Summary: Facing the prospect of travelling on his own for the first time in years, Ash runs into two unlikely trainers who soon help from become the Pokemon Master and person that he was meant to be.

Warnings: Swearing, violence, slash, etc...

Disclaimer: Pokemon does not belong to me and are property to GameFreak and Satoshi Taijiri. Please support the official release.

Chapter One: Shaken Resolve

"...Sunyshore City."

The tone and word that escaped the mouth of the young teenager was soft and seemed to be resigned, with bitterness laced deeply within it though could only be spotted if one looked for it. Staring at the large city before him, it was utterly amazing and beautiful to see just how pleasant the place was, even during the dark and stormy weather that was going on, the lights of the city were bright and vibrate with life that seemed to pierce through the very skies and illumining the darkness with its brilliant light. In nearly made him jealous at just how carefree and secure that the city seemed to feel. It made him want to go and throw up. The sheer atmosphere of the city was overwhelming towards his current feelings.

"Pikachu?" The curiousness of the electrical Pokemon looked up at his trainer, tilting his head while the black orbs blinked with worry and concern watching as Ash continued to stare at the city with a look of defeat and sorrow gleaming within his eyes.

Ash looked down at his Pokemon only to bend down and pick him up. A forceful smile slide upon his face, as he looked at his best friend, "Are you ready for our next gym battle, Pikachu?" There was absolutely no way for him to be able to defeat Volkner, and he knew it. They barely were able to get any training in, especially due to Dawn and her contest. His hands tightened into a fist at the thought of the blue haired girl as his teeth gritted together in frustrations at the mere thought of her. Practically feeling the blood his body starting boil and ran through his entire body, threatening to explode like a ticking time bomb. His hat blocked his eyes from sight as he proceeded to walk forward towards the city silently keeping to himself and ignoring the fatigued look upon his Pikachu's face as the rain slowly began descend upon them.

It seemed that ever since he had come to Sinnoh region everything was slowly starting to fall apart and crumble beneath him. All of his hopes and dreams felt like they had been shattered before him every time he turned around or even challenged someone to a battle. Even with all the training he poured all of his heart and energy into nothing came from it, and instead came off as a hinderance. His Pokemon were beaten left and right, though managed to pull off a win every now and then. However, ultimately, everything still continued to go wrong. Ash couldn't understand where exactly he was doing wrong with his training, maybe was there something he overlooked?

...Or was it possible what Paul had said. Being a loser and a pathetic trainer... a second rate one.

His heart twisted in pain at the acknowledgement of that thought as tears slowly started to threaten to slide down his cheeks only for him to surpass the feeling and bottle it up. Growing up in Pallet Town Ash hadn't been the most popular of kids, and in fact hardly had any actual friends. He mostly played by himself, isolated by his peers and even the adults, the only one whom actually cared was his mother. Yet, Ash could never admit how truly lonely he felt and thus suppressed it in order to keep her happy.

Though, him being lonely hadn't exactly true. There was Gary, though the relationship between him and Ash was a bit more complex than mere friendship and rivalry. While they had been good friends at one point in their lives, something had occurred between them that had formed into a bitter and spiteful rivalry only for it to have finally mended after battling each other at the Silver Conference. That being said to this day Ash was still unable to recall what exactly had happened between them that had caused their rivalry in the first place...

Thought that was all in the past anyway. And besides, ever since he had left Pallet Town to start his career as a Pokemon trainer he had managed to make actual friends, people he had come to treasure and respect. That wasn't to say that there hadn't been a few draw backs...Dawn being one of them.

The urge to face palm and groan was a struggling battle especially with Pikachu still sitting in his arms and quite frankly he felt absolutely no urge to drop him. While he had first started to travel with her and Brock, it almost felt that they were traveling with May and Max again after leaving the Hoenn region and held a spicy that reminded him of himself and Misty on a level. The girl had confidence issues and Ash did the best that he could with her, helping her train and providing advice when it was needed and encouraging her when Dawn needed it the most. However, it was up to Dawn to thrown herself into the work and get it down only for her to be half-assed about it or allowing her anger to cloud her judgement. Ash could understand the frustration that came with training Pokemon, but he had learned how to calm down and think rather than taking it out on everything. That was something which Dawn needed to learn, and frankly the faster the better in his opinion.

