Flashback time! Well at the very least, this is something that I've been somewhat planning for a while. As you can see from Chapter 15. So I hope that whoever reads this might want to focus on that small snippet.
I also want to thank those that have favourited this story and keep with it even though the chapters are long and so are the update gaps. Your support is much appreciated and I hope that it will continue despite things getting out of hand in terms of waiting. But I'm sure that you guys are fine in that regard. Hopefully.
At the very least, I'd like to thank everyone that has read and reviewed from the bottom of my heart. And yes, despite the slow start and the everlasting violence despite no death, I have somehow managed to keep a hold onto that. But still, I hope that you look forward to this.
And while XY might seem like a mile away, actually more like a miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile, I probably will reach it. Just give me 30 years. We'll just see what happens OK?
At any rate, for those that continue to read this, I hope that this is a good chapter. I also find it really hard to get an intro here. Oh well. I at least hope that everyone enjoys Pokémon Bank. Lol, my Pokédex went from 496 to 671 in just two days. But at any rate:
Mr Question Mark.
The darkness surrounded Iris. She tried to climb her way out however she wasn't sure what was up or down. If she was at least standing on something that would have given her an idea of whether she was right way up however she was just….floating.
"Axew?!" she called. She tried again however there was no reply. She wasn't sure if it was her own voice that said the word, it simply came out all mushed, the feeling of the mouth moving the only way for Iris to tell if she was actually saying the word.
"Ash?!" she called. "Cilan!? Anyone!?"
Again there was no answer. She half expected for some kind of Pokémon or creature to leap out of the darkness and devour her however nothing along those lines happened. Instead, the only thing that did was a person.
Iris watched them. One moment, they weren't there and the next, there they were. She wanted to move towards them however every single instinct in her body told her not to. She held up both of her hands, ready to use her Aura at a moment's notice and called out towards the figure.
"Who are you?!" she yelled. "What have you done to my Pokémon?! My friends!?"
"Fri…ends?" came the reply. The voice choked before finally the figure moved, moving its head up in order to look straight at Iris.
She wanted to scream. She started to open her mouth however the scream seemed to be so frightened from what she had just seen that it leaped back inside her mouth.
Agent Harrington looked back at her. His face was bloodied and part of it was missing, a blue glow coming from it, the only light in this place. His left arm was replaced with nothing but bone and his right hand was that of an Audino's.
His left leg was womanly, and Iris didn't really need to guess what it was that was there instead. But Iris didn't really pay attention to any of that. Instead, she was looking at what was at Agent Harrington's feet.
Five bodies and she went pale as soon as she saw them.
Axew and Excadrill, her Pokémon, lay on the ground, their eyes just as dead as the rest of them. Their facial expressions were ones of pure fear but even then, there was a look of betrayal on their faces.
Cilan had his hands wrapped around his neck as if he was choking but he not sputter or yell out from the pain or seek to draw breath. He just laid there in a tangled heap, legs splayed outwards as if he was running on his side.
Ash Ketchum was reaching out to Pikachu. He was almost in reach however she knew that they would never reach. It was not going to be. Pikachu tried to do so however she knew that it would reach either. How exactly did she know that? The answer was painfully obvious.
After all, their lower bodies were nothing but bone. Their flesh was decomposing at an accelerated rate, still decomposing in fact however their faces expressed no concern for that. They were dead after all.
They were dead.
Agent Harrington stepped forward holding something. She knew what it was. It was Liberty's gun. The one he had used only-
"Your turn." Agent Harrington simply let out those words as-
"Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" Iris let out that scream, rising up with so much force that she forgot where she had fallen asleep.
She fell out of the tree and landed on the ground but even then, she scrambled to her knees, backing away from that image of Harrington with the gun, pressing her back against the tree, shaking. She hugged her knees, shaking her head back and forth in denial for the bad dream that she saw.
"It's only a dream. Dreams can't hurt you. Dreams can't hurt you. Dreams c-"
"GYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Another cry jolted Iris so badly that she thought that she was still dreaming. Her arms flashed forward, Aura gathering there when she looked at whatever had made the noise.
Cilan held up a palm of his own, sweating and panting heavily in his sleeping bag, eyes darting around in a frantic manner as if he were trying to look for something that evaded him.
Cilan met Iris's gaze and they both stared at each other, ignoring the stares of Axew, the only sound the crackling of a fire that they had left since last night.
"You guys finally woke up huh?" asked a voice by the fire. They both turned and saw Liberty in his suit sitting by the fire with a mug in his hands, still steaming. His question startled them and they jumped as soon as there was the sound of a crack of sticks being stepped on, the two of them diverting their attention towards the person that was coming their way.
Ash Ketchum walked towards them with a faint smile on his face, holding a steaming cup of Moomoo Milk in his hands. Both Iris and Cilan looked at it with fearful eyes. Was this a part of the dream? Was something going to jump out and attack them? Was-
"Hey….." Ash's voice pierced through their ears and they looked towards him. The boy was in his pyjamas and had a faint smile upon his face that suggested no ill will whatsoever. Iris blinked once before taking the cup, the milk spilling over the sides due to her shaking hands.
"Calm down there. Just calm down." Ash's voice tried be to as reassuring as possible and for the most part it worked however Iris still couldn't stop the shaking. He brought his hands onto hers, the warmth of his own hands perhaps due to his own steaming cup of Moomoo Milk filling hers. Iris focused on that feeling, her breath slowly getting more and more normal before Ash let out a small smile.
