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  #126    
Old 4 Weeks Ago (5:13 AM).
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BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
The Mustachioed Machamp
     
    Join Date: Apr 2013
    Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
    Age: 22
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Quiet
    Posts: 140
    Chapter 122
    Spoiler:
    Ash made his way back out of the woods, walking around the tree he had climbed up to avoid the charging Tauros from earlier. Although it hadn’t actually been a Tauros but the Ditto that was no taking the form of an Arcanine and leading the way for Ash. It was hard for Ash to believe how much his situation had changed in just the past few minutes. Then again, he had been having a very eventful birthday, to the point where this wasn’t even the biggest change in circumstances that day.

    The red and white building that Ash had seen earlier was still in view, so Ash called his Ditto back into its Pokéball and made his way over to it. The building appeared to be an old, decrepit manor of some sort, which managed to remain bright and colorful despite the wear and tear that became more and more noticeable as he approached. As he approached the building, a rising feeling built up in Ash that is must have been abandoned long ago. It was unlikely that he would find any help here.

    Ash looked up at the sign hanging above the front doorway. ‘House of Imite’. The name didn’t sound familiar to Ash but he only had a moment to think about it before he jumped suddenly, startled as someone opened the door and walked out.

    It was a boy around Ash’s age, wearing a red and white jacket over a dark purple t-shirt and a dark blue pair of jeans. He had black hair that kind of spiked out a bit and there was a Pikachu resting on his shoulder, although that wasn’t what really caught Ash’s attention.

    “Oh, hi. Are you here to challenge the Gym Leader, too?” The boy asked when he saw Ash there staring at him.

    “There’s a Gym Leader here?” Ash was surprised to hear that.

    “Yeah. The actual Gym is still being built right now, so this place is being used until they finish with that.” The boy explained. “But isn’t that why you’re here?”

    “Um… no.” Ash smiled weekly in embarrassment. “Actually I’m kind of lost right now. I was just looking for someone that I could ask for directions.”

    “Where do want to go?” The boy asked. “I can probably tell you how to get there. I haven’t been in this area for very long, but I think I know the area well enough.”

    “Well, anywhere really.” Ash replied.

    “Well, Fuchsia City is just a couple miles west from here.” The boy pointed in the direction Ash had been walking. “I was actually just about to head over there myself so that I can challenge the city’s Gym.”

    “Thanks. Ash said as he started to notice the distant cityscape of on the horizon.

    “It’s really no problem.” The boy smiled and started to walk past Ash. “I always help anyone in need whenever I get the chance.”

    “One more thing…” Ash said before the boy could leave. “I just wanted to say that I used to have a hat just like that one.”

    “Oh?” The boy automatically glanced upward, towards the hat he was wearing, which looked identical to the one that Ash had just lost. “What happened to it?”

    “A Mankey stole it this morning.” Ash explained. “Took it right off my head and ran off before I could get it back.”

    “Well, in that case, this probably is yours then.” The boy said as he took the hat off and tossed it to Ash.

    “What?” Ash stared at the boy in confusion as he caught the hat.

    “Shortly before I got here I ran into a wild Mankey, which must have been the same one that you encountered.” The boy said. “Naturally, I sent out my Pidgeotto to attack it and then managed to capture the Mankey but then I sent it out to get a better look at my new Pokémon I realized that he was wearing this hat. I figured that it must belong to someone who lost it and that the best thing to do would be to wear the hat. That way, if I ever ran into the hat’s owner they would notice it and be able to tell me that it was there’s. It seemed much more efficient than just going around asking everyone I meet if they lost a hat, or something along those lines, and it would appear that I was right.”

    “Well, thank you. I didn’t think that I would ever get this back.” Ash could barely follow along with the boy’s story because he was talking so fast, but he thought that he caught the gist of it. He put his hat back and suddenly realized just how weird it had been not wearing it.

    “No problem.” The boy smiled, holding out his hand. “By the way, my name’s Satoshi. Satoshi Shigeru, of Viridian City. Most people call me Shu. What’s your name?”

    “I’m Ash Ketchum, of Pallet Town.” Ash grabbed Shu’s outstretched hand and shook it.

    “Small world.” Shu laughed. “My friends used to call me Ash when I was younger, short for Satoshi. Over time the nickname just kind of phased out though and people started calling by Shu, taking the ‘sh from Satoshi and the ‘u’ from Shigeru. Anyway, I should probably be heading off now and leave you to your own business. Catch ya later!”

    Shu waved as he left, heading up the road leading towards Fuchsia. Ash thought that Shu seemed friendly but he sure talked a lot. Ash felt like he still had the sound of Shu’s voice echoing through his skull as he stepped into the House of Imite.

    It was dark inside, but fortunately Ash had remembered to grab a flashlight while he was at home. He pulled it out of his backpack and used it to light the way. The building seemed abandoned as he wandered through the halls and he was starting to wonder if maybe Shu had lied about it being a Gym.
    “This place gives me the creeps.” Ash muttered to himself. “It feels like its haunted or something.”

    “Boo!”

    Ash jumped and nearly dropped his flashlight. He slowly turned around to see who, or what, was behind him and saw Hanami floating there.

    “You startled me.” Ash said, relieved that it was just her.

    “That was kind of the point.” Hanami smiled mischievously. “And everywhere you go could be considered haunted as long as I’m with you.”

    “I guess that’s kind of true. Although it feels like it’s been a while since you’ve shown yourself.

    “It’s only been around a day.” Hanami pointed out. “Don’t tell me you forgot about me that quickly.”

    “No, no!” Ash waved his hands nervously, not wanting to admit that he actually had forgotten about his ghostly traveling companion. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know if there’s anyone else in here besides us, would you?”

    “Are you talking about the Gym Leader that the boy from earlier mentioned?” Hanami closed her translucent eyelids for a moment, concentrating on something, and pointed towards a door leading out of the hall. “I sense someone over in that room. It must be her.”

    “Good.” Ash said. “I was starting to worry that I’d been lied to.”

    Hanami faded away again and Ash headed towards the door that she had pointed to. He opened it up to see that it led into a large room filled with chairs facing an elevated stage of some sort. Ash put his flashlight away as the lights were actually on in this room and looked around as he walked slowly towards the stage, but he couldn’t see any sign of another person in there with him. He stopped halfway along the walkway between rows of seats and closed his eyes, taking long, drawn-out breaths. He tried to remember what it had felt like back in Saffron City when he had started to see things when his eyes were shut. He had been under a lot of stress back then but something deep in the back of his mind told him that he would be able to do it again if he simply concentrated hard enough. He was right.
    It felt a bit different this time. Before, it had been like he was able to see what was in front of him when his eyes were shut and that he could look past what his eyes would normally have seen, even through solid objects and walls. This time it was more like he was feeling what was around him. Not just in the direction that he was facing but the entire room. The entire mansion, in fact. Every chair, every hallway, every speck of dust. It was all clear to him.

    After a moment of taking in the strange sensation, his attention focused on the area up above the stage. There was a person up there, a girl, who was waiting for him to get closer so that he could surprise him. He didn’t sense any ill will from her though, simply a desire for theatrics. Her presence reminded Ash of the Ditto that he had just caught.

    Ash opened his eyes again and everything returned to normal. Though a part of him could still feel the Gym Leader’s presence up above. He continued walking towards the stage and felt the girl drop down onto the stage, probably using a rope to control her descent. He climbed up onto the stage where he was greeted by… himself?

    “I’m here to challenge to challenge the Gym Leader. You wouldn’t happen to have seen here, have you?”
    Ash wasn’t sure what was going on. This person appeared to look just like him and was even talking in his own voice. It was as if he was facing himself but that couldn’t be. He could clearly sense that it was the girl he had felt.

    “But… aren’t you the Gym Leader?” Ash asked in utter confusion.

    Ash’s doppelganger mirrored his confused expression, staring at him for a moment. “Wow, hardly anyone ever sees through my disguises that quickly.”

    The lights suddenly turned off for a second and when they turned back on the Ash imposter was gone, replaced by a girl with bushy teal hair tied back in twin ponytails and wearing an orange shirt with a yellow star on it.

    “My name’s Duplica. I’m the Gym Leader here.” She said. “Now what are we waiting for? Let’s get this battle started.”
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      #127    
    Old 4 Weeks Ago (7:50 AM).
    BZRich64's Avatar
    BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
    The Mustachioed Machamp
       
      Join Date: Apr 2013
      Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
      Age: 22
      Gender: Male
      Nature: Quiet
      Posts: 140
      Chapter 123
      Spoiler:
      “I’ve never seen anything like this.” The Iron-Masked Marauder sat at an old computer console, going over whatever data had been left behind.

      “What is it?” Giovanni stood behind the Marauder, with his arms folded tightly.

      “I’ve found some notes on Mewtwo’s development.” The Marauder said. “I didn’t know it was even possible for a Pokémon to develop so much power so quickly. It says here that only a week after it was created, they set Mewtwo loose against a herd of thirty Tauros that they look from the Safari Zone. He defeated the entire herd without taking a single hit.”

      “That is impressive.” Giovanni smirked. “Assuming that his power continued to grow.”

      “Apparently he got so strong that the scientists eventually had to develop a special armor for him to limit and control his power.”

      “A lot of good that did them. Do you have anything of actual importance to report about your findings?”
      The Iron-Masked Marauder paused for a moment. “No.”

