Trainer @warsofshadows
Rockslides Keep Fallin' On My Head

Holy crap.

I just wanted Ash and Co to get through Mt Moon, but then this happened.

Two of my best friends, college and writer's block, hung with me for a week! I only managed to get this chapter done was because I read Enid Blyton's The Mystery series (no, I'm not joking). That gave me a lot of ideas and I finally got it done!

In any case, this is the longest chapter I've written for any of my stories – it's 18,000 words long – so I'm quite happy with it, even though producing something this big isn't my cup of tea, but enough of me jabbering. RR!


Chapter Three: Rockslides Keep Fallin' On My Head

Ash stared at the large and imposing gym in front of him. It had thick slabs of stone surrounding it, although it covered only the front. The rest was a large building with a purple rooftop.

They'd woken at the crack of dawn, because the three of them had decided to have their battles that very day. Ash was too excited to even touch his food and decided to skip breakfast and treat himself and his family if – no, when he would win.

"So, who wants to battle Brock first?" Natalie asked. "I want this over with as soon as possible."

There was silence between them, for none of them were willing to let each other go first, until Jack meekly raised his hand. "Uh, actually, Einstein's going to sleep in some time, so I was wondering if I could go first. I don't wanna go against Brock with only Buford, even if he is a fighting-type."

"Well, what about Diego?" Natalie smirked. "You'll still have two pokémon on your team even if Einstein is fast asleep."

Jack glared at the girl. "Don't be stupid. Diego's a bug-type! He'll be knocked out in a second."

"Alright, fine." Ash sighed. "Jack can go first. I'm not letting you go next, though," Ash added, wagging a finger at Natalie. "How do we settle this?"

Natalie and Ash frowned for several minutes, but finally the former came up with a solution.


Both of them agreed it was fair, and the two decided to decide the winner out of three games. Natalie ended up winning the most, so she would be the one to battle Brock after Jack. Ash didn't mind as long as he battled Brock today. He just wanted to be done with it.

The three of them together got the heavy door to open, and they walked inside the Gym. It was quite dark and cool, and the only thing lighting their way were torches lined along the walls. A long hallway led the three to the main area.

The battlefield was huge and littered with jagged rocks, boulders and spires of stone that jutted out of the rocky field. There were balconies far above the ground, possibly allow spectators to view ongoing gym battles.

A tall, chocolate-skinned teenager sat on a smooth pedestal at the other end of the large room. He was conversing with a boy – perhaps a year younger than Ash – who looked just like the older one and a much older, fair-skinned woman with red hair.

Brock – Ash assumed that the older boy was Brock – looked up as the trio's footsteps became louder. The other two around Brock also looked up and turned their previously deadpanned expressions into smiles.

"Welcome to the Pewter City Gym," the teen said. "I'm Brock, Gym Leader—" his face twisted into a momentary scowl as he said that—"of this Gym. I assume you're here for gym battles?"

Natalie nodded. "That's right."

"Ah…" The teen grimaced. "Well, I'm sorry to say that I won't be able to accept all of your challenges right now. I have been asked to give a talk at the Pewter Museum of Science, so I'll be busy from eleven-thirty to four o'clock. I can take only one challenge right now," Brock finished, sounding genuinely sorry.

Ash's heart sank at that. From what Brock was saying, he'd have to wait till tomorrow to have his battle, but a question sprung in his mind. "Um, you will be free later in the evening though, right?"

Brock grinned. "Sure. You can come and challenge me once I'm back at the gym."

Ash grinned. With all the free time he had before his gym battle, he could train his friends a bit more before the challenge. Right now, though, he decided to let his friends watch Jack's battle.

Ash and Natalie made themselves comfortable in one of the balconies while Brock and Jack took their positions on the battlefield. The little kid who resembled Brock walked to the halfway position of the battlefield and shouted:

"This battle is between Challenger Jack Fernández and Leader Brock of Pewter for Mastery!" For such a young kid, Ash had to admit that he had an impressive voice. "Each side will use two pokémon. Incapacitate Leader Brock's pokémon, and Challenger Fernández bears our badge. Trainers, send out your pokémon!"

Ash could hear Jack all the way up. "Einstein, let's go!"

The pokeball snapped open and the familiar form of Jack's Abra burst out of the pokeball, whirring as he levitated himself into the air. Ash was worried that Einstein was fast asleep when he saw the creature's head bob against his chest, but sighed in relief when Einstein waved his hands and emanated a small psychic wave.

Brock seemed to take offense to a pokémon whose eyes were as closed as his own, because he released a Rhyhorn with a surly expression on his face. The beast snorted dust out of its nostrils as it eyed Abra and stomped its forelegs at the ground, causing the field to rumble. Ash noticed Jack gulping, but the boy didn't seem particularly threatened.

The referee slashed his hand down. "Begin!"

"Light Screen!" Jack ordered quickly. The Abra nodded and waved his arms, forming a translucent, circular shield that glimmered in the gym's light. It pulsed for a few seconds before turning invisible.

"Horn Attack," Brock said calmly.

Rhyhorn grunted and immediately charged at Einstein with a glowing horn, but Einstein easily teleported away. The Rhyhorn abruptly came to a halt and looked around dumbly for its opponent, and Jack took his chance.

"Energy Ball!"

Einstein generated the grass-type move in an instant and fired it at Rhyhorn just as the heavily-armored creature turned in the Abra's direction. The second the Energy Ball touched Rhyhorn resulted in a violent explosion. The spikes pokémon was hurled back several feet, and although there was no visible damage it was breathing heavily due to being hurt from the grass-type move.

"Rock Polish!" Brock commanded. "Follow up with Fury Horn."

Rhyhorn suddenly glowed, blinding everyone for a moment. When the light faded, Rhyhorn was charging at Einstein with speed that no creature its size could possess. Rhyhorn's horn, now glowing, slammed into Einstein, who was too surprised to teleport away from the Horn Attack, and Rhyhorn took advantage of the Abra's surprise by continuously drilling it with its horn. Finally Einstein vanished, causing Rhyhorn to strike air, but the damage was done.

Einstein appeared on Jack's side of the field, wobbling as he struggled to remain conscious and in the air after the onslaught of attacks. Rhyhorn roared furiously and pawed the ground, lowering its horn at the Abra.

"Teleport and then Energy Ball!" Jack yelled. "Knock it out!"

Brock smirked. "Rhyhorn, Rock Polish."

Rhyhorn glowed once again, but grunted as sphere of green energy exploded against his side once the glow died down, but the pokémon whipped around with shocking speed and rushed Einstein with its entire body. Einstein fired a few more Energy Balls that hit their target and slowed it down, but Rhyhorn was still too fast for him to teleport from the Horn Attack. The horn slammed into his abdomen and Einstein slumped the ground, out cold.

Rhyhorn snarled, but a moment later its eyes bugged out and its knees shook, falling down a few seconds later as it fainted. Apparently five Energy Balls were too much for it, but it still managed to take down Einstein with it.

Both trainers silently recalled their pokémon, although Jack looked angry at his loss. He didn't even say anything as he sent out Buford, who leapt a few times and screamed madly for an opponent.

"Geodude, rock and roll!" Brock hurled the pokeball up and it released its contents seconds later. The rock type was little more than a spherical with two strong arms. It opened its rocky made a strange, harsh sound, like boulders scraping against each other.

The kid who was acting as the referee slashed his hand down. "Begin!"

"Geodude, Rock Throw!" Brock said.

Geodude's arms punched a stone pillar on the field, crushing it into small rocks that littered the floor in front of it, and the living rock

"Karate Chop, Buford!" Jack called out. "Destroy all the rocks!"

Buford screamed and lashed out at the speeding rocks and obliterated them in a matter of minutes. The Mankey brought his right hand down on the rock pokémon before it could get far; the force was enough to send it flying away and crashing into a spire, but Geodude quickly pushed himself up with his strong arms.

"Impressive, but I'm afraid it's not enough to take out Geodude!" Brock cried. "Mega Punch!" Geodude launched itself at Buford, its left fist glowing a dazzling white. Ash knew that a direct hit would hurt the Mankey pretty bad, even though it was a normal-type move, so he was hoping that Buford would dodge it in time.

"Low Kick!" Jack bellowed. "Then grab it and use Seismic Toss!"

It wasn't a 'Low' Kick, per se – Buford's leg shone white before he high-kicked Geodude right in the face, causing it to groan in pain as a strident crack echoed in the gym. Before Geodude could get away, however, Buford took hold of it and leapt into the air, flipping so many times mid-air that Ash would've thought it to be impossible if it weren't for the existence of pokémon, until he let go of Geodude, who smashed into the ground.

The very ground beneath Geodude cracked, forming a small crater due to the force, which sent rocks flying and kicked up dust around Buford and Geodude. Brock simply sighed and recalled Geodude, who was clearly unconscious from the powerful attack.

Brock walked up to Jack and handed over the Boulder Badge as a sign of his victory. Ash and Natalie ran down to the field to congratulate their friend, and Brock was ready to leave anyway.

"I'm sorry, but I really have to leave now," Brock told the three. They bowed at each other before the four of them exited the gym, although Brock did that at a much faster pace.

"That was really cool!" Natalie exclaimed as they walked towards the Pokémon Centre. "You were really good, Jack!"

"Nah, it was Buford and Einstein who did all the work," Jack corrected. "I just gave them commands, y'know." He squealed in excitement and jumped a few times. "I can't believe it!" he exclaimed. "I'ma win the Indigo League!"

"Yeah, yeah." Ash rolled his eyes. "Anyway, what do we do now? We've still got a few hours left before we get to challenge Brock."

"I was planning to hit the museum," Natalie suggested. "Kill some time. Plus, we can keep a tab on Brock too; make sure that no one else gets to battle him before us," she added, grinning.

Ash grinned back, although uneasily. In truth he wanted to train his pokémon – Saur in particular – for his gym battle, but he also didn't want to be away from his friends. Ash had hoped that at least Natalie would be with him, since she only had a Charmander and a Shroomish that would prove vital in her battle against Brock.

In the end he finally made his decision. "I actually want to train for some time before Brock's battle," Ash told them as he nervously scratched the back of his neck. "You guys go on ahead. I'll catch you later."

Natalie bit her lower lip as she considered what Ash was saying before she and Jack bid him goodbye – well, primarily Natalie, since Jack was still euphoric over his victory against Brock – and sped towards the main path, leaving Ash alone in front of the Pokémon Centre.

Ash took a step towards the Centre, and the doors slid open – but then Jack's voice pierced his thoughts.

"Wait! I forgot to heal my pokémon!"


Ash quickly made his way to the training field behind the Pokémon Centre. Although he was bummed about the fact that Pewter City didn't hold a Battle Club, he'd figured that the training field was better than nothing. He'd had a 'quick' brunch so that he wouldn't feel hungry during his training session, and forty-five minutes he was on the field.

He took off the three pokeballs on his belt and released his family. A Bulbasaur, Natu and Mareep greeted him with growls, chirps and bleats after they took in their surroundings.

"Okay, guys, we're about to have our gym battle today!" he told them. Saur's eyes gleamed and he grinned, while Delphi chirped in acknowledgement and Zeus nodded. "It'll happen in a few hours time, but right now let's train!"

The three pokémon agreed immediately and set to work. Natu went over to one side, trying to learn how to fly. Her wings had grown big enough that she could even flap them, so the little Natu and Ash had decided to focus on flying – at least a bit. It would be pretty humiliating if she couldn't fly properly even after evolving into a Xatu.

Saur was going to practice all of his grass-type moves. He was going to be Ash's best bet during the gym battle. Delphi would be knocked out with one single hit, and Zeus' Thundershocks would do next to nothing.

But Saur would win. He would not fail his trainer.

While Saur did his best to destroy each and every rock in the field, Ash moved on to Zeus. The Mareep was busy chewing grass, but stopped immediately when he saw Ash coming towards him.

