mother's incredible food. After swallowing the remnants of breakfast, he looked at his mom. "I'm pretty sure the Pokedex has a feature that'll let me stay on top of news like that."

It was about time for him to leave. Before he could grab his bag, however, the TV came through with a breaking news story. Ash and his mother turned their eyes to the screen as a serious reporter appeared.

"A group of criminals have been stealing Pokemon from trainers around Viridian City. Recent reports suggest that the group is affiliated with Team Rocket, a criminal syndicate operating throughout the Kanto Region and parts of Johto. Last night, the Pokemon Center in Viridian was raided by the thieves and several Pokemon were stolen. As a result, the League has ordered Gym Leader Giovanni to take action. All trainers are warned to avoid all contact with the Rockets and report any suspicious activity."

Ash whistled. "That sounds pretty serious if Giovanni has to step in. He's the strongest Gym Leader in Kanto."

"Yes. Yes, he is," Delia muttered. She had a frown on her face.

Ash wondered on her disturbed expression, but shrugged and shouldered his bag. "Well, I'm heading off."

Delia immediately put a smile on her face and stood up. "I'll go with you to the lab. I have to start work in an hour anyways."

So the pair of them left the house together, discussing Ash's upcoming journey all the while.

They arrived at the lab shortly. Waiting for them were the other two children that had graduated Professor Oak's trainer class with Ash—Gary and Leaf. Ash grinned upon seeing them.

"What took you so long, Ashy-boy?" Gary smirked. "I was afraid you weren't going to show up!"

"And miss the chance to beat you down in a battle? There's no way I'd miss that."

"Uh-huh. I'm sure," the taller boy snickered. He glanced to Ash's mother and nodded. "Morning, Ms. Ketchum."

Delia smiled. "Good morning, Gary. And you too, Leaf. Excited?"

Leaf smiled fiercely. "As if I couldn't be! I can't wait to get my Bulbasaur!"

"You only picked that because it's got an advantage over Squirtle," Gary jabbed. "Can't say I blame you, though. You'll need a type advantage to beat me!"

The girl gave him a sly look. "Oh really? Who made the highest battle simulation scores again?"

Gary colored a bit and looked away, muttering under his breath. "…just because that stupid Shellder got a lucky hit off on Tangela…"

"It's not luck if that Shellder tanked two super-effective hits and then busted you with Aurora Beam."

"Shut up!" Gary scowled.

"Now, now, that's enough."

The door to the lab opened up and revealed Professor Oak, who had apparently heard the exchange from inside. He wiped some of the exhaustion from his eyes, causing Ash to smirk. Oak practically lived in the lab and it was clear that he'd spent another sleepless night up researching.

Oak stifled a yawn and nodded to Ash's mother. "Good morning, Delia. Come to check on the love birds?"

"You and I both know they're anything but right now, Professor!" Delia laughed. "I'll get through to them eventually, though. Skarmory and Fearow won't have any idea what hit them!"

"I'll leave that pair in your capable hands, then," Oak grunted. "Now, you three. I assume you're all prepared to receive your starter Pokemon?"

Gary grinned widely. "Is that even a question, gramps? Course' we're ready!"

The older man smiled at his grandson's energy and gestured into the lab. "Well, come on, then. Let's not keep your Pokemon waiting. That Bulbasaur looked like it wanted to Vine Whip me last night. It wants to leave the lab now."

He led them inside and spoke to them on the way to the lab's main area. "As the three of you know, I'm conducting research on Pokemon. In return for me granting each of you a very rare Pokemon, I'm going to provide you with a Pokedex to gather information on Pokemon in the field. It comes with a database on Pokemon around the world and I expect you all to put it to good use."

Gary scoffed. "Aren't those three starters for like a third of the trainers in Kanto? They aren't spectacularly rare, gramps."

"These three are rare. Not because of the species, but because of their moves," Oak informed him. "I wanted to keep this as a surprise until today. The three starters you are about to receive each have unique moves that have been passed on to them from their parents, which are normally exceedingly difficult for them to learn naturally. You have Ms. Delia to thank for that. She took time out of her busy schedule here at the lab to make this possible."

Ash grinned at his mother for the pleasant surprise. "Is that why you came home late for so long?"

Delia laughed. "It is! I wanted the best for my boy and his friends!"

"Thank you so much, Ms. Ketchum!" Leaf practically squealed.

Gary was grinning so much that Ash though his face would split in half. "Aww, yeah! Ms. Ketchum, you're awesome! Thanks a million!"

"You are both most certainly welcome!"

Oak chuckled at their excitement. "Alright, now let's introduce the lot of you to your Pokemon, shall we?"

He walked over to a round table where three Poke Balls lay alongside uniquely colored Pokedexes. The three kids had been given the option of customizing their own devices, although it was little more than picking their favorite color out. Ash's was a dark red, Gary's was blue, and Leaf's was green.

"Right, I believe you've all already selected the Pokemon you want, right? It seemed as though it was decided a while back. Leaf, you wanted Bulbasaur, correct? Ash wanted Charmander, and Gary Squirtle? Did I get that right?"

"Yes sir!"

"Good. Now then, ladies first. This is Bulbasaur."

Oak took the Poke Ball next to the green Pokedex and tapped the release button, sending out the Pokemon inside. A short, green Pokemon with four stubby legs and a plant bulb on its back materialized following a brief flash of light. The Bulbasaur glanced around curiously at its surroundings. It eventually spotted the Professor and gave him a dirty look.

"Easy, Bulbasaur. Your trainer is here, see?"

The little grass-type looked at Leaf when Oak pointed and seemed to consider his words for a second. It nodded a second later, apparently satisfied with the girl.

