A/N: Hi everyone and welcome to my very first fanfic. I really love this story called The Traveler by The Straight Elf and have been a big fan ever since it was posted all those years ago. He really expands on the Pokemon universe and turns it into something more than the anime/games/manga ever could. His writing style is also superb and I've used it for inspiration when writing my own book.
I always imagined what it would be like for the anime characters to read about a different, slightly darker version of themselves and how they might react to different personalities, pokemon, and even how radically different some of these events play out. So WITH PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR, I took it upon myself to do just that.
I highly recommend going to read his story so as not to be interrupted constantly with reactions, unless of course you like that sort of thing, then by all means nice to meet ya. This is a simple intro to get the ball rolling and introduce our readers before diving into the real meat of the story.
Obviously I don't own Pokemon and am not the original author of the Traveler. That is a writer named The Straight Elf. DID I MENTION I HAVE THEIR PERMISSION TO USE THEIR STORY? BECAUSE I DO! Constructive Criticism is always appreciated and any flames will be incinerated by my Litwick.
Make sure to leave a review in the comments and enjoy!
Ash Ketchum, the resident pride of Pallet Town, was laying comfortably in the top bunk of his bed. Why he had bunk beds as a single child was anyone's guess, but that was not the topic currently plaguing Ash's mind. No, today he was contemplating the next move in his quest to become a true Pokemon Master. When he was younger, he thought that just meant catching lots of pokemon and winning battles. As he matured, that changed to winning a league competition. He already traveled across many regions, caught dozens of powerful pokemon who he had come to call family, and made many amazing friends along the way.
He'd competed in too many pokemon leagues to count, but never managed to pull off the one task on his check list that was beginning to seem more like a childish fantasy the closer he got, only to have it torn away. He'd been so close too, making it all the way to the Kalos finals against Alain, his best effort so far. In the end, he still fell short right at the finish even after all his pokemon gave it their all and then some. What was he missing? What key element was absent from his training methods that kept him from achieving victory?
"I wonder if everyone else has this much trouble?" Ash pondered aloud. "May and Dawn are doing great on the coordinator circuit, Misty and Celmont are running their gyms, Brock's on his way to being a Pokemon Doctor. Gary's a professor mini in training and I haven't even spoken with Johnathan or Ameila since we started our journeys. I know they dropped out a long ways back, but I wonder what they are doing now?" He knew all this thinking was his own attempt to avoid the real question: What should he do now?
"Pika-pi," shouted an adorable yellow blur as it leapt onto Ash's chest. Pikachu, his first and most loyal companion.
"Hey Pikachu," Ash greeted with a warm smile. All of the negativity left his body when Ash stared into those black eyes and red rosy cheeks.
"Pika?" said Pikachu with the tilt of his tiny head. Ash laughed. Pikachu could always tell if something was bothering him.
"It's nothing Pikachu," he reassured, sitting up and placing the curious electric type on the mattress. "Just thinking about some ways we can improve our training for the next league, whenever that is."
This seemed to excite the small mouse pokemon, its cheeks sparking with little streams of electricity.
"Ash, sweetie," a feminine voice called from outside the bedroom. "Lunch is almost ready!"
"Alright," came an equally enthusiastic cry as Ash leapt from the top bunk and rushed down the stairs with Pikachu in hot pursuit. They both slid into the kitchen to find a spread of delicious sandwiches and fruits lining the table. Ash lunged, preparing to stuff his face full of everything he could grab, when a blue veil of psychic energy wrapped around him, suspending the 16 year old trainer in midair. (A/N: I'm going with the logic that Ash actually does age and by the end of Kalos is 16, given how odd time tends to flow in the anime.)
"Thank you Mimey." Delia Ketchum praised the mime pokemon as she shuffled back into the kitchen, holding a frying pan in hand. Ash gulped and wondered what Brock might have to say about that.
"Mime Mime," Mr. Mime nodded, gently releasing Ash from its telekinetic hold.
"Could you tell Mr. Mime not to do that anymore?" Ash grumbled, shooting a glare at the household mime, who smiled smugly while lapping up Delia's praise.