He'd never actually gotten a chance to see Zeus in a real battle, mainly because the Mareep had already been hurt in the forest and Ash hadn't wanted to tire him even further. Ash hadn't gotten time to check out all of Zeus' moves, so he decided to check them all now.

"Alright, Tackle is pretty much inherent," Ash said, "so you don't have to show me those. Let's see Thundershock, Thunder Wave and Cotton Spore.

"Thundershock first," he ordered. Ash pointed at a tree. "Full Power."

Zeus nodded, and Ash took a few steps away to be safe from stray bolts. With a blank face, Zeus stared at the tree with all his concentration and then his horns sparked with electricity, then flowing over his entire body. A split-second later a thick bolt of electricity exploded from the Mareep and sped to the tree at a frightening rate before it hit the tree's center, scorching the spot and sending splinters flying from it as the Thundershock created a deep depression.

"Great!" Ash grinned at his friend. "I really don't want to be at the receiving end of any of your attacks, Zeus."

Zeus bleated in content at his trainer's remark.

"Now let's check your accuracy." Ash got up from his spot and snapped his fingers, finally getting a idea to use something as targets. "Zeus, bring down that apple I'm pointing at. The farthest one."

The fruit which Ash had been pointing at was at least a hundred feet away, hanging loosely on the farthest tree in the field, but the distance didn't deter Zeus. He bleated fiercely before firing another bolt of electricity that accurately fried the apple and blasted it from the branch it was hanging from; the piece of fruit flew several feet away before plummeting down and bouncing off the ground.

"Damn…" Ash nodded, slightly impressed, before another idea struck him. "Hold on, let's the something else."

Ten seconds later, Ash returned with three apples he'd brought down from the tree with the help of Saur and his tentacles. "Okay… Look, I'm going to throw these as fast and as high as possible. Hit them all before they hit the ground."

Zeus nodded in a form of understanding before he looked determinedly at the sky. Ash tossed them into the air as far as possible, trying to defeat Zeus, but in vain. The electric-type shot them all with ease, pinning them before they'd reached their maximum height, and although his missed the last piece of fruit he snagged it a second before it hit the ground. The distinct smell of roasted fruit filled Ash's nostrils.

Ash whistled, this time absolutely impressed. "That was some pretty good shooting, Zeus." Zeus simply snorted in return.

Ash checked Zeus' data again. He skipped the extended entry, not wanting to know how long it took for a Mareep to regain its wool after shedding, and stopped at the list of potential moves that the species could learn. He pondered a bit over the part about a Mareep's evolution process; now that he thought about it, Zeus' coat of wool seemed lesser than the average of its species…

He jarred himself out of his thoughts. He could think about that another time. Right now he had to work on getting Zeus stronger.

"Okay, bud," he muttered. "Let's try learning Wild Charge."

Wild Charge was a move that required the user to charge a cloak of electricity around their body, then recklessly ram into their opponent. Although it was similar to Volt Tackle – arguably the strongest electric-type attack there was – the two were very different. For one, Wild Charge relied on sheer power, while Volt Tackle relied mainly on speed. And, sadly, Volt Tackle could be learnt only by the Pichu line.

Wild Charge was essentially a Take Down with electrical attributes, and with an Ampharos' superior mass Ash was sure that Zeus could hone it into a deadly weapon.

The only problem: how could Zeus learn at least a makeshift version of it?

Ash snapped his fingers for Zeus' attention. "Zeus, use Thundershock. Only this time, don't release it."

The Mareep looked at Ash in puzzlement for a few seconds before realization dawned across his blue face. Zeus nodded and grunted and focused his attention on the task.

The horns on either side of his head sparked to life before it spread over his cute, fluffy body. Ash grinned as the yellow electricity cracked and sparked around his wool, but Zeus managed to hold it only for a bit over ten seconds. A little residual electricity crackled over his wool, but a few hesitant pats by Ash was enough to make sure that it was safe to be near the creature.

"Okay, that was good, but not good enough." Zeus glared at his trainer. "Let's try again, buddy. Try to hold it for a minute."

Zeus glared and the ground and bleated out in frustration. He manifested electrical energy around his body in another attempt while his friend and trainer watched.


Ash made his way towards Saur, who was scowling in concentration as the Energy Ball in front of him grew to an immense size. Zeus had managed to keep the electricity around him for a little while longer, but Wild Charge was far from complete. They were still in the beginning stage.

Finally Saur couldn't hold it back any more and he sent the green orb of solar energy hurtling towards the rock. He saw Delphi flinch and Zeus lose his focus as there was a great bang when the Energy Ball exploded against the tree. A good chunk of the rock Saur was practicing on was destroyed and the Bulbasaur looked pretty happy about it.

"Great work, Saur." Trainer and pokémon both matched toothy grins at the statement. "Your attacks are darn good, and so is your Poison Powder. But…"

Ash scanned the Bulbasaur in front of him. Saur grit his teeth in frustration once again, but Ash didn't take it as anything serious. Pokémon tended to get more aggressive as they neared evolution due to 'evolution pains', as the Pewter City Nurse Joy had so kindly told him. Joy had giving Saur a tonic which would ease his pains, so it looked like the medicine was wearing off.

He shifted his thoughts back to Saur. According to the pokédex, his vitals seemed normal – better than average, by the looks of it. He now had quite a good move pool: Tackle, Vine Whip (Ash categorized Power Whip as a makeshift version since it still wasn't mastered), Poison/Sleep Powder and Energy Ball. His egg moves – moves which were mysteriously obtained by a pokémon by their parents in their embryonic stage – were Power Whip, Leaf Storm, Magical Leaf and Grassy Terrain. Ash needed to look in on them once Saur would evolve.

No, Saur's true potential lay in his ability. Ninety-six percent of the Bulbasaur population had the Overgrow ability, which would power up grass-type moves when the pokémon in question was near exhaustion, Saur had the exceedingly rare ability called 'Chlorophyll'. Chlorophyll used the light from the sun to create organic hormones that would significantly boost the carrier's speed, which was why Saur was so agile in the wild. It was a great ability for a Bulbasaur, since Venusaur, their final form, weren't known for being quick.

"Alright…" Ash muttered. "Saur, try activating Chlorophyll. It's noon right now, so it should be pretty good."

Saur nodded and closed his eyes. His bulb glowed white as he absorbed light from the sun to trigger Chlorophyll, producing the agility-hormones at such a fast rate that it gave him an adrenaline rush. The entire tire process took about three seconds.

Power surged through his body as his legs were pumped with the chemicals, and Saur took off as a blur.

Ash was slack-jawed as he saw Saur round the field three times with ease, and when he was done he wasn't even out of breath. If this was what Saur was when he absorbed normal sunlight, Ash couldn't wait to see how fast he was under the effects of Sunny Day. He couldn't wait to hit the famous Celadon Departmental Store and snag that TM from the cashiers.

Ash grinned even wider than before. "Saur, that was great!"

Saur snorted in response. He was born to surprise people.

"Take a break, buddy," Ash said as he petted his friend. "The next time I let you out, you'll be up against Brock."

Saur only grinned.


"…and then, he told us about the Cinnabar Island Pokémon Lab, where they can, like, resurrect fossil pokémon!" Natalie exclaimed in awe as she stabbed another piece of sausage. "I mean, yeah, you'll have to pay a shit load of cash to get a fossil pokémon back to life, but it's still pretty cool, right?"

Ash, Natalie and Jack were currently walking towards the Pewter Gym. Jack and Natalie had returned from the museum a little over half an hour ago, and the two couldn't stop talking about the session Brock had about fossil research in Kanto. Jack had been quiet for quite some time, but Natalie was yammering non-stop about the technology and displays at the museum.

"Ash, you really should've come with us," Natalie told the dark-haired boy for the nth time. "At the end of the seminar, he and his dad even showed us a real Kabuto and Omanyte that were kept in the aquariums!"

Ash's eyes widened considerably at that. "Really?!"

"Mhmm." Natalie nodded smugly. "They were really cool. That Omanyte was really scared of everything, but Kabuto was really friendly! Apparently they belong to Brock and he's gonna be training them to be part of his league registered team."

Ash nodded thoughtfully at that. It would be fun to battle a pokémon which was once extinct. His mother would've paid almost anything to even see them, if she was still an apprentice under Oak and not a single mother with two kids.

Ash gritted his teeth angrily at the thought of his deadbeat father. Apparently he was still training to be a master, or whatever bullshit his mom told him whenever he asked about him. The last time he'd seen the man was eight years ago, when Red had begun his journey as a trainer.

He wasn't there when Ash had started on his journey…

Ash shook his head angrily. There was no point thinking about someone he'd last seen only eight years ago. He, his mother and Red had managed to live without his presence.

Finally the structure of the Pewter Gym was enough to stop thinking about his father. He was feeling more excited than nervous. He knew that he would bag a victory before he'd leave the building.

If he wouldn't, he would tear down the building brick by brick.

Brock was standing exactly where he'd been standing when they'd first entered the gym, although now he was with an older man who looked exactly like him, save for the grey hair and the few wrinkles on his face. Jack told Ash that the older man – Flint – was his father and Ash mouthed an 'oh' as he digested this piece of information.

Brock nodded and smiled as they approached him. "Ah, you've come. I hope you're… Uh, have you brought someone with you?"

The trio turned around and saw a boy their age walk towards Brock. He had thick, purple hair that reached to the base of his neck and pitch-black eyes. He had a permanent scowl on his face, an expression that didn't suit anyone so young.

The boy shook his head. "No, I'm not with them, although I too have come for a gym battle." His voice was deep for a ten-year-old.

"Alright, but you'll have to wait for your turn." The boy nodded and walked to the seats without saying anything.

"Okay," Brock said, smiling at the trio. "Who's first?"

"I'm up." Natalie stepped forward. Brock nodded and motioned for her to walk to her trainer box.

Ash a Jack wished her luck before making their way to the stands to watch the match. Natalie and Brick released their pokémon – Charmander and Geodude respectively – before Flint slashed his hand down, commencing the match.


Natalie returned to the stands twenty minutes later, wiping away the last of her tears. Her match against Brock had gone fairly well in the beginning, with Charmander knocking out Geodude after several Metal Claws, but it had gone horribly wrong once Brock sent out a little, steel-armored creature he called Aron. It was clear that it was a steel-type when it had easily shrugged off an avalanche of Metal Claws and knocked out an already-tired Charmander by a Dig. Natalie hastily sent out her Shroomish, but Aron had easily tanked several Mega Drains before knocking out the grass-type, too.

"C'mon, Natalie," Ash consoled. "It's okay. Charmander battled really hard and if it weren't for that blasted Aron he would've easily won."

"I-I'm a h-h-horrible trainer," Natalie sobbed. "I should've never started on a j-journey. I—"

"Don't say that," Jack warned. "You're a really good trainer and nobody's gonna say otherwise. Or else…" He glared at Ash.

"I wasn't going to say anything!" Ash said angrily.

Natalie wiped her eyes once again. "Do me a favor, Ash."

"Anything," the boy agreed.

"Kick Brock's ass for me."

Ash grinned. "You watch."

When Ash had reached the field, Brock already had a pokeball out. "Same rules as the previous matches. Do you agree?" Ash nodded.

"Trainers, release your pokémon!" Flint declared.

Ash detached a pokeball from his belt and released the capture within. "It's all up to you, buddy," Ash whispered as Saur materialized in front of his eyes.

"I got this from Olivia when I met her in Alola," Brock told the younger trainer with a dreamy smile. "Rockruff, go!"

Rockruff was a quadruped, canine with brown fur and a darker muzzle. It had intelligent, blue eyes and a ruff of grayish-white fur stubbed with dark-brown pebbles collared it. It bared it fangs as it growled at Saur, who returned the gesture in same.

"If you must know, it's a rock-type," Brock informed him. "It's basically like a rock-type Growlithe. They're really good pets."

