Battle over the Horizon
"I thought my day was going to be just like any other, ya know? Go around searching for trainers I deemed capable of taking on the Kanto Battle Frontier…it's what I do. My agenda that day was fairly straightforward…nothing new, really. Admittedly, I had fallen into a rather circular rut, which is something I hate to fall into."
Scott laughed boisterously, surprising some of the reporters. "But if there is something I can always count on from that kid, it's that he always knows how to surprise me…to tell you all the truth, I was mighty disappointed when he initially turned down my offer to become a Frontier Brain. However, I understood that he wanted to continue his journey. After all, what kind of trainer doesn't want to explore the world for what it has to offer? But back to topic at hand, as I'm sure that is what you reporters want to hear." He turned and eyed each and every camera before announcing his answer to everyone's question.
"Ash Ketchum…is indeed the seventh Frontier Brain of the Kanto Battle Frontier."
It was a beautiful day over in Pallet Town. The normally tranquil atmosphere of the quaint town was further blessed with an enriching bout of weather. Today was a fine day, as any towns person would've agreed.
Delia Ketchum was also enjoying the fine weather as she blissfully tended to her flourishing garden. She took a temporary break from her work and looked around, her eyes trying to locate something or someone. "Mimey! Where are you?" She called out, listening for a response.
Sure enough, a Mr. Mime appeared from the side of the house, looking battered and exhausted. Delia gasped at the amount of dirt and grime that covered her number one helper. "Mimey? What have you been doing that's gotten you so dirtied?"
"Mime! Mr. Mime! Mime…" Mr. Mime tried to explain, waving its hands frantically. Delia looked at the poor Pokémon quizzically. "Were you digging for something?"
"Mime!" Mr. Mime denied, exasperated at the lack of effective communication. "Mime, Mr. Mime, mime!" Still confused, Ms. Ketchum attempted to decipher the code of what her Pokémon was trying to tell her. "You…fell into a mud puddle?" Mr. Mime gave her a deadpan expression; Delia defensively retorted, "Well, it's not as if I can read your mind, Mr. Psychic Type!"
Delia looked past Mr. Mime and traced her eyes to where Mr. Mime had just come from, believing that the sound she heard and come from over there. "Hello? Is someone there?" She politely called out, curious to see who would appear. Slowly but surely, an almost cyan colored Pokémon emerged from the side, giving the young woman a silly grin. "Marsh!"
"Good afternoon, Marshtomp!" Delia earnestly replied, letting out a small giggle. "I can see why Mimey is all covered with dirt and mud now…" Mr. Mime folded its arms, sticking its tongue out at Marshtomp. Mrs. Ketchum stifled another chuckle before addressing the Pokémon again. "Why are you here? Is Brock with you today?"
Marshtomp nodded in affirmation, pointing towards the other side of the house. A well-built young man came into view and smiled at Delia. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Ketchum. It's nice to see you again."
Delia stood up and took off her gardening gloves as she gave Brock a motherly smile. "Likewise. It's always a pleasure to have you keep Mimey and me company."
"Sorry about your Mr. Mime. Marshtomp wanted to play a prank and…well…how could I stand in the way?" He said, giving a sheepish grin towards Mr. Mime. "Sorry about that, Mr. Mime." With a huff, Mr. Mime gave Brock the cold shoulder for a bit before forgiving him. All of them had a bit of a laugh to blow over the whole situation.
As they finished, Delia turned to Brock again. "So, are you here by yourself, or…"
"If you are talking about Ash, he isn't here at the moment." Brock answered. Sensing a mother's panic attack, he quickly finished, "…but he'll be here soon. He just said that he had to take care of a few things before coming back."
"Oh?" Delia questioned, wondering what her son could possibly be up to now. "Is he traveling by himself?"
Brock slowly shook his head. "No, he's still traveling with Dawn at the moment. According to what he said, he should be back within the next day or so."
Delia nodded for a second, before doing a sudden double-take. "Wait, What! He's traveling with Dawn…by himself?"