"I wouldn't have to if you showed the manners I taught you young man," Delia shot back, her usually kind face morphing into a harsh glare, who immediately apologized for daring to talk back to his mother. "So Ashy," she continued in a pleasant tone, "what were you doing upstairs? Not packing for another journey already are you?"
She was joking, but a small part of Delia hoped Ash would stick around a bit longer this time. He was still her baby boy and while she would never stand in the way of his dream, she did miss him. Who knows what kind of dangers he faced on a daily basis. The Orange Islands and Greenfield were some of the most terrifying experiences of her life and knowing her son was caught up in the middle nearly made her demand he come back home at once. She could only hope those were outliers and the rest of his journey was relatively safe. Or as safe as one could be when training pokemon or being chased around by a trio of nitwits. She was his mother after all. Maybe her surprise would fix that…
"Just thinking about what I want to do next," he replied, as if reading his mother's mind.
"Pikachu," Pikachu agreed, placing a hand on his chin in thought.
Delia coughed before saying, "Well if you're looking for something exciting to do this summer, you could always come along with me on my trip." Ash's head looked up, face stuffed with food. He swallowed the literal mountain in one gulp and leaned across the table.
"What trip?" He asked as any curious teenager would. Delia giggled.
"Professor Oak ended up being invited to visit his brother in the Alola region, but can't make it because of an upcoming conference in a few weeks, so he was gracious enough to give his tickets to me."
The reaction was instantaneous.
"Alola region? Do they have any new pokemon there? Wait, Professor Oak has a brother!?" The last one was probably the biggest shock. Even Delia had been surprised.
"Yes, he does and he's a researcher too. Alola has many pokemon unique to the region since it is an isolated island chain and most pokemon adapted to live in the harsher environments. There are actually some examples of pokemon from other regions changing their appearance entirely after they were brought over, resulting in totally new regional variants."
"Really?" Ash stared with stars in his eyes. "Do you think there is a different type of Pikachu there?"
"Well I heard there is an Alolan Raichu, but that's about all I know."
Ash and Pikachu had different reactions to that news. Ash was beyond excited while his tiny companion looked less thrilled. The world could do with less Raichu in his opinion, especially if they were like Surge's. Pikachu will always be the superior option.
"Well if you're that excited now, just wait until we get there." And now I'll be able to spend a little time with my baby boy, Delia thought to herself.
"Alright!" Ash screamed, jumping up and knocking over the chair he sat in. "We're going to…"
And in a bright flash of light, Ash, Pikachu, and his mother vanished from the kitchen.
Mr. Mime blinked twice and stared at the empty kitchen before breaking down in a crazed panic, searching the house high and low for any sign of its family.
And that was only the beginning…
Far down the road at Professor Oak's lab, the Pokemon Professor was busy conversing with his grandson Gary about their next research project.
"How about we work on preparing some preliminary information about pokemon and their effect on the ranch's environment?" Gary proposed as he paced back and forth across the room. "If we reach out to Professor Birch for some of his data, we could really get a jump on it before the conference."
Professor Oak grumbled and shook his head.
"I'm not so sure Gary," he said with a frown. "My focus is on the relationship between humans and Pokemon, not their habitats."
"But don't you see how important this is?" Gary nearly screamed. "People and pokemon live side by side like two sides of the same coins. Do pokemon go to environments that suit their needs or do they create the environment? Grimer and Muk are usually found in polluted areas, but were the areas always that polluted or did the pokemon have a hand in it? Think of how that information could affect how we modify terrain or how trainers can help their pokemon grow?"
"I'm sorry Gary, but I'm still not so sure."
Gary was fuming now. "Why is it whenever I suggest something, you always have to shoot it down? Whenever we work together, you run the show and I get stuck following along like a dancing Growlithe?" His time in Sinnoh under Professor Rowan had really opened his eyes to so many things. It was nice being treated like a colleague instead of someone's grandson.
"Gary, it's not like that," Oak argued. "You're still studying to earn your Professor's licenses. I'm just trying to help keep you on track. Ever since you stopped training pokemon professionally, you've been jumping from one idea to another, but sometimes you tend to run in halfcocked, thinking you already have all the answers." Oak spoke calmly, but Gary picked up on the hidden disappointment in his eyes.