      “Then I’ll leave you to your research for now.” Giovanni turned around and headed for the doorway but then turned back. “By the way, have you finished setting up Dark Synergy Crystal yet?”

      “Yes.” The Marauder asked, a bit confused by the unexpected question. “Why do ask?”

      “I was just curious.” Giovanni slipped out the door without another word.

      * * *

      “Unless I’m wrong, you currently have four Gym Badges.” Duplica said as she stood at one end of the stage.

      “That’s right.” Ash stood at the other end.

      “Then that means this will be your last three-on-three Gym battle. So, we might as well not doddle any longer and get this battle started.”

      Ash sent out his Fearow, who flew out of his Pokéball and landed on the floor a few feet in front of Ash. Duplica called out a Raticate that ran around in a tight circle for a moment before standing up straight and using Growl. Fearow flew up and spread his wings out wide. A valley of stars launched out from them and hurtled towards Raticate. Raticate tried to jump out of the way of the Swift, but the stars arced around and hit Raticate anyway. Raticate was knocked onto its back but quickly rolled back onto its feet and looked up at Fearow with a Scary Face. It startled Fearow, causing him to slow down, but didn’t really do Raticate any good because it didn’t have any attacks that could actually hit Fearow while it was flying high in the air. Or at least, that’s what Raticate wanted Fearow to think.

      Raticate suddenly ran towards the wall and started climbing up with surprising speed. Once it had gone up high enough, Raticate jumped off and managed to Tackle Fearow, knocking the giant bird down to the ground and using Super Fang to bite into Fearow’s right wing. Combined with the damage that Fearow had already sustained when he and Ash had plummeted into the ground earlier, this left Fearow too weakened to fly. Fearow remained undeterred by this and used his left wing to knock Raticate away using a Steel Wing attack. Raticate was knocked into the wall and stunned for a moment by the impact. Fearow took this opportunity to use Roost. He closed his eyes and began to glow faintly as an aura of white feathers surrounded him and his injuries began to rapidly heal. Raticate charged towards Fearow to try and interrupt but was too late. Fearow took off back into the air and out of Raticate’s reach just in time to avoid being hit by Raticate’s Crunch. Raticate stared up at Fearow, trying to decide what to do now. But there was nothing that Raticate could do as Fearow dove back down and rammed hard into Raticate’s side, knocking out the Mouse Pokémon.

      “Impressive.” Duplica said as she returned her Raticate back to its Pokéball. Now it’s time for the second part of our cat and mouse game.”

      Ash had no idea what Duplica was talking about at first but then she sent out her second Pokémon and it sort of made sense. Her Persian landed on the ground in front of her and the Classy Cat Pokémon let out a fierce Growl, lowering Fearow’s attack. Fearow flew up high above Persian and circled the air a few times while Persian stared up at him intently. Fearow dove down to strike Persian but Persian was able to leap out of the way in time and Fearow was barely able to pull up in time to avoid crashing into the stage floor. Persian turned around and dashed towards Fearow, hitting him with a Slash before Fearow had time to react.

      Fearow flew back into the air and instead of using Fly again decided to use Ariel Ace instead. His wings began to glow just before he dove down and Persian jumped out of the way again but this time Fearow was able to twist around in midair and slash Persian across its side with one of his glowing wings. Persian was knocked onto its back but was able to quickly roll over and get back to its feet. Not fast enough, though, as Fearow flew straight up, spinning itself rapidly in the air and swooping back down, hitting Persian with Drill Run. Persian was knocked back several feet and sprawled out on the ground as it lost consciousness.

      “Wow, you’re actually doing better than I thought you would.” Duplica said. “One more to go, but can you beat my best Pokémon?”

      * * *

      Daisy stretched and sat up in bed, yawning loudly as she slowly opened her eyes. She looked over at the clock and realized that she should probably get up and actually do something. If they knew where Gary was now then that meant that Koga would no longer be out looking for him. Daisy figured that she might as well give the Fuchsia Gym a visit and challenge Koga to a battle. She was sure that she had probably fallen behind the others in regards to collecting Gym Badges and now was as good a time as any to earn one more.

      Daisy got out of bed and returned all of her Pokémon to their Pokéballs except for Cleffa. After she brushed her hair, put her hat on and slung her bag over her shoulder, Daisy picked up Cleffa and cradled the shiny baby Pokémon in her arms. Cleffa giggled as Daisy headed out of the hotel room and started down the hallway. It didn’t take long before she had reached the lobby, where she checked out and then left.

      Fuchsia City had sort of a musky feel to it. Daisy wasn’t sure if she had really noticed it before but it seemed obvious to her now. The air was thick and humid. She wasn’t sure how anyone could live in a place like this. Although maybe it wasn’t always like this, she wasn’t really sure. Daisy made her way along the dark red roads across the city until she finally found herself standing outside of the Fuchsia Gym.

      The moment she stepped into the Gym Daisy realized that she was drenched in sweat. She felt sticky and gross, though Cleffa didn’t seem to mind at all. Nothing ever did seem to bother her adorable little pink and green star.

      Daisy looked around the Gym, which seemed to have an elegantly old-fashioned look to its design. She spotted Koga sitting at the far end of the Gym, apparently meditating. She started to walk up to him but instead ended up slamming into something. Cleffa let out a squeal as Daisy stepped back and rubbed her injured nose. At first, she couldn’t see anything there, which made her utterly confused about what just happened. After a moment she realized that there was a glass wall in front of her, polished so clean that the only reason she could see it at all was the smudge marks she had left when she walked into it. Daisy tried to walk around seemingly random glass wall only to walk into another one. She had no idea why all of this glass was in her way, but she looked down and happened to notice that there was a slight divot in the floor where the glass was. She looked around to see if there were any more and quickly came to realized that the entire Gym was some sort of invisible maze that she was apparently going to have to navigate through in order to get to Koga.

      “Well…” She muttered under her breath. “This is different.”
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        #128    
      Old 3 Weeks Ago (8:06 AM).
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      BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
      The Mustachioed Machamp
         
        Join Date: Apr 2013
        Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
        Age: 22
        Gender: Male
        Nature: Quiet
        Posts: 140
        Chapter 124
        Spoiler:
        Duplica sent out her third and final Pokémon. Ash was surprised to see a familiar looking pink blob, as Duplica’s Ditto smiled blankly at Ash and his Fearow. Ash ordered his Fearow to attack the Ditto with Aerial Ace, but Ditto used Transform to turn into a copy of Fearow and countered the attack with Mirror Move. A reflective barrier appeared in front of the Ditto just as Fearow was about to strike and caused him to be hit by his own attack instead. Fearow recoiled and flew back as Ditto assumed a defensive stance with its wings folded in front of it almost like some kind of shield.

        Ash noticed that the Ditto’s transformation wasn’t fully accurate. Its eyes hadn’t changed, remaining the simple black dots that the Ditto had in its regular form. The edges of its beak were also completely straight, rather than jagged like Fearow’s. He thought this was kind of strange considering that the Ditto he caught earlier hadn’t had the same issues, at least as far as he had noticed.

        “What’s it like to have to fight yourself?” Asked Duplica, who had apparently switched back to her Ash disguise while Ash was focused on the battle.

        “It feels kind of familiar, actually.” Ash replied, thinking of his battle against Gastly back on Maiden’s Peak, where he had used his powers to conjure up an illusory doppelganger for Ash to fight. It was then that he had realized how important it was to grow and mature as a person. “I can switch out my Pokémon whenever I want in a Gym Battle, right?”

        “Just so long as you never use more than three different Pokémon in the fight.” Duplica said. “Although doing so would leave you open to an attack. Kind of like right now!”

        Duplica’s Ditto suddenly charged at Ash’s Fearow with a Drill Run, but Fearow was able to dodge the attack.

        “That shouldn’t be much of an issue.” Ash said as he recalled Fearow back into its Pokéball. “Now, let’s see what you’ve got!”

        Ash sent out his newest Pokémon and Ditto landed on the stage, almost identical to Duplica’s had looked before it used Transform.

        “Oh, wow!” Duplica seemed surprised. “I didn’t realize you had a Ditto of your own. It’s been a while since I’ve seen anyone else with one.”

        “I just caught right before I got here.” Ash explained.

        Duplica’s Ditto used Fly, rising up into the air before it would attack.

        “Wait a minute…” Duplica said. “Does that mean what I think it means?”

        “I guess that would depend on what you think it means.” Ash replied, curious as to what she was talking about.”

        The fake Fearow swooped down and tried to dive bomb Ash’s Ditto. However, it found its attack interrupted as a large yellow hand grabbed it by the beak, holding the large bird in place.
        “It is!” Duplica exclaimed. “I’ve had my eye on that Ditto for a while now but I didn’t think that anyone would actually be able to catch it!”

        “Why?”

        Fear seemed evident in the fake Fearow’s black beady eyes for a split second as it stared up at the Electabuzz that was holding it in place. But it was too late for Duplica’s Ditto to do anything as Ash’s Ditto let out a massive Discharge through its hand.

        “Most Ditto can only transform into other Pokémon another Pokémon that they’re directly looking at.” Duplica said as her Ditto collapsed onto the ground, shrinking down into its natural pink blobby form. “Some can’t even do that very well. Mine Ditto here, for example, has trouble mimicking faces. But some Ditto have the unique talent to perfectly imitate any Pokémon from memory.”