Brock looked at her with a confused expression. "Yeah. Dawn insisted that she keep him company and…"
"Oh no…no! This simply won't do!" Mrs. Ketchum interrupted, rapidly getting more and more worked up. She rushed inside the house and slammed the door behind her, leaving a stunned party behind her. Brock glanced over Marshtomp, giving a quick shrug of his shoulders. The Pokémon mimicked Brock, shrugging its shoulders in response. All of them heard a phone being picked up then slammed a few moments later.
Delia brazenly rushed back into the front yard, looking almost unstable. For Brock, it was quite the shocking experience. Delia turned back to Brock and pointed to him accusingly. "…"
"Mrs. Ketchum!" Brock shouted, silencing Delia in shock. He gave a deep breath, motioning for her to do the same. Reluctantly, she complied and began to give deep breaths. Once Brock was sure that she was calm, he said, "Now, what exactly is the problem?"
"Ash is traveling with a rather…attractive…young girl. And to be quite honest, this is about the time when he should be dealing with hormonal…tendencies." Delia worriedly explained, twiddling her thumbs in the process. "Considering the circumstances, it wouldn't be too surprising if…you know; boys do reckless things that they'll regret later all the time. And Ash is a bit reckless…he could very well do something that he should wait on doing! Patience was never really a strong suit of him…"
Before Delia could continue, she noticed that Brock was trying to hold back a laugh. And by the looks of it, it was a big one. "What?" She asked, slightly offending by Brock's lack of tact. "Do you think that this is a joke?"
"Ah ha ha…rest assured that Ash won't do any of those things." Brock replied as he managed to hold back his laugh but still received death glares from Mrs. Ketchum. "He considers Dawn a close friend of his. Nothing more and nothing less. You have little to worry about." Delia looked at Brock closely, attempting to find any traces of doubt within his statement.
"How can you be so sure?"
The young man let out a small chuckle. "I've been with Ash far longer than anyone else during his journey. And due to my rather flirtatious nature, I can't help but try to notice if and when Ash takes romantic interest in a girl. So far, I've only really seen one, maybe two. But he's never had any romantic interest in the girls he's traveled with."
Delia Ketchum searched Brock's expression for a bit longer before letting out a sigh of concession. "Very well, if you say so. It's not like I can control what he does, anyways."
"Trust me…you raised a great person, Mrs. Ketchum. He would make you proud with his actions and decisions." Brock pleasantly reassured. Delia turned away from Brock and headed back to her garden duties. A small smile lightened her face as she knew that what Brock was saying was the absolute truth. "Would you like to help me with these, Brock?" She asked, pointing towards green vines that looked like they were approaching the flowers. "It's always difficult for me to pull all of these weeds out…"
"Sure, no problem at all."
"Ash, are you sure that you know where you are going?"
Ash, along with his trademark Pikachu, turned around to give Dawn a rather cocky grin. "Of course I know where we are going! I know Kanto like the back of my hand!" He answered triumphantly, pumping his fist into the air charismatically. "Pika Pi!" Pikachu agreed, copying Ash's fist pump.
Dawn still frowned. "I dunno…according to Brock, you don't seem to be the master of directions…" Ash waved her doubtful statement away before she could continue. "Hey! I've gotten a lot better at following a map! Look!" He said, pointing towards a picture of trees and a green hill. "This is where Scott lives! I know exactly where I am going!"
As Ash rolled up the map, Dawn scoffed, "Well, excuse me for being concerned for my own personal safety!" Pikachu hopped off the Ash's shoulder and flashed Dawn a reassuring smile. "Pika pika! Pikachu!" Pikachu was clearly more confident in Ash's ability to not get lost than Dawn was. The Pokémon Coordinator merely sighed and shrugged, hoping that Ash knew what he was doing.