"Yeah, I know Gramps. Sorry," he said. Though I bet if Ash had the idea you'd let him run off without question. Gary knew his Grandfather loved him and his sister more than anything, but sometimes it felt like he was the friends' kid while Ash got all the praise, even though Gary had been ahead of him since day one. At least while Daisy spent most of her time traveling for her own performances, she called to check in on how he was doing. There were times he considered jumping back into training, maybe strike out from under his grandfather's shadow.
Before either of them could utter another word, both vanished in flash of ethereal light.
In Cerulean City, a ginger haired girl was busy scrubbing her gym's pool, using rather rude language to describe her last challenger who had the gall to poison her water with way too much toxic when she was consumed by a bright flash and her brush collapsed to the floor.
In Pewter, Brock was busy preparing to win the heart of Nurse Joy once more, when he too vanished without a trace.
May and Max, both home and discussing their recent activities, May with her next string of contest victories inspired by Gym Leader Elysa and Max having just started out on his journey, screamed as they vanished as well.
Far away in Sinnoh, Dawn and Piplup were busy practicing when the strange light appeared before them.
"What's that?" Dawn screamed, already shaking as Piplup jumped in front of her.
"Piplup!" It cried and unleashed a torrent of bubbles, only to be shocked when nothing happened and cried louder as the light engulfed both pokemon and trainer.
Cilan and Iris were not together, one traveling Johto to improve their abilities as a Pokemon Connoisseur while the other was in Kalos on their way to meet with the Dragon type master. Both would have to put their explorations on hold as they vanished from the world they knew. Axew's cry being the last thing anyone heard of the two Unovians.
Clemont and Bonnie huddled together, Dedenne in between, as a ball of light shot towards them. Bonnie was in Celmont's arms as his gadgets tried to defend them, but were unable to do anything as the light grabbed them both, leaving the Electric gym void of anyone.
Far away while this was happening, Serena experienced a very similar situation as she vanished from her room.
"Alrighty team, let's get down to business!" Jessie cheered as she, along with James and the ever lovable Meowth approached Team Rocket Headquarters. They may have failed to capture Pikachu, or any pokemon for what felt like the thousandth time, but they were sure the boss would see it wasn't their fault. After all, they were the most loyal members the criminal organization had ever seen.
"And what business is that? Failing? Because we're at the top of the charts in that industry," said James as he hung his head in defeat.
"Don't say that!" Meowth scolded, filing his nails. "I just know the boss has a critical mission waiting for us at HQ. After all, we are the ones who stopped those fashion disasters from destroying all of Kalos. Once we start bringing in the poke-gold again, we'll be rolling in it and I'll knock that stupid Persian to the curb. HAHAHAHA!" (A/N: I'm not writing the accent. Way too hard to keep up so just pretend.)
"Really?" Jame's attitude did an instant 180 and suddenly he was dancing along with Jessie. "Then let's hop to it men. The boss awaits!"
"Yeah!" Their jump was interrupted as a beam of light shot down at them.
"But the story just started and we're blasting off already?"
"Waaa!" Ash yelled as he fell onto the cold, hard floor with a thud. His face hurt as he climbed to his feet, only to crash back down when a tiny body fell onto his. "Pikachu? Are you ok buddy?" He heard a small grumble and helped brush his companion off.
"Pika?" It asked him, beady black eyes looking around the dark room for anything to zap. He didn't know what happened, but something was getting zapped for this.
"I don't know Pikachu. What do you think…"
"Ash?" Ash spun around to find his mother kneeling on the floor and quickly he rushed over to help her up.
"Mom, are you ok?" He asked in a small panic. She smiled at his concern and nodded.
"Yes, I'm fine. But where are we?" They both looked around, but before either could take note of the room, more flashes appeared all around them, followed by a chorus of screams. When the light died down, Ash stared at the collapsed faces of his many friends in a crumpled heap.
"Guys, are you alright? What are you doing here?" He questioned, hurrying with his mother to assist them.
"Other than the excruciating pain in my back, I'm fine," Professor Oak moaned, comforted by a hand from Delia. Meanwhile Pikachu helped up the other pokemon.
