Chapter Three: Preparation
We rejoin our hero in Equestria doing what most heroes do with their free time after being sealed away for many years: watching television. In one of the many guest rooms of the castle, Ash had his body draped across the center of the couch. He let out a loud laugh, dropping some popcorn into his mouth as he watched the pictures on the screen. He’d been lucky enough to come across a comedy channel and was heavily enjoying himself. It had been a long time since he’d been able to enjoy a good comedy show.
Later today would be his challenge to the Elite Four and he’d spent the entire previous day figuring out strategies and planning his team appropriately. It had taken a lot of thought, but Ash was pretty sure he had the right team to take on anything the Elite Four would send his way. So for now, he would just relax and wait for the clock to strike twelve. His eyes drifted up to the clock, seeing he still had four hours to go.
‘Hope we get lunch beforehand’, he thought idly to himself, returning to his program. After a few minutes, there was a knocking at the door. Ash looked at it for a moment before turning the volume down slightly on the box. “Who is it?” he called.
“Oh, Mr. Ketchum? It’s Twilight. I was wondering if my friends and I could speak with you?”
Ash smiled at the prospect. “Sure! Door’s open; come on in!”
The door opened, Twilight standing there with a smile, the silhouettes of five other ponies behind her. He thought he could make out another, smaller shape with them, but his vision was suddenly blocked by a wall of pink. Ash smirked when he realized what it meant.
“Hiya!” a pink pony with even pinker poofy hair said, smiling widely at him upside down. Well, it wasn’t her that was upside down, it was Ash’s preferred watching position that made it seem like she was.
“‘Sup?” Ash replied cheerily.
“Not you!” the mare snorted, trying to hold back her chuckles.
“Uh, Mr. Ketchum?” Twilight asked.
Ash turned to look at her. “I told you, Twilight, call me ‘Ash’. I don’t like formalities from friends.” Twilight smiled a bit at being called a friend. “Now come on in, everypony. Lemme see ya.”
All in all, six ponies had piled into his room along with a little dragon, all looking at him. Twilight stepped forward a bit and gestured to the others. “Ash, these are my friends-”
“No no, lemme see if I can remember,” Ash said, readjusting himself to be sitting up. He leaned forward, tapping a finger on his chin as he looked over the assembled girls and boy. He pointed first at the pink pony. “This is an easy one. The ever laughing party pony of Ponyville, Pinkie Pie.”
“That’s me!” Pinkie giggled with a smile.
Ash couldn’t help, but smile back before pointing at the orange earth pony wearing the cowboy hat. “Ever honest Applejack.”
“A pleasure, darlin’,” she replied in her southern tone with a tip of her hat.
He tipped the brim of his own in return. Ash’s next target was an elegant looking white unicorn mare with a styled purple mane and tail. “A pleasure to meet the elegant and generous Rarity,” he said with a gentleman’s bow.
Rarity covered a giggle with her hoof. “Oh my, you are a delightful gentlecolt.”
“I try,” Ash said with a smug shrug. He heard the flapping of wings and looked up to see a cyan pegasus with wind swept prismatic hair. “Ah, the fastest and most loyal flyer in all of Equestria, the great Rainbow Dash.”
“That’s me,” she replied in a gruff voice. “So… are you really Red? Because you don’t look like much of a champion.”
“Rainbow!” Twilight said in a harsh tone.
Ash waved for Twilight to calm down with a laugh. “Nah, it’s okay, Twi. I know I don’t look the part, but that’s because I choose comfort over something fancy. When battling, you gotta be able to stay in the zone and fancy clothes just mess me up. I’ll do it for ceremonies, but I’ll stick with my own duds on my own time.”
Rainbow nodded. “I can respect that. It’s not right if you’re just all cramped and uncomfortable.”
Ash was grateful she understood and started looking around. He saw his next new friend and smiled. “Oops, can’t forget about the little dragon, Spike.”
“You know who I am?” the drake asked, a little surprised.
“Yeah I do, show me some scale,” he smiled, holding his hand, palm up, out to him.
Spike wasn’t sure what he meant, but seeing an appendage similar to his claw he got an idea of what it was supposed to be. He lifted up his own claw and slammed his palm to Ash’s. The resounding smack, made the girls wince, but Ash just smiled.
“That’s my boy!” he cheered, chuckling as he grabbed Spike around the neck and gave the little dragon a noogie.
“H-hey! Watch the scales!” Spike said as he laughed along.