"Do you want to have a seat?" Ash indicated towards the fire that was still going where Liberty sat with his own cup, blowing on it frequently as Ash moved over to Cilan and did the same. Whether it was because he had seen what had happened with Iris or whether he was older did not matter, Cilan recomposed himself better and moved slowly towards the campfire and sat next to Iris.
Pikachu was sitting next to the fire, occasionally licking from a cup that was on the ground, something that Ash lifted up and brought to his own lips. Iris noticed the lack of Pokémon around her but a touch on her leg from Axew's hand made her calm down almost immediately.
After having being questioned the police about what had happened at the Pokémon Centre earlier in the day had taken most of their time, more so due to the fact that Liberty who had the most understandable explanation had bailed out. But the fact that everyone was OK as well as the Pokémon meant that Officer Jenny couldn't really charge someone with anything, so she simply let off our heroes with a warning.
They had met up with Liberty later on in the day where he had been severely scolded upon etiquette on dealing with the police by Iris however it was clear that he wasn't really listening. Ash barraged him with questions regarding Scraggy, ones that he answered after he got a good look at the Pokémon, during which it had been introduced towards the other Pokémon.
They had made camp with Liberty saying that he had to reach the Pinwheel Forest rather quickly but Iris and Cilan had gone to sleep before he could explain why. And then the dreams happened.
Iris and Cilan looked down at their cups and breathed on them, the steam floating the air before drifting away and disappearing. They took a sip, silence reigning over the group, no one sure how to approach what they were all thinking. But in this situation, it was Ash that spoke up first.
"Are you guys OK? Do you want to…..you know, talk about it?" he asked. He had been in their position and seen others in that same position as well. He had dealt with something along these lines. But that didn't stop the dreams from coming up from time to time.
"It's OK if you want to. It will help you sleep." Both of the trainers looked at their companion whose face did not contain a scrap of lies or deceit. He wanted to be there for them and they wanted someone to talk to regarding what they had seen. In Striaton City and in the Village of Dragons, there were never talks about incidents like this in the world.
Was it a question of being in the wrong place in the wrong time? Or a question of the company that they kept? Iris and Cilan could not be sure however the only thing that was on their minds was that they needed to tell someone what they were feeling.
"H-How do you deal with it?" Iris's voice came out shaky but she made the words, using one hand to stroke Axew on the head as it looked at her with a sorrow filled glance and a low voice of "Ew….".
"Right…" said Ash as he looked at his own mug. "I thought that it would be the first question. Unova hasn't been my first time out of Kanto. I've been to other regions as well, and this kind of stuff might not happen often but it does. And when it does…." Ash trailed off and looked at his companions with an expression of guilt towards them.
"I'm not going to say that I get used to it. I mean there's just some things that you can't get used to. But I've found a way to deal with it." Ash smiled towards them.
"Really?" Cilan's voice showed some curiosity. Somehow the method that Ash had underneath his belt and the smile that he could truly make towards them only showed the effectiveness of the method itself.
"Yeah, the first time I encountered something like this on my journey, I had bad dreams for around 3 days. My other friends that were travelling with me had the same problems but one of them, his name is Brock, tried to help us but it didn't really have much help. We all had to try and help each other in order to deal with it and the next time something like it happened, we all supported each other to get through it." Ash explained slowly, patting Pikachu with one hand like Iris was doing with Axew.
"But we all have different methods. I mean, Liberty how did you deal with it?" Ash asked. Everyone turned to him, Liberty partly surprised that he was asked.
"Me? I thought I had lost my mind. I didn't get any sleep for a week and had to be taken to hospital from starving myself." Liberty gave a slight wave of his hand. "My mental state during that time of my life was fairly…fragile. It's not something I talk about but I came to the conclusion that thinking about how bad or horrible it was wasn't going to change what happened. I just needed to move on." He ended the topic with that one sentence, leaving everyone partially wondering what he had exactly been through.
"But what about the first time YOU encountered something like this Ash?" Iris wanted to know how he had dealt with it. Maybe, just maybe through it she would not only figure out how he had managed to continue on his journey but also learn a bit more about him. Why was it that she was so concerned about that? She felt it was important but why did that thought make her calmer in this situation?
Ash took a deep breath, ready to tell his story.
"Well, this happened way before I even met Pikachu." Pikachu let out a nod while he patted it, followed by a "Chu" as if it wondered how Ash had made it this far without him in those first 10 years."
"You remember how I told you about the Scar?" He asked his friends. Iris and Cilan nodded, Liberty simply taking another sip from his mug. Ash had told him and the circumstances about it but Librety's thoughts on it would have to wait for another time.
"Well I got out of hospital after a month and this happened only two months after that….."
Pallet Town, Kanto
4 years ago: Three months after the attack on Ash Ketchum
The six year old Ash Ketchum looked with displeasure at the object that was lying next to him. The grey cane was of course lifeless however to the impressionable Ash it always felt that it was coldly mocking him for the pain that he had been made to endure.
But still, he had to keep on trying. Sitting around and doing nothing would mean that nothing would get done and through that it would mean that Ash would never get better. He knew that however he still didn't like the cane itself. Even though his mother had told him that he had almost not made it out alive, she had still, although reluctantly, told him that his spine had almost been severed.
Of course, he did not know what that meant and the answer that his mother had given him seemed almost cold. He had almost not been able to walk.