Leaf knelt down so she was at Bulbasaur's level and held her hand out for the Pokemon to scan. She politely waited as Bulbasaur ran its two vines over her fingers. When the grass type finished and looked up at her, she smiled and spoke quietly so as not to startle it. "Hi there, Bulbasaur. I'm Leaf. It's nice to meet you! Would you like to travel with me?"

Bulbasaur's eyes lit up and it nodded vigorously. Oak laughed at its determined reaction. "He just wants to get out of my lab. I think he feels cooped up."

The grass-type gave the Professor another dirty look and made a light growl. Oak just chuckled at the irritated little creature and moved to pick up Ash's Poke Ball. "Right, since Ash's mother was the one who bred these three, his Charmander is next."

Oak tapped the release on the new Poke Ball and after the light faded, a small, bipedal lizard with orange scales and a small flame on the tip of its tail stood in front of them. Charmander yawned, showing off its white fangs, and then observed the group with big, onyx colored eyes.

It glanced at Oak questioningly. The Professor gestured to Ash. "Your trainer has arrived, Charmander. Go on, say hello."

Charmander turned back around to look at Ash. It tilted its head curiously and made a little trilling nose in the back of its throat.

Ash also knelt in front of the short Pokemon and held his hand out. "Hey, Charmander. My name's Ash. I want to become the world's greatest Pokemon Master. Would you like to help out? I promise I'll make you as strong as you can be!"

The lizard perked up at that and its tail flame flared a bit. Like most Pokemon, Charmander held a nearly insatiable desire to become strong. This boy wanted to become the best in the world, and so did Charmander. That sounded great to the little fire-type.

Charmander offered a toothy grin and swished its tail excitedly. Ash laughed. "We'll get along great."

"I'm sure you two will," Oak agreed. He picked up the last Poke Ball from the table. "Gary, this is your Squirtle."

The small Pokemon that appeared was a blue turtle with an orange and yellow shell and a curly tail. It looked up at the group of kids and adults and smirked.

Gary didn't kneel in front of the turtle and just grinned. "I like the attitude, Squirtle. You think you've got what it takes to keep up with the greatest Pokemon trainer of all time?"

Squirtle's grin widened and it nodded eagerly. Gary crossed his arms. "Good, then let's team up and open up a can of whoop ass on the whole Indigo League!"

"Language, young man," Oak snapped, though he didn't get particularly angry. The Professor handed out each of the three kids their Pokedexes and helped them with switching the devices on. "Now, why don't you three use those on your new partners? It'll act as a tutorial of sorts and give you a bit of information about your Pokemon."

The three nodded and held up their Pokedex's cameras to their new Pokemon so as to scan them. Before long, they each beeped and began to recite information in a mechanical, feminine voice.

Bulbasaur, the Seed Pokemon. It is born with a large seed on its back to accumulate nourishment for growth. Energy is also stored in the bulb that can be utilized in battle. Bulbasaur often take frequent naps in bright sunlight shortly before evolution.

This Bulbasaur is male and knows the moves: Vine Whip, Tackle, Power Whip, and Grassy Terrain. Its ability is Overgrow, which boosts its grass-type moves when it is low on health.

Leaf grinned. "Wow, Bulbasaur! You've got some moves, huh?"

Bulbasaur puffed up and seemed to be thoroughly proud of Leaf's assessment.

Charmander, the Lizard Pokemon. The flame on its tail indicates Charmander's health. If it's healthy, the flame will burn brightly. During battle, it attacks with sharp claws and fangs before spitting fire at opponents.

This Charmander is male and knows the moves: Ember, Scratch, Dragon Dance, and Dragon Rush. Its ability is Blaze, which boosts its fire-type moves when it is low on health.

"Yeah, I think you'll be fighting pretty well."

The lizard simply waved his tail and snapped his jaws playfully, showing off the sharp, white fangs once again.

Squirtle, the Tiny Turtle Pokemon. During battle, it hides itself in its shell and strikes with bursts of water at every opportunity. Squirtle uses its hard head to stun prey with tackles, then delivers fierce bites. As Squirtle prepares to evolve, its shell grows harder and it begins to develop sharp teeth.

This Squirtle is male and knows the moves: Water Gun, Tackle, Aura Sphere, and Dragon Pulse. Its ability is Torrent, which boosts its water-type moves when it is low on health.

"All attacking moves, woohoo!" Gary practically whooped. He grinned madly. "Ms. Ketchum, you outdid yourself."

"I did my best," Delia smiled. "I'm glad you're so pleased with him."

Squirtle crossed his arms and smirked arrogantly. Obviously, he agreed with his trainer's not-so-humble opinion.

Oak coughed to get their attention once more. "Well, now that you've all met your partners, let me emphasize a few things regarding them—the moves your Pokemon have inherited are powerful for such young examples of their species, but I suggest you work hard practicing before actually using them in a battle. The more basic moves will be the ones they are best at. You probably won't see the true power of their egg moves until they've fully evolved, and obviously without practice, they won't amount to much."

The kids nodded. That made sense.

"Good. That's all I have for you. I trust the three of you remembered to get Poke Balls, potions, and the other supplies from the store in town?"

When they all answered yes, Oak smiled. "Then you three are free to go. Good luck, and make sure to check up with me every now and again. I'll be keeping any Pokemon you have here at my lab after you reach the limit, so contact me if you need to exchange any of them."

"Yes, Professor," the three replied.

Now that they were free, Gary recalled Squirtle and immediately set off. Leaf picked up her new Bulbasaur carefully and carried it out of the lab, chatting to her Pokemon all the while. Professor Oak turned around and went over to his computer, switching it on and humming a light tune.

Ash looked at Charmander. "What about you? Do you want to stay out or do you want to go back into the Poke Ball?"