        “Yeah, I noticed that.” Ash commented as they both recalled their Ditto.

        “I’ve been trying to catch that one for a while because I thought that it would make a good addition to my show. Hopefully even bring in enough people that I could afford to build this old theater back up. But I just never managed to catch it.”

        “You can have it if you want.” Ash suggested, holding out Ditto’s Pokéball.

        “No, that’s alright.” Duplica shook her head. “You caught the Ditto, so you should keep it. Besides, my Gym is almost finished with its construction and once that’s done I’ll probably be too busy anyway.”

        Ash lowered the Pokéball back to his belt and walked up to Duplica, who reached into the pocket of her replica of Ash’s jacket and pulled out a badge that looked like four green ovals forming a rounded square around a pink center.

        “You’ve earned this Core Badge.” Duplica handed the badge to Ash, who held it high above his head triumphantly.

        “Yes!” Ash turned his head almost reflexively to see Pika’s reaction, only to be reminded that his Pikachu wasn’t with him. His smile faded away and he pinned the Core Badge to the inside of his jacket, along with the Boulder Badge, Thunder, Cascade Badge and Earth Badge he had already earned. “Just three more to go.”

        * * *

        Brock wiped his forehead with a sweat rag as he sat down on a large rock. The sun seemed particularly bright after spending all night working underground. His father walked up beside him and sat on the cold, wet grass.

        “It looks like we’re finally done.” Flint sighed. “That turned out to be a lot more work than I was expecting.”

        “Yeah.” Brock agreed. “Do you have any idea what could have caused all of this?”

        “Haven’t a clue.” Flint shook his head. “It looks almost like a hurricane passed through here but that isn’t possible. The only thing I could think of would be that all of this devastation was somehow caused by a Pokémon battle.”

        “What kind of Pokémon could have caused this level of ecological damage?” Brock asked his father.

        “That’s the part I still don’t understand. I’m especially confused as to what would have caused Diglett’s Cave to have completely collapsed. I just heard from Bruno that his Steelix had to completely re-dig the entire tunnel.”

        Brock was suddenly glad that his father wasn’t looking at him, otherwise he would have seen the look of embarrassment that just passed over Brock’s face. “Yeah, I have no idea either.” Brock lied, not wanting to admit his own involvement with that.

        “I’m just glad that we had that Aggron helping us fix things up out here.” Flint remarked. “Although I don’t know what an Aggron was doing on its own here in Kanto.”

        “I don’t know either.” Brock was glad for this change in topic. “I’ve heard that Aggron are often seen restoring the environment after natural disasters. That doesn’t explain why it was here, though.”

        “I guess there are just some things that we’ll never know.” Flint sighed and lied back on the grass.

        “How are the others doing?” Brock asked.

        “Your brothers and sisters are all fine.” Flint sat up again and turned to face Brock. “They miss having you around, though. Honestly, I get the impression that they would rather have you around than me.”
        Brock let out a chuckle. “I’m sure they’ll come around eventually.”

        Flint stared off into the distance for a moment, apparently deep in thought. “I just got a letter the other day... from Lola.”

        Brock nearly fell off of the rock he was sitting on. “Mom?”

        “She said that she’s finally coming home.”

        Brock sat in stunned silence. His mother had disappeared nearly two years ago, shortly after his father had left. She said she was going to sail around the world with her Pokémon and walked out the door, and that was the last anyone had seen her. Brock wasn’t even sure if she was even still alive at this point.

        “Did she say when?” Brock asked at last.

        “No.” Flint shook his head. “She just said that had almost finished her trip and that she’d be back soon. She didn’t say where she was or when ‘soon’ will be.”

        “Well…” Brock wasn’t really sure what else to say. “I guess having Mom back will be nice. It will definitely be different for the kids. I don’t think Billy and Tilly even remember Mom.”

        A cool breeze blew through Route 2 as father and son sat together in contemplative silence. It was hard to believe how much their family’s lives had changed in just the past few months.
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          #129    
        Old 3 Weeks Ago (8:29 AM).
        BZRich64's Avatar
        BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
        The Mustachioed Machamp
           
          Join Date: Apr 2013
          Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
          Age: 22
          Gender: Male
          Nature: Quiet
          Posts: 140
          Chapter 125
          Spoiler:
          Daisy turned around one last, near-invisible corner in the Fuchsia Gym and found herself standing directly in front of Koga. The Gym leader stood up from his kneeling position and nodded.

          “You have done well to make it here.” He said. “Most challengers take much longer to make their way through the maze. Many even find themselves giving up before they reach me.”

          “Why do you even have this maze here?” Daisy’s frustration was evident in her voice.

          “If a trainer does not have the patiants or skill to navigate this maze, then they do not have what it takes to become a Pokémon Trainer. We have decided to begin renovating the Gym system to include challenges that teach potential trainers the skills that they need besides simple battle strategy.”

          “I guess that kind of makes sense.” Daisy said, not really understanding how a maze of glass walls was supposed to teach anyone anything. “But then why is this the first time that I’ve had to go through anything like this?”

          “My Gym is the first to have gone through these new renovations. It will take some time before all of the Gyms are finished, but hopefully everything will be ready in preparation for next year’s Pokémon League Tournament. Now, shall we begin the battle?”

          “Huh? Oh, right.” Daisy took a few steps back, nearly bumping into one of the glass walls in the process. “My name is Daisy Oak from Pallet Town and I challenge you to a Gym Battle.”

          “I, Koga of the Fuchsia Gym, accept your challenge.” Koga said, stepping back as well and pulling a Pokéball out from his sleeve. “Now, without any interruption, let the battle commence.”

          * * *

          Attila and Hun walked back out alongside the main road in Porta Vista. Attila had a certain swagger in his step which showed that he was in a good mood.

          “Now, where were we?” Attila wondered aloud, trying to get his mind back on track after that diversion.
          “I believe we were going to track down that brat and his friends.” Hun smiled mischievously.

          “Yes, that’s right.” Attila nodded. “They won’t know what hit them.”

          “Really? I thought you would want them to know what hit them.” Hun replied sarcastically.

          “You know what I mean.”

          “You boys look like you could use some help.”

          Attila and Hun turned around to see who had just spoken. They were both surprised to see three all too familiar faces that they were sure they would never see again. Hunter J, Annie and Oakley walked up to them.

          “What do you want?” Attila asked them angrily.

          “Who? Me?” Hunter J asked coyly. “Whatever would make you think that I want something?”

          “You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.” Attila pointed out.

          “I suppose that is true. But to be honest, we weren’t actually looking for you specifically. This happy reunion is the result of luck more than anything else.”

          “Get to the point.”

          “Fine, fine.” Hunter J raised her hands up in a gesture of supposed goodwill “I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Team Rocket is in pretty bad shape after everything that’s happened in the past few days. We’re going around to pick up the pieces.”

          “You’re taking advantage of the current situation to get as much of Team Rocket’s resources under your own control.”

          “There’s no hiding anything from you.” Hunter J gave a false laugh. “And since we’ve found you here, I was wondering if you’d be interested in joining us.”

          “And why would we work for you?” Attila asked rhetorically. “You’ve all already betrayed us before.”

          “Now when did we do that?” It was obvious from Hunter J’s tone of voice that she knew exactly what he was referring too.

          “The S.S. Anne.” Attila said. “Back when you left Team Rocket and let the boat on fire while we were still on it.”

          “Because obviously there was no way you could have made it out of there in one piece.” Hunter J remarked sarcastically. “And as for leaving Team Rocket, well, I can’t help but notice that you two aren’t in uniform anymore.”

          “We realized that Team Rocket was holding us back.” Attila replied.

          “Well, I’d say that’s something that we all had in common.” Hunter J turned to the two sisters behind here. “Isn’t that right, girls?”

          “Yes.” Annie said while Oakley nodded in agreement.

          “You see?” Hunter J turned back to Attila and Hun. “We’re all the same here when you get right down to it. So why don’t we work together and help each other out?”

          Attila and Hun glanced at each other for a moment before Attila answered her. “Fine. We’ll join you for now. But don’t get used to it.”

          * * *

          Red and Sable ran up to an intersection and stopped.

          “Did you see which way she went?” Red asked Sable, his worry on the verge of becoming panic.

          “No.” Sable answered in her usual calm, almost monotone voice. “I’ve been behind you this whole time, after all.”

          Red sighed in exasperation. “Alright then. I guess we’ll split up. I’ll go this way and you’ll go that way.”

          “That sounds like a plan.” Sable mused and ran off in the direction that Red pointed.

          Red set off in the other direction, searching for any sign of Yellow as he went. He looked down every side road and alleyway he passed until he found himself standing outside of the Celadon Department Store. He looked up at the massive building and realized that if Yellow had gone this way she probably would have stopped and gone in here since this is where they were planning on going. He walked up to one of the two sets of automatic doors, which slid out of his way as he went inside. Red found himself in what seemed to be a lobby of some sort. There were people of all sorts waiting or walking around the lobby and several clerks standing at customer service desks. Red walked up to one of the clerks.

          “Excuse me. Have you seen a young girl come in here?” Red asked him. “She’s around nine years old with long blonde hair tied back in a large ponytail, wearing an orange dress over a black shirt and blue pants.”

