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Chapter 23: Back in the High Life AgainEdit

By the time Ash had returned to the brokerage, the ticker was showing shares of SYLF trading at 2290.30 a share.

((Probably because those other people you saw in the penthouse were actually top investment bankers and financial analysts,)) mused Kirlia. ((They could easily represent 80 or more of the investment community with any interest in Sylph Co.’s stocks.))

((We’ll sell our stocks for a handy profit now,)) noted Ash. ((Do you think it’ll go higher?))

((I think there’s a time to call enough’s enough,)) replied Kirlia. ((If you have any intention of leaving Saffron City any time soon, it’s best to sell your position, or else you won’t be able to use your psychic abilities to your advantage when it comes to predicting the direction of the stocks. You saw earlier today how the stock market adjusts within seconds to new sources of information. From here on the share price won’t rise because of any news you obtained back at the penthouse.))

((Good point.)) “Hey, I would like to sell 160 shares of SYLF, sir.”

The broker turned around and didn’t show an inkling of having seen Ash before. He had probably seen too many people in the interim time. “All right, give me your account ID and PIN, and let me open your account for you… All right, 160 shares at 2290.30 a share!... Done! The money has been transferred to your credit card, and the surplus, your debit card.”

“Thanks.” As Ash put his debit and credit cards back in his wallet, he did a quick calculation. Capital gains tax is 15... I now have a net asset of 310,550, he mused happily. That’s more than what my mom could earn in a year. No wonder they call finance the biggest money tree in the world… Gosh am I happy that I’m a psychic… Now we can buy those TM’s I always wanted to get for my pokemon!

Ash hadn’t been effectively this rich since he first set out from Pallet Town. All along the way he had been rather desolate, stuck with wandering the wilderness and making do all on his own. His spending had gone down to nearly nothing. He could go for months at a time without making a trip to a restaurant ever since his Kirlia, then Cloyster became adept at hunting game. And now, he was rich again. He was back in the high life again – except this time without family to share it with.

((We’re your family now,)) Kirlia replied, to which Ash merely nodded.

As he walked down the street, he released his pokemon, who fell in line behind him as he marched. “We’ve struck the pot big time,” said Ash, and they cheered for him. Ash beamed enthusiastically. “Well, my sister Kay wants me to fulfill a mission for her, so how about we get started on that?”

“That’ll be good,” replied Charmeleon. “As long as we cut down on the math it’ll all be worth it—“

“Hey, that math is for your own good,” replied Cloyster.

“Well, I’m more senior than you in this group,” retorted Charmeleon.

“Only by a few minutes,” Cloyster retorted, then added, “and I’m your type-superior.”

“Ha, you don’t even have a single water-type attack—“

“I learned Surf by myself!”

“It isn’t going to do you any good on land—“

“Well I have Aurora Beam, and as an ice attack it’s close—“

“Babies, stop arguing,” Ash intervened. “That does remind me… We’re going to have to get you some water-type TM’s.” Immediately both debaters struck up poses of superiority, Charmeleon for proving its point and Cloyster for having been promised something to make him better.

“Quit it, I said. And look at this,” said Ash, handing them a copy of the Saffron Sunrise (the Sunset’s rival newspaper). The front-line news item was:

Free Trainer Tournament Aboard Maiden Voyage

May 24th – Reported by Christina Taylor

Just days ago, construction of the SS. Anne was finished. Owned by Bolt Brothers Inc., headquartered in Vermillion City, the ship will transit between Vermillion and Cerulean City, taking a roundabout trip around Fuchsia Peninsula.

The cruise liner has a passenger capacity of 1,250. The roof is a large grass field for pokemon trainers to engage in matches on. Should the field be ruined in the course of competition, there are plenty of replacement grass hexagons in storage. The ship also sports a large swimming pool.

The SS. Anne is slated to set sail on her maiden voyage on the 14th of next month.

She should reach her destination by the 21st, after stopping by Fuchsia on the 16th, and Lavender on the 19th. The return trip is the 24th to 2nd.

Bolt Brothers Inc. has declared that, for this one occasion, it is offering tickets for free to any pokemon trainer who has obtained at least two badges. There are only a limited number of seats available, so those planning to participate should also plan to arrive early. In addition, trainers without at least two badges may also board, but with a reduced fare rather than free fare.

