I keep talking about doing more of that Shudo cross Modern stuff...let's try doing something that is vaguely in that idea.
This one has more events of M20 than the last one along with the main series, so it isn't quite canon with the one with N and Tepig, but I will keep trying to play with both pools and see what comes out of it.
As requested last time though, I'll bring up more of what Shudo cross Modern Ash is.
The original head writer of the anime: Takashi Shudo, wrote up a story bible for the Pokemon anime back when it was supposed to be just one season. Within this bible was a lot of back lore, and some ideas for how he'd end it. Information on the latter can be a bit scattered, but the ending was something out of End of Evangelion and a lot of the information within was deconstructive and bleak.
At age 10 Ash was expected to pay his own taxes, could go to jail, and marry, implying that the age of consent was 10. Most trainers fail and wallow in misery/crime, Ash is quite possibly the only main cast member to have a functional and present in his life parent, and Pallet Town's naming history is a tad…..wonky. Also something about a Pokemon revolution led by Pikachu, for some reason.
Shudo cross Modern Ash are oneshots in which I take this draft, apply its logic to later seasons (and continuities like M20) of the anime where other rules of Shudo, like Ash being vanilla protagonist pre-high school harem model with little to any skill, are not in effect due to how the series developed, as well as fanon bits of myself like aging the characters up plus that ever fun act of having reality ensue, and seeing what happens.
Anyway to clarify, any M20 event shown that replaces a canon event stays in (Like Charmander), but otherwise elements of the series will be slipped in otherwise. M21 will probably be incompatible with this story in some way, but that is neither here nor there.
So, here we go with it. This one having a bit more editing thanks to some help by a Spacebattles Guy called SpiralAK.
Samuel Oak had never quite realized just how much his grandson had changed.
In some ways, the sixteen year old sitting across from him was the same as the fifteen year old who had left last May. Both had the same hair style and the same taste in clothes. They preferred to be called Gary rather than Gareth, had pride in their skill and lineage, and believed that the Indigo Conference in August was the perfect venue to create their own legacy.
And yet, he could see how Gary's confidence had grown due to his successes and tempered his arrogance. He was finally taller, and the way his clothes fit him made the old man file away a note to the long list of 'things that he was correct about that his grandson doubted'.
Not that his grandson had body issues before, but constant walking instead of driving was something Gary would notice the effects of one day, and he'd swear about 'the old man being right again'.
He did feel randomly like he had achieved something out of nowhere in November. Perhaps that was when it had happened.
In addition, he finished telling Gary about the fate of the two other trainers who had left Pallet Town. His grandson now knew that both Marina the Bulbasaur trainer and Tyirno the Charmander trainer (Tyirno was a Kalosian trainer who had come to one of his programs as part of the international group in place of his cousin Tierno,) had 'failed' and were no actively traveling or acting as trainers.
"I still can't believe that Ash of all people is the only one left besides me," Gary said. "I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see him win his eighth badge."
The Professor found it best to give an honest answer, given it was just the two of them.
"I am equally as surprised. He didn't make the best first impression with him running over in his pajamas late and all, but from what I understand, he managed to push forward and better himself. Quite admirable of him to do so. Don't tell him I thought so, of course."
He said the last part with a bit more seriousness than he did his admittance of his low hopes for the lad, and was glad to see Gary respond to his request as he did.
"I'm not heartless, Gramps."
With that assurance, the Professor reached for his grandson's Pokedex and began fiddling with it.
He didn't need to do this, as he already had the data the Pokedex collected. However, it would be more effective to have the Pokedex demonstrate his upgrade. Also he had spent months getting the patented parts he needed to install a holographic projection program on the things, and he was going to use it.
The first data presented from the device was a list of names representing every trainer his grandson had battled, shimmering between the two like credits in a movie, but in blue.
The first one floated as 'Marina: Win' to his farthest top left, and formed columns from there.
Names like 'Brock: Win', 'Giselle: Win', 'Lt. Surge: Win', 'Joshua Martin: Win, 'Jeanette Fisher: Win', 'Tyirno: Win', 'Koga: Win', 'Otoshi: Win', 'Fergus: Win', 'Elwood and Aideen: Win', 'Peter Pebbleman: Win', and 'Kaia: Win' all floated in testament to his grandson's hard work.
The only name that floated red was the last one.
He noticed his grandson wince at the sight, and thus he would choose his words carefully.
"Ten badges is an impressive accomplishment. What would that be, three battles against a Gym Leader's best? That's quite an accomplishment."
"I thought it would be four battles," Gary said. Perhaps he could have used better words.
"Well, better to taste defeat now than at the league, am I right?"
"It's still a horrible loss." Gary muttered.
