Symbiosis

In a different life Ash Ketchum looks upon his world from an unique perspective.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7917071/1/Symbiosis

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3. 3

He could feel it.

It felt like that final moment just before a being realizes that they are tired. That one moment where one feels normal but one also feels like something is falling, either themselves or something heavy above them. A minor lessening of rain during the storm, almost indistinguishable from all the occurrences other that came before. A final flex before a surface breaks.

The old weedle could feel it in the tree branch he was standing upon. He could taste it in the air, he had felt it in the grass and the earth beneath him. Even the wind that rustled the treetops and created light shows with the limbs of the trees, their leaves, and the brilliant orange beams of the setting sun, carried the feeling.

Poison Lance could feel summer start to end and the world start to die, as the planet tilted towards winter.

It had been three years since that fiery night. Three difficult years, though three years the old bug did not regret in the slightest.

Considering the size of the local wild pokémon community, the popularity of the Ketchums, and the fact that almost no sapient being liked to see a child suffer, Poison Lance never failed to find a volunteer. Of course he made sure never to ask too much or too often of any pokémon in order to keep them volunteering.

Pokémon of every kind had babysat the little human occasionally.

Rattatas, he had asked to be thieves; to steal bits of human foods when it was safe to, to steal children's vitamins when they were sure that they had the right containers, to steal first aid kits when they were sure that the kits were surplus, and to steal clothes that Ash would need for special occasions.

Pikachus, Poison Lance had asked to assist Ash in mastering walking. He had been nearly there when he joined them, but Poison Lance decided to err on the side of caution; he did not remember the full list of skills humans learned from observing their parents and other humans, so he would take no chances there.

Pidgeys were the lookouts, information gathers, and gossipers. It was through them Poison Lance had learned that the killers of the Ketchums had not launched an investigation. Only the local police had done so, and it had been limited to the house.

The weedle could only hope that the murderous scum had decided that Ash was dead, but it would cost the villains little to keep an ear out. They might have known that Ash had survived that night and had decided to investigate more covertly. Or maybe they were based around Pallet Town and were waiting for him to reappear. Poison Lance sometimes wondered if they were like Team Rocket and had operatives in every human city.

Had it been Team Rocket? The old bug pokémon pondered that for a second. Team Rocket generally used other types of pokémon, mostly those local to the Kanto region, not the abundance of houndooms that he had killed that night. But they might have decided to branch out. Maybe those fire/dark pokémon had belonged to a third party working with them or for them. There were too many unknowns to be sure.

If only we had done more Luke, sighed the weedle to himself. Lucas had been one of the many trainers to oppose Team Rocket back in the day, when they were far more powerful back then, compared to now. Together he and his pokémon had helped to beat the Rockets back in the post war chaos.

But as soon as they were not desperately needed any longer, Lucas had left the fight. He had confided in his pokémon that he had no stomach for killing pokémon whose only fault had been belonging to evil masters.

Poison Lance disagreed there. He and the rest of the team had no problem in killing most the Rocket pokémon that wouldn't surrender. At that point the pokémon who helped in the foul deeds of the Rockets was irredeemable and would have to be put down, twisted to start with, or they tripped over themselves in their haste to surrender and escape their evil masters.

There was another category of course, the category of pokémon who refused to do evil for their Rocket masters. They had been killed or subject to horrific experiments. Poison Lance could not even begin to honor their nobility and sacrifice, nor could he begin to properly grieve for them, for if he started to grieve for them, he would never be able to stop.

Shaking himself out of his memories, Posion Lance reminded himself that he didn't know if Team Rocket was behind the destruction of the Ketchums. It could be a new group, or an old group that he had never heard of.

It was for that reason he could not just give the boy to some far off orphanage. Until he had some knowledge of how far the influence of the villains spread Poison Lance had no idea which areas would be safe. They might be a local group and thus sending Ash on the back of a Pidgeot to Unova would be enough to save him. Or it might be a group based in Unova who had only come to Kanto because of the Ketchums.

Raising him here, like this was the best way to ensure that Ash stayed out of their evil hands.