Charmander shook his head, so Ash didn't recall him. Delia walked up to him with a smile and hugged her son.

"You'll both do great. I can't wait to hear about all of your adventures," she murmured happily. "By the way, have you thought about nicknaming Charmander?"

"Depends," Ash looked back at Charmander. "Do you want a nickname?"

Charmander held up one of his small, clawed hands and made a chirping sound. Ash took that as confirmation and began to run all of the nicknames he'd come up with in the last few months in case his Pokemon wanted one.

Ash ended up going through about a dozen different options before he finally named one that Charmander liked.


Charmander's tail flared up a bit and he grinned. Ash grinned right back. "Pyro it is."

The newly-named Pyro hissed cheerfully and swished his tail around, evidently pleased with his name.

Ash was just about to suggest they head out when a loud shout from Professor Oak made him, Delia, and Pyro jump in surprise.

"Argh! You again?!"

Oak practically dove under his desk with a scowl on his face, hand swiping for something just out of his reach.

Ash tilted his head. "Something wrong, Professor?"

"As a matter of fact, yes!" Oak growled from underneath the desk. "This little rodent is eating my computer cables again! This is the third time this week! Do you have the foggiest idea how expensive these are, you little troublemaker?!"

There was a mild snicker from under the desk and then Oak froze. "Don't you dare, you little—GAHH!"

The three onlookers jumped again as the Professor suddenly spasmed from an electric shock. Oak collapsed on the floor, twitching as sparks flickered over his body. A small, yellow and black Pokemon leapt onto his back with a wide grin on its face, still snickering.

Ash looked at the little creature curiously and held up his Pokedex. It beeped a second later.

Pichu, the Tiny Mouse Pokemon. Pichu plays with others by touching tails and setting off sparks. When startled, it may send out jolts of electricity. It uses its large ears to avoid danger.

He watched the Pichu jump up and down on the stunned Professor and grinned. It wasn't like electric types were rare, but this was a nice find compared to the common Rattata and Pidgey nesting around Pallet Town.

"Hey, Professor! Can I catch this one?" Ash asked.

"Yes, just get it out of my lab," Oak moaned weakly. "The little rat has already cost me more money in repairs than I care to admit."

Pichu snickered at Oak again and then turned its gaze to Ash, Delia, and Pyro. It grinned and leapt off the paralyzed Professor, apparently challenging them.

Ash grinned right back. "Pyro, you ready for a battle?"

Pyro lashed his tail from side to side and the trilling sound he made was changed to a growl. His eyes narrowed with determination and his claws flexed.

Pichu snickered and suddenly sparked with electricity. Ash only had a second to react before it fired a weak Thunder Shock at Pyro.


Pyro leaped to the side and avoided the tiny bolt. He growled at Pichu as it continued to snicker and spark with more electricity.


The Charmander opened its mouth and spat a few hot flames at the mouse, which quickly scurried away to avoid the attack. Pyro charged it after the Ember missed and started to attack Pichu with his sharp claws. Pichu danced away from the move, snickering all the while.

Pyro was getting frustrated, but Ash called out to him. "Keep going, Pyro! Just like that!"

At his command, the fire-type continued to scratch at Pichu, backing the little electric type up as it snickered at him. Suddenly, Pichu bumped into the wall and froze in surprise. It had nowhere else to go.

"Now! Ember!"

Pyro grinned and blasted Pichu with a flurry of small flames and it cried out at the heat, launching another Thunder Shock and just managing to hit Pyro. The Charmander growled angrily at the shock, then lunged forward and landed a Scratch on Pichu. The attack smacked the tiny mouse against the wall, stunning it.

Ash had been scrambling to get a Poke Ball out of his bag while the fight was going on and had one primed just as Pyro knocked Pichu against the wall. He called out. "Pyro, back off!"

The Charmander did as he said, giving Ash a clear line of sight to Pichu. He threw the Poke Ball and tagged the stunned Pichu, triggering the device to open and suck the electric-type inside with a blaze of red light. The ball closed and hit the floor, wriggling furiously.

They waited with bated breath as the Poke Ball continued to wriggle for a few seconds. Then it made a clicking sound and stilled.

Ash's grin came back tenfold. "Yes!"

"Good job, Ash," Oak praised as he managed to stand up, albeit still wincing from the electric shock. "That was well done. Not to mention you just saved me quite a bit of money on repairs."

"I'm so proud of you!" Delia exclaimed, wrapping her son in a tight hug. "You're already on your way to being an amazing trainer!"

Ash managed to hug her back and wheezed as the air was crushed from his lungs. "Thanks, mom. But Pyro did the work, y'know."

"And he did a very good job," Delia released Ash and smiled at the Charmander. "You were great, Pyro! You'll be powerful in no time!"

Pyro smiled toothily and made a loud chirp at the praise.

Ash picked up the Poke Ball that contained Pichu and stared at it curiously. "What was it doing in here, anyway?"

"Eating my computer cords," Oak growled. "Electric-types can consume electricity as a food source. Anything with an electric current is a snack to them. Usually, they don't come into the lab because I have a charge station in the corral specifically designed for that purpose, but that little rat is always up to no good. It prefers to give me grief and eat my important equipment rather than take the easy way out in the corral."

"It'll still eat regular Pokemon food, right? I don't have that many electric items in my bag."

The Professor nodded. "Of course. There are charge stations at Pokemon Centers that Pichu can eat from, though. I'd advise letting it do that as much as possible. Pichu are fairly weak electric-types, so they have to build up their electricity by consuming it."

Delia glanced at Pyro, who was sniffing at the spot where he'd been shocked. "I think you should give Pyro and Pichu a potion or two to help them recover. You don't want to set off with your Pokemon already tired out."

