AN: Hello and welcome everyone to what I hope will change from a simple experiment to something much, much, more enjoyable. You see, I recently had this thought lodge itself in my brain that Pokémon as a series has amazing potential that is virtually untapped by the anime/manga/etc.

So, here is my take on the idea of Pokémon… or the first chapter of it at least.

Chapter 1 – A Brave New World

"Help! Somebody, help me!" the little boy screamed at the top of his lungs. "Pleeease!" He came tearing through the tall grass, running for his life back towards Pallet Town. Ash cried out as his foot sank to the ankle in a puddle of mud and he toppled forward, landing hard on his hands and knees and scraping his palms.

"Oh great," he choked, turning over and jerking his foot out of his shoe. He planned to abandon the shoe and get back to his feet, but as Ash turned forward again the golden grass in front of him rustled and he froze. Two purple eyes glared at him from the grass and Ash pushed himself backwards. "Get back!" he shouted, his voice cracking with fear as he grabbed hold of a wooden stick lying in the grass.

The Rattata spat a hissing scream as it leapt from the grass, hurling itself at Ash's neck, mouth open and fangs bared to bite. "Get away!" Ash yelled, swiping with the stick through the air and smacking the Rattata squarely on the side of the head, knocking it to the ground. Ash rolled and pushed himself to his feet as the purple rodent, dazed, shook itself to regain its senses. Ash took off running, but toppled forward again as the Rattata lunged after him, closing the gap between them in an instant and sinking its chisel-sized incisors into Ash's calf, cutting through his jeans as though they were rice-paper.

He screamed as he fell, collapsing on his stomach and dropping his club. The Rattata, hissing like a demon, buried its teeth deeper into Ahs's left leg and shook its head as though it were trying to rip the muscle away from the boy's bones. In all likelihood this was not far from the case. Ash flailed his leg and kicked with his other foot, crying and desperately trying to free himself of the little Pokémon. His right foot connected solidly with its skull and drove it off him, though the action also further opened the already gaping wound in his leg.

Ash rolled onto his back, looking for the stick to defend himself, but could only raise one arm in front of his throat as the Rattata jumped at him yet again. This time the huge teeth sliced through Ash's forearm from both top and bottom. The Pokémon closed its mouth around Ash's arm and began jerking its head from one side to another as it had on his leg, tearing open Ash's arm and spattering both Pokémon and human in drops of blood.

A huge grey hand jutted out of the grass, so large that when it closed around the Rattata the feral rodent looked even to Ash like a toy. When the thick fingers closed around the Pokémon with crushing force the animal immediately released Ash. Its eyes bulged as the hand, which Ash saw was connected to a another Pokémon stepping out of the grass, slammed into a fist, crushing the rodent with a sloshing crunch as bones snapped and internal organs burst like rotten fruit.

"Chaaamp," growled the large, four-armed Pokémon as it emerged from the grass and tossed aside the dead Rattata's deformed remains. It looked down at him, white eyes full of uncertainty.

"Stay back!" the little boy cried, irrational with fear even though he recognized the Pokémon as his grandfather's Machamp. "Go away!"

"Ash!" a man's voice called out of the grass. "Ash where are you!?"

"Grandpa!" Ash screamed, finally realizing the true extent of the pain searing through his arm and his leg. "Grandpa! Help me!"

The Machamp stepped aside, still alert and scanning the surrounding tall grass for trouble, as a tall man with graying brown hair and a white lab coat came bursting through the grass. On either side of him two large Pokémon followed quickly, each as equally wary of their surroundings and as watchful of the old man as the Machamp.

"Merciful gods, Ash, what happened to you?" barked Professor Oak, pulling his backpack around and setting it on the ground as Ash continued crying and clutching at his wounds. "Never mind," said the professor as he took bandages, gauze, and sterile wipes from his pack. "You three," he turned to the Pokémon under his command, "set up around us. I don't want any surprises."

The Machamp, the green and lumbering Venasaur, and the golden-furred Kadabra all acknowledged him with varying degrees of understanding and took up positions around Professor Oak as he set himself to sterilizing Ash's deep gashes, punctures, and scratches and stopping the bleeding as best he could. The Venasaur took a few rumbling steps forward to where the mangled Rattata lay, and rolled the cadaver around for a moment with its thick snout. The Kadabra shook its head in disgust as Venasaur pinned one half of the Rattata under one heavy foot and bit off the upper portion of the rodent.