It had not been the best life for the child. Ash lacked most of the creature comforts that other humans took for granted, such as access to a fire. If only there was a fire type around, Poison Lance could have spared the boy much discomfort each winter. But instead he had to force the boy into bulky silk clothes (a task made more difficult by the weedle's lack of hands) that made the boy look like a cocoon with five protrusions.

It was fortunate that the area around Pallet Town and Viridian City had such mild winters. Ash's diet mostly consisted of berries, bits of stolen rice, and various stolen jerkies. Poison Lance tried to substitute quantity over quality to the best of his ability in regards to Ash's diet, since he lacked quantity slightly less than quality. That was why he had the rattatas steal the children's vitamins, to try and make up for any nutritional deficiencies in the boy's diet.

But what worried him most was the boy's ability to interact with other humans. With no human speech to listen to the boy would have lost the ability to talk if Poison Lance had not taken risky measures. Several times a week, for the first two years, he had teams of pokémon sneak the boy into human public places, simply to listen to people speak. At least once a week he had the pokémon allow the boy to speak with a human in an isolated environment for a short time and then snatch the boy back as soon as the other human looked away.

The pokémon made sure to do it in a different place each time and to never be seen. Nobody would remember a random boy who had briefly been in the park on the day it had been mostly deserted. And even if someone did it was unlikely they would know it was Ash. And in the worst case scenario, were someone connected to the murders had recognized him, they would not know where to find the boy.

These actions may have seemed counterproductive towards the bug pokémon's goal of keeping the child safe and hidden. If he was going to expose the boy like this why not simply give him to an orphanage? It was for the simple fact that Poison Lance still had control in the current situation. The risks were known, the known factors were accounted for, and safeguards, precautions, and plans had been made to deal with the unknown factors.

There had always been two raticates with the group at first, one to grab Ash and run at the first sign of danger and the other to take any potential human threats by surprise (aka hold a Hyper Fang to their throat) while the others escaped, after which it was to use Quick Attack to escape. As Ash grew older one of the raticates was switched out for a pidgeotto to bear the boy to safety.

In the event Ash was discovered to still be alive no human would likely think to look for him among wild pokémon. Why would wild pokémon let him be among other humans? What would any wild pokémon know of human development or behavior? No one would expect pokémon to be capable of knowing such things. Especially humans like Team Rocket who tended to look down on pokémon.

Very few human ever thought about the effect that trained pokémon living in the wild would have on the situation.

Besides in the event that Ash was discovered, Poison Lance could relocate the boy.

It had paid off in the end. Those sessions had saved Ash's language skills and, although he was far behind other children his age, he had not lost the ability to talk like Poison Lance had feared he would. But the boy lacked most of the basic social skills and social knowledge humans had.

So after that first year and a half Poison Lance had cut back on the visitations and disallowed any more conversations with adult humans. Instead he made sure that once a month Ash was covertly placed somewhere he could interact with humans his age. It was nowhere near enough for a human child, but at least he did not lack social interaction with his peers entirely.

Movement in the undergrowth down the game trail informed Poison Lance that Ash and a collection of pokémon were returning from one such trip. The old weedle crawled down the tree he had been awaiting their arrival on.

There was one blessing Ash's unusual upbringing had bestowed upon him though, one that Poison Lance was grateful beyond measure, the weedle reflected as the party emerged from some bushes, Ash in the lead.

And how was it this time Ash? Poison Lance asked Ash.

"It was okay" replied Ash.

Ash understood pokémon.

"And then Harry said that the Blues were the best soccer team and then Sally said that the Reds were and then she threw sand to his face and then I ask what soccer is..."

Ash excitedly recited the events of his day as the he and Poison Lance headed for their tent. Over the years Poison Lance's paranoia had driven him to start sleeping in different spots in the area so that if anyone got a lead on Ash's location they would have another small measure of security. The clearing still housed the sanctuary and the meeting hall and Poison Lance and Ash still spent most of their time there. But when night came they went off to different locations.