Rockruff yipped at its trainers statement, and Saur continued to leer at it.

"Interesting," Ash admitted, "but let's not keep the battle waiting."

Brock grinned. "Dad, commence the match!"

Flint slashed his hand down.

The battle began.

"Fire Fang!" Brock yelled. Rockruff barked, flames flickering to life in his maw as he rushed at Saur.

"Energy Ball!" Ash commanded tersely. He did not want Saur to get hurt by one of those thing. "Don't let it get close."

Saur grunted, channeling his energy to form a green orb right in front of him before he released to sphere at Rockruff. The rock-type whimpered as the orb came close, but zigzagged his way out of the attack. The Energy Ball exploded violently against a spire of rock.

A foot before Rockruff clamped his flaming jaws onto Saur, a tentacle shot out from the saurian's side and wrapped around Rockruff's neck and carried it away from Saur, who winced in annoyance as an ember flew from Rockruff's mouth and splattered against his face. Rockruff was growling as he tried to wriggle out of Saur's grasp, but the grass-type's grip was like steel.

"Slam it," Ash said.

Saur nodded and threw Rockruff to the ground, but the canine pushed himself up a few seconds later. "Rockruff, Rock Throw!" Brock exclaimed. Rockruff howled, causing the rocks around his neck to glow white as an orb appeared in his gaping mouth. The orb quickly dissolved into rocks that were fired at Saur at an alarming speed.

"Dodge," Ash commanded tersely. Saur pushed himself out of the way with his vines, avoiding most of the rocks. A few managed to hit him and he grimaced as the pointed rocks dug into his skin.

Brock eyed Saur warily. "Rockruff, Fire Fang. Follow up with Thunder Fang."

"Saur, hit it with Vine Whip, then hold it still!" Ash told his friend as Rockruff raced towards the grass-type, fangs burning with flames. Saur grunted and extended two vines from his body and lashed out at the advancing rock-type.

Rockruff managed to evade the first two Vine Whips, but the third one struck it on its neck and sent Rockruff howling in pain. Saur raised the vine again to whip Rockruff, but the canine swiftly recovered from its dazed state and shot towards its opponent.

Saur screamed as Rockruff clamped his jaws on his short neck, flaming fangs digging sharply into his body. Saur glared furiously at Rockruff and wrapped a vine tightly around Rockruff's neck and pulled him away, ignoring the pain that came from removing the embedded teeth from his skin.

Rockruff barked furiously as Saur held it ten feet into the air with his vines, wriggling to get free. Saur simply tightened his grip on the rock-type before forming an Energy Ball in front of his saurian mouth.

The orb exploded violently upon impact and Saur hastily retracted his vines, loosening his grip on Rockruff. A loud thud followed the explosion and, once the dust cleared out, Rockruff was sprawled on the ground, breathing heavily.

Saur warily watched the canine, searching for any signs of consciousness, but gave up when Rockruff didn't so much as twitch. Brock recalled Rockruff without saying anything and replaced it with another pokeball.

"Impressive…" Brock smirked. "But let's see if you can take this thing down. Onix, I require your assistance!"

Ash blanched as Brock tossed the pokeball high in the air before snapping open and releasing white energy that began to take the general shape of the pokémon. The only problem: the pokeball didn't stop spewing the energy for what felt like eternity before the glow around the pokémon faded and revealed its terrifying form.

A gargantuan living chain of rocks nearly seven meters long stood on the field, glaring at Saur with beady black eyes. A rocky spine jutted from its head and its tough hide was craggy and gray. The lower half of its body was coiled so to prevent it from breaking through the gym.

Onix roared, causing the glass panes in the gym to shudder. Saur visibly trembled, but didn't let the size difference deter him. He growled threateningly and extended his vines, ready to strike it at any second.

Onix weren't as powerful as they seemed to be. It was only their massive size that intimidated pokémon, although their bulky bodies were an obvious threat. Judging from the gray hide and the length of Onix, Ash assumed it to be newly hatched, maybe three months old. Full grown Onix had black hides and we're incredibly massive.

Moreover, Ash was sure that Brock couldn't use an experienced Onix against newbie trainers, or else league officials would come knocking. He was sure that Saur could take the beast down.

Flint slashed his hand down. "Bulbasaur versus Onix – begin!"

"Power Whip," Ash ordered quickly. "Hit it between the rocks!"

Saur darted forward while charging a vine with tremendous energy. Onix simply eyed him with amusement as the grass-type approached it.

Brock smirked. "Dragon Tail!"

Onix's long tail glowed a sharp, lustrous emerald color at a fairly quicker pace than Saur's Power Whip. It swiped at its opponent just as the Bulbasaur smacked his purple-glowing vine at Onix.

An explosion ripped the air as the two attacks collided, sending Saur flying back and pushing Onix a meter away. Saur managed to save himself from a nasty crash by latching onto a spire of rock with his vines and safely setting himself down.

"Energy Ball!" Saur summoned his stored energy and quickly formed the familiar green sphere before releasing it at Onix. The rock-type behemoth groaned in pain as the super-effective move struck its body and burst upon contact.

Brock snapped his fingers. "Onix, Rock Polish and Bind it."

Onix surrounded itself with white energy, glowing for a moment before it dissipated. Onix bolted at Saur with blinding speed as it coiled Saur with its serpentine body, causing the seed pokémon to yelp in surprise, then cry out in pain as the Bind began to crush him.

His thoughts raced as he struggled to find out a way to get Saur out of Onix's clutches. He couldn't stand to see Saur struggling against Onix's body, choking and coughing and gasping in pain as the serpentine creature continued to bind him tighter and tighter.

Ash managed to see a flaw in the scene and snorted in happiness. "Saur, hit it with Vine Whip! Don't stop until it let's you go!"

Saur managed to catch his trainer's commands and screamed in annoyance before two vines shot out from under his bulb and began thrashing the living daylights out of Onix. The rock-type behemoth winced in pain as Saur kept lashing it with his vines without stopping for a second. Now and again, Saur's strikes would hit harder and harder, making Onix twitch uncomfortably and loosen its grip.

Finally Brock made his decision to not compromise super-effective Vine Whips for Bind. "Let go, Onix! Get back here!"

Onix loosened his grip and slithered away from Saur, who fell to the ground grimacing in pain. His legs would tremble occasionally as they tried to support his weight. That Bind had really taken a toll on him, but even Onix was breathing heavily.

Ash gritted his teeth. They were completely unprepared for Onix's superior strength. He was sure that a couple of full-powered Tackles would take him down.

"Onix, Rock Slide!" Brock roared. "Finish it off!"

Onix bellowed in agreement, and suddenly the ripples of energy formed mid-air. Onix thrashed his tail aggressively against the ground, and large grey boulders tumbled out of the ripples, plummeting to the ground.

Saur frantically scurried around the field, trying his best to evade the boulders that came crashing towards him. He managed to avoid one, two, five…until one finally met its mark.

Saur screamed in agony as the rock pinned him to the ground, burying him under a pile of stones and mud as the boulder cracked into smaller pieces. His legs struggled to push himself up, but each time he did he would fall to the ground and it became harder for him to do it.

Ash couldn't bear to see his pokémon, his friend, in such agony. He opened his mouth and said, "I forf—'"

Saur glowed.

Ash watched, transfixed and slack-jawed, as Saur shone like the morning sun and expel an incandescent white light as warm energy seeped from his mature bulb. His body shook as it was filled with power, until he was finally an immense ball of evolutionary energy.

When they light fizzled out, Saur had completely changed. It resembled his previous form in as many ways as he looked different from it. His body was fairly bigger and his pigmentation had grown darker. The bulb on his back had finally bloomed into a large, pink bud that wafted a slightly sickly sweet aroma - a short brown trunk and four leafy, green fronds supported it. His legs were sturdier and stronger due to the need to support the large bulb on his back.

Ivysaur now stood before his trainer, ready for battle.

Brock and his Onix looked quite perturbed, but the teenager hid it quickly with an uneasy smile.

"So," Brock said. "So it seems that your Bulbasaur evolved, but no matter. Onix, take it down! Skull Bash!"

Onix reared his head back, then launched itself at Saur like a bullet. His cranium glowed white as he advanced quickly towards Saur, who simply stared at it.

Ash looked at the Ivysaur in front of him and grinned. "Saur, use Vine Whip."

Saur quickly extended his thick, green, vine-like appendages before swinging them at Onix like a sledgehammer. As the whips hit the rock-type's craggy hide, there was a smack!

Ash grinned as he saw Onix come to a halt, bellowing in pain from the powerful attack. Left in the aftermath was a long crack, which kept spreading slowly over the boulder like a disease.

"Onix, Dragon Tail!" Brock yelped, now definitely worried. Onix shook off the pain and swung an emerald-green tail at Saur, who didn't need to be told to dodge the attack.

By the time the dust cleared out, an Energy Ball of immense proportions was formed in front of Saur's gaping maw. Ash could've sworn he heard Onix whimper when he said, "Release it!"

The Energy Ball shot towards Onix, making its way to the rock snake's head. Onix dived down to avoid the attack, but he was too slow. The spheroid exploded and blasted Onix's rocky spine right off.

The roar that followed never left Ash's ears. Onix bellowed in outright fury as the spine snapped from his head, the noise sounding like a thousand rocks scraping against each other. The windows rattled and everyone clamped their ears shut as the screech pierced their eardrums.

Onix groaned one last time as he slumped to the ground, breathing heavily, but it was all over. Brock quickly recalled the brutally defeated creature and sighed as he clipped it to his belt.

"Onix is unable to battle!" Flint declared. "Victory goes to the challenger and his pokémon!"

Ash walked over to Brock, who took out a small badge from his fanny-pack. The dark-skinned teenager smiled at the boy. "That was a great battle. Not many manage to damage Onix so much."

"Thanks, but it was all Saur's work," Ash replied. "Err… In any case, is Onix gonna be okay? I mean, Saur just took his spine right off."

Brock shrugged. "It'll take a couple weeks for it to regenerate back, but he'll be fine. I'll just have to give her a mineral heavy diet, though.

"Anyway, here's your Boulder Badge. It signifies your victory over the Pewter Gym. Looks like you're one step closer to entering the Indigo Conference," Brock added with a smile.

Ash took the badge with a word of thanks. It was a simple silver badge with an octagonal pattern, but to Ash it might as well have been the biggest diamond in the world.

"If you lose the badge or if it gets stolen, don't worry. You can come back here for a replacement," the teenager continued. "Victors are immediately registered in the gym's database, so you won't have to get a rematch if you do lose your badge."

Ash nodded.

"And here is something else," Brock said, now grinning. He opened his fanny-pack once again and removed a brown-tinted disk from the pack, handing it over to Ash. "This is TM Rock Slide – what Onix used a while back against your Ivysaur. However, it's a one-time use TM, so use it well. Don't use it on a pokémon you're gonna regret using on later."

Ash nodded and held the TM gingerly. The League had enforced gym leaders to start giving out TMs to winning challengers so that there would be an additional reason for trainers to get better. However, said leaders would only give out TMs of their respective type, and only eight leaders had that privilege – the eight strongest leaders in Kanto: Brock, Misty, Surge, Erika, Koga, Blaine, Sabrina and Giovanni.

Ash didn't know how many 'lesser' gyms were present in the region, but he guessed that there would be around four or five of them. These gyms were scattered around Kanto and were there for trainers who weren't up to the task of grabbing all standard badges. The only drawback was that these trainers would most likely not be taken in the Conference because the League only took the strongest.

Which was why Ash wasn't going to hit the lesser gyms. He was going to prove his worth by defeating the strongest gyms in Kanto and winning the Indigo Conference. He was going to show everyone that he was as good as Giovanni or Lance or even Red.

He hastily put the TM in the TM Case and smiled at Brock. "Thanks."

Brock nodded. "Oh, and once you're done collecting all required badges, I'd like a rematch. It gets boring here sometimes, and I rarely get strong challengers."