"Piplip. Pip? Pip piplup?"
"Axew? Axew, axe!"
"AXEW!" Axew, having fallen out of Iris' hair had come face to face with the fairy type and quickly scurried back to the safety of her trainer's head. Only his eyes peeked out from the black bush that was Iris' hair. Pikachu groaned and settled for comforting Dedenne while Piplup continued to run around in a panic until Dawn picked him up and comforted him with her voice.
"Is everyone ok?" Brock, the symbol of responsibility called out, the sounds of muffled fines ringing back.
"Oh Arceus, we've been abducted!" May shrieked, running back and forth. "Is it aliens? Are they going to dissect us? Ghaaa!"
"May stop screaming. You're giving everyone an even worse head ache." Max complained, plugging his ears to block out her sister's screams.
"I'll freak out if I want to Max!" She screamed louder.
"Ok, what's going on here and who's butt is about to get a massive kicking?" Misty raged, looking more like a fire type than a water gym leader. Serena and Dawn glanced at each other and laughed awkwardly while Iris' stared in wonder. Wow, she's tough, the dragon girl thought to herself.
"Oh great, what did you do this time Ashyboy?" Ash flinched hearing his old nickname and rounded on the ever lovable Gary.
"Why do you assume it's my fault Gary?"
"Please," the youngest Oak scoffed, "it's always your fault." The pair started shouting at one another, nearly enough to drown out the still hysterical May.
"Well, everyone certainly is lively," Cilan chuckled.
"I wanna go home," Bonnie sniffled, getting everyone's to quiet down. Before Clemont could comment, Delia had already scooped up the little girl and rocked her gently.
"Don't worry Bonnie. Everything's going to be just fine. So let's act like a big girl, ok?" Bonnie slowly stopped crying.
"Ok Ms. Ketchum." Clemont sent Ash's mother a silent thank you, to which she happily returned.
"In all seriousness, does anyone have any idea what's going on?" Oak chimed in. "And why are we in a Pokemon Center?"
It finally dawned on the group to look around and notice they were indeed in a Pokemon Center. There was a large common are with a massive table surrounded by a comfy couch next to a roaring fireplace. A large tv rested on the wall and nearby there were stairs leading to another floor. There was even a standard station where Nurse Joy would take people's pokemon. However, it wasn't Nurse Joy who stood at the ready.
"Well it's about time you noticed me," the stranger laughed wearing a large smile befitting a Gengar. He wore nothing fancy, blue jeans and a dark navy shirt. A pair of glasses blocked his eyes from view, but everyone noticed an unnatural purple hue behind them. On his head sat a small pokemon that resembled a candle while on the desk between them lay a slightly larger pokemon, curled up in what appeared to be deep slumber. It's fur was black as night save for the yellow rings spread out across it's body.
"Hey who are you?" Ash shouted, reaching for his belt, only for his eyes to widen when he grabbed nothing but air. "Hey where are my pokemon?" Everyone had the panicked reaction to check their own pockets, followed by similar shrieks as their balls were gone.
"Relax, relax," the stranger repeated. "You're pokemon are fine. I'll explain as soon as our last guests arrive." As if on que, another light appeared in tandem with three familiar screams.
"Oh did someone catch the number of that Taurus?" A groggy Jessie asked as she rubbed her back and her male cohorts clambered to their feet.
"Team Rocket!" Everyone shouted.
"Team Twerps? And in full force too?" The three Rocket members recovered quickly enough and stood opposite the "twerps". "What's the big idea bringing us here? Unless you've finally decided to hand over that precious Pikachu?" Jessie mocked.
"I'd never give you Pikachu. Quick use thunderbolt," Ash shouted.
"Pika," Pikachu cried, electricity dripping from its small body. A blast of lightning jumped from Pikachu and soared towards the bumbling Team Rocket members, who shrieked seeing imminent pain approach.
A black figure leapt ahead to intercept the dazzling bolt and Umbreon's eyes glowed as a green barrier appeared before them. Pikachu's thunderbolt hit head on, but was unable to penetrate the protective shield. The lightshow ended just as fast as it had started and everyone stared in shock (no pun intended).
