Celadon’s New Blossom
“Are you sure you have to leave so soon?” Janine’s features displayed a rather immature pout as she crossed her arms, staring at the friend that she had recently made just a few days ago. “You could stay a little longer and do some more training. There’s so much more I could teach you!” She blinks. “Oh, and my dad could teach you some more stuff as well, I guess.”
Koga’s lips twitched as he glanced towards his daughter. “Your enthusiasm in my teachings is noted.”
Scratching the back of his neck, Ash responded back with a bit of a sheepish look. “Thanks, but I don’t think the ninja life is for me. I’ve got other things to do, but it was fun.” Not to mention exhausting and somewhat painful. His butt still smarted from falling out of that tree. “And thanks again for helping me with my Aura.” The blond let out, looking up at Koga.
Next to him were Misty and Brock, the latter of which glanced at Aya, but seemed rather despondent over the fact that she thought of him as just a kid. On Ash’s shoulder sat Pikachu, and within his bag was Budew nibbling on a berry.
“Think nothing of it, Ashley.” The ninja responded with a curt nod. “It was a pleasure to get some first hand experience in actually dealing with Aura, though I apologize that I couldn’t help you beyond the small amount of understanding that I myself had.”
Misty piped up. “A lot more than Ash had when we first got here. You weren’t there to see him walking around like a goofball after that flash-bang trap.” This earned a glare from the blond in question.
“Like the water dork said,” this time it was Ash who received a glare, “I wouldn’t have even known about the whole Aura thing if it weren’t for your help.” It was still rather overwhelming to the young trainer, but he could now manage to focus his senses to allow him to actively tell if there was anything living around him. Though in a location such as a forest, signals were all over the place, and he still had work to do with being able to separate just what was what.
Brock placed his hands on both Ash and Misty’s heads to keep them focused away from each other’s throats. “Do you think there’s more information on Aura out there somewhere?”
Koga nods. “Most assuredly so. The main problem is that there are documentations out there on the study of Aura usage in Pokemon, but most of the information on Aura using humans is harder to find. However, I have heard that the town of Rota has some ties to an ancient knight that was said to have used Aura.”
“Rota?” Ash asked. There was something about that name that rang some bells, and it was more than likely due to having seen it in one of the history books that made mention of the lost Aura Guardians.
“It’s a town located to the very north of Kanto and in the mountain ranges above Mount Silver and near the border to the Johto region.” Koga emphasized by pointing north. “If you ever find yourself in that area, you should see if you can take a look.”
Ash nodded and made a mental note of it. Hopefully he’d be able to do just that someday. For now, though, it was a bit too far to really worry about, and he also didn’t feel like dealing with a bunch of mountains. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Reaching up, he gives Pikachu a scritch on the ear before checking on Budew.
“Oh! Ashley, hold on a second.” Janine quickly pulled out her own phone, and the two friends proceeded to share their contact information. “There we go. Now we can keep in touch with each other.” She lets out a big, toothy grin. “After all, I’m sure us gal pals still have a lot to talk about, and I wanna hear more of what training under a Grass type Gym Leader is like. Also, if you ever need some tips on Poison types, I’m your girl.” She provides a thumbs up before giving the blond a quick hug.
Ash gives a small wiggle and blush at the hug, but returns it. Dealing with this kind of contact could still be a little embarrassing. “Thanks, and I’d like to hear about how your training is going also. You gotta tell me sometime if you manage to perfect that technique! It sounds cool.”
Misty snrks a little at the ‘gal pals’ statement, and how Ash didn’t seem to react to that. Her attention shifted to Aya and the question that the kunoichi tossed their way.
“So where is it that you three are headed next?”
“The Safari Zone.” Brock had managed to compose himself. “We were talking about it, and thought that it’d be a good place to visit before heading back to Celadon.” He could also always take another trip to Scissor Street and see what Suzie was up to, and maybe even get some more breeding tips.
“That’s not too far from here.” Aya motioned in a direction. “Though you’ll have to go around a bit, because there’s a fence surrounding the preserve that’s used to protect the Pokemon inside from poachers trying to sneak in.”
After getting the proper directions from Aya, the traveling trio bid farewell to Koga and his family and started on their way to their next destination. After a few moments of travel, the sound of Ash’s phone could be heard, notifying the youth that he had obtained a text. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled the mobile device out and glanced at the screen.
“Who’s it from, Ash?” Misty asked. Pikachu, meanwhile, was attempting to get a peek. Budew was fast asleep in the bag.
“It’s from Sabrina.” The blond answered, typing quickly. “She wanted to tell me that a new ice cream shop opened up, and was wondering if I’d like to go with her sometime soon.” He turned his attention to Pikachu. “How about that, buddy? Visit Sabrina later and try some refreshing ice cream?” He could definitely go for some.
“Pika!” The electric mouse nodded vigorously. He definitely liked the cool treat.
“Maybe I’d like some ice cream too.” Misty muttered, clearly not jealous in any way at all. Brock nodded as well. Though more from the fact that he was kind of jealous that Ash seemed to have it so easy with getting close to pretty girls.
“I guess I could see if Sabrina wouldn’t mind if a spoiled brat tagged along.” Ash responded with a smirk. Before Misty could make a rebuttal, he got another text, which caused him to audibly groan out.
“What did it say?” Brock asked as he and Misty got closer.
“Nothing!” The blond attempted to hide the phone behind him.
Misty got even closer, a look of mischief and curiosity etched upon her features. “Oh c’mon Ashley. We’re your friends. You can’t blame us for that.” She tried spinning around the boy to grab the phone, but he lifted it up, using his other hand to keep her at a distance.
“Sorry, it’s personal!” The young boy wasn’t paying attention, however, and so the phone was placed directly in reading view of Brock, who read the text off.
