And here we go guys, chapter 2 of Working Hoenn With Skill.
I'm sorry this took so long, but as many of you know life has been kicking my ass lately and even worse the free time I thought I'd be getting for the next few months was cruelly stolen from me. Woe is me, eh?
This chapter is a bit rough since it's unbeta'd. My beta is very busy lately, so he hasn't really had time to look over any chapters. I should probably look into another beta for whe he's too busy to give the finished chapters a look over.
Anyway, if you guys want to keep up to date with what I'm up to these days, my writing progress, what I'm reading, games I'm playing etc, etc. Then check out my blog and Twitter, the links are posted on my profile.
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If any of you are interested the next playthrough I'm going to be doing is Fate Extra. I've never played it before and it looks interesting.
Anyway, I'll hurry up and let you guys read. That's what you came for after all, right?
Littleroot Town, was in a word. Quiet.
The citizens of the small port town hurriedly went about their business. Conversations went by in rushed whispers, doors were locked tight and windows barred from view.
They seemed terrified of something.
Ash had no idea what to think as he made his way through the forest behind the small town and headed towards where Professor Birch's lab was indicated on the Pokenav map.
Ash cast his eyes about the desolate forest. It was incredibly quiet, the only sounds being that of his feet crunching on twigs beneath his feet as he walked and the wind whistling through the tree leaves.
Not a pokemon in sight.
"What is going on here?" Ash wondered. A forest this close to a port town should be bustling with common field pokemon and pokemon that tended to be drawn towards urban areas.
He'd yet to even see a Rattata or Zigzagoon, two of the most abundant pokemon the Pokenav said lived all throughout these areas.
According to it, common pokemon known within this area listed as Rattata, Raticate, Zigzagoon, Linoone, Poochyena, Mightyena, Ralts, Surskit, Hoothoot, the Wurmple family, Wingull and even the odd Electrike.
For such a large list of pokemon to somehow be missing, it set Ash's teeth on edge.
His first thought was poachers, it wouldn't have been the first time he'd seen areas picked clean of pokemon because of greedy men seeking to make a quick pokedollar. But then why were the towns people seemingly scared stiff?
One thing he knew of poachers is that they were usually trainers at one time who failed to go the distance. Making it to the Elite-tier of pokemon trainers was were the money was at these days, but it was rare for any trainer to reach the leagues.
Brock had explained it to him. Rookies like he, Gary and Richie were in the minority, everyone else who competed in the Indigo Plateau had been gym circuit veterans. Even that weirdo Mandi he had defeated easily with Kingler had made it to the top eight of the Silver Conference.
It was very ego enhancing for Ash when Brock had told him he, Gary and Richie had all been considered once in a generation prodigies, and that three of them together at the same age making it to the Indigo Plateau had been nothing short of ludicrous in many eyes.
The point was though, that out of the many tens of thousands of trainers attempting to earn badges to compete in the Indigo Plateau, only a bit over two hundred had managed to win enough badges to qualify.
Ash hadn't realized it until mid-way through his Johto journey, but he and his friends never really had money problems. On the road, he had defeated multiple trainers a day with little problem and add that in with his Indigo Plateau winnings for making it to the Top 16, and there was no shortage of money.
The profit of being a pokemon trainer should have hit home for Ash all the way back in Pewter City though. Brock was only a 15 year old teenage Gym Leader that spent most of his time looking after his nine younger siblings and holding his position as Pewter City Gym Leader.
Brock had no financial troubles whatsoever, running a household and looking after nine children plus himself. It would take a lot of money for such a thing, and yet Brock had no trouble because of the big fat pay check he received as a Gym Leader.
Ash supposed that he'd like to try a stint as a Gym Leader or something like that just to list it as something he'd done before.
The point though, was that despite pokemon trainers who were talented receiving a lot of money, what about those that failed to make the cut?
Many of them went home, where as others desperate to make large sums of money like higher level trainers resorted to crime. Poaching was just one of those ways the failures could make more money.
Still, most poachers were absolute crap when it came to pokemon battling. The only real poacher Ash had ever had trouble with was that Iron Masked Marauder guy. But that was mainly because of that weird pokeball and the effects it had on Celebi.