Today had been the third day since the group separated. While the group took multiple ferries to arrive in Kanto, they eventually reached in crossroad in which Ash had to part in order to fulfill his own agenda. Brock, slightly worried about Ash's ability to stay safe on his own, suggested that Dawn travel with him. The coordinator agreed to keep a watchful eye on the adventurous Pokémon Trainer, claiming that it would also be beneficial for her to gain some exposure to the Pokémon of Kanto.
After they split apart, Ash had been relatively quiet the whole way, much to Dawn's apprehension. It was unlike Ash to be so quiet; it was almost as if he was intently focusing or thinking about something. Dawn, however, did not want to step on the trainer's toes with a barrage of questions, especially after his devastating lost against the Legendary Pokémon Trainer, Tobias. To her surprise, Ash didn't seem all that upset with his loss; on the contrary, he looked almost happy to have lost. It bewildered Dawn to no extent, but she figured that it was better to have a happy Ash than a mope-around-all-day-and-look-like-Pikachu-just-died Ash. According to Brock, that was what happened back in the Indigo League.
Despite all of this, Dawn just had to know where they were doing exactly. She couldn't stand the thought of not knowing. The Pokémon Coordinator decided to ask the inevitable, crossing her fingers that it wouldn't upset Ash. "So, uh, Ash?"
"What exactly are we doing?"
"We are going to Scott's house, of course." He earnestly replied. Dawn shook her head, confusing the young trainer. "No, I mean…why are we going there? Is he an old friend of yours? Why do you need to see him now…and on such short notice?" Ash's expression faintly shifted. "I need to ask him something very important. Something that…I'm afraid cannot wait much longer. Right Pikachu?" Pikachu nodded, leaping back unto Ash's shoulder. "Pi Pika!"
"If you say so…" Dawn replied hesitantly, still not satisfied with the answer she got. Nevertheless, she decided to drop the issue as they approached an open market.
Glancing around, many varieties of berries, knick-knacks, and other assorted materials could be seen. Many of the shopkeepers were portly men, yet a few women also tended to their own stands. "Huh?" Ash remarked, clearly confused by his surroundings. "That's strange…I could've sworn that Scott's house was somewhere around here…"
As Ash began to look around for some sort of house shaped building, Dawn looked over the map once more, tracing her eyes over their general location. After double-checking, she rolled up the map, approached the wandering trainer, and gave a light whack of her bag upside his head.
"ASH! We were going east, not west. That's why you can't find your friend's house!"
Ash rubbed his head, grumbling under his breath. "Stupid map…hard to read…that bag kinda hurt…"
Dawn rolled her eyes. "Stop complaining. If you want to get to this guy's house before nightfall, then we gotta start walking the other direction right now." Ash's eyes widened at her suggestion, his legs already whining in protest. "But that'll take us forever! Plus, I don't think that I can make my legs do anything they don't want to do…"
Dawn's frustration continued to fester. "Stop being so lazy Ash!" She barked suddenly, causing Ash to reflexively flinch. "Honestly, it's not that bad. I'm the one who is telling you to tough it out! I love hotels, spas, and places that pamper me to no end, but I also know when sacrifices must be made. Now let's go!" After hearing Dawn's mini-tirade, Ash settled on listening to her, much to his own chagrin.
"Well geez, no wonder Brock didn't trust me…"
The Pokémon Coordinator tried to maintain a tough face, but quickly broke into a small giggle. "No need to worry!" She exclaimed, pointing towards where they had just came from. "This is nothing that we can't handle! After all, isn't meeting your friend the whole reason you even came here?"
"That was a bit bipolar," Ash thought, scratching his head in confusion. Nonetheless, he nodded in agreement, gradually forming a fist in determination. "Yeah…yeah! You are right Dawn! We've been through a lot worse than this!" Pikachu looked up at Ash with gleaming eyes, feeling the vibrant energy that Ash exuded. "Pika pika!"
"Wow, I didn't think it would be that easy…" Dawn thought, surprised at how encouraging she managed to be. Feeling the sun beating down on her, she groaned, "But first, can we get out of the sun? It's ruining my perfect tan!"
Ash smirked. "What tan? Are you talking about the nonexistent one?"
