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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5. 5

Deep in the forests around Pallet Town a boy reading a book sat against a tree, under an opening in the forest canopy which let a beam of golden down to illuminate the area and the text.

Whatcha reading? A pidgey asked him from the branches above.

A book on storms. It's pretty interesting stuff replied Ash Ketchum Do you know how lightning really works? It turns out that-

It's okay, the bird pokémon quickly interrupted. I happen to treasure my ignorance about lightning and electricity.

Flying types, sighed Ash dismissively.

What's wrong with us flying types, said the Pidgey, glaring down at the human.

Nothing, returned Ash Ketchum, rolling his eyes beneath the brim of his hat.

It had been three years since Ash had gone to school. He had grown a few feet, but was still slightly short and scrawny for a boy his age, whatever that age was. Nobody was sure when his birthday fell; those who would have known for sure were either dead or couldn't be contacted.

Poison Lance had been worried that Ash was malnourished during those years, but Ash had requested a book on the subject from Pocket Watch who had brought it on his annual visit. The information within indicated that he was fine.

Pocket Watch had decided that it had been wrong to lose touch with an old friend for so long and had taken to visiting each of his old comrades once a year. And ever since Ash had taught him how to read and write, the hypno always had his nose in a (stolen) book of some sort. When he came to Pallet Town he always gave a pile of volumes to Ash, to supplement the material he was getting from pokémon scrounging dumpsters. And because of Pocket Watch's ability to read, he was the only pokémon to whom he could submit requests.

Anyway, why you readin a book on storms and stuff? inquired the Pidgey. What good's that gonna do you?

Well it's cool to know, and you never know when any information can come in handy, answered Ash. I mean that's what we humans are good at, knowing things.

Yeah, but I still don't see how knowing how lightning strikes will help. Everyone already knows enough about lighting. You get low and stay away from the tall trees. Anything else is disturbing and unnecessary.

Your electric weakness really bothers you doesn't it, Ash replied.

Shut it human. Aren't you supposed to be in Pallet Town anyway? Pidgey asked, preening under a wing.

Nah. Oak's giving the new trainers their pokemon tomorrow. Poison Lance didn't want to set out just yet, Ash told the flying type.

Why's Poison Lance going? Couldn't you two just meet up by Viridian city after you get your pokemon?

There's been a flock of Spearows causing trouble down by Pallet Town and there might be a relatively powerful Fearow involved. Poison Lance is going to see me off then go deal with them. I think he just wants me to get there safely, Ash said with a shrug.

Actually, continued Ash looking up through the hole in the canopy to gauge the position of the sun in the sky, I think it's about the time that Poison Lance wanted us to leave at. I should go find him now. See ya later Pidgey.

Probably not anytime soon Mr. Pokémon Trainer. Just make sure that you don't forget about us Pallet pokémon when you become a big shot Pokémon Master. Pidgey hopped off of the branch and onto Ash's shoulder to briefly nuzzle the human boy. I think I can say for everyone, it was a pleasure to have you.

And I know I can speak on behalf of myself when I say it was a pleasure to be here, replied Ash. He awkwardly tried to hug the bird pokemon on his shoulder and failed. Try not to get eaten while I'm gone.

Hey, I'm not Pichu. I'm far more observant, Pidgey laughed and then took off into the blue sky.

My boy, I question the wisdom of allowing you to undertake a long and perilous journey if your sense of direction is so poor, grumbled Poison Lance from atop Ash's read and white hat, which sat on top of Ash's head.

Well it wasn't my fault that tree had fallen down. Totally screwed up the landmarks, replied Ash, putting his hands, clad in black and green tip-less gloves, into the pockets of his blue jacket. The undergrowth rustled against his blue jean, and his red and white shoes left their mark in the dirt.

You best have mastered the ability to read a map if that is all that it takes to ruin your ability to use landmarks, Poison Lance remarked. Now remember, Professor Oak will give you your pokédex and some pokéballs along with your first pokémon, so you don't have to worry about getting those. Stick to your story of your parents moving to the Vermilion City outskirts, don't offer up any information if you can help it, and if Professor Oak gets too nosy just say that your parent's would not like you to talk about it.

Right replied Ash, nodding.

Now remember everything I told you about being with other humans.

If I see something strange I should just smile and nod. Ash rolled his eyes as he spoke. Human mating is different than pokemon mating, much stranger, and I should not bring it up at all. Never tell anyone but pokemon my real name, and never let anyone know that I can understand pokemon. Do I have to say all the rest?

No, I believe that will suffice. Are you excited?

Of course! I'm off to see the world, meet new beings, and help pokemon become stronger. I'm gonna be the best Pokemon Master ever! Ash shoutedThe boy didn't mention how much going to a place where friends didn't eat friends, something that happened even in the relatively peaceful area under Poison Lance's watch, was contributing to his excitement. Most of his memories of time in the forest were good, but there were some things he would like to leave behind.

Very good. I hope that you will remember to stop back here on occasion. Poison Lance said to his ward.

Whenever I'm in the area. I wouldn't forget to visit, Ash reassured his guardian.

Very well. Now- I thought we already had passed that tree.

It took the duo longer than expected to reach the outskirts of Pallet Town, and as a consequence Ash did not get to sleep as early as he needed to. As a result, he awoke to the sun shining brightly, high in the sky.

"Shit!" he swore as he realized that he was going to be late. He looked around for his backpack (filled with goods stolen by pokemon) and his hat, rushing to make up for time lost sleeping. The commotion woke Poison Lance, who had been sleeping nearby. The weedle looked up.

You need to hurry, I doubt Oak will be too pleased with you arriving late, the old poison type commented.

I know, I know. I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying.

Ash found his backpack, slung it on, spotted his hat, flipped it onto his head, and then turned to Poison Lance. Poison Lance looked at the boy for a silent moment.

