Chapter 15: Vermillion Arrival!
It took some time, but after two days of traveling with the caravan of merchants Red and Misty managed to finally arrive at Vermillion city. One thing that they appreciated and found quite nice was traveling with a group of people instead of just being the two of them. In particular, the fact that there were adults that knew how to properly cook a nice meal.
Most of the time, the two trainers ended up eating some can food and some ready-to-bake food that they would buy at stores. It was good food, but it was probably not as healthy.
Truth be told neither of the two kids knew how to properly cook something, which shouldn't be a surprise since they're both ten (even if Misty is taller than the Pallet boy by a few centimeters). Misty's sisters, more specifically Sakura, knew how to cook surprisingly good dishes when she felt like it. But since she only cooked whenever she felt like it, they often ate either on a restaurant or simply ordered something.
On the other hand, Red has always been interesting in at least be able of preparing even a simple omelet. The reason being that a year prior to the start of his journey an idea crossed his mind, which was that since he originally planned on traveling by himself, he wanted to make sure he and his Pokémon wouldn't starve to death because there was nothing to eat. After all, they could only rely on stores and restaurants for a certain amount of time. But remembering how Ash ended up setting his house's kitchen once... well, he didn't want to risk that happening to him.
Granted, he was far younger when he did that, but Red didn't want to test his luck.
After waving goodbye to the merchants, the two kids started wandering around the city. While part of Red wanted to go straight to the gym to challenge it, another part felt really, really tired. It probably had to do with being chased by a Snorlax for nearly two hours just a couple of days ago. But hey, on the bright side he at least now had a new team member in the form of the normal type Lax.
As they kept on walking, Red suddenly remembered something. Pulling out the coupons for a free bike each that were given to him by the president of the Pokémon Lovers Fanclub, he suggested to Misty to go to the bike store so that they could get new bikes of their own.
Misty found the idea very pleasant and agreed with the boy dressed in red. She technically already had a bike herself... actually, scratch that. Misty didn't have a proper bike herself. The bike that she uses was an old bike that technically belongs to Violet (a fact that she likes to remind her younger sister whenever she could). That was even thou she was that always used it. Well, now she will get a bike to herself. A proper one and most likely a better one.
Going inside of the store, Red handed the two pieces of paper to the store clerk so that they could receive their bikes. After verifying that the tickets were legit, the clerk told the duo of trainers to choose the bike that they liked the most.
Misty looked around and decided to go for an orange bike with a blue basket. She could already hear the complains of her sisters for choosing that one: 'Really? That one? Like, we know that you didn't inherited the family's fashion sense and style, but surely you could have gone for something better'. Well, she didn't care. It was her choice and she chose that bike. It was hers and no amount of bickering from her sisters would change that.
Red himself decided to go for a black race bicycle. Truth be told, any bike would have been enough for him, but since he had the option of getting a race bike well, he was not going to let that opportunity pass. Besides, he thought that said bike looked pretty cool. And to be honest, most kids his age would have agreed with him.
Existing the store, the two decided to take their new bikes for a spin. Cycling throughout the streets of Vermillion city, the two trainers soon discovered a park not that far from where they were. Naturally, they decided to go there so that they could relax for a bit and show their Pokémon their new bikes.
On their way there, Red could have sworn that he heard a voice that was oddly familiar to him. Who could it be? Was what he thought, especially since he didn't know anyone from Vermillion city... Well, he did remember two kids from Vermillion city that assisted to one of professor Oak's summer camps a few years ago. The young Tanjiro remembered that camp mainly because Ash overslept and missed the whole thing.
Still, he barely talked to them, especially because they ended up wondering off on the first day of camp. The only thing he remembers about them was that the girl had marooned colored hair and was the daughter of a colleague of the professor. Meanwhile the boy, who he remembered being of a darker skin tone with black hair and a few red locks, was kind of a know it all that seemed to know the answers of any question the professor threw at him. He also gave a very accurate summary to Ash's reason to miss the camp when the professor made them wait a couple of extra minutes just so that Ash could catch up to them.
Still, the voice was certainly did not belonged to any of them. He could feel it in his gut that it was someone that he knew better than the two kids, even if just a little bit. The closer they got, the clearer the voice became, but to his surprise the voice was accompanied by two other voices as well as the cries of Pokémon.
One of the other voices also sounded very familiar to the Pallet trainer. It was the voice of someone responsible, strong yet caring and understandable. Someone that he could see looking up for advices.
The other one thou, was a complete mystery.
It was female and foreigner in nature. He couldn't hear any kind of accent, but for some reason the female voice simply told him that the person was from somewhere outside of the region.
As for the cries of the Pokémon, he could easily recognize a couple of them: Pikachu, Butterfree, Piedgotto, Onix, Graveler, Geodude, Bulbasaur, Squirtle and even Charmander. But then there were a few cries that sounded just as foreigner as the female voice. One of them sounded like that of a bug type, another one was canine in nature while the third one that he could distinguished sounded like someone was trying to speak with his or her mouth filled with candy... for some reason.
Red dismounted his bike, curiosity getting the better of him as he started walking towards where the voices were coming from. Misty herself looked at his friend in confusion. She tried to call him out, but he ignored her. He was attracted to the voices like a big type to the smell of honey.
Wanting to know what was is about those voices that he found so intriguing she dismounted her bike as well and started walking towards the same direction that he went to.
The closer they got to the voices, the more they could identify them. It seemed like someone was training his Pokémon and the others were cheering him on, giving out words of encouragement. Red could now confirmed it, he did in fact knew two of the voices, but he just couldn't place where.