Ash laughed a little more before letting Spike go, the drake grumbling with a smile as he tried to fix his undamaged scales. “Now… I know I’m forgetting someone… but who?” He rubbed his chin, trying to remember as he scanned the group. He caught sight of a long pink tail behind the doorway, but as soon as it was in view, it disappeared with a ‘meep’. “Oh yeah!” Ash said with a snap of his fingers. “The kindly soul of dear Miss Fluttershy. Good, that was gonna bug me all day if I didn’t remember.”
“Fluttershy,” Rainbow called. “What are you doing out there? All the fun is in here!”
“O-oh,” a butter-yellow pegasus said, sticking her muzzle into view. “I-I, um..”
Ash waved it off again. “It’s alright, Rainbow. If she’s more comfortable out there, than that’s perfectly fine.”
Rainbow and Pinkie both stared at him. “Really‽” they said in shock.
“Well yeah,” he shrugged. “I’m not gonna make her do something she’s uncomfortable with. That would be most unbecoming.” His last sentence was voiced with such a posh tone all them chuckled a bit at his antics.
“Pika!” Blue called as he walked out of the little kitchen the guest room provided. He was carrying a large bowl of popcorn above his head, trying not spill his delicious prize. It proved to be a fruitless endeavour as he was tackled by Fluttershy, effectively spilling his popcorn all over the floor.
“Oh, he’s so cuuute~,” Fluttershy cooed, glomping Blue. The pikachu was not taking kindly to the affection, but once the pegasus mare started petting his head, he melted to her touch, purring softly.
“You weren’t kidding, darling,” Rarity said in awe of the blue Pokémon.
“Ah’ll be licked by lickilickies,” Appelack said after rubbing her eyes. “An actual blue pikachu. Never thought such an impossible thing could be true.”
Twilight nodded with a giddy smile. “Believe it girls! The legendary Blue was for real!” Said pikachu smiled smugly as he could while being adored by his fans.
Ash chuckled, covering his face with his hand. “Please stop stroking his ego. It’ll only make him worse.”
Blue glared at his trainer. “Pikachu.”
Fluttershy blushed. “O-oh my.”
“Is something wrong, dear?” Rarity asked, confused by Fluttershy’s sudden action.
“Oh, oh no! Blue just surprised me is all.”
Ash paled just a bit. “Uh, Fluttershy? Are you able to understand Pokémon?”
She nodded. “Oh yes, it helps me very much when I watch over the little dears at my cottage. I’m… somewhat of a Pokémon caretaker. My cottage is an unofficial daycare. I’ve been trying to earn certification for awhile now.”
“Oh, that’s kinda cool actually,” Ash said with a smile, getting the shy pegasus to turn bashful again. Then Ash remembered why he had asked that. “Oh boy.”
“Pika pikachu pipi pikachu,” Blue told Fluttershy, causing the poor mare to turn redder and redder with each word.
“Oh my goodness,” she whisper-shouted, dropping Blue to the floor so he could pick up his popcorn.
“Everythin’ alright, ‘Shy?” Applejack asked worriedly.
“Oh, uh, mhmm,” she nodded, muzzle still burning red. Ash could see her wings looked they were about to flare out. “Blue has a very, um…”
“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘colorful’,” Ash suggested.
“Oh, thank you. Y-yes, Blue’s vocabulary is very, um, colorful.”
The mares all blanched, save for Twilight and Spike, both for different reasons. Twilight was due to her prior encounter with the pikachu, while Spike’s was due to naivete. Applejack’s own muzzle burned a bit with Twilight’s while Rarity gasped. Pinkie and Rainbow both started laughing uncontrollably.
Rarity turned to Ash with an appalled expression. “Blue is… vulgar‽”
“Very much so,” Ash nodded. “We’ve tried to get him out of it, but he’s a stubborn little mouse. Ya can’t change him, no way, no how.”
The mare gave Ash a strange look for a moment. “Excuse me for staring darling, but are you faking an accent?”
“Eh?” Ash said ‘intelligently’.
“Your voice seems to change every now and then. Often it seems like your typical central Equestrian tone, but others… it seems almost… Manehattanite.”
“Ooooooh!” Ash said in understanding, nodding. “I see what you’re getting at. Well, ya see, ya can only hide your roots so much.” He rubbed the back of his head while chuckling. “Back where I come from, I grew up in a place called Manhattan. Similar place you’re thinking of, but… ya know, with humans. In other words, I’m a Noo Yawkah.”
“Pssh, that sounds so forced,” Rainbow said, wiping away a tear from her laughing bout. “Why don’t you show us something really impressive to convince your story is true, huh? I bet you can’t even do it!”
“Aw you challengin’ me, liddle lady?” Ash asked, putting his accent on full force. He stood up and pointed a single finger at her. “‘Cause I ain’ gonna stan’ here and take some smack from a flyin’ pride flag. No one, an’ I mean no one, challenges me and ges away with it, capiche?”