          “I’m afraid that I haven’t seen anyone matching that description.” The clerk replied apologetically.

          Red sighed. “Okay. I guess that means that she didn’t come this way after all. Thank you for your help.”

          Red turned around and walked back outside. He looked back and forth down the street, trying to figure out which way to go next. He could feel his heart pumping fast and loud in his chest as he tried not to panic. Why did Yellow have to keep wandering off like this? He silently made a note to try and get some kind of Pokémon that would be able to track her down quickly if this ever happened again and set off back in the direction he had come from. After running down the sidewalk for a moment he slowed to a walk and was finally able to calm down as he saw Sable walking towards him with Yellow beside her.
          When the two girls reached Red, he knelt down and grabbed Yellow by the shoulders.

          “Don’t run off like that.” He said sternly.

          “Sorry.” Yellow looked embarrassed, as did Chuchu resting on her head. “I didn’t mean to go very far but then I got swept up in a crowd and got lost.”

          “That’s alright.” Red sighed and stood up again. “The important thing is that you’re safe now. Just make sure to stick with me from now on.”

          “Shouldn’t that be us?” Sable asked with mild sarcasm.

          “Yeah, sure.”

          “Well, it wasn’t all bad.” Yellow said, her usual pep returning to her as she held up a Pokéball. “I met a friendly guy who gave me this.”

          “What is it?” Red asked.

          “He said it was an Eevee.” Yellow answered cheerfully. “He found it wandering the streets on its own and wanted someone to be able to take care of it.”

          “Well, that was certainly nice of him to give it to you. Did you thank him?”

          “Um, yeah.” Yellow’s expression suggested that she was lying.

          “Well, anyway, we should get going.” Red grabbed Yellow by the hand and turned around. “The Department Store is right over here.”
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            #130    
          Old 2 Weeks Ago (7:50 AM).
          BZRich64's Avatar
          BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
          The Mustachioed Machamp
             
            Join Date: Apr 2013
            Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
            Age: 22
            Gender: Male
            Nature: Quiet
            Posts: 140
            Chapter 126
            Spoiler:
            Ash left the House of Imite and walked along the road leading to Fuchsia City. It proved to be an uneventful walk which was a relief for Ash after how hectic his day had been so far. After a while, he decided to stop for a moment and rest for a while. He took off his shoes and socks so that he could feel the cool green grass on his feet, which proved to be very refreshing after walking for so long. Then he figured that it would be a good idea to let his Pokémon out as well so that they could enjoy this moment as well.

            Sandslash stretched his arms out wide and fell forward onto its belly on the old dirt road Ash had been walking beside. At first, Ash thought that it was weird that Sandslash would choose to rest in the dirt rather than in the grassy field, though it occurred to him that it might have something to do with Sandslash being a Ground-type Pokémon.

            Kingler, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have much of an issue with the grass, despite also having a weakness to the Grass-type. The Pincer Pokémon snipped away at a circular patch of grass and sprayed it with a light foam, which he then used as a bed of sorts to rest on.

            Haunter had apparently been taking a nap, which was not interrupted by being called out and he just floated around asleep in midair. Ash found the sight almost comical as Haunter’s detached hands moved up and down as Haunter started to snore lightly. Ash wasn’t exactly sure why Haunter was snoring, though. He was pretty sure that the Ghost-type Pokémon didn’t actually need to breathe. He decided to ask Haunter about it later when he got the chance to.

            The latest of Ash’s Pokémon, Ditto, morphed into the form of a Bellsprout and sank its root into the ground, which began to glow. It took a moment for Ash to realize what it was doing, but it popped into his head that Ditto must have been using Ingrain to rejuvenate itself.

            Ash held up the Pokéball that his Fearow was in and stared at it. He wanted to let out the first Pokémon that he had ever captured with the others but unfortunately, it was still fainted from his battle with Duplica and he didn’t have any Revives that he could use to heal Fearow.

            Ash sighed as he put Fearow’s Pokéball back away and took his backpack off. He set it on the ground next to him and leaned back onto the grass, staring up the deep blue sky. It occurred to him that this was the first time he had ever been truly on his own before. It was a weird feeling that he wasn’t used to, but there was something almost comforting about it. That’s not to say that he had anything against being with others. In fact, he still missed his traveling companions. But it was nice to have a break from everything and simply be by himself. Well, almost alone, anyway. He still had his Pokémon with him. Most of them.

            He still wasn’t used to not having his Pikachu around with him. Ash and his Pikachu may not have gotten along well at first, but it didn’t take long for them to bond with each other. He just hoped that Pika would be alright and that they would be reunited soon. He didn’t know much about Pokérus, but he hoped that Pika would be fine by the time Ash could head back to the Indigo Plateau to check up on him.

            There was also his other Pikachu, Volty. Ash was confident that she was alright. He had given her to Misty, after all, which meant that she was in good hands. He did wonder how long it would take before Misty and Brock could finish with their assignments and join up with him again.

            Ash shuddered as he thought about the other Pokémon that he didn’t have with him anymore. The Raticate King. He was beginning to wonder if catching that thing had been the right thing to do back when they encountered it in the sewers underneath Saffron City. It had seemed like the best option at the time, in fact it had been the only option at the time, but Raticate King had proven to be more than Ash could keep control of. Now it was roaming the area around the Indigo Plateau, doing who knows what. He just hoped that it would keep his promise not to do anything bad. It was still hard not to worry about it, though.

            * * *

            Misty got up out of bed. She had to stop for a moment and hold on to the edge of the bed to keep herself upright as a massive wave of dizziness rushed over her. The doctor had said that she had a concussion but that she should be fine soon. She wasn’t feeling too sure about that though. The doctors had also said that they were all ready to leave now and Lorelei was already waiting by the door for Misty and her sisters to get ready.

            Once Misty was confident that she would be able to walk without any issue, she went to the door to stand by Lorelei as her sisters did the same. Her sister Daisy had her arm around Bill, who was helping her to stay up even though she didn’t need him to. The sight of how lovey-dovey those two had gotten while she was away made Misty feel sick. It also made her think of Ash for some reason, but she didn’t know why and quickly brushed the thought out of her head.

            “Alright, it looks like we’re all ready to go.” Lorelei said, in her usual no-nonsense demeanor. “Now, I’m going back to the Indigo Plateau to report in before returning to my Gym. I’d suggest you all head straight back to Cerulean and get some rest.”

            “Actually…” Misty said weakly. “I want to go to the Indigo Plateau with you. My friends should still be there and I want to meet back up with them.”

            “Fine, then Misty and I will go back to the Indigo Plateau while everyone else will return to Cerulean. Is that plan alright with everyone?”

            The four Sensational sisters and Bill all nodded and confirmed their agreement so Lorelei turned around and opened the door leading out of the hospital room.

            “I’ve already arranged for someone to meet us outside and Teleport us to our destinations. If there are no other objections, then we should head out now.”

            The group of six headed out of the hospital room and down to the lobby. The hospital seemed kind of busy, but Misty assumed that it must be normal for a major hospital in a city as big as Porta Vista to be this crowded. It was certainly busier than she ever saw the Cerulean Hospital, at any rate, and she and her sisters would go there often to help cheer up and entertain the patients. As they headed out the front door, Misty saw an ambulance pull up and a team of medical personnel rushed to meet it. She caught a glimpse of red hair as they brought two people into the hospital, which caused Misty to absently reach for the orange ponytail on the side of her head and look over at Lorelei’s deep crimson hair. Misty shook her head and tried to push the image out of her head. That proved to be a mistake, though, as she suddenly got another dizzy spell and nearly tripped over her own feet.

            “Are you okay there?” Violet asked her with more concern in her voice than Misty was used to hearing from any of her sisters.

            “I’m fine.” Misty responded automatically, though she wasn’t completely sure if it was true.

            The group continued to make their way through the city, though Lorelei was the only one who actually knew where they were going. Eventually, they reached the local Pokémon Center and Lorelei slowed to a stop, the others following suit.

            “We’re here.” Lorelei said. “Although it would appear that the person who was supposed to meet us here is late. I guess we’re just going to have to wait for a moment.”
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              #131    
            Old 2 Weeks Ago (8:27 AM).
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            BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
            The Mustachioed Machamp
               
              Join Date: Apr 2013
              Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
              Age: 22
              Gender: Male
              Nature: Quiet
              Posts: 140
              Chapter 127
              Spoiler:
              Daisy held her Cleffa in her left arm so that she had her right hand free to call out her first Pokémon. Bulbasaur emerged from its Pokéball, ready to take on Koga’s Muk. The Seed Pokémon used Growl on Muk, causing the purple pile of poisonous sludge to lower its attack. Muk then Sludge Bomb, hurling a large glob of its own body at Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur was able to dodge the attack, however, and used Take Down to ram itself into Muk. Muk took advantage of Bulbasaur’s close proximity and hit her with Pound. Bulbasaur let out a spray of Sleep Powder from the leafy bulb growing out of her back as she was hit by Muk’s fist, causing the Sludge Pokémon to fall asleep and leaving it open for Bulbasaur to hit it with a barrage of attacks. Bulbasaur launched a Leech Seed from its bulb so that she could start siphoning away Muk’s health and revitalize herself as she pelted Muk with Vine Whip after Vine Whip. Bulbasaur managed to beat Muk before it had a chance to wake up.