Even with that weird pokeball enhancing that Tyranitar, Brock and his Onix dealt with it without too much trouble in the end. Which was what it all boiled down to. Poachers were more often than not shitty trainers, and without that talent even the powerful pokemon they may possess would fall woefully short against a strong pokemon and trainer combo.
So no, Ash didn't believe this was the work of poachers. If it was, a group of Officer Jenny would have fell dow upon them with a squad of Arcanine and toasted their asses and then threw them in a cell to rot.
Other than the thought that some group like Team Rocket were up to something, Ash really had no idea what to think of the desolate forest.
Shaking his head, Ash rid himself of the thoughts. Either way, he was certain he would find out what had happened here. Raising his hand, Ash gently rubbed one of the ears of his starter pokemon, Pikachu.
He received a soft, delighted sound of, "Chaaa..." for his effort.
Chuckling, Ash continued on his way, idly meeting Pikachu's small deep black eyes, "C'mon buddy, let's hurry up and get to Professor Birch's lab." He said, "Maybe he'll have some answers for us." He continued.
One thing was for certain though to Ash. Whatever had caused all of the pokemn in this area to flee had to be something incredibly dangerous. It would have to be, because many pokemon were protective of their homes and would fight to their last breath to defend it. For them to flee, the foe must be ludcriously powerful or something weird was afoot that forced them to leave and escape.
Despite the trouble whatever caused this would probably bring him. Ash had to fight a grin from his face, because maybe, just maybe it was a really powerful pokemon and he could catch it.
Professor Birch's lab was situated atop a cliff overlooking Littleroot Town. It was a quiet, open area with plenty of nature.
But, in Ash's opinion it was small.
The building may have been three floors tall, but it was at the very best three times the length of his own home.
Very underwhelming when in comparison with the Oak Ranch considering the lab at Pallet Town put mansions to shame and the land that came with it stretched on for a near mile in both directions.
Still, the Littleroot Town lab did have a homey feel to it Ash mused as entered, having been buzzed in by an aide of some form.
He was met with a narrow hall that stretched a good twenty feet, then continued upwards in a spiralling staircase. On each side of the hall, there was an open doorway and hearing the noise coming from the one on the right side, Ash deduced that to be where the occupants of the lab were holed up in.
Making his way down the hall, Ash turned into the room and found himself stepping into a wide spherical room. At the far off wall, Ash could see a multitude of beeping, large and expensive looking machines. Lining the walls were numerous books sheltered within bookcases.
Situated right at the middle of the room was a rectangular white table. A high-tech table at that Ash guessed with all the buttons and what not he saw decorating its surface. Atop the table, a glass box of some kind shielded three pokeballs from physical touch. Three pokeballs Ash assumed contained the starter pokemon of the Hoenn Region, Torchic, Mudkip and Treecko.
In front of the table, two men were in a furious conversation. One was a tall slim man with short black hair and round glasses, he was wearing a lab coat and clutching a clipboard to his chest. The other, a heavy-set man with wild brown hair and a scraggly beard also wearing a lab coat had a thunderous expression on his face.
Ash recognized the heavier of the two as Professor Birch from a documentary he saw on the Hoenn starter pokemon before leaving Pallet Town for the Hoenn Region.
"-I don't care what their excuses are! Phone then up right now and tell them I want a league trainer here pronto!" Birch roared angrily, his hands balled into fists.
The slimmer man nodded shakily, "O-ofcourse S-ir! Right away!" He stammered. The man hurriedly walked away, barely even giving Ash a glance as he passed him on the way out of the room.
Birch sighed, drawing Ash's attention back towards the professor as he leaned against the table containing the starter pokemon. "Those pokemon are a menace." He muttered lowly.
Though, not quite so low that Ash didn't hear him.
"What pokemon?" Ash asked in curiosity as he made his way over.
Birch shook his head, standing up again. "Don't worry about that, it's not your problem." He said as he turned his attention to the young trainer. "So you're Ash Ketchum right? I heard from old Samuel you'd be arriving soon."
Ash nodded, "Yeah, I'm here to get my pokedex registered for the Hoenn League." He replied.