Not that it mattered anyway.

Too many things had happened in such a short amount of time that just made Ash simply want to get away for awhile. Was it stupid? He didn't know. Was it the right thing to do? His instinct told him yes. Deep down inside him, he felt... horrible. It was difficult to explain what exactly he was feeling and what was going through his head but it hurt. It hurt a lot. It was just... too many emotions to deal with all at once. He shut his eyes tightly as he struggled to chock back the tears once more.

"Damn it." Ash murmured under his breath as he felt the cold staring to creep upon on him and felt the chill run up his spine. He shivered a bit making it rather uncomfortable for Pikachu. "Sorry!"

The electric rat waved it off. "Pika! Chu-chu!" Beaming with a large smile on his face and snuggled up against Ash, allowing the young teen to smile a bit at the small Pokemon.

"I'm sure that we'll be able to find the Pokemon centre soon." Ash stated even though it sounded as if he was trying to tell that more towards himself rather than to Pikachu. Ash felt his body cringe much to his disappointment, he was horrible when it came to geography and locating areas even when he had visited or been that a place previously which was why he attempted to use maps in order to prevent himself from getting lost or worse. However, he had eventually learned that it was simply better for Brock to be the navigator of the group instead of him trying to figure it out.

Brock had been forced to return back home due to an emergency issue. What the issue was Ash was truly uncertain but the paled and frightened look on Brock's face when he had seen his older friend made it clear that the situation was very real. Unfortunately, remaining with Dawn in Sinnoh had come with a price. Making Ash wish he could have chosen different and forced himself to accept the events that had transpired without Brock being there.

It made him wonder what exactly had happened back home. Ash bit his lip in contemplating on calling his friend the moment he was able to locate the Pokemon centre but decided to hold on it and wait until he was able to get his...his...

"A-aCHOO!" Sneezing rather loudly as his body shook under the pressure of the sneeze and nearly dropping Pikachu. The raven haired teen grinned sheepishly at making it uncomfortable for Pikachu a third time only for the electric type to shake his head in teasing anger making him Ash snort in amusement at his Pokemon's antics. As it brought a sober look to his face watching as his faithful friend continued to snuggle up against him. His arms folded tighter in order to secure Pikachu within his arms and began to serious think.

Pikachu had been within since the beginning and had yet to abandon him, together they had fought alongside each other again and again fighting against strong foes in different regions and even in the most obscure and strange manners. Yet that had not stopped them from pushing forward into reaching their goal, no matter how many times the opposition and difficulty pressed against them. While, Ash admitted he had made many blunders when it came to battling and continued to capture new Pokemon in the new regions, there times where he cursed his childishness when he performed a stupid stunt. Such as using Pikachu against Roark, but then again he had beaten Roxanne and Brock in the same manner and frankly Type Advantages and Disadvantages were bullshit anyway. It all came down to the Pokemon and the trainer's bonds and quick thinking that truly determined the battle.

There were times in which advantages and disadvantages were a part of the battle. The way that the Sinnoh Gym leaders battled and used their Pokemon was on a level that Ash had never occurred or seen before, even though he had participated in four regions and witnessed many different tactics and battles. It was different in Sinnoh, everyone and everything seemed to be strong in various ways that only made Ash want to battle them even more and in other ways frightened him. Nonetheless Ash refused to allow fear to stop him from moving forward and throwing himself straight into the battle, and giving it his all. Doing anything less was not acceptable.

His hands curved into a first as he looked at the sky with a determined expression, gazing intense at the dark and foreboding storm that harshly blew against him with the heavy rain continuously pouring down upon him relentlessly. His body suddenly felt on fire as the flame inside of him started to rekindle and his heart bounding against his chest.