This is made possible by partnership with the Silph Corporation. Silph Co. is matching every quantity of potion that Bolt Brothers is spending for the matches. In addition, it is supplying the prizes.

In addition, those trainers with two badges can bring along their pokemon for a tournament.

There are a total of 1,024 slots available for this tournament. The first three rounds – the preliminaries – will be scored by a trio of judges on a rating of one to ten. The top 256 will be able to participate in the remainder of the tournament, elimination style.

Those who proceed into the semifinals will each obtain a ‘trophy prize’ courtesy of Silph Co. This trophy prize will be the same no matter how far contestants make it after that point.

Silph Co. has not said what the trophy prize actually is.

Currently the most likely idea is that the prizes are master balls, which are still in alpha stage development. Either this is not the case, or else the master ball has moved on to beta testing.

When confronted with this, Silph Co.’s public relations team failed to give reply.

Trainers who are interested should sign up at the Vermillion Port before the 12th if they want to be sure that they can make a reservation.

--

“A Society Ship! That’s got to be good,” said Cloyster.

“I’ve never been on one before, what’s it like?” asked Charmeleon.

“Those are effectively cruise ships where nothing happens except parties.”

“Partying all day!?”

“Hey, remember the work ethic here,” inserted Ash.

“Right... Besides, we won’t be able to attend, because we need two badges,” added Cloyster.

“Well why not? I want to go! And Ash has got one badge already, all he needs is one more. He can’t get one from Saffron, but from Vermillion he can!”

“You think taking on a Gym leader is some easy task like chopping firewood?”

“I think, I already have two badges,” Ash surprised them. “Remember the badge I got from Silph Co.? It’s a Friend Emeritus badge. Guess from whom the Bolt Brothers are getting sponsorship? That’s right, Silph Co.”

“Uhh… You think those actually matter? I think the CEO isn’t all that serious about it,” said Cloyster.

“The CEO surely was grateful and sincere, and don’t you forget that I’m an emotion pokemon,” said Kirlia.

“We can give it a try… But it’ll be a lot of effort. It had better be interesting.”

“Well in this case something interesting is obviously going to happen,” added Kirlia. “I’m interested; is anyone else?”

“Me!” said Cloyster and Charmeleon simultaneously.

“Jynx! You owe me a soda!—“ said Kirlia.

“Babies!”

“I didn’t even have to use my psychic abilities to predict that they’d want to come!”

“That settles it,” agreed Ash. “We’re going to Celadon City to get you all some nice TM’s, and then we’ll head on over southeast to Vermillion.” Ash smiled when he saw the sparkles in their eyes.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Celadon City hadn’t changed much in the past eight months. It was still the same size, the population didn’t grow more than any other city did, the buildings hadn’t changed much, and the department store to which he headed looked just the same as it did when Ash first set foot inside it the first time he came to the city. There were just as many customers on the bottom floor buying pokeballs and potions, there were just as many floors as before, they were in the same order, and each floor held the same TM’s. Or Ash thought so, at any rate.

“That reminds me, I still haven’t gotten around to using my poke-rod,” Ash noted.

“Well, if you did get one you’ll suddenly have to start from scratch teaching the pokemon you catch all the moves you’ve taught us,” said the Cloyster. “Besides, I’m a water-type; what do you need a fishing rod for?”

“Good point,” replied Ash. “Here Cloyster, let’s go to your floor first…” Cloyster used one of its spikes to press the button for floor number 91. There were a few people about; evidently the demand for Cloyster Transformational Machines was significantly greater than one for Charmeleon. “Actually, they’re all different!” exclaimed Ash. “On the other hand, I’m not particularly surprised… Many TM’s from last year didn’t seem like they had the potential to be popular… Let’s see… TM01, which was Mega Punch, has become Focus Punch… TM03, Water Pulse. Come on!” They rushed off for the spot where it was.

“Here’s the description,” said Cloyster as it began to read. “It says, ‘Enhances your Cloyster to make it fully capable of using Water Pulse, a move it will otherwise not learn naturally.’ Obviously! ‘Water Pulse is’ – blah blah-blah blah, thanks but no thanks, I know what Water Pulse is, let’s get it!”