Ash shivered at the thought, looking up at the sky and the sight of Pidgey flying overhead. Did they have spines? Did they even need to walk? What did it feel like to fly? Would he ever catch a Pidgey? If he did, he was sure to evolve it into one of the Pidgeots! That way-
"Ash!" A voice broke him from his thoughts and he looked down the hill that he was on. His friend, well his ONLY friend, Leaf was walking up to him with a smile upon her face. Ash felt one break across his own face. This was just their spot. No one would bother coming up here due to the fact that the freak used it but he wasn't lonely anymore.
"Leaf!" he called back and waved a hand. She waved back and made her to him, looking silently at the cane with a sad expression however it only lasted a second for her before she turned and grinned back at Ash.
"Hey Ash!" she said. "What have you been up to?" she asked however she had a feeling that she already knew the answer to that question before she even asked it.
"I….." Ash trailed off before realising that trying to hide it was no use whatsoever. "I was trying to get my legs up and going again. I managed to walk from the home to the Professor's lab to here. It took my half an hour but I think I'm getting better now!" Ash grinned however still Leaf could feel nothing but sympathy for him.
After all, the walk took a normal person only 10 minutes.
"That's great! You sure are getting better! You'll be up and about in n-" She stopped as she saw Ash's face go pale as a sheet of paper at something that was behind her and Leaf looked over in that direction that he was looking in. And immediately, her expression was that of rage and anger, shown in the fact that aura began circulating around her, so dense that her lower body was hard to see through the aura.
Gary Oak walked past the hill, looking back at Ash and Leaf with a sneer before looking around him to see if anyone was there and walking up to the hill. Ash tried to stand up needing the cane to do so however all Gary had to do was simply use an Aura Hand to flick it out of the way, Ash watching helpless as it tumbled down the hill.
Leaf stood in front of him, protecting Ash from the boy with her right arm outstretched as she glared at Gary.
"What do you want?" she practically spat out.
Gary raised an eyebrow. "Huh? All I wanted to do is speak to Ashy boy here. Isn't that right Ashy boy?" He said with a mocking voice.
Ash flinched at being addressed by the boy before turning his head away. "…..Go away Gary." He said after a short while. "Your grandpa told you to leave me alone."
"…." Gary twitched, remembering the large punishment that he had to endure at the hands of the esteemed Professor. One of the conditions, that Gary was currently breaking involved staying away from a certain person. And it was obvious who that person was. "Yeah. I know. But what can I say Ashy boy? I know you way better than Leaf here." He said as he gave her a look over as if sizing her up. "Do you really think that she can really be a friend of yours?"
"What are you talking about!?" said Leaf, her own voice filled with anger, the aura circulating around her growing denser. "Of course I'm Ash's friend! More than you'll ever be!" She wanted to make Gary cry. At least once she wanted to see one honest tear of pain roll down that arrogant cheek of his. She was only 7 but she felt that feeling so strongly that she didn't think that this encounter was good for her growth as a person.
"Well? What did it take Leaf? Having no friends is better than having the Aura Zero as one I think."
Leaf tried to hide her sideways glance towards Ash as Gary said that however it was not unnoticed by the Oak boy. He let out a grin towards Leaf and she felt somewhat guilty that she had even made that glance towards the boy when the term that Ash was always labelled was mentioned. When she had first heard the term after he was her friend, she had hardly believed it however after a long talk with his mother, she had to accept the unnatural truth. Ash Ketchum had no aura.
"We can always tell when someone is angry due to their aura." Said Gary. "You're angry right now. But what about Ashy boy right there? He could be hating you right now and you would never kn-"
"STOP IT!" Ash's voice came from behind the two children and he tried to stand up without his cane however found the process to be useless. "Gary….just go. Leave me alone."
"Are you angry Ashy boy? What's wrong? Do you want to make me go away? And how are you going to-"
"He doesn't have to do anything." Said Leaf as she held her hands forward, a blue glow coming from them. "Ash is right. Just go away Gary. Leave us alone." Her voice was forceful, perhaps out of guilt for her doubt in Ash or perhaps because of the raw hate that she had in Gary for hurting him.
Gary gave one last look at her before glancing back at Ash, the boy turning away as soon as his eyes met with Gary's when Gary let out a smile. It wasn't one that a child of six should possess and it would have sent chills down the spine of any adult.
"Alrighty then. But remember Ash. I have something you don't. In fact….EVERYONE does!" Gary let out a laugh and walked away, using his aura to push the boy's cane away from him again, knocking it further down the hill as the other two children looked on in shock and disgust.
As soon as he was out of earshot, Leaf turned around and focused entirely on Ash whose eyes had seemed to glaze over, becoming practically lifeless as he looked at the cane that now lay at the bottom of the hill that he was on. She had only seen that expression on his face once, almost a few days when he had been let out of hospital and Mrs Ketchum had told him that he had almost died.
During that time, Ash had said nothing. He had simply sat on his doorstep with that emotionless expression on his face and when Leaf had tried to talk to him about it, she had actually thought that his dead eyes reflected the rest of his body. Had the thought of dying shaken him that much? After learning a thing like that when you were six, who exactly would one cope? It was almost like he had given up on his life simply because it had almost left his grasp completely.
And that expression on his face was the exact same one as back then.
"A-Ash?" Leaf once again found herself unsure what to say. She had thought about what to say in a situation like this. Sure there were those that she 'hung out with' who classified themselves as friends but Leaf did not really talk with them to know what a 'good experience' with a friend was. But even so, she had thought about what to say in this situation but now that it had come she found herself stumbling on her words. What was the right path? Would she say the correct thing?