“I also acquired a bunch of new outfits, and think we could have a lot of fun playing dress up.” The Rock type trainer’s eye twitched. “Why do you have to have all the luck, Ash?! Being able to be close to so many pretty girls. You’re living every red-blooded man’s dream!” Tears flowed from his eyes as his fist clenched.
“...” Ash just remained silent and blushed as Misty started to laugh her ass off. Pikachu, too, couldn’t help but give a tiny laugh as he patted his trainer on the head with a small hand. “You too, Pikachu?” It was going to be a long trip.
Eventually, the small group found itself on the outskirts of a ranch that rested along the path they were taking. It appeared to be nicely sized, and they could see a good number of Pokemon and animals roaming the fields, with various ranch hands tending to the creatures.
“It's huge!” Ash let out as he took in the sight. “And look at all of those Pokemon.” He watched as a few herders worked on a round up in the distance. “What's this place called?”
“The Laramie Ranch.” Brock let out, pointing as his companions glanced at him. “It says on that sign over there.” Sure enough, there was indeed a sign that displayed the ranch's name.
“Oh” Both Ash and Misty responded at once, wondering how they both missed it.
A faint rustling from some nearby bushes caught Pikachu's attention. The electric mouse's ears twitched, and he proceeded to hop off of his trainer's shoulders and move over to the shrubbery. “Pi?”
“What is it, Pikachu?” Ash asked, before promptly realizing, too, that there was something within. He slowly made his way over to the spot and knelt down next to his buddy, accompanied by a curious Misty and Brock. “What do you think is in there?”
Misty poked him on the forehead. “You're the one with supernatural senses. Can't you just use it to tell what it is?”
The blond huffed in response, his cheeks turning a little red. “Hey, it's still new to me, okay? It ain't like it's a one-step problem solver if I don't know what I'm looking for.” He did discover that with practice, he could memorize certain auras that would lead to him being able to identify targets. At the very least, he had managed to make a mental 'log' of Brock, Misty, Pikachu, Budew, and his other Pokemon's signatures, and could identify the shapes of certain Pokemon he was aware of.
“And I haven't seen this Aura shape before.” Though as he studied the aura, the shape soon became a bit more clear. “But I think it might be--”
Before he could even finish, the creature within the bushes exploded outwards, smacking right into Ash's face, and causing the two to go tumbling backwards.
“Ash!” Misty and Brock called out in unison as they and Pikachu ran on over to check on their friend.
“Dew?” Budew poked his head out of the bag, wondering what all of the commotion was about.
Groaning and rubbing his face, Ash rested upon his back as what could only be described as a yellow blob of wool clung to his chest. Shaking his head, it took a moment for Ash to get a better look at the blob, only to see a sheep-like face belonging to it.
“Maaaa…” The creature let out, seemingly embarrassed and apologetic. There were leaves and sticks stuck within its wool, which crackled lightly of static and caused some of Ash's hair to stick up.
Brock was the first to say something. “It's a Mareep!”
“It's so cute!” Misty added, eyes sparkling. “Its wool looks so soft!” She reached a hand out to touch it, but a bit of static crackled against her finger and caused her to wince and pull back. “Maybe some other time.”
“Thought so...” Ash groaned out as he sat up, pulling out his Pokedex. One of the girls back at the gym had given him a plush Mareep, not to mention the Pokemon was a rather common sight in stories and farms.
“Mareep, the Wool Pokémon. Mareep stores static electricity in their wooly coat. They avoid battle and have mild dispositions. Its fleece grows continually. In the summer, the fleece is fully shed, but it grows back in a week.”
The Mareep wobbled about. Despite what the Pokedex said, there was something a bit off.
“I don't think it shed yet.” Brock knelt down next to the sheep as Pikachu attempted to converse with it. The wool seemed to cover quite a bit of it, and looked to even threaten to try and cover its eyes as well.
The approach of a feminine voice caught their attention. “You'd be right in that there assessment.” Turning towards the owner of the voice, the small group would see a young woman with light blue hair tied in a loose ponytail. She wore a simple light green polo shirt and a pair of blue shorts. Accompanying her were a Ponyta and a Growlithe.
The Growlithe in question quickly shot off from her side, charging at the Mareep, which let out a loud bleet before running off back into the ranch with the puppy Pokemon hot on its heels.
The girl walks a little closer towards them. “Sorry about the trouble there. That particular Mareep has trouble shedding its own wool, but is also really squeamish about being sheered and tries to run every chance it gets.”
Before Ash or Misty could open their mouths, Brock was way ahead of them, attempting to work his charms on the young woman. “Oh, don't worry about that! There was no harm done at all. It was a pleasure to meet such a cutie… and that Mareep was adorable as well. What's your name? I'm Brock”
The woman was slightly taken aback by his sudden approach. “Err-- Lara Laramie.” In response, her Ponyta snorted and flared its fiery mane. “Whoa, easy there Ponyta. It's fine.” She ran a hand along its side, shushing it gently. The flaming equine's mane soon settled back down, and it gave the woman a soft nuzzle.
“Ah, sorry.” Brock rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, a bit ashamed at spooking the Ponyta like he had. “Ah, wait, Lara Laramie? Of the Laramie clan? It's a pleasure to meet you! I've read all about how the Laramie family are amazing breeders. You raise them in the wild and--”
Misty's hand shot out and pinched Brock's side to reel him in. “Your Ponyta is so lovely.” She finally said as she watched it nuzzle the woman. “Sorry about our friend here. I don't know HOW he got off of his leash.” She gave the breeder a momentary glare, causing him to return a sheepish look. “I'm Misty.”