Birch tried to smile at him, but it was a strained thing. "Right, just hand me your pokedex and I'll get that done and dusted for you." The older man said.
Ash nodded, slipping his hand into his back jeans pocket and pulling out his pokedex. He handed it over and watched as the professor hurriedly turned around and made his way over to the machines at the back of the room, slipping the pokedex in a slot and beginning to type on a keyboard that slid out from a compressed section.
Leaning idly against the table containing the starter pokemon, he watched the older man type away. "...So." Ash began casually, "What pokemon are causing all the trouble around here?" He asked brazenly and without hesitation.
He was interested and he wasn't really a tactful guy when he was interested in something.
Birch froze in his typing for a moment, before his shoulders sagged and he sighed deeply. He didn't even bother turning to Ash as he answered, instead resuming his typing, "A massive flock of Tailow migrated from the Petalburg Woods to here a few weeks ago." Birch began, annoyance clear in his voice. "Some idiot poacher with a Tyranitar tried to capture the old leader of the flock, a Swellow but ended up killing it! It forced the entire flock into a rage! The flock killed him and the Tyranitar and the new leader of the flock ended up having the entire berry supply of the woods picked clean and forced them to migrate here!" By the end, Birch's shoulders were squared and tense and his voice had began to rise higher and higher as he ranted.
With a growl, the older man cut himself off. "For the past few weeks they've been attacking Littleroot Town and the pokemon within the forest and forcing them to flee the area, it's got so bad that he townsfolk are too scared to be outside their homes for long." The professor continued.
Tailow as far as Ash was aware, where the Hoenn Regions equivalent of the Pidgey line. Pidgey were a rather weak species though until they evolved, so why would a whole town have a problem with just one flock of a species at that level. A few decently powerful electric-types would usually scare such a flock off.
Ash questioned just that.
Birch shook his head, "No, no, no, the Tailow line are only compared to those of the Pidgey line because they originated in Hoenn like Pidgey did Kanto." Birch denied, "Tailow are far from docile like Pidgey, they are a fierce species and they never back down even against a much superior opponent, many of them will continue to fight until the life leaves their bodies." The brown haired man continued to explain.
Ash had to hold back a whistle. They sounded impressive, infact they sounded just like his Pidgeot. His Pidgeot was quite different from the rest of her species, she never once hesitated to obey his commands even against opponents such as massive Rhydon that she should have had no chance to defeat. She never hesitated, never retreated and fought till she couldn't stand any longer.
He liked what he heard of this species. One would make a great replacement for Pidgeot who was at the Oak Ranch right now following the training schedule he'd made for her and the rest of his pokemon for when he brought them in at the Hoenn league.
His desire for a Tailow only grew as Birch continued further, "The flock as a whole is quite impressive, the most impressive member of the flock though has to be the leader, a Tailow itself which is remarkable considering there are quite a few Swellow in that flock." Birch was saying, "That species will not except any pokemon but the strongest of the flock as leader, so I believe that Tailow has to be pretty powerful to command such a powerful flock."
Ash grinned, Pikachu on his shoulder following not soon after, his small red cheeks sparking excitedly with electricity. "...Say, where would that flock be nesting?" The young teen asked.
That flock leader was definitely getting captured before he made his way to Oldale town. And if he could send the flock packing then all the better, kinda like hitting two Pidgey with one Thunderbolt. Or would that be Tailow in that analogy?
It was actually a pretty good thing Pikachu was his starter pokemon. Otherwise, they would probably have a much harder time against the Tailow flock.
He had no ice-types now that Lapras was gone. And Larvitar was a no go even if the little guy was a rock-type, he just wasn't strong enough for this type of battle. Besides, Birch already mentioned that the poacher who killed the original flock leader was killed alongside his Tyranitar for the act.
Heck, Ash was hesitant to say even his Charizard could defeat the entire flock. No doubt he had the power and strength, but only Pikachu out of all of his pokemon had the attack range. Charizard wouldn't be able to crush them all before he was swarmed from all sides. Even the strongest fell to numbers.
Well, no tell a lie. It would be unlikely they could pierce Charizard's scales. He refrained his previous thought, Charizard would just have a harder time of taking down every individual member of the flock where as Pikachu could take them all at once with a thunder attack.