"That's right." Ash stated to himself in a soft and calm manner. "I can't give up. I have to keep on going. I've gotten this far and turning back now would not only be an insult to myself but also to my Pokemon as well as Volkner and Flint."

The strongest man in all of Sinnoh: the one whom was given the nickname the shocking shining star, Volkner. While Ash had heard the name briefly from Dawn and some articles, he had never imagined Volkner to look like what he had seen. However, the moment that Ash came in contact with the older teen he was able to sense the intense powerful that was radiating from and his Pokemon, it was almost suffocating and exciting. His Raichu was extremely powerful which impressed Ash very much so, since the last Gym leader that he had encountered had been Lt. Surge, whom had not bothered at all to train his Pikachu and evolved it the moment he had gotten it. With Volkner, he could tell in an instant that the man placed all of his hard work into training his Pokemon to great lengths to get from where they had been to where they were now.

The top of the Sinnoh, and frankly, it would be surprising if Volkner was far more powerful than Cynthia. Not to insult the woman, but what he could sense from the man was pure and utter trained power. Volkner knew exactly what he was doing and how he was going to do.

Ash knew he couldn't afford to underestimate the golden haired teen and needed to take Volkner as seriously as possible. Anything less would result in an instantly defeat. Battling with Flint made him realize that pretty damn fast.

He was nowhere near being ready for them, and his battle with Volkner was approaching very quickly. Ash needed to think and come up with an idea fast!

"Pikachu!" Blinking, Ash looked down and watching as the sleeping Pokemon nuzzled against his chest and lose his line of thought, briefly as the rain started to pour even harder down on him. His body started to shiver and his teeth gritted against each other. He felt so very cold and his nose was stuffy too. Shivering violently as he continued to walk down the streets of Sunyshore, he kept his eyes open and focused while observing the city as he made it his priority to find the Pokemon Centre and quickly. He could already feel his body starting to wave and stumble, only for him to come to the conclusion staying outside where it was raining probably wasn't such a good idea.

Sneezing again, Ash's pace quickened while his thoughts drifted back towards Flint and Volkner and frowned thinly yet held a small twitch of respect and eagerness. It being able to battle against two of the strongest out of Sinnoh was something that he couldn't shake off or throw off the feeling that was radiating from him. He had the urge to start bouncing just at the thought of being able to battle the two older men. His face became sober once more.

Only when Ash was certain that he was ready. He would challenge Volkner... hopefully the older male would understand that. His eyes glanced towards his belt and stared at the Pokemon he was currently carrying with him: Infernape, Grotle, Buizel, Staraptor, Gible and finally Pikachu.

Infernape was a duel type of Fire and Fighting similar to that of Blazekin from the Hoenn region, and was currently one of the strongest on him. It had taken him a good while in aiding the fire-type into overcoming his fears and gaining its friendship and respect, after what Paul had done to him. Infernape had Ash's complete and utter trust, though when battling Flint's Infernape... he had been utterly trashed like he was nothing at all. With Flint and Volkner being friends it was only safe to assume that the two were both equally as powerful, and sending him out there would be nothing short of suicide.

There was also Staraptor and Buizel. A Flying and water types which were highly weak against electrical and unfortunately that meant they were also no good against Volkner. It only left Ash with Pikachu, Gible, Grotle and Infernape. Grotle was automatically in due to his duelling type of ground and grass which gave him a type advantage and Pikachu was also in. He knew that Pikachu would have found it insulting if he had taken him out of the match if Volkner ended up using his Raichu.

Pikachu still had a little bit of a grudge against Raichu's, thanks to Lt. Surge. However, Ash was glad to see that Pikachu had managed to get over it in the past few years. And, at least Volkner's Raichu seemed like a pretty cool Pokemon. Plus, the Raichu seemed to get along rather well with Flint so it must be a good Pokemon. Ash knew he shouldn't lump Volkner's Raichu and other Raichu's in general with Lt. Surge's Raichu and besides, in the end Lt. Surge turned out to be an alright guy... if a bit intimidating.