"Pallet Oak lost many more battles, but he still accomplished great things." Part of him winced when he used that example.
Pallet Oak was his grandfather, and the greatest trainer in Pallet Town's history. He had traveled far and achieved the highest trainer ranking the town had ever seen. This legacy helped him get the support that put him in university, and had been the main push of his brother's campaigns as mayor and post master. The statue of Pallet Town in the center of town was the town's pride and joy, and the source of the town name.
He had only been the nine-hundred and twenty-first ranked. In the grand scheme of things, that achievement was only remarkable in the fact that no other trainer from his village had cracked the top ten-thousand.
Of course, pointing that fact out was not appreciated in town, and it was part of the reason his cousin Samson never came home. The other part was Alola's climate.
"I want to be more than him," Gary said. That declaration would probably get him chased out of most any other part of town, but not in his home.
"You want to be the best trainer of Gareth Town?" He joked.
"I want to be more."
The Professor swiped the battle hologram and noted the top one hundred listing that was pulled up. At least he would, if it didn't display a holographic news site instead.
(Death Count in Hutbert Port grows to 3000: Giant Tentacruel still at large)
(Giva Dam project cancelled: Diglett sabotage to blame)
(Dead Gym Leader Mystery Continues: Giovanni the boss of Team Rocket?)
"I sort of rearranged the favorites. It's two more down," Gary said.
He swiped there without complaint: frankly, two news sites were much better than the alternative. He could have come across some web link that Gary would have preferred he never see.
Gary's internet search history, for example.
Once again, a massive holographic list appeared before the two, this time of the world's ten-thousand best trainers this year.
"Well you have plenty of time. You won't find anyone in the top 500 who isn't at least 18, and most of the best are fairly older. It doesn't matter who's on this list: be they a Champion, a Kahuna, an Elite Four Member... all of them have losses to their names. No one ever manages to remain undefeated forever, and it takes more than battles won and lost, or even how many leagues one enters, to get there."
While his grandson did not say 'thanks, Gramps, I needed that', he did seem a bit less bothered by his loss than before. Mission accomplished, it would seem.
Now to continue on the 'what you've done' path.
He swiped again, and the listing for Gary's Pokedex appeared before him. Every known Pokemon species the Pokedex had information on had a thumbnail image displayed in holographic form.
Gary seemed unsettled as the sight of the total amount of Pokemon in the world was revealed to him.
Gary had captured over two hundred individual Pokemon, many of which were more for the benefit of his research than Gary's goals. While there were multiple captures of the same species among them, Gary's Pokedex had registered ownership of over one hundred species.
That was not even ten percent of what he was being shown to him right now. It would be even more so if he included regional variations, or legendaries that had not been scientifically proven to exist such as Dialga and Zygarde.
"Your travels and actions have greatly contributed to the logging of data. The Pokedex provides the user with information, and sends data back to myself and my colleagues. Even without actively using it, the data you've collected for us is quite wonderful. The Pokemon you've sent my way have also been quite helpful for my studies."
"... It's not exactly much compared to all of that."
The Professor laughed goodnaturedly. "Rest assured, I do not expect you to capture all of them. That would be ludicrous, both in effort on your end and expense on mine. Now I'm hardly saying not to capture more Pokemon, just don't kill yourself, or me, in doing so. Though, I do have a question for you. When you were out on your journey, did you notice any of the Pokemon you've seen acting strangely?"
"I take it you mean something specific." Gary swiped back to the news holograms. "I was only there for the Diglett thing, and only an hour or so. It was when I called you about my Pokemon acting oddly. They kept refusing to come out of their Pokeballs to fight the Diglett that were in the way of a hydroelectic dam. I thought I might have messed up something when I tried out a new training method, but once I was out of the area, they were perfectly willing to come out."
He remembered hearing about that concern at Gary's end: it was a good thing Gary had thought of that. He always had some worry that Gary would have some issue with bonding with his Pokemon, particularly in his pre-teen years. It was things like Gary calling him in worry that he had done something to make his Pokemon revolt against him that quenched the last embers of that concern.
"It's been a bit of a pattern recently. I've been talking with my peers across the world and everyone seems to be dealing with incidents like the Diglett at the Giva Dam site, or the Hutbert travesty. Even Professor Kukui in Alola's reported an incident like it this year. It's been my main topic of research since you left, and it's been occupying a lot of my time."
So much so that his original plan on seeing if he could help the lovely Mrs Ketchum decide that she is a Miss Ketchum – and possibly a Mrs. Oak down the line – had to be put on hold. A pity, but he'd keep that to himself to spare his grandson the details.
"You think something's going on, that all of the incidents are connected somehow?"