Surprisingly, Misty also recognize one of the voices too. She could have sworn that she knew him from somewhere, it was on the tip of her tongue, but try as she might, she simply couldn't recall from where.
Then, they ended up entering a big clear where multiple people and Pokémon decided to spent their time. But Red didn't paid them any attention. For he was looking at a group of three trainers and twelve Pokémon. That's when he saw it.
He knew who the voices belonged to. It was…
"Alright Pikachu, let's see just how quick you are now! Use thunderbolt on that target!" said the trainer, pointing at a target that was hung on the branch of a tree near Red and Misty.
The electric rodent nodded and called forth a mighty thunderbolt from within his body that was shot to the target at incredible speeds… or at least that was the intention.
Instead, Pikachu ended up missing the target and as such, his thunderbolt flew straight towards then both. More specifically, it was sent a little bit close to where Misty was standing and then…
"Well, don't know 'bout ya, but in ma humble opinion I think we're lost pal." Said A.J.
Both him and Green were on their way towards Vermillion city. It was supposed to be a simple quest for them. Go, arrive at the city, eat something, challenge the gym, beat the gym, receive a badge (hopefully containing whatever mystical properties that he felt were within the Boulder badge, if just so that he could cease his curiosity as to why he felt such thing eminating from the badge). Yet when a mysterious Pokémon rushed past them at incredible speeds, Green couldn't but to become intrigue by it.
That Pokémon seemed to be fast. Faster than any other that the young Oak has ever seen, if he could add that Pokémon to his team, then it would allow him to be one step closer to besting Red and winning the Indigo League Conference. So, both he and A.J started to have chase after the mysterious blur.
After running for what it felt like an eternity, they two boys were successful in cornering the little creature which turned out to be… and Oddish.
Just some Oddish…
He deliberately went out of his way in an attempts of catching a rare Pokémon only for him to be face to face with a carefree looking Oddish.
To say that Green was disappointed would be a massive understatement. All of this just for them to encounter a very common Pokémon. Well, if there was any consolation, it was the fact that the Oddish seemed to be pretty fast, which is why Green still pulled out a pokeball to catch the small grass type… or at least that was until a girl of around the same age came by and told the small blue Pokémon that it was already time to leave.
The grass type happily nodded and started to joyfully hop toward the girl until they were out of sight.
So not only did he waste so much time chasing after a very common Pokémon, but as it turns out that Pokémon also had a trainer?!
Green would have burst to the heavens themselves had it not for the comment of his companion.
"What do you mean we're lost?!"
"As in: I ain't got the slightest clue as to where are we or how to get back to the rode." he said, noticing the tick on Green's left eye. "Ya know, if we think about it this is yar fault."
"My fault! How is this my fault?!"
"Well, if ya hadn't chased after that Oddish, then we wouldn't be lost, now would we?"
"Well, who asked you to follow me?!"
"Hey, if I hadn't done it then ya wouldn't know ya were lost." noted the Saku town native to the almost livid Pallet town native. "Ya know, we could get Beedrill, Butterfree and Piedgot to go scout for a way out of the mess ya got us in."
"... I want you to know that the only reason I'm not letting Champ use you as a boxing bag right now is because that plan is actually good." said the young Oak, pulling out the pokeball of his flying type.
The two then released their Pokémon that had the ability to fly and instructed them to search for a way out of their current situation (the one that, according to Green, was not caused by him in any manner whatsoever). While the two wait Green looked at A.J going through his things and asked himself why was he still letting him tag along. Then, the green-haired boy pulled two protein bars and handed one to the youngest member of the Oak family.
"Oh right, he gives me free food." he thought, taking the protein bar and biting into it.
Red, Misty, Ash, Lyra, Brock and their Pokémon all stood silent. One moment, Ash was training his team while being cheered on by his friends and the next thing that happened was that Pikachu's thunderbolt missed his mark and passed very close to both Red and Misty. Thankfully thou, the bolt passed over them and hit a rock behind them. After seeing that they all sighed in relief... well almost everyone.
As it turns out, the rock was awfully close to the tomboy's bike by just a couple of centimeters. Had the bolt of lightning flew just a little bit more to the left then no doubt would Misty's bike would have been crisped down. The Cerulean girl stood there in silent, looking at just how close she was of losing her newly acquired bike to a kid and his electric type Pokémon. They all looked at the water type while Ash tried of think of ways to apologies to her although; Red, Lyra, Brock and the Pokémon (with the exception of Pikachu) all looked at the girl in a puzzle manner, mainly because she was staring blankly at the rock that now had a black scorching mark that signaled where it was hit.
Red was the first to try and snap her out of her train of thoughts, but suddenly started to back away once he felt a scary amount of murderous aura emanating from his friend.
"Why you!... DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OF WHAT YOU ALMOST DID?!" she screamed.
Turning around, she revealed a dangerous expression that instantly intimidated everyone in the vicinity. She stumped her way towards the rave-haired boy with the blue jacket and the cap with a stylish green 'L', her steps feeling as heavy and as dangerous as a rampaging Tyranitar and grabbed him by the collar.
"L-look, it was just an accident, I didn't mean to-"
"YOU ALMOST WRECKED MY BIKE!" she shouted
"... I'm sorry w-"
"OF COURSE YOU SHOULD! DO YOU KNOW JUST HOW MUCH THAT BIKE COSTS?!"
"Well, it technically didn't-"
"YOU. QUIET, NOW!" she barked at Red.