Ash nodded along. “I'm Ashley.” He had actually witnessed a challenger at the Celadon Gym use a Ponyta against Erika once, and was amazed by the speed and agility that it showed in battle. Not only that, but the Pokemon could really jump. As the blond glanced between the flaming horse and its owner, he couldn't help but notice something that caught his attention. “Hey, what happened to your arm?”
Lara glanced down at her arm, which was wrapped in a sling. Her expression turned sombre, which was even mirrored by her Ponyta. “Oh, this? I was riding on top of Ponyta to try and calm a herd of Tauros, but Ponyta got spooked and accidentally knocked me off. I hurt my arm.” She let off a deep sigh. “My injury prevented me from taking part in the race.”
Ash was quick to respond. “Race?”
The woman nodded. “We of the Laramie ranch frequently race to see who has the best Pokemon. I was looking forward to the race so that I could show what Ponyta was made of.” Her expression turned hard. “I'm pretty sure it was due to foul play, but I can't prove it.”
Brock's brow furrowed. “Foul play? Who would even do such a thing just for a race?”
As if by some kind of cue, a young man made his way on over to the group atop a Dodrio. A smug look was plastered upon his features, which reminded Ash way too much of his rival Gary. “Howdy Lara. I see you've met some new friends. That Mareep is safe and sound and ready to be sheered.”
“Oh-- thank you Dario.” Lara answered rather tersely, clearly not fond of being in his presence.
Ash pulled out his Pokedex and pointed it at the Dodrio.
“Dodrio, a three-headed Bird Pokémon that can run faster than it can fly. Its three heads represent joy, sorrow and anger. It has three sets of hearts and lungs as well, so it is capable of running long distances without rest.”
“You're not still sore over me winning the race yesterday, are ya?” He wagged a finger at her. “Tsk tsk, Lara. Being like that ain't sporting. I won that race fair and square.”
Lara's grip on Ponyta's reins tightened. “That's what you say, but what about those three shady characters that were bumming around with you? Whatever happened to them?”
“Three shady characters?” Misty asked, causing the trio and Pikachu to glance at each other. It couldn't be… could it?
“'Taint nothing shady about about them. Just some friends I made I was hanging with.” He proceeded to point behind him. “As for whatever happened to them? Well, they're just leaving now is all.”
Glancing in the direction that Dario had pointed, Ash and co could only watch in surprise as what appeared to be Team Rocket's balloon floated off into the distance. Not only that, but they could have sworn they were able to hear the overly loud sound of mirth and celebration despite being a distance away.
“That was Team Rocket!” Ash shouted, pointing.
“Pika!” Pikachu's cheeks crackled.
Lara blinked at them. “Team Rocket? Those three? You mean like that criminal organization Team Rocket?” How did she not place two and two together? Well, maybe it was because the uniforms were white instead of black, and they weren't exactly the most… menacing people. “Dario!” She shouted, turning to glare at the man in question.
Dario waved a hand dismissively. “You still can't prove I did anything wrong, Lara. They appeared and offered help in exchange of some food and money. However could I, the humble Dario, turn down some helping hands?”
Within his resting spot, Budew wasn't quite sure what was going on. However, he knew that everybody seemed annoyed at the guy on top of the large three-headed bird Pokemon. Maybe he could help help a little?
Noticing a movement out of the corner of his eye, Ash glanced down at his youngest Pokemon just in time to see him open his bud and release a small stream of Stun Spore that drifted over and around the Dodrio.
The three-headed bird gave off a loud yelp of surprise as the paralysis took effect and caused it to panic. “Whoa, what's going on, Dodrio?!” Its rider shouted out as it thrashed about some, but came to a quick and abrupt halt. It was in this abrupt halt that Dario was tossed off and onto the ground. More specifically, he landed on his arm.
“My arm!” The young man shouted out in pain as he sat up, holding it. He glanced at his limb in shock, and then to his Dodrio, and finally towards Ash and his Budew as it closed its bud. “Girl, do you have any idea what your Pokemon did?! Do you realize how important I am?!”
Ash waved his arms quickly. “It was an accident!”
“Budew is still really young!” Misty added. “It didn't know what it was doing.”
Brock nodded quickly. “It was probably just confused by all of the animosity.”
Dario wasn't placated. “You can't weasel your way out of this! I'm part of the Laramie clan now. I'm important! Lara, help me deal with these kids.” He proceeded to get to his feet, clearly not happy. However, he was confused when Lara gave him a small push. “What are you doing?”
“We got more important matters to deal with instead of getting furious at infant Pokemon, so grow a backbone. We gotta get that arm examined to make sure it isn't broken.” She started guiding a furious Dario away as Ponyta and Dodrio – still feeling some paralysis issues – followed. The young woman turned her attention towards the group and mouthed a small 'thank you'. It wasn't quite the revenge she would have wanted, but it was definitely sweet.
The small group let out a breath that they didn't know they were holding. For a moment, they thought they were in some big trouble, which was not something that they really needed.
Pulling Budew out of the bag, Ash held him in his arms. “You really shouldn't do stuff like that. You could have got us in big trouble.”
“Dew?” The rose bud Pokemon seemed a bit confused, and grew a little sad at being told off like that. He gave a small sniff as if he was going to cry.
“H-- hey now, don't start crying.” The blond let out quickly. “I mean, I'm glad that you wanted to help, and you did a good job.” The praise caused the impending waterworks to subside. “But you can't just do that. I mean, you can if we're in danger, but not during stuff like that. I mean, um...”
Brock picked up the subject. “What Ash means is that if you feel that there is danger that could hurt us, then you can do that. You shouldn't just do it simply because people are angry.”
“That's right!” Misty gave Budew a small tickle, causing him to laugh. “But you did a good job anyway, and things worked out.”
Budew gives a wide smile. Next time he gets to hang out with Bulbasaur, he'll have to tell the other Pokemon how good he's gotten at using his powder moves. “Bud!”
