A lesson learned
Ash was still reeling from shock.
Fresh out of his victory at the Kanto Battle Frontier, Ash had received a hero’s welcome at his hometown. After the celebrations over his victory, he had a well deserved night’s rest at his home. It felt good to be back.
His elation over his victory was short lived, however, when he was defeated by Gary Oak, of all people, so soon after his achievement.
Ash Ketchum considered himself to be a pretty good trainer. He had his fair share of experience in countless battles. Even though a league victory still eluded him, he was still champion of the Orange Archipelago and now victor of the Kanto Battle Frontier.
But he had just lost to Gary, who had all but retired from his trainer career. He could understand losing to the old Gary, his rival. But his loss at the hands of someone who devoted his time to research shook him. Ash had defeated Gary at the Silver Conference. Gary pretty much stopped training after that, but Ash had gone on to compete in the Hoenn league and the Battle frontier. The desire to be a master still burned in him.
The fact of the matter was that his Pikachu, who was in a battle ready condition and had recently defeated Brandon’s legendary Regice, had lost to Gary’s Electivire. It was surely not Pikachu’s fault. It was his fault. His skills as a trainer needed improvement, and fast.
Ash knew that one of his faults as a trainer was his overconfidence. A victory tended to make him overconfident. That would lead to his loss in the next battle. With this latest example, Ash knew it was high time he put some thought into his training methods and attitude.
I know I’m more experienced than Gary, he thought. But I couldn’t use it well in that battle. Usually, I’m just ordering attacks instinctually, instead of thinking things through.
Ash had never really strategized for battles before. He had strokes of genius during his battles, but he never had put much conscious effort into them. Unlike many of his rivals, he often neglected to come up with a proper strategy for a battle. He needed to change that. He’d be shaming the names of eminent trainers like Drake and Brandon if he continued to lose like this.
After putting some more thought into the matter, Ash decided to consult with someone far more experienced. Professor Oak often gave tips that were very helpful in his career. Perhaps he can give more insight on this matter.
The Professor was in his lab, conducting some research about things Ash really had no idea about.
“Professor Oak, can I ask you something?”
“Sure Ash, fire away.” Replied the Professor.
Ash took a deep breath. He hoped the Professor could give him some sound advice. “How can I become a better trainer?” he asked.
Now where did that come from? the Professor wondered. His loss at Gary’s hands must have affected him worse than I thought. Oh well, that could be a good thing. I was meaning to bring this up anyway.
“Well, you can start by taking better care of your Pokémon.” Professor Oak replied. Harsh, yes, but he needs to learn.
“But I do take good care of them. Even you say Pikachu is one of the best Pokémon you have seen!” Ash protested.
“True, that. But you have other Pokémon too you know. What about your Kanto set? Or even the ones from Johto?”
“But you’re taking care of them” said Ash, confused.
“Precisely my point Ash, I am taking care of them. I know you can’t carry more than six Pokémon with you, but every time you start a new journey you take only Pikachu with you. Unlike Gary, who rotates his Pokémon rather than preferring one, you seem to devote yourself to the current set when in a journey rather than occasionally training others. The bond of trust between a trainer and Pokémon is important Ash, and not using your other Pokémon or training them will weaken the bond. You should help them realize their inner potential in return of taking away their freedom”
Those words hit the mark. Ash had never realized how his Pokémon felt about him neglecting them. He was a trainer, an aspiring master, but he failed to understand his dearest friends, the Pokémon that has meant the world to him even before his journey started. In the rush of excitement when embarking on a new journey, eager to make new friends, he left behind his old ones. He hadn’t even battled with many of them for quite a long time.
Well, better late than never! Thought Ash. I’ll make up for what I did and show them they didn’t make a mistake accepting me as their trainer. That is, if they’ll let me…
Ash gave the Professor a thankful smile. “Thank you, Professor. I should’ve realized that and I’m ashamed of the way I neglected them. But I want to make up for it. I’ll take my friends along for my next journey. Who do you suggest I take with me?” Ash asked.
“Good for you! I’m glad you understand.” The professor beamed. “I know you’ll be a great trainer Ash. As for the Pokémon, other than Pikachu, I suggest taking Cyndaquil, Bulbasaur and Corphish. A grass, fire and water type, all of whom can climb to higher levels with your help. You have enough space to accommodate new ones you may catch. Of course, it’s still your choice, Ash.”
“Thanks Professor, they’re perfect. I haven’t battled with them or trained them for a while. And I guess I’ll rotate with the other Pokémon here?” he asked.
“Precisely. So have you decided where you’re going next?”
“Of course!” said Ash. “I’ll go to Sinnoh! Gary said it was a great region with great challenges! But first, I gotta see my Pokémon again.”
“Sure thing, Ash. I’m sure they’ll be glad to know you’re taking them with you.”