Ash grinned. "I'm definitely up for that challenge."

"Good. Well, I'd love to talk, but I've got another challenger waiting for me." Brock dipped his head and Ash walked away, grinning wider as Jack and Natalie showered him with praises.

"Man, that was awesome!" Jack remarked. He clapped Ash on the shoulder and beamed at him. "I thought Saur was gonna faint, but then – bayum! He evolved into an Ivysaur and whupped Onix so bad!"

Jack then smirked at Ash. "Did he give you the Rock Slide TM too?"

"Yeah, I almost forgot about the TM!" Ash said. He took out his TM case and ran his fingers along the several disks in them. "Red told me that his dad used to give out Rock Tomb, but I guess they raised their standards."

Natalie looked at the Rock Slide TM enviously.

"Anyway, let's go." Ash smiled fondly at the scratched pokeball on his belt. "I can't wait to treat Saur."


Ash received his Saur from Nurse Joy with a smile on his face. Zeus was in suspended animation on his belt while Delphi was – typically – perched on his shoulder. Aside from wanting Saur healed up after his brutal battle against Brock, he also wanted the dinosaurian to undergo a checkup with Joy to ensure that there weren't any complications regarding his evolution. A very rare occurrence, but Ash didn't want Saur to suffer later on. Fortunately, Joy had told the boy that Saur was perfect and couldn't be better.

After that he, along with Jack and Natalie, headed to the food court for dinner. Ash and Jack, euphoric over their victory against Brock, we're feeling generous and decided to splurge a bit more over their dinner, rather than eating at the Pokémon Centre's cafeteria. Jack caught a table while Natalie and Ash went in search for a good place to order their food from.

Ash and Natalie returned from Abdul's Falafel twenty minutes later with steaming squares of spiced ground beef kibbeh, a stack of lamb kebabs with mint yoghurt dip, a gazillion fresh slabs of pita bread filled with deep-fried nuggets of chickpea goodness, bathed in tahini sauce and garnished with pickle wedges.

Ash, Natalie and Jack quickly released their pokémon. The Pewter Mall was one of the few public places in the city which allowed trainers to roam around with their pokémon in the food court. The only other place in Pewter which had similar rules was the Pokémon Centre, where Ash didn't want to have dinner.

Saur and Zeus (Delphi was perched on his shoulder) perked up as the white light exuded from the pokeball faded. Saur growled a greeting to his trainer while Zeus did the same before looking at Saur with newfound interest.

A smirked as the Mareep circled Saur, his eyes wide and mouth open as he looked at the dinosaurian. Saur smirked smugly as Zeus sniffed him with newfound interest, paying special attention the large, pink bud on his back. Zeus opened his mouth to bite at one of the leafy fronds supporting the bud, then snickered once Saur made an angry growl as he noticed him.

Zephyr, Natalie's Pidgey, Charmander, Shroomish, Buford, Diego and Einstein also came over to Saur to inspect him, much to Saur's happiness. He seemed to like the attention he was getting. Charmander simply smiled and congratulated Saur for his success at evolving with a growl. Zephyr simply puffed his chest and flew over to Natalie's shoulder. Buford and Einstein simply looked at Saur for a moment before returning to their food, while Diego glowed violently and readied himself for the explosion, causing Jack to recall him in the nick of time.

Ash chewed his food slowly as he mused about tomorrow's plans. He, Natalie and Jack would hit Mt Moon. The mountain acted as a pass between Cerulean and Pewter City, and it was used by many trainers passing back and forth between the two cities. Moreover, Mt Moon held a myriad of pokémon, and he certainly wanted to catch another pokémon on Mt Moon. The only problem was that there weren't many that Ash really wanted.

According to the pokédex, Geodude and Zubat were extremely common in Mt Moon, which was predictable, since Geodude inhabited rocky and mountainous areas while Zubat inhabited caves. However, Ash wanted neither of them. Geodude had a range of weakness that could be easily exploited by opponent trainers, and were effective and able battlers only as Golem. Zubat were incredibly sensitive to light, which meant that Ash would have to give up on sleeping longer as to train a Zubat.

Then there were other pokémon, like Sandshrew and Paras. Ash immediately skipped the latter because they were very weak to flying- and fire-types. Sandshrew would be a good enough choice and give Ash a counter to electric-types.

But there was one pokémon rumored to be in Mt Moon, one Ash really wanted – possibly the rarest in all of Kanto, with only Bulbasaur and the elusive Dratini along with it – Clefairy. Although their outer appearances didn't suggest it, they were fantastic battlers, and their reservoir of potential was limitless. They had a decent move pool and their typing also made them immune to dragon-type attacks, making them the perfect counter to some of the most dangerous and powerful pokémon in the world.

Ash shrugged. If he found a Clefairy, he would certainly catch it. If he didn't, then he would just have to move on to Cerulean.

Ash gave out a burp of satisfaction once he finished his food, earning laughter from the group. He petted Zeus on the head and butted in the conversation between Jack and Natalie, who were debating whether a Gyarados could fly.

After this, all he wanted to do was sleep.


The next morning, Ash woke up an hour earlier than planned, heading straight for the training field behind the Pokémon Centre. He had two things in mind: checking out Saur's capabilities and teaching Zeus Wild Charge.

Ash quickly let his three friends out of their pokeballs. Delphi immediately hopped onto his shoulder while Zeus and Saur simply stared at their trainer.

"Okay, first off we're gonna check you, Saur," Ash told his friend. The Ivysaur nodded and his scarlet eyes twinkled. "Do you feel stronger?"

Saur experimentally extended his vines and looked at each of them before performing the wave motion with the two tentacles. Ash snorted at the behavior and Saur too chuckled before crouching and standing on his hind legs. The saurian seemed quite impressed by his form.

"Good." Ash smiled fondly at his friend. "Are you sure you're fine? No complications at all?"

Saur grunted affirmative. Ash smiled wider and petted him before turning his attention to Zeus.

"Alright, we're gonna keep working on Wild Charge. Saur, you can take a break – at least for now."

Saur grunted and trotted over to a patch of grass that was soaking in sunlight. He sighed in relief as he slowly set himself on the ground, absorbing sunlight for his growth.

Ash smirked. Saur could relax all he wanted for now. He'd earned it.

He turned his attention to Zeus, who was glaring at him for not paying attention.

"Right…Wild Charge. I know you can hold that electricity for a long time, but now I need you to start moving with it. Are you up for it?"

After all that training of trying to cloak himself in electricity, Zeus had finally learnt Charge, a move that required the user to ionize the air in a matter of seconds and use that to increase their own electric potential significantly. Charge had made it easier for Zeus to enshroud himself in electricity and Ash was happy to say that the Mareep was one step closer to mastering Wild Charge.

Zeus nodded a few seconds later. Ash took a few steps back as the Mareep was cloaked in electricity, then began to take a round of the field.

Zeus lasted only about six seconds before the electricity began breaking up. Finally the cocoon of electricity vanished, leaving only sparks still crackling around his wool.

"Okay…" Ash scratched the back of his neck. "That wasn't good enough. Let's try that again."

Zeus nodded in determination before he quickly enshrouded himself in electricity. Ash watched as he took off, committed to not disappoint his trainer.


Ash was currently on Route Three, battling a young girl about his age. "Rattata, use Quick Attack!" she yelled.

The purple rodent shot off with a burst of energy, leaving behind a trail of white light as it rushed towards Delphi, who was leering at the advancing Rattata in front of a tree. The Natu shrieked and teleported away, causing Rattata to slam into the tree with full force.

"Drill Peck!" Ash called out.

Delphi shrieked once again, leaping into the air before corkscrewing towards Rattata with an enlarged beak. Rattata, still dazed from its crash against the tree, did nothing except for scream as Delphi's beak slammed into its side.

Delphi hopped back to her trainer's side while the girl recalled Rattata, scowling. The girl detached another pokeball and sent out an average-looking Spearow.

"Alright, Delphi, come back for now. You did great," Ash said.

Delphi glared at her trainer, clearly wanting to battle more, but reluctantly hopped over to Ash's shoulder. Ash detached a pokeball from his belt and tapped the release button, sending Zeus out in an instant.

Ash's opponent bit her lower lip nervously as she saw the Mareep's horns spark, but shook away the doubt and pointed dramatically at Zeus. "Spearow, use Fury Attack!"

Ash smirked. "Thundershock!"

The lass blanched. "Spearow, speed up with Aerial Ace!"

Zeus fired a Thundershock in the form of a thin bolt, but Spearow suddenly flapped its red-feathered wings and dodged the attack with a burst of shocking speed. Spearow slammed into Zeus, but he barely even felt the attack. Flying-type moves weren't very effective against electric-types.

Before Spearow could bolt away, however, Zeus launched another Thundershock at it, this time hitting his mark. Spearow shrieked in agony as its feathers stood on end from the discharge of electricity that struck it dead-on. Spearow managed to go over to its trainer's side, but it was struggling to stay in the air.

"Spearow, Fury Attack!" its trainer yelled at it.

Spearow feebly headed towards Zeus, beak glowing white, and Ash decided to try something new.

"Wild Charge!"

Zeus quickly built up a cloak of electricity and began to run at Spearow, picking up speed as he got closer. He crashed into the fatigued bird, electrifying it with his cocoon of electrons, but Ash was disappointed to that the electricity around Zeus had broken up a split-second after he impacted Spearow. He and Zeus would have to work on that.

The tiny bird pokémon fell down, unconscious, and its trainer sulking recalled it and rudely thrust Ash's prize money into his hand. Ash allowed himself a smug smile as the girl stormed away, furious at her defeat.

Ash carefully petted Zeus, and winced when he felt a static shock go through his arm. "That was better, buddy," Ash told his friend slowly, "but we still gotta work on that. Okay?"

Zeus hung his head gloomily, downcast at his performance and at his trainer's words. Ash sighed. Maybe he'd just been expecting a lot more than his friends could do. "I'm sorry, Zeus. Wild Charge is a bit difficult for you, but I know that you'll get it sooner or later. I didn't mean to be harsh."

Zeus looked up at Ash with a strange glimmer in his eyes. It was a fire that told Ash that he wasn't weak. He would not let his trainer down, and he would prove his worth by learning Wild Charge.

Ash smiled hesitantly at the Mareep. "Okay, Zeus."

"Yo! Ash!" a voice said. "You coming or what?"

Ash turned around to see Jack with an exasperated look on his face. "I'm coming," he yelled back before turning to Zeus. "Let's go."

The rest of the journey to the entrance of Mt Moon was quite action-packed. There was a multitude waiting for Ash, Natalie and Jack, and they spent most of the morning battling almost every trainer they met. Ash defeated all of the trainers he battled, but lost against one who sent out a giant of a Graveler and gave Saur a rough time. Ash was slightly bummed out that his undefeated record was blemished, but even the other trainer admitted that his Ivysaur had put up a pretty good fight anyway. After bringing the Ivysaur back to consciousness, he demolished every single trainer he met.

He sent only Delphi and Zeus out for the rest of the challenges, mainly because they wouldn't get to do much in Mt Moon with the many ground- and rock-types. Delphi was easily sweeping her opponents and Zeus was doing quite well too. He was working on Wild Charge like his life depended on it, and Ash was happy to see the determination of his pokémon.

Even though Ash didn't use Saur at all for any battle, he still made the saurian walk by his side for the rest of the journey. Evolution cause drastic changes within pokémon and it took some time for them to get familiar with their new forms. Ash wanted Saur to be fine with his body so that he wouldn't face any problems in battles.

Finally, the trio of trainers and their pokémon reached the Pokémon Centre and quickly went in to heal their pokémon and restock their supplies. Their time in Viridian Forest had completely drained their medicines and food, so Ash and Jack went over to the Pokémart next to the Centre and bought everything that they would need in the mountain: revives, potions, ropes, flashlight, the lot. Once Natalie returned with their pokémon they split the supplies three ways before making their way to Mt Moon.