“Hey! I think we’re almost at the Safari Zone!” Ash shouted as the group made their way down the path. “That didn’t take all that long at all.”
“I wonder if there are any exotic water Pokemon there.”
“Hey,” Brock spoke up. “I think there’s a car coming this way.”
Sure enough, there was a vehicle slowly driving down the path. The group stepped to the side, and could see that it was a rather fancy red convertible with quite a few people riding inside. For Ash, something felt rather familiar about it, and it was only as it came closer that he fully realized why.
“It’s Gary! What’s he doing here?”
“He must have visited the Safari Zone as well.” Misty supplied.
This caused Ash to go into a bit of a panic. “Don’t let him see me!” If he were alone, then he wouldn’t be panicking as much, since he had managed to be face to face with the other boy once before. However, now, he was with Misty, Brock, and Pikachu, and Gary knew he was traveling with them thanks to the encounter at Aopulco in Porta Vista.
Instead of driving passed them right away, the car came to a stop. “Hey,” Gary announced, “if you’re heading for the Safari Zone, watch out. The guy in charge is a real gun-happy basket case.” His cheer squad could be heard making various comments about ‘crazy’ and ‘scary’. “Just doing my civic duty of being such a helpful guy by warning others to keep safe-- hey, wait, I know you.” He pointed towards Ashley.
“Ah, you do?” The blond asked, fiddling with his puffy hat rather nervously. Pikachu, Misty, and Brock were also a bit on edge over this.
“Yeah, you’re the girl that sold me the perfume.”
“She’s the one?” One of the girls in the car asked, eyes wide. “That perfume was, like, the best! Thank you so much.”
“She’s really cute.” Another girl spoke out.
“I love those Luvdisc overalls.”
Ash couldn’t help but blush and rub the back of his head at the compliments he was getting from the girls. It may have been embarrassing to be called cute and constantly be seen as a girl, but at the same time he couldn’t help but feel an inflated sense of pride over it.
Brock, meanwhile, once again found himself with a feeling of despair over Ash getting so much attention from the ladies.
“Wait a second, something seems a bit off here.” Gary held a finger to his chin as he glanced at Misty and Brock. “Both of you were with Ash at the beach. Though now you’re traveling with Ashley.” He looked back towards Ash and seemed to stare intently at him. “I think I know what’s going on here. It’s so obvious!”
“I-- It is?” Ash asked, visibly sweating. His rival wasn’t stupid, and could likely put two and two together with this. It was only a matter of time before it happened, but he had hoped it would have been longer than this. “What’s obvious?”
“That these two finally wised up and ditched Ash upon realizing he wasn’t going anywhere. Last I heard he was lagging behind me so bad that he probably just gave up and went back home.” Gary tsked in mock disappointment. “Some people just aren’t cut out to be trainers.”
Ash and the group just stared at the other boy for a moment, not having expected such an out of left field conclusion. After a moment, what he said fully registered, and feeling indignant by it, Ash’s fists clenched and unclenched at his side. He was about to open his mouth to say something when Misty placed a hand on his shoulder and held a finger to her lips. If the blond said anything now in anger, he’d likely blow his cover.
“Well I gotta go. The Safari Zone was a nice detour, but I got more important things to deal with. Ciao people, and if you manage to see Ashy Boy again, give him my regards. Tell him to not worry, and that I’ll definitely bring fame to Pallet Town.” With that, the car zoomed off down the pathway, Gary laughing as his cheerleaders chanted his name.
Brock couldn’t help but shake his head at this. “That kid is way too far up his own--”
“Okay! Enough of this nonsense about Gary!” Ash yelled out as he quickly proceeded to stomp towards the Safari Zone. It was clear that the confrontation had managed to chafe his pride, and the fact that he couldn’t really say anything also didn’t help matters much. “I’ll tell him the truth eventually, and when I do, I’m going to laugh at his expression! That smug mug of his will be no more. Right Pikachu?”
“Chu!” Pikachu nodded back.
“But don’t you think that you’d be too busy being embarrassed that he knows to actually laugh?” Misty supplied. “I mean, think about it. The one person that you’ve considered to be your greatest rival for so long learning the most embarrassing secret you could be hiding? That could backfi--mmph!” Misty was prevented from saying any more thanks to Brock placing his hand over her mouth and shaking his head.
Clenching his teeth for a moment, Ash closed his eyes and took a deep breath. There was no use getting riled up and worried about this. He’d deal with it later when the time came. If anything, he could talk to Erika about it and see if she had some advice on the issue. The important thing now was the Safari Zone and Pokemon.
“I don’t care about Gary!” He shouted. “He ain’t being trained by a Gym Leader, so he ain’t gonna be anywhere near my league when we finally face each other. This is a fact, and I could scream it into the heavens!”
Before he could even get the chance to, however, the door to a nearby building abruptly slammed open. Within the frame stood a tall, middle-aged man with short, greyed hair. “THAT’S ENOUGH SCREAMING YOU BRATS!”
The sudden scream of anger caused the group to shout and jump back, Pikachu’s cheeks sparking in surprise and ready to react if he needed to. The man before them was dressed like someone out of a typical western. Though the unnerving thing was the pair of gun holsters that the guy had at his hips. He was definitely packing some heat, and they suddenly remembered Gary’s warning about him. It didn’t help that his hand was resting on the handle of one of the guns, either.
Taking a moment to collect his bearings, Ash took a step forward and gave the man an apologetic bow. Perhaps now was the best time to remember Erika’s teachings and advice in defusing situations like this. “I apologize about being loud, sir. I was too caught up in a moment of excitement and let myself get louder than I should have. Please forgive my transgressions.”