"Yes ma'am." he said quietly, too scared to even face his friend at the moment.
Meanwhile both Lyra and Brock, as well as the other Pokémon, all looked at the scene, baffle by what she just said.
"You mean to tell me that she's not mad about being almost struck by a lightning bolt..."
"But rather because of her bike?" said Lyra, finishing what the ex-gym leader was saying.
"JUST HOW CARELESS AND IRRESPONSABLE CAN YOU BE? YOU'RE LUCKY MY BIKE'S STILL IN ONE PIECE OR SO ARCEUS HELPS ME I WOULD HAVE MADE YOU PAY IT BACK TILL THE LAST CENT!"
"Ok, this is getting ridiculous." said Lyra, walking towards the two of them and managing to separate the two of them apart. "Hey girl, lay off would you, it was an accident. Besides, you're screaming at him, not because you and your friend almost got hit, but because of some dumb bike?"
"It's not just some dumb bike, it's my bike! How would you feel if it had been yours?" she asked the Johto native.
"My bike? Well... I don't... have a bike. I don't even know how to ride one actually." she replied, lowering her voice at the last part while blushing, embarrassed to admit something like that. But she then shook her head to snap her mind back to reality. "Look it doesn't matter. You're okay, your friend's okay and even your dumb bike is okay. My friend over here is trying to apologize for what happened, so maybe you could be a little, I don't know, friendlier perhaps?"
"Hey Misty, she's right. Come on, it was an accident I'm sure that he-" Red was saying, but once his eyes fell upon the other trainer, he became silent and shocked.
Ash himself was a bit dizzy, for when Misty started to call him careless and irresponsible, she started to shook him to no end. He was rather thankful that he hadn't eat anything just yet, for had he done that then he would have already puked. After finally pulling himself together, Ash rubbed his head with his right hand before his sight fell on the boy in red clothes. To say that he was quite shock would be the understatement of the century.
Meanwhile, the two girls seemed like they were about to start another argument with Brock acting as sort of mediator, trying to defuse the situation. But then, they noticed that the two rave-haired boys were in complete silence, staring into each other and ignoring everything that surrounded them. Just when their friends were about to ask them what was going on, they instantly pointed one finger at the other and shouted.
"IS THAT REALLY YOU?!" they both screamed in disbelief.
"... So, do you know him or something?" asked both the New Bark and Cerulean girls to their friends.
"Yeah, this is Red Tanjiro. He's from Pallet town and is one of the other three kids that started his Pokémon journey at the same time as me!"
"Well, we technically started before you. Sorry for ditching you back then." he said, remembering how they left before he even received his own Pokémon or even his own license for that matter.
"It's ok, I had it coming for oversleeping like always. To be honest I would've probably done the same thing." said Ash in a reassuring manner.
"Oh, Misty. This is Ash Ketchum, you know, the one that we mentioned before at Wigglytuff's bakery." said Red, noticing the confuse look on the Cerulean girl.
"So, this is the famous Ash Ketchum." Misty thought, looking at the other rave-haired boy.
"We?" asked Ash.
"Oh yeah, we met up with Blue and Green back at Cerulean city some time ago." said the young Tanjiro.
"Really? Let me guess, Green was still as much of a jerk there as he was back home."
"Oh come on Ash, Green's not that..." Red was starting to say, until both Ash and even Misty gave him a look. "... Ok, fine he's kind of a jerk. But he's not that bad once you get to know him."
"Whatever." said both Ash and Misty at the same time and with a bit of indifference.
"You met at Cerulean city?" asked Lyra. The two nodded, they technically met at the outskirts of Cerulean, but that still counts, right? "That's funny, I met Ash and Brock there after Ash won the Cascade badge."
"You fought my sisters?"
"Sisters?" Brock asked, looking straight at Misty until it finally hit him. "Oh, you're that Misty! It's been so long since I last saw you that I hardly recognized you, how are you?"
"... Oh, it's you." said Misty indifferently to the former gym leader.
"Brock, is that you?" asked Red.
"The one and only."
"Wait a second, how do you know Brock?" asked Lyra in confusion.
"He fought against me back when I was still the Pewter city's gym leader."
"He did!?" asked Ash in shock before turning to Red. "I didn't know you were planning to take on the gym leaders!"
"Well, with just how much you talked about them when we were back at Pallet town, I decided last minute to give it a try." said Red with a bit of pride as he opened his jacket to reveal two badges. "Check it out, I already have two badges!"
"Awesome, so do I!" said Ash, pulling the same silver case that Lyra had given him when they met and revealing two badges as well.
"Nice. By the way, where did you got the case?" asked Red.
"Lyra gave it to me when we met. Apparently, a friend of hers bought two for them in case she ever lost one and decided to give me her spare." he said, pointing at the Johto native.
"So, you're also taking on the gym leaders?" asked Misty.
"Yes and no. I'm from the Johto region and was challenging the gyms there, but stuff happened, the Pokémon League put a stop to the gyms for a bit, got lost on my way home, decided to come here to see what the region had to offer, got lost again and found Ash and Brock." Lyra said, telling the two newcomers the summarized version of her and Marill's long... and in all honestly, exhausting story.
"The Johto region?" asked Misty once more in conformation, to which she nodded yes. "That explains why I didn't recog-" she suddenly stopped and turned blue as her eyes got set on the small green bug type.
"Oh yeah, they're mine. These guys are; my good pal Marill, Houndour and last but certainly not least, Spin-"
"AAAAAHHHHH!" Misty screamed loudly, backing away from the Johto native and her Pokémon. More specifically, of the green bug type.
