I do not own Pokemon.
I'm going to say this outright. My work kinda sucks at the beginning. To be honest, I wrote this chapter years ago (hey, I was like, 12 to be honest) and had no idea what I was doing, so please, spare me. It gets better later, I promise. Every few months or so, I come back and try to edit these first few chapters, but...yeah. There's always room for improvement. If you really want to, you can skip to the latest chapter and decide whether the fanfic is worth reading or not.
Aw, whatever. Enjoy!
Ash didn't really think much of his accomplishments.
Once he won the Indigo League, almost everyone he knew was in disbelief. No one expected the kid who once pulled his Pikachu around on a rope to win first. Even Professor Oak, who continuously forgot that Ash was indeed not ten anymore (and this led to his Pokedex being incorrect every time he entered a new region), agreed that Ash had become stronger: both in battling and personality.
But as of now, the Trainer was taking a walk in the nearby forest with his childhood friend Gary Oak, talking about politics.
"Ash, no one really knows how the Jenny family became police officers and the lawmakers practically everywhere," the other Pallet Town-native was explaining, an exasperated look plastered on his face. "They're just...there, and I guess we all accept it."
"Then they should receive more training. No offense to them, but they always believe I'm breaking the law or something. Then, when Team Rocket shows up, they always lose and rely on me."
"So you're calling them incompetent?"
"More or less."
"There's a reason Team Rocket is still around, you know." Ash's old rival shrugged, fiddling with a strap on his backpack. "I have no idea how Giovanni gets so many grunts, but seriously, they're huge now, ever since you practically disbanded all those other baddies."
Ash was confused. "Wait, what!?"
"You saw Team Rocket in Unova, right? Maybe they have more regional branches now. And there are those three idiots constantly following you practically everywhere you go."
"True…but it's not my fault that they keep getting lucky. I'm not that easy to track down, right?"
Gary shrugged, ignoring his friend's question. Squinting at the setting sun that cast down hues from orange to violet, he crossed his arms in an interested disbelief. There was no way time passed that quickly. "Let's get back home. We can discuss your horrible luck another time," he suggested, pointing to the path that led back to the town on the other side of the trees.
Ash stuck out his tongue immaturely. "My luck is perfectly fine. What are you talking about?"
The Pokemon Researcher in question shook his head in amusement. "Your stories about legendary Pokemon, of course. And that's like, once a month. Seriously, most people live their whole lives without seeing a single Moltres."
"But," Ash gave a sheepish smile, "that's boring…"
"You've even seen Arceus like twice!" Gary exclaimed.
"Actually, if you count time travel, it was more like—"
"You know what, I think I'm done with you."
"Hey, that only happened—"
Gary interrupted again. "Like five times. I get it." With that, he gave a devious smirk and started running down the hill to Pallet Town.
"Smell ya later!" resonated through the forest.
Ash wanted to correct him on the number, but when he saw his friend already halfway down the hill, laughing, started to run as well to catch up. He would correct Gary later, maybe after some dinner. But as of now, his stomach was growling.
That night, Ash was deep in thought as he laid awake, sprawled out (at least, as much as he could) on his old, cramped bed meant for a nine-year-old kid, staring holes into the ceiling. Next to him, Pikachu was curled up in a fetal position, asleep, and the young Trainer saw no need to wake him up.
His mind kept wandering to the conversation he had with his rival that evening.
Team Rocket was still out there, but Kanto was still turning a blind eye. It was...a bit strange.
Earlier that year, Ash had won the Indigo Plateau Conference, as the youngest Pokemon Conference winner, ever (or, probably a long time). As a Trainer just a few years under Virgil the Eeveelution Trainer, he wasn't sure he was ready for the Elite Four, or anyone as powerful as them. For now, his goals consisted of training, saving the world (which was more incidental than planned), more training, and...traveling.
Giovanni was clearly the Gym Leader of Viridian City - even though it had been publically revealed that he had retired - but at times it seemed like a mere teenager was the only one who knew the actual identity of the Rocket Boss. He told Iris, as well as Cilan, Cynthia and that other guy...Riley? Rudley? Oh yeah, Ridley. But the Unovians and Sinnoh Champion didn't really understand the threat Team Rocket posed in Kanto.
Ash was thinking of going to the next region soon, but...it could wait.
The Trainer recalled his experiences with the Lumiose Conference, Team Flare, Greninja, Serena…and of course, his faithful partner Pikachu, remembering the extent of a Pokemon Gang's potential.
But then again, Team Flare had actually been eradicated (or, at least, it seemed that way). Team Rocket...not so much. He figured that since their plans in Unova had been ruined, the Pokemon Gang had lost a bit of money that had gone into the organization.
In Kalos, it seemed that Team Flare had integrated itself into the region to the point that Lysandre Labs was supporting the very economy of the region. The Trainer wondered if Kanto's native Pokemon Gang did the same.
With hours of sleepless contemplation, it was decided. To prevent the Unovian crisis from happening again, Ash was going to do something about Team Rocket.
And travel some more, of course. An adventure was always something to look forward to.
The next morning, the Pokemon Trainer went (more like, ran) to the corral to see his Pokemon. It was still very early in the morning, and even Mimey the Mr. Mime wasn't awake as the sun peeked through the horizon.