              As Koga recalled his fainted Muk, Bulbasaur began to glow brightly and grow. The bulb on her opened up to reveal a flower bud as Bulbasaur evolved into an Ivysaur. Daisy didn’t have time to celebrate her starter Pokémon’s evolution, however, as Koga sent out a Weezing. The Poison Gas Pokémon released a Smokescreen from the holes covering its body, filling the area with a thick, black fog. Neither Daisy nor Ivysaur could see anything through the fog, so Ivysaur let out another spray of Sleep Powder in the hope that she would be able to lull Weezing into a deep sleep before it could attack her. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and Ivysaur found herself being Tackled from the side and knocked onto her back. Ivysaur used Vine Whip in the direction that Weezing had just attack from, but Weezing had already moved somewhere else. The Smokescreen was beginning to fade, but it was still hard to see anything and Ivysaur had no way of clearing the air, meaning that all she could do was wait.

              Weezing launched a Sludge Bomb at Ivysaur, who was unable to see the attack coming fast enough to dodge and ended up getting hit directly in the face by the attack. Fortunately, she could not be poisoned by it because she was a Poison-type Pokémon herself, but it did force her to have to close her eyes tightly shut to avoid getting the sludge in them. Daisy knew that there was no use in making Ivysaur try to continue to fight in this condition, so she recalled Ivysaur back into her Pokéball and sent out Butterfree to continue the battle. Daisy knew that sending out her narcoleptic Buttefree would be a risk, but it paid off as Butterfree was actually awake for once and used Silver Wind to clear the air of what remained of the Smokescreen, knock Weezing down onto the floor and give herself a boost. Weezing slowly rose up back into the air, but Butterfree hit it with a Psybeam. The blast of psychic energy from Butterfree’s antennae proved to be too much for Weezing, who fainted and fell back to the floor again.

              Koga’s third Pokémon was Arbok, which slithered along the floor after it emerged from its Pokéball. It’s Intimidate ability caused Butterfree to lower her physical attack, but that didn’t affect the power of her Psybeam, which she fired at Arbok just as it lunged up to strike with Fire Fang. Arbok was knocked back by the attack and rolled on the ground, allowing Butterfree to hit it with another Psybeam. Arbok was then able to get back up spit out an Acid Spray from its mouth, drenching Butterfree in the poisonous fluid. Butterfree used Psybeam again and this time was able to knock Arbok out.

              Daisy was surprised by how well she was doing. She had already managed to take out half of Koga’s team using only two Pokémon. She hoped that her luck would continue for the rest of the battle as Koga sent out a Venomoth. The Poison Moth Pokémon and Daisy’s Butterfree flew in circles around each other in the air, each waiting for the other to attack. After a moment, Venomoth unleashed a wave of Poison Powder from its wings, which scattered through the air and latched onto Butterfree, poisoning her. Butterfree did her best to tough out the potion and used Supersonic to send out a pulse of sound waves that disrupted Venomoth’s coordination and caused confused it. Venomoth flew around and accidentally rammed into one of the invisible wall surrounding the relatively small battle arena they were fighting in. Butterfree then hit Venomoth with a Psybeam. Venomoth tried to counter by shooting a Signal Beam at Butterfree but missed and the beam of green light reflected off one of the glass walls and hit Venomoth instead. Venomoth looked like it wouldn’t be able to take much more and another Psybeam from Butterfree proved that it couldn’t. Venomoth fell to the ground, leaving Koga with only two Pokémon left.

              Koga recalled his Venomoth and called out his next Pokémon, Tentacruel. The big blue Jellyfish Pokémon seemed to hover just off the ground and quickly launched a Water Pulse at Butterfree. Butterfree wasn’t able to dodge in time and was knocked back into a glass wall. Daisy was surprised at how durable the walls were and assumed that they must have been made out of some sort of enforced glass that was specifically designed to be able to stand up to the abuse they would take during Pokémon battles. Either way, she decided that Butterfree was looking rather tired and decided that it was time to swap her out.

              “Butterfree, return!” Daisy said as she held up Butterfree’s Pokéball. The Butterfly Pokémon was engulfed in a stream of red Pokénergy and pulled back inside the Pokéball. Daisy then pulled out another Pokéball to call out her next Pokémon. “Let’s see what you can do, Poliwag!”

              The round blue Tadpole Pokémon hopped up and down excitedly and slapped the ground with its tail, then jumped up and used Double Slap to strike Tentracruel across the face twice. This seemed to make Tentacruel angry and it lashed out with its tentacles, trying to catch Poliwag with Constrict. Poliwag was able to effortlessly dance around just out of Tentacruel’s reach and sprayed Bubble from its small pink mouth, which burst right in Tentacruel’s face, making it even angrier. Tentacruel continued trying to ensnare Poliwag within its grasp, but Poliwag was able to hop around Tentacruel’s tentacles and get close enough to smack Tentacruel with another Double Slap. Furious, Tentacruel tried to hit Poliwag with a Bubblebeam but missed. Poliwag almost seemed to be playing with Tentacruel as it dodged all of Tentacruel’s attacks and kept hitting it with Double Slap and Bubble. Eventually, Tentacruel tried to slap Poliwag away when he went up to hit Tentacruel with Double Slap again, but Poliwag dove to the side instead and Tentacruel slapped itself in the face, knocking itself out.

              Daisy was surprised to see Poliwag become enveloped in white light it evolved like her Bulbasaur had just a few minutes ago. His tail retracted into his body and he sprouted a pair of arms as he grew over a foot taller than he had been before, becoming a Poliwhirl. Meanwhile, Koga sent out his final Pokémon, Golbat.

              The large bat Pokémon unleashed a powerful Supersonic, letting out a powerful screeching noise that was so loud and high pitched that Daisy found herself unable to think straight. Poliwhirl seemed to be affected even worse, as he stumbled around and started firing a Bubblebeam wildly in all directions. Daisy was barely able to avoid getting sprayed herself before Golbat interrupted the attack by swooping down and striking Poliwhirl with a Wing Attack. This snapped Poliwhirl out of its confusion and allowed the evolved Water-type to charge into Golbat with Body Slam before the Golbat could fly out of his range. Golbat was knocked onto the ground, allowing Poliwhirl to use Bubble Beam again, this time actually managing to hit his intended target. Golbat struggled to get off the ground, but Poliwhirl hit it twice with Double Slap, knocking Golbat out.

              “This match is concluded.” Koga said as he recalled his Golbat. “You are the victor.”

              “Yeah!” Daisy raised up her right hand and Poliwhirl jumped up, high-fiving her.

              “And by winning this battle you have earned a Soul Badge.” Koga pulled the pink, heart-shaped badge out of his sleeve and held it out as he walked towards Daisy.

              “Thank you.” Daisy said politely as she took the badge from him. She pulled out her Badge Case and opened it up, placing her new badge with the five that she already had. “Just two more to go.”
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                #132    
              Old 1 Week Ago (9:14 AM).
              BZRich64's Avatar
              BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
              The Mustachioed Machamp
                 
                Join Date: Apr 2013
                Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                Age: 22
                Gender: Male
                Nature: Quiet
                Posts: 140
                Chapter 128
                Spoiler:
                Lorelei and Misty were teleported to just outside the Indigo Plateau. Lorelei headed straight inside through sliding double doors that opened up automatically as she walked up to them. Misty followed after her, looking around for Ash and Carmine. As Lorelei headed straight for the hallway leading back to the offices so that she could fill in her report, Misty wandered over to the Pokémon Center built into the west wing of the main building.

                “Hey, Nurse Joy!” She called to the nurse stationed there, who was sitting at her desk working on some sort of word puzzle. “Do you know where Ash is?”

                “Wha…” Nurse Joy looked up at her. “Oh, you just missed him. Mr. Noir said that they were heading to Pallet Town.”

                “Well, that’s just great.” Misty muttered under her breath.

                “I could call a ride for you, Ms. Sensational.”

                “That would be nice, thank you. But don’t call me that. Just call me Misty.”

                “Of course, Ms. Misty.”

                Misty let out a sigh of mild annoyance.

                “Also,” Nurse Joy said. “I wanted to ask you something. If you are going to go see the young Mr. Ketchum, I was wondering if you could deliver his Pikachu to him as well.”

                “What?” Misty wasn’t sure why Ash wouldn’t already have his Pikachu with him. The two were completely inseparable.

                “His Pikachu came down with a bad case of Pokérus while they were here.” Nurse Joy explained. “So he left Pikachu in our care before he left. And now his Pikachu has now made a full recovery and can be discharged, but I can’t seem to get in contact with them through the number I was given. Would you mind delivering Pikachu for me?”

                “Sure.” Misty said, still a bit surprised.

                “Great! I’ll go get him and call for someone to take you to Pallet Town.”

                Nurse Joy set down the crossword book she was working on, then turned around and headed into the back area of the Pokémon Center. Misty waited around, tapping her foot impatiently, for a few minutes, before Nurse Joy returned with Pikachu sitting on her shoulder and a Pokéball in her hand.

                “Here you go. This is his Pokéball.” Nurse Joy said, handing the empty Pokéball to Misty. “And here’s Pikachu.”