She ended up backing away them and near Ash's Pokémon, where she was greeted by multiple confused Pokémon. More specifically, of a certain purple flying bug type, which caused her to shriek yet again and hid behind of Red's back.
"Bugs! Disgusting and hideous bug types! Get them Away! Get them Away! Get them Away! Get them Away!" she screamed, saddening the two big types.
"Look what you did. You're making them feel bad." complained Lyra.
"What's her problem anyway?" asked Ash.
"She's not the biggest fan of bug types."
"Why would I?!" They're creepy and disgusting!" she shouted.
Lyra frowned and after picking Spinarak up, she walked towards the scared girl and extended her arms, with bug type included, to her. Naturally, she screamed yet again and her grip on Red's shoulders grew so much, that she was practically embedding her nails on his shoulder. Causing him pain and drawing a smile on Lyra, who grinned at the girl's reaction. "I don't know. It seems like I just found another reason as to like bug types even more than before."
"Fine, I'll stop." pouted Lyra at the request of the ex-gym leader. Placing the small green arachnid like Pokémon and walking away.
"B-by the way Ash." said Red, finally being freed from Misty's painful grip. "I see that at the end of the day, professor Oak ended up having another Squirtle somewhere in his lab. Good for you."
"Another Squirtle?" he asked.
"You know, since you said that you were planning on choosing Squirtle."
"The professor didn't give me Squirtle."
"Oh, then he must have given you Bulbasaur then."
"No he didn't."
"Wait, what?! Then how about Cha-"
"He didn't give me any of the starters, he gave me Pikachu." he answered as the electric mouse climbed up his shoulder.
"Wait, he could do that?!" asked the young Tanjiro.
"Well, while it is true that most trainers get to choose one of their region's starter Pokémon it's not necessarily obligatory to do so." said Brock as he started explaining the process of getting ones first Pokémon. "Most of the regional starters are raised by the Pokémon League and given out to beginner trainers sot that the two could grow in the company of the other. This is do for the sole purpose that the Pokémon is as friendly to the trainer as possible. But that's not always the case; for example, my first Pokémon was Onix. He was given to me by my father on my tenth birthday." he said, looking at the rock snake and remembering the first time they met. When he woke up and saw the rock type's head coming through his window to greet him.
"Why are you so surprised? Didn't you said that you have had Poli for as long as you could remember or something?" asked Misty.
"Well, yeah. But he's more of a family member to us, so I never thought about it like that." answered Red.
"Well, in my case professor Oak gave me Pikachu. We had... a rocky start, but now we are best buds! Right?"
"That's good to hear. But I do wonder, where did you get the three starters? Did you get them through some kind of trade?"
"Were they a gift from someone?"
"... You didn't st-"
"Of course not, why would you think that?!"
"Sorry, sorry it's just... I thought that the starters could only be given by the professor or someone like him."
"Actually, one can actually run into wild Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle. It's just rare to do that." said Brock.
"Then they're wild?" asked Misty.
"Not really, one out of three... I think... Actually, we're still not sure on that one." said Lyra, thinking about the grass type starter.
"Uhh? What is that supposed to mean?" asked Misty before they all heard the rumble of her stomach.
"I guess someone's hungry." said Lyra with a grin on her face.
"... Shut it." Misty mumbled, looking to the ground and trying to hide her blush.
"Well, I'm kind of hungry too." said Ash.
"I'll admit, I'm hungry too. Let's eat." said Lyra.
"You guys can join us if you want." said Brok to the two other kids.
"I don't know." said Misty, looking skeptically at the rock type specialist. "You're not trying to find some way to hit on Sakura, are you?"
"W-what?! Come on Misty, don't be ridiculous Sakura and I are just friends, I swear." said Brock, a little blush on his face.
"Sakura?" asked Lyra.
"She's my oldest sister, about the same age as Brock." said Misty before turning her gaze once more to Brock. "Also, don't think you can fool me. I don't know about the other times, but at the very least on the gym leaders' reunion that I was on I saw you trying to get pretty close to her." she said.
Every so often, the gym leaders of the Kanto region have a meeting at Vermillion city to discuss multiple issues. From reports about their gyms, the challengers that they have faced, threats to their respective cities and other nearby areas, etc... Misty accompanied her sisters to the last gym leaders' summit and saw how Brock and Sakura were awfully close. Despite their relationship, Misty didn't like the idea of some guy flirting with her older sister and possibly breaking her heart. Especially after hearing something about him from the Saffron city gym leader.
"T-that's because we're friends, honest. We related to one another because our circumstances are almost the same. We even talked about each other's siblings and exchange tips on how to treat you guys." he explained, remembering the first time they converse with one another. It was literally right after the two became gym leaders and were trying to figure out how to raise their siblings. They even helped each other to learn how to cook, although he ended up getting the hang out of it better than she did.
"Like I'm going to believe that. You're a pervert and you know it."
"Hey! Brock's no pervert... whatever that is." said Ash, with Lyra nodding.
"Yeah. I mean, sure Brock may at times be a little weird."
"Gets easily distracted by pretty girls."
"Rambles a lot when he's nervous."
"Tends to be kind of too straightforward with girls."
"And is a bit of a wolamizer... but he's not a pervert. Right Brock? Brock?" asked Lyra, only to turn to where her friend used to be standing, now hugging his knees and silently sobbing.
"By the way Lyra, you said womanizer wrong." said Brock, turning to his friends with tears comedically running down his face.