Ash was wearing some child sized jeans that were slightly too big, a light green shirt, and a pair of red sneakers, all stolen from various stores by rattatas using Quick Attack. They were all in good quality to avoid giving Ash the appearance of being neglected and Poison Lance made sure that the boy washed in a creek before every time he visited other humans. The weedle did not want anyone to have any reason to investigate Ash further than a first look.

As they reached the tent Ash finished up talking about the day's events started to take off his 'nice' clothes. Inside the tent were the garments that Poison Lance had made using String Shot. They were all plain white and somewhat dirtied and torn (it was almost time to make some new ones). Those garments were what Ash wore most of the time.

"Oh. Didya friend throw speak at you yet?" asked Ash.

Could you repeat that? Responded the weedle.

"Sowry" Did your friend send any word yet? Repeated Ash. He had picked up on the unusual way pokémon communicated with each other, that mysterious process that perhaps only the Creator and First Egg understood. Pocket Watch had entertained some theories on its precise nature, but Poison Lance had never cared.

Speaking of Pocket Watch, the old bug had need of that pokémon's service rather desperately. It was almost time for the weedle's most heinous action taken on behalf of Ash to date. An action undertaken by all human parents that inflicted unimaginable misery on their children. A necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless.

Summer was dying and next would come Ash's sixth or seventh autumn upon this world. It was just about time to get him an education.

The hypno walked down the human path in the Viridian Forest, a golden watch on a golden chain dangling from his right hand. He knew that walking the human path was somewhat risky, some trainer might try and capture him, but he was confident in both his ability to run away and his own power. No Bug Catcher would be able to get him (despite the type advantage). Besides it was faster than most of the game trails and he had gotten in the habit from his own days with a trainer.

Pidgeys twittered in the trees and a golden sun shone down out of a clear blue sky. Gentle breezes caressed the trees and petted the grass. The wind was cool and comforting, a nice contrast to the sun beating down on the psychic's yellow skin. Days like the current one were why the hypno kept traveling long after his journey with his trainer had ended. New sights and old sights, new lands beneath his feet and ground his feet had tread many times before, new pokémon, new people, new friends and old friends, his life on the road gave him all these things. And speaking of old friends, he had gotten word from some flying type pokémon that a former comrade of his needed him.

And so he had headed from Johto to Kanto. It had been four years since he last saw the bug. It was long past time for him to visit and catch up with him anyway. But what did Poison Lance need with him? Pocket Watch would have had expected any message from the old bug to be less vague than what he had received.

There was a bend in the trail and when he followed it, the hypno was met with an interesting sight. In the middle of the Viridian Forest, the wild, untamed, Viridian Forest there was a dark haired giggling kid chasing after a couple of rattatas. A giggling kid dressed entirely in crude white silk. Silk that looked like it had come from a String Shot.

The rattatas, looking back at the kid (and laughing?) ran into his shins. The little kid barely managed to avoid the hypno but ended up tripping over one of the rat pokémon and ended up tumbling into the side of the trail. Both of the rattatas looked up fearfully. It was easy to see that they were both young and extremely terrified at the fact that they had run into an evolved psychic type. Not that Pocket Watch minded; they were young and it had been a youthful accident. No need to mind crush the two. But the human picking himself on the side of the trail intrigued him.

Shaking a few leaves out of his hair the young boy looked up at the hypno. When he saw the yellow pokémon his face split into a wide grin.

I'm sorry Mr. Hypno, he said, bowing to the stunned psychic, we were playing tag and I guess we weren't looking where we were going.

Pocket Watch blinked. Had the human just spoken to him in the manner of pokémon?

No apologies required Mr... the hypno trailed off.

You're a wild pokémon right? Ketchum sir is my name. Come on! He said to the two rattatas. I'm still it and you two need to look where you're going! Sorry again Mr. Hypno. The boy said as he the group started their game again.

Pocket Watch blinked. There was little else one could do at such a strange happening.

Mulling over the strange event as he continued he looked for local pokémon to direct him to Poison Lance. A task hindered by the fact most of the pokémon were terrified of him.