                Pika jumped down onto the desk, looking up at Misty excitedly. It was clear that the Electric-type Mouse Pokémon was happy to see Misty again. Misty felt that something seemed different about Pika than she remembered, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was. Pika jumped up as Misty held out her arms and she caught the Pikachu, holding him close to her.

                “Someone should be here to pick you up shortly.” Nurse Joy said. “Thank you again for doing this.”

                * * *

                Ash walked along the side of the road with his Pokémon. Fuchsia City had finally come into view off in the distance as they made their way. Ash was excited to finally that their destination was finally in sight and sped up his pace. He had to slow down again, though, because Sandslash and Kingler’s shorter legs meant that even though they were running they couldn’t keep up with Ash unless if he wasn’t going slowly enough for them.

                Ditto, on the other hand, was running circles around them in the form of a Dodrio. Ash wondered briefly if he could ride Ditto if he got tired, but figured it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. He had only had Ditto for a few hours now, at most, but he had already got the impression that Ditto was kind of a prankster. There was no telling what kind of shenanigans that Ditto would try to pull.

                Haunter drifted along to Ash’s left, acting as if he still wasn’t fully awake yet. Ash wasn’t sure why a ghost would even need sleep to begin with but figured that being a Ghost-type Pokémon probably wasn’t the same thing as actually being a ghost, despite the similarities.

                As they finally reached the edge of the city, Ash recalled his Pokémon back into their Pokéballs. Fuchsia was unlike any city that he had ever seen. The roads seemed to be paved with some kind of red gravel that gave the city a very distinctive feel. Not to mention the fact that only half of the city appeared to actually be a city. Almost everything north of the main road looked more like some kind of zoo. Ash wasn’t even sure if this place could even be called a city. It felt more like some sort of strange town.
                Ash spotted the familiar red roof of a Pokémon Center at the top of a short hill on the south end of town, which appeared to be where the bulk of the actual city was built. He made his way over there, walking by a fenced off habitat containing a Kangaskhan. On his other side was what looked like the backyard of what had to have been the largest house in town. He had never seen anyone have a lake in their backyard before, though. He thought he saw a Gyarados briefly stick its head out of the water for a second. Ash stared blankly at where it had surfaced for a moment, not sure if he had really seen it. The lake didn’t look large enough to have something as large as a Gyarados in it. After a few seconds, he decided to just keep going. He needed to get to the Pokémon Center so that he could heal his Pokémon and call home to let his mom know where he was.

                It didn’t take long for Ash to make his way to the top of the hill and to the Pokémon Center. As he walked into the Pokémon Center, he passed by a girl with dark brown hair she seemed to scoff at him snobbishly on her way out. Ash looked down at himself and realized that he looked dirty and disheveled but he didn’t really care that much. It was just a part of being a Pokémon Trainer, after all. He headed straight for the desk where a nurse was waiting.

                “Hello, welcome to the Pokémon Center.” She said. “Do you want me to heal your Pokémon for you?”

                “Yeah.” Ash said, placing his four Pokéballs on the tray that the nurse held out to him.

                “Alright then. This will just take a moment.”

                Ash wondered why Pokémon trainers apparently weren’t allowed to just use the healing machines themselves. It didn’t seem like they were particularly hard to operate and it seemed kind of unnecessary to always have to hand his Pokémon to a nurse every time. He figured that there must be some reason for it, but he didn’t really feel like asking as the nurse handed Ash’s Pokémon back to him. He took the Pokéballs and put them back on his belt before turning and heading over to where the phones were. He was sure that his mom would be worried sick by now and didn’t want to keep her waiting any longer.

                He stood in front of the green video phone and dialed home. It was the only phone number that he had ever bothered memorizing. Ash barely had time to pick of the phone and hold it up to his ear before his mom answered and he was staring at his face in the video screen in front of him.

                “Oh, Ash, where are you? Are you okay? You aren’t hurt, are you? I was so worried! You look alright, are you alright? Oh, I hope you’re alright!” Delia was speaking so quickly that Ash barely had time to register what she was even saying.

                “I’m fine, Mom.” Ash tried to reassure her. “I’m in Fuchsia City right now.”

                “I’m going to send Carmine to come get you right now.” Delia said.

                “Um…” Ash wasn’t sure how to say what he wanted to say. “I would actually prefer if you didn’t.”

                “What?” Delia was stunned by this unexpected reply.

                “Well, I was thinking that, since I’m here, I might as well continue on my journey. On my own.”

                “But… why?”

                “Well, I just kind of want to prove to myself that I can do this without having Carmine around. It’s been nice having him to train me but I want to prove to myself that I can do this without help.”

                “But…” Delia didn’t know what to say.

                “Just let the kid go.” Ash heard Carmine’s voice from the other end of the line. He must have been standing just off-screen. “He’s more than capable of handling himself.”

                “I’m going to get this thing activated or whatever.” Ash held up the currently useless Pokégear that she had given him that morning. “So you’ll be able to get a hold of me whenever you want.”

                Ash wasn’t sure that he actually wanted his mom to be able to call him at any time, knowing that she would probably be constantly checking up on him, but he knew that it would make her more comfortable letting him stay on his own for a while.

                “Okay.” Delia relented at last. “But if anything happens, anything at all, I’m sending Carmine right away.”
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                  #133    
                Old 1 Week Ago (8:55 AM).
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                BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                The Mustachioed Machamp
                   
                  Join Date: Apr 2013
                  Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                  Age: 22
                  Gender: Male
                  Nature: Quiet
                  Posts: 140
                  Chapter 129
                  Spoiler:
                  Ash set the phone down and turned around to leave. A new city meant a new Gym and he was looking forward to getting his second badge that day. If only he could always get things done so quickly. He would have finished his journey a long time ago if it was that easy. Then again, Gym battles get harder the more badges you win so even if he could reach the Gyms quickly, he would still have to train for them. But Ash was still confident that he could take on the next Gym without any problems. That last one was quite easy and even if he would have to face a full team of six Pokémon next time, he knew that his team would be able to handle it. Of course, it would be easier if Ash himself had a full team.

                  As Ash headed for the door to leave, he caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to see someone waving at him from the other end of the Pokémon Center.

                  “Hey, Ash! Over here!”

                  It took Ash a moment to recognize the trainer that he had met earlier outside of the House of Imite. It took him even longer to remember the guy’s name. He walked over to where Shu was sitting. There were eight chairs positioned around a large glass table with two at each side, alternating between blue and yellow cushions. Shu sat in one of the chairs facing the entrance of the Pokémon center. He looked pretty much the same as earlier except that he was now wearing a red baseball cap with a stylized yellow ‘PM’ on the front. Ash assumed that it was supposed to stand for ‘Pokémon Master’. There was another kid sitting in one of the other chairs, who Ash didn’t recognize.

                  “Um, hi.” Ash said uncertainly as he walked up and stood behind one of the chairs facing Shu.

                  “Good to see you again.” Shu smiled. “I take you managed to defeat Duplica without any trouble. I take it that she’s probably still new to the whole Gym Leader thing because she doesn’t seem to be very good at battling yet, but I think that she does have potential. I know I was able to knock out all six of her Pokémon using only my Pikachu and that Mankey that I caught earlier. But I suppose I should probably ask you how you’re doing instead of just rambling on about myself.”

                  Ash walked around the chair he was standing behind and sat down in it, taking his backpack off and setting in the floor. He had a feeling that he was going to be there for a while. He noticed that Shu’s Pikachu was lying down relaxed on the armrest of his chair and that the other trainer had a Pikachu of his own that was resting on his lap. Ash subconsciously reached a hand over his shoulder to pet his own Pikachu but, of course, his fingers met nothing but air. He tried to pass off the movement by rubbing his shoulder instead.

                  “I’m fine.” Ash said reflexively. “But I was planning on going over to challenge the Fuchsia Gym right now, so if you don’t mind…”

                  “Oh, that sounds like a good idea. Personally, I was planning on taking a break and challenging the Gym tomorrow but I suppose just getting it over with has its merits as well. And how many trainers can say that they managed to get two Gym Badges in one day? I actually don’t know but I doubt there are very many. But then again maybe there are a lot that have. In fact, I suppose it’s possible that you’ve already done so yourself and that this will actually be your third badge of the day. I actually don’t even know how long you’ve been a trainer or-”

                  “Shu!” The other trainer cut him off. “Slow down.”

                  “Right.” Shu looked embarrassed. “I’m rambling again, aren’t I? Sorry about that.”

                  “I’m Ritchie, by the way.” The other trainer said to Ash.

                  “I’m Ash.” He replied. “Ash Ketchum.”

                  Ritchie tried to hold back a chuckle.

                  “What?” Ash wondered what was so funny.

                  “Oh, nothing. It’s just that ‘Ash’ is what we used to call Shu when he was younger. Although, if you’ve already met him, then he probably already told you that.”

                  “I think he did mention that.” Ash tried to remember.

                  “I’m pretty sure that I did.” Shu said.

                  “So, are you two traveling together?” Ash asked.

                  “No.” Ritchie replied.

                  “We both grew up in Viridian City together but when we both started our Pokémon journeys, we went separate ways.” Shu elaborated. “Meeting up here today was actually just a nice coincidence.”

                  “How about you?” Ritchie asked Ash. “Where are you from?”

                  “Pallet Town.” Ash answered. “It’s a small town just south of Viridian.”

                  “Yeah, I’ve heard of it before.”