Ash removed his heavy-duty flashlight from his Hammerspace backpack. It was one of the several essential items he'd packed for his journey for whenever he entered dark terrains.

"This is it." Ash gulped.

"Hello, darkness," Natalie muttered gloomily.

"Goodbye, hot girls," Jack said, earning a chuckle from Ash and a glare from Natalie.

Together, they fearlessly plunged into the mountain.


Ash didn't know much about caves, but one thing was for sure: the number of Zubat were infinite in them.

Every once in a white, they stumbled across a colony of Zubat. The poison-types easily sensed the humans' presence due to their echolocation, and although they kept hissing at them Ash knew that they wouldn't attack unless provoked or if they had a Golbat leading them. Fortunately, the group had yet to encounter such a colony, and the Zubat left them alone, although they still hissed furiously until they were far out of range.

Although Ash encountered more Zubat than he cared to count, he did find some other pokémon – Geodude hopping and grunting, Paras skittering timidly and Sandshrew burrowing deep underground whenever the group came ten feet within them. Ash didn't find them interesting, although Natalie excitedly caught an eager Geodude who came right up to them and slugged Jack angrily in the stomach. The other two still hadn't gotten over laughing at the hilarious scene.

Aside from the pokémon, the trio had also run into a few good trainers, all of them on their level. Although Natalie and Jack had lost a single match each, Ash was happy at the fact that he hadn't lost a single match in the mountain, much to his companions' jealousy.

But, when they'd reached the halfway point, things started to go wrong.

There were rarely any pokémon to be seen. Aside from a few Geodude and a handful of Zubat, Ash didn't see any other pokémon at all. Saur kept pricking his ear to pick up something and snarling at something out of his reach. Delphi seemed even more disturbed. She constantly kept looking in every possible direction, a trace of uneasiness in her eyes.

Moreover, the group hadn't encountered any trainers after that at all. Frankly, the lack of life disturbed Ash. He didn't expect Mt Moon to be so dry of life – from what he'd heard, Mt Moon was filled with trainers travelling from Cerulean to Pewter and vice versa.

Finally, when they came near to a large cavern in one of the highest levels of Mt Moon, the group saw signs of life – but not the kind they hoped for.

"Man, this work sucks," a deep, gravelly voice said. The sound of metal hitting "Why do we gotta do this kinda shit?!"

"Because we're grunts," another voice said, this one rougher. "Now shut your mouth and keep digging, Fido. I don't want Proton on our asses because of your big mouth."

The first grunt, Fido, grunted as another one of those noises came – maybe they were mining? "Anyway, this Moon Stone bullshit – I ain't buyin' it. We've been diggin' this mountain the whole day! Why not just let Proton destroy this place with his damn Steelix?"

"Because that would make the whole tunnel collapse, grunt," a new voice said. "There's a reason why you're a you're a lowly grunt while I'm a high executive. Now get working, shit-heads! I don't wanna hear another peep outta y'all, or else Team Rocket's gonna have to do with a few else grunts."

"Yes, Sir Proton!" the two grunts exclaimed. "Certainly, Sir Proton!"

"Good." Proton snorted. "Now I gotta go interrogate those kids who came across here. Either they join Team Rocket, or, well…I'll leave that to your imagination."

Ash could hear the grunts' gulps all the way from there, but that didn't matter. What caught his attention and made the three trainers freeze was the name Proton had said: Team Rocket. The most nefarious criminal organization in all of the Kohto continent. Sure, Ash had encountered Team Rocket previously, but those were three jokesters who had crap pokémon and a talking Meowth with them. Plus, Nurse Joy had ultimately defeated them. This was the real deal.

Saur seemed to pick up on Ash's feelings and began to growl, but Ash stopped him, not wanting to draw the Rockets' attention. He wanted to run away back to Pewter with Jack and Natalie, since Team Rocket had an executive with, but what Proton had said made him stop. They'd captured traveling trainers… He couldn't just leave them at the mercy of Team Rocket. As much as he hated it, his hero-self took over.

"W-we've got to get out of here," Natalie said, eyes wide with fear. "Team Rocket's here!"

Ash looked at her I surprise. "We can't just leave! You heard them, they've imprisoned some trainers! We have to save them!"

Jack stuttered, "But—"

"You guys can run away if you want to." Ash cut him off coldly. "I'm not leaving them behind."

"And we aren't leaving you behind," Natalie replied. Her eyes were full of concern. "If you're going to get yourself into this madness, we're in it."

Natalie seemed determined. Jack wrung his hands nervously, but he too relented. Ash nodded his head.

"Okay, the plan is simple. We obviously can't take a whole squad of Rockets on our own, so we'll have to it their way," he said.

"Play dirty?" Jack guessed.

Ash grinned. "Yeah."

"And I can even send an alert on ," Natalie suggested. "The rangers and police will be here in no time."

"That'll be great," Ash said. "Come on. Let's get going."

Ash petted Saur, whose eyes had narrowed as rage built up in those scarlet orbs. "You know the situation, bud, but I can't use you. You're too big an attraction fro those Rockets."

Saur nodded, ever ready to listen to whatever his trainer would say, but his rage at the Rockets didn't lessen. His mouth was twisted in a snarl the whole time.

The trio quietly released their pokémon, although there were certain exceptions; Natalie kept Charmander in his pokeball since his tail flame was bound to attract attention, while Jack didn't release Buford and Diego due to the former's hyperactive personality and the latter's explosive tendency.

"Delphi, I need you to scout for us first," Ash said. "If there are Rockets up ahead, I need you to warn us immediately. Got it?"

Delphi chirped softly in agreement. Ash turned to Zeus. "Zeus, you'll be with me. If we run into any Rockets, paralyze them with Thunder Wave." Ash smiled when the Mareep nodded determinedly and then faced Jack and Natalie, who were done giving their pokémon orders.

"I've told Ace to go with your Natu," Natalie said, pointing at her Shroomish. "He'll paralyze any Rockets with Stun Spore."

"And Einstein'll be with us," Jack chimed in. "I've taught him to put up Barriers, so that should protect us from surprise attacks."

"Good thinking, Jack!" Natalie beamed at him admiringly. Jack grinned back at her.

"Come on," Ash said. "Let's—"

"Hey!" a voice thundered from along the tunnel. "Get those kids!"

Ash whipped around as fast as a bullet and his blood froze. Four Rocket grunts were charging towards them, their eyes glaring hard at them as they got closer to the trio every second.

"Run!" Jack shouted, and the three of them took to their heels, although the Rockets were gaining on them. Ash heard the familiar sound of pokémon being released and continued to run even faster.

It was only when he saw a sharp turn did he come to a halt, slowing down to prevent bumping against the tunnel's walls, but that was his downfall. The Rockets easily caught up to them and quickly surrounded the trio, causing them to converge in the center with their pokémon protecting them.

"Forget it, kid," a Rocket said, a menacing Raticate at his side, foam dripping from its mouth. "Your little monsters are no match for ours. Call them off and hand them over; no one needs to be hurt."

"Never," Ash snarled. Zeus bleated threateningly, causing another Rocket to chuckle.

"Listen, runt." The Rocket grinned savagely. "Hand over your pokeballs or else we'll kill your pokémon. I bet Team Rocket can do without a few more to their arsenal, however precious they may be."

Ash's eyes burned as he saw a Rocket grab Zeus' pokeball and return him into the capsule. The same was done to Delphi, and the others'. He might never see his friends again. They would either be tortured by the unethical experiments Team Rocket held or be killed if resisted.

"Come on," the same Rocket said. "Let's keep them with the rest of the prisoners. Sir Proton will be pleased."

The other Rockets grunted in understanding and three of them advanced towards Natalie, Jack and Ash. Ash gulped as he saw the one handling Jack smack him smartly on the back of the boy's head with his gun, although he didn't see what they did to Natalie as a grunt firmly held a chloroform-stained rag – he knew it was chloroform because it smelled so nice – against his face. It was only a matter of seconds before he went weak in the knees and his eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fell to the ground, knocked out.


Ash's eyes snapped open in alarm and fear at what had happened. His vision focused in an instant and he shook violently against his tight bonds that kept him still. His hands were tied behind his back and his legs were tied up too. His heart rated increased rapidly as he frantically tried to remember what had happened.

Rockets… Team Rocket had apprehended them and stolen their pokémon. A steady rage built up in his chest and his blood boiled. He would take his revenge against the villainous organization if it was the last thing he would do.

A voice shocked him back to reality. "Finally awake, are ya?"

Ash snapped to his right and saw Jack smiling sadly at him. "You slept for a long time, Ash."

"Ugh…" Ash groaned, wiping the dried drool on his cheek with his shoulder. "How long was I out? And where's Nat?"

"Second question first," Jack decided. "Natalie's with another pair of Rockets. From what I saw, there are approximately twenty-five swarming this place. She's been kept with other girls who they caught."

Ash cursed under his breath. If what Jack swaying was true, then it was a good thing they didn't take Team Rocket on their own. His plan sounded like a suicide mission.

The only thing he could hope for was the League to take their report seriously and send some help down here…

"As for how long you were out," Jack continued, "I'd say about three hours. Those goons got you good."

Ash scanned the place. It had been converted into a mine of some sort, which made Ash narrow his eyes in suspicion. It looked like Team Rocket was searching for something other than trainers and their pokémon. Ash noticed only two Rockets guarding Ash and Jack, and both were looking bored and kept yawning, and a tent was placed near the grunts. Maybe they could take them out with a surprise attack, but without their pokémon…

Something clicked in his head, something that almost made him grin. Saur's pokeball was still with him. He'd recalled his friend because he was too obvious a target. He could easily take down the two Rockets in the room, but the only problem was that he couldn't reach the pokeball in his pocket what with his hand tied up.

"Anyways," he said airily, "I made some acquaintances while you were drooling. Meet Terence, Matthew, Carter and Paul."

Ash looked at Jack's right, where he had somehow completely overlooked the four trainers bound in ropes with them. Terence was a dark-skinned boy about his age with black hair in a crew-cut; Matthew was a burly fourteen-year-old with bright, blue eyes; Carter was a weedy looking boy, perhaps a year older to Ash; and Paul was his age with deep purple hair and intense dark eyes. Ash quickly remembered him as the same trainer who had been with them in the Pewter Gym.

"Uh, hello," he greeted. The others, excluding Paul, greeted him back, although half-heartedly. Then he addressed Paul. "You're the same kid who challenged Brock yesterday, right?"

Paul simply nodded. He had a bored expression that almost matched the Rockets'.

The six of them began exchanging stories to pass the time.

"I didn't even know these buggers were here," Matthew grumbled. "Damn Rockets came onto me before I could even do anything."

The blue-eyed teen smirked. "Anyway, I did manage to kick one of them in the balls. That's how I got this," he said, pointing at the bruise on his cheek with his eyes.

"Anyway," Matthew continued, "I've been planning to escape for a long time now. I have two of my team still with me," he added with a dangerous smile.

Ash's eyes widened in surprise at this news. "You still have your pokémon with you?"

"'Course I do," the teenager said. "Bloody Rockets can't see properly. They didn't even notice me sneak those two pokeballs into my jacket. Terence here still has his Doduo while Paul managed to keep his Turd-something with him."

"Turtwig," Paul snapped angrily. Then he went back to his bored self.

Matthew shrugged. "Anyway, we didn't have much time to do anything 'cause we woke up around the same time as Jack here. He—"

"Hey!" Ash jerked towards the source of the noise, and scowled when he saw a Rocket walking haughtily to the captives. "Didn't I tell you chumps not to talk?"

"Yeah you did," Matthew said angrily, "but I don't listen well to scum."

The Rocket turned red with rave and punched Matthew across the face. "Any more cheek from you," the Rocket growled, "and I will personally feed you to Sir Proton's Houndoom. Got it?"