Rainbow’s eyes narrowed as her smirk grew. “I. Challenge. You.”
“Fine den,” Ash replied. “I’ll give you da most stereotypical Noo Yawkish ting ya gonna evah hea in yo life.”
“Then bring it on, faker,” Rainbow egged on.
Ash took a deep breath. And then, “EY! I’M WAWKIN’ EERE!” The sudden noise sent Rainbow flying backwards a bit, crashing her back against the far wall. The others were all trying to make sure their ear drums hadn’t burst.
“Okay, I’ll admit,” Rainbow groaned, slowly sliding down the wall. “That was pretty good.”
Ash chuckled with a bright smile. “Don’t worry, Rainbow,” he said, toning down his accent. “Just gotta respect the homeland. Bet you know the feeling.”
She smirked, getting back up in the air. “Heck yeah, I do. Loyalty to your home is something I can respect, dude. Though, it’s still hard to believe you’re supposed to be the great Pokémon champion, Red. No offense, but you really aren’t what comes to mind.”
He sighed, hanging his head. “Yeah, I get that a lot actually. But, I don’t need to look the part, I just need to prove the part.” Ash smirked, flicking his thumb past his nose. “And you’ll be seeing how great I am later today.”
Thankfully, Ash’s little ego building was interrupted when something hard hit his head. “Ow!” he cried, holding the top his head in both hands. “What hit me‽” He looked up and saw a very strange sight, and that’s saying something. It was a small, light green, quadruped Pokémon resembling a tortoise. Its eyes, feet, and lower jaw were yellow, while its body was covered by a brown shell with a magical propeller strapped on. It looked right at him with a smile.
“Turtwig!” it said.
“Tank! What have I told you about landing on other ponies? It’s not very nice and you could get yourself hurt!” Rainbow scolded.
“Turtwig,” Tank replied, flying up and nuzzling his owner.
‘A turtwig?’ Ash thought to himself, easing the new bump on his head. ‘That’s a little surprising. Would have thought it to be a squirtle or something.’
“Sorry about Tank, Ash,” Rainbow apologized. “Sometimes he just drops out of nowhere.”
“No problem,” he waved off. “It’s nice to meet your little Pokémon. But if he’s here, does this mean all of you brought a-” Before he could finish, something suddenly clamped on to his hand. Ash looked down to see resembled a bipedal, blue crocodile with red spines on its back and tail, though the spine on its back was larger with additional ridges. It had a large head with ridges above its eyes with much of the head's size being composed of its snout and jaws. On its chest was a yellow, somewhat V-shaped pattern that extended to its arms with a line bisecting the pattern. It also had five sharp claws and three toes. Its eyes were red and surrounded by a dark blue or black pattern. He blinked a few times looking at the totodile on his finger. “Why is there a toothless totodile on my finger?”
Pinkie giggled before grabbing the Pokémon. “That’s just how Gummy says ‘hello’! It also means he likes you!”
“Oh… well, that’s nice.” ‘Yeah, a totodile definitely suits her,’ he thought ruefully. ‘The perfect playful Pokémon.’
“Sorry about all this, Ash,” Twilight said with a slight blush. “We really wanted to bring our Pokémon companions to meet you. You’re known throughout history as a Pokémon expert and we just couldn’t resist.”
Ash’s cheeks turned just slightest bit pink. “Aw, you guys just keep buildin’ me up here. But sure, I wouldn’t mind getting to meet your Poképets.”
“Then if you wouldn’t mind, darling, I would like you to meet my personal Pokémon,” Rarity said, taking out a pokéball. She threw up the half red, half-white ball in the air where it opened, releasing a sparkling blue-white light that shot to the ground and formed its inhabitant. When the light sparkled away, a gray feline Pokémon with a slender physique was sitting there. It had a crescent shaped head with two white-tipped ears along with a white muzzle, a small black nose, pink eyelids, yellow eyes with blue irises, and two rows of thin whiskers. Its neck had a ruff-like fringe, and its legs had similar fringes. Its feet were tipped with white, and had pink paw pads on the underside. It had a coiled, spring-shaped tail and a white fluff at the tip of it.
“Meeow,” the glameow said in a snooty sort of tone.
“This is my sweet Opalescence,” Rarity praised.
“More like evil,” Ash overheard Rainbow whisper to Applejack who chuckled. He chuckled under his breath a little.
“Very nice, Rarity,” he complimented. “I can tell she’s well taken care of. And recently groomed as well.”
She stuck her nose high in the air with a grin. “Of course! My little Opal gets only the best of treatments.”