"Yes. Had it been just a single year spike I'd be skeptical, but this has been occurring for years and trying to figure it out has been getting more of my fellow Professors to try to answer the same question. Elm's looking into possible breeding bubbles creating overpopulation; Birch's is assessing habitat issues that may be forcing extreme behaviors in response to human expansion projects... As it stands, Kukui may be the only one working on unrelated projects as his field isn't a likely factor and Alola's sole incident was atypical from the others. I'd like to see if either of my eyes on the ground have noticed anything. Your firsthand account at Giva was helpful, and I'd like to talk to Ash when he arrives if he's noticed anything specific. At the very least, I'd like to know about his encounters with Ho-Oh and the legendary beasts."
The room was silent for a few moments.
"I'd love to explain, but Ash is bad enough about calling his mother that I barely have any details. I do have some Pokemon he sent my way and some of the reasoning for why they did: a Krabby who had gotten displaced by a storm far from the coast and was starving, a Primeape that had hurt itself, and a Muk that was unintentionally causing problems in a residential area..."
He instinctively checked to make sure the sludge monster wasn't lurking in preparation to give him another smothering hug before continuing.
"...And a herd of Tauros from the Laramie. I have no issue with having Ash officially be their trainer, but I never found the opportunity to talk to him about these data points. I either forget to ask, or he gets distracted by some bumbling trio randomly jumping him."
He had no idea what was all about: it happened three times. Given he was pretty sure they were oddly dressed Team Rocket members, maybe they'd stop with Giovanni's death.
"So we have to wait for Ash to actually show up," Gary said. "Great, that could take days."
"You said you saw him win his final badge in Viridian, yes?"
"And he's liable to get mauled by a Fearow, become part of a circus, and randomly backtrack to Cerulean City for some reason before he gets here."
"I am fairly certain some of those are out of order." He was fairly certain that Ash would randomly backtrack, join the circus, and then get mauled by an angry Flying-type. But perhaps that was just him.
"So, seeing as it could take Ash anywhere from five minutes to five days to get here, allow me to address a concern I have."
The Professor approached the topic with the awkwardness it generated and the seriousness it warranted.
"Yeah, what is it?"
"Gary...as a young man allowed to wander the world and make his own decisions, with no restrictions applied to you beyond the ones on us all about theft, violence, and tax fraud, I know you probably enjoyed your freedom immensely. However..."
Gary flushed. "Is that about sex or drugs?" He'd rather not have this talk, though he knew it was something he could not get away from unless Ash walked through the door in the next few seconds.
He didn't, so the conversation continued.
"The former, but come to think of it, it probably wouldn't hurt for me to ask about the latter." He was, until a year and a few days after that, responsible for Gary's moral upbringing. He probably should make sure he didn't miss a step.
Daisy turned out fine, but was he two for two?
"I don't use drugs. Not even the legal stuff. I don't need chemicals to feel good about myself. An Oak doesn't need Whoopy or Slowjoy or Gyaragyara to get things done."
Well that worry was quickly squashed, though he did wish that Gary didn't have that air about drug addicts. The massive rate of use among drop out trainers was a problem that needed to be fixed, but the people at fault were the people who sold the stuff, not the people who felt horrible about themselves.
Even beyond the moral debate, drug addicts weren't the one who poached the fluids from those Pokemon families to make the crud. Now about the one he was asking about originally and not the very dangerous world of making steroids from Gyarados.
Also, 'an Oak doesn't need…' that was probably worth addressing as soon as he knew what else he'd need to address to his grandson.
"So about your ..."
"Relax, Gramps. Like everyone who isn't messed up in the head, I've had my share of fun with the way I swing. Of course I made sure that there would be no sullying of the Oak name by being irresponsible."
He'd be happy to note the phrasing Gary used suggested a lack of homophobia, if what else he was hearing did not anger him.
And it was not the put down against asexuals, aromantics, and all other sexual orientations and preferences.
"There is more at play there than sullying the family name, Gareth."
He continued in the same tone.
"What you call irresponsibility comprises not only your physical and mental well-being, but also the possibility of creating life and permanently altering the life of another. People argue this back and forth, but the simple fact is that the act of being irresponsible is on both ends unless I am giving you the wrong lecture. Then it would only be on you."
He let that threat hang for a moment before resuming.
"What you claim as mere irresponsibility goes far beyond that, for both involved. My life's greatest mistake was not, as many seem to think, everything to do with Agatha, nor did it involve the poetry slams I performed in university. No that would be, as you would call it, being irresponsible and sullying the Oak name. Because it turns out, Gareth, that the world doesn't much care about the later that way.