Gible, was a dragon type and had a strong resistance towards electrical attacks. However, the problem was that Gible was an untrained Pokemon and Ash wasn't entirely sure if he was ready for an actual gym battle. He would preferred to train him up a bit more before using him in such an important battle such as this. There was also Gliscor to consider as well, whom was safe from electrical attacks, and it wouldn't be too hard to get him back, still he should probably check up and see Gliscor's training before making any final decisions. On the other hand he did have other Pokemon back at the lab, and while Ash was certain that they would be able to handle Volkner's Pokemon or at least have a better chance at lasting against the blonde's Pokemon. Ash was worried of betraying the trust he had gained from the Pokemon he had on him and didn't wish to lose it just because he decided to use Pokemon from other regions.

His mind briefly flashed to Bayleef and sighed rather heavily. Ash didn't really think that she'd like any of his other Pokemon... or at all. He still needed to work on her 'affectionate'tendencies. The dark haired teen looked thoughtful though.

Donpan would also have an advantage in battle against Volkner, however, Ash knew he couldn't entirely rely upon only Ground type Pokemon. The one thing that he learned in Sinnoh was that just types truly meant nothing. It made him want to carefully choose which Pokemon he would use in battle, and if his instincts were right he needed to be fully prepared to battle Volkner. He had yet to see Volkner's real power in battle, finding it difficult to even come up with even a remotely image of just how powerful Volkner actually was. The mere fact he was undefeated just made Ash even more curious than before.

Suddenly out of nowhere Ash felt a shortness of breath and his throat had tightened and became rather sore. Breathing especially had turned difficult and his own vision became rather blurry, while feeling his legs starting to stumble and the energy within his body beginning to fade at a rapid rate. The strength in his arms were starting to fail him, while his body started to feel as if it was on fire. Everything just started to go haywire and hurt everywhere. He felt his body push against a hard metallic wall that pressed hard against his exposed skin.

"...Pika...chu..." Ash breathed out harshly as the darkness bean to claim him. "I..." The last of his energy had left him and fell straight onto the concrete ground as the streams of water splashed all over his face, as Ash simply lay there as the last of his consciousness began to fade slowly into the night.

"ASHHHHHHHH!"


"Why am I friends with you again?"

The restaurant was packed as usually as many folk were sitting down with either a family member or a loved one. The rock n' roll music played in the background as his friend grinned widely at the other side of the table as he stuck a fork straight into his pasta.

"Oh lighten up, Volkner! It's not every day you and I get to hand out together!" His friend cheered raising his glass in the air as he grinned widely at the sullen blonde, whom was giving him a deadpanned look. "Aww c'mon Volkie don't look at me that way!"

Volkner raised an eyebrow silently. "I'm not giving you a look, Flint. But it's been nearly four weeks since the attack I can only deal with you for so long." It had all been said in jest and somewhat sarcastically as his afro haired friend simply grinned widely at his excuse as the Elite grabbed another glass and began to chug it down. The blonde blinked not even remotely phased by Flint's out going nature. "Still..." His electric blue eyes focused on the window upon his beloved tower as they narrowed darkly. "I'm don't mind spending time with you, Flint. I wish it could be been for a far better reason other than making emergency repairs upon the tower and my gym." The tone held an edge of anger and annoyance that had not been lost on his long time friend.

"True." Flint stated as his happy-go luckiness faded and was replaced by a serious looking man. He placed his glass upon the table. "But still, it's better than the entire city being destroyed or worse. Your tower and the gym is the lesser of the two evil's Volkner. I'm sure you'd rather have the people safe instead." While Volkner was a rather distant and somewhat anti-social man, in reality he cared very deeply for the people of Sunyshore and would do anything to protect them... in his own way and manner of course. Flint knew that Volkner wasn't the type to go out and play hero, he preferred doing it only when it had to be done and was right in front of him.