“Meow,” said glameow added boredly.
Ash smirked at the Pokémon’s response before something kicked him in the shin. “Ack! What’s with things hitting me today?” He looked down to see a small, bipedal, rabbit-like Pokémon with brown ears that were curled up. It had two types of fur covering its body: a light tan fleece that covered much of its lower body, feet and the tips of its ears, and a smooth chocolate colored pelt on the upper half of its body. It had a small, triangular pink nose, pink paw pads on the undersides of its feet and small tan spots above its eyes. To top things off, it had a small brown puff of a tail.
“Oh, Angel, there’s no reason to hurt a friend like that!” Fluttershy cried.
“Angel?” Ash whispered, looking at the buneary. Outwardly, he simply looked confused, while inside, he was laughing up a storm. ‘It has to be poetic justice that Angel is a rabbit that is commonly considered to be effeminate! It’s just too good to pass up!’ “Cute little, fella,” he finally replied. The Pokémon gave him a glare before pointing a paw at its own eyes then at Ash’s. ‘Sure ya will, dude. Sure ya will.’
“Ah s’pose might as well let the ol’ girl out to run too,” Applejack said, sending out a pokéball of her own. Out of the ball came a quadruped, canine Pokémon. It had orange fur with black stripes along its back and legs. The fur on its muzzle, chest, belly, and tail was cream-colored, as well as an additional tuft of fur on top of its head. Its coat was noticeably longer on its chest and tail, though. It had gray eyes, a black nose, and large, round ears too. Its forepaws had two visible claws, while its hind paws have three toes each, and each paw had a brown pad. The growlithe let out a happy bark, wagging her tail as she saw everyone.
“A growlithe, very nice,” Ash complimented. “Loyal, brave, strong, just the perfect well-rounded Pokémon for farm life. Save for the fire attacks that could burn everything down.”
Applejack chuckled. “Well, we had a few issues while she was a pup, but Winona’s gotten better over the years. Haven’t you girl? Who’s a good girl? Who’s a good girl?” The growlithe barked happily at her trainer, wagging her tail even faster.
“That just leaves me, I guess,” Twilight said, taking out two pokéballs and releasing her Pokémon. The first was an owl with brown plumage and a darker brown triangle pattern of feathers running down its chest. Its wings and wedge-shaped tail were dark brown, while the underside of its wings a light brown. It had bushy, cream-colored feather 'horns' that look similar to a trident or eyebrows. The ring pattern around its red eyes and its talons were cream colored, and the beak and talons were light pink. The other Pokémon was a different story. It was a quadruped Pokémon similar to a dinosaur with blue-green skin that had darker patches. It had a short, rounded snout with a wide mouth where two pointed teeth protruded from its upper jaw, and it had narrow reddish-purple eyes. On top of its head were pointed ears that were black inside. Each of its feet had three claws on them as well. The bulb on its back was a large pink bud with a short brown trunk surrounded by leafy green fronds supporting it.
“Okay, the noctowl makes sense, considering your nature for knowledge and wisdom, Twilight,” Ash began, pointing at the owl. “However, I’m a little lost with the ivysaur.”
“Oh, Ivy was a gift from a good friend. I just couldn’t turn him down, so he’s been another assistant around the library. He and Spike help me out during the day, while Owlowiscious,” she indicated the noctowl, “keeps things tidy at night, as well as whenever I’m running an all night study session.”
Ash chuckled as she blushed of her own admittance. He looked over to Spike who was awing over the many Pokémon. “What about you, Spike? Don’t you have a special Poképet?”
“Huh?” Spike said, only realizing then he had been staring. “Oh,” he looked a little depressed. “Uh, no, I don’t. I’m not old enough for my own Pokémon just yet.” Then a fire lit in his eyes. “But I will be soon! On my tenth birthday I’m gonna get my own Pokemon and show everypony that I can be the best trainer around!”
“Woo!” Ash cheered, clapping for the little guy. “That’s what I like to hear! Say, tell you what Spike, after I beat the Elite Four and get my title back, how about I come back to Ponyville with you guys. I’ll show you everything I’ve learned in being a trainer.”
Spike’s eyes practically gleamed with excitement. “Y-you mean you’ll become by teacher in Pokémon training‽ You’ll take me under your wing‽ You really mean it‽”
“Sure thing, little dude, cross my heart,” Ash said, using two fingers to draw an ‘x’ across his chest.
“Now hold on there, boys,” Applejack said. “Aren’t cha gettin’ ahead of yerself there, Ash? Ya don’t even know if yer gonna beat the Elite Four. What if ya don’t win?”