This is goodbye my boy, the old bug said softly, I have looked after you for seven years and gave all of the little that I could give you. I hope that you fare well on your journey and are successful in becoming the great pokémon trainer that you are meant to be. May you meet many new friends, both human and pokémon, and sample the wonders of the world. Remember to stay true to yourself and hold your head with pride.

You are Ash Ketchum, sometimes known as Aaron Autumns, and you will be a great man. You will- the Weedle choked up here - You will- you will be missed here in the forest.

Ash dropped down to his knees to embrace the distraught Weedle.

I'll miss you too, you old bug. And you gave me lots of things, more than enough.

Poison Lance nuzzled the boy. Never doubt that you will always be in both my thoughts and the thoughts of the Pallet pokemon. We send our hopes and goodwill with you.

They stayed that way for a moment, Ash hugging the Weedle and Poison Lance nuzzling the boy.

It is time for you to go now. You are late enough as it is, said Poison Lance, withdrawing from the embrace. Ash nodded and started to dash off, towards Oak. The boy stopped for a moment and turned around.

Goodbye Poison Lance! I'll send news back with Pocket Watch if I see him! he called back to the pokémonwho had raised him.

Goodbye Ash Ketchum, returned Poison Lance solemnly. The boy turned back around and started to run once more towards his future. Poison Lance watched him go, the old pokémon'sheart heavy with sorry, made bittersweet by fierce pride. Something glittered in his black eye.

As he ran Ash had to keep wiping his eyes. In time his gloves grew damp and the occasionally drop of salty water rolled onto his lips.

It was a beautiful late morning in Pallet town. Bright blue skies covered the little town and everything seemed to be awash in the bright yellow light of the sun, making all the various colors of the town, the ones it was named for, stand out all the more intensely. From the red roofs of the various small collections of houses, to the fields of short green grass, and the waving fields of yellow green grass, the brown dirt paths, and the white buildings that were Oak labs, everything seemed to stand out on that brilliant day.

It was a fine day to start his journey. Ash had been dreaming about this day ever since he had left school. To travel the world with a team of your friends, seeing all the wonderful places that Poison Lance and Pocket Watch had told stories about.

Discovering new places, new peoples, and new pokémon to include in the stories he would tell others. Training with his pokémon friends and helping them to achieve greater and greater strength. And then with that strength, together they would do many great deeds. Standing together, victorious in multitudes of battles with worthy opponents, triumphantly looking back at the path they had walked together. Aiding others whenever danger threatened, like in the stories of Poison Lance and Luke.

And his team wouldn't try to eat each other. Always a plus when friends didn't try and consume friends.

Ash knew that this journey was also an opportunity to learn more about his own species, a chance to covertly acquire the knowledge that fate had denied him. He was sick of not getting to experience those little joys and comforts that everyone else took for granted, like being able to sleep in a bed, or eat hot food regularly. If the wild pokémon had not gotten a book on survival in their random scavenges he would have not learned how to set up and light fires and how to cook his food. He wanted to learn how to ride a bike, and what it was like to ride in a car, or see a movie, or go to a club of some sort, any sort.

Ash wanted to be a pokémon trainer, to see all those things, learn all those things, do all those deeds, and help all those people, so badly that over the course of the last month he had honestly thought that he would burst from anticipation. Now he burned with anticipation instead, as he raced towards Oak labs. Ash's heart blazed as he ran, ignoring exhaustion in his excitement and desire.

When Ash arrived at Oak labs, panting and out of breath, he discovered that there was a large crowd already there. He could hear some sort of chant, a lot of cheering, and what seemed to be someone's name. Curious, Ash weaved and shoved his way through the crowd (belatedly remembering Poison Lance's instructions on etiquette) until he reached the front. What he saw there made him wonder just how ignorant of his own species he was.

Gary stood before the crowd, a pokéball held high, with a bunch of cheerleaders chanted his praises.

The black eyed boy seemed very similar to his past self, the one Ash had known in first grade. The only (physical) difference was height. Of course from what Ash was hearing, he had undergone some dramatic mental changes. Poison Lance had warned them that people and pokémon changed over time, and that it was easiest to see this after being apart for a long period. He also warned the human, that sometimes he would have to reforge old friendships, and to temper the pain in his heart at the decay of the relationship with hope for the renewal.

Since Gary had become... crazy? No, this was probably a normal human thing. Well, Ash would have to find some time to become his friend again. He was looking forward to it actually, from what little experience that he had, Ash found that becoming friends was a great process in and of itself.

"-And when I become a Pokémon Master, I will make sure that the name of Pallet Town is known far and wide!" Gary finished, shouting, to the approval of the crowd. The auburn haired boy then noticed the raven haired boy in front.

"Aaron, you made it! I almost thought you weren't coming" he said, reproachfully.

"Sorry, overslept" Ash replied, still catching his breath. He had run all the way after all.

"Well now that you're here, my grand quest can begin. My friend shall get his pokémon from my grandfather and then he may start his journey; as my rival!"

Noticing Ash's stunned gaze, Gary continued "For, you see my friend, one day I realized that if we are both to become Pokemon Masters, we must have someone to compete with, someone to constantly measure ourselves against, someone always pushing us onward and being driven onward by ourselves. It was then that I knew, that the best way for us to achieve our dream, was for the two of us to become rivals!"

The cheerleaders, fittingly enough, cheered at this, and started another routine. The crowd joined the cheer.

Ash had no clue what was going on. Poison Lance's advice came back to him, and he started to smile and nod. Just smile and nod and everything will be alright.

"So my friend, my rival, hurry and get your pokémon and start your journey. We must push each other to greater and greater heights, and become the best like no one ever was!" With that Gary turned dramatically (somehow) and started to head towards Viridian City. He turned to look back at Ash. "Next time we meet, we shall battle as great Pokemon Trainers!"

Smile and nod, smile and nod, smile and nod.

"I see that you understand my friend! I look forward to our next meeting!" And with that Gary departed, cheerleaders following him.

Smile and nod, smile and nod, smile and nod- oh it was over.

