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Chapter 10: Ash's First TournamentEdit

The first place Ash went after the close encounter at Celadon Gym was the poke-Center. His pokemon needed it. He had to tell his parents what had transpired. And he wanted to find out what levels his pokemon were on.

“Your pokemon are now all rested and restored,” said Nurse Joy happily shortly after he hung up from his phone call. Delia was frightfully concerned for his safety, having gotten over her apparent fright several weeks back.

“Why thank you, Nurse Joy,” replied Ash.

“I see you’ve all of a sudden added two mature pokemon to the team! Your Charmeleon is level 38 already; you should consider metamorphosing it now. Your Cloyster is level 30. And I don’t know what you’ve been through, but your Kirlia has gone up to level 39 in a whopping short period of time!”

Ash smiled back and thanked, her, then decided to take a much-needed break right on the guest sofa. He was amazed at the prospect.

His Charmeleon, mature enough to consider becoming a Charizard. Regardless of how badly it had been mistreated while under Team Rocket’s control, they had evidently taught it a new ability – smokescreen – and a combination move – smokescreen with heat. They had also done him a great favor in teaching his Charmeleon so much.

His Kirlia, gone up four levels in one day, and at such a high level. That was in addition to the five levels gained by metamorphosing. It also seemed to have learned Confusion.

His Cloyster, a gift falling out of nowhere, allaying his fear that he would have to start from scratch in training a water-type pokemon. He knew that it knew Payback; it and the pokemon’s immense defense and endurance compensated for not yet having a water nor ice based ability.

Yet before going to sleep, he set out his psychic feelers to pick up on the thoughts of other people in the poke-Center. I wonder if anyone here has a poke-rod they’re willing to sell? / What is the chance that stock in Silph Corporation will go up soon? / Will this week’s tournament against Sabrina be any different from last year’s?

Wait… This week!? Suddenly Ash felt it impossible to go to sleep. He focused his attention on what the person was thinking to himself about, and quickly learned much about what could be expected. Here’s the run-down: Sabrina, teenage psychic prodigy, Alakazam trainer and Saffron Gym Leader, could be replaced by a champion by the end of this week when the two come head-to-head in a pokemon match. The champion is the one who can defeat all the other 63 trainers who enter the competition.

Well, in that case, thought Ash, why not participate? It would do his ego a lot of good if he won, plus he would obtain the incredibly rare Soul Badge, which may just be enough to scare most people into avoiding his bad side. It would also be an incredible opportunity to train his pokemon some more in mock battles. And if it was indeed a big enough event to attract people from Celadon City, it may be enough to attract people from Cerulean City. By this time, he surprised, the same trainers who were Novices and left Pallet the same time Ash did would have arrived in Cerulean City unless they had become sidetracked before then. Even if they got to Vermillion or Lavender, that was the same distance to Saffron as from either Cerulean or Celadon, so they’d end up going there too. This was the optimal time for a grand reunion of this year’s Pallet Novices!

“All right everybody, let’s go,” said Ash eagerly, jumping off the couch all of a sudden. Charmeleon looked at him curiously, while Cloyster’s body peeped out of its often closed shell. Kirlia, who sensed Ash’s unrestrained excitement, danced and spun around like a top. Leading the way, Ash paced briskly east of town.

Soon they had arrived at the edge of the city; before them lay woods that they would have to pass in order to reach Saffron. “All right,” said Ash, “It’s time to see just how good this vaunted Sabrina is! Either way works for me, if I win I get a badge, if I lose I get a mentor.” The foursome began to trek through the woods, Ash explaining to his Charmeleon and Cloyster just what his tactics were for fighting and telling them all about what it was like to be psychic. During that time Kirlia rested beside Ash’s neck, though now considerably taller heavier at forty pounds, its legs dangling over his shoulder blade.

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Two days later, they were still trekking through the woods, though finally a signpost came into view through the dense mist up ahead. It was night already. During that time Ash hadn’t used his remaining poke-ball, and was of the belief that he wouldn’t have much need for it anyway. Trained and mature pokemon were so much better than lots of pokemon, and his pokemon were all improving quickly. That did come with a price, however; all of his pokemon were tired out from engaging in friendly matches with each other, and he had to tell them to stop because he had run out of potions and burn cures.