According to Birch, Tailow were very proud pokemon. So challenging the leader to a battle wouldn't be too hard as long as they could prove their strength. Pikachu had the necessary ability to force the flock back if they all attacked as one.
That, Ash firmly believed as he made his way through the area Birch told him they were nesting. The older man had been hesitant to give him the area, but his success in the recent Silver Conference was enough to convince him that he could handle it.
Even a flock as powerful as this was but a nuisance to a league level electric-type.
Ash was alert as he walked, all around him he could he the cries and squawks of the flock. Every now and then a shadow would pass over him as a Tailow or Swellow flew above him, keeping an eye on him. Pikachu was tense on his shoulder, cheeks sparking every moment in preparation for unleashing a wide spread electric attack to protect them from all sides should they be ambushed.
Finally, Ash came upon a wide open clearing and decided this would do.
"My name is Ash Ketchum." He spoke loudly and clearly, "I'm here to challenge the leader of this flock to a battle, so come on out Tailow and fight us!" The amber eyed trainer shouted the last part.
There was silence for a moment, then a rustle. Finally there was a piercing cry of, "Taaaaaaailooow!"
Every tree surrounding Ash and Pikachu rustled, shaking mightily and then at once dozens upon dozens of blurs launched themselves into the sky above the clearing, almost shading it from the sun.
Amber eyes traced over each form in the air quickly, large and small. Tailow and Swellow alike. Most of the Tailow were small, smaller even than most Pidgey and were primarily blue in color with a white underbelly and red crest over their faces. The Swellow in comparison weren't much bigger than Pidgeotto and looked mostly like their smaller counterparts, except they had slicked back blue feathers atop their head not too unlike a Pidgeot.
Their combined shrieks nearly drowned out Ash' thought process and could probably be heard from miles away. Then, as one they dived. Wings glowed, beaks lengthened and power compressed into spheres within throats.
Ash felt his heart beat wildly, but he remained stoic for he most part. This wasn't the first, nor even the second time an entire flock of flying pokemon swarmed him and Pikachu in order to take their lives.
And like all the rest, this flock would fall woefully short of taking their goal.
"Thunder." Ash ordered, crisp and clean and not a moment of hesitation.
The sky darkened, the clouds parted and as one the flock cried out in agony as a blinding pillar of lightning tore into the sky and washed over their forms in a moments notice. The attack was massive, not too unlike the bolts of lightning Ash had seen Zapdos unleash way back at the Orange Islands.
Then it was over.
One by one the flock lost the ability to stay airborne and fell to the forest floo in twitching heaps, the electricity coursing through their veins causing their muscles to lock themselves into a paralytic like state.
They had neither the strength of body, nor will to rise again.
Ash tsked in disappointment. After the way Birch hyped these guys up he was expecting a lot more than this.
Pikachu landed on his shoulder on his way down from the launch hat left him mid-air to unleash his thunder attack and Ash frowned.
"I expected way more than that." Ash stated his voice flat. He shook his head, "Whatever, if they were that weak then they weren't worth catching." He tried to reassure himself.
Pidgeot back when she was a Pidgeotto would have fought her way back to her feet after taking an attack like that. Hell, all of his pokemon would. Ash guessed that said something about his pokemon being different than the average of their kind.
Besides Haunter maybe, but he was new so he could be excused for now. Besides, ghost pokemon weren't really built for taking a lot of punishment anyway.
Still, he'd been hoping to catch a Tailow. And while he could catch any of the many laying across the forest floor, he just found himself not wanting to. He loved all pokemon, really he did and he believed any pokemon could become strong.
They had to have the will to be strong though. And none of the pokemon littering the grass around him seemed to fit the bill
"Leave this forest, it isn't big enough for a flock of this size and you've caused enough problems for everyone else that lives here." Ash commanded coldly. "If you don't, I'll be back and we won't go as easy on you as we have this time."
Maybe this flock reminded him a bit of the Spearow and Fearow flock that forced him to leave Pidgeot behind for a while, and he'd never quite let go of the grudge he had against that one Spearow, now Fearow and leader of that flock for all the trouble it caused him.