Oak ignored Venasaur's noisy lack of decorum and focused all his attention on Ash. "Don't go off into the wilds by yourself again," said Oak as he tied off the already reddening bandages around Ash's arm. "We need to get you back to town where I can have a look at you in the lab."

"I'm sorry grandpa," said Ash, sniffling as Oak picked him up and carefully swung the boy onto his back. "I'm really really sorry."

"It's alright," said Oak, hurrying over to Venasaur and stepping up onto the creature's back. He sat and leaned against the huge flowering plant growing out of the Pokémon's back and set Ash in front of him, holding the little boy securely. "Let's get back to town as quickly possible," Oak addressed the three Pokémon escorts loudly but very politely. "Please try to be as observant as you can be."

All three Pokémon acknowledged the Professor and began walking quickly South. Venasaur was in the middle, while Kadabra and Machamp walked along the green behemoth's flanks. "Grandpa?" Ash said after a few minutes had passed and he'd managed to stop sniffling and hiccupping.

"Hmm?" acknowledged Oak. "What is it?" he asked, not unkindly.

"Will you teach me to be as strong as you are? You're not afraid of anything and even really strong Pokémon will obey you," he glanced from side to side at the Machamp and the Kadabra. "I want to be just like you…"

Oak smiled a very little to himself. "Absolutely," he said and then paused. "You're turning six in a couple of days, aren't you?"

Ash nodded and grinned. The pain in his limbs had begun to subside now thanks to the numbing effects of the antiseptics Oak had applied to the gauze and bandages. "Two days," he said. "And what I want for my birthday is for you to teach me everything in the world to know."

"That's a tall order," said the Professor. "But I'll see what I can do." Oak sighed and settled against Venasaur's plant, keeping one arm around his grandson and the other hand positioned to grab one of the pokeballs magnetically held to his belt at a second's notice. The first thing you need to know you learned just today, thought the Professor. The world is not a kind or forgiving place, and you need to know what you're doing if you want to stand a chance of surviving it… especially when Pallet Town is so far from the protection of a Gym…


Daylight had just broken over the tops of the trees surrounding Pallet Town. It was another temperate spring morning in the small settlement and Ash had just begun to stir from his sleep when the dawn's rays spilled through his window and illuminated his bedroom. He sat up in bed and stretched, opening his eyes and glancing around his meticulously kempt room. "Good morning," he said to himself, getting out of bed and turning around to straighten the sheets and comforter, "and happy birthday to me." He grinned and walked across the off-white carpet to the bathroom and cleaned up, taking a quick shower, brushing his teeth, and then getting dressed in his usual attire of jeans, a black T-shirt, and of course, the ball cap his mother had given him last year for his fifteenth birthday.

He laced up his six-inch leather boots, grabbed his backpack and keys, and headed downstairs, pausing at the bottom landing for a moment to rub at his calf and let the dull aching subside. It had been almost exactly a decade since he'd received that scar from the Rattata in the wilds outside Pallet Town, but still it occasionally bothered him. As he'd quickly learned to do though, he shook it off and went on as though not a thing in the world was wrong.

"Good morning mom," said Ash, strolling into the kitchen and immediately spotting his mother standing in front of the refrigerator and rummaging through its contents.

The woman turned around and smiled warmly, brushing her hands down her apron and closing the metal door. "Good morning birthday boy," she said happily. "And how are you doing this fine morning?"

Ash grinned and crossed the kitchen. He gave his mother a hug and a quick and affectionate kiss on the cheek. "I'm heading over to Grandpa's lab," he said. "The old man said he would have some big surprise waiting for me if I showed up first thing in the morning." He turned and grabbed a piece of toast from a plate beside a glass of juice on the counter and took a bite.

"I really wish you'd let me make you a proper breakfast," said his mother as Ash finished the toast and drank down the juice. "Just because you and Grandpa survive on hardtack and water when you're in the field doesn't mean you have to live like a marine when you're at home."

"I've gotten used to the lifestyle," said Ash, grinning.

"I suppose I should have seen it coming," said the woman, feigning exasperation and walking to the sink where she began to rinse off the plates he'd left there the night before. "You're too much like my dad's side of the family."

"And I wouldn't have it any other way," said Ash, giving his mother another quick hug before turning and heading for the living room. "A Spartan lifestyle and mindset are the best thing a trainer can have in this kind of world. Out here on the frontier we can't afford to be as soft and," he pantomimed an aristocrat, sticking his nose in the air and squinting his eyes, "sophisticated."