“Well, we must be near it, I bet that sign says the way forward leads immediately to Saffron City,” said Ash to his team. Everyone was eager, and soon they had arrived close enough to see those woods. “Forward: South to Vermillion City... Huh? Since when were we going to Vermillion City!?” exclaimed Ash in surprise. It was a rude shock to him. He knew that during the past two days he had been steadily progressing eastward toward Saffron, which lay due east… Now for some reason he was going south?! If it was south to Vermillion City, then they ought to be going back the way they came if they wanted to get to Saffron. But that wasn’t right either, it seemed, for that was the path that would take him back to Celadon!

“Darn it, once I get to Saffron City I’m definitely going to challenge the gym leader to a match. This is outrageous, and I probably won’t even be able to find the city again, if I ever do,” muttered Ash angrily.

The mist continued to encroach as the team began to turn backward. “Hey, you’re going off track again, Charmeleon,” said Ash.

“No, this is the way, you’re going to veer west back to Celadon if you’re not careful,” replied Charmeleon.

“You’re both wrong, we need to take a right here!” exclaimed Cloyster.

“Uhh…” Kirlia instinctively started edging away from the arguments.

“No, I’m right, it’s this way,” said Charmeleon.

“No, you’re going to take us definitely to the wrong place—“

“Shut up everyone, this is not helping!” screamed Ash in anger. He took out all three active pokeballs and began recalling his pokemon. “I’m the trainer around here, I’ll decide where we go, now enough of this!”

Kirlia teleported out of the way just in time to avoid the red light from Ash’s pokeball. ((Ash, calm down, it’s not a good idea to wander about at night all alone without a pokemon guardian beside you,)) it said calmly to him.

((I don’t need that right now, I can handle this by myself, the reason we got lost here is because you told me to go the way we went, and look where we are now!)) He tried to recall Kirlia again, but again it didn’t work.

((No, is there something wrong with your head right now? You were the one who decided to go the way we w—)) the psychic communication was abruptly cut short as Ash caught Kirlia on his third try.

“There! Enough is enough!” Unfortunately, this fiasco had caused Ash to forget which way he was going. Unsure, he stumbled ahead, getting further lost in the swirling mist…

Somehow or other he ended up on a tree branch high above the ground, because suddenly he nearly lost his footing and fell off the tree. Not that that made any sense to him. How the heck did this happen? What is going on!? He wondered in surprise.

The next moment he discovered that a net had been cast about him, and that that was why – or wasn’t it? – he was suddenly way higher than he should have been. Alarmed, he reached for Kirlia’s pokeball – then realized with shock and dismay that somehow his wrists were bound behind his back by handcuffs. He tried to struggle, then realized that it was fruitless. Uh-oh, now what do I do!? Why was I so stupid? I should have listened to Kirlia… Kirlia, now would be a good time for you to be out of your pokeball.. Ugh… but you can’t get free by yourself, and I can’t free you… Geez, what is with this place!?

Suddenly the mists in front of him parted, revealing a girl likewise dangling in midair, caught in a tight net and hands helplessly bound. It was Lily! Oh I get it, this is a dream, thought Ash. Well in that case, might as well go to sleep…

The problem with this dream was that he actually fell asleep in it, then in the morning woke from the sleep within the dream, but was still in the dream itself. Ash yawned, then realized with horror that he was still captive. The mists parted once again to reveal Lily, her eyes focused on him, her lips moving and obviously speaking to him. However, despite their seemingly being right next to each other, Ash couldn’t near her voice at all.

“Oh great, so now all we have to do is just wait for Gary to come along and rescue us again,” muttered Ash ruefully. “Another damsel in distress situation, another botched rescue attempt…”

Man… This is one bad fix I’m in. This place reeks of psychic static… Hmm, maybe I can figure out just what’s going on… Ash closed his eyes, and began meditating, allowing his psychic power to flow out and try to detect the aura that pervaded everything. He realized with a start that this entire place was reeking of psychic mind-power, though there was no source of it from anywhere in the vicinity. Whoever was capable of achieving this obviously knew what he or she was doing and was very talented… The hallucinations, the teleportation, and the telekinesis were of unparalleled capability.