"You sully your family name with crimes and public flubs, not fathering children and never thinking about them afterwards. What you do, is find out years later you had a son you never thought you had, only for that son to hate you for being someone they could put a face to and say, yes, that is the man who never cared about you or even knows you exist. He rolls in his grave knowing I did the one thing he'd hate and take in his orphaned children instead of leaving them in an orphanage. So as you can see, things go a bit further than simply being irresponsible."
None of what Gary was hearing was entirely unknown to him previously. He knew that his father had issues with him and did not particularly like him. He knew that he was an orphan and the how and why it happened. He knew that being raised by a grandfather was unusual.
However he had never been given the chance to connect the dots and as a result, the facts of the matter weighed heavily upon him.
He was not particularly happy in the knowledge that Gary, for how bad he seemed to be handling it, was taking it better than Daisy had. Then again, Daisy had pieced the puzzle together herself and was not expecting the answer she got.
Having to reassure his granddaughter that he did not wish they had never been born, while at the same time admitting to the fact that her grandmother not having an abortion if she was so angry with him for knocking her up bewildered him even to this day ranked high on his 'worst conversations of his life' list, behind finding out his son died still hating him.
It was after that moment, with the silence his declaration having brought still hanging, that the door opened and Ash Ketchum arrived.
The lad he had once pegged as the one of this year's four 'most likely to work in the synthetic protein plants for the rest of his life' had survived his journey, though not without change.
The journey was a rite of passage that had existed for centuries across the world with meanings growing and fading with the times, along with the interpretations of those who stayed the course to its end, and for those who dropped it after less than a year.
A fairly consistent idea was that it was a journey to adulthood, with those who find their way to something being particularly lauded as having truly grown up.
One could see that with Gary: while he still had a few lessons he needed to fully integrate he had made many strides in growing up since he left, both physically and mentally.
Ash seemed to have changed as well, though in different ways.
While Gary, while benefiting from the vigors of crossing the region, still had much the body shape he had when he started. It had improved certainly, but it was still much of what he suspected the kids today would call 'bishonen'.
Whatever that term meant exactly. Was it short hand for slimmer built men that women would none the less tend to find attractive, or did have some other meaning?
Ash went the other direction: his journey had given him a rugged maturity and the body of someone who routinely scaled rough mountains with the muscle to match. His sideburns were now long and scruffy, though in a way that made the professor suspect the look was maintained and not the result of a lack of shaving, though other than that Ash's face lacked facial hair.
Like Gary, Ash had mostly kept to the same style of clothing he had left with, but his jacket was now sleeveless, with the only thing covering his arm being Pikachu, long since passed the 'electrocution for the sake of it' phase of their relationship.
Past that was only muscle, thicker arm hair than he recalled Ash having, and a tattoo on his right shoulder of a rainbow colored feather, the likes of which Ho-Oh was noted to have.
The tattoo seemed to almost shine when Ash's gaze rested on him, and had a somewhat duller glow when Ash noted Gary.
He'd have to see how much change Ash had on the mental level beyond these simple physical traits. Hopefully he'd get to that before Delia came around, noticed the beard and tattoo on her son, and reacted to it.
Though he wasn't sure how she'd react. He'd take notes if they were positive.
It would certainly be better than speculating if his grandson had been (in his own humble opinion) wasting money on waxing his body.
"Oh, good for you to come, Ash," the Professor said. "Come, sit."
Ash obliged and took the seat opposite of Gary, a confused expression coming upon his face as he noted the lack of barb.
His grandson was clearly still feeling a bit defanged from their earlier talk.
Pikachu didn't quite care either way, and hopped off Ash's shoulder in order to nest in the sofa cushions.
He moved to join them, when approaching footsteps caught his ear.
They were not Delia's. Delia did not run like that.
"Gah! Ashton Ketchum, why can't you just wait for someone like a regular person anymore?" A blue blur burst through his door, panting in between scolding Ash.
Ash muttered something about 'ever letting you know my full name', before speaking up.
"Yeah, sorry about that, Verity," Ash said, shifting off the couch and taking a chair. "I said I'd wait a bit, and I did for about five minutes. I was starting to go crazy waiting for you, and I told you where I would be if I had to get going."
Pikachu looked up and let out a sigh at the movement. Oak would file that odd bit away for later before noting the now identified Verity.
Verity was a young woman about Ash and his grandson's age, with short brown hair cut short and gray eyes that, like her accent, pegged her as being from Sinnoh. The Empoleon that caught up with her just now was another clue in that direction.
While there was nothing all that remarkable about her blue shirt and black pants, she did seem familiar. Did he know her, or perhaps did he know a relative?
Was it the eyes, or maybe something about her body type? It wasn't the hair, which honestly seemed to disconnect him.
Perhaps if he tried to imagine her with a different hair color: probably a recessive hair color like blonde or ginger. Brown was dominant in a heterozygous individual after all.