"I know I know," laughed his mother. "Just remember that you're not a trainer just yet, you don't have your own Pokémon."

"I'm betting that will change today," Ash said enthusiastically as he crossed the living room, waved goodbye, and opened the front door. "I'll see you later!"

Ash's mother waved back and wished her son the best of luck as he stepped outside and closed the door behind him. Ash took out his keys and locked the door; securing both of the deadbolts and the lock on the doorknob itself, before turning around and looking out over the small village of Pallet Town.

Most of the settlement was nestled between two tall hills on the Eastern and Western sides of the village, but some of it, Ash's house for example, spilled up the sides of the hills. To the South there was a small beach, and to the North, separated from Pallet Town only by a rudimentary wooden palisade at the base of lesser, but still sloping hill, was the wilderness path of Route 1. Overgrown with tall golden grass, and disappearing into a thick forest farther north, a single road left the village and wound its way into the wilderness.

Turning South, Ash quickly spotted his grandfather's laboratory. Being that it was the largest building in the town and that it was the closest building to the coast, the lab was impossible to miss, and Ash, having walked the road leading down his side of the hill, passed the few other houses, hundreds of times, arrived at the laboratory only a few minutes later. He'd passed no one on his way, but in the sleepy little community that was not uncommon. At this time of day the only people who would truly be up and about would be Ash, Professor Oak, and whoever Oak had posted at the town's gate to keep watch.

The steel door set in the side of the stone building's North wall slid open even as Ash raised his hand to knock, and a short woman carrying a leather pack on her back came shuffling out. She nearly barreled into Ash, but the teenage boy nimbly stepped aside, and even held out his arm to catch the woman in the lab coat as she tried to quickly to stop and tripped.

"Oh, Ash," said the flustered aid. "I'm sorry about that. Your grandfather is inside working."

"Thanks Aisha," said Ash as the Aid righted herself. "Is he very busy?"

"Not too busy to speak with you I'd imagine," said Aisha in her chirpy tone. "But if you'll excuse me I'm a bit rushed and must be going."

Ash nodded and Aisha quickly set off into town after suddenly remembering the day and wishing Ash a quick happy birthday. The boy stepped into the laboratory and shut the front door, hearing the lock automatically click behind him. The sterile looking interior of the building looked the same as it always did, polished white floors made of what Ash had always thought was marble glimmered a little in the light filtering through the numerous skylights overhead. Large machines too complex to describe in a single pass beeped and flickered as little lights here and there went off, forming natural little sections of the warehouse which served as one of the most advanced centers of research in the country. Professor Oak must have sent the other aids out to into the town for various tasks as the building was ostensible empty.

"Grandpa!" Ash shouted, his voice echoing in the building. "It's me! Where are you?"

Ash heard a racket from off near the back of the building and what sounded like a large pile of papers fluttering to the floor. He grinned and walked off in that direction, quickly coming back to the little space, which served as Oak's office, hidden away between two especially large devices. Professor Oak looked up from where he knelt on the floor straightening and gathering up papers and a few books which had toppled to the floor and welcomed his grandson.

"I swear I was only taking a short nap," said the Professor good naturedly as Ash got on one knee and helped pick up the mess. "I wasn't sleeping on the job."

"Everybody needs to sleep Grandpa," said Ash as he and the Professor set the papers and books back up on the table. "Even superheroes like you get tired every now and then."

"Bah," Oak scoffed, running a hand through his now almost completely grey hair. "Nonsense, I'm glad you're here so early though. I wanted to give you your birthday present before it got too late in the day," said the old man, cutting to the point. "Follow me."

Oak turned and lead Ash out of the nook of an office and across the laboratory, stopping in front of a large machine with glass doors closing off what looked like a walk-in closet of sorts. Oak opened one of the doors and gestured for Ash to go in, then followed his grandson into the room.

"So which one are we going to be working with today?" asked Ash, looking at the pokeballs carefully held in little glass cabinets secured along the walls. "And where are we off to?"

"We're not going anywhere today," said the Professor, walking over to one cabinet in particular and pulling the small glass door open. "I'm not going to make you do fieldwork on your birthday. He took a pokeball from its place, closed the door, and turned back to Ash. Both left the room and walked back to the front of the lab, into the open area in front of the main door.

"Enough with the secrets," Ash grinned, positive he knew what was going on. "What's up?"