Unparalleled psychic power… Sabrina… Oh, was this something I said? Why would you be minding my business anyway? Hmm… I said I’d challenge you for your position once we got to Saffron, is that it? In that case… “Okay Sabrina, I promise not to challenge you for your badge, at least for the time being. Is that good enough?” he shouted out loud, knowing that very likely only Sabrina could hear him.

Suddenly the mists faded away, and he dropped, free, toward the ground without feeling any acceleration. It was morning, the sun was shining brightly through the trees... and there was no mist at all. So he was correct, this was all a conjuration! Though… Suspended high above him was a net with a girl ensnared inside it…

“Go, Cloyster!” he shouted, tossing the pokeball now that he had use of his hands again.

The pokemon materialized and said, “We told you not to put us all away, but somehow that didn’t get into that dense head of yours. Need some skull-bashing to fix it?”

“Just… break the rope holding up that net,” Ash pointed upward, too distraught by Cloyster's words to muster his own. The Cloyster pointed one of its smaller spikes at the rope, and startled Ash by shooting off that spike like it were a missile. It smashed into the rope straight-on, sending the bundle free-falling.

Uh oh, should have thought about that first, thought Ash, realizing that if Lily were to simply fall to the ground like this she could very well snap her neck. Oh well, time for some telekinesis practice…

Ash focused his mind on the target and channeled his telekinetic power into stalling the fall of the net at the last moment… Suddenly there was a jarring sense in his mind, and a powerful THUD!.

And then he knew no more.

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“Wake up!” said Lily. Her face was hovering right over Ash’s. Ash, in turn, was sprawled on the ground, evidently knocked out hard. He felt very groggy at the moment.

“Grr.. What just happened?” he asked dully.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re all right!” said Lily. “Here, let me help you get up – there! Here’s some food your Kirlia managed to miraculously produce earlier.”

“Thanks Lily… Whoa! Have I really been out for the entire morning and afternoon?” Ash asked in surprise when he saw the sun starting to set in the west. “Hey… how did you get free?”

“Cloyster’s spikes are also sharp as a knife. After a few grindings the net was broken. And I must really commend your Kirlia. It used its psychic power to turn the lock’s internal tumbler mechanism, and that’s what freed me. Of course, thanks to you too, or else I’ll still be stuck up there, lost in a mirage…

“I learned from Kirlia all about your realizing that you were a psychic. Though, you were rather silly trying to slow my fall; you should have had your Kirlia use its telekinetic powers. After all, you’re not the pokemon!” she smiled.

“Well, I’m just glad you’re fine,” said Ash, returning the smile. He was already beginning to feel the desire to keep Lily by his side on his travels… He hadn’t realized until now how sorely he needed a companion to keep company…

“Me too. Though I kind of wished Gary had been the one to rescue me, not you…” Ash sweatdropped. “He’s only gotten more impressive since Viridian Forest. Well, Ash, so long now. I’ll be headed to Saffron City for the tournament. I’m sure Gary will be there to beat everyone else who’s competing. Go Ponyta!” A fire-branded horse pokemon appeared. And with that, Lily rode off, giving Ash the impression that she wasn’t a bit grateful for having been rescued. He continued to stare at her until she was out of sight.

I wonder why that is… he thought to himself. There’s seriously something wrong with this damsel in distress approach to making romance…

“All right everyone, we’ve tallied around for too long now. It’s been four days already, and that means the tournament starts tomorrow! If we don’t go soon we won’t get a chance to participate!” And with that, the team rushed off in the direction Lily had taken. Immediately they came across a heart-warming sign: “Forward: North to Saffron City”.

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It was a day later. Ash had already registered in the tournament (and only barely making it), something that cost a paltry 500.00 Y, but which was still a day's work for many people. He had discussed tactics with all three of his pokemon, and had done some psychic prepping with them. The books he had read back in Viridian were starting to be useful at last, as he managed to somehow get each of his two non-psychic pokemon to get used to hearing from him telepathically. He had rented a room at the inn for a three-day stay, after which the tournament would be over.

“All right, Charmeleon, Kirlia, and Cloyster, this is it! Our first tournament! Remember what you’ve learned, both on your own, with me, and with each other! Don’t forget the tactics we discussed! Now let’s go!” cheered Ash, and the pokemon cheered in reply. Ash returned all but Kirlia to his pokeballs and set off with the girl-like pokemon on his shoulder for the Poke-Center and the Gym he knew would be adjacent to it.