Smiling, Ash left the laboratory building, to where the Pokémon are located. On the way, he met a few kids who had come there to play with the Pokémon. Upon seeing Ash, they were excited and wanted to talk with him. Some asked him for an autograph, while some little girls fawned over Pikachu. Apparently, his league accomplishments didn't go unnoticed, neither did his victory at the Battle Frontier. Ash went over the top when his Mom told him he made it to the front page because of that accomplishment. Moments like these were those that Ash cherished. After engaging them for a while, he waved goodbye to the kids and saved Pikachu from being hugged to death.
I know my mistakes. Now, It's time to correct them. he thought. Glancing at his partner Ash asked for his support. "What do you think, Pikachu?"
"Pikapi! Pika pika Pikachu pika!"
“You're right buddy! Time to make up to them!” Ash replied, fist-pumping.
Ash walked over to the ranch. It was beautiful, with the afternoon sunlight shining on the green meadow. There were a few wild Pokémon and Pokémon caught by other trainers who started from this part of Kanto. The Oak laboratory is huge, and made up a significant part of Pallet town. He finally reached his destination, and saw all the Pokémon he caught on his journey, either sleeping peacefully, playing, or, in some cases, training. He had unforgettable adventures and memories with all of them. Even Tauros, one of his underused Pokémon, had performed magnificently against Drake. Speaking of Tauros, Ash wondered how he'd train them. He'll have to train the leader and have him teach the others.
"Hey Guys! Over here! I'm here to tell you guys something !" Ash shouted, waving. Pikachu too, helped his trainer gather their attention. "Pika!"
The Pokémon that were awake recognized the voice, and nudged those asleep to get them to wake up.
Ash spotted a dust cloud, closer and closer it came and stopped in front of him. There they were. His friends, his life. Bulbasaur, Kingler, Muk, his 30 Tauros, Snorlax, Heracross, Bayleef, Cyndaquil, Totodile, Noctowl, Donphan, Swellow, Sceptile, Corphish, Torkoal, Aipom and Glalie.
“Guys”, a few shouts of protest “and gals” Ash sweat dropped.
“I’m planning to leave for a new region called Sinnoh tomorrow. But unlike before, I want you some of guys to come with me. I know I’ve not been the best trainer” This led to massive protest from the group. Ash smiled at their support. “Thanks Guys, but it’s true. It’s my duty to train each of you and help you to be stronger. We’re partners, but I haven’t been doing my part well. Can you guys forgive me?”
The collective response was a big yes for Ash, so he smiled. “I can’t take all of you guys, as I can only carry six Pokémon. I’ve left two slots open and I’ll take Pikachu with me. That leaves three slots.”
The excitement subsided. Everyone was in their best behavior, hoping they would be chosen.
“I’ve decided to take Bulbasaur, Cyndaquil and Corphish for now. But don’t worry guys, I’ll be asking for each of you in due time.”
Bulbasaur was ecastic. Cyndaquil looked happy and Corphish was jumping up and down with joy. The others looked depressed but cheered up at the thought of meeting their trainer soon.
“Well, see you guys real soon! Gotta get ready for tomorrow!” Ash returned his selected three Pokémon and waved goodbye at the rest. He returned home and told his mom the news. She was a little sad that her son was leaving so soon, but understood the responsibilities of a trainer. She cooked him a feast for dinner and Ash went to sleep after that. He dreamt of greatness and achieving his long sought dream, to be the very best.
The next morning, Ash was faced with a rather shocking wakeup call in the form of a yellow rodent.
“Ouch! Pikachu! Those are starting to hurt!”
“Pikapi! Pikachu pikapika!” Pikachu replied sheepishly.
“Oh right! Today’s the day!”
He quickly got up and got ready. He rushed downstairs and devoured his breakfast. He wore the new set of cloths gifted to him by his mother and his backpack. He got outside and was a bit surprised to see Professor Oak and Gary waiting for him.
“Hey Professor, Gary. What’s up?”
“We came to wish you luck Ashy-boy. So Good luck!”
“Hey, thanks Gary, Professor!” Ash smiled.
“Don’t mention it, Ash.” Said the Professor, also smiling.
“I know you need it.” came Gary’s response.
Ash smiled. He should have expected that. “Well, see ya later!”
“Bye honey, and don’t forget to- ”
“Mom! I know! I’m not ten anymore! I’m fifteen!”
“You could’ve fooled me!” returned Gary.
“Shut it, Gary.” Ash grumbled.
With a final wave of goodbye, Ash left to pursue his dreams.
Looking at the young trainer, Professor Oak found that a new determination shone in his eyes and his manner. Professor Oak felt excited too. Here was a trainer who has such raw potential, just waiting to be unleashed. It seems that Ash is ready to tap in to it from now. He’s finally taking his training seriously, and his achievements even when he was slacking were astounding. His prodigious skill would only grow to new levels with his renewed resolve.
Ash headed towards Viridian city. He needed to get a ship from there. But he had something to do before that.
Look out Sinnoh! Here I come!