Oak handed Ash the single pokeball, and smiled. "We've been working together for a decade, you and I. We've done fieldwork together, gotten ourselves into some pretty tight situations, and together we've managed to pull ourselves right back out. I think you've earned the right to be called a trainer," said Oak as Ash took the pokeball. "And I think it's only appropriate that your first Pokémon should be the one with which you most closely bonded under my training."

"No way!" Ash exclaimed, a huge smile breaking his face. "This is too awesome!" he threw the pokeball high in the air, nearly striking the ceiling of the laboratory. "Pikachu! Come on out!"

Oak grinned and watched as the red and white pokeball popped open in midair and the radiant white energy of the enclosed Pokémon shot down to ground level and coalesced into the familiar form of the mousy creature. As soon as it was solid enough to move and even before it had completely taken on all of its yellow color, Pikachu cast about to get a feel for its surroundings and, having spotted Ash immediately, leapt at him with a squeak of delight.

Catching the Pokémon and pulling it into an embrace, Ash turned to Professor Oak and held up one arm to let Pikachu crawl up onto his shoulder. "You're the best in the world Grandpa," said the new trainer before he went on to thank the professor over and over. Pikachu, still beaming, crawled from one of Ash's shoulders to the other and back again.

"It really is my pleasure," said the Professor as he crossed his arms. "You have a natural strength about you that Pokémon just seem to sense and respect. And it only makes sense. You and Pikachu have been working as partners for…" he paused to think, "wow, almost five years now. And in that time you've proven to me beyond any doubt that you two naturally understand each other and work well together. Pikachu was already your Pokémon," said Oak, to which the little yellow Pokémon nodded the affirmative. "I'm only making it official."

"Still," said Ash. "This is the most amazing day of my life. How did you get Pikachu to agree to stay in that pokeball though? I could never convince him to even get near one." Again Pikachu nodded, as though to point out that it was going to stay that way from now on.

I think the most amazing day of your life is still to come, thought Oak. "It took some doing," he said. "I had to scrape and beg," he gave the Pokémon a wink. "But when I said it was for your birthday he agreed."

"Too cool," said Ash, turning to Pikachu. "But from here on in, no more pokeballs for you. You don't get to lounge around and do nothing." He turned back to Oak. "My career as a trainer starts today! I'm going out to Route 1 to see what I can catch." Ash started for the door.

"Easy," said Oak, walking behind his grandson and following him out of the lab and into the morning sunlight. "Don't go too far from town and make sure you're back before dark," he went on, sounding more and more like a parent.

"I've only got one pokeball," said Ash, "so there wouldn't be a point in being gone too long anyway. I'm probably just going to catch a Rattata or a Pidgey. They're the only Pokémon around here as is."

"Supplies?" Oak shouted after Ash as his grandson took off running down the main road of the village, Pikachu following right beside him.

"More than enough!" Ash shouted back, waving one hand and pointing with his thumb to his backpack. "See ya later Grandpa!" Ash rounded a corner and disappeared into Pallet Town.

"Wow…" Oak sighed, leaning against the side of the laboratory. "To have that kind of energy again…" He turned around and went back inside, running his hand through his grey hair. "At least he knows what he's doing, even if he does get a little excited," muttered the Professor. And it was true, Oak reasoned, to think that Ash was one of the brightest pupils he'd ever trained which was saying a lot given that one of Oak's former pupils had gone on to claw his way to the top of Indigo Plateau.


"Remember," Ash said, his voice barely more than a whisper as he and Pikachu crept through the tall golden grass overgrowing Route 1, "we're aiming to stun here. I know how you like to show off but try to not to turn the first Pokémon we run across into charcoal."

A quiet combination of a growl and a hiss slipped from Pikachu as the Pokémon neither affirmed nor ignored the suggestion. Ash shook his head once, knowing that as far as this particular Pikachu went, that was all the more answer he was going to get. "Thunderwave should be the first thing we use," Ash said. When Pikachu acknowledged him, he let the subject drop and let the Pokémon, whose senses far surpassed his own, focus on the surrounding environment.

For the next several hours, Ash and Pikachu crept slowly North, remaining quiet and exercising extreme caution as the proceeded. More than once Ash remarked to himself on the oddity of finding absolutely nothing, not a Rattata or a Pidgey or anything, prowling the paths of Route 1. A strong wind rose out of the East and the sun passed the halfway point of its trek through the sky before Ash and Pikachu stopped for a brief respite under one of the outermost trees of a small patch of forest jutting up in the vast sea of grassland.