“Wow, you’re deciding?!”

“Yep!” replied Cloyster.

“All right! Just step inside that machine, and we can get started!” said Ash, swiping his debit card.

“Feeling like you’re in the mood for shopping, eh?” asked Kirlia.

“Yep! Like, last time I was here I had only two grand. I’m over a hundred and fifty times richer now. So yeah, I think it’s time to celebrate.”

“All right, let’s celebrate!” cheered Kirlia, jumping off Ash’s shoulder and beginning to pirouette across the floor.

“Always leave it up to the girls to get carried away by dancing. You know what, Kirlia, I think you’ll turn into a Gardevoir.” Evidently Kirlia wasn’t paying any attention, because it just kept on spinning and dancing ever so gracefully. Ash sat on the ground and watched it dance.

“What do you think?” said Cloyster, swaggering out of the Transformational Machine a few minutes later. It now sported what looked like a grey cannon – or a very wide pipe – instead of a spike near its front.

“Well let’s give it a try,” prodded Ash. The Cloyster turned to an empty wall on the far end, closed its bivalve shell, and fired. A pulsing orb of pristinely clear water shot out of the cannon-spike and struck on its mark, splashing violently upon impact. The water soon flooded over to them. Ash reached down and touched it. “Whoa, this is cold,” he said suddenly, as Kirlia jumped back onto his shoulder. The Cloyster then proceeded to drink the water right back up, and the Charmeleon, trying to show that it was just as good as the Cloyster, bathed in the cold water.

“I wonder where the water came from?” Ash wondered, scratching the back of his head.

“That’s a company secret,” said a woman from far off. “Oh, and you got me wet.”

“Sorry…”

“Hey look!” exclaimed Cloyster. Ash turned to see him looking at TM13. “This one’s for Ice Beam! ‘Enhances your Cloyster to make it fully capable of using Ice Beam, a move it will otherwise not learn naturally. Ice Beam is an ice-type ability whereby the pokemon sends out a beam of hyper-cold ice particles that quickly freeze surrounding water into ice… 4999.99 for one use.’ We just have to get this one!” Of its own accord it had gone inside.

“The Cloyster is always right,” said Kirlia. “Next thing you know it’ll try it out and freeze us all solid. Oh yeah, and Charmeleon can come to the rescue, or something.”

“Well, it hasn’t gotten a chance to do that yet,” said Ash. The TM worked with remarkable quietness.

A few minutes later the door opened, and Cloyster came out, this time with a peculiar appendage on a spike that protruded directly forward, as opposed to one of the larger ones off to its side. “You’re done! Let’s try—“

He didn’t get to finish the sentence before looking on with surprise as the Cloyster froze Charmeleon in a block of ice. It melted off fairly quickly, however, especially when Charmeleon returned to its senses and sent out a flamethrower. The icy chill mixed with the water already all over the place to make Ash’s legs quake and shiver.

“Bad Cloyster!” said Ash. “You could have put Charmeleon into hypothermia! You should be ashamed of yourself!” The Cloyster grinned slyly, then teetered down to another TM. Suddenly it went inside.

Ash followed. “What? Hmm… ‘TM17, ‘Enhances your Cloyster to make it fully capable of using Protect, a move it will otherwise not learn naturally. Protect is a normal-type ability whereby the Pokemon, for a while, fortifies its external skin or shell to make it nearly impervious to even powerful physical attacks… 4999.99 for one use.’ Okay, but um… Cloyster, this is your third one already… You trying to turn me into a pauper?”

“You’re the one who said you were in a spending mood,” protested Kirlia.

“Gee, I didn’t know you were on its side…” Shortly thereafter, Cloyster came out looking just as before. “All right, try it out!” Cloyster suddenly seemed to shrink a little bit as the shells rearranged and came together, forming a tougher barrier. “This one is the least dramatic of the three,” noted Ash.

“It’ll save you a lot of potions in the long run,” commented Cloyster as it reopened its shell.

“Cloyster… You’re going to have to think about getting skills that will come in handy against opponents that have the advantage against you. For example, those good against plant or electric types.”