"Yeah, sounds good," Ash held Pyro's Poke Ball out and smiled at the fire type. "You did great, Pyro. Take a quick break, alright?"

The Charmander chirped again as Ash recalled him. Oak took both of the Poke Balls from the boy and carried them to another room for healing.

Ash's mother tapped his shoulder. "Check your Pokedex. It should be updated with Pichu's information now that you've captured it. Find out what it can do."

He did exactly that, pulling out the device and selecting the tab indicating the Pokemon he owned. Ash tapped on Pichu's name and the Pokedex recited its information.

This Pichu is male and knows the moves: Thundershock, Tail Whip, and Tackle. It's ability is Static, which can paralyze opponents that make physical contact with Pichu.

Ash smiled. "Not bad. Pichu will probably be great for catching other Pokemon if he can paralyze them. I think I'll have to test that out on the road."

"You'll want to train it up a good deal before trying that, I think!" Oak called from the other room. "From what I can tell, it's young and rather weak. It only stunned me for a minute at the most. A wild Pokemon will shake off a move like that even faster."

"Alright," he replied. "How long until they're finished healing, do you think?"

"Just a few minutes. You should take this chance to look through the Pokedex some more. You'll want to learn how to use it as best you—"

The door was suddenly thrown open and Gary stepped in with an irritated look. "Hey, Ash! Stop goofing around! I've been waiting outside for like ten minutes to challenge you to a battle!"

Ash only looked mildly apologetic. "Sorry, I got distracted catching a Pokemon."

Gary stared in surprise. "Wait, what?"

"I found that Pichu I was telling you about eating my computer cables," Oak growled in annoyance as he returned to the room with Pyro and Pichu's Poke Balls in-hand. "Ash was kind enough to set his Charmander on the little rat and capture it."

Gary's jaw dropped. "You're kidding me! You haven't even left the lab and you already caught something?!"

Before Ash could even get a word in, Gary jabbed a finger at him. "Whatever! I'll just go and catch more Pokemon than you! Smell ya later, Ashy-boy!"

With that, Gary whipped around and bolted out the door. Ash blinked after him. The guy would probably catch the first Pokemon he saw.

Oak sighed at his grandson's brashness. "I hope he remembers to actually battle the Pokemon he finds before trying to catch them. He can be forgetful when he gets riled up like that."

Delia smiled and hugged her son once again. "Ash, I'm going to get to work in the corral. Make sure you let me know when you reach Viridian City, okay?"

"I will," Ash promised.

"Good. You take good care of Pyro and Pichu, alright? They're your friends now. You have to trust them."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Alright. Well, bye sweetheart. Good luck!" Delia kissed the top of his head, then turned around and left through another room. Ash smiled after her.

Oak returned Ash's Poke Balls to him. The Professor nodded at the boy. "I really am grateful that you captured Pichu, Ash. You'll do well with him once you curb that mischievous side of him a bit."

Ash smirked. "I think it'll just be a matter of pointing that mischief in a good direction. Thanks for healing my Pokemon, Professor Oak."

"You're welcome. Now, you'd best be off. Viridian City is a two day walk from here, not to mention that Gary and Leaf have a head start on you!"

The boy nodded, spinning on his heels as he bolted out of the door. He set Pyro loose and grinned at the Charmander. "C'mon, Pyro! Let's get going!"

Pyro swished his tail and let out a delighted chirp as he chased after his trainer.

Ash and Pyro took to walking along the trail once they got onto Route One. They both needed to walk to build up their stamina. Ash knew that Pyro was still young, so the Charmander needed to exercise as much as possible to build up muscle.

Most of the morning was fairly relaxed. Ash just talked to Pyro about himself. Things he liked, disliked, his dreams, his mom—everything he could think of. Pyro just listened and occasionally made a sound in response, including a trilling laugh when Ash told him about how he and Gary wrestled in the mud when they were toddlers.

They saw a few wild Pokemon while they were walking, but Ash decided not to make Pyro battle again quite yet. He figured it would be a better idea to get some training done before they challenged another wild Pokemon, or at least make sure Pichu would listen to him. After all, Pyro and Pichu weren't particularly strong. The pair of them were little more than freshly-hatched Pokemon.

When Ash eventually ran out of things to tell Pyro about and they fell into a comfortable silence, he began to think about what the Charmander should practice once they began training. He obviously needed to work on power and Ash really wanted to try and work on Pyro's egg moves. At the same time, he was debating how they were going to win their first gym battle.

While Viridian City had a gym, it was all but banned to any trainer without seven badges. Giovanni was a ruthless battler, and he was no foe any new trainer could face with even a hope of victory.

Pewter City was his best bet. The Gym Leader there certainly wasn't weak, but it was the nearest gym that would use low level Pokemon for battles there. Most gyms were like that; depending on how strong a challenger was, they would adjust their strength accordingly. The only gyms that didn't hold back their strength were the ones in Viridian, Saffron City, and Cinnabar Island. Ash was far away from Saffron and Cinnabar. He wouldn't be challenging them anytime soon, and Giovanni was completely out of the question.

The man had only given out three badges in the last five years. He was a menace.

Ash shook his head. He could think about fighting the stronger Gym Leaders later, once his Pokemon were trained and he had a few badges under his belt. For now, he needed to focus on the first one—Pewter City.

The Gym Leader, Brock, used rock-type Pokemon. They were sturdy and powerful, but had many weaknesses that could be exploited. There was just one problem: Ash had no Pokemon with a type advantage over them. Quite the opposite, as both Pyro and Pichu were vulnerable to rock Pokemon. Pyro was weak to rock-type moves and since a fair few rock-types were complemented with ground-type attributes, Pichu would be even less capable of fighting. Electricity did absolutely nothing to ground-types.