"This is just weird," said Ash, sitting down with his back to the tree and setting his pack beside him. Pikachu scampered nimbly up into the branches of the tree to get a brief look around, disturbing no living thing in the process, before running back down to the ground as Ash pulled from the pack one of the plastic wrapped seedcakes he took with him on his excursions into the wild. "We must be halfway to Viridian by now," continued the trainer, unwrapping the hard seedcake and breaking off one corner for Pikachu, "and we haven't seen so much as a Spearow."

Pikachu squeaked in response and set to nibbling on the seedcake as Ash bit off a mouthful for himself. "We should probably tell the Professor about this when we get back," Ash continued after taking a drink from the canteen strapped to his pack. "And we should probably be getting back soon." He looked up at the sky and put the plastic wrap back in his bag and stood up, having finished the seedcake. "I don't feel like spending the night in Viridian."

Sacrificing some of their previous caution for quicker movement, Ash and Pikachu began the journey back to Pallet Town, stopping only when Pikachu froze by a small thicket just off the Western side of what passed for the main road. "What is it?" asked Ash, stepping up beside Pikachu and peering into the shadows of the thicket. Listening carefully he heard a quiet rustling and a low growl. Very soon he saw two points of light peering out at him from underneath one of the bushes. Pikachu's back arched and his yellow fur needled out as the red patches on his cheeks crackled with electricity.

This is it, Ash thought to himself, excitement brimming in equal quantity with anxiety. It's only my first day as a trainer and I'm already going to catch something more exciting than a rodent.

A small shape appeared around the eyes as the growling intensified and the dog-shape silhouette took on an orange hue. Pikachu's fur by now was jutting straight out, giving him the appearance almost of a Sandslash as Ash took a step back and let Pikachu step between him and the new Pokémon.

"A Growlithe," whispered Ash, the corner of his mouth twitching up in a grin. "Be careful," he now addressed his Pokémon. "This isn't going to be easy."

The Growlithe struck first, yapping loudly and flinging itself forward it opened its mouth wide, exposing its startlingly sharp teeth, and angling itself to come down on top of Pikachu. Ash jumped back to put himself in a more secure position as Pikachu, having evaded similar attacks with ease in the past, tumbled to one side and easily placed itself out of harm's way and positioning the wild Pokémon in between himself and Ash as the trainer took a metal baton from his bag with one hand, and readied his only pokeball with the other.

Growling uncomfortably the doglike Pokémon cast about, trying to decide whether to attack trainer and leave itself open to Pikachu, or attack Pikachu and open itself up to a swift kick from Ash. The Growlithe hesitated too long though and Pikachu disappeared in a blur of speed and materialized in midair directly behind the wild Pokémon, between Growlithe and Ash. The orange dog attempted to jump forward but Pikachu had already unleashed a crackling bolt of electricity from its cheeks which struck the Growlithe in the back of its neck and sent talons of energy racing across its spine.

The Growlithe yelped and collapsed, instantly prompting Ash to rear back and throw the pokeball straight for the stunned Pokémon. Pikachu landed a pace in front of Ash as the pokeball popped open and hovered in the air over Growlithe for only a split second before the downed Pokémon flashed into a white silhouette of itself and snapped up into the pokeball. Ash and Pikachu both waited with held breath, but the pokeball didn't shake even once, but neither did the red light on the locking mechanism turn black meaning the Pokémon within was quite obviously still alive.

"Gotcha!" celebrated Ash, running forward to the edge of the thicket and picking up the pokeball. "Way to go Pikachu! You were amazing!"

Pikachu nodded in agreement and sauntered forward to Ash, more like a haughty cat than a quiet mouse, and looked up at his trainer with a 'well-what-did-you-expect' sort of look.

"What I don't understand," said Ash as he glanced warily about the tangled coppice, "is why a lone Growlithe was out this far South when the packs stick more to the North."

Ash tossed out the pokeball and it burst open. The Growlithe quickly formed out of the energy that shot from the little red ball, and without hesitation began growling at Ash. Pikachu stepped between the Growlithe and its new trainer, cheeks sparking and teeth bared. The two Pokémon stared one another down for a long moment before Ahs stepped forward next to Pikachu, knelt down, and whispered for the yellow Pokémon to calm down while scratching Pikachu behind the ears. The trainer turned to the Growlithe, as Pikachu relaxed only the slightest bit, and took a cautious but confident step forward.