He smirked. “Then I’ll still take Spike on as a pupil. But I don’t have any fears. Even if it’s not today, I’ll get my title back. Just you watch!”
“Speaking of which,” Twilight said, looking at a pocket watch she had on her. “We’ll want to grab some lunch now if we’re gonna make it to the arena on time.”
“Then lez go!” Ash cried, getting to his feet while Blue clambered up on to his shoulder. “Allons-y, little ponies!”
“Yeah!” Pinkie cheered, following Ash with the others, before leaning over to Rarity. “What’s ‘allons-y’ mean?”
After a group lunch where the eight of them shared a few more laughs and few jabs at one another, they departed for the castle arena. Ash had remembered all those years ago when Canterlot Castle was being planned on how much thought was gonna be put into the arena. It would be a grand place where only the greatest of battles would take place. He couldn’t wait to see how it had turned out. It only got him more excited for everything that would happen during his matches.
He bid goodbye to the girls and Spike as they headed for the stands. Twilight had told him that while the match was gonna be broadcast all over Equestria and beyond, it would only have them and a couple other higher nobles in the stands. They would be the only support Ash had on this, but that was all he felt he was gonna need.
Ash walked up to the entrance to the arena where a white coated mare with deep brown hair up in a bun was waiting at a strange machine. She bowed to Ash before smiling at him. “Hello, I am Raven and I’ll be registering your Pokémon for this challenge. You’ll be allowed a total of six, no substitutions. I will also be your referee for the challenge.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Raven. And I already have my six Pokémon planned.”
She nodded in understanding before gesturing to the machine next to her. It was right at her head in height and had a few slots for pokéballs built into it while the screen and typepad was hidden from Ash’s sight. “Please place your chosen Pokémon into the slots and we’ll get them registered for your challenge.”
Ash complied putting putting three normal pokéballs, one that was blue with two red stripes on it, another that was black with a yellow letter ‘u’ detailed into it, and the final was completely red that was curved inward at the side middle. The machine whirred for a moment as Raven went over the details on the screen. It dinged after a moment and Raven nodded to Ash.
“You’re all set and good luck, Mr. Ketchum. There’s a lot of ponies waiting to see if the legends are true.”
“Heh, no pressure right?” he chuckled, getting a small laugh out of the mare too. He grabbed the pokéballs and clipped them to his belt. “Let’s do this!”
Raven led him past the machine and through a sliding metal door. After walking through, Ash was in complete awe. The Pokémon arena had turned out better than he had hoped. It was absolutely massive, reaching high up above his head and the other end of the stadium had to be at least a football field away. Along the sides were twin sets of stands, which on the left he spotted his seven new friends sitting just high enough to be able to see everything, yet still be able to be heard by those on the field. The field itself was a sandy dirt that reached across to the other end. Princesses Celestia and Luna were sitting on twin thrones high above the stands, looking down on everything.
Ash took his position in chalked out box as Raven headed for the referee stand. She set up a microphone in her ear and spoke clearly. “Welcome everypony!” the moderate crowd cheered, while Ash was sure everyone at their homes were already sitting on the edge of their seats. “To what is sure to be a historic day in Equestrian history!”
‘She certainly knows how to milk the situation,” Ash thought ruefully before Raven continued.
“Today, a brave and mighty challenger has stepped forward to face the Elite Four and take on the Princesses for the title of Equestria’s Pokémon Champion! Please welcome back after eleven hundred years of rest, Ash Ketchum, also famously known as the legendary trainer, RED!” The crowd roared at that, allowing in audience cheers from around the nation through the speakers. Ash smiled and waved as he saw the pegasus ponies flying around with cameras, as well as a few flying types about for more footage.
“To start this amazing set today, we welcome to arena the stallion of steel, the platinum pony punisher, Equestria’s number one eligible bachelor himself, Prrrrrince! ….BLUUUUUEBLOOOOOD!”
On the opposite side of the arena, a pure white stallion walked into view as the crowd, shaking his expensively styled blonde mane. He threw a rose into the crowd, several young mares jumping at it and fighting over who would get to keep the flower. He looked at Ash with a bright smile. “Greetings, Ash Ketchum. I am eager to see how I can stand up to the great legend himself. Do give me a proper battle, alright?”
Ash smirked. “Oh, you want a battle, eh?” Blue climbed down his shoulder, looking smug as he sat at Ash’s side. Ash pulled out a pokéball and held it at the ready. “I’ll give you a battle!”
With the first round of the Elite Four confrontation underway, how will Ash hold up against Prince Blueblood? And what surprises do the other mysterious members of the Elite Four have in store for our hero? Stay tuned to find out.