Instead of staying for some polite conversation they took one look at him and ran off. As if that would save them if he had wished them ill. It could be annoying, being such a such a talented, powerful, handsome, knowledgeable, wonderful, charming-

Blast it, that rattata was going to stand still and answer his questions. Using his psychic powers he grabbed the pokémon as it tried to run away. Pocket Watch levitated the pokémon until the rat was level with his eyes.

Look I just need you to answer a couple questions, he tersely told the terrified pokémon in his mental grasp. Now are you going to cooperate or do I have to mind crush you?

Before the terrified pokémon could respond, the world went dark for Pocket Watch. He felt something hit his face and stick. Then there was an impact and he was sent flying into a tree. Following up that attack he felt something else hit him, covering his whole body. It felt like the substance stuck on his face, which he could now identify as String Shot silk.

Cursing type effectiveness he tried to use his powers to break free of the silk. It was futile, psychic powers had great difficulty when dealing with bug type attacks.

Oh, it's you, spoke a familiar voice, one Pocket Watch guessed, that belonged to his attacker. I see you are the same as ever.

Of course. Who else would inflict this indignity upon him, but one who had known him for a long time.

Poison Lance I assume, replied Pocket Watch. Would you kindly explain why you tied me to this damn tree?

I had gotten word that an evolved psychic type had been harassing wild pokémon in the area, so I immediately set out to rectify the situation, the weedle explained in a bemused tone. And here I come across you accosting a rattata. How else should I have reacted?

I hadn't bothered a single pokémon until that rat. I was going to ask them where to find you but they all ran at the sight of me, snarled Pocket Watch.

Understandable but still reprehensible. But I do suppose this is no way to greet an old comrade. Hold still while I cut you down. In what sounded like a single motion, all the String Shot silk was cut off.

The hypno collapsed to the ground as he was unbound. He stood up and glared down at the old weedle standing before him.

Ordinarily, I would say that it has been far too long, spoke Pocket Watch, but I would be lying.

My apologies, replied the weedle, but I have already explained my reasoning. Would you care for some food?

So a strange thing happened to me today, began Pocket Watch. He was sitting cross legged on the ground under Poison Lance's private tent in the middle of the public clearing. A pile of berries sat before him and he and the weedle snacked on them as they talked.

Oh. What was this strange event? inquired the bug pokémon.

I was walking down a Virdian Forest path-

A human one?

Yes, answered Pocket Watch.

That is a bad habit that I hoped you would have broken by now, the weedle sighed.

And I would've hoped that you would've given up on the nagging by now, the hypno responded.

It comes with being a leader of a community.

You nagged before then, Hypno shot back. You started nagging me when I was a freshly captured drowzee. But that's beside the point. What happened was two rattatas ran into me.

Not an unusual event, replied the weedle.

No but what was strange was what came after that. There was a human child chasing them.

And did this child run into you as well? Poison Lance asked innocently.

No he jumped to the side. The surprising thing was-

Poison Lance! I'm home! Shouted a human voice from outside the tent.

- was that he could talk like a Pokémon, finished the hypno sighing. I should've known you didn't need me for anything normal.

Ash walked into the tent, smudges of dirt painted on him and his clothes by the day's activities.

Welcome home Ash, Poison Lance calmly replied. From what I have heard, I think that you have met my friend here. Pocket Watch this is Ash Ketchum. Ash Ketchum, Pocket Watch.

You're that hypno from the forest! exclaimed Ash.

I would like you to use human speech when communicating with him please, Poison Lance requested. He can use his powers to tell what you mean and you need the practice.

"Okay Poison Lance. I pleased to met you Pants sack Clock" Ash said holding out a hand. Pocket Watch took it.

I think you meant to say 'I am pleased to meet you Pocket Watch' the hypno told the boy.

"I said that"

No you said 'I pleased to met you Pants sack Clock' the hypno replied, using telepathy to send the memory to the boy.

Ash turned red. "I'm sowry"

It's 'sorry' not 'sowry' said Pocket Watch

Ash turned redder.