Regardless of his query, she took a seat where Ash had vacated, which was fine with him. Perhaps she'd be able to help with filling in the questions he had about Ash's legendary encounters.
Before he could take a seat Ash stood up and wandered a bit before taking a seat next to Verity, who gave him an (affectionate) eye roll.
What was going on with him? Was he drinking coffee or something? He'd ask about that after Ho-Oh and the legendary beasts.
"Now that you are here, congratulations on earning eight badges, Ash," the Professor said.
"I was wondering if you could do us a favor. I was looking at your encounter data from your Pokedex, and it says you had an encounter with Ho-Oh and the legendary beasts. I'm curious if you could explain it to me."
Verity and Ash exchanged looks even as Gary perked up out of his post 'be careful or your son you never knew you had for two decades will dictate his undying hatred for you' funk for the question.
The exchange between the two ended with an affirmative nod and so the two began to talk.
After about a minute of Ash explaining his first day, his first near death experience, and a falling Rainbow Wing, along with a few details about winning his first three gym badges with only Pikachu and a Caterpie (a concept that made Gary gasp loudly in disbelief and the Professor wonder if this was a sign of untapped genius, stubbornness rewriting the fundamental rules of reality, or a sign that the standards of gym leaders in Kanto needed to be checked, at least in Pewter, Vermillion, and Celadon), it began with a tale of a reported Entei sighting.
It turned into a story of an abandoned Charmander, a bond of three young people traversing the Raizen Mountain Range to Mount Tensei, and a battle with Ho-Oh itself.
Verity chimed fairly often about little details like Ash having a freaky dream, her sighting of Suicune, and their encounter with the Butterfree migration that Ash was not able to answer himself.
At the end of it, Gary had an explosive exclamation to make.
"You beat Ho-oh?"
Ash nodded nonchalantly.
"Yeah. I mean Pikachu did most of the work, but I was the one who saw the opening. So I guess I, I don't know, 12% credit for the win."
"Pikapi." Pikachu declared to his trainer, who had moved or shifted spots several time to the confusion of himself and Gary, with the mouse and Verity noting the behavior with the air of a thing that was somewhat annoying, but had been learned to live with and was just accepted as an odd quirk.
"And you didn't try and catch it!"
Ash looked at his grandson oddly for the statement.
"What, did you not have any Pokeballs. I know you can be forgetful, yeah that has to be it. You forget to restock on them, so when you beat a Legendary Pokemon you could catch it."
"Oh, I had plenty. A few days later I ran into this cool Pokemon called a Heracross…"
"Then why didn't you catch it!? With a Ho-Oh you could probably win any league you wanted. Sure that wouldn't work on an Elite Four member or something, but you'd have a foot in the door to do so."
"That seems a bit unfair," Verity said. "I mean, I have no issue with the idea of having it as your last Pokemon or a secret weapon, my mother actually had a good fight with a guy like a few months ago and they actually had a good time over it. But as your only Pokemon…"
Verity's comment registered something as the Professor finally figured out why she looked familiar.
While hair style and color were notably different among several others, she looked quite like Cynthia, the Champion of Sinnoh, who did in fact have a victorious battle with such a trainer a few months ago. The same battle being the first time the world's highest ranking trainer showed her possession of Mega Evolution, which had let her win the battle in the end.
What differences Verity did have from said champion were possessed by Cynthia's wife Verena, and Verity was in the age range to have been conceived after the advent of the Parthenote method.
(Why that was considered more of an advancement from the production of non-tofu synthetic protein was beyond the Professor.)
The mention of parents seemed to make Gary stop arguing, perhaps from flashbacks from the earlier talk of parents, and so he retreated back into himself to Ash and Verity's confusion (Ash now back in the chair he had moved to previously). Before the confusion could turn into awkward silence, the Professor restarted the conversation.
"So Ash, did you get your remaining five Gym Badges with just Pikachu, your Charizard, and possibly that Heracross you mentioned, or did you capture any more Pokemon?"
The Professor knew the answer already: Ash had a Blastoise, Venusaur, and Pidgeot in addition to those three, but it would keep silence from building up as he waited on the moment to let them know that Indigo was in two months.
And so the conversation flowed again, with Ash speaking in detail on how he met those three Pokemon along with the one he had captured that had stayed in his care primarily, while Verity also talked about her own adventures since then, both at home and back in Kanto.
Gary returned to the conversation as well, and overall it was a nice, goal achieving conversation. However, throughout it Ash kept being unable to stay still for any lengthy period of time.
It was when Gary left the conversation, either to go and see how his Pokemon were doing in person or avoid Muk's smothering hug, that he turned to the one being given said hug.
At the very least, the act seemed to be keeping him from darting off, likely not even to avoid the conversation he wanted to have.