“Kachu.” Pikachu gave a bow as well, following his trainer’s lead. Behind them, Misty and Brock could only share a look of surprise.
The man’s hard expression softened, but just a little. “Well,” he began as he removed his hand from his gun, “it’s good to know that some kids these days know how to be humble and realize when they were in the wrong; unlike certain others who were just here.” A visible grimace flashed across his features as he thought about the cocky kid and his cheerleaders. “I’m Kaiser, the warden of the Safari Zone.”
“I’m Ashley Ketchum. I’m a student of Erika of the Celadon Gym. This is Pikachu, and this is Budew.” He motions towards both Pokemon, who greet Kaiser back.
“I’m Misty.” Misty waved nervously, sticking behind Ash.
“And I’m Brock.”
“Erika of the Celadon Gym, huh? Respectable lady.” Kaiser stared at Ash for a moment as if scrutinizing him. “Well, whatever, come on in.” He turned around and disappeared into the building, allowing the group to follow him in.
The inside of the building had a typical office feel to it. Smooth, white walls and wood panel flooring that appeared clean and well kept. There was a bulletin board on the wall, and in the corner rested a small purple couch. Lining the upper walls surrounding the office were photographs of what could only be assumed to be former visitors to the area posing with Pokemon.
Ash took a moment to tap his foot against the hardwood flooring as they placed their bags on the sofa. Pikachu quickly hopped up onto it and proceeded to communicate a bit with Budew. The latter gave a few quick bounces on the couch, giggling.
Kaiser, meanwhile, rummaged around behind his counter in silence for a moment. Eventually, he stood back up and set a bucket of green-colored Pokeballs and a fishing rod on top of the surface.
“Ah, those are Safari Balls, and a rod?” Ash asked, staring at the bucket. A movement out of the corner of his eye alerted him, and he glanced up to see the Safari warden pull out his gun and give a stern, no nonsense glare towards him and his friends. “Err--”
“The rules here are simple, young lady. The only things that you can can use here are these Safari Balls and rod. If you break the rules, my Thunderbolt will burn you guys.”
“By Thunderbolt,” Ash let out nervously, “you don’t mean…”
“I think you know exactly what I mean.” Kaiser proceeded to place the gun back into the holster. “But hopefully we won’t have to reach that point, yes?”
Ash gives a quick nod. Hopefully those guns were simply for show, and he wasn’t really someone who would shoot at a bunch of kids. He was distracted from his musings, however, by Misty, who had pulled down one of the images from the wall to get a better look at it. Upon hearing her mention that there was a Dratini in the image, the blond quickly made his way over to have a look as well
The photo was definitely old, and showed a younger Kaiser posing with what was definitely a Dratini. Ash’s curiosity was piqued upon hearing Brock mention that there were rumors of Dratini in the Safari Zone. The discussion was short-lived, however, as Kaiser ran over in a panic and swiped the entire portrait from Misty.
“There is no Dratini here!” The older man shouted, holding the portrait protectively to his chest. Ash could feel the man’s aura spike with a feeling of what he thought was panic mixed with stress. Though he couldn’t be fully sure since he was still attempting to figure this out.
“But there used to be?” Ash asked, hoping that was the right thing to ask, because he really did not want a gun pointed at him.
Kaiser gave him a long look, as if figuring out to respond. “Yes” He finally answered before turning around and stomping off through a door. This left the group to release a tense sigh they didn’t know they were holding.
“I thought he was going to pull his gun out for a moment.” Misty muttered softly
Brock glanced at both of his companions. “You think there’s more behind this?”
“His Aura felt kinda suspicious. Like he was hiding something.” Ash answered, looking between the two, who suddenly remembered that their friend could do that. “So maybe there still is a Dratini.” If there was, he definitely wanted to see it. “Think Prof. Oak knows something?” He made his way over to the video phone.
Sure enough, the professor had explained to them that Kaiser was an old friend of his, and it had been about 30 years prior where he had discovered a Dratini in the Safari Zone. Tragically, word had gotten out, and countless trainers had arrived from all over to try and capture one, resulting in the reserve nearly being left in ruins. The Dratini, meanwhile, was never seen again.
“That’s depressing.” Misty softly whispered with a frown.
Ash nodded. “Yeah, but it’s still gotta be out there if nobody found it, right? I wanna see it.” Though after 30 years, would it still be around?
“I do too!” Misty seemed enthusiastic about it.
“So I do.” Brock added.
The large, heavy wooden gates swung open with a loud creek, revealing the vast interior of the Safari Zone. Kaiser, having managed to calm down from earlier, stood to the side of the entrance and turned his attention to the group of visitors. Unlike the previous group that he had dealt with just a little while ago, this one seemed to be at least a little more respectful, and even far less obnoxious.
As with all visitors to the Safari Zone, he had asked them to leave their belongings back in the office. It made it easier to manage things so people don’t start causing problems with their own belongings. As for the blond kid’s Pokemon? Well, he eventually conceded in letting her keep the Pikachu with them, but that’s where he drew the line.
As for the Budew? It initially didn’t want to go into its ball, and wanted to stick to the Ashley girl, which Kaiser had to admit was rather touching. The girl had managed to convince Budew to get into the ball after telling it she’d let it right back out once done. Though huffy, the tiny bud Pokemon had conceded. He almost felt kinda bad about that.. almost.
“Come back as soon as you use up the Safari Balls.” He nodded as the group gave off a unified ‘okay’ as they made their way on into the reserve. He watched them walk off for a few before turning around and heading back inside. Hopefully things would go just fine for them.
After a moment of walking in silence, Ash finally couldn’t contain himself. “Oh man, I wonder what I’ll catch. I know there’s a lot of rare stuff here.” He was positively bouncing on his feet as he looked around the place and taking in the surroundings.