"Why Proton's pokémon?" Matthew continued. "Don't you have anything other than those shitty Rattata you screw with every night?"

The Rocket made an angry movement towards Matthew, but fortunately the other grunt stopped his companion. "Forget it, Trask. Leave the kid alone."

With one last angry glare, the Rockets walked back to their positions. Jack and Terence snickered at the conversation between Matthew and Trask; the teen seemed pretty pleased with himself.

Matthew harrumphed. "That's the Rocket whose nuts I smashed," he explained. "He's not very happy with me."

"I can see that," Ash deadpanned. "Anyway, what're they searching for? They turned this whole place into a mine or something."

"From what I've heard, they're searching for Clefairy and moon stones," Carter said. "I heard that leader of theirs talk to the grunts and I managed to catch a bit of what they were talking about."

Ash nodded. "Look, we've got to get out of here. With our pokémon we already have, we could easily give these Rockets a run for their money. Jack, Natalie and I have already put up an alert on , but we don't know whether they'll take our report seriously or not."

Terence shrugged. "What if they send the League?"

"What if they don't?" Ash countered desperately. "Look, the more time we waste, the closer Team Rocket gets to their goals. I've already got a plan in my head," he added, "but everything will depend on Jack."

The others looked as flabbergasted as Jack himself. "Jack?" Paul asked, puzzled. "Why Jack?"

Ash smirked. "Jack has a very well known gift," he said. "Jack can ventriloquize."

"Huh?" Jack muttered, but a split-second second later comprehension dawned across his face. "Huh!"

"Exactly," Ash said, as if all discussion was finished. "But Jack, you can't make any mistake or else those Rockets will be onto us. Do you understand?"

Jack nodded hesitantly. He wasn't used to such responsibility.

"I don't get it," Terence said, still confused. "What happens if Jack can ventriloquize?"

Ash sighed. "Okay. The plan is simple. Jack will first…"


About an hour later, the plan was set. Everyone had stopped talking for half an hour, much to Trask's and the other Rocket's pleasure. Then, Paul tapped the ground with his finger, giving everyone the signal.

Jack quickly got an innocent expression on his face – a look that all in Pallet Town knew only too well.

A blood-curdling growl came from the tunnel connected to the chamber – a growl that snapped the grunts awake and made them flinch.

"Wh-Whassat?!" a Rocket, whom Ash recognized as Trask, stuttered.

"I don't know," the other replied, equally mystified and terrified. "Might be some wild pokémon."

"Wild pokémon don't growl so blood-curdling-ly!" Trask shot back.

And then another voice, a cheerful voice, came: "Come on, come on, let's go! Ooooh, where's my auntie?"

The grunts listened, terrified. Someone was coming closer, with a huge beast of a pokémon by their side, and Ash now knew that Rocket grunts were as stupid as they looked. He badly wanted to laugh, but he firmly thrust down the ever-mounting guffaw that wanted to rise up and explode. Ash's eyes slyly turned to the right to see Jack, who was doing his part very well; the only sign that showed that he was practicing ventriloquism was the little vibration in his throat, but the Rockets weren't that observant. What really marveled Ash was the way Jack could change his voice so well and sound just like anybody else.

"Might be someone with their pokémon," Trask muttered.

"But why would they be searching for their auntie?" the other grunt wondered in bewilderment.

"I don't know, but we might as well snag that auntie too when we catch those travelers," Trask said to himself. "Kenton, let's go!"

So Rockets Kenton and Trask walked off to catch the imaginary trainer and his imaginary auntie, leaving the captured trainers all alone in the large chamber of Mt Moon, which normally served as a resting spot. The six of them quickly huddled towards each other and began to untie each others bonds as of their life depended on it, which it did.

"That auntie bit!" Matthew guffawed uncontrollably as he tried to set Jack free. "Oh, what made you think of that? That's a touch of genius, that is!"

"Just a random idea," Jack replied, trying to look modest but failing miserably.

"We can laugh all we want after we get each other free," Paul said, finally untying Ash's bonds and the dark-haired boy setting him free too. "Right now we've got to get out of this. Remember, the Rockets can be here at any moment, and it's going to look really bad if they see us midway."

"Okay, fine," Terence said, who was paired up with Carter. "Ugh – guys, can anyone help me with this?"

"Oi," Matthew said, "check my jeans – I've got a survival knife around here somewhere."

"Why didn't you tell us about it before?" Ash grumbled, but he quickly found the survival knife a flipped it open. It was only a matter of a moment before all six of them were sprawled over the ground, untied and free.

"Okay," Ash said. "Now that we've gotten past phase one, let's get to phase two. Matthew, Jack, and Carter – you go and free the girls. You guys know where they're kept, right?"

The three nodded.

"Be quiet about it," he warned. "We don't want the Rockets to raise the alarm and take away the element of surprise."

He turned towards Terence and Paul. "The three of us will take down Trask and Kenton, then join the other three. Got it?"

Terence and Paul nodded.

"Okay, enough of talk, let's go!" Matthew said. "Team Rocket's going to get a very nasty surprise."


Taking down Trask and Kenton was easily Ash released Saur, but it wasn't needed; Paul had an Elekid on hand that noiselessly shocked the two grunts (who were still talking about missing aunties) into unconsciousness. The three of them had the knocked out grunts tied up with their own ropes and holed up in a corner where they couldn't easily be seen.

"Okay," Carter said, releasing his Meowth, who pawed lazily upon being called out. "Let's go."

Just as they began heading towards the other chamber, the three of them heard a shout that was quickly muffled into nonexistence. Alarmed, they ran to help the others, but it was only a Rocket that was hit over his head.

Four Rockets lay sprawled on the ground, knocked out with their pokémon taken. Around eight girls were tied up in one side, although they were now being freed with the help of Matthew's survival knife.

"Sorry about being so loud," Matthew said sheepishly. "I guess that blow from Machoke really hurt."

Ash's eyes couldn't help but be drawn to the brutal-looking reptilian fighter, who simply snorted and showed off his powerful muscles.

"And he's a big show-off, too," its trainer added, smirking.

"Cool," Carter muttered, awestruck. "What's the other pokémon you've got right now?"

"I have Victreebel with me," the teen answered. "Anyway, according to them girls, the Rockets have kept all of our pokeballs holed up in their leader's fanny-pack. All we need to do is get that from him, and bingo – we've got mail."

"Great," Paul said. "Any idea where their leader is?"

Matthew shrugged. "Jack did a bit of interrogation and found out what they were doing – according to him they're searching for the 'legendary Moon Stone' or something like that," he added with a roll of his eyes, obviously not believing a word. "It seems that—"

"Yo!" a new voice shouted from one of the tunnels connecting to the chamber. "Charlie, Ray, Torque, Nico! Get your asses over here! We've struck gold! I repeat, we've struck—"

The voice came to a halt when the person in question – a short Rocket – noticed everyone in the room. He muttered, "Oh, shit," and began running away towards the rest of his gang.

It was only Matthew's Machoke who saved them. The brawler caught hold of the criminal in a second and easily lifted him five feet off the ground. He began squealing like a pig, but was immediately silence by a vicious punch to the gut.

"If you value your worthless life, answer my questions," Matthew snarled ferociously. "What gold? And where are the rest of you losers hidden?"

"I-I'll t-t-talk," the grunt stuttered. "W-we've finally f-found the legend-dary Moon Stone and the Clefairy of M-Mt M-M-Moon. Sir Proton and the r-rest of the team are at the other end of the b-b-b-base, in the Ceremonial Room."

"How many of you are there?" was Matthew's next question.

"Twenty-eight, including me, Charlie, Ray, Kenton, Trask, Nico and Torque," the Rocket stammered. "Please don't kill me!"

Matthew smiled dangerously. "Oh, I won't kill you," he said softly. He slipped a hand over the Rocket's mouth just as Machoke knocked him unconscious with a soft blow to the head.

"Well, it looks like we got seven of them out of the way," Terence said. "Which leaves only twenty-one left for six of us guys. What a mismatch."

"Don't forget us girls too," a girl said from behind them. "Most of us have our pokémon with us."

"They didn't search you people too?!" Jack exclaimed, incredulous.

"Course they didn't," a familiar looking girl said. Ash remembered as the trainer he'd faced on Route One – Misty was her name. "Damn Rockets can't see shit."

"Okay, whoever doesn't have a pokémon with them, pair up with someone that does," Paul ordered. "We can't leave anyone behind."

The others murmured in agreement. Three girls didn't seem to have any pokémon on hand, so the only fighters were eleven of them, which was a good number against twenty-one weak Rockets. The grunts were just fodder; it was the leaders they had to watch out for.

"Ash! Jack!" a familiar voice cried from behind them. The two boys whipped around just as Natalie slammed into them, pulling the two into a vicious hug. "Oh, thank Arceus we all are safe." Ash felt a tear stain his T-shirt.

"Wow," Jack muttered as Natalie kept hugging them. "This is the first time you've showed me any affection, Nat."

"Shut up," she said, finally leaving them. A smirk played across her face. "Now, what would I tell your mothers if you got your asses kicked by some stupid thugs."

"Aaaand she's back." Ash snorted at Jack's comment.

"Let's go, everyone!" Matthew called out in an authoritative voice. "Let's not waste any time."

He led the group of fourteen through a long, narrow, newly-dug tunnel. Unlike the rest of Mt Moon, this one was a straight path that was leading them to an undesired destination: Team Rocket. Almost everyone had their pokémon out; Jack had Buford by his side while Natalie had her Charmander out, his tail-flame flaring orange-red. Saur trotted next to Ash, growling softly.

Finally they reached the exit, which showed off an incandescent white light that blinded them – letting them into a marvelous room that none of them had ever seen before.

It was fifty feet in diameter, with glossy black stone walls. Captivating gems decorated the room, which was open to the sky. A lake in the middle perfectly reflected the moon shining bright, but that wasn't what caught Ash's eyes.

No, what really captured his attention was the ginormous pink and blue obsidian stone that shone like a million stars. The only thing ruining the image was Team Rocket. About twenty Rockets were eyeing the Moon Stone like it was the biggest diamond in the world, with the leader – Ash assumed he was the leader – standing an inch away from the Moon Stone, running a hand through his teal hair.

"Now that we've got the element of surprise, let's get them," Matthew said. "One, two three – go!"

The Rockets froze as the group of trainers exploded into the room, their pokémon by their side. Surprised, the grunts were easily taken out by the trainers' pokémon, although some of them managed to let out a couple of Zubat, Koffing, Ekans and the odd Sandshrew – standard Team Rocket pokémon.

Their leader, Proton, however, was not so easily fazed. He set loose the most savage looking Houndoom Ash had ever seen and screamed. "Get those kids! Get them, or I will flay you alive!"

That threat must've been scarier than the trainers themselves, because the remaining grunts – perhaps ten of them – attacked with new vigor, but they were no match for their opponents. Natalie's Charmander was slashing his way through every Zubat he could find, while Saur was smashing every Rocket pokémon against the walls with his vines. The other trainers were no less; although Carter's Meowth was knocked out, Terence and his Doduo were fighting for the other trainer, and Paul's Elekid was easily incapacitating grunts before they send out more of their pokémon.

Before they knew it, all the Rockets except for Proton and his Houndoom were defeated. As the others' pokémon were worn out, Matthew and his Machoke were battling it out against Proton's Houndoom. The Rocket executive's hair was matted with dirt and his clothes were a mess. With a howl of rage, he took out two more pokeballs and released the captures within.

From one of them the meanest Jolteon burst out, baring electrified fangs at Machoke. The other one contained an Ariados which quickly scuttled away Machoke's range and began shooting silk at it.

"Karate Chop!" Mathew shouted before hurling another pokeball into the air. "Victreebel, I choose you!"