"He did what?!" asked both Misty and Red in disbelief.
After the Ash and Lyra... defended Brock's name, the gang decided to set camp and prepare lunch. Red and Misty decided took out their Pokémon so that they too could enjoy the food and get to know the other Pokémon.
The water types all were rather formal when they greeted them, but they were genuinely happy to get to know some new friends... almost all of them. As it turns out, there was a large pond near the campsite, so Goldeen urged Misty to drop her there so that she could have some fun swimming.
Red's Pokémon were far more social than Misty's thou.
Tongu bashfully approached both Spinarak and Butterfree, as they were the only bug types (fact which Misty was thankful for) there and as such, she believed it would be easier for her to be with them. She did get scared when she saw Pieddgotto flying towards them, but the two bug types reasured her that she was a friend and that she wouldn't think of harming them. And to her surprise, they were right. Piedgotto saw right away that she was rather small to be an adult (which is why she refrained from using her... stronger vocabulary) and after hearing that she was apparently abandoned by her kin, the aviary Pokémon assured her that she would do her no harm and even told her that she shouldn't be ashamed of it (which did take a few of them by surprise).
Poli approached Squirtle, who decided to pull out his sunglasses to impress the other Pokémon. The tadpole Pokémon did find them quite admirable and even asked if he could try them on. The ex-gang leader obviously declined, but signaled him to wait for him for a bit. He then went towards where Ash's backpack was and pulled out a pair of sunglasses, similar to the ones that the members of the Squirtle Squad wore. He then handed them to Poli, who tried them on and found them quite comfortable. This however led to Ash, Brock, Lyra and their Pokémon lead them ask the same question;
When did he snuck them there?
Saur went to greet Bulbasaur and happily saluted his pre-evolved form in a respectful manner. Which while many would find it odd, it made quite some sense to the Pokémon considering that, although Red's starter had already evolved, Ash's grass type was actually older than him. Bulbasaur greeted him back, although it was in a manner that showed his more reserve and wary personality.
Pika approached both the other rodent Pokémon, who greeted him happily. He greeted them back, although couldn't help but to measure them carefully. In his eyes, they didn't seem that string, especially with their almost carefree attitude. Pika smirked, believing that he could probably beat them both with his eyed blinded. Still, they weren't that bad in his eyes, the two of them were pretty friendly.
As for both Charmander and Houndour, they looked at the massive normal type named Lax, peacefully sleeping without a care in the world. On one hand, Charmander was a bit disappointed, for he really wanted to make new friends like the normal type. On the other hand, Houndour was very thankful that he was asleep, for he knew that his kind eat a lot.
Like, a lot, lot.
Just then, Poli started to approach the two fire types, joyfully waving at them with his new shades. However, to his surprise Charmander became wary of him when he saw the water type and hide behind of the dual fire/dark type canine.
This action caused everyone who wasn't aware of his situation to look at him puzzled. Why did it seem like he wanted to place as much distance between himself and Poli? Could it be because he's a water type and Charmander himself is a fire type? If so, why wasn't Houndour acting the same since, for what Lyra said, he too was part fire type? And if it's only him, then why was he reacting like that to just Poli and not the other water types?
If they were curious about the three starters that belonged to the fourth Pallet trainer before, then they were even more intrigued now.
This once again, got Red and Misty to ask once again how was it that Ash had all three Kanto starters. Sure, there are already trainers that have all three starters, but not only do they take months or even years to get their hands on all three, but they also get them thru trading most of the time. How is it that a novice like Ash, not only was able to get his hands on all three of them in such a short amount of time, but also catching them all in the wild? Or at least one of them?
Brock decided to tell them of how they found Bulbasaur, or at least a version of the story. Both Melanie and Midori wanted to keep the Hidden Village well, hidden. He had a feeling that both Red and Misty were nice people, so of course he knew that either him, Ash or Lyra would tell them the full story. But for the time being, the ex-gym leader decided to omit a few parts of the story.
He told them that they found Bulbasaur looking after a few small Pokémon in the forest. It was technically not lying given the fact that they did in fact first meet the grass/poison type there before learning of the sanctuary created by Midori's father.
Thanks to the fact that he informed them that regional starters could still be found in the wild, they didn't ask that many questions.
Then, they all explained their encounter with Squirtle and his former gang since they wondered not only why did he gave Poli a pair of shades, but also why he had shades of his own. They went over the basics; that he was the leader of a group that was used to be call the Squirtle Gang. That despite the name, they also had other members from other species as well as the fact that they took Lyra's egg, which also got them to ask about the egg in question. Lyra pulled it out of her bag to show to them, which was very shocking to them. They also told them that there was a burning building and how the former gang not only helped them in their efforts to put the fire out, but also that the townsfolks named the now named Squirtle Squad their own firefighters.
To say that they were shock by this would be an understatement.
Then they told them about Charmander and it was by far the one that had them in disbelief the most. From their first run-in with the orange lizard, to their meeting of their trainer in a Pokémon Center. From Ash and Lyra learning about the fact that the trainer abandoned it because he lost to a Poliwhirl before, how he practically didn't care that he could have died because of the incoming storm and him straight up laughing at its expense alongside his friends.
In all honestly, that left them completely speechless.
"Yeah, after that we kind of got into a... what did you said it was called?" asked Lyra to the former gym-leader.
"A verbal fight, one that was kind of intense." he replied.
"What he said. Then Ash, Brock and I rushed outside of the Pokémon Center to try and save it since there was a very mean storm out there." she said, omitting the whole bit of nurse Joy. She didn't feel like talking about it and she had a feeling that neither did Ash.