Ash said nothing as he looked at her, those same eyes of his looking back at her. They were absolutely dead. Almost emotionless. She had seen a film once and questioned what kind of face a 'super villain' might possess and those eyes, cold and emotionless fit the bill perfectly. She gulped.
Yet…slowly, those eyes gained back their colour. Leaf watched them as they became more lively and seemed to brighten despite the darkness that had been ink them just that once. Ash blinked a few times towards Leaf before slowly lowering his head and looking in the direction of his fallen cane.
Leaf looked at the cane and her face went red as a result. "A-Ash! I…I'm so sorry!" She used her aura in order to try and retrieve it however she stopped mid-way, silently looking back towards Ash without him noticing. What was the expression on his face? She could not get a good look however elected towards retracting her aura and getting the cane by hand.
She climbed back up the hill with his cane in hand and passed it to Ash, Ash smiling as he took it and used it to support himself as he stood up.
"So!" he said with a smile. Leaf felt that there was a bit more behind it than simple passing off what had just happened. "What do you want to show me today? It's your turn!" Leaf let out a small sigh however she could tell that Ash was not only trying to make himself feel better but also try and console her.
After they had become friends, they often took them to places that they felt comfortable in or enjoyed. They often took turns and it was at random occasions however Ash always assumed that Leaf was going to take him some place amazing. She found it somewhat cute and she often got caught up in the commotion and the last time, they had watched as Ash's cane had floated down a stream. His mother hadn't been impressed nor the Horsea that lived in said stream.
And the last time, they had spent the day at Ash's house, helping his mother with the tomatoes that were there which had somehow erupted into a food fight that even Mrs Ketchum got involved in.
She felt that somehow, in an attempt to regain a normal life that his lack of aura prevented him from having, she would continue to get caught up these kinds of incidents but somehow the energy that he had almost was infectious. The more she spent with him, the more she came to expect this kind of thing. As a result, she was kind of reluctant towards telling him what she had planned.
"Actually Ash, my dad is coming home from a trip! He's been over in a distant region, it's called Orre. He was checking out some historical relics that were discovered in the large deserts over there and it's been two years since I saw him last." Lead said as she explained the situation that was surrounding her family.
"Really?! Is it OK if I meet him too!? I've never even heard of the Orre region so do you think that your dad will mind?" Ash's eyes seemed to gain a small glow that Leaf always knew that meant that he was developing an interest that would not go unsatisfied. She had counted on that.
"Sure! I was hoping that you would say that. But we better hurry." Leaf looked up, at the clouds that were starting to gather above the town itself. "The weather report said that it would storm tomorrow so I just want to make sure that we catch Daddy before he-" Leaf stopped as she watched something enter her vision, a bus that occasionally ran through the town that connected it to major cities and the airport.
"There! That bus! It's coming from the airport!" She raced off, Ash crying out for her to slow down as he slowly limped towards her and her direction. Leaf having to stop occasionally so that her friend could catch up to her aura increased pace.
The trip of course took longer than Leaf would have normally made it however she was not going to simply let other people go should they prove to be lacking in ability like Ash was. She silently hoped that that part of her would be the most prominent in regards to the strange friendship that she had developed with the Aura Zero.
When she did reach her house, something that was a two storey building with similar characteristics as Ash's house, she knocked on the door as Ash made his way onto the front step, a clicking sound resounding as the cane touched the stone pavement stones. The door opened and a fresh faced woman with blond hair opened the door, smiling towards the two children. She wore an apron and clothes that were dirty in some places which suggested that she had been preparing for this for most of the day.
"Leaf!" shouted Mrs Green as she gazed towards the girl. "Your father is coming home after being in Orre without so much as a contact in a year and you decide to be late?! Just what are yo-" Her face stopped as soon as she looked at the small boy that was slowly following behind her, the boy giving a smile and a little wave in response.
Mrs Green went red from embarrassment before apologising to Leaf and issuing the two children in. She should have guessed that Ash Ketchum would be the one that her daughter, Leaf Green would have gone to meet. While she had not really talked to most of the children in Pallet Town, it was almost strange how she had been the one to meet the injured boy, three months ago. It could even be called fate.
Not that Mrs Green believed in those things.
Ash came in slowly, something that Mrs Green did not blame whatsoever. She had been initially reluctant as soon as her daughter had named her new 'friend' that she had made at the hospital but after getting to know the boy better, she felt slightly guilty regarding the initial impression that she had had of the boy that was the Aura Zero.
"Dear! Your daughter is here!" Mrs Green let out that yell towards the main room of the house before turning towards Leaf. "He's in the family room honey."
"Daddy!" Leaf practically filled with energy, using her aura to zip towards the family room, surprising the other two people that saw her go.
"H-Hang on Leaf!" called Ash as he made his way towards where she had gone, using both the wall and his cane as support to make sure that he reached said location without knocking anything over in the process.
Mrs Green walked behind the boy should he accidently fall over, she wanted to be there to catch him. However he managed to reach the family room where a man was bending down and patting Leaf on the head, Leaf laughing while he was doing it.
He was tall and had defined muscles, perhaps from his work from the region of Orre. He had a short beard and stubble growing underneath his nose, brown in colour like the rest of his hair. He wore some tattered clothes and Ash thought that his face looked rather drained, as if he had been on a long journey without any food or water but the cheerful expression and exaggerated movements with his hands made him reconsider.