Okay, while he had been away Gary had evidently... evolved? Something had happened to his friend, and Ash was not sure if it was good, or bad, or just some normal human thing. This journey was going to be than he had anticipated if more humans acted like that.

Would other trainers think he was weird for not having a team of cheerleaders? Or was than an optional thing? He would have to remember to ask about that.

Still, one problem was preemptively solved. He and Gary had never had discussed how they would be going about becoming pokémon masters, and during the years Ash had to spend educating himself the human child realized that if the method they employed involved traveling together, then it would take a good deal of effort to conceal Ash's ability to understand pokémon. Although disappointed that he and his friend would not be spending more time together, Ash was glad that he would never have to deal with the problem.

Ash shook his head as he rushed towards the Oak Labs. The time for such musing was over. It was time for him to meet his very first pokémon!

Oak sighed and leaned against the fence gate as he went over the list of trainers that had been registered to receive their first pokémon from him that day. It was tiring to see all the names he did not recognize on the list.

It was a far cry from the old days when it was only children that he knew well that received pokémon from him. When he could sleep soundly, knowing that the young trainers were taking good care of the pokémon. He still required check-ins from the trainers during the beginnings of their journeys, but other than that he never heard from half of them again. Statistically speaking, it was far more likely now that at least one of his pokémon had ended up being abused by its trainer under this new system, while he remained unaware. But the League needed more trainers and Oak was doing his part.

Even if it killed his heart.

Looking over the list, he noticed a no-show. One Aaron Autumns, a child that Gary had recommended. A friend of his from first grade, who moved away to some other city but was due to return to Pallet town. Why did he not show? Lose his nerve at the last minute? Lost?

Or, Oak thought turning around when he heard the sounds of running behind him, perhaps he overslept. A boy in a red and white hat, blue jacket, and jeans slid to a stop in front of him, kicking up a bit of dust in the process.

After the boy had finished panting, he looked up and Professor Oak was struck with the strange notion that he was seeing a ghost. There was something about his gold-brown eyes that seemed hauntingly familiar. The old man just could not place it.

"Professor Oak?" the boy asked him, immediately, panting from exertion.

"In person" replied the Pokemon Professor. "And I'm guessing that you're Aaron Autumns?"

"Yeah" answered the boy, between pants "sorry I'm late, but there was some delays on the way last night and I didn't get to sleep as soon as I wanted and -"

"It's alright kid" reassured the old man, "I've still got a pokémon left for you. But I must warn you, it's a fresh catch and -"

"It's okay, I'll take it no matter what!" interjected Ash called Aaron.

"Very well" sighed Professor Oak. "Come with me."

A single pokéball sat in the slot on green top of the round machine. Ash stared at it. Inside there was his first pokémon, or rather what would be his first pokémon. His first of many new friends.

What would it be? A green and gruff bulbasuar with a kind heart? A bubbly and energetic squirtle? A hot headed and loyal charamander? Or maybe a fluffy eevee, Ash had heard that they were occasionally given as starter pokémon.

"Why don't you open it" suggested Oak, watching in amusement as the boy in front of him gazed reverently at the pokémon before him. It was not a new reaction from a trainer to be, but it was an uncommon one.

Ash nodded, and even his breathing trembled as he reached forward. His legs went weak and he collapsed against the table, still bringing his hands towards the pokéball.

"Good grief, you're beyond excited, aren't you kid" spoke Oak, grinning. "Just open it and meet your pokémon."

There was a flash and white energy flowed out of the pokéball and coalesced on the table. White light faded, and before the human child stood a yellow, slightly chubby, red checked, zig-zaged tailed, brown striped, short, pikachu.

The first thing that Pikachu ever said to Ash was: Oh, great you're the idiot I'm stuck with.

The only thing that Oak heard was the pokémon softly say its name.

Ash of course understood, what the pokémon had said, but couldn't let Oak now.

"Howdy! Aren't you the cutest little thing!" Ash stated with a large smile.

And aren't you just the stupidest thing, the pikachu said, rolling its eyes.

"Right back atcha little buddy" said Ash still smiling.

Oh, you got lucky human. And who you calling little!

"Aren't you the cutest little pikachu, aren't you now!" Ash's smile grew wider.

Grrr. I should get you for that.

"Careful" warned Oak, "he has an electric personality"

What a shocking pun, the electric type rolled its eyes again.

"What a shocking pun" Ash said to the professor.

Hey, you stole that from me! Pikachu's ears shot up and he pointed accusingly. No actually you couldn't have. You're too stupid to have.

"Right back atcha again little buddy!" said Ash smiling widely, eyes closed.

Okay, that was an annoying coincidence, Pikachu narrowed his eyes. Good grief, if I didn't know better I'd swear that you could understand me... wait, I recognize you! You're that forest kid aren't you! And you can understand everything I'm saying!

"Yep, aren't you the most wonderful, adorable Pikachu in the whole world" said Ash, picking up the pokémon.

Flattery will get you nowherePikachu said with a glare. Now for those earlier comments...

Lightning flared from the little pokémon into Ash, giving him a nasty shock and fizzling his hair.

"And he has the brightest smile" Oak punned, "that I've ever seen."

"Now" the professor continued, "you'll need these on your journey." He held out both his hands, a slim red object sat in one, and in the other sat a pile of miniaturized pokéball. "A pokédex and some pokéballs. The pokédex contains most of our current knowledge on the different types of pokémon and handles several League functions for trainers automatically, including identification. You'll have to fill out the registration info and choose your preferences at some point. And pokéballs, as you are aware are for catching new pokémon."

Kid, don't put me down yet, Pikachu told Ash, as the boy reached for the pokédex and pokéballs. Ash complied, and when he and Oak touched, Pikachu shocked them both.

That's for the wire thing you old fart! They tasted great and you had to go ruin it!

So... what now?

Ash and Pikachu sat under a tree in an open field between Pallet town and Viridian city. Ash had never been in this field before, it was too open and exposed for Poison Lance's comfort. A bunch of Pidgey's aimlessly wandered about, some occasionally giving Ash a quick greeting.