"Alright Ash, what is going on?" He asked bluntly. Pikachu gave him a look for the question, though Ash was not able to immediately respond due to the affectionate sludge monster atop of him.
Verity however, was not currently being slimed, and could respond.
"What brought that question on?" She asked of him.
"I have known Ash for years. I have seen him at his best and at his worst. I know him quite well."
Even if he did make the wrong call at his ability to survive in the world. He was a multi-doctorate, but that did not mean he couldn't be wrong from time to time.
"Yeah…" Verity was speaking as if she was going to ask 'yeah, so what', but the way her eyes darted Ash's way made it clear she was aware of what he was going to ask.
"I know exactly what Ashton Ketchum's strengths and weaknesses are. The boy can figure out acceptable syntax in Kalosian in a week but give him a month and he can't tell me a basic mathematical function. ADHD is not among his problems. So why is he unable to stay still?"
His question hung in the air as Ash broke free of Muk, looking a tad sheepish.
"…Its that obvious?"
He did not need to tell the boy that it was, and so he fully stood up and explained himself.
"Yeah…you see something happened. I, might not have explained absolutely everything that I've been up to."
"Were drugs involved?" Might as get that one out of the way again.
Ash scrunched his face up in disgust, so that was a negative.
"Given he's doesn't have a tail, no." Verity said that as if it was confirmation.
Was it assumed in Sinnoh that every genetic experiment gave one a tail? He'd have to ask Professor Rowan about that.
That would not be the strangest conversation he ever had with a colleague.
"It's actually a bit simpler than that. I didn't get injected with something, or got my genes messed with by anyone. I actually just died."
Ash's explanation left the Professor staring at him. He only vaguely noticed Pikachu, Verity and her Empoleon wince, and Muk let out a gasp.
"…No seriously Ash, what's going on? If it is a mental condition, I know very good surgeons and pharmacists." He was stalling, he had to be.
Ash's response to his blunt accusation of further deflection by removing his shirt and jacket in once, exposing his chest. The Professor wasn't sure what the point of that was, was it just to show that Ash somehow had more chest hair at age sixteen than he did at over thrice that age, or that his arms were not the only muscular part of him?
It was then that the Professor noticed the area between Ash's right shoulder and pectoral. A part of Ash that the Professor knew from his childhood.
A place he had suffered a sharp cut from a fall, he still remembered Delia's hysteria about it. Ash was fine after it, but he had a small but noticeable scar as a result ever since.
The scar was completely missing, as if his body had never suffered it.
"Like I said, I died," Ash replaced his shirt and jacket, "this is actually a new body."
It took the Professor a few seconds to connect the dots and formulate a hypothesis.
"This has something to do with Ho-Oh." That was not a question he gave, but a statement.
Ash nodded as Verity took over.
"It happened a bit after Cross died. The ass had stolen Ash's Rainbow Wing after making some sort of speech about how he had seen Ho-Oh and the entire reason he had for being a jerk was for not being given a wing. He made the wing spew out darkness that made all the wild Pokemon in the area go crazy. After they were done slaughtering him and his Pokemon they tried to kill all of us. Sorrel, Bonji, and I managed to avoid them, but Pikachu was fighting Marshadow and they got cornered. Then they all attacked…." Tears slipped into Verity's words at the last point.
"I got out of it alright, all things considered."
"You died! The fact you even are still talking is a miracle!" Verity was not having Ash trying to reassure her. He nervously tried to get away from that point, not helped when Pikachu gave him a similar look of 'do not downplay your death again'.
"Well…..yeah, but I came back. My old body got disintegrated, but Pikachu and Ho-Oh brought me back."
The Professor knew that Ho-Oh could do that: the story of the Burned Tower was proof of that being possible. However that wasn't the end of it.
"So, you did….." If it was any other legendary Pokemon he wouldn't believe Ash, and even then the clearly missing scar helped.
Of course, that still left the question that had started this talk of death and revival.
"Now, why is it you can't stay still?"
Ash had an answer for it.
"Well Sorrel, who is a lot smarter than I am at a lot of things, said it might be because I was revived the same way Entei, Suicune, and Raikou were. They can't stay still, so I can't stay still. I'm lucky I'm not running across the land or something, because while it takes longer I still get tired."
The Professor pressed more, as he suspected this was not the end of it.
"Are there, any other changes like that?"
Ash, Pikachu, Verity, and Empoleon looked nervous, but Ash eventually began talking again.
"Well you see…..near as best as I can tell…..Ho-Oh's power did only two things directly. It made me part of the 'can't stand still club'," demonstrated by Ash now having changed position a few moments ago and was already beginning to twitch, "and this."