"Wait, a storm? Wasn't that a little dangerous to do?" asked Misty.
"Yea, yeah, Look, we heard enough that day, we don't need to hear it again. Besides, what exactly were we supposed to do?" asked Lyra.
"We ended up finding it being attacked by a bunch of Sperow, so we took him back to the Pokémon Center." said Ash.
"Why are you acting so surprise?" asked Ash to Red, who was stuttering in trying to make words come out of his mouth.
"Why? Are you really asking us why?!" asked Misty, a bit annoyed at the nature of the question. "Why would anyone want to abandon their Pokémon? They're our friends! It simply doesn't make sense that anyone would do that!"
"Jeesh, you're acting as if team Rocket were the only jerks around." said Lyra, getting the attention of the Cerulean girl.
"Team Rocket is evil! What that guy did was cruel! Only team Rocke tis capable of doing that, he must have some sort of connection to them!"
"Unfortunately, that's not the case Misty." said Brock, gaining the attention of both Misty and Red. "Team Rocket had nothing to do with what happened. He did it out of his own free will."
"As I said, the world is filled with a bunch of jerks. Team Rocket aren't the only ones." said Lyra, placing her hands behind her back.
"How about we change the subject for now." suggested Brock, seeing that both Red and Misty were struggling with, not only wrapping their heads around the subject but also trying to understand how is it that Ash, Lyra and Brock himself were able to act natural to it. "Red, you already have both the Boulder and Cascade badge, right? So, I'm assuming that you're planning on getting the thunder badge, or am I mistaken?"
"Oh... well yeah. I was planning on challenging the gym as soon as possible and I'm going to give it my all!" said Red with confidence, suddenly forgetting about their earlier talk. "Sakura said that the gym leader's name was Surge and she also told me that he was not one to hold back in fights."
"That reminds me." said Misty and turning to Ash. "When exactly did you arrived here?"
"Yesterday in the morning, why?"
"Have you challenge the Vermillion Gym already?"
"So, you already fought Surge?" asked Red.
"He didn't." said Brock, gaining the attention of the two. "Apparently, Surge was busy and needed to be somewhere else. Which meant that Ash fought Vizquez."
"Viz-who?" asked Red and Misty.
"She's Surge protégé. Whenever he's needed somewhere else, she's the one that takes care of the gym."
"He can do that?" asked Misty.
"Didn't you do something like that when we fought?" asked Red, reminding her about their first match at Cerulean city.
"I just thought that they were simply doing whatever they felt like it."
"As you can see, they weren't. In case a gym leader needs to absent him or herself for whatever reason for long periods of time, or just in case, they can appoint someone capable to supplant them for the time being." he informed to the two of them.
"Well, then that means you won't be having as much trouble as we first thought, right Red?" said Misty, confident in her friend's foreseen victory.
"Yeah, no. That lady is really strong Like, crazy strong." informed Lyra.
"She's right. While it is true that she's not as strong as Surge himself, she shouldn't be taken lightly."
"I learn it the hard way." said Ash, a bit down.
"You lost to her?" asked the other Pallet town native.
"Lost? No, no, no. He didn't lose, he was humiliated! Seriously, it was the most one-sided match I-"
"Okay, they get it. I lost badly." said Ash to his friend, a bit annoyed by her choice of words.
"Sorry. Just wanted to make sure they understood it."
"Was it really that bad?" asked the youngest of the Cerulean sisters.
After a rough journey, Ash and his friends arrived at Vermillion city, where Ash's next gym match was soon to take place.
"Alright, about time we arrived! I thought for a moment that we wouldn't be able to leave the forest." said Lyra with her partner Marill nodding in agreement as he pulled a branch out of her hair.
"So, where's the gym Brock?" asked the Pallet boy.
"You want to challenge Surge already? We haven't even had breakfast yet."
"Come on Brock, it's been so long since my last gym battle, I'm excited! Besides, if we do it like this then breakfast will be like a victory banquet!"
"Ooooh, I like the sound of that!" said the New Bark girl, supporting Ash's idea.
Then the two turned towards their older friend and alongside their Pokémon, gave the biggest grin in their life.
"Fine... but first we'll stop by a store to at least buy a couple of granola bars or something like that. I refuse to let you and your Pokémon fight on an empty stomach."
"I got you cover!" said the Johto girl, pulling a couple of candy bars out of her bag. "I have PeanutButter, white chocolate, traditional, almonds, dark, oooh, you have to try Apollo! The way it mixes chocolate and strawberry is amazing and if you're not a fan of it, I think I have the apple chocolate variant somewhere around!"
"No, no, no, no! You're not eating that!" said Brock sternly.
"What!? Why not?!" asked Ash, wanting to try out that apple variant that Lyra mentioned.
"It's way too early for you to eat junk food. Either of you." he said, also looking at the brunette.
"What?! No, it's not. Besides, I ate this all the time when I traveled around Johto, what's the big deal now?"
"The big deal is that it's not healthy. We're buying plain granola bars and that's final, am I making myself clear?"
"... Fine." they both said disappointed.
Just as Lyra was putting her candy back on her bag, Marill quickly snuck in and retrieved a candy bar himself. He was about to bite in, but was suddenly stopped upon feeling Brock's stern gaze dawning upon him.
"I said, am I making myself clear?"
"If we have to go through this, then so are you pal." said Lyra when she saw that her partner was about to try and argue back.