As Ash handed over his pokeballs to Nurse Joy, a familiar face startled him. “Hey Gary, what a pleasant surprise!” exclaimed Ash. “I hear you’re going to participate in the tournament?”

“Yeah, but how did you know? Hmm… I bet it’s those cheerleader girls I bring with me all the time, did one of them tell you?”

“Absolutely not, I’ll give you a clue: the person is the opposite of one of those cheerleader girls.”

“Hmm… Not hard, that must be Lily. So, are you joining as well?”

“Yep, and since I value quality over quantity, and each of my three pokemon are over lvl. 30, you’re going to lose!” Ash bloated.

“Hey, not so fast there buddy. You might think what you think, but don’t forget that Eevee battle we had back at Pallet. If your pokemon are all level 30 to 40, well, I have plenty of level 10 to 20’s who are going to beat them hands-down!” challenged Gary with a warm smile.

“Humph! That may be, but you won’t be fighting on home territory this time.” The two looked at each other intently, seeing if either side was going to chicken out. Neither did. “Well then, we’ll just have to find out for ourselves. See you on the arena!”

“Your pokemon are fighting fit!” said Nurse Joy as she handed the pokemon back.

“Thanks!” replied Ash as he released his pokemon from their pokeballs.

Gary looked at the Charmeleon for a second, then turned to Ash with a big grin. “Seems like you’ve found your friend already, Ash! In which case – time for a party?”

Ash smiled happily. “You bet!”

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“But my Butterfree is going to put your Charmeleon to sleep in a hurry,” retorted Lily.

“Yeah… if it lasts that long, which it won’t,” replied Ash. They were already seated near the front of the Saffron City Gym, ready to take to the field when their turn came. And, of course, now that Lily was going to be a competitor as well, they took pride in their pokemon’s abilities as they argued the merits of who was more likely to win.

“Well, you’re up first, so we’ll just see how long you last,” said Lily in mock nastiness.

The morning was very bright, with clear skies. For this particular occasion, the Saffron City regular gym had sunk underground, and a plain field – what had been the roof – was all that was visible. The announcer spoke up loud and clear: “And now, let’s give it up for our first two contestants, the red trainer, Dawn of Twinleaf Town, and the green trainer, Ash of Pallet Town!” The audience roared in applause and anticipation.

“See you later,” retorted Ash as he stood up to enter the field, pokeballs in hand and Kirlia on his shoulder.

The announcer continued saying what Ash already knew: “Each trainer will be able to use up to two pokemon in this first round. This will be a one-on-one match.”

Ash turned excitedly to his Kirlia. “All right, Kirlia, get out there and show ‘em what you got!” Kirlia obediently teleported into the arena.

Dawn took a short look, and sent out her first pokemon. It immediately assumed a fighting posture, and had two large red balls for fists. In between but on the sidelines, the referee held out two flags, one red, one green.

“The red trainer has chosen to use the psychic pokemon Kirlia, and the green trainer has chosen to use the fighting pokemon Hitmonchan! As many of you know, this puts the green trainer at a severe type disadvantage. May it make up for that weakness in either superior maturity or superior tactics!”

“All right Hitmonchan, mega punch!” In a flash the pokemon was upon Ash’s Kirlia.

If it weren’t for Ash’s ability to communicate telepathically, his command would not have gotten through in time. ((Resist it with your telekinesis!)) Kirlia’s two flat red horns flared up, indicating that it was powering up its psychic capabilities. With something like telekinesis, there was no way a fighting pokemon stood much of a chance. A split second later, however, the mega punch landed, sending the lithe pokemon flying past Ash. And since Ash was standing behind the rear line of the arena, that was too far back. It slammed into the raised platform Ash was standing on, and collapsed, knocked out.

The referee raised the green flag. “Ash’s Kirlia is unable to continue the match! With one pokemon down, what will Ash’s second and final pokemon be?”

Ash immediately sent in a psychic signal to see if Kirlia’s condition was critical. As it was not, Ash recalled it back into its pokeball. “All right, Charmeleon, go!” The pokeball took on a backspin before hitting the ground and releasing the fiery reptile. “Use your—“

Dawn’s next move caught Ash totally by surprise.

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