"Easy," Ash said calmly, reaching behind his back with one hand and holding the other up to show the Growlithe his hand was empty. The dog's growling continued and intensified as Ash drew something from his bag. "I'm not going to hurt you," he said.

Ash brought his other hand back in front of the him and opened his fingers, exposing the small red cube in his palm to the young Pokémon before him. "I'd much rather reward you for obeying me than punish you for disobeying me," said the trainer, letting a small grin tug up at his lip. He held the cinnamon scented block forward for the Growlithe to take, letting his hand hover less than a foot from the Pokémon's muzzle. Still the Growlithe growled and pulled its lip back to expose its teeth.

"Enough of that," said Ash, his voice now gruffer and his visage darkened. The Growlithe ignored the warning and continued snarling and growling. "Enough!" Ash barked, lunging forward an inch, his voice ringing in the thicket as his eyes seemed to glimmer. The Growlithe yelped reflexively and drew back a pace as Ash leaned back again and leveled his gaze at the Pokémon, focusing all his mental faculties on making Growlithe understand without any doubt that he, Ash, the trainer, was not only in charge, but also merciful.

The Pokémon ceased its growling, and watched Ash with a combination of curiosity and caution, caution mostly Ash guessed, for a long moment. Slowly, as though the action made it uncomfortable, the Growlithe sat on its haunches. It was by no means relaxed, Ash could easily see the tensed muscles in its legs prepared to jump and kick, but the Pokémon had at least stopped growling, and Ash knew that for a creature literately just caught, that was enough.

Ash tossed the flavored cube, considered a treat for most Pokémon, to the Growlithe, which twitched only a little in sudden anxiety, and then let its vision dart between Ash and the cube. "Good boy," said Ash, no note of condescension in his voice, as the Growlithe warily bent down, not taking its eyes off Ash, and snapped up the cube.

Ash managed to stop himself from laughing when the Growlithe's eyes widened in surprise at what the trainer guessed the Pokémon perceived as a sudden rush of flavor. Growlithe chewed on the cube for a moment and then swallowed it down, greedily licking its chops and turning back to Ash. It must be completely wild, thought Ash, if it hasn't ever even had a treat before. He again met the Pokémon's gaze, this time noting the glint in Growlithe's eye, a look of surprise Ash recognized. It was the same look Pikachu had given Oak on the day the legendary Professor had captured it as a baby and used a similar treat to calm Pikachu's nerves.

At that moment the wind changed direction and began blowing out of the West, carrying with it the scent of the thicket. Instantly Pikachu stiffened and even Ash caught the stink of decay. The trainer reached up and covered his mouth and nose with a cloth and stepped back with one motion and recalled the Growlithe with his next move. It wasn't so much that the smell was overpowering, but that Ash knew that scent of death was almost without exception accompanied by disease of some sort or another.

"What is that?" asked the trainer, stepping cautiously forward. Immediately Pikachu was beside him and looking this way and that. Ash reached forward with his free hand and pushed aside some of the brush before him. "Holy shit…" he muttered, stopping short and looking into the sunlit clearing in the center of the small thicket. Scattered around a little pond were the corpses of a half dozen Growlithe. Some bodies were more badly maimed than others, but all bore dozens of deep gashes and gouges. Some were pecked and picked apart nearly to the bone, and the scene made Ash's stomach turn. A dead human just as torn apart as the Growlithes and laying half in and half out of the pool only made Ash all the more wary.

"I guess we know why the Growlithe was alone and scared," said Ash, addressing Pikachu but not looking away from the dead trainer, "and as much as I'd normally want to investigate… right now I just want to get out of here." Pikachu didn't move. The Pokémon was again on alert with its yellow fur sticking out like a coat of needles. "C'mon," said Ash, heading back the way they'd come as a dull rustling began to flap in Ash's ears and grow steadily louder, wings, and lots of wings.

Pikachu and Ash both turned from the grisly scene and ran back out into the overgrown road, just in time to look up and see that a huge flock of birds had flown in from the North-East and was now circling overhead, maybe fifty meters above their heads. "Are those Spearow?" asked Ash as both he and Pikachu ducked into the grass, hoping desperately that the birds with the vicious reputation hadn't spotted them yet. "No," whispered the trainer to both himself and his Pokémon as he spotted two especially large birds circling overhead, silhouetted by the sun.