The coordinator stared daggers at Ash for his statement, but soon began to remember the sun's attack on her skin. She decided to get her petty revenge…later. Hurriedly, she ushered Ash and Pikachu into a nearby berry shop that was blanketed by some sort of heat-resistant covering. Relief overtook the young trainers as they slumped against the wall of the shop, both unsure of when they would want to stand up again. Pikachu perched himself upon the nearby counter and curled up, keeping a close eye on the two to make sure they would be safe; Pikachu was naturally protective all of his friends.
As seconds turned into minutes, the group continued to lie there, not moving an inch. The shopkeeper, a young lad of about 20 years, realized the brutality of the sun's effect on travelers and allowed them to stay where they were, granted that they did not steal anything. After Dawn thanked the shopkeeper for his generosity and understanding, she looked up to the covering of the shop, lost in thought. "We should really get going. The sun is going down and if we don't leave soon, we'll end up spending the night in the forest…"
Suddenly breaking out of thought, Dawn looked over to Pikachu; he was sleeping peacefully upon the counter top, surrounded by Oran Berries and Chesto Berries. The Pokémon Coordinator thought, "That is just adorable! Pikachu always looks cute when he sleeps…I guess we can resume our travel tomorrow. I'll spare Ash for now…" She turned to Ash, who was softly snoring next to her. Dawn smiled, getting to her feet. "…I guess Pokémon do inherit the qualities of their trainers…"
Dawn began to talk to the shopkeeper, asking if there was any place that would house the weary travelers. The shopkeeper pondered for a moment, but ultimately shook his head sadly. "Nope. Ter' ain't no place tha' takes in people overnigh'. This is jus' a shoppin' area missy. Mighty sorry…" He started to finish but, looking at Dawn's once hopeful expression deteriorate into a look of utter defeat and disappointment, stopped mid-sentence. "I…uhh…" He stammered hesitantly, scratching the back of his head anxiously. "I…guess I could house ya'll for tonigh'…"
Dawn beamed at him brightly, in which he responded by laughing nervously. He was unused to such gratitude. "Thanks! You just made my day!" The Pokémon Coordinator twirled in excitement. As soon as her happiness arose though, it had been replaced with a look of concern. "Are you sure we are not imposing?" She asked, seemingly unconvinced that the shopkeeper's generosity was truly genuine. "We would hate to be rude…"
The shopkeeper was startled by Dawn's unexpected lack of faith in his kindness, but quickly shook it off. He grinned in response. "Tain't no problem. Company is awfully nice ta' have nowadays." Dawn smiled but still held some reservations. She glanced around the shop and turned back to the shopkeeper, extending her hand out to him. He looked at the hand in confusion until she explained.
"Well, it just doesn't feel right to meet someone's kindness without first offering kindness yourself. So I've decided to assist you in any way I can for the rest of the day."
The shopkeeper frowned in response. "Ter' ain't much ya'll can do. The day's almost over and no one's gonna buy my berries at this hour…" He stopped for a second, mulling something over. Dawn looked upon him anxiously. "Well…" He began, scratching his head again. "If ya'll could fetch me some water for ma' berries, I would be mighty grateful." He pointed down south of a road that was lined with a variety of vines. "Ter' is a river over some hills. The water is fresh and helps ma' berries grow. I would go, but I reckon ya'll will want to help me, ya?"
"No need to worry! I'll get your water for you in a flash!" The blue-haired coordinator promised, turning her back to the shopkeeper as she made her way out of the shop. Once she got out, stared at the stunning sunset for a moment. "Amazing…" Dawn remarked, breath-taken by the sight. "I always see sunsets when I travel with Ash and Brock…but this one is just…"
She shook her head. "Not now Dawn! You've got a river to find!" She reminded herself. Dawn pulled off her backpack bag and rummaged through it, looking for something with great haste. She soon found it, much to her delight. "Piplup, come on out!" She called out as she tossed the Pokéball high into the air. A radiant white light was unleashed from the contents of the ball; it light materialized into the form of Piplup. The Pokémon blinked for a few moments before going to a series of stretches. Dawn looked upon Piplup apologetically. "Sorry I haven't let you out recently. I know you don't like to be in there much, but I also know that you wouldn't have wanted to walk the whole way here."