Turning, Ash was about to step forward and take his leave when he stopped. Another piercing cry shrieked through the clearing and forced Ash to turn as a blur shot down from behind him and landed on a rock outcropping in the middle of the clearing.
It was a Tailow. Different from the rest mind you Ash noticed straight away. For one, it was much bigger than the other Tailow, in fact it was nearing the size of some of the Swellow. And for the other, it had a big chocolate moustache all around its beak.
The leader of the flock then. According to Professor Birch, the Tailow that led the flock was a glutton that was seen gorging itself on whatever food it could get its talons on.
Tailow stared Ash right in the eyes unflinchingly. It didn't seem bothered at all by the fact that its comrades were littering the forest floor. It squawked suddenly, gesturing with one large wing at Pikachu then at itself.
Ash smirked, "You wanna fight?" He guessed. Now this was more like it.
When the Tailow nodded, Ash crossed his arms. "That's fine, but if we win I'll be capturing you." He stated, "That fine with you tough guy?" He questioned.
In reply, Tailow leapt off the rock and shot towards them like a bullet, a silvery white trail of energy being left in its wake.
Pikachu blurred from Ash's shoulder with his own Quick Attack faster than Ash could blink and before Tailow could halt its momentum, Pikachu crashed into it with a full body tackle.
Tailow was sent soaring backwards, but righted itself afer a few second. Within a second, Tailow angled itself upwards and escaped high into the air as Pikachu tore into its previous position less than a second later with a fully powered Iron Tail attack.
The attack hit the ground and split the a good chunk of the clearing in half. Tailow didn't hesitate though, speeding down from above with both wings glowing.
"Thunderbolt, straight up!" Ash shouted, covering Pikachu's blind spot for him.
Pikachu landed in the crater he made and his small body erupted in another pillar of lightning, though this time much smaller than the previous.
Tailow was caught flat footed and had no time to dodge before the attack washed over it and forced it to fall to the grassy floor of the clearing.
Showing impressive durability, Tailow landed on its feet just to the side of Pikachu and lashed out with one glowing wing.
Pikachu spun around the wing, dodging it without problem.
"Iron Tail." Ash said sharply.
Completing his spin, Pikachu used it to add momentum to his attack and batted Tailow across the clearing with a glowing white tail.
Tailow shrieked in pain, but Ash wasn't letting up until it fell. "Thunderbolt, again." He said.
Pikachu let loose the attack before Tailow even fell, the arc of blinding yellow lightning crashing into the small flying types form with a thundering crash.
When the flashing yellow dissipated, Ash was surprised to see Tailow prepping itself up on its wings, beak open and a yellowish orb of crackling electricity formed between its beak.
"Hidden Power." Ash mused, "And an electric type one at that."
Smart Ash decided. It had used the electric type Hidden Power to blunt some of the power behind Pikachu's Thunderbolt. If Tailow was just a bit more powerful and more experienced it would have taken far less damage from the attack. Something he'd need to work with it on.
Still, Ash decided as he saw the Tailow struggling to its feet once more. Tailow just wasn't at the level needed to give him and Pikachu a good battle.
"Finish it with Thunder." He commanded.
Once again the sky darkened with the boom of thunder as a blinding pillar of lightning tore into the sky and then in the blink of an eye dropped fully atop Tailow's form.
When the attack faded, the Tailow was practically charred black from the attack. But to Ash's utter astonishment, the Tailow was still conscious and feebly attempting to push itself to its feet.
Ash smirked, palming a pokeball. "Okay, so maybe Birch wasn't entirely wrong about this species of pokemon." He conceded before cocking his arm back and tossing the pokeball.
Tailow was his now.
And done. I know it was a bit short, but that was all that was needed for this chapter and I've got a bit of a cold so I wanted to get it out of the way and relax.
Ash seems a bit overpowered here, which is true in a way. But I'm trying to establish that trainers that reach the level needed to compete in the league tournaments are rare, an order of magnitude above the average trainer. In this universe, making it to the top 16 of the Indigo Plateau, winning the Orange League and making it to the top 8 in the Silver Conference all within his first two years of training pokemon is a big deal.
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Hope you enjoyed, till next time guys.