“Make sure you watch where you’re going, Ash.” Misty warned, watching the blond bounce about. “You could end up tripping over something.”
“Oh you’re worrying too much.” Ash waved a hand in her direction and rolled his eyes. “I’ll be perfectly fine. There’s nothing out here to-- whoa!” He proceeded to trip right into and over a bush, crashing into the ground on the other side.
“Pikapi!” Pikachu ran over quickly to make sure his partner was alright.
“I warned you~” Misty sing-songed with a hint of satisfaction in her voice as she walked over, shaking her head. “But nobody ever listens to Misty.”
“You okay Ash?” Brock made his way around the bush.
Ash let out a groan as he rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, but I think I found something.” He had definitely stumbled through a bush, but the thing that he had actually tripped over was on the other side.
Brock was the first to speak. “It’s a Tauros?”
Sure enough, it was indeed a Tauros. The wild bull Pokemon tried to look away from them as it laid on the ground, though it spared them all a glance from time to time. Its face attempted to look impassive and tough, but a wince would flash across its features from time to time. Its aura was tinged with a touch of nervousness.
“... I think it’s hurt.” Ash’s eyes traveled down the Pokemon until they rested on one of the creature’s legs, where he could feel what seemed like a weaker connection of Aura. “Its leg!”
Startled at being found out, and suffering a bit of wounding to its pride at being seen as weak, the Tauros attempted to get up quickly to try and show it wasn’t weakened. However, in putting pressure on its back leg, it let out a pained shout and crumpled back to the ground.
“Hey, take it easy! You’ll hurt yourself some more.” Brock placed a comforting hand on the Tauros to steady it.
Misty nodded. “Yeah, you’re in no condition to move around. We should go get the warden.” She turned to look at Ash, but noticed the blonde was missing. “Wait, where’d Ash go?”
“Chu!” Pikachu pointed towards the trainer in question, who seemed to be picking a few things off the ground a distance away. Before anybody could ask, he returned with a few sticks, which he started to place around the Tauros’ leg. Reaching into one of his pockets, he pulled out a small roll of bandages and proceeded to wrap the branches firmly in place.
Misty and Brock could only watch the blonde work until the former broke the silence. “I didn’t think you knew how to do something like that, Ash.”
“The Celadon Gym provides classes on survival and first aid.” He answered as he worked. The Tauros couldn’t help but stare at him as he did, glancing between the blond and the leg. “I don’t think the leg is broken, but it’ll need to take it easy for a little while.” Finishing, he stood up and took a step back, flashing a large grin to the Tauros. “There we go!”
Taking a moment to compose itself, the Tauros attempted to get back up. He winced again, but the makeshift splint kept his leg stable. Glancing down at the leg, he then turned its attention back to Ash.
He had been dealing with a rather bad day for the most part, having injured its leg and left behind by the others of his herd. If not for the fact that the leader of the herd was angry with him, then the others would have likely stayed to help.
Then this human, who he assumed was a trainer, happened by. Not wanting to appear weakened so they could capture him, he had tried to keep the attention away from his leg. The plan didn’t go as he had hoped, though to his surprise, the human actually took the time to help instead of capture. He also couldn’t help but feel a bit… safe next to the human. It was rather weird.
“See? You made it! Before long, you’ll be able to go back to running.” He would have used a potion, but the majority of their supplies were back at the cabin. He could have also tried to capture it, but in the state it was in, it probably would have put up a huge fight and gotten more hurt.
Ash was soon surprised, however, by the Tauros bumping gently into him and giving him a nuzzle. “Haha, hey, what’s gotten into you all of a sudden?” He had figured the Tauros would have tried to leave.
Letting out a blast of air from its nose, the Tauros motioned to itself, and then towards the bucket of Safari Balls.
“I think it wants you to capture it, Ash.” Brock observed, realizing that the blonde had managed to capture the bull Pokemon by helping it in its time of need.
Ash’s eyes widened. “Wait, really?!” He had just captured a Pokemon that easily? All he had done was help it with its leg. “Awesome!” He shouted in excitement as he picked up a Safari Ball. “Welcome to the team, Tauros. Don’t worry about your leg. We’ll get it fully treated when we get out of here!” He tapped Tauros with the ball, and the Pokemon was soon pulled in.
“Alright! This Safari Zone adventure is really looking up! I can’t wait to capture more Pokemon!” He proceeded to pose, giving another toothy grin and a victory sign. Nothing could go wrong to spoil this!
“Why is everything going so wrooooooooong.” Ash whined in defeat as he and the group sat down next to the waterside. After catching the Tauros, the group had attempted to capture other Pokemon in the area. Needless to say, they had absolutely no luck at all with what they were doing. He watched a herd of Tauros stampede on by a few feet away.
“I think I blame you for this, Ash. I don’t know how, but it has to be your fault.” Misty grumbled as she pulled out the fishing rod, ignoring her friend’s glare. “But since we’re by the water, let’s do some fishing.” She proceeded to pull out a small white box, which she promptly opened to show off a bunch of lures designed after various water Pokemon.
Ash tilted his head. “You snuck in a bunch of lures?” They already had bait to use.
“That’s because I want to use the Misty Special.” She held up a lure that was crafted in her exact likeness. “I’m going to catch them with this.”
Ash crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow in response. “We want to catch Pokemon; not scare them away.” The comment caused Misty to stick her tongue out at him.
“You’ll see when I capture something amazing. No Pokemon could possibly resist my beautiful visage.” She proceeded to toss the lure into the water, standing there in wait for a bite. She didn’t have to wait long before she got one. “I got a bite!” She struggled. “I-- It’s a big one! Help!”