Umm... I train you to become super powerful. I mean isn't that what trainers do with their pokémonAsh answered Pikachu, rubbing the back of his head.

Pikachu started to laugh, falling over a tree root in the process.

Oh, that was a good one, said the mouse pokémon, looking up at Ash. Oh wait, you were serious. That's even funnier.

Oh, laugh it up fuzzball, huffed Ash, crossing his arms.

Sorry kid, but I really don't think you can help me there. Tell ya what, I'll zap a Caterpie for you and you can train that. And let me go.

I can train you! Ash protested.

Kid, I really doubt that. See that group of five leaves over there? Pikachu gestured up at the tree.

Ash turned his gaze to follow Pikachu's pointing limb. Yeah.

Five tiny blasts of electricity soon followed, one after another. All five of the leaves fell down. In the center of each leaf there was a little smoking hole.

Impressive remarked Ash.

Thank you, Pikachu replied with a nod. But as you can see my own effort is working quite nicely. I've been working on speed and accuracy, although my power's nothing to scoff at either. I'm very quick at setting up electric attacks. One day I hope to be known as the "Lightning Zapper!"

...Doesn't that-

Shut up, the name's still a work in progress, Pikachu grumbled. But as I said, I don't need you. I'm good on my own.

Ash thought quickly.

What would you do if you were fighting a really powerful electric type, right now or in the near future, say a Raichu? He asked the electric mouse.

I'd zap em, Pikachu answered instantly.

Your strategy for fighting a powerful raichu would be to use electric attacks against them?

I can take them.

Ash just looked at Pikachu.

Shut up, huffed the mouse, crossing his forelegs, accidentally mirroring Ash's posture. Like you've got any better ideas.

But I do, responded the human. I read a bit about raichus, plus Poison Lance and I discussed a bit about the pro's and con's of pokémon evolution. Do you know what a raichu's most common, non-type weakness is?

Their lackluster personalities? Pikachu guessed.

Nope, their speed, well when they evolve early at least. Ash explained. You my fine yellow friend are much faster than most Raichus, and know more normal type attacks. You can use Agility, Quick Attack, and Swift, to run circles around your opponent while beating them senseless. Use Agility to dodge, Quick Attack to get in close and take them by surprise, something you would want to wait to start doing until after you dodge an attack that obscures you from their sight, and then Swift it hit them from far away when they're preparing for a Quick Attack. See, the thing is, most raichus evolve too early to learn those moves, and most of the time when you meet a raichu they won't know them.

... that's actually a pretty good strategy, Pikachu admitted. How'd an idiot like you come up with that?

You really have no respect for me, do you, Ash asked.

Nope.

Ash sighed. I'm sure that if I couldn't actually understand you that would've sounded unbearably cute.

Well, as you said, I am an adorable pokemon, Pikachu stated matter-of-factly.

Wouldn't I be too much of an idiot to recognize that, Ash asked.

Not really, even idiots can spot adorable pokemon. But thanks for admitting that you're an idiot!

ARRRGH growled Ash.

Hah, I'm good, said Pikachu, doing a little dance.

So how bout it? You coming with me? Ash asked, his heart beating fast. He was really nervous about this. After the conversation with Pikachu, Ash had begun to think that maybe he would never find a pokémon that actually wanted to come with him. After all, he was not a very good human, he did not know most of the things other humans knew. Why would any pokémon want him, when there were better humans everywhere?

Sure, answered Pikachu, you seem like you could actually be helpful. And I guess it would be fun to see new places. I haven't really got anything planned anyway, so I might as well. And with that, he hopped on top of Ash's head.

The yellow pokémon would never understand just how much that answer meant to Ash.

Well, let's get going! Pikachu called out the order imperiously from atop Ash, pointing toward Viridian City.

Again, this would probably seem unbearably cute if I couldn't understand you, Ash sighed.

Ignorance is bliss Ash, Pikachu patted the top of the humans head.

Speaking of ignorance, I've been reading about the physics behind electricity, and I've got some questions about how you use electric attacks.

Elsewhere, a red haired girl in a pair of short jeans shorts, red suspenders, and a yellow tank top sat by a river, fishing. Her bike and backpack lay a short distance away.

She had received some tips about the area and they were turning out to be great. She had thought she had glimpsed a gyarados earlier, but she had put it down to her imagination. There was no way that a gyarados would be living in a little river like this one.

Of course if there had actually been one, she would have had to leave the area. No need to go looking for trouble. But that was the nice thing about the area around Pallet Town. There did not seem to be anything causing trouble.

She reeled in her line so that she could recast near a promising looking log. However she lost her balance when swinging the rod back and fell backwards. Her lure went flying off into the forest, and the girl heard a meaty sounding thud.

"Crap" she said. "Are you okay in there, whoever you are? I didn't hurt you, did I?"

The only response was one word, a word growled angrily.

"Feeeaaroow!"

Looks like it's going to rain, remarked Ash to Pikachu, want to find shelter?

Actually it looks like a thunderstorm's brewing, Pikachu said, looking up at the clouds. Nah let's keep going. Hopefully we'll see some good lightning along the way.

I guess you electric types like thunderstorms, Ash commented.

A bit idiot. They're nice and unlike most other pokémon, we don't have to really worry about the lightning. Pikachu then grinned. But what's really fun is the rain. With it I can shock all the things! He emphasized his last point with a tiny shock to the back of Ash's neck.

Ouch!

That reminds me, why did you act like you couldn't understand me back at the old guy's place, Pikachu asked Ash, bending over so that his upside down head hung under the brim of Ash's cap and the pokémon could look the human in the eye.

Poison Lance warned me about using letting people know, Ash informed the pokémon. There are plenty of bad folk out there who might want to force me to do things for them. It could also alert the people who attacked my home that a trainer from the Pallet-Viridian area was raised by pokémon and they could come looking for me. So I'm supposed to keep it a secret from every human.