                  “Hey, does that mean you’re related to Graham Ketchum, the famous Pokémon Trainer?” Shu asked excitedly. “I’ve heard that he lives in Pallet Town too, and you have the same last name.”

                  “Yeah.” Ash said. “That’s my dad.”

                  “It must be so cool to have a famous Pokémon Trainer for a dad. What’s he been up to? I haven’t heard of him entering any tournaments or anything the past few years.”

                  Ritchie turned to Shu and started shaking his head quickly. Ash figured that he had probably heard about what happened in the news.

                  “Um…” Ash looked down at the table. “He… disappeared. Five years ago.”

                  “Oh…” Shu realized from Ash’s reaction that it must have been a sore subject, which it was. “I’m sorry to hear that. Um, anyway…”

                  Shu’s attention drifted away as Ash heard the Pokémon Center’s front door slide open. He let out a shrill whistle, which caused Ritchie to sigh and bury his face in hand in embarrassment from his friend's behavior. Shu got up quickly, almost knocking his Pikachu onto the floor, and hurried over to greet whoever had just walked in.

                  “Why, hello!” Shu said energetically to whoever had just entered the Pokémon Center. “My name’s Shu, short for Satoshi Shigeru. But you can just call me Shu. What brings such a beautiful girl such as yourself to a place like this?”

                  “Umm… I need to get my Pokémon healed.”

                  Ash suddenly turned around in his chair, surprised by the familiar voice. Daisy was standing there holding a small, pink and green Pokémon in her arms.

                  “Hey, Daisy!” Ash waved at her.

                  “Hi, Ash!” Daisy beamed as she saw him there.

                  “Daisy. What a fitting name for a delicate young flower such as yourself.”

                  Daisy glared at Shu, apparently having taken that as an insult. “Nice try, but I’m not interested.”

                  “Oh well.” Shu shrugged and started walking back to the table. “It was worth a try.”

                  Daisy went to talk to the nurse and get her Pokémon healed while Shu returned to his seat.

                  “So, I take it you know that girl.” Ritchie said to Ash, trying to ignore Shu.

                  “Yeah, that’s my friend Daisy.” Ash said. “She’s from Pallet Town, too.”

                  “Interesting.” Ritchie said. “I guess this must just be the place to meet up with old friends.”

                  “Maybe.” Ash shrugged. “I’m pretty sure that it’s just a coincidence, though.”

                  “Two pairs of old friends meeting up at the same place on the same day seems like an awfully big coincidence, though.”

                  “I think you might be looking too deeply into this.” Shu said. “And this is me saying that.”

                  “I know.” Ritchie laughed.

                  Daisy walked up to them and sat down in one of the chairs on the side of the table no one was sitting at yet.

                  “So what are we talking about over here?” She asked.

                  “Nothing, really.” Ash said.

                  “Hi, my name is Ritchie.” Ritchie introduced himself. “And my rather rude friend over here is Shu, but he already told you that.”

                  “I’m Daisy.” Daisy leaned forward and set her Cleffa down on the table. The baby Pokémon looked around and sat down, a big smile on its face.

                  “Is that a shiny?” Shu asked with intrigue.

                  “That’s what I’ve been told, anyway.” Daisy shrugged. “I don’t really care about that though. I’d love my little baby Cleffa either way.”

                  “Wait, what’s a shiny?” Ash asked, confused about what they were talking about.

                  “A shiny Pokémon is a rare kind of Pokémon that has a different coloration than normal.” Shu explained. “They’re supposed to be extremely rare. Most trainers are lucky to ever even see one, let alone capture one.”

                  “That sounds interesting.” Ash said. “I wonder if I’ll ever find one.”

                  “I doubt it. The changes of ever encountering one are supposed to be well below one in a thousand.”
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                    #134    
                  Old 5 Days Ago (8:36 AM).
                  BZRich64's Avatar
                  BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                  The Mustachioed Machamp
                     
                    Join Date: Apr 2013
                    Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                    Age: 22
                    Gender: Male
                    Nature: Quiet
                    Posts: 140
                    Chapter 130
                    Spoiler:
                    Charmander, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Zoroark and Jigglypuff all stood around in the alleyway between the Cerulean City Gym and the Pokémon Center next door to it, continuing to argue about what they should do since the Gym was closed. They were all too busy to notice the three older members of the Sensational Sisters walk past the alleyway towards the Gym and just continued trying to come up with something to do that they could all agree on.

                    “Look!” Bulbasaur yelled at the others. “Why don’t we just split up and do our own things for now, then meet up here again tomorrow and see if the Gym is open yet.”

                    “I suppose that does sound like a good idea.” Squirtle stroked his chin in an attempt at looking contemplative.

                    “Seems good to me.” Charmander said enthusiastically.

                    “That would be fair.” Zoroark nodded.

                    “Whatever.” Jigglypuff didn’t seem as pleased as the others.

                    “Alright then! Squirtle raised a fist into the air dramatically. “We will meet up back here again in twenty-four hours!”

                    The group of five headed out of the alleyway and into the city, where they parted ways. However, as Zoroark used her Illusion ability to reassume her Zahira Darhk disguise and walked by the entrance to the Gym, she suddenly turned back and called out to the others before they wandered too far off.

                    “Hey, look! It’s open now!”

                    The other four Pokémon all headed back to her with surprised looks on their faces.

                    “What, already?” Bulbasaur asked.

                    “Yeah.” Zoroark pointed to the door. “The sign that said it was closed is gone and the lights are on now. The Gym Leader must have just come back while we were trying to decide what to do.”

                    “Now if only they could have gotten here a little sooner.” Squirtle muttered. “We could have avoided this whole thing and just went straight to challenging the Gym.”

                    “Well, what’s done is done.” Zoroark shrugged. “Now, let’s just go get this over with. Bulbasaur is up first, right?”

                    “Yep.” Bulbasaur nodded. “I think I that I should be ready for this, so let’s go.”

                    Zoroark stepped closer to the door, which slid open to allow her and the others to head inside the Gym. They were immediately hit by the smell of chlorine, though Squirtle was the only one to actually know what it was, as they headed over to the large pool that filled the center of the Gym. Daisy, Violet and Lily were talking about something together and were surprised to see Zoroark and the others come up to them.

                    “Can we help you?” Violet asked Zoroark.

                    “I’m here to challenge the Gym Leader.” Zoroark said.

                    Violet turned back to her sisters with an expression that suggested that she was unsure about something, but then Daisy raised her hand.

                    “I accept your challenge.” Daisy said and started walking over to the other end of the pool.

                    “Are you sure about this?” Lily asked her oldest sister.

                    “Yeah, sure.” Daisy said weakly. “Why not?”

                    Daisy reached her spot and pulled out a Pokéball.

                    “I think I’ve heard of you from some of the other Gym Leaders.” She called out to Zoroark. “You’re Zahira Darhk, right?”

                    “Um, yes.” Zoroark had to think for a moment to remember her fake name.

                    “Alright.” Daisy let out a soft sigh and grabbed the side of her face with her left hand. “I’m not feeling too great right now, so let’s get this done quickly. If you can knock out all three of my Pokémon using up to three of your own, then you win. If I knock your three Pokémon first, then you lose.”

                    “Right.” Zoroark nodded.

                    “Then let’s get this battle started. Go, Goldeen!”

                    The white and orange Goldfish Pokémon emerged from Daisy’s Pokéball and dove into the pool while Bulbasaur stood in front of Zoroark and prepared himself for the battle. He was a disadvantage due to being limited to his spot while Goldeen had free range of the entire area. He decided that the best course of action would be to wait for Goldeen to strike, then hit it with his own move. He waited as Goldeen swam around the pool, looking like it was considering its own options before it jumping out of the water in front of Bulbasaur so that it could hit him with a Peck attack using its horn. Bulbasaur slapped Goldeen to the side with his Vine Whip and followed it up with a Leech Seed. The seed hit Goldeen just under its left fin as it fell back into the water, taking root and hindering Goldeen’s maneuverability, in addition to slowly draining its health. Goldeen struggled to swim around to the other side of the pool without being able to use its left fin properly but was slow enough that Bulbasaur was able to hit by launching a pair of Razor Leaves at Goldeen. Goldeen was barely able to hold on after the attack but had enough strength to turn around and fire a water Pulse from its horn at Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur was hit directly in the face by the attack and become momentarily confused. He flailed his vine around and accidentally whipped himself with them while Goldeen swam up and jumped out of the water. The Water-type slammed into Bulbasaur horn-first using Peck, which caused Bulbasaur to take a step back and whip his vines around even more, hitting Goldeen and knocking it out.

                    Daisy recalled Goldeen and sent out her next Pokémon, Dewgong. The majestic white Sea Lion Pokémon dove into the water like Goldeen had and used Icy Wind. It felt like the temperature in the Gym must have dropped at least twenty degrees and the pool started to freeze over. Dewgong jumped up onto the newly created sheet of ice covering the surface of the water as it formed. Bulbasaur saw this as an opportunity and jumped down onto the ice. He and his opponent would now have equal footing, or so Bulbasaur thought. Unfortunately for him, he had not taken into account how slippery the ice would be and ended up sliding right into the side of the pool. Dewgong did not hesitate to attack Bulbasaur while he was vulnerable and blasted a Signal Beam from the horn on its head. The Bug-type move hit Bulbasaur from behind as he tried to get back onto his feet and sent him ricocheting off of the wall and around the frozen pool. Dewgong then used Ice Shard, condensing the moister in the air into a large cone of ice which dropped down onto the frozen-over water and cracked the layer of ice. Dewgong followed it up with another Ice Shard, followed by another until the sheet of ice covering the pool shattered and Bulbasaur fell into the icy water. Bulbasaur managed to pull himself up onto a frozen chunk of ice but used the last of his strength to do so and promptly collapsed.