He gestured to the tattoo on his shoulder.
"It's basically a Rainbow Wing itself. I just had to stand there to summon Ho-Oh, and it still reacts like one even after I met Ho-Oh. It changes color depending on who I'm looking at just like the original, though unlike the original wing when held by someone evil, it won't corrupt things just because I see someone evil. It just flashes purple and makes me know about it."
Something about the way Ash said that point made a neuron in his mind flare up. He was aware of the old Rainbow Hero legends and how the wing reacts to people.
It sounded like Ash had seen a lot of that.
"Oh, how often does that happen?"
Ash did not answer his question, and the room fell into awkward silence that Verity eventually broke.
"That isn't the only thing that changed. Ash was hardly without muscle or hair before…it happened…but he has a lot more now."
With that conversation shifted to Ash's body.
"Best I can figure is it happened when I was being brought back. To me it was like I was running back, and what I was thinking was that I had to be faster. I couldn't get tired. I had to get back to my friends. To Pikachu and Charizard. Because my body was being remade at the time, that applied."
Ash twirled a strand of arm hair before continuing.
"As for why I have all of this stuff, as best I can tell that came from Pikachu. Apparently to him humans either should have more hair, or be completely hairless, and in the midst of me coming back he was leaning more the other way in the midst of going 'oh I am so many annoying things but he misses me and wants me back'. I also have this odd thing with my shoulder apparently being more comfortable to ride on now, and a few other things."
Ash and Verity blushed at the 'other things' part as he sighed and entered lecture mode.
"Humans have far larger exterior sexual characteristics than Pokemon of comparative, and even larger, sizes. It's a feature assumed to have been connected to the size of our brains and the effect of birthing such brains. Why society is so obsessed…"
Speaking of strangest conversations he ever had with a colleague, he only knew that tidbit because he had to ask Professor Elm about it. He'd have never asked it if a politician on a committee he cared about offered to send additional funds his way for the information for reasons he was probably better off not knowing.
Professor Elm still had the resulting blackmail on him because of that question, and it had only been partially remedied by bailing him out that one time.
Ash rapidly shook his head, neither he and Verity wanting to hear about it.
"That's not it at all professor. That was the furthest thing from my mind at the time, and not even a thing in Pikachu's mind at all. So nothing about that changed at all."
Oh. So Ash had not decided to use getting a new body he (and Pikachu) could influence in any way they wanted to give himself a Priapus-esc body. Good to know he hadn't been that stupid.
Still, why were they blushing earlier then? Or was it worth asking them about it in the first place?
Before he could consider asking more, Delia arrived.
"I thought I might find you here. Ash I know you are an adult now, but that doesn't mean you have to ignore little old…..Ashton Ketchum what is that on your arm!? Is that a tattoo!"
He would not be getting any more information from them tonight, it would seem.
It wasn't as hard to get his mom to calm down about the tattoo as he suspected.
Apparently his mom had less issue with marks of honor, which he, Verity, and the Professor had waved the Rainbow Wing off as, than random ink in the skin. She had requested he not seek out too many 'I beat a Legendary Pokemon' marks, though she did admit that was only a suggestion and not somethings he could enforce, and the day has resumed with celebration of his and Gary's achievements, their returns, and the upcoming Pokemon League having its first Pallet Town representatives in years.
However, in the aftermath of celebration for him and Gary both, Ash found himself sitting out in the dark, with only Pikachu and the moon.
Scratch that, he felt his tattoo react.
After so many times he felt the same reaction, he didn't need to look to know it was Verity. After a while, he could tell individual reactions apart.
"I feel I am probably the last one to ever tell someone this, but is it really wise to keep this from your mom? Take it from someone with two, that doesn't end well." She said in a tone that was more Sorrel than her own from behind him.
"I couldn't even get past the 'I died' part before she'd freak out. I could tell her about everything I've been up to since, and she'd only really remember those minutes I was gone."
Verity didn't respond, it felt like she was mentally going 'that sounds about right for a mom'.
He could tell, it was one of those little things he was better at since he died.
"So…you've been pretty dodgy about it. Think you can stay still long enough to handle the league? Mother and Mom took me to a lot of leagues, and standing in place while giving battle commands is a big part of it. Especially if you get to the later rounds with full battles; those fights can take over an hour, and the break is only five minutes." Verity questioned him.
He smiled. She had traveled with him twice before meeting back up with him a few days before now, but during neither of those times had she seen him in a gym battle.
"Battles are different. I don't get nearly as stir crazy in them. All of the energy that makes me want to keep moving is used to make the best calls and to react when I need to. Not sure if it would still be that way after an hour, but if it's intense enough I should be fine."