Makes sense. But what about other pokémonPikachu asked, still keeping eye contact.

Oh I can tell them answered Ash, it's not like there are any pokémon who can talk like humans out there. And if there are other humans who can understand pokémon out there, there's no way they'd be working with any villains.

Fair enough. By the way, why didn't you try and catch any of the pidgey's back there?

They were just hanging about me. They didn't really want to be caught. Ash answered.

Neither did I, and you insisted that I go with you, Pikachu pointed out.

You were bothering humans, you had it coming. Besides you're my first pokemon.

And you're my first idiot. Unlike you I hope my collection does not grow.

Sometime later the duo were traveling down a path by a forest. The skies above were dark and grey, promising both rain and electric fury. One could feel the storm in the air, the temperature dropped and the air felt light. Wind picked up, blowing stray leaves and dust across the path.

It's going to be some storm, remarked Ash. Pikachu did not respond. Instead he was looking intently into the forest, cocking his head and twitching his ear.

What is it? Ash inquired.

Ssssh, Pikachu put a paw to his lips. It sounds like, crashing and flapping...? That's weird. It's getting louder. In fact I think we should take a couple steps back and to the left very soon.

Ash complied with the suggestion and as soon as he did so something burst out of the forest. The something split into two, one hitting a tree on the other side of the path with a metallic clang and the other hitting the ground with a pained grunt.

One half was a bike. The other half was a red haired girl who was currently trying to curl up into a fetal position. Scratches and wounds covered her arms and legs, with bits of blood leaking out here and there. Her clothes were slightly torn in places and there were some nasty looking bruises on her lower back. Her backpack was in a similar condition and Ash could see that a pokéball had fallen out. The device looked damaged, and from what little Ash knew about pokéball, he didn't think that she could release her pokémon without getting the devices repaired.

Is she alive? Pikachu whispered the question to Ash, as the human boy knelt down to gently shake the girl and put the pokéball back in her backpack.

I think that flapping sound is getting louder, Pikachu warned, his voice taking on an urgent tone.

"She's alive" announced Ash, "what happened Miss...?"

The girl groaned, her green eyes opening and looking into Ash's golden brown eyes.

"Get out of here" she moaned, trying to sit up "they're still coming. I'll try and stall them. Run away, please just run..."

And with that she fell back down.

Like hell I'm leaving anybody, Ash said as he scooped her up, cradling the red haired girl and her backpack in his arms. She was surprisingly light, Ash found as he stood up.

That flapping is getting real close now! A nervous Pikachu said. I think it's time we got out of here idiot!

I'm on it! Ash glanced once at the bike, cursing his lack of riding ability, and then with the girl in his arms, and the Pikachu on his head, he sprinted down the path.

Behind him a cacophony of flapping, bird calls, curses, taunts, and shouting erupted from the forest. Like a bat swarm from hell, a flock of spearows burst from between trees and through bushes by the edge of the path.

There she is! That boy has her! Get im! Moving like a single living creature the flock of spearows wheeled about and began to pursue Ash.

Well, shit said Pikachu looking back.

These must be the spearows that have been making trouble. Pikachu keep an eye on them, warn me when one comes at me.

The flock took up a position above Ash; had it been sunny the size of their flock would have been enough to surround him in darkness.

A couple spearows detached from the flock and dived straight down towards Ash, their hard wicked beaks aimed to tear into soft human flesh, their talons eager to sink into their victims.

From above, shouted Pikachu, I'm going to try and pick some off.

Like a small preview of the light show promised by the storm lightning flickered up from Ash. Tendrils of electric energy slammed into the diving pokémon, sending them corkscrewing out of control, stopping some dead in the sky, and causing others to simply fall to the earth unconscious. A few managed to dodge, moving as soon as they saw that Pikachu was preparing to attack. They broke off their attack and rejoined the main body of the pursuing flock.

Got them all, Pikachu stated proudly, standing tall on Ash's head and crossing his forelimbs.

Thanks you wonderful, adorable, powerful pokémon, Ash said, panting.

What did I tell you about flattery?

You definitively earned that praise.

True- wait, they're going to make another pass, Pikachu dropped lower, back onto four limbs.

This time a group of spearows broke off from the main flock and then split once more. They took up positions to the left and right of Ash and then prepared dived once more.

Shit, I won't be able to get them all.

That's okay, get as many as you can - Ash grunted as he leaped over a tree stump. As soon as his feet returned to the earth he forced new life into his sprint, trying to get as much speed out of his body as he could. His life in the wild had given him above average athletic ability, and there was so much adrenaline in his system that he could have lost a limb and not noticed. He hoped that it would be enough to get the girl to safety.

Get as many as you can, Ash continued, and then keep me informed about the positions of the rest. Oh, and get ready to hang on!

At some unseen signal the two groups of bird pokemon dived. Once more Pikachu sent up a thorny, jagged, web of bright yellow electric energy. Spearows screeched in pain as they were blasted with a super effective attack. The group on the left was broken, and the spearows that avoided electric retribution rejoined the main flock.

But the group on the right continued their dive.

They're on your right! Pikachu shouted.

Ash had been waiting for the signal. He had let himself slow down slightly after he had given Pikachu instructions and when he heard the warning he let out a burst of speed and then jumped to the right side of the path.

At the speeds he was running there was little chance of landing right. So Ash forced his energy into a roll when he hit ground, clutching the girl tightly to his chest, and making sure that he rolled over his shoulder so Pikachu would not get crushed.

Coming out of the roll, he heard Pikachu give a cry of surprise from on his head confirming his position; the girl and her backpack with her pokémon seemed no worse for the wear. Ash immediately took off once more.

He had guessed correctly, they were coming at him from an angle, and it would be harder to follow him if he went across that angle rather than away from it. Not a single spearow had hit the compact group.

Nice move, but they're not gone yet, Pikachu informed Ash, now they're coming in low. He let loose an electric bolt that slammed a spearow that was skimming just over the path into the ground. A different spearow took this as an opportunity to attack Ash's legs.