A Victreebel bounced on the ground, then narrowed its beady eyes at the Houndoom, Ariados and the Jolteon in front of it. The flycatcher pokémon spat a glob of thick venom at the Jolteon, but the electric-type bolted out of the way with astonishing speed. Jolteon blasted Machoke in the back with electricity, causing the superpower pokémon to stumble and miss a super-effective Cross Chop at Houndoom.

"We need to help him!" Ash shouted over the battle. The orange-haired girl – Misty – Paul and Jack nodded – they were the only ones with remaining pokémon left.

Paul set loose a small green creature with a large head and a shell on its back. It had a small plant on the top of its head and opened its huge maw. "Turtwig, attack those Rockets. They're the ones who took Magby and Nidoran."

"Starmie, Poliwag, go for the Houndoom!" Misty ordered. "Knock it out!"

Buford screamed in rage and shot himself at Proton's pokémon without any orders. Ash turned to Saur. "Saur, see that fanny pack?" Saur nodded. "Get it away from him. Zeus and Delphi are in that."

The saurian's eyes hardened at the mention of his friends. He would get that pack if it was the last thing he would do.

Matthew wasn't doing quite well, but he was doing a bit better with the other pokémon at his side. Misty's Starmie was as powerful as Matthew's own pokémon, and was busy blasting Houndoom with a barrage of Hydro Pumps. The hound could do nothing but whimper as a final Hydro Pump blasted it in the flank, knocking it out.

Proton outrageously recalled his Houndoom and continued to order his other two monsters. Misty recalled an unconscious Poliwag who had been hit by a stray Thunder Wave powerful enough to knock it out. Starmie was using its psychic prowess to deflect Jolteon's Thunderbolts away, while Machoke and Victreebel were struggling against Proton's skilled Ariados.

"Toxic Thread!" Proton ordered savagely, making Ariados produce a sticky, green version of String Shot. "Jolteon, Thunder – what the hell?!"

Saur finely managed to snatch Proton's fanny-pack and began to run towards Ash and into his trainer's waiting arms, but the Rocket executive noticed the sneak attack and glowed with rage. "Jolteon, get that little shit! Thunder Fang!"

Jolteon bared its fangs savagely and shot towards Saur with incredible speed. The saurian yelped as the lightning pokémon's fangs missed his pink bud. Saur scarpered towards Ash, but the twisted Jolteon electrified its fangs one again and lunged at Saur and Ash, ready to bury its teeth into—

"No!" Ash whipped around to see Jack throw Diego at Jolteon with all his strength, Diego hurtling towards Jolteon like a bullet, and Jolteon clamped its fangs down on Diego. The Pineco glowed and began to shake tremendously in Jolteon's maw, and Ash ducked instinctively as he realized what Diego was going to do.

The Pineco self-destructed with a violent explosion right in Jolteon's mouth. The canine howled in pain from the explosion, and once the dust cleared out it showed a steaming and charred Diego lying on the ground and a Jolteon with blood leaking out of its mouth. Ash noticed a bloody fang on the ground and felt sick at the scene, but Jolteon was beyond experiencing pain. It pushed itself up, quite dazed, and glared furiously at Jack.

Just before it could lunge at the petrified boy, however, a psychic explosion ripped the air and blasted Jolteon into the ground. A second later the canine hovered in the air, surrounded by a bright blue light. Ash noticed Misty's Starmie's gem glowing brightly, and quickly understood that the water-type was controlling its opponent with its psychic powers.

Then Jolteon was jarred into unconsciousness by a well-aimed Dynamic Punch from Machoke to the head. The electric-type whined for a seconds before its black eyes rolled into the back of its head.

However, the battle was far from over. Proton's beast of an Ariados was still standing strong, with a new partner by its side – a vicious and twisted Weavile. Although small, its extremely sharp claws told Ash not to underestimate it. The dark-type flashed its claws before shooting itself at Machoke.

Starmie and Victreebel versus Ariados. Machoke versus Weavile. Paul's pokémon were already knocked out, and he was tending to a very injured Turtwig with several potions. Natalie had recalled Charmander in fear of him being fatally injured from any stray attacks, while Saur kept a good distance from the fight.

Machoke was fast, but Weavile was faster. The ice/dark-type was easily dodging each and every Karate Chop from Machoke and retaliating with Metal Claws and Ice Punches. Machoke looked incredibly tired, what with its battle against Houndoom and then Jolteon and Ariados. It was only a matter of time before the superpower pokémon would fall to Proton's Weavile.

Ash quickly got his attention to the fanny-pack pack in front of him and rummaged through it. It took only five minutes for him to find his, Natalie's and Jack's pokeballs in the fanny-pack and four that were labelled with a sticker that read 'Matt'. Smirking, Ash quickly removed Matthew's pokeballs and zipped the pack close.

"Matthew!" Ash yelled over the din of the battle. The burly teen looked back at Ash with a puzzled expression on his face. "I've got your pokémon. Release them and give Proton hell!"

Matthew grinned as Ash hurled the minimized capsules at him, and enlarged two of them before releasing the contains. "Scyther, Electrode, come on out!"

A green, insectoid creature with sharp blades for arms came forth along with a perfectly spherical, red-and-white pokémon. The Electrode grinned savagely and sparks danced around its spherical body while the Scyther immediately rushed into battle to help its comrades.

With Scyther by its side, Machoke was finally a match against protons vile Weavile. Scyther was easily parrying Weavile's slashes with its blades, giving Machoke a chance to land a few blows on Weavile, much to the dark-type's displeasure. Electrode was helping Victreebel and Starmie, but Ariados was more than a match for the three of them combined. The arachnid was swiftly scuttling out of the way and slowing its opponents down with toxins and String Shots. Starmie's gem was already blinking, signifying its low health.

Ash quickly released Zeus, who bleated in alarm and then snarled when he saw Proton still standing. The Mareep and Saur both looked at their trainer for orders.

"Saur, use Stun Spore on that Ariados," Ash told his starter, "but stay away from it. Zeus, try to paralyze Weavile. Don't let it see you."

Saur and Zeus grunted in affirmation and set off on their targets. Saur made sure to stay a good distance away from Ariados while Zeus tried to find an opening to paralyze Weavile with Thunder Wave.

Saur's bulb shone faintly before shooting a blanket of yellow spores onto Ariados. Victreebel, Starmie and Electrode managed to get away from the spores, which settled on Ariados' segmented body. Ariados twitched its spindly legs, but its movements were slower. Ash smirked. Stun Spore had done its work.

Scyther and Machoke finally managed to defeat Weavile, forcing Proton to recall his unconscious pokémon. The only one that was left was Ariados, who was still putting up a fight against its opponents, but at this rate—

Ash screamed as pain ripped through his body. His eyes wide in terror as he slowly moved his head towards the source of his agony. A sharp, thin horn, leaking clear, potent poison, was dug into his shoulder and he cringed in pain as he saw Ariados' compound eyes staring remorselessly at him. The body screamed further as Ariados painfully removed its horn from his shoulder, scuttling onto the wall with its mouth leaking with poison, and Ash gingerly held his wound.

It had to be Poison Sting which had struck him. His blood began to boil as the venom took over, making his arms go limb. He heard someone scream, but Ash didn't care. His vision turned fuzzy and he dropped to the ground as Ariados quickly knocked out Matthew's Machoke and Misty's Starmie in one single blow.

Ash vaguely remembered hearing Zeus bleat angrily and shine bright as he felt himself dying. A few seconds before he slipped into unconsciousness, he saw a vaguely star-shaped and pink creature enter the chamber, fill it with light and then—



Ash was surprised to find himself still alive after taking such a heavy dosage of Ariados' poison. He found it even more surprising to find himself in the same chamber where they'd fought against the Rockets.

Ash bolted upright and a hand eased him. "Whoa there, Ash. Take it easy."

Ash nauseous as he tasted his own breath, which tasted like a day-old sandwich. "Where…?"

Ash saw the burly form of Matthew grinning at him. "Relax! We're safe. Proton's most likely dead, so we earned some playtime. Anyway, I never knew fairy-types could kick ass."

Ash frowned slightly, still quite uneasy. "What're you—?"

What he saw next took his breath away.

A multitude of Clefairy, Clefable and Cleffa encompassed Ash in the enormous chamber. There were several of each evolutionary stage scattered over the place, glancing occasionally at the humans present in the chamber.

The Cleffa were tiny pink creatures, no bigger than the plushies Ash had back at home. The sight of the cute fairy-types made his heart melt.

The Clefairy were more in number than the Cleffa and their evolved forms; several of them were skipping over the large lake in the center of the chamber, storing moonlight in their two small wings on their back.

The legendary Moon Stone that was the center of attention was shining brighter than ever. Ash couldn't take his eyes off it when he finally took notice of the evolutionary boulder.

"This…" Ash couldn't find words.

"I know," Jack said, suddenly sidling next to the dark-haired boy. "It's amazing."

Natalie appeared on Ash's right, squeezing between him and Matthew. She smiled at Ash and then stared at the fairy-types. "They're so cute!"

Ash nodded in agreement before a thought struck him. "Hey, how did you guys manage to save me from that Ariados' poison? I mean, I could practically feel myself dying."

Matthew smirked. "Well, just before you were out cold, this kick-ass Clefable jumped into the scene and completely destroyed Proton and his Ariados. I dunno what happened to him, but I'm pretty sure that fall from the edge of the cliff killed him."

"And?" Ash probed.

"Then several more Clefable just, like, poured into the room and started tending to us," Matthew continued. "The lead Clefable immediately came over to you and healed you up with its voodoo-magic in a jiffy."

I would prefer the term 'thaumaturgy' over voodoo-magic, human-Matthew.

A voice entered Ash's head and made him jump a few inches into the air. And though the voice wasn't harsh or bold, but soft and pleasant and warm, like Christmas morning, it still startled him. Ash immediately felt a wave of happiness wash over him as the voice mentally spoke to him and the others.

He turned and saw an ancient Clefable, much bigger than the others, a few inches away from them. Like the others of its evolutionary line, it was smiling, but Ash could make out that its warm, black eyes were judging him. Ash smiled back at it hesitantly, because he didn't know what else to do with a Clefable that could share mental links with others.

Matthew grinned sheepishly. "I keep forgetting."

Ash looked at the aged Clefable with a confused look. "Uh, I'm sorry, but what is this place?"

The Clefable's lips twitched further upwards. To you it may just be a plain chamber, it said, but to the Clefairy we know it as the Ceremonial Room, our sacred grove.

Once every five sun cycles my kind come out here to bow to the will of the Moon Stone, it continued. Over here we welcome the evolution of a few Clefairy into Clefable, chosen by the power of our mighty Moon Stone.

Ash slowly processed what it was saying. By the sounds of it, it seemed like the Cleffa evolutionary line had an entire cult of Moon Stone worshippers insidious Mt Moon, but Ash knew not to question their actions. Pokémon were mysterious things, like Professor Oak kept telling them in Pallet. He didn't want to get onto the Clefable's bad side.

You think our actions are silly, the elder suddenly said into his mind. Mere propaganda. But you also know that there is a reason for this. Don't you humans also worship the Creator and his godlings, human-Ash?

Ash just nodded without understanding a word of what the Clefable was saying. He did go to church when he was younger, but as a trainer he'd given up as much recreation as he could for trainer – except for spending time with Natalie, Jack and his own pokémon—

His pokémon.

Ash frantically began searching for the pokeballs on his belt, and was relieved to count three, but the Clefable eased him down with its mystic energy. Do not worry, human-Ash, the Clefable said. Your companions are safe. They are quite strong for such young ones.

Ash smirked at that. He was glad someone finally said it.

"Oh!" Ash whipped to face Natalie, who seemed to burst with what she had to say. "I forgot to tell you Ash. Zeus finally decided to evolve midway. He evolved literally the second before you were out cold."

He couldn't help but grin wider at that. He'd been waiting for Zeus to evolve into Flaaffy – he'd noticed the ex-Mareep shedding wool at a much faster pace for the past few days, but he couldn't help but feel slightly bummed out for missing it. In any case, he was happy for finally having two of his friends getting stronger than ever. At this rate, Saur and Zeus would probably leave Delphi in the dust.