“Right… Let’s see…” The team progressed down the aisle. “How about TM20, Safeguard? ‘Enhances your Cloyster to make it fully capable of using Safeguard, a move it otherwise will not learn naturally. Safeguard is a normal-type ability whereby the pokemon creates a protective field that prevents certain elemental and special attacks from hitting… 4999.99 for one use.’ I’m for it!” Ash was obliged to swipe his debit card.

“You know what, I think that Cloyster’s getting carried away,” remarked Charmeleon.

Ash laughed. “When he’s done, it’ll be your turn to get carried away, pal.”

“All right Cloyster, let’s see what you got!”

“Err… we don’t have an electric type attack, so that’ll have to wait until later,” reminded Kirlia.

“Oh yeah… Cloyster, I think that’ll be all for now,” said Ash.

“What? But I was going to get Toxic, and Hidden Power, and you’re so rich…”

Ash felt his insides melt. “Well, that’s true, I am kind of rich,” he muttered. At least he didn’t want to appear poor to his pokemon team (even though they knew better anyway). Besides, if he wasn’t going to spend his money, why get it to begin with?

“All right, we’ll get you those two as well, but that’s it,” said Ash. And that’s exactly what they did. After the Toxic TM, Cloyster came out with purple-tipped spikes laden with a certain reproducing poison that gradually became worse. And after the second… well, it was hidden, wasn’t it? Though of course Ash knew that this one’s description ran “…pokemon attacks a target with magic that can only take effect out of sight, devastating bulky, shielded enemies…” which meant that it was useful against such pokemon as Onix and Steelix, which would present an enormous difficulty to the team otherwise.

“Aww, I kind of wish we could get all the TM’s offered, that would be cool!” mused Cloyster out loud in an attempt to get Ash to feel sorry.

“Yeah, we know, we know, but I’m no billionaire yet,” Ash pointed out. “So now, let’s get something for Kirlia.”

“Umm, if you hadn’t noticed, they did the disservice of not having a floor for me.”

“Oh… I almost forgot, Kirlia, you’re not native to Kanto, that’s why. I’m sure there’s a TM set for you in a town near where you came from.”

“So then it’s me!” said Charmeleon, pumping its chest and letting out a puff of smoke.

Ash chuckled. “All right then, it’ll be you up next.” After returning to the elevator, they went down to the fourth floor.

Charmeleon ran over to TM50. “It says, ‘Enhances your Charmeleon to make it fully capable of using Overheat, a move it otherwise will not learn naturally. Overheat is a fire-type ability whereby the pokemon overheats fire, fighting, and normal type enemies, forcing them to take prolonged breaks… 4999.99 for one use.’ Not a bad idea, I’d think…”

“Yeah, just imagine,” said Ash as Charmeleon went into the machine.

“What next, Charmeleon?”

All said Charmeleon obtained four TM’s and Cloyster six.

“Wow, you two have depleted my wallet,” Ash said as they were descending to the first floor. Cloyster had just done the math and calculated that this little expedition had cost him a dear 52999.89 Kanto dollars after-tax. That left him with 257,550.03. “This has got to be the first day in the history of this company that a pokemon loaded up on six TM’s in one go, Cloyster!”

“Yeah well it’ll be worth it, you’ll see! But not for Charmeleon!” challenged Cloyster. Charmeleon roared back, a most terrifying one except for its rather small size, and Cloyster simply closed up its shell and used Protect.

“Hmm… You know, Charmeleon, you’ll get a lot more powerful just by metamorphosing!” goaded Ash.

“All in due time,” replied Charmeleon, quite touchy about this subject since its body had kept deciding that it was too early to metamorphose into a Charizard.

Along the way Ash kept thinking about strategies to use with the new abilities that his pokemon had just obtained. It would add considerable variety to the now mundane training routine they underwent on a daily basis… ((TM11, Sunny Day… “…Creates convection currents to turn the nearby weather into a sunny day”… TM21, Frustration… “…Frustrates the enemy so much that the enemy becomes blind in its outrage”… TM42, Façade… “…Creates a facade of itself that decoys attacks”… I’ll just have to sit down and think this through first…))

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