Ash actually had no idea what to do about Pichu aside from train him for later battles, but Pyro he could work with. He'd memorized the moves Charmander could learn ages ago, after all. His best bet right now against rock-type Pokemon was to teach Pyro Metal Claw. It was a steel-type move that could rend even a rock Pokemon's tough exterior. He hoped that was enough. Relying on a single move in a gym battle against multiple opponents generally wasn't the best plan, but it was the best he had for the time being.

He continued to think as they walked, hoping that a good strategy would eventually come to mind.

It was just after midday when they caught up with Leaf.

Ash stopped when Pyro hissed and gestured further up the path with his short arm. He grinned when he saw Leaf and her Bulbasaur at the base of a tree. He watched as the girl rose from a crouch with a Poke Ball in her hand and a wide smile on her face.

"Hey, Leaf!"

Leaf spun around and Bulbasaur growled at the surprise, but his trainer just grinned and waved. "Hey, Ash! You finally caught up."

He walked over with Pyro still beside him. "Sorry, I ended up catching a Pokemon that was causing the Professor trouble in his lab."

"Oh, really?" Leaf giggled. "I thought you just couldn't escape from your mom. She's so cool! Saur here actually just won a battle for me with Power Whip. I think he practiced it before I got him."

"That is cool," Ash admitted. "Saur, huh?"

She nodded. "Yep. What about you? Did Charmander get a name?"

"He did," he gestured to Charmander. "His name is Pyro."

"Nice to meet you, Pyro," Leaf smiled at the little fire-type. Pyro waved his stubby hand back at her, making a happy trill. Saur just grunted and shuffled over to a sunny patch on the trail, watching the lizard's tail flame warily.

Ash looked at the Poke Ball in her hand. "So, what did you catch?"

"A Spearow. He was giving Saur the evil eye and it was on from there. Saur just smacked him out of the tree! It was a pretty quick battle. What did you catch?"

"You mean the little troublemaker from the Professor's lab?" Ash grinned. "Pichu. He's not too strong, but once I train him, I think those electric shocks of his will come in handy. Pyro was great at battling him."

He suddenly smirked. "Hey, you and I both have two Pokemon now. How about a battle?"

"As much as I would love to beat you, I don't think that would work out right now," Leaf refused teasingly. "Saur just got done fighting and I'm pretty sure Spearow is unconscious."

"Gotcha. We could travel to Viridian City together, then? We can heal up at the Pokemon Center and battle there."

"Now that I'm down for," she agreed.

They spent the rest of the day walking along the trail together, chatting about each other's goals and plans. Leaf was just as determined as Ash and Gary to be the best Pokemon trainer out there. Her idol was the Kanto Champion Lance, after all. Of course, a lot of trainers looked up to the legendary Dragon Master, including Ash. He was one of the most powerful trainers in the entire world, commanding a ferocious team of dragons and draconic Pokemon.

Watching Lance fight was awe-inspiring, even on a TV. Ash couldn't imagine how incredible those battles must be up close and personal. But since it was his dream to become the greatest Pokemon Master in the world, he would have to face the Champion in battle one day. And he would have to win.

But that was a long way off—years at the very least. For now, he just had to worry about getting his first gym badge. Baby steps.

Ash and Leaf finally stopped walking when the sun began to set. They found a small clearing just off the trail and decided to make camp. He gathered the firewood with Pyro while Leaf and Saur cleaned up the area of leaves and rocks and such. When they were all done with chores and the sleeping bags were out, Pyro lit the firewood with his tail flame and the little group settled down.

"I think now's probably a good time to meet our new Pokemon, Ash," Leaf suggested. "Don't you? They're probably less likely to freak out now that we're all relaxed."

"Alright. I'll set Pichu loose first?" He asked.

"Fine by me. I need to grab a Potion for Spearow, anyways. He's probably still a bit shaken up."

Ash nodded and took out Pichu's Poke Ball, tapping the release and setting the little electric-type loose. Pichu's eyes were closed initially, but they opened up blearily after a moment or two.

"Hey there," Ash smiled at him. "How are you feeling?"

Pichu looked around and seemed rather confused. Ash did his best to fill him in. "I captured you at the lab, remember?"

The electric-type's eyes cleared in understanding and he nodded. Feeling optimistic, Ash took a chance and held his hand out to him. "Listen, Pichu. I want to become the strongest Pokemon Master in the world. I'd really like for you to join me. I promise to make you as strong as you can be. How about it? Do you wanna travel with us?"

Pyro made a friendly chirp in an effort to appear welcoming. Pichu smiled happily and reached up with his tiny paw to tap Ash's hand, but as he watched, the innocent smile turned into a devilish smirk.

A shock of electricity made his whole body spasm and jerk. Ash ended up on the ground with a yelp and began to twitch. Pichu's smirked turned into a full on grin as he cackled triumphantly.

Across the fire, Leaf and Saur were in hysterics. The girl was rolling in the dirt through her giggling fit and her Bulbasaur was making a barking sound that essentially amounted to the same thing. Even Pyro was chuckling a little, seeing as his trainer wasn't actually hurt from the shocking prank.

Ash got most of his body back under control in a minute. He leered up at Pichu, who was sitting on his chest and sniggering with delight. "Think that's real funny, do you?"

Pichu snickered agreeably and jumped off of Ash. He didn't make too much of a fuss though, so Ash figured that the prank was probably more for laughs than actual disobedience. The boy sat up and gave Leaf a deadpan look as she continued to laugh.

"It wasn't that funny."

"Are you kidding me?!" Her chest was heaving and it seemed like there wasn't enough oxygen in the air to fuel her hysterics. "You squeaked like a Rattata and started flopping around like a Magikarp!"