"Stop Daddy!" Leaf let out a laugh and playfully slapped her father's hands away with her aura, her dad responding with a smile of his own. He looked up at his wife, stopping as he looked at Ash. He titled his head and looked down at Leaf.
"Who's that honey? You never told me that you made a friend." He asked her while looking at Ash. Ash felt a chill go up his back as if the man in front of him were sizing him up in preparation for an unforseen event but he had no idea why that entered his head.
"Yeah! This is Ash! He…uh….has a bad leg at the moment but he's a friend of mine!" She came to his side and pushed Ash slightly on the back in order to make him move forward towards her father.
It worked and Ash took a few steps before reaching the man himself, his size forcing the young boy to look up.
"Hello Mr Green!" said Ash cheerfully as he tried to lean on his cane while holding out a hand in a handshake motion. Mr Green looked at Ash for a minute, the feeling that he was being sized up returning again being Mr Green let out a large smile and gave Ash a pat on the head.
"Well nice to meet you Ash. When did you move here?" he asked the boy and it was Mrs Green that gave the reply.
"Robert, you remember right? Delia's boy?"
"Delia?" Mr Green looked genuinely confused and Mrs Green found it somewhat awkward trying to describe the boy's condition in front of her husband.
"Ah sir…..actually I don't have any aura." Said Ash in a quiet voice. Mrs Green tensed and Leaf tried hard to ignore her mother. Of course, while her mother had already known about Ash's condition, her father had apparently forgotten the issue at hand. Mr Green frowned at the boy before looking at Mrs Green to see her nodding.
"Ah! Right! THAT Delia!" He looked down at the boy however still gave him a rub on the head with a large hand on his. "Don't worry about it Ash. I'm sure that everyone is different in their own way."
Ash's eyes went wide as soon as he heard that response. Of course Mr Green was right in his opinion, everyone did have the option to be different, however that was not the case for Ash. He had no choice. He had been born this way, something that he would have had to live with from day one. And no one thought like Mr Green did.
Ash Ketchum would always be an outcast. There was always the covert glance in his direction and the shiver of displeasure, he had learned to pick these things up. But they did not apply to Mr Green. Instead…there was something different. Mr Green was uncomfortable. But his posture was directed towards-
"That's absolutely right dear!" said Mrs Green from the side and put an Aura Hand upon Ash's shoulder, making him jump slightly. "Leaf, why don't you show Ash the food? After all, you're always going on about how he's a glutton."
"MUM! No I'm not! A-Ash?! Don't look at me like that! I seriously don't! Mum, look what you've done to Ash! Come on Ash, I'll show you the kitchen. Mum made some really nice quiche yesterday and-" Leaf spoke as she led the boy who had started drooling at the mouth and Ash waited until Leaf opened the fridge and took out the food, laying it in the microwave where she clicked a few buttons and before going to the table, where Ash was currently sitting.
"Well Ash, it's going to be done in-" She frowned as she looked at Ash who was looking cautiously through the archway leading to the family room. He saw both Mrs and Mr Green sitting on the couch talking, Mrs Green smiling and laughing at what her husband told her however Mr Green possessed that same awkward posture of his.
"What's wrong?" she asked as she came next to Ash. Ash shifted in response to her question and could not find the words forming.
"Nothing." He came to a conclusion on what to say and left the issue. However it was Leaf that frowned as Ash spoke to her.
"Hey. Is that what a friend would say to another friend? What is it? Does my Daddy scare you?" She hoped that wasn't the case as she was absolutely giddy when she had heard that he was coming home. After losing contact with him last year, she and her mother had assumed the worst in Orre however that was clearly not the case due to his presence in front of her.
"You can tell me you know." Lead said with a comforting voice.
Ash looked at her father once more before looking at the ground in front of Leaf. "It's just….it's just your Daddy seems strange. It's like part of him is somewhere else, thinking of something while he's focusing on you."
Leaf frowned at Ash's comment before looking at her father that was smiling with her mother. Ash had been right of course. When he had smiled at Leaf, she had felt that there was something missing from his smile, one unknown factor that Leaf could not place. Yet….
"What are you talking about?" asked Leaf as she denied what she knew herself to be true "He's my Daddy. Everything's fine Ash. So don't worry." She said with a smile however Ash's blank expression told her that his worry wasn't going to disappear any time soon.
Leaf was troubled. She did not know what was different about her father but there was something….troubling about him. When he had patted on her head, she had patted her father's hand away using her aura. While she knew that, in her household, using aura for actions such as that was looked down upon, she had expected a scolding by her father for using it in such a useless manner. Aura was the life force after all so there was no sense wasting it needlessly.
However he had said nothing. That was not something that her father would simply forget. But still, she wanted everything to be normal. Her father was back after two years. How could she simply reject her own father coming home after all this time?
The microwave beeped as it finished heating up the quiche and Leaf took it from the appliance using her aura so that she wouldn't burn herself and placed it in front of Ash. He looked blankly at the food before the voices in the family room rose.
"What in aura's name are you talking about Robert? I can't simply ask Leaf to leave Pallet Town all of a sudden! This is where she was born!" Leaf's mother's voice came clear to the children and both of them looked at each other, strained expressions on their faces. What were they talking about?
Leaf didn't have to Aura Listen to hear the rest of the conversation.