If there was one thing that Volkner absolutely hated, It was thieves. When thieves were involved, the rules were thrown out the window and Volkner would do everything in his power to take them down. Flint never knew or even understood the reason for his friend's hatred and utter disdain for thieves, but he wasn't really certain if he actually wanted to know. Flint had run several scenarios in his head and none of them turned out to be pretty, so he decided to just keep quite about it and live life the way it was. Besides, he was certain that Volkner would simply tell him off anyway for asking about it.

Volkner grunted. "Still doesn't mean I like the fact I have to clean up and repair all the messes." He loved technology and handling it, but cleaning up after someone else pissed him off. A brief look of irritation crossed his face. "Damn it, I wish we were in the smoking area."

"Oh quit your bitching." Flint remarked with a wave and a grin. "Just be glad that we can finally relax after all that hard work we've been doing! Helping you repair the tower and gym hadn't exactly been the easiest job in the world, you know that right?"

Volkner snorted as he took a sip of his drink. "That's because you spend all day with your heads stuck in the clouds."

"Whatever you say man!" Flint stuck out his tongue as he grinned good-naturedly at Volkner as he once again took a sip of drink. "You know, I've been thinking lately." Feeling Volkner's eyes focus steadily on him. "I wonder why those Team Rocket guys were doing in Sunyshore anyway? I mean, don't they usually operate in the Kanto region? Why would they make the long trip of coming all the way here? It makes no sense."

Volkner frowned. "I don't know. But from the looks of it, seems Ash knew them awfully well."

"You don't think that those Team Rocket morons have been chasing after him all this time do you?" Flint asked with a serious look on his face. The two men looked at each other with stoic expressions, neither one wavering at the thought and remained silent. Suddenly Flint and Volkner snorted unison at the absurd idea.

"Yeah, right." Volkner stated dryly with a low chuckle. "I sincerely doubt that those Team Rocket scum would waste their efforts on chasing Ash and his friends."

Flint shrugged with a grin. "There is absolutely no way they are that stupid! But I have to admit, they did look pretty stupid and dim."

"Reminds me of a certain someone," Volkner remarked dryly.

"HEY!"

Volkner smirked at his lips touched the edges of his drink and allowed the alcohol to slide down his throat.

"Ass!" Flint stated as he mocked glared at his friend, before looking rather thoughtful. "Should we at least contact the Kanto League and inform them? It's still a political manner and an act of terrorisim."

Volkner looked at him with a bored expression. "Why bother? They're gone now and the damage has been repair. I don't see a need to drag in other regions to investigate. What's done is done. Besides it's my business anyway."

"Eh, I guess." Flint replied while shaking his head. "Well as long as you know what you're doing, I'll trust your judgement Volkner."

"Thanks." Was Volkner's answer, though was sounded very sincere at the compliment. "Anyway, thanks for dinner Flint. I appreciate it." It wasn't that Volkner was low on cash or anything, he could easily do it. But it was nice sometimes to actually be treated out every once and awhile, and actually be a person instead of some figure standing upon a pedestal. The burden of being Sinnoh's strongest Gym leader made Volkner feel nothing more than a machine put on display by the people, only to live for entertaining them and with no challenging opponents appearing it felt like everything was a waste.

Flint waved it off, wearing a grin on his face. "No problem, Volkner. Just make sure to treat me next time alright? And I'll consider it even."

"Very generous of you," Was Volkner's curt reply as Flint continued to grin unphased by the blonde's deadpanned look. As he stabbed the fork into the last of his meal and downed the rest of his drink, Volkner then held up his hand. "Waiter, check please!"

Flint pouted. "We're leaving already, Volkner? That ain't cool man!"

"Why are you complaining?" Volkner questioned dryly as he raised an eyebrow at his long-time friend while folding his arms on his chest. "We've been here for nearly four hours as it is, and it's late. I would like to actually get a good night sleep for a change and actual look presentable opposed to looking like crap in front of challengers." Ever since his tower and his gym had been damaged Volkner and Flint had spent rigorous hours and days in order to complete the repairs and it to how it used to be, or even better.