Pichu and Saur nodded agreement, both of them still sniggering. Ash reddened and looked away. Pyro came over and crawled into his trainer's lap, keeping his tail flame on the ground where it wouldn't hurt Ash. He had gotten over the amusement of the prank and decided to give his trainer some comfort to ease his ruffled pride.

At least Gary hadn't seen that one. It would've been way worse.

Leaf eventually got over her giggle fit and managed to remember how to breathe. She took a drink from her canteen and offered some to Saur. The grass type took a small sip, then settled down and began to close his eyes.

Ash looked at Pichu once the electric-type finished laughing over his prank. "Say, do you want a nickname?"

Pichu considered it for a bit, then shrugged and shook his head. Ash figured that the electric mouse decided his prankster attitude was plenty enough to be remembered without a unique name, so he just went with it. "Alright then. Let me know if you change your mind, okay?"

Pichu nodded and then yawned. Apparently, he was feeling tired. Considering how young Pichu was and the time of night, Ash wasn't surprised. He pulled out Pichu's Poke Ball.

"Do you want to sleep outside, or in the ball?"

Ash blinked when Pichu took one look at the Poke Ball and bristled, giving it the best evil eye such a small creature could muster. He had to admit, the amount of dislike that was carried in that gaze was actually impressive.

"I'll take that as a no."

A nod from the mouse confirmed his guess and Ash put the Poke Ball away. Pichu relaxed once it was out of sight and looked around for a spot to get comfortable. He finally just crawled on top of Pyro and settled there. Surprisingly, the fire lizard didn't seem to mind. Though then again, Pichu's weight was probably next to unnoticeable.

Ash lightly ran his fingers through Pichu's thin fur and felt a slight current run through him, though it wasn't painful. It made him shiver, but the electricity Pichu's body gave off was just a side effect of Static.

Across the fire, Leaf took out her own Poke Ball and set her newly captured Spearow loose. The bird looked like it had been beaten down quite thoroughly, and was too tired to even give his trainer the classic Spearow glare.

Leaf winced sympathetically once she saw the bird's sorry state. "Ouch. Sorry about getting so rough with you earlier, Spearow. How about I heal you up? I've got a potion that will make your wounds stop hurting."

Spearow just nodded exhaustedly and Ash quietly whistled. Saur had really done a number on Spearow to have knocked all the fight out of the small bird. The knowledge that flying-types had an inherent advantage over grass-types apparently meant nothing in the face of the Bulbasaur's aggressive battling style.

Leaf evidently agreed with him. She frowned with worry when Spearow failed to even squawk an objection and gently sprayed the potion over the injuries Saur had inflicted. The bird initially flinched away from the stinging sensation brought on by the rapid healing process a potion instigated, but relaxed once his wounds started to fade away.

Spearow ruffled his feathers and seemed a bit more relaxed now that he didn't feel as though he'd been smashed all over the forest. Which, in fact, he had been.

"Feeling better?" Leaf asked.

When the bird nodded, she smiled brightly. "Good. Spearow, I want to know if you'd like to travel with me. I'll help train you into a really strong Fearow. What do you think? Is that okay?"

They paused when they heard a loud snore and everyone looked over to Saur, who was now deeply asleep. Spearow leered at the grass-type furiously and made a low squawk, agreeing with Leaf whilst simultaneously promising vengeance one day on his ruthless teammate.

Leaf stroked Spearow's feathers to help him relax and gazed between her two Pokemon with a sigh. "That might take a while to work on. You're lucky Pyro and Pichu get along so well, Ash."

"I think they're just too tired to think about fighting right now, but yeah," he agreed. Ash yawned and settled down in his sleeping bag. Pyro made a slight grumble for the disturbance, but didn't move. Pichu was already asleep and hadn't even noticed.

Leaf smiled as the young Pokemon all began to fall asleep and murmured to Spearow. "You can sleep wherever you want. If you want to sleep in one of the branches around the camp, that's fine. I'll wake you up when we're about to head out tomorrow, okay?"

Spearow chirped and quickly flew to a low-hanging branch. The bird shuffled around a few times, then closed his eyes and fell asleep almost instantly.

Seeing as all the Pokemon were now happily slumbering away, their trainers joined them soon after.

Waking up the next morning reminded the group that they'd basically forgotten dinner the night before. Ash and Leaf hastily gave each of their famished teammates a can of Pokemon food. Pyro, Saur, and Spearow ate rather cleanly. Pichu on the other hand…

They all stopped eating to gape at Pichu as the mouse shoveled food into his mouth like a starving beast. Crumbs got everywhere and his cheek pouches were swelling rapidly.

Ash put a stop to that. "Pichu, slow down! You don't want to choke!"

Pichu tried to snap a retort and paid for it by getting food caught in his throat. The little electric-type furiously beat his chest with a tiny paw in an effort to get breakfast down.

With a sigh, Ash pulled out his canteen and offered it to Pichu. He held it up and tilted it when Pichu grabbed the bottle furiously, watching as the mouse took a big gulp and managed to free the trapped food in his throat. The mouse sat down and sighed in relief, wiping crumbs and water from his mouth.

Ash smirked and scratched Pichu around his ears. "Settle down. There's no rush. I'd rather you eat slow than choke trying to stuff it all down as fast as you can."

Pichu nodded and let out a little belch. Ash chuckled and returned to a tree stump where his own breakfast lay. He looked over his shoulder a second later and was happy to see that Pichu was eating again, albeit a good deal slower.

Leaf looked up at him from where she was eating beside Saur. "So I figure we cover some ground this morning. Viridian City isn't too far away now, so we could probably make it there by noon. We can heal our Pokemon there and then have that battle."