Ash fondly played his fingers across the pokeballs along his belt before focusing on the Clefable. "So, what now?" he asked. "Do we have wait for something?"

The Clefable smiled. We cannot let you go empty handed, the elder said. Not after you helped in protecting our Ceremonial Room and the legendary Moon Stone. As a sign of our gratitude, we shall give you humans each a shard of the Moon Stone as a token of our gratitude.

Matthew grinned. "Cool!" he exclaimed. "Nidorina's gonna be pleased."

Ash wanted to see Matthew's formidable poison-type, but pushed away the thought. He didn't want to seem rude to the Clefable.

But first, the Clefable said, our ceremony must begin.

Ash blinked in surprise as the aged Clefable warped away from its spot and appeared on a stone pedestal not to far from the Moon Stone. All the humans in the room – Ash counted all the Rocket-captives present – looked at the Clefable elder, whose body shone brightly. Its warm voice rang out like a clear stream of water in his head:

All hail the mighty Moon Stone!

The myriad of fairy-types quickly stopped what they were doing and circled the Moon Stone in three files – the Cleffa first, then the Clefairy followed by the handful of Clefable. All of a sudden they raised their hands and their eyes glowed pink, chanting as they circled the Moon Stone and swayed their hands in a tribal fashion. Ash and the others huddled close to form a small group as they watched the procession in fascination.

Finally the ancient Clefable raised its hands in the air, eyes burning a luminous pink, and the Moon Stone was suddenly lifted into the air. Ash watched in awe as the Clefable lifted the ridiculously enormous stone in the air with its psychic and thaumaturgic powers before setting it a few inches above the lake in the center.

The moon reflected perfectly on the Moon Stone, which began to glow pink, then blue, then white. Finally, the light exploded softly away from the stone and beams of light fell onto a few of the Clefairy circling it.

The Moon Stone has chosen, Ash heard the Clefable say. Chosen kin, the Moon Stone never loses its power to welcome us into our final stage. Step forward and expose yourselves to its undying power!

The Cleffa in front gave way to the chosen Clefairy, staring at them in awe. Ash was sure they were already thinking about the day that they would evolve into Clefable.

The Clefairy stepped closer to the Moon Stone, then hesitantly pressed their small hands against the Stone. As soon as they touched it, they were set ablaze by a powerful white light, signifying their evolution. Ash watched, marveled, as the chosen Clefairy began to glow even brighter until they evolutionary light was blinding, but Ash still watched, discerning the changes in their shape through the harsh light.

The light finally faded, revealing newly-evolved Clefable in the place of the chosen Clefairy. The Clefable experimentally stretched their arms and examined their bodies, pleased by this transformation.

It is done, the elder finally said. All the fairy-types and the humans looked at it, awaiting its next words. Chosen kin, you are now part of the Council. Help nurture our young ones and help them bear fruit so that they may be then next ones to bend to the Moon Stone's will.

The Cleffa line nodded determinedly. Then, the Clefable looked directly at Ash and the others as it spoke.

And now, our ceremony ends with this final gift, it told the rest of its family. These humans defended our Room, our Grove, our home. Let this be our token of our appreciation for stopping our Ceremonial Room from being destroyed!

The Clefable raised its hands once again, seemingly making the time mountain shake. Ash gripped the obsidian rock he was sitting on as the a good chunk of the Moon Stone exploded away from the rest and floated towards the elder. Ash noticed several of the un-chosen Clefairy stare longingly at the large fragment.

The Clefable chanted something in its native tongue, and the fragment of the Moon Stone exploded slowly into several smaller pieces. The separated shards hovered around Clefable in two rings as it floated towards the humans in the room.

Here is the final gift. A Moon Stone shard floated to each trainer. Ash gingerly held the shard, which was as big as both his palms and was still pulsating different colors, although Ash could still make out the pitch-black stone in his hands. Use it well, the ancient Clefable continued. No human has set their eyes on our Ceremony and the Moon Stone for a long time. Cherish this gift for the rest of your lives.

"Thank you," stuttered Ash, having gotten butterflies in his stomach. He still couldn't believe that he'd not only seen one of the rarest and most elusive pokémon in Kanto but an entire colony of them. And their secret ceremony. And he'd received a shard of the Moon Stone. He was probably the luckiest person in the world today, and Ash thanked any unknown higher power for his situation.

No. Thank you, child, the Clefable told him. Thank you for saving us from sheer disaster. May the Creator look over you for the rest of your life.

Ash muttered a word of thanks to the Clefable, followed by the other trainers. The Clefable talked to the rest of its kin in its native tongue, and the Clefairy, Clefable and Cleffa chanted back.

Suddenly the group of trainers was illuminated by a faint white light and Ash was suddenly teleported away. Once the teleportation had ended, Ash couldn't help but double over as a wave of nausea washed over him. It had felt like as if he'd been forced through a thin narrow tube. He immediately made a mental not to say no to teleportation as a method of transportation in the future.

He took into the unfamiliar surroundings. It was much different than the Clefairy's Chamber and more like one of the tunnels they'd been travelling through before he, Natalie and Jack were caught by the Rockets. Ash noticed there were far less trainers than before – maybe they'd been teleported by the Clefable to another destination…?

"Holy Mew," Ash heard Jack exclaim at his right. "What the heck was that?! That was most mind-boggling thing I've ever seen!"

Ash pushed himself up and saw the rest of the trainers accompanying him: Natalie, Jack, Paul, Matthew, Misty. Everyone he knew – at least a bit. Matthew was grinning and looking at the Moon Stone shard lasciviously.

"Nidorina's gonna love this," he said to no one in particular. "She's been waiting to evolve for such a long time!"

Paul snorted. "Well that was interesting."

Misty glanced at the purple-haired boy, then at the others. "So, where are you guys headed? As far as I know, this is the way to Cerulean City."

Paul grunted. "I'm off to Cerulean City to win my next gym badge," he said. "I've heard that the Sensational Sisters are pathetically weak—" Misty flushed angrily at that, "but there's got to be a reason for them to be allowed to hand out TMs to winning trainers."

He turned to face Ash. "In any case, I would like a battle with you the next time we meet. You managed to take down Brock with just your Ivysaur – and I have a feeling you'd be a decent opponent against my team."

With that, Paul walked away after nodding at Misty and Matthew. Jack simply stared after the boy several moments before shaking his head and shrugging.

"I guess we'd better hit the road, too," he told Jack and Natalie. "I wanna reach Cerulean as quickly as possible. Today was a lot for my mind."

"Agreed," Misty said, shouldering her backpack. She grinned dangerously at Ash, Natalie and Jack. "Anyway, I'll be waiting for you at the Cerulean Gym – I want to see if you three are really cut for the Conference."

Misty turned and left, leaving a confused Ash in her wake. Matthew smirked at the trio of trainers. "Don't worry," he told them. "You'll get what she's saying once you challenge the Sisters."

Matthew yawned. "It was good meeting y'all, but I really need to get going. Mum's going to kill me if I'm late and Fearow needs to stretch his wings. So…this is goodbye, I guess?"

Ash muttered goodbye back at Matthew and the teenager left in a flash, leaving the three alone in the tunnel. They stared at each other for some time before Jack shouldered his backpack, and the three of them decided to leave.

Natalie and Jack let Ash take his own time as they walked along the tunnel, walking several meters ahead of the dark-haired boy. The after-effects of Ariados' was still making him nauseous and he took slow steps as he traced his companions' footsteps.

Ash grimaced as he rubbed his right shoulder. Although the elder of the Clefairy colony had healed him, it still ached from the poisonous arachnid. That Ariados was a monster…

Ash stopped abruptly as he sensed someone – or something – a few paces behind him. He frowned. He was in no mood to battle any wild pokémon; his pokémon were still worn out from the battle against the Rockets. Ash whipped around—

A Clefairy stood a few feet behind him. The fairy-type was shrouded in darkness and the only way Ash had recognized the creature was because its vague body shape. Ash nervously took a step towards, half expecting the Clefairy to run away, but the fairy pokémon didn't move – not even a bit. Its eyes were determined for some reason; it wasn't afraid.

"Are you lost, little one?" Ash told it. He smirked as the way he talked reminded him of the Clefable elder. "Uh, honestly…" He scratched the back of head. "I don't know the way back to your colony, so—"

He stopped abruptly as the Clefairy took a determined step and let out a deep breath. Ash blinked in sheer shock Ash Clefairy tapped an empty pokeball on Ash's belt in one smooth move and was sucked into the confines of the pokeball. The sphere didn't even shake once which meant that Clefairy didn't struggle at all as it was put into suspended animation.

Ash didn't know what to do. A Clefairy was in a pokeball on his belt… This had to be the single most mind-blowing day in his entire life. He couldn't he but feel truly blessed. Ash helplessly wondered what to do but Jack's voice jarred him back to reality.

"Yo! Ash! You coming or what?"

"I just tripped," Ash lied. "I'm coming in a sec." he thought about telling Jack and Natalie about what had just happened, but decided against it. He shrugged.

Maybe he'd surprise them in the morning.


Phew! We're finally done here! I hope you guys enjoyed the chapter. Like I said in the previous one, I brought out the surprises: Saur and Zeus evolved, and Ash got a Clefairy! I absolutely adore Clefairy. I remember when I played FireRed I searched for one for half an hour, and when I did I got so excited that I didn't even save the game :( Anyway, I hope you all liked the inclusion of Clefairy on Ash's team, plus the evolution of Saur and Zeus.

Yes, Paul finally makes an appearance. I tried not to make him as cold and annoying as he was in the anime, but he's still pretty mature for his age. Misty makes an appearance, along with a few CoDs I made up along the way.

The battle against Proton might seem one-sided, but Proton was facing an experienced gym leader and an experienced trainer. The gym leaders here are much more competent than the way the anime made them out to be, and are more like their game selves. Brock has his parents, Misty's a better trainer, Surge is not much of a dick, etc. Stuff like that.

Now, on to the review responses for the last chapter:

Dragonsrule18: This is absolutely amazing and I'm definitely favoriting this lovely fic and adding it to my community! I loved the banter between the friends and the personalities of the Pokemon! You have them written really well! Will Ash still get Charmander like he did in the anime?

-Thanks a lot! As for getting Charmander, it's most probably a no, although I might be giving it to someone else in the fic :)

PraetorFable: Great chapter. Can't wait for more! I've been writing my own story which is very similar to this for a while, so this is super inspiring. Although it won't be out for a while, haha. I'm working on too many other at the moment. :)

-The fact that I'm inspiring someone is really flattering. Anyway, I'll be waiting for you to publish your own story, and I hope it comes out well.

MechaRex 2.0: Nice! This is now one of my favourite pokemon fics. Please update soon!

Before I leave, I have a few questions. Will Ash get a steel-type or a fairy-type pokemon? He's never got one of them in the entire series. Will he also get a dragon-type in Kanto? As for Ash's water-type, you could give him a Psyduck that could evolve into a powerful Golduck, but I guess he'll have a ton of problems with a dopey Psyduck by his side XD

-Thus chapter answered your first question! About the steel-type, Ash will get one but in the future. As for his water-type pokémon, I've already decided his capture, although the idea of him capturing a Psyduck is quite funny!

Waberjack: Nice start to the story! Seems like they had a lot of advantages for rookie trainers with the absurd amount of tms Ash received and their starters move pool but that's ok. Their teams seem to be varied and that's cool because it's tiring seeing the same Pokémon in every fic. Keep up the good work!

-I guess I overdid it with the egg moves, but I guess it's okay. Plus I wanted Ash to have a head start on TMs, which is why I had them given to him. As for the last part, I agree wholly. I'm glad that you found my story as original!

That's all for the review responses. Chapter four will probably be published next month. Thanks for reading, and don't forget to review!

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