"Fearow…" muttered Ash, "there are two of them…"

For several minutes the large flock of birds circled, gradually descending closer to the thicket, undoubtedly drawn by the smell of the carrion meal below. Ash dared not move for fear of alerting the entire flock to his position, and Pikachu, aware of the gravity of the situation, remained equally still, though still ready to unleash an electrical attack at a moment's notice.

Why didn't I wear any kind of camouflage today? Ash mentally groaned, looking up just to catch the keen eye of one of the two Fearow. Knowing it saw him he, and Pikachu less than an instant later, leapt to his feet and took off South, barking for Pikachu to follow. The Fearow overhead squawked and screeched loudly, alerting the entire flock to the life below. Ash ran as fast as he could, adrenaline already burning in his veins, and Pikachu kept pace though he stayed just behind.

More than two dozen Spearow swooped down out of the air as an initial wave, flying at Ash like falling arrows. The trainer looked over his shoulder as he ran down the path and saw the incoming birds. "Thunderbolt!" Ash shouted to Pikachu, "see if you can catch them all in the wide spray!"

Pikachu pivoted and took a step running backwards before jumping into the air. Making sure he was higher than Ash Pikachu pressed both hands to his cheeks and hissed a battle cry as bolts of lightning exploded from both sides of his face. Both lances of electricity split off into dozens of smaller bolts as they neared the incoming Spearow, and slammed into the birds like a volley of anti-air missiles. A quarter of the small birds, those at the front mostly, fell from the air, blackened and smoking, some smoldering as they crashed to the ground and disintegrated into piles of charred remains. Another five or six dropped from the sky, too stunned to stop themselves as they smacked into the ground and rolled and stopped moving.

Pikachu turned in midair and kept after Ash, but soon stopped as his trainer kept running when the rest of the Spearow caught up. Ash skidded to a halt when Pikachu stopped, and turned around to see the little Pokémon sweating already. He can't use thunderbolt more than once in a day, Ash realized. He doesn't have the stamina yet.

With a grunting hiss Pikachu pressed both hands to his cheeks again as the remaining dozen Spearow swooped down. This time only a single bolt of lightning shot into the air, but it connected with the Spearow in the lead, blasting the bird literately to powder, and exploded out in a web of electricity to all of the surrounding Spearow, knocking them from the air. Only the two Fearow remained now, but both of the large Pokémon saw that Pikachu was swooning with fatigue.

"Growlithe!" barked Ash, grabbing his only pokeball and tossing it out in front of him. The ball burst open and the orange dog immediately materialized in front of Ash, only a meter away from Pikachu. "Get out there!"

The orange dog paused for only a second to look back at Ash, a sneer of contempt on its face for only the instant before it saw the Fearow swooping in, mere meters from the two Pokémon on the ground. "Just use ember!" Ash shouted at the top of his lungs, as commanding as he could be.

Growlithe turned back towards the two Fearow and opened its mouth to unleash the attack. The dog hesitated however, trembling once and failing to launch so much as a single flaming projectile. Shit, Ash cursed. It's still fatigued and injured from its fight with Pikachu and whatever attacked its pack…

Much the same as Growlithe, Pikachu hesitated, slowed with exhaustion, and could barely roll to the side to dodge as both Fearow crashed down to the ground in a gust of talons and thrusting beaks. Growlithe jumped aside, catching a talon meant for its head across its rear flank. The Fearow's talon tore through Growlithe's pelt and dropped the Pokémon to the ground, making it too easy for the man-sized bird to then pin the dog with one foot and draw back, ready to drive its beak home for a killing blow. Pikachu couldn't break free of his fight with the opposite bird, too busy dodging talons and batting wings to help.

"Back off!" Ash bellowed, charging forward, steel baton grasped in a white-knuckled grip. He threw his shoulder into the startled Fearow's chest, driving the bird off Growlithe and toppling it to the ground. Throwing all his weight behind the blow, Ash took advantage of his superior position on top of the Fearow and brought his baton straight down, aiming for a coup-de-grace. His baton connected with a resounding crack across the Fearow's wing as the bird rolled beneath Ash to defend itself, but the massive damage was done. Even when the Fearow threw Ash off with a swipe of its good wing the bird hobbled and drug it crippled and completely broken limb beside it.