Going for your legs! Pikachu shouted.

At his pokémon's warning Ash curled both legs up towards his chest and the girl, in mid stride, and the attacking Flying pokémon went under him. Pikachu hammered it out of the way with a Thunderbolt.

Three more moved in, all aiming for different parts of Ash's body. Pikachu let out a war-cry and attacked with a Thundershock. Electricity danced almost everywhere behind the fleeing trio. Most of the low flying spearows were scattered, but the three currently moving to attack were very good. They managed to dodge, duck, and weave through the maze of energy and made to attack Ash's legs, head, and torso in a staggered formation.

Crap! Pikachu let loose several more Thundershocks, blasting craters in the path behind them, kicking up dust and debris. Under the repeated electric barrage two of the remaining spearows were blown away, sent tumbling into the forest. But the last spearow once more evaded the attacks, and moved to attack Ash's head with Fury Attack.

Ash! Pikachu's panicked shout was unnecessary, Ash could hear the spearow moving in. The running boy waited until the last moment, and then, almost negligently, tilted his head to the right and leaned a bit. Feather's brushed his face as Ash slowed down just a hair, and he could hear whistling from the repeated stabs of the spearows attack. But the bird pokémon overshot the fugitives and ended up in Pikachu's sights.

Eat electricity! An overcharged Thunderbolt blasted the spearow. It let out a pained cry and tumbled into the forest, crashing through branches and leaving broken boughs in its wake.

Damnit, complained Pikachu panting, why don't they all just attack at once? They're just toying with us now!

No. You could get them all in one blast if they did so, replied Ash, skidding around a bend in the path. They're trying to tire us out first. And with that Ash had an idea.

Pikachu, can you pretend to try and blast them while they're up there? Ash asked. Flashy attacks that look nice, don't take you much effort, and are sorta weak?

Sure idiot, but what good's that going to do?

We'll pretend to get tired. And then they'll all attack at once to finish us! A few drops of rain fell on Ash as he said this, and there was an ominous rumble in the distance.

Idiot, how do you keep thinking up these good ideas!

... by not actually being an idiot...

Not the time. Now's the time for me to make pretty lights!

Their prey futilely tried to shock them in the air. Destructive yellow energy danced below them, fruitlessly reaching for them. But the spearows laughed at its impotence. They couldn't be touched by the groundwalkers. They were the masters of the sky and their flock was strong.

The whole ordeal was annoying, but the boss wanted them to get the girl for some reason. So the spearows obeyed, chasing her through the forest, breaking her pokéballs when she tried to let out her pokémon after the first encounter. Only weaklings followed humans, but they could make the task more annoying. They chased her through the forest, between the trees, all the while Pecking at her, scratching her exposed skin, and slamming into her. Together they laughed at her cries of pain. To amuse themselves, they let her get some distance, to let her think that she could escape. Then they would close in again and delight in crushing her hope.

Then that stupid boy and that electric scum had found her. Foolishly the boy decided to attempt to save her and his weakling assisted him. Cowardly relying on its type advantage, his pikachu shocked far better pokémon than itself to defend its master.

But it made a mistake. It tried to attack them in their home. Foolishly it tried to extend its power into the skies above, that they ruled, and wasted all of its energy. They could see that the electric vermin was tiring. It limply hung onto its master's hat, panting hard. Even better the human boy was tiring. His steps were slowing, and he occasionally stumbled, sliding through the mud. The intensity of the rain picked up, and it was coming down in sheets, hammering on the forest below, and further weakening the trio.

Yes, it was time. Time to bring them down.

Moving as one, every spearow wanting to get in on the kill, the flock descended on the humans and the pikachu. A solid mass of feathers and murderous intent fell from the sky, and the victory cries of the bird pokémon filled the air with ear shattering intensity. Like the hand of an evil giant, the spearow flock reached for the fugitives, getting closer and delighting in the obvious signs of despair and exhaustion in their prey.

But at the last second the human looked up and grinned.

Pikachu! Now use Thunder!

And the electric pokemon jumped from his hat, every sign of exhaustion gone, and the spearows knew that they had been had.

But it was too late for them as their world was engulfed in crackling yellow energy.

Wow, said Pikachu between pants, laying on the ground by Ash, we just took out a flock of spearows. That was not in my itinerary for today.

Ash took the opportunity to lie down and just be exhausted for a little bit. He knew that he was getting his clothes muddy, but he could get them washed at the Viridian City pokémon center. He made sure to keep the red haired girl curled up on his chest and do his best to keep her out of the mud.

I can already see that it's going to be nice having you carry everything on this journey, Pikachu taunted his trainer. You'll be my valet. I'll have you fetch my food each day, bring my hat and monocle, serve me brandy, and take me to my appointments. It'll be wonderful.

Ash chuckled in response. The movements of his chest must have disturbed the girl because she started to groan. It reminded Ash that their work was not yet complete. He also groaned and stood up, still cradling the girl.

Come on Pikachu, we still have to get her to the pokémon center, the boy said. I'm pretty sure that they have facilities for treating trainers who get hurt.

It's not like I'm doing any work here, replied Pikachu jumping back onto Ash's hat. Ash started to stumble through the rain, exhausted beyond reason, but refusing to drop the girl. She seemed heavier now, but Ash refused to be deterred. He continued on through the storm.

It was only because of the lightning that they survived.

Ash had been trudging onward, towards Viridian city, while Pikachu enjoyed the rain from his perch on the boy's head. Lightning had struck behind them, giving off the crack that reminded one that lightning was a terrifying, destructive, and powerful force of nature, not merely pretty lights during a storm. The light from the strike illuminated the path, and Ash noticed a giant, winged, shadow.

The human child let exhaustion take him and fell to the ground. Above Pikachu's head, where Ash's head used to be, a Drill Peck whirled with deadly intent. A dark shape passed over the group and hit a tree by the bend in the path ahead. It shattered into splinters and a dark shape drew itself up from the wreckage.