"Pip Piplup!" The Pokémon protested hotly, stomping the ground impatiently. Dawn rolled her eyes at Piplup's theatrics. "Don't give me that!" She argued back. "You've become just as lazy as Ash!" Piplup's eyes widened. "Pip?"
Taking in a good look at Piplup's hurt expression, Dawn's voice immediately softened. "I'm sorry Piplup." She quickly apologized as she watched tiny tears form in Piplup's eyes. "I've just had a long day. I am tired, irritable, and just want to go sleep in my own cozy bed."
"Piplup…" Piplup sympathetically replied. The Pokémon seemed to understand what Dawn was talking about, despite her hurtful words. Dawn's pity party didn't last long as she remembered what she was originally supposed to do. "Oh shoot!" She snapped. "I'm running out of time!"
"Piplup, I need you to help me find a river somewhere down that road." Dawn said, pointing towards the road that the shopkeeper had told her to go. "I know that water-types are more sensitive to the whereabouts of water, so I'm hoping that you can help me."
Piplup still looked at her confusedly. "Pip Piplup pip?" It asked. Dawn sighed in response. "I know that we could just use one of your water type moves to make some water. But I really want to do this by the book, just like he wants." She sighed again. "And the only way to do that is to go get some water from the river. I promised him river water, so that's what he is going to get!"
Piplup, looking determined, faced the road without fear. "Piplup!" It cried out, eager to enter. Dawn appreciated her Pokémon's desire to help her and began to walk on the road…
Dawn turned around, wondering where that voice had came from. A figure seemed to be running after her. Upon closer inspection and much squinting, the figure appeared to be the shopkeeper. He was holding an empty wooden bucket. Once he finally caught up to her, he bent over to catch his breath, extending the bucket to the coordinator. "Here, ya'll need this for tat' river." The shopkeeper mentioned raggedly. Once he caught his breath, he straightened his posture and eyed the young Pokémon Coordinator warily. "I'll be a'waitin' for yer' return." He turned around and walked back to his store. Dawn and Piplup simply stared at each other before heading off.
"What a strange guy…"
"Thanks for the visit Brock!" Delia called out as she waved him goodbye. After a day of helping Delia with her garden, as well as with a variety of other household chores, Brock had to return to his gym in order to face any challengers that might've stopped by. Once Brock had vanished from Delia's eyesight, she couldn't help but frown. He could've at least waited until the next morning to leave, but Brock insisted that he enjoyed to travel the path during the evening. It wasn't like she could've stopped him anyways; however, some part of her knew that she would miss his company. Brock was one of the few people who actually came to see her. She spent most of her time alone or with Mr. Mime, which often forced her to think about her only child.
"Oh, how I miss you so much, son…" She reflected out loud, gaining a sympathetic glance from Mimey. Mr. Mime knew that Delia had her moments like this and it often made the Pokémon distressed that it could not really comfort her. Once Delia saw that Mr. Mime was watching her, she quickly broke out into an over-enthusiastic smile. "Well, we best prepare for the evening Mimey!" She exclaimed, almost too sweetly. "We have a busy day tomorrow, as usual!" As Delia went about her business, Mr. Mime sighed in sadness; it was not usual for her to cover up her true emotions with falsified versions of happiness. But seeing as there was little to be done about it, The Mime Pokémon merely about its own business. The next hour or so was extremely quiet within the Ketchum household; nobody really talked and only the occasional shifting sounds of body movement penetrated the still air. Eventually, the two of them embraced the gentle lull of sleep.
The evening night transformed the sky into ballet of stars, each doing their own celestial dance. Each star told a story…
…and one star in particular had quite the story to tell.
Thanks for reading! Update will be coming within the next week or so.