The Growlithe glanced between Ash and the crippled and squawking Fearow once, before turning all its attention on the injured bird and stepping forward in front of Ash with a renewed vigor. Ash grinned. "Finish it!" he ordered the Growlithe. With a yapping bark the dog charged forward and threw itself at the bird, jaws wide.

"Pikachu," Ash turned his attention on his first Pokémon. "Play it defensive," he ordered, seeing that Pikachu was on the losing end of the fight and that Growlithe, jaws closed around the wounded Fearow's neck, could probably handle the fight from here. "Try to get behind it so we can flank it!"

Pikachu nodded and, ducking and weaving with a last burst of energy, shot behind the second Fearow. Ash Readied himself to charge in again, going so far as to lower his shoulder and take the first few steps of the attack, but a loud yelp to his left made him hesitate. Turning he saw Growlithe's Fearow had rolled onto its back and brought its legs up underneath the dog and ferociously kicked Growlithe off, raking the Pokémon's belly with sharp talons as it did so. Growlithe's teeth had left bloody tears in the bird's neck, but the dog had collapsed into a bleeding heap on the ground.

"Damn," Ash hissed. I'm out of time here. He ran forward and threw himself at the uninjured Fearow, slamming into its back and bringing the baton down on the back of its head again and again and again, wrapping his legs around its back to hang on as the bird began to thrash. Pikachu, having spent all of its special attacks, lunged at the Fearow fighting with Ash and bit and scratched at it.

Whipping itself around the bird threw Ash to the ground where he landed hard on his back. The impact knocked the air out of him and made his head spin. He turned and saw the second Fearow turning away from the unmoving Growlithe and stalking towards him. He groped for his baton but couldn't find it as he rolled onto his knees. The injured Fearow, feathers matted with blood and wing drooping uselessly drove its spike like beak straight for Ash's chest and the trainer brought both his hands up, caught the beak between his palms, and fell backwards, gripping the beak as he tumbled and the Fearow tried to impale him.

Pikachu dropped to the ground and rushed for Ash, cheeks crackling with electricity. It threw itself forward and a third thunderbolt, brighter than either of the ones before it, blasted through the air and struck the Fearow in its good wing. The bird screeched and tumbled off of Ash, collapsing to the ground and twitching erratically.

Ash, stunned and frazzled, rolled on his side to see Pikachu fall to the ground, panting and wheezing as the other Fearow came up behind the exhausted Pokémon. Ash's vision began to fade and his hearing washed over with white noise, but before the world was lost to him he heard someone shout "hydropump!"


Several Hours Later

Ash stirred, making his head spin as consciousness returned. He tried to sit up but fell backwards. Before he could hit the ground someone's hands caught him and held him up. "Easy," a gentle voice said. "You're still weak. You need to take it light for a while."

Ash opened his eyes and glanced around as whoever had caught him, a girl he saw now, helped him sit up. Ash sat on a bedroll, his bedroll he realized, a few feet away from a very small campfire. Pikachu was right beside him, chittering uneasily, and nudging him with his nose. The Growlithe he had caught earlier lay next to the campfire, asleep. Its midsection had been wrapped in bandages that were now stained red.

"How are you feeling?" asked the girl, drawing Ash's attention back to her.

She was older than him, he guessed, reflexively noting her features. She wore her orange hair loose and her whole appearance was rather unkempt despite her pretty looks. Her yellow tank-top was in need of a good wash, and her jean shorts were tattered and dirty. She wore a pair of blue running shoes that looked like they had seen all kinds of trouble and probably walked right through it. Most of all, Ash noted the six pokeballs at her belt.

"I'm alive," he said, reaching up and pressing his hand to his face. Immediately Pikachu jumped into his lap and stared up at him, so Ash put his free hand on the Pokémon's neck and scratched up and down the back of its head. "And I guess that's thanks to you?"

The girl grinned and shifted back a little. "Sort of," she said, letting Ash sit on his own. "I heard the fight going on and came running up in time to stop the last Fearow from-" she trailed off. "I patched up your Growlithe," she went on. "The little thing should pull through, but even after I bandaged it up it sat and stared at me like a guard dog. Every time I moved towards you it would start growling." She paused and Ash glanced over at the sleeping Pokémon. He grinned a little. "But I think your Pikachu convinced it that they needed to let me tend to you," she finished.

"Well," said Ash, leaning back a little and resting on his elbows. "Thank you… I'm Ash by the way, Ash Ketchum."

The girl smiled. "I'm Misty."