                    Squirtle sighed as he walked up to the side of the pool. Things were not going according to plan. Bulbasaur was supposed to take down at least two of the Gym Leader’s Pokémon, but what was done was done. Squirtle dove into the icy water and swam up to Bulbasaur and was able to pick him up and carry him out to the edge of the pool, where Zoroark grabbed Bulbasaur and lifted him up. Daisy and her sister watched this and were confused as to why ‘Zahira’ didn’t simply recall Bulbasaur into its Pokéball like any other trainer would, but none of them decided to question her about it right then.

                    With that done, Squirtle turned around to face Dewgong and jumped up onto a chunk of floating ice. His options of effective moves to use against Dewgong were limited, but fortunately, the Water and Ice-type Dewgong likely didn’t have very many moves that would be effective against Squirtle, either. Dewgong fired a Signal Beam at Squirtle, who side-jumped out of the way and into the water. He navigated around the chunks of frozen ice that filled the pool as Dewgong dove into the water as well. Squirtle had never been so glad that Samantha used to enter him into all of those Beartic Swim challenges back in the day, which made Squirtle used to swimming in this kind of environment. Unfortunately, Dewgong was even more comfortable swimming around the ice-filled water, which meant that Squirtle’s past experiences merely helped even the odds rather than give him an advantage. Still, Squirtle had confidence in himself and was sure that he could win this battle.
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                      #135    
                    Old 1 Day Ago (8:28 AM).
                    BZRich64's Avatar
                    BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                    The Mustachioed Machamp
                       
                      Join Date: Apr 2013
                      Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                      Age: 22
                      Gender: Male
                      Nature: Quiet
                      Posts: 140
                      Chapter 131
                      Spoiler:
                      Squirtle dove under a particularly large chunk of ice as Dewgong zigzagged through the water towards him. As Dewgong approached, Squirtle swam back up and Tackled Dewgong with enough force to knock Dewgong out of the water, where it landed on a patch of ice. Squirtle jumped out of the water after Dewgong, only to get hit with a Signal Beam and get sent flying back into the edge of the pool. Squirtle felt the air get knocked out of his lungs as his shell collided with the side of the pool and he sank into the freezing cold water.

                      Squirtle found the settling in his mind that perhaps, even after all of his training, he was still far too under-leveled to actually stand a chance in this fight. He tried to shove that thought out of his mind, though. Now was not the time to be second-guessing himself. He needed to concentrate on the battle and try harder to defeat his opponent.

                      Dewgong dove back into the water and swam over to Squirtle, Headbutting him before Squirtle was able to swim out of the way. Squirtle knew now that he was outmatched, so he did the only thing that he could. Squirtle used Withdraw, retracting into his shell in the hope that he could by himself enough time to come up with a plan on how to beat Dewgong. Unfortunately, he was running out of air and would soon have to swim back up to the surface of the water so that he could breathe. Combined with Dewgong repeatedly ramming into Squirtle, he knew that he was in a very bad situation that he needed to find a way out of. Unfortunately, no opportunities presented themselves and he was forced to try and swim up for air. As soon as Squirtle pulled his head and limbs out of his shell, Squirtle found himself being knocked upward by a particularly strong Headbutt from Dewgong. The force of the attack sent Squirtle flying up out of the water and he landed flat on his back next to Zoroark. He tried to stand back up again, but the last of Squirtle’s strength failed him and he collapsed.

                      Charmander gulped audibly as he stared at Squirtle in horror. He slowly turned his gaze to the icy pool, where Dewgong was waiting. It was all up to him now, but Charmander knew that there was no way that he would stand even the slightest chance against Dewgong. Despite his fear, Charmander inched his way slowly to the edge of the pool, holding his tail defensively behind him to try and prevent it from getting wet. Charmander still remembered the torturous pain he had been in when he had to stay out in the pouring rain after Damion had abandoned him and had absolutely no desire to have to go through that again.

                      Once he had reached the side of the pool and looked down at Dewgong, who was lying on a large chunk of ice, waiting for him. Charmander already knew that this battle would end in his swift defeat, but despite that he called up as much of his power as he could to let out the strongest Ember that he could muster. Dewgong was unable to dodge the attack but still seemed relatively fine despite taking the full force of Charmander’s Ember. Dewgong’s face suddenly contorted in extreme effort, as if it were trying to lift something up that was far too heavy. After a moment, the pure white Sea Lion Pokémon released a blast of Sheer Cold. Charmander felt like the blood running through his veins was icing over as his entire body froze up and he fell onto his back before passing out from the cold. The battle was over.

                      “Well…” Daisy said awkwardly, clearly having expected a bit more from ‘Zahira’s’ team. “Better luck next time, I guess.”

                      * * *

                      Misty looked around as she walked through the streets of Pallet Town. It occurred to her that she had no idea where she was actually going.

                      “You know where Ash lives, right?” Misty asked the Pikachu resting on her shoulder.

                      Pika nodded and pointed towards what appeared to be an inn. Misty was confused for a moment, before remembering that she had been told that Ash’s mom managed the Pallet House. She was fairly sure that Ash and his mom did not actually live there but she didn’t have any better ideas, so she made her way towards it. Just as she almost reached the entrance of the Pallet House, however, the front door of the house just across the street opened up and a familiar man with dark red hair walked out.

                      “Carmine?” Misty turned and ran to him.

                      “What are you doing here?” Carmine asked her as she got close, before he notices Pika on her shoulder.

                      “I wanted to see Ash.” Misty explained. “I’ve got something for him.”

                      “I can see that.” Carmine nodded. “Unfortunately, you’ve just missed him.”

                      “What?” Misty wasn’t counting on that.

                      “Yeah. He’s actually in Fuchsia right now.”

                      Misty stared at Carmine, dumbstruck. Her jaw dropped slightly.

                      “It’s a long story.” Carmine shrugged. “Which I’m sure he’ll be more than willing to tell you when we get there.”

                      “Really?”

                      “Yeah, sure, why not. We agreed that I won’t be traveling with him anymore but that doesn’t mean that I can’t give you a lift to go see him. It’s not like I have anything better to do right now.”

                      “Thank you.” Misty said. “It sounds like a lot has changed since I left.”

                      “It’s been a long day.” Carmine shrugged. “And I’m sure it’s probably been even longer for the birthday boy, so let’s not keep him waiting any longer then he has to.”

                      “Wait, it’s Ash’s birthday?” Misty gasped.

                      “Yeah, it is. Now let’s get going already.”

                      “But shouldn’t I get him a present or something?”

                      “Is that really what you’re thinking about right now?” Carmine sighed. “Getting that Pikachu back is probably going to be the best thing he could hope for. Plus, he seems pretty fond of you, so that’ll be a bonus.”

                      Misty blushed and looked down at her feet.

                      “Oh, grow up.” Carmine sighed again and pulled out an Ultra Ball. “Now let’s get this show on the road before you waste any more of my time. If you have any more questions, just ask Ash when you see him.”

                      “Right.” Misty looked up again. “So will we be teleporting or…”

                      “We’re flying.” Carmine sent out his Skarmory. “Do you have a problem with that?”

                      “No.” Misty shook her head. “I was just wondering.”

                      Carmine climbed up on the back of his Armor Bird Pokémon and patted it on the head. “She’s strong enough to carry us both there, but you’re going to have to hold on tight.”

                      “Are you sure we can’t just teleport there or something?” Misty asked.

                      “If I had a Pokémon that could use Teleport then we’d already be there right now. Now get on or we’re taking off without you.”

                      “Right.” Misty rushed over and climbed on Skarmory’s back behind Carmine. She put her arms tightly around his waist as Pika climbed down and nestled between them as comfortably as he could.

                      A moment later and they were off, soaring through the skies above Kanto. Misty clung on tightly to avoid falling off the big metal bird and Pika had to hold himself steady between the two humans. Misty was surprised at how fast Skarmory was able to go and was glad that it didn’t take very long before they slowed down and landed right in front of the Pokémon Center in Fuchsia City.

                      “We’re here.” Carmine said as Misty let go of him and stepped back onto the ground.

                      “I noticed.” Misty’s felt like everything was swirly around for a moment before Pika jumped back up onto her shoulders.

                      “Then what are you standing around out here for?” Carmine asked as he recalled his Skarmory back into its Ultra Ball. “He’s probably still inside.”

                      “Right.” Misty headed for the Pokémon Center’s entrance. The twin doors slid open as she walked up to them and headed inside.

                      It only took a few seconds for Pika to spot his trainer and jump down onto the floor, running towards where Ash was talking with some other trainers. Misty tried to stifle a laugh at Ash’s surprised reaction as Pika suddenly jumped up onto his chair to greet him, then walked up behind Ash’s chair and looked down at Ash right as he happened to look up. The look on Ash’s face was priceless.
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