"Sounds like a plan," Ash agreed. He took a bite from his sandwich and chewed thoughtfully for a few seconds. "After that I think I'm going to stay in Viridian for a day or two. I really need to get some training done with Pyro and Pichu. Pyro needs to learn Metal Claw before I challenge the Pewter Gym and Pichu has to work on boosting his power. What about you?"

"I'm leaving right after our battle. I think Saur and Spearow will get a fair bit stronger fighting all the bug-types in Viridian Forest," Leaf explained. "Even if Saur's only a little bit stronger once we get to Pewter City, I'm pretty sure he can beat down a couple of rock-types."

Saur growled agreement. Spearow let out a low shriek at the grass-type, then returned to his breakfast. The Bulbasaur seemed to be contemplating whether or not to Vine Whip the impudent bird, but then decided that his food was more important.

Their trainer groaned. "And I'll have to work on their teamwork. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll run into a double battle in Viridian Forest. I think they'd make a scary team—Spearow can stun opponents and then Bulbasaur can pulverize them."

Ash mentally (but cheerily) apologized to any and every poor bug catcher in Viridian Forest that was unfortunate enough to challenge Leaf to a battle. He was pretty sure the girl would frighten even Pewter City's Gym Leader. She was ruthless.

"Alright, well let's get going once everyone is finished eating. I want to get as much training done today as possible," he stated.


Another problem with Pichu arose when they were ready to travel. Ash and Leaf decided to recall their Pokemon so as to move faster, but Pichu took one look at the Poke Ball and blatantly threatened his trainer whenever the device was pointed at him. Ash was unwilling to risk the mouse's ire and simply let Pichu hitch a ride on his shoulder while they walked. It was a good thing the electric-type weighed basically nothing; they had a lot of ground to cover.

The road to Viridian City was quiet, as expected. Ash and Leaf ended up discussing strategies to use at the Pewter Gym (though Leaf's basically amounted to snagging the rock-types with Saur's Vine Whip and then beating them into oblivion). It became uncomfortably clear to Ash that his team really was limited in their ability to fight rock Pokemon.

The more they talked about it, the more obvious it was—even if Pyro mastered Metal Claw before they made it to the gym, rock-types had incredibly high defenses because of their tough exterior. Assuming he could beat down the first opponent, Pyro would probably be too exhausted to win against the second. He just didn't have the power in his current evolutionary stage. And if he got knocked out, Pichu's weak Thunder Shocks and Tackles would do little more than tickle the Gym Leader's Pokemon.

Ash's shoulders slumped when he realized that this first gym was already going to be the hardest challenge he'd ever had. Leaf could only pat his back sympathetically.

By the time noon came around, Viridian City was in sight. The two trainers made one last push to reach the Pokemon Center and were relieved when the red-roofed building was finally in front of them. Leaf led the way into the center and to the front desk.

Nurse Joy was a face familiar to practically anyone. The woman smiled as Ash and Leaf approached her at the desk. "Good morning! Welcome to the Pokemon Center. How can I help you?"

"Our Pokemon need to be healed," Ash started politely. "Also, are we able to register for the Indigo League here?"

"You most certainly can. Do you two have Pokedexes or other IDs?"

Both Ash and Leaf procured their Pokedexes and Joy took them both for a minute, installing them into a computer slot so that they could be registered. Once that was taken care of, she handed the devices back with a smile. "There you are. Now just place your Pokemon on a tray and I'll have them checked over shortly."

"Thank you, Nurse Joy," they both said gratefully. Ash and Leaf placed their pokeballs on a tray and Pichu simply hopped onto it. A Chansey came by and took the Poke Balls and Pichu to the back moments later, apparently not surprised that one of its patients was unconfined.

"You're welcome," Joy replied. "By the way, are either of you planning to stay the night?"

Ash nodded, but Leaf shook her head. "I'm leaving after we battle. I want to make some progress through Viridian Forest while there's still daylight left."

Joy frowned for a moment. "Make sure you stock up on Antidotes at the Pokemon Mart. The bug-types in the forest are very fond of using poison in battle."

The two trainers thanked her again for the information and retreated to the cafe once Ash got a room key for the night. Ash and Leaf rested for the better part of an hour, enjoying their food and the chance to sit down after walking all the way from Pallet Town.

Once the hour was up, Joy called them on the overhead speakers. "Ash, Leaf, your Pokemon are ready to be picked up!"

Ash stood with a grin. "You ready for a battle?"

Leaf smirked right back. "Are you?"

They raced to make it to the front desk.

Five minutes later, Ash and Leaf faced off on the dirt training field behind the Pokemon Center. The two trainers were grinning at each other widely, unable to contain their excitement.

Leaf called across the field. "So what's it gonna be? One on one, or two on two?"

"Is that even a question?" Ash reached up to scratch Pichu's ears. The mouse was firmly latched onto his shoulder once more—he seemed fond of the spot. "Two on two! Let's test out our new partners!"

"Alright. Just remember, you asked for it!" Leaf took her first Poke Ball and hurled it up. "Saur, you're up!"

The Bulbasaur materialized with a flash of light and growled. He gave Ash a glare that showed he meant business. Ash was all for it.

He set Pyro loose and the Charmander immediately swished his burning tail from side to side. Pyro took a look at Saur, then glanced back at Ash questioningly. His trainer grinned. "We're going to battle them, Pyro. Don't hold back!"

Pyro's eyes flashed with excitement and he turned back to Saur with a hiss in his throat. The grass-type growled again, unperturbed that his opponent was a fire-type.

Leaf provided the opening salvo.

"Vine Whip it."

Saur's vines shot out from his bulb like twin snakes, then lashed out at Pyro's head and body. Ash reacted as quickly as he could.