Hello. You must be the forest child that I've heard word about. Lightning flashed again and revealed the speaker to be a large fearow. Evidently one of my minions heard you talking properly, none of that human garbage. He made sure to include that in his report after I woke him up from the thrashing you gave him. Ordinarily I would punish them all for their failure, but considering the circumstances I think I'll let them off the hook this time.

What do you want? Ash growled at the flying type.

Well, when I heard that there was an area being watched over by a weedlethe fearow hissed the word, of all things, I decided to take the place. I was going to enjoy killing that weedle who doesn't know his place, and was busy snacking in preparation for the fight when a fishing lure hit me on the head. No real harm done, but I was going to have to severely wound whomever was responsible out of principle. So I turn around and see this girl with a rod. I get ready to attack and then notice her eyes. They're pretty eyes. I've found that pretty eyes taste better and I was hungry, so I decided to finish up my snacking with her eyes.

Course when I move to attack she has a starmie hit me with Watergun, the fearow continued, then gets on her bike, and then fights her away through the minions I had on hand. Deciding to save my energy I get the others and order my flock to get her and then I think you know the rest.

Now, continued the fearow, if you would put her down, I'll give you a five minute head start.

You can take your head start and - PIKACHU USE THUNDER!

The electric mouse complied and jumped between the human and the giant bird pokémon. A giant column of electricity burst from his small body and arced towards the fearow, bathing the land in yellow light.

Fearow retaliated with the same attack.

Ash and Pikachu bore identical expression of amazement on their faces before the two attacks collided. The two giant arcs of electric energy surged against each other for a moment and then exploded.

Carried on wings of air, sudden impact, and pain, Ash was sent flying backwards. He lost his grip on the girl and the two of them hit the ground several meters back down the path, rolling a few feet more. The girl let out a sharp cry of pain. Ash grunted and started to pick himself up. Pikachu managed to land on his feet next to his trainer.

A nice effort. A dark shape loomed over before them, the fearow. He seemed to be completely unharmed by the clash of attacks. But ultimately futile. I do love using Mirror Move so.

Ash's mind raced through the options available and found nothing. The flying type managed to completely counter their strongest attack, throw them around like ragdolls, and took absolutely no damage from the exchange. There was only one thing that Ash Ketchum could do.

Pikachu, get out of here. His pokémon looked back at him in shock. Retreat, run away, whatever. Try to find Poison Lance if you can, or get to Viridian city and get some humans to come back with you. Just get out of here, Ash hissed to the yellow pokémon.

I can take him, protested Pikachu.

No you can't, he's too strong. Just get to safety and don't worry about me.

I'm not leaving you here to die like that, Pikachu protested, stomping his foot.

And if you stay he'll kill you too, Ash hissed in fearow watched them with cruel amusement. They were speaking too quietly for him to understand what they were saying, but he liked the undertone of fear in the boy's voice.

I'm not running away. Pikachu crossed his forelimbs and shook his head.

I'm an idiot, right. And you're too good to die for an idiot. Just get out of here please. I don't want you dying too Ash pleaded, tears in his eyes. Please JUST GO!

Pikachu jumped at the shout and scrambled a few feet before stopping. He looked back at Ash, his eyes quivering, but Ash simply made shooing motions. Pikachu turned and then raced into the forest.

I'll get him later. Still, it running is your only option, the fearow taunted as he started to advance on the humans. Well, why don't you take off? It'll take me a little while to eat her eyes, I'm sure you could go find some place to hide by then.

Ash looked the fearow in the eye and shook his head. He moved directly between the twisted bird and the girl and held out his arms.

Never. I will do my best to stop you, the human child declared.

Why get yourself killed over some stranger? Fearow cocked his head to the side. I'm sure you have better things to be doing, like focusing on surviving to become some sort of pokémon trainer. You lot generally do.

I don't care. It was simple fact. Ash wouldn't leave her. He simply was the sort to risk death to save another's life.

I definitely won't be eating any of you. All that stupid, pointless, disgusting, nobility would give me indigestion. And with that fearow took to wing once more, gaining altitude and then circling around to make another pass. Like the shadow of death, it dived down on Ash. He could hear the sound of the pokémon's beak whirring furiously as it prepared to use its Drill Peck on him.

Most people, when faced with death would take the time to reflect of the future that was about to be stolen from them. They would think about the dreams they would never fulfill, about the people they would leave behind, and about whatever came next. They would look upon the events leading up to their death and feel bitter regret and furious hate towards the circumstances that would led them into the darkness.

But not Ash Ketchum. His only thoughts were on whatever he could do to save the person behind him, any option or thing he missed that could be used to increase that person's chances of survival. And even if he had thought back on what led up to the situation, there was no way Ash Ketchum would ever regret trying to help someone.

Arceus itself would not be able to make him.

Lightning flashed.

There was a cry.

Thanks to the strobe light like effects of a flash of lightning, Ash would be able to remember the moment for as long as he lived.

In that instant, apparently frozen in time, there stood a tableau consisting of a pikachu and a fearow. Fearow wore a stunned expression, but an expression that was, for lack of a better term, squashed or squished. The reason for his unusual expression, was the glaring Pikachu that was busy driving himself into the Flying Type's face with a surprise Quick Attack.

In that frozen instant the two drifted apart, like the glaciers of the frozen north. And as time snapped back to normal, Pikachu followed up on his Quick Attack with a Thunderbolt that sent fearow tumbling into the forest with a cry of rage.

Take that! Pikachu shouted as he landed, back to his trainer. Run away, yeah, right. I'll get on that right away sir.

Damnit Pikachu, shouted Ash as he saw signs of movement in the forest. I thought that at least you would be safe.

You're an idiot to think I would ever run away after agreeing to come with you, Pikachu said without turning. But it did give me a nice opportunity for a sneak attack. Even if he kills and eats us, he'll have a black eye for a while.