Ash could you go take some food for dinner and then go talk to Pidgey over in the north end of the clearing? the weedle requested of the boy. I hear he has some interesting news

Ash nodded, grabbed a silk sack full of berries (that he himself had foraged the day before as the pokémon had taught him to) and ran out of the tent.

He seems like a nice kid Pocket Watch offered.

Ash is a great child replied Poison Lance.

So what's his story then?

Damn bastards! Pocket Watch shouted. Cowardly fuckin scum!

I would like you to refrain from shouting and such profanities at this time, scolded Poison Lance, calmly eating another berry.

Attacking in the night, killing a family and chasing a child? I think this calls for swearing and shouting, seethed the hypno.

It was an event that happened three years ago, the weedle gently reminded him.

Don't pretend you don't feel the same way about this, Pocket Watch accused.

Unlike you, I was there that day, remember. I expressed my feelings in a different manner.

So that's why the kid has trouble talking like a human, Pocket Watch said nodding.

If I had not undertaken those actions he would not be able to communicate like a human at all, replied the weedle, and if you remember I thought about other alternatives. But this does bring me to the reason I requested your presence.

I can't use my powers to simply plant knowledge in someone's head. It doesn't work like that. Merely attempting to do that can cause permanent mental harm!

I had not even considered asking you to attempt that my old friend, Poison Lance reassured. Instead I had hoped for your assistance in a different manner. I seem to recall certain missions during the conflict with Team Rocket required your talents.

You want me to sneak him somewhere? Pocket Watch asked, confused. I thought that you didn't want to give him to an orphanage.

You are correct. Instead I intend to have him go to school, Poison Lance informed his old comrade.

What stupidly complex plan have you come up with this time? Is it anything like the Ninja Mansion incident?

I assure you, I have grown out of such ludicrous schemes, the weedle huffed. I merely intend for him to receive an education like other human children. He will need such things when he rejoins human society. I at least need him to learn how to read and write. With those skills he can partially educate himself.

What do you want me to do about it, inquired Pocket Watch.

I need you to sneak him in each day with that Psychic Stealth Cloak move of yours, mildly confuse the teacher each day so they will forget that Ash has not been officially assigned to the class, and sneak him out.

Aren't you worried that he'll be discovered? Pocket Watch didn't mention that the plan was complex. Not as ludicrous as the Ninja Mansion incident, but not by enough for the psychic's comfort.

That is a risk, but it is a risk we have had to deal with this whole time.

Ideally, how many years do you want him to get?

Four, the weedle answered.

Four? Why only four? The hypno gave the bug type a confused look.

Because most pokémon trainers start their journeys when they reach eleven years of age.

And how do you know he'll become a pokémon trainer?

I know the boy, Poison Lance told his comrade. The forest knows the boy. All the pokémon around Pallet Town know the boy. He does not know it yet, but as soon as he hears about the concept, as soon as he has it explained to him, he will decide to become one. And no one and nothing will be able to stop him.

Pocket Watch leaned back on an elbow and thought about what his friend was asking him.

One year, maybe a year and a half, Pocket Watch said after deliberating. Until he learns to read and write. It'll be too risky for everyone involved after that. After I'll help you steal some books for him and then you'll be on your own again.

That will be enough my friend. Thank you.

The hypno smirked.

I wonder what Luke would've thought of this, he asked his smaller comrade.

I think that he would have been outraged in regards to the particular situation. But as to the general situation, pokémon raising a human in such a manner-

And forcing said human to go to school, ironically enough, the hypno's smirk grew bigger.

Oh yes, the irony is overwhelming, the weedle was starting to shake. A human child living in the wild, raised by wild beings, being forced to attend school. Oh yes, Luke would have 'laughed his ass off' as he would have put it.

Oh yes. But you know, you'll also have it better than many human parents.

How so?

The boy will leave home before puberty,

Puberty! Damn, I completely forgot about that. Sweet, merciful, Lords of Time, Space, and Distortions thank you, thank you, thank you for sparing me that horror.

Both he and Pocket Watch starting laughing.

 
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