The blue fairy simply sighed and hesitantly, he returned the candy bar back to Lyra's bag.
Once that was done, the gang headed for the nearest convenience store to buy some granola bars so that they could eat before breakfast. They weren't bad... but the Johto natives were already missing the sweet taste of their candy.
After that, the group headed to the city's gym. Ash could feel the excitement course through his body, with Pikachu and most likely all of his Pokémon as well. They've been anticipating this moment for a while now. The moment in which he challenges Surge and earns the Thunder badge.
Ash was so excited that he rushed through the main door and was about to look for Surge to request a gym battle. When suddenly...
"What is a peak squeak doing here?" said a female, yet roughish voice.
Turning around, Ash saw the person to whom the voice belonged. She was a dark-skinned woman, blue eyes, ash-colored hair that was either pulled in a pony tail with what looked like a plug at the end, or some sort of ornament. She wore a military outfit that consisted of a pair of rough-looking boots, green military pants, a green open vest with some sort of white fur on the top and a camouflage shirt that revealed her abdomen, which also showed just how athletic she was. She also had a pair of fingerless gloves and a pink bandana on her head.
"Hey kid, ever heard of knocking?" he suddenly heard.
Next to the woman, two men appeared. One of them seemed to be older than the other two. He wore military like clothing that was exactly like the one wore by the other man, which was military boots and green pants with a greenish like shirt. He had short black hair, wore a pair of shades and had really big lips. The other man had his shirt unbuttoned, had blonde hair and was chewing on some gum.
"Umm, sorry. I was a bit excited since I was really looking forward to challenging the gym leader that-"
"Hold it right there, you want to challenge the gym?" asked the older man to Ash, who nodded. "Aren't you a little too young to do that? Come back when you turn ten, this is serious business."
"Hey! I'm already ten!" shouted Ash angrily.
"With a short stature like yours, no way. Go back to school or something." said the gum chewing man.
"Hey Ash, what's going on?" asked Brock as he entered the building with Lyra following shortly after him.
"Brock? Is that you?" asked the woman.
"Hi Vizquez, long time no see." he greeted her.
"It has." she replied in a professional manner before turning to Ash. "By the way, do you know who this peak squeak is?"
"Yeah, he's Ash and he was hoping to challenge Surge."
"Isn't he a little too young to do that?" she asked again.
"For the last time, I'm already ten!" shouted Ash once again.
The trio of military looking adults all looked at the kid and then to Brock, who confirmed that he was indeed telling the truth. "Well, sorry to break it to you kid, but the Captain is not here. He had some... personal issues to attend. But in all honestly, take it as a blessing in disguise. There's no way that a little fry like you could stand up to him even on his worst days."
"What was that?!"
"She's right. You're way too green for this. Why don't you go and train? Who knows, maybe you could actually do some damage in five, maybe eight months." said the older man.
"Eight months?! No way! I'm here now and I want to challenge the gym!"
"You're starting to get on my nerves, you know?" said Vizquez, a little annoyed at Ash. "You know what, fine. Since you're so eager to challenge the gym, then I'll take you on."
"She can do that?" asked Lyra to Brock, who nodded.
"If Surge allowed it then yeah."
"Tony, do me a favor and be the referee for the moment. Steve, take Brock and the other peak squeak to their seats." she said, turning to Ash with a small but cocky smile on her face. "This won't take long."
"You're right about that, we'll beat you in no time at all!"
"She beat me in no time at all." said Ash.
"Come on, it couldn't be that bad, right?" said Red.
"On a scale of one to ten, it was definitely a sixteen." said Lyra.
"Hey, it wasn't that bad!"
"It wasn't that bad? Ash, her Raichu wiped the floor with Pikachu and would have done the same to Bulbasaur if you hadn't forfeited the match after she landed the third consecutive demolition on him."
"Well... at least we managed to land a razor leaf on it. That had to have done some damage."
"What damage? Only one of the leaves landed and it barely did a thing. Besides, I'm pretty sure that they allowed you to hit them."
"Alright it was bad... but it was a thirteen at most."
"Whatever helps you sleep." said the Johto native.
"Wow, it really was bad." said the Cerulean girl.
"You're not helping." said Ash.
"Who said I was trying to help."
Ash looked deadpanned at her for a moment before sighing. "Well, yeah that was what happened. After my match-"
"If you could even call that a match." whispered Misty, gaining a glare from Ash.
"As I was saying." said Ash, still glaring at Misty a little bit. "After the match, we went to the Pokémon Center to have Pikachu treated. That Raichu did a number on him."
"Man, that has to suck."
"You have no idea." said Ash to Red. "Which is why we were training right now. Because tomorrow, we're planning on challenging the gym again and this time, we're going to win! Right guys?"
All of his Pokémon cheered in unison. Even if half of them weren't going to take on the challenge, they were still cheering for their teammates. Lyra's Pokémon also cheered as well and Lyra went towards where the bags and backpacks were. He then tried to pull out a makeshift flag that he made in an attempt to show his support. Unfortunately for the blue fairy, it got a little stuck, so he had to try extra hard to pull it out. At the end he was successful, but ended up launching himself into the other's bags and accidentally opening them up.
They all saw the daze blue rodent among a few things that came out of the backpacks of both Ash and Brok and to their surprise, one of those objects was something that neither Red nor Misty expected.
"Is that a thunder stone?!" asked the young Tanjiro in awe.
"Oh yeah, nurse Joy gave it Ash yesterday after treating Pikachu." said Lyra.
"Wait, nurse Joy is here?!"