Ash and Brock rushed to her side, grabbing hold of her and the rod. It took a few tries, but they finally managed to succeed… pulling a massive Gyarados out of the water. They all gave a shout and fell backwards as the line snapped, and the giant water serpent dropped back down below the water and out of sight.
The water trainer could only stare at the water. “... why are there Gyarados here?” Her attention turned towards her rod. “My Misty Lure! I’m going to have to make another!”
Brock shook his head. A broken lure would be the least of one’s worries when encountering a Gyarados.
“Nice try, but it’s my turn now!” Ash grabbed his rod and tossed the lure with bait into the water. “Hey guys, wouldn’t it be amazing if I actually managed to catch a Dratini?”
Misty rolled her eyes as she picked Pikachu up into her arms. “It’s been 30 years, Ash. I don’t think someone like you can just randomly fish up such a rare Pokemon with one cast.”
Brock nodded in agreement. “Yeah, best to not get your hopes up.”
“Aww c’mon. Just imagine how amazing it’d be, and imagine the look on Kaiser’s face when he gets to see Dratini again after all this time!” There was a tug on his line, and he quickly began to reel it in. “But I guess you guys are right. It’s been 30 years. The Dratini is probably long gone.” With one final yank, he pulled his catch out of the water.
What followed next was complete and total silence. The three humans and electric rodent could only look on in disbelief at the sight before them. For what Ash had pulled out of the water, and what was still holding onto the line, was an honest to goodness Dratini.
The Dratini, for its part, stared back at them with an innocent look, giving a rather cute squeak. It wiggled a bit before leaping off of the line and landing on the ground before Ash, where it tilted its head and continued looking at the blond.
“It’s… an actual Dratini.” Ash fumbled with his hand in his pocket, pulling out his Pokedex and quickly pointing it at the Pokemon. He couldn’t believe his eyes, and neither could Misty or Brock.
Pikachu, meanwhile, just made his way over to the Dratini and greeted it. The tiny dragon gave him a smile and a wave of its tail
“Dratini, the Dragon Pokemon. It’s also called The Mirage Pokemon because it is rarely seen that often. Dratini continuously sheds its skin in order to keep from building up tremendous energy that could otherwise become uncontrollable.”
“I… guys, what should I do?!” He really wasn’t sure. He wasn’t even prepared for this. Would Kaiser appear from around the corner pointing his gun at them? Turning his attention back to the Dratini, he watched it slither closer to him.
“I don’t know, Ash. Capture it? It’s not every day you come across a dragon.” Misty couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of this turn of events. Her first try ended in a failure, but then Ash goes and hooks such a rare find right off the bat. “Or put it back into the water in case Kaiser gets furious.”
“But should Kaiser really get angry at us?” Brock asked, glancing between the two quickly. “We haven’t done anything wrong here, so it should be fine.”
A familiar voice caused the group to stiffen. “What should be fine?” Turning, they could see Kaiser making his way towards them. “It’s been a while, and I just got word from Fuchsia Gym’s Koga that during his patrol of the outer fence, he came across a breach that was possibly made by a Pokemon breaking through. I decided to check up on you kids to make sure you were fine.”
“Ah, yeah, we’re fine! Nothing wrong here!” Misty shouted out as the trio stood before Dratini to keep it out of sight.
Ash nodded. “Yeah-- wait, a breach in the gate? Is that okay?”
“It happens from time to time.” Sometimes a Safari Pokemon would get bold and break out, or sometimes a Pokemon on the outside would break in. Fence maintenance tended to be a common thing. “But you three seem like you’re hiding something. You wouldn’t be up to any trouble now, would you?” His hand rested on his Thunderbolt, his expression hard and no-nonsense.
The trio tried to think up a good response, but they couldn’t really come up with something on the spot, and figured it was probably best to admit defeat.
“W-- well, you see,” Ash began as he nervously rubbed his nose. “We got to fishing, right? Just minding our own business. Misty snagged a Gyarados, and then I decided to take a turn. I joked about hooking a Dratini, and… well…” As he was trying to explain, the Dratini had managed to slither its way up his body and onto his shoulder, sparing an innocent glance Kaiser’s way. “It kinda happened.”
Kaiser, for his part, was so shocked that his hand fell away from his Thunderbolt. “What-- you kids-- how. It should be in the Dragon’s Valley! Not in some random water way!” He ran over and got close to the small serpentine dragon. “Dratini, do you remember me?” He came to a halt upon looking at the horn bump on its head. “Wait… you’re not the Dratini I remember.”
“It’s not?” Brock asked. “How can you tell?”
“The one I remember had an x-shaped scar on its horn nub. This one doesn’t.” Could that mean what he thought it meant? “But why is it out here, and why is it so friendly with you?”
Before anybody else could say anything, the water in the pond burbled and exploded, allowing for a long, serpentine form to breach the surface. It was similar to Dratini, but longer with a pair of white wings on its head and a more pronounced horn, which was sporting an x-shaped scar. On its neck was a blue sphere.
The entire group was rendered speechless once again as Ash pointed his Pokedex at it.
“Dragonair. Dragon Pokémon. Legendary Pokémon that can make rain or snow fall at its will. It can store an enormous amount of energy, as well as fly.”
Misty just shook her head. “This can’t be happening. I must be dreaming-- ow!” She glared at Ash, who gave her an innocent look in return.
“Drati-- Dragonair, is that you?” Kaiser asked, stepping forward. The two shared a long look before the dragon Pokemon leaned forward and allowed him to embrace it. “You’ve grown so well.” He said, as tears started to flow down both his and the Dragonair’s cheeks. “I had thought something had happened to you.” He constantly blamed himself for that day long ago.
“So-- um-- what about the Dratini?” Ash asked, earning a sigh from Misty for ‘ruining the mood.’ “Why was it here?” He lifted up a hand to pet it. Pikachu resting on his other shoulder, leading to him realizing he was now lacking shoulder space. The Dratini gave a cute squeak.