"What about the pre-battle functions? Can you handle three hours in a tux in the midst of overly pretentious speeches by politicians on fair play, respect, and valor?"
Ash turned his head and stared at Verity in horror, an action Pikachu mirrored.
She stuck her tongue out; clearly that was just a joke.
He laughed in relief as Pikachu loudly exhaled in relief.
"So…two months to prepare yourself and all your Pokemon for the league, and you'd be lucky to keep yourself here for a single one of those days. What will you do with all that stamina and energy of yours?" She draped herself over him as she asked the question.
"I guess I'll figure it out. There are plenty of nearby mountains I could always run up with my Pokemon for training."
"Orrrr" Verity prompted.
"I can figure it out tomorrow." He turned his head around to meet her lips, capturing them in a heated battle of passion...
Only for both of them to be interrupted by Pikachu, who was pointing behind them both as their tongues disengaged.
Pikachu was reminding them that they were still on Professor Oak's deck and probably should not go farther while still on it.
He exchanged a look with Verity.
"Mom only wants me back tomorrow for breakfast at nine. She gave the both of us a wink before she left, so I think she's fine with us staying out all night. We can be anywhere else before then, though we miss nine o'clock at threat of pancake embargo. There's an abandoned cabin in the hills out back we could…"
"I'm fine with some random clearing in the back where we don't have to worry about the Professor or Gary walking in on us in the morning."
Ash stared at Verity for a moment, not against the idea but surprised that she was offering it.
"I'm not a good influence, am I?" He'd honestly prefer that to a cabin, though he was aware that was not a common choice among others. Another of the little things he noticed after coming back was not only an increased sex drive on his end (he had one before, but not as much), that wasn't affected by his post revival need to move every few minutes or go nuts, but also some odd preferences for where he most liked having it.
Ash hoped he could blame it on him and Pikachu accidentally getting stuck in the midst of an Ursaring mating season and influencing him via the mental scaring that ensued. It was either that or being revived gave him a fetish for having sex outside of buildings, which caused him to worry where that had come from.
Or Pikachu had slipped that quirk in along with his increased amount of body hair, which was also worrying.
"Hey, if Serena can handle it, why can't I?" She stated matter of factly before they ran off into the woods hand in hand, Pikachu following a safe distance away.
The frequent divergent paths they as trainers took meant that a single, monogamous relationship was rare among trainers still actively traveling the world, even among those who did consider themselves in a serious emotional relationship with someone.
It was a culture of freedom, connection to nature, and overwhelming teenage hormones and lack of restraints that caused this.
Ash and Verity were no exception: when apart there was no issue between the two should they see another, and when together they were….something.
The same something he had with an old friend who had come to Kanto from Kalos a bit later to tackle the Kanto Contest Circuit with a Fennekin from her home region.
Other relationships he, Verity, and Serena had were purely physical things.
What their relationships with each other would be in the future was anyone's guess. The future still held many questions.
How would his first league go?
How would Verity's quest to one day be equal to her mother go? She knew better than anyone what weaknesses Cynthia's Pokemon had, and just how hard making use of them would be.
How would Serena's first Grand Festival go? He had been with her when she won her last ribbon and she had been equally excited and terrified.
Would he ever be able to get over just how many people triggered the Ho-Oh power in him as wicked? Or would the volume of evil get to him?
Would he ever be able to stay in one place without feeling like he'd burn from the inside? Sometime in the future, maybe when he was twenty or something, he'd like the idea of trying for a family with someone.
Verity, Serena, someone like them.
But if he couldn't stay in one place for any given length of time, that would just be unfair of them.
Maybe he'd figure something out by then. Tonight though…tonight was not a night for thinking.
Tonight was a night he could actually stay in a single place for a while, with someone he'd very much like to find a way to make things work with one day.
Tyirno exists so Anime!Tierno is spared. He's having much better luck in this fic's version of Kalos.
Suede's point is why Giovanni is dead. Explosions and rampaging psychic gods do not make for a crime boss's retirement goals.
Synthetic protein plants produce the meat of this world, and are a newer invention. Say, within Oak's lifetime. It's mostly phasing out consumption of Pokemon by humans, and the implementation reduced pressure on Pokemon like Farfetch'd and Slowpoke. The process can create most any type of meat, though you will find people saying authentic tastes better. Apparently this is also how one makes Tofu….but that is not what most of it produces.
Cross is dead. His Lycanroc was unaffected in this version because I am not sure why it was in the first place. If Lycanroc was berserk why didn't Charizard go berserk, or Pikachu? Also if I want a last minute redemption arc, I'd go catch up on MLP. I probably need to do that anyway...
Do not kill me Pokeshippers: While there was no place to put it in the story, Misty's akin to the first Shudo cross Modern Ash story and he'll meet her later.