"Dodge it. Then Ember."

Pyro ducked under the vine aiming for his head, leaped over the one going for his body, then spat a series of small flames at his opponent. Saur frantically scrambled out of the way and dodged. The Bulbasaur stopped when Ember ended and peered at Pyro warily. Apparently, he wasn't quite as fearless as he wanted them to think.

Leaf wasn't about to let Saur give in to some flames, though. "Tackle. Follow up with Power Whip!"

As Saur lunged at his target, Ash frowned. He really didn't want Pyro to be on the receiving end of Power Whip, even if he resisted it. After all, Saur had knocked out Spearow with the same move. He doubted Power Whip would knock out Pyro, it would still deal more damage than he was entirely comfortable with.

He decided to try something risky. "Intercept it with Dragon Rush!"

Pyro's tail flame flared and his large pupils narrowed into slits. As he began to charge Saur, the grass-type froze, flinching back. Pyro picked up speed and crashed harshly into the Bulbasaur, knocking his target off its feet and sending it sprawling. The Charmander hissed and spat another Ember which made contact this time.

Saur cried out in pain and reeled away from Pyro's onslaught. Leaf called out to him, alarmed and trying to get her Pokemon back into gear. He didn't look anywhere near as confident as when the battle began, and completely forgot about using Power Whip on his fire-type opponent.

Ash vaguely remembered that Dragon Rush could make an opponent flinch sometimes from the sheer ferocity of the attack. What Pyro had executed was essentially just an overrated Tackle, but it was nice to know that the flinch effect could still take hold even if Dragon Rush was still totally unmastered. Pyro certainly hadn't managed to use any actual draconic energy.

He wouldn't worry about it now. It worked, and that was all that mattered. Saur was injured and stunned—there was no better opportunity to finish him off.

"Use Ember again! Keep at it until it goes down!"

The Charmander thrashed his tail from side to side and unleashed more of the small flames. Saur avoided the first few shots, but winced and collapsed a moment later. It was obvious that Pyro's Dragon Rush, though incomplete, had dealt a fair amount of damage. With the Bulbasaur unable to move, Pyro spat another burst of small flames and made a direct hit. When he stopped to see the effects, Saur was unconscious.

Ash's grin widened tenfold. "Great job, Pyro!"

Pyro spat a few small flames into the air and let out a delighted chirp. He seemed to bask in the light of his victory.

Leaf recalled Saur and put his Poke Ball away. "Not bad, but you lucked out with that Dragon Rush."

"We've got to work on it, but it's pretty great, huh?" Ash replied. He returned Pyro and reached up to scratch Pichu's ears. "Alright Pichu, get out there."

Pichu leaped down from his shoulder and scurried onto the field, his cheek pouches sparking while he snickered. Leaf smirked at the mouse and took out her second Poke Ball. "You got lucky beating Saur, Ash, but good luck beating Talon!"

Her Spearow was released into the air with a loud shriek. He glared at Pichu with pure arrogance, clearly finding the electric mouse to be beneath him.

Ash raised his eyebrows. "Talon? When did you nickname him?"

"Just before we left camp this morning," Leaf answered. She looked utterly confident despite Saur's loss. Her Spearow shrieked again and Leaf responded. "Get that Pichu! Fury Attack!"

Talon instantly dove with a flap of his small wings. His beak was aimed right for Pichu, ready to stab and peck until the mouse was unable to battle.

"Avoid it! Thundershock!"

Pichu waited, still smirking as the Spearow closed in, then began to dance away from its attacks. All the while, he snickered and mocked the bird, occasionally shooting small bolts of electricity. The shocks were weak and didn't do too much damage to Talon, but they were enough to ruffle his smooth feathers.

Talon finally got tired of the Pichu's taunts and screeched furiously. The sudden blast of sound at close range made Pichu cringe and cover his ears. He froze up for just a split second.

Talon seized his opportunity with righteous fury.

He peppered Pichu with vicious pecks of his beak, hitting the electric mouse anywhere and everywhere he could. Pichu squeaked in pain and tried to shock the bird, but Talon was so furious that the weak electric attacks only egged him on further.

Pichu tried to Tackle his opponent when the electricity failed, but Talon took the hit like it was nothing and then whacked the mouse over the head with his wing, knocking it out cold. Talon shrieked his victory and flew back to Leaf, landing on her arm to sneer at Ash and the defeated Pichu.

Ash sighed and recalled the electric-type into his Poke Ball. He couldn't say he was surprised. Talon had lived in the wild longer than Pichu had, certainly. The mouse was hardly a few months old at most. Even with his type advantage, if Pichu's moves were weak, then to the Spearow they were nothing more than irritants. And irritate him, they had.

Leaf smiled and scratched Talon's head feathers lightly. "Good boy. That was a great battle."

The Spearow cawed, causing his trainer to smirk. Leaf recalled her Pokemon and waited as Ash walked over. He was still grinning. "So we call it a draw?"

"For now," she admitted. "But I'll really beat you down the next time we meet."

"I'd like to see you try."

They walked back to the Pokemon Center together and got their worn-out teams back to Nurse Joy. Within an hour, all four of their Pokemon were healed completely and Leaf headed out to the Viridian Forest. Ash watched her go and then returned to the practice field.

He took a deep breath and released his revitalized Pokemon. It was time to train.

A/N: Right, so this is the updated version of chapter one. It'll be posted here and on AO3 simultaneously, as will the rest of the chapters as I update them. This is going to take a while to get it all fixed, so bear with me!

You'll notice most of this chapter has remained the same, except for adjusting some basic structure to the story with the time the trainers have before the Indigo League. Most of the early chapters will likely be similar to this, but the heavier changes will be introduced in the more recent installments. You'll see what I mean.