Flint stuck out his tongue. "Spoil sport!"

"Bite me."

Flint snorted and shuddered. "No thanks, I don't even know where you've been."

"Haha. Very funny, Flint. I could almost ask you the same question, but wait. I already know were you've been." Volkner retorted without missing a beat and wore his blank look. "Working with me non-stop."

Flint rolled his eyes. "Well at least I got my work out quota for at least a month or two."

"Whatever you say Flint." Was Volkner's stotic reply as the blonde placed money upon the table as the waiter appeared with the check, glancing back at Flint, whom struggled to get out of his seat. "Having trouble Flint?"

Flint scowled. "I ain't drunk!"

"Never said you were."

"Damn straight!"

'Why am I friends with him again?' Volkner thought to himself as he resisted the urge to face palm right than and there only to tell himself that he was in a public place and doing such a thing wouldn't be a good idea. The leader of Sunyshore waited patiently as Flint seemed to finally get himself out of the seat and stand without falling down, he observed Flint carefully and was puzzled by the lack of red in his face. Was it possible that Flint was just being a clumsy idiot?

Flint made the peace sign. "See Volkie? I can stand without falling down with no problem!" As he began to boast with a cheerful laugh.

'That answers that question.' "Don't call me Volkie." The blonde hissed coldly.

Flint pouted once more. "Fine. Ruin my fun."

"That's why I exist." Volkner stated nonchanataly as the two headed out of the restaurant and into the pouring rain. He scowled at the storm that hanged above them, blowing with harsh winds and heavy rain that fell from the clouds above. "Damn it. I thought the storm was tomorrow."

The fire elite frowned. "Well, looks like we'd better start heading home as fast as we can, Volkner. It doesn't look like the storm is going to settle down any time soon. And, I'd rather not get wet, thanks." The redhead wrinkled in his nose, showing exactly what he thought about getting caught in the downpour.

"Fine. Whatever Flint," Volkner murmured as he pretended to listen to what Flint had just told him as he pulled out his Poketech and looked it with a bored expression. He looked to the side and stared as a figure just ahead of them seemed to be losing balance. His eyes narrowed as he struggled to make out the person, he could tell that they were familiar. "Hey... is that guy alright?"

Flint stared for several moments. "Wait a second... that jacket! I've seen it before, I'm sure!" His mind was racing quickly as he tried to make a connection to whom the jacket belonged, Volkner seemed to agree as his friend was also struggling to remember whom it belonged to. However, they're thoughts were cut short when the figure collapsed onto the ground. "H-Hey!" The sheer urgancey in his voice sent the two of them dashing forward towards the figure and hoped that they hadn't been too late.

Volkner cursed. "Damn it! I hope the guy's still alive!"

"It could be a girl." Flint pointed out as he ran beside Volkner wearing a determined expression that matched Volkner's, the frown on his face and the feel of the situation made the normally easy-going teen to become serious but that didn't stop him from cracking a joke in order to lighten the mood no matter how serious the situation is.

Volkner glared at Flint. "Seriously Flint, now is not the time!"

Neither one stopped or slowed down as they began to approached the unconscious persona, as they rain began to pour down even harder. Flint and Volkner slicked upon the wet concrete sending them sliding down the sidewalk unable to control their movement, until Volkner lowered himself and turned his body in order to slow himself down as he came to a stop to where the kid was sitting. Reaching out, he grabbed Flint by the arm and pulled him straight into the wall. Giving Flint a look, the blue eyed gym leader carefully observed the silently kid as he began to pant as Volkner's eyes caught onto the small yellow and orange fur being curled him in his arms.

"Ash!"

Flint snapped his head. "Seriously!"


Chapter one-end.

I hope that you enjoyed the first chapter of Renewed Resolve. I have yet to decided whether or not this will be a LightingBoltshipping or Ash x Male!Harem fic. I am open to any suggestions or opinions outside of Coma or Palletshipping. Thanks for reading and please review.