"No, you don't understand! I want us to go to Orre! I found this wonderful place, it's near an oasis and there's Pyrite Town nearby with-"
"Just what do you think you're doing Robert?! You come here after being away for two years and then it's all up and get away?! What about Leaf? You can't seriously think that she would want that!" Mrs Green's voice sounded confused regarding how quickly the reunion had spiralled out of control.
"I am thinking about Leaf! I do nothing else! And going to Orre is going to be the best place that she can find herself! Trust me on this!"
"Trust you! Trust you!? I haven't heard a thing about you for a year and then this happens and you expect me to trust you? Robert, there's something that you have to know about your family-" Mrs Green's anger showed itself through a faint amount of aura that was circling around her
"No…..just listen to me….." Mr Green's own aura began circulating around him, however his aura wasn't the same blue colour as his wife's but more like a diluted form of it, hard to see properly however the cause of such a thing was unknown.
"Robert, please just take things easy. What we have, you being back, you can tell us your plans later but at least stay for Leaf. Stay for me." Mrs Green's circulating aura receded as the tone of her voice softened as she tried to talk to her husband.
"I want….I want….." Mr Green's voice sounded strange, slurry as if he was trying to speak while drunk however couldn't get the words out. "I want…." He fell to his knees in a sudden motion, gripping his head, palms sweating as if he were in a vice. He let out a shout that was so sudden that everyone in the house froze as they looked at the man that was Robert Green.
But the shout did more than that.
"Daddy!" Leaf tried to get closer using her aura however Ash grabbed her hand. He didn't know why he did that. Every sense in his body was telling him to stop anyone from getting closer but he knew that words from a six year old were not going to get far. So it was actions that were needed in this case.
"Ash what are y-" Ash however did not respond. Instead, he did something that he had been working on for a while, a skill that he had tried to develop for a while. Silently, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them, trying his best to focus them directly towards Mr Green.
Aura Perception was something that he had been trying for some time however had never truly got the hang on. Even so, he wanted to at least have a good look at what was surrounding Mr Green in terms of aura.
Ash focussed his eyes and stared directly at Mr Green.
A void surrounded the man. That was the only thing that he could use to describe what surrounded Mr Green. It flowed out in a strange fashion almost as if it wanted to suck everything into the nothingness that surrounded him. It surrounded the carpet that Mr Green was kneeling on and was starting to wrap itself around Mrs Green's leg, starting to work around her shoe.
"Don't….don't go near h-" started Ash however it was Mr Green that attracted everyone's attention.
"What…did I want? What did I want? WHAT DID I WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNT!?" His scream echoed through the small house and Mrs Green took a small step back from his unexpected yell.
"Daddy!?" asked Leaf as she tried to walk closer to her father.
The void surrounding him was larger now. It started spiralling around Mr Green and Ash could think of nothing but keep in looking at it, almost being sucked in by the mere sight of it. It kept on circling Mr Green, a genuine fear filing up in Ash's chest from just looking at Mr Green.
"DADDY!" yelled Leaf from behind Ash and it snapped him back to reality. He had to do something! There was nothing that was going to be completed by just sitting around and-
Something changed. The void stopped circling around Mr Green and disappeared. Mr Green merely hung his head as if he were sleeping however that was incorrect as an assumption. All was made clear as soon as he spoke.
"That's….right…..What….I wanted was…" Mr Green turned his head towards Ash and Leaf's direction and Ash threw a hand in front of Leaf in order to protect her on instinct. Mr Green's eyes were black. Nothing but black. They stared at Ash and Leaf with no emotion, studying them and then Mr Green gave a tilt of his head. And he spoke once more.
Mr Green collapsed to the ground with a flash of blue and then he disappeared. His body was just gone. Instead, in its place a form hung in the air. It was completely blue in colour and Ash didn't need his weak Aura Perception to fully see the thing that was in front of him. The form levitated into the air, still looking at the children with its humanoid shape, tilting its 'head' once more as it looked towards them.
The blue form opened its mouth and let out a scream. That scream shattered all the windows, to which Ash countered it with his own, unable to hear his own voice. The blue figure looked at him, or rather the person behind him and flew. They flew towards him, throwing him out of the way, smashing him against the sink of Leaf's house.
"Ash!" came a concerned cry from Leaf however it was replaced by one of fear as the blue form opened its mouth and headed straight her.
"LEAF!" yelled Ash as he tried to hold out a hand however the pain in his side was too great. He winced and Leaf tried to reach out before the blue form immediately grabbed her in its hands. She let out a scream and attacked it with her aura however it wouldn't even budge.
"Give me back my daughter!" cried Mrs Green as she made a lunge forward however the blue form didn't even give her a second look. With one 'step' the figure merely turned and flew out the window of the kitchen that was the Green's house.
Mrs Green made an attempt to follow however Ash knew that she wouldn't get very far. The way that the form had moved had been unnatural, almost as if no matter where it would go, it would always manage to be further away from whoever was in chase of it.
Even before Mrs Green made it out of the window, she had lost sight of whatever had been posing as Robert Green. She sank to her knees in complete shock, looking at her hands as she tried to piece together what had just happened. However she could not. How could she comprehend something like this? Whatever had happened, it was something that she had never seen before almost like…..
…..An Aura Zero.
Mrs Green slowly turned her head towards the boy that was leaning against the sink, trying to stand up however it was no use. His cane was nowhere near him and his back ached with a pain that he didn't want to remember.
"Mrs…..Green….." he said weakly as he looked at his cane that was lying near the table. He wanted to move. He wanted to go and help Leaf. But his body wouldn't let him.