"... Oh, you poor, poor souls." said Lyra, much to the confusion of the two kids.
"Hey, hold up. Why would she give a thunder stone to Ash?" asked Misty.
"So that Pikachu could evolve. Duh."
"That's not what I meant and you know it." said an annoyed Misty to a very amused Lyra.
"You mean why would she gave it to Ash just like that?" asked Brock with Red and Misty nodding. "Well, Surge has a reputation of being... a little too rough on challengers, often sending them to the E.R. Vizquez also ended up adopting that trait from him. So, she often tries to find ways to try and reduce the chances of them being send back there. The thunder stone was her trying to do that for Ash."
"That's great! Just have him evolve into a Raichu himself and then they'll be a little more even!" said Misty.
"Oh, I'm not going to evolve him"
"He said that he's not going to-"
"I heard what he said, I want and explanation!" said Misty, snapping at the ex-gym leader before turning to Ash. "Why would you not evolve your Pikachu?! You just told us how badly you lost, so why not do it?!"
"Because Pikachu doesn't want to."
"...What did you... Pikachu doesn't want to evolve. That's your logic."
"He explained to us that he wanted to proof that he was strong as a Pikachu, without the need of evolving. So, if that's what he wants, then I'll respect his wishes."
"... How did you managed to get all of that.?" asked Red with genuine curiosity.
"He's very good at charades." said Lyra, with Pikachu nodding. "Also, don't worry it's not like he's going in blind again."
"What do you mean?" asked Misty, still a little dumbfounded by what she just heard.
"You see, Vizquez Raichu was definitely strong, stronger than Ash's Pokémon and its' very likely that her other Pokémon are as well. But one thing that we managed to get, is that although they were fast, Pikachu and Bulbasaur were able to, at times, almost keep up with Raichu. So, we decided that if Ash can't overpower them, might as well out speed them." explained Brock.
"And you think that would work?"
"Don't worry Misty, with the progress that they have made, I'm positive that they'll be able to pull out a victory."
"That or a less one-sided battle." muttered Misty before an idea crossed her mind. "I know! Red, why don't you have your Poked-"
"My Pokémon to help them train! I don't know Misty, they probably have already done so much, I don't want to ruin what they already have. Right guys?!" said Red, frantically and covering Misty's mouth.
His Pokémon on the other hand (with the exception of Lax, who was still sleeping) all looked among each other in confusion and shrugged it off.
"Hey! What do-" said Misty, pulling Red's hand out of her mouth, although he interrupted yet again.
"That you want to talk to me in private to think of a strategy myself?! Sure, let's do that right now!" he said, taking off and leaving three very confuse trainers and their equally confuse Pokémon behind.
"What exactly was that for?!" shouted Misty once they stopped.
"Don't you 'shhh' me!"
"Then just lower your voice."
"...Fine." she said, still glaring at her friend. "Explain yourself."
"Look, I just didn't want you to blur out the whole 'Pokedex' thing."
"Look, when we first met Tongu, she seemed pretty lonely and scared. It wasn't until then that I realized that Ash had those exact same eyes growing up." he said, making Misty remember what he and the other Dex Holders said back at Cerulean. "But now, look at him. He seems so... happy. I don't think I have ever seen him like that and I don't want to ruin it by telling him that his basically grandfather gave us some cool new invention and not him even though he had an extra of it."
"Do you honestly believe that could happen?"
"I don't know, but I also don't want to risk it."
"... Look, what you're doing is very nice and in all honestly, pretty admirable. But why are you doing it?" she asked, gaining a weird look from Red. "Like, don't get me wrong. Like I said, it's nice and admirable. But you said it yourself, you're not that close."
"...Because I could have done something back then... But I didn't. And I want to make it up to him now."
"... You know, he's going to find out sooner or later."
"I know, but... look, I'll think about it later. For now, let's just keep it a secret." said Red.
Misty looked at him and after a couple of seconds nodded. He was her friend, so she'll support him for now. "Let's head back, I'm starving."
He nodded and soon they found themselves back with the others. "So, what plan did you come up with?" asked Brock.
"Plan? Oh, right the plan." said Red, forgetting about that. "Umm, I got nothing."
"Y-yeah. I thought that, maybe I could come up with something if I see her in action." said Red, patting himself on the back mentally for coming up with such a brilliant plan. "So, I was thinking. Could I come see your match tomorrow?"
"Uhhh... sure I guess." said Ash.
"Well, that's nice and all, but I'm starving." said Misty and turning towards Brock. "So, is that stew ready?"
"Five more minutes and then we can dig in?"
"That's nice. But before that." she said, suddenly gaining a super serious look. Everyone payed close attention to her, wondering what it was that got her like that. She then turned towards Lyra and spoke. "Do you still have those Apollo chocolates that you mentioned?" she asked, making everyone but Lyra and Marill fall flat on their faces.
"I wish. Brock over here confiscated all of my sweets."
"You'll get a piece of candy sporadically from now on and before you ask, no, you won't get any today." he said, when Misty suddenly thought of something.
"You know, Sakura lets me eat candy whenever I want." she said, making Brock blush a little bit.
"N-nice try, but I know your sister enough to know that that's a lie. Even if it wasn't, I would still not give you any candy." he said, making Misty and Lyra pout.
And so, Red, Misty, Ash, Brock and Lyra have all met one another. An unexpected, but surprisingly pleasant reunion, but one can't help but to wonder, what will happen the following day?
Will Ash's plan succeed or would they fail once again?
Only time will tell.
As the journey continues...