"I kindly ask that you not start battling here," the stranger said calmly. Team Rocket jumped realizing there was someone so close to them. "Otherwise I can't promise to be as passive next time. You're lucky I even let you keep Pikachu on hand." Ash held onto Pikachu tight. "Same goes for the Piplup, Axew, and Dedenne." Each pokemon tried to hide behind their trainer when their name was called, all except Piplup who stood tall, though his body was shaking like a jackhammer.
"Don't go threatening our pokemon you jerk," Dawn yelled, clutching Piplup even tighter before it could try anything.
"Who are you young man and why have you brought us here?" Professor Oak demanded, displaying a rare amount of anger in his wizened eyes.
"I suppose that's a fair question. After all, if you're going to play my game, you should probably know the rules." The stranger jumped up and landed on the counter, his Litwick showing no signs of losing balance. "My name is not important, but for the sake of conversation you may refer to me as Gira. As for why you're here, I've brought you all to read a story?"
"A story?" Most everyone repeated, nay shouted.
"Listen here pipsqueak. Team Rocket doesn't do bed time stories." Jessie argued.
"Yeah, the only kinds of stories we tell are epic sagas of our incredible exploits." James continued.
"One where we rule and you drool, dig it?" Meowth added.
"So here we come!" They all shouted and charged the now named Gira. Gira didn't look annoyed by their disruption. In fact, he looked quite amused. He raised a hand and everyone watched in horror as a purple light engulfed Team Rocket, freezing them in place.
"Hey what's going on? James? Meowth? Do something!" Jessie squealed.
"Do what?" They both yelled in return. It's just like Mr. Mime, Ash thought as Gira laughed.
"I knew you were going to do it and it's still funny. Now sit down." He waved his hand and the three criminals landed on the plushy couch, seated, and looking very dazed.
"What just happened?" Iris asked, cocking her head.
"I think Team Rocket just got put in a time out," Brock replied.
"Serves them right," Gary chimed in, smirking all the while. Dawn was also suppressing a giggle, but thankfully Misty saved her from being noticed.
"So why did you kidnap all of us? If you're not with Team Rocket, then let us go."
"I'm afraid I can't do that Misty," Gira replied, earning a small gasp. "Yes," he said with a smile, "I know your name. I know all of your names and much about each of you."
"Sir, please, who are you and what do you want?" Delia begged, her voice ringing loud above all the others. Gira's smile softened slightly.
"You see Ms. Ketchum, I am what one might call a Watcher, and no, nothing like a Pokemon Watcher," he said quickly, brow narrowed at the thought of a certain individual. "What I do is look through the multiverse, viewing world after world, some very similar and others radically different."
"Multiverse?" Bonnie asked, only for her big brother to answer.
"The multiverse Bonnie is a theory that there are an infinite number of worlds that exist parallel to one another. Each one affected differently by the events of that reality."
"Exactly. Consider this," Gira interrupted. "We all know Ash and Pikachu met because he was late and Pikachu was the only pokemon Oak had left, despite knowing there were four trainers coming that day." Oak had the decency to look a little embarrassed at that particular screw up. "Well, what if Ash had been on time to receive his pokemon and it was Gary who was late?"
That got everyone to pause in their tracks. Ash without Pikachu? Unthinkable. All eyes turned to the two boys in question, trying to imagine the cute electric mouse pokemon on Gary's shoulder, but many had a hard time picturing something so, so, so wrong.
"Or imagine a world exactly the same, the only difference being Ash was born a girl?" Many faces, mostly female, lit up red at the thought, while the male companions did not bother containing their laughter.
"Well we've seen what that would look like already, right Misty?" Brock coughed out, much to his shorter friend's annoyance.
"I thought we agreed never to speak of that," he hissed like an Ekans. Most others looked at the original trio curiously.
"Oh I can elaborate," Gira spoke up. "You see, Erika and Ash had a bit of a disagreement over her line of perfume and the Gym Leader banned Ash from the gym over it, so he disguised himself as a girl to sneak back in with Team Rocket's help. Kind of a sour note for both of them, don't you think?"
While Ash was shocked Gira knew of his secret, the others resumed laughing with double the force. The only ones not joining in on the fun were Professor Oak and Delia, the latter of whom was chewing Ash for, in her words, not being civil when in a disagreement.