Mrs Green slowly stood up and turned slowly towards him. She walked towards him, picking up the cane in her hands and turning it slowly over and over again. She stood right in front of Ash now and looked down at him, an expression that Ash feared in her eyes. What was the expression? Ash didn't know what to call it however one thing was for sure.
Mrs Green wasn't happy.
"You…..I want…..I want my daughter back." She said simply. There was no change of tone in her voice. She simply said that towards him. "Why did you have to be her friend? Why did you….Where trouble is, trouble follows. This is your fault! YOU AND YOUR 'CONDITION'! GIVE ME BACK MY DAUGHTER!" Mrs Green let out that scream as she swung the cane down upon Ash's head before he could even react.
Like a cruel form of nature, pain blossomed throughout his body. It started in his head and swallowed him in it and Ash let out a scream of pain as a result. With Gary he had been barely conscious. But this….this was even worse. Because he knew what was happening. And was aware of it the entire time.
Ash Ketchum screamed and he screamed and he screamed.
And he didn't stop even when Mrs Green did.
Near the Pinwheel Forest, Unova
"She…beat you?" asked Iris as she shuddered. Ash was silent for only a moment as he stroked Pikachu's head before nodding.
"But….why?" she asked. Of course, Ash had neglected to mention that he was an Aura Zero and avoided any details in regards to the matter but the glances that he was getting from Liberty told him that he knew at the very least.
"It must have been the nature of the encounter with this…..blue form that Ash mentioned. Sometimes, in the cases of a new discovery, people can have a different reaction. Mrs Green had a negative encounter….and developed a negative recipe towards dealing with it." Cilan said the words and tried to not spit them out. The fact that he almost tried to casually explain what happened to Ash in a normal way made him a bit sick however that did not matter.
"This was after three months of me getting out of the hospital." Said Ash. "So in the end, my injuries weren't in the best of shape."
"Pikachu pikapi." Said Pikachu as it looked up at its trainer and tilted his head. Ash somehow knew exactly what Pikachu was asking however didn't have an answer.
"I don't know what happened to Mr Green Pikachu. I really don't. I'm only telling you what happened."
"Axew axew?" asked Iris's Pokémon as it dunked its paw into Iris's mug and looked in a certain direction. Everyone's eyes turned towards Liberty who had his eyes on Ash, tapping his index finger on his leg.
"Hmm? You think I have the answer? Well I kind of do. But Ash, please finish the story. After all, this is all about how you dealt with it. Not how things can be explained."
"That's right." Said Iris as she realised the entire reason why this story was being told. She had been so caught up in it that she had completely lost the true meaning of the story.
"You're right." Said Ash with a slight chuckle. He scratched the back of his head as Pikachu joined him on the log that he was using as a stool. "Well, obviously, Mrs Green stopped but she still felt that it was my fault. She took me to my mom's place and told her what had happened, even saying that she wanted Leaf back but my mom said that she didn't know anything and the like. That evening, the rumour had spread through the town and my house had rocks pelted at it. Broke all of the windows and my mom's garden was….."
Ash hung his head low, the memory of his mother's horrified face the next morning even more shocking than what had happened to him.
"The clouds had started to come into town but I still wanted to make sure that I could find Leaf. I left early in the morning…."
Pallet Town, Kanto
4 years ago: Three months after the attack on Ash Ketchum
Ash Ketchum looked at what was left of the garden through his bruised eye. There was no blood however that did not mean that it was a good thing as he could have been bleeding internally. However as his mother gave him the once over using her aura, she found that he had no wounds that would last, only bruises.
His whole body still ached from Mrs Green's attack as he tried walking towards the front gate however he still felt that with each step, his journey as a Pokémon trainer would end up being shorter and shorter as a result.
He looked down the street on both sides and saw no people. Pallet Town was always quiet whenever it was about to rain and it was this time that Ash liked the best. No one around. No one that would hurt him. No one at all.
The clouds had begun to gather overhead as the storm was coming soon but Ash still had something that he had wanted to do. Last night, a search party had tried to look for Leaf but came up with nothing. Ash did not think that he could work better than all the adults in Pallet Town, especially due to the fact that everyone was practically against him save for Professor Oak and his mother, but still, there was something that he had that they did not.
It was at times like these that Ash started to wonder whether he should put more time into his Aura Perception but realised that the thought was not going to allow Leaf to be saved any faster.
He checked whether the street that he was on was empty and sure enough it was before he closed his eyes and breathed in and out slowly in order to try and calm himself. Then, slowly, he opened his eyes and focused them towards the location that had the broken windows, Leaf's house.
Colours of blue entered his eyes, faint in the corner of his eyes where residual aura entered his peripheral vision but in the centre of his gaze, a colour blue that was stranger than Ash had ever seen stuck out among the aura.
Like the events of yesterday, it could only be described as 'wrong'. Sure it was blue in colour and faint at that, a trace amount but still there was something about it. The way it pulsed. The way that it glowed. Ash felt with every pore of his being that it was off and he wanted to know why that was.
Ash looked around once more. He knew. He knew that even if one person in the town saw him then it was not going to end well. That much had been evident from the fact that his house did not currently have windows. Ash Ketchum knew that he was an existence that was hated by practically the entire town for what he was.
"Will you be my friend?"
There was one person that had made it all worth it. That was the reason that he had finally managed to make it out the hospital with every fibre of his being. He no longer had no one to count on. There was someone that he could rely on. And right now, that person…..