"Ash!" a familiar voice called out, awakening the teen from his thoughts. "What's up?"
"Oh, hey Gary. I'm thinking of going on another journey," Ash replied, surveying the morning activities of various Pokemon around the ranch.
"Which region is next?"
Ash patted his sleeping, newly-evolved Meganium on the head and cast his eyes to where Oshawott was showing off to an unamused Snivy.
"I think I'm going to be staying around Kanto for a while, so I need a team," the Trainer answered nervously, rubbing his nape sheepishly. It was pretty obvious that he'd never considered bringing Pokemon other than his Starter on new adventures. "Hey Gary," he said, "should I take Noctowl?"
"Up to you," the Researcher replied, "but I thought you only take Pikachu whenever you travel."
The Indigo Plateau Champion's face seemed to light up as he bent down to greet his Bulbasaur. "I mean, it's not like I'm going to catch anyone new."
"You know," Gary spoke up as he looked around the ranch, eyes landing on his Pinsir and Umbreon playing in the distance. "I'm thinking of traveling a little as well, especially after all those cold fronts in Sinnoh. Maybe we can meet up sometime?"
Ash didn't hear his friend; he was busy thinking. 'Or should I take Infernape and Torterra? They need some motivation but won't go anywhere without each oth—'
"Ummm, Ash, you awake?" Gary asked as he saw his old rival seemingly doze off.
"What? Oh, yeah, I'm up. And sure, we might meet up sometime."
The Pokemon Researcher watched as the other teen walked through more of Oak's corral, greeting his Pokemon with a smile. Pikachu stayed at his side with a lost expression on his face.
"You're confused as well, huh," Gary guessed, directing his concern at the Electric-Type. Despite the way Ash usually acted around strangers, the other Pallet Town Trainer knew that his friend was more of a loner than anything. Over the years, he had perfected the art of lying and keeping problems to himself, which was a horrible habit.
The Electric-Type continued to follow Ash and Gary as they strolled past more Pokemon in the corral.
"Hey Gary, do you think I should bring Gible along? I have a feeling he'll be pretty useful."
"What are you planning to do?" the Researcher asked, curious about his friend's plans, but annoyed at the time it took for the other Trainer to choose his Pokemon.
Ash shrugged, looking pensive. "I need a prepared team, though."
Gary looked back at Pikachu. "Why do I even bother?" he sighed.
Ash had finally made his decision.
"Is this why you never take any old Pokemon to new regions?" Gary asked, lounging on a couch while his friend paced around the laboratory room.
"Sure. I think three Pokemon will be fine for now, but I might ask your grandad to transfer some more, later. What do you think?"
"You seem confident in your choice. Is three hours enough time, or do you need another five just to finalize your team?" the Pokemon Researcher teased his friend.
Ash rolled his eyes. "Very funny. Do you think Charizard and Sceptile might get into an argument somewhere along the trip?"
"Here we go again…"
"Okay, okay. I'll stop," Ash chuckled, fanning himself with his cap sheepishly before putting it on Pikachu's head.
Professor Oak chose that moment to walk in. "It's lunchtime. Would you two boys like anything in particular?"
"Nah," Ash declined as he stood up. "I just need to stop by the storage to pick up some Pokeballs."
"That was not what he meant…" Gary muttered to himself.
At least Pikachu seemed glad about going on another adventure.
"Hey Gary, what are the specific rules about carrying Pokemon? Is it against the rules or anything to have more than six?"
"I'm pretty sure you can have more than six, although most Trainers only carry that much. Something about how seven Pokemon can limit the amount of love a Trainer can give. Plus, most of the Professors don't like it when people have more than six, so they set some rules. Why do you ask?"
Ash could carry everyone, but realized that he would have to deal with the safety of his younger members. The Trainer trusted all of his Pokemon but knew that they would have to fend for themselves if anything happened.
"Bye Ash, see ya!" Gary called from the edge of Pallet Town.
"You too! Bye!"
The Kantonian realized that he forgot to tell his friend that he would be gone for awhile, but decided against going back. Most of his journeys took a year, anyway.
"Pika?" Pikachu, perched on his Trainer's shoulder, was still confused about his Trainer's new adventure.
"Oh, that's right, I haven't told you about the plan. Well, we're going to attack a few Team Rocket Bases. Sounds good to you?"
Ash smiled back confidently. "Team Rocket has done so many horrible things. It's time that they were disbanded, or at least weakened. I might not be strong enough to single-handedly defeat them, but the challenge is nice, right? It's something I at least want to do before our next region."
"Pika-chu." The yellow Pokemon, as usual, supported his Trainer.
After a few more minutes of silence, Ash came up with a suggestion. "Why don't we stay in the Viridian Forest for a while, and find a place to train? We can get a lot of practice done." When Pikachu gave him an amused look, the Trainer rolled his eyes. "We won't get lost, I promise."
He glanced at Pikachu again before giving up. "Okay, fine. We'll get lost, but we'll find our way out eventually."
With that, the duo entered the woods and traveled until they found a large clearing to stay.
AN: Welcome to the not-so-wonderful world of my own imagination.
I really need to edit this (but I'm so lazy)...