Dragonair, pulling away from Kaiser, lowered its head and closed its eyes. A glow formed on its horn, and the group was able to pick up on its thoughts. ‘I would like for my child to know more than just this place. I’ve lived my whole life here, but would like for my child to be able to expand its horizons.’ It turned its attention to Ash. ‘Would you please take care of my child?’
“Err… why me?” Not that he was complaining or anything, but he was confused as to why and how.
‘I saw you help that Pokemon earlier, and I’ve been watching you since I felt you a few days ago. I feel that you are the best option available.’ It wouldn’t admit it, but its reasonings were also a bit on the selfish and prideful side. This human seemed to have an interesting ability, and maybe if its child tagged along, then it could become more powerful than most other Pokemon, especially Dragons. It couldn’t help but giggle internally at the very idea of its own child getting so powerful.
Ash, unaware of the inner musings of this clearly majestic serpentine dragon, could only nod in response. His ego had been stroked at the mention of ‘best option available’, and the fact that this Dragonair seemed to think so highly of his ability. Needless to say, he was walking right on into it.
“Alright! I can do that.” He reaches up and scritches the Dratini on the head. “Welcome to the team, little guy. I’ll take real good care of you.”
“I just realized that I don’t know that much about Dragon Pokemon nutrition and health.” Brock muttered as he tapped his chin. This would prove a good opportunity to do some more studying.
“It’s not a Water type, but it’s close enough to one.” Misty cooed as she rubbed the Dratini’s head gently.
Kaiser, meanwhile, couldn’t help but frown. “As touching as this is, and as happy as I am about finally meeting Dragonair again, I hope that none of you breath a word to the populace about just where you got the Dratini from.” His hand rested on his Thunderbolt. “I don’t want to have to deal with people coming here and tearing the place up again, got it?”
The group gave an uneasy laugh, still not sure if Kaiser would actually shoot or not. They did, however, agree to not tell anybody, except for Prof. Oak, about where the Dratini came from.
“Dew!” The cry was loud and abrupt, as Budew slammed right into Ash after being let out of his ball, clinging to the blond and worming his way into the trainer’s arms.
Ash oofed as he held onto the bud Pokemon and laughed. “Hey, I told you I’d let you right out after I got back, didn’t I?” Hopefully he didn’t keep acting like this when it came to his Pokeball. It was enough that Pikachu didn’t go into his Pokeball, but he didn’t want things to get more complicated than that.
Budew gave a small pout, but eventually dropped it in favor of nuzzling against his trainer.
“You’re spoiling him, you know?” Misty smirked. It was kind of funny to see Ash act like a doting parent with the young Pokemon, though she had to admit that she wished she had a young Pokemon of her own to cuddle and dote on.
“It ain’t my fault.” Ash lobbed. He had just finished contacting Prof. Oak. The researcher had been especially impressed and excited about the Dratini capture, and had praised the blonde on a job well done. He had also promised that he would keep the capture location a secret, so as to not potentially damage the environment.
“Koga just sent word to me that the breach to the fence seemed to be due to a rampaging Aggron.” Kaiser announced, having just hung up the phone he was on. “Something to do with it getting into an altercation with a Scrafty.”
“A Scrafty?” Misty asked, having vaguely heard of the Pokemon.
Kaiser nodded. “He witnessed both of them in battle. The Scrafty won, but ran away before he could do anything about it.”
Recognition dawned in Ash’s eyes. “I wonder if it’s the same one I’ve met before.” At everybody’s questioning gaze, he continued. “I ran into one on the way to Saffron City. The day I caught Pinsir. Though I wonder what it’d be doing around here.”
Feeling exhausted, Scrafty sighed as it reached the gate of the Safari Zone from the inside. It didn’t know why it was having so much bad luck lately, and it couldn’t believe it had to deal with a bloody stubborn Aagron that had chased him all the way to and through a fence. He eventually got it off his trail, but was soon lost in a new area. At least, that was until he had managed to catch sight of the blonde girl that he had been on the trail of for who knows how long. Due to a sudden case of tunnel vision, he had tried to charge towards her, only to be knocked off into the distance by a sudden herd of Tauros that ran right on through. When he had crashed back down to the ground, it was on top of a Scyther, who wasn’t happy to be interrupted. It wasn’t a fun time for him either!
Finally, though, after much trouble, he had reached the wooden gate and pushed it open. Slipping through the entrance, he was glad to finally be free of that place. His joy was a bit short-lived, however, as looking off into the distance, he could make out the sight of the blonde girl he was chasing after.
“Scraaaaaaaa…” He sighed out. He was too tired to chase after her for now, and proceeded to trudge on into the Safari Warden’s building. There, he noticed the small purple sofa and walked over to it, collapsing on top of it and ignoring the surprised and questioning gaze of Kaiser himself. He just wanted to get a little rest.
Kaiser, for his part, noticed how tired and exhausted the Scrafty was. Deciding to let it rest, he pulled out a small blanket and placed it on the Pokemon, who was now fast asleep.
After such a long time, I finally managed to finish this chapter. I feel like I might have gotten a little rusty, or the feeling that I ended up rushing in areas. However, I managed to get it finished.
As for the Dragonair with telepathy? I figure that psychic, ghost, fairy, and dragon types would be the most common Pokemon with the ability to so so. Plus, considering all of the various Pokemon from the movies and anime that have displayed some form of telepathy/speech, it’s not too far fetched.
I made a bit of a continuity error in a previous chapter that I didn’t notice until now. When Gary and Ash met in the perfume shop, I forgot that Holiday at Aopulco/Beauty and the Beach had happened previously.
As for Scrafty? Well, he’s definitely headstrong and determined.