"But mom, I was ten," he argued, "and you heard Gira. Erika was just as bad as me."
"I don't care young man. I raised you better than to be someone who gets thrown out onto the street for causing a scene. And believe me, once we get out of this place I will be having some serious words with that flower girl for treating my baby boy so rudely." Everyone backed away from the burning fury only an angry mother could produce.
"So," Gira called again, "who's ready to see themselves and everyone else in a whole new light?"
No one replied right away, everyone looking at each other for some sign until a trio of lovable fools spoke up.
"Is there any chance that we manage to finally capture Pikachu and prove our obvious superiority to the boss?" Meowth asked, with Jessie and James nodding vigorously. Gira laughed.
"All's possible. If you want to find out, then take a seat." Instantly the Rocket trio leapt onto the couch at the ready, giant anime smiles plastered on their faces. The rest where still unsure.
"What do you guys think? Can we trust this guy?" Gary asked, not taking his eyes off the raven haired man.
"I don't think we have much choice," Brock pointed out.
"Indeed, the flavor of his powers is too much for any of us to handle, especially without our pokemon."
"Even with our pokemon there may not be anything we can do," Serena pointed out, hugging herself tightly as she worried about her poor pokemon and their fate.
"Don't worry. I promise they really are fine," Gira shouted, not caring in the slightest he exposed his eavesdropping.
"It could be cool to see other versions of ourselves," Dawn chimed in. "Maybe we'll pick up some really cool new ideas for training."
"Oh I can only imagine what contests could be like." May gushed, her earlier panic forgotten. The girls made a valid point as everyone began muttering over what their counterparts may be like.
"Well ok then, but I'd better be as amazing and beautiful in this reality as I am in this one." Mist stood proudly with her decleration.
"Yeah and about as modest too," Ash mumbled to himself, aware that he had similar thoughts, though his introspective was to a different tune.
Maybe this other version of me had better luck than I did. The thought of seeing himself, or at least another version of himself, made him feel both excited and…. nervous?
"I'll bet this version of me is even more amazing than ever. There's no way you'd get lucky enough to beat another me Ashyboy." A tick mark appeared on Ash's head as he resumed fighting with his longtime rival.
"What do you think Professor?" Delia asked. The elder man did not respond right away. His eyes moved from the excited kids to Gira and back again.
"I don't know what this man's plan is, but I don't think we should let our guard down around him. For now, let's just play his game and see what we can uncover." Delia nodded and turned with Oak to address the group. "Well I for one think this will be a fabulous experience," he addressed everyone, his serious tone replaced by the usual jovial one he tended to wear.
"Alright then, let's do it!" Everyone cheered. Gira smirked and clapped his hands together.
"Great! We will read a couple chapters at a time, with snack breaks in between. Upstairs there are enough rooms for everyone, so don't worry about losing sleep. Also, time moves differently here, so there is no rush either. Take your time and enjoy the book."
"Book? What book?" Ash asked as he mindlessly rubbed Pikachu's head. Suddenly there was a flash of light and all the trainers and tag alongs gathered next to Team Rocket, who were staring at a thick sinned book that appeared from nowhere.
"The Traveler?" Ash read aloud, staring at the picture on the cover. It looked like him, sort of, but with a completely different outfit and a serious look he couldn't imagine wearing himself. Pikachu was not in sight, instead replaced by a massive Nidoking towering behind him.
"Pika pi?" Pikachu nuzzled comfortingly against Ash's shoulder.
"Ready bud?" He asked, only for the electric mouse to squeal with confidence.
"So who wants to read first?" Delia asked in the joyous way only she could.
"I believe I can start us of," Oak answered, picking up the book and opening to the first page. "Ehheem, Chapter 1: The Rookie."
And with that our story is underway. Once again, I HAVE THE STRAIGHT ELF'S PERMISSION TO POST THIS STORY! If for some reason the fanfic Gods deem this work to violate some rules, you can also find the story posted to my AO3 account under the name MasterTrainerMatt (https colon backslash backslash archiveofourown dot org backslash users backslash MasterTrainerMatt)