Pikachu, please, don't... Ash pleaded, but Pikachu cut him off.

As I've said, you're an idiot, Pikachu turned and looked Ash right in his amber eyes. But you are my idiot. Got that?

Sure Pikachu, and Ash reached down to hug the Pikachu. Lightning flashed in the distance again and a desperate idea struck Ash.

Pikachu do you think you could do the thing you use to target your electric attacks to the sky. And then do the opposite somewhere near the fearow.

Why the hell would I do that? Pikachu looked at his trainer as if Ash was insane.

Because of how lightning works, was the human's simple reply.

What?

I was just reading about it today, Ash told Pikachu. For each lightning strike, there's actually two, a small one that goes up and that makes it so that the one we see goes down. Maybe we can induce that first strike-

It'll never work replied Pikachu, but you say lightning needs a bolt going up first? That gives me a different idea. Put me down.

What are you going to do, Ash asked the pokémon, nervously complying.

I'm very, very fast with my electric attacks remember, Pikachu reminded the human. If I can call down a strike, if I'm prepared, I can probably redirect it when it reaches me. Stand back, and take the girl with you.

The red head groaned when Ash picked her up again; they needed to get her some medical attention, stat. Ash retreated to the other side of the path and watched his electric pokémon glare into the forest, where they could hear the sounds of the fearow returning.

Come on groaned Pikachu, concentrating. He screwed up his face, clenching his body. Sparks flickered from his red cheeks.

Come on. The pokémon started to glow with a yellow light, and small bits of electricity danced about him like fireflies.

Come on. The direction of the rain falling around the pokémon started to reverse and water started to rise up around him.

Come on. They could almost see the murderous pokémon now, as it sped through the trees, beak whirring once more.

With an accompanying drumbeat, that was in reality the snapping of branches, Fearow burst forth from the forest. Murder filled his heart and his eyes as he appeared before them, wings spread out in their full terrible glory. He was dark shadow poised to take the two humans. But before the shadow stood the tiny Pikachu, radiating yellow light.

It's ready! Eat the fruits of my Thunder you stupid bird! Pikachu unleashed a Thunder attack once more, and once more Fearow used Mirror Move. But unlike the first time Pikachu's Thunder did not target the fearow. Instead it sped into the storm clouds, a spear of defiance against the raw power of nature. And nature sent back its own spear to crush the rebellion.

A real bolt of lightning is three times as hot as the surface of the sun and could power countries for an instant. Even a near miss by lightning can have horrible side effects. The mere noise it makes, both the horrible crack and the house rattling thunder, is enough remind one of how small and insignificant one really is. It is a terrifying force, much greater than anything humans can produce at the present, and a reminder that physics, the absolute ruler of the universe, lurks behind Mother Nature.

But lightning was still an electric phenomenon. And Pikachu could control electricity.

It didn't actually strike the electric mouse; Pikachu had more sense than that. Instead the bolt followed the path of least resistance that the Pikachu had induced, and Pikachu had made sure that the path turned above him and ended somewhere near the fearow.

Blue-white light consumed the world, and the lightning met Fearow's Thunder. But no Thunder, short of a Thunder worthy of a legendary, could ever hope to compare with a storm born bolt. It overwhelmed the fearow's attack and blasted right by his head. Pikachu's attack did not actually strike the Fearow, but simply being that close to a bolt of real lightning was enough to remove the flying type from the fight.

The crack of the lightning split the audio world asunder and the rumble of the thunder forced the two halves apart. Somewhere in the forest a tree exploded as the bolt of lightning struck it and for an instant one could see the orange glow of fire. But the falling rain put it out.

Ash had turned away from the pokémon at the last second and put his body between the event and the girl, turning himself into a shield in case something went wrong. Pikachu had done his best to contain the lighting's effects with his skills, and it had been enough to prevent harm from befalling the humans.

When he looked back, he saw Pikachu, singed and smoking, but standing over the unconscious body of fearow. The electric pokémon turned to Ash, and then flipped him the victory sign before toppling over. Ash put the girl down gently and then rushed to Pikachu.

Are you alright? Please tell me you're alright. Ash resisted the urge to shake his pokémon.

I feel worse than that time I really screwed up Thunder while I was still learning the move. But I don't care. Why? Because I just shot a bolt of lightning! I'm now officially the best electric pokemon in Kanto short of Zapdos! That was awesome! Pikachu was grinning ear to ear.

But yeah, the yellow pokémon continued, I'll probably be out of it for a while. Ash, we need to train between now and the next storm-

There is no way that I'm letting you use that suicidal move ever again!

I'm going to do it with or without you anyway, Pikachu informed him, still grinning. And since I only learned Lightningbolt thanks to you-

Wait, you're giving it a name now?

Yep! I'm the only pokemon to know Lightningbolt. Probably because no other pokemon was stupid enough to try, but that's what happens when you hang around an idiot. But since you're responsible for me knowing it, you're responsible for helping me learn to use it properly. Pikachu winced and then continued, but you know we really need to get to Viridian City first.

Ash picked up Pikachu and place him on his head. Then he retrieved the red haired girl. He noticed the thin layer of blood all over her limbs and his heart skipped a beat. She need medical attention soon. As he picked her up, the girl's turquoise eyes fluttered open for a moment.

"It's over. You're safe now." Ash could not tell if she had heard, her eyes shut as soon as they had opened and she unconsciously curled into the warmth of his body.

He started going as fast as he could, restricted to a stumbling walk by his pain and exhaustion. It would have to be enough.

Ash looked down at the red head in his arms.

I wonder what sort of person - he winced as a jolt of pain shot through his leg - she is?

Well, she's a red head, so probably mild mannered, with a sweet disposition , and no temper to speak of, answered Pikachu. Ash did not catch the sarcasm.

You can tell all that about a person from their hair?

Ordinarily I'd face palm right now, but I'm just going to lie here and hurt for a while instead. Okay?

... alright...

By the tree, you are an idiot Ash Ketchum

 
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