They needed someone to rely on.
Leaf was a year older. But that did not mean that she could deal with whatever the blue form that had taken the shape of her father was. Ash was only six. But that did not mean that he would be able to do anything either. Regardless, he would not simply sit back and let things take their course.
Silently, Ash moved to the other side of the street and looked around the house that he was behind. The trail of aura was faint but still there, going up towards the hill and the forest that was up there. He frowned.
That was where the trail led and before looking around him once more, Ash walked up the hills towards the forest as fast as he could. He looked back at his own house, feeling guilty for what he was doing. He had told his mother that he would not go out however what he was doing was in direct betrayal of the trust that she had of him when she said that she was trying to discuss what had happened at the Green's house with the Professor.
Slowly, almost painfully so, Ash made his way towards the Forest, entering the trees and looking around. He had no idea what time it was and he was sure that should any Pokémon jump out at him, it was not going to be a pleasant encounter. His cane had taken a beating from the beating that it had given Ash and Ash was sure that any attempt to try and protect himself from an attack would mean that his cane would be destroyed.
"Rat!" A cry from his left made him jump and almost made him fall over as the sight of something purple ran right by Ash. The Pokémon glared at Ash for only a minute but then found more interest in running in the opposite direction that Ash was currently in. Ash frowned at that and began to follow the trail once again.
"Row~!" A cry from a Pokémon from up ahead made Ash look up to only see some small bird Pokémon fly overhead but even then Ash could not see fully as it went out of his vision, in the direction that the other Pokémon had gone in.
Ash slowly tensed up as he walked forward. Why were all the Pokémon moving away from the location that he was at? Was it because they were afraid of something? What exactly were they running from?
What was right in front of him?
Ash clenched hard on his cane and took a few more steps as he followed the trail before he noticed that the trail twisted among the trees. He followed the trail exactly, stopping as he looked at the trees that were in the Forest itself. Of course he noticed them.
The marks along the trees that could be made by either fingernails or aura.
Ash tried to hurry his pace but found that nothing would help him be faster as he made his way through the forest. As he followed the 'path' that the aura laid out for him he frowned as he realised something. It was heading back now. It was heading in the exact opposite direction that he had been going in the first place.
Looking ahead, he expected to see nothing but more trees however found that it was not the case. Instead…..what he saw was…..
A small burrow. It was hidden underneath the trunk of one of the trees and Ash was sure that he would have never have found it without the use of his Aura Perception. Carefully, for fear that the blue form was still there, he came closer towards the burrow and listened closely to see if he could hear anything.
Something was there. It was faint and making a light sound. Ash wasn't sure what the sound was at first however after listening to it a few times, he knew exactly what the sound was. It was light but he was sure.
It was the sound of breathing.
"Leaf! LEAF!" said Ash in as loud a voice he could manage. He wanted to go into the burrow but managing that with leg would be an impossible task. He said her name a few times and before long, a hand of blue came into view.
Ash froze, thinking it to be the hand of the form that had taken Leaf however it moved silently, in a motion that indicated that it wanted him to move closer. Ash frowned.
"Leaf…..is that you?" Ash's voice wavered as he suspected that it wasn't Leaf. What if it was the form that was trying to get him closer before dragging him in? He had to find Leaf and while finding the form did that, he didn't want to get stuck in the same situation.
The hand moved, using a finger and scratched a response in the dirt at the base of the hole.
Ash's heart almost leaped out of his chest and he lowered the cane into the hole in front of the Aura Hand. The Hand took it and Ash tried his very best to try and lift whatever was coming out of the burrow, careful to not use his back in the action in order to not damage it. The object inside was heavy and Ash used all of his might in the action and sure enough, when something other than the colour blue entered his eye, he immediately took a good look.
It was a small amount of hair from what he could tell and the colour was one that he knew immediately. Using as much force as he dared, he lifted the owner of the hair out of the burrow so that she had enough room to do so herself.
Leaf looked worse for wear than Ash did despite the bruises that covered his body. Bits of dirt covered her clothes and body, parts of her clothes ripped and cuts upon her body as well in those ripped places. Her face was pale as if she hadn't slept at all and when she was out of the burrow itself, she simply sat on the ground before grabbing some dirt and letting it fall through her hands as if she couldn't believe what it was that was there.
"Leaf!" Ash whispered as he pulled her into a hug, trying to make sure that she knew that was here as well as confirming himself that she was the person in front of her. "It's….it's really you!" He pushed the words out of his mouth and tried to make sure that they didn't sound like he was crying in the process or going to start to do so at the very least.
"A….Ash?" Leaf said that one word before she pulled Ash close towards her, sinking her head into his chest, water coming from her eyes and wetting his shirt. "Y-You really came! I…I…I thought that everyone had left me! Everyone left me Ash! B…b-b-But you came!" Leaf continued her mess of words and emotions, Ash thinking hard about what to do in this situation, the only thing that he could manage was a simple pat on the back.
Eventually Leaf stopped and looked at Ash with puffy eyes, expression changing from thanks to shock as she looked at his face and the bruises that were there.
"A-Ash!? What…what happened?" There was hurt in her voice, a strange kind of hurt that had not been there when she was crying and Ash merely looked away. He didn't want to have to explain. Not now.
"It doesn't matter. Can you walk?" He asked her and she let out a small nod as she stood up, still shaky after what had happened to her.
"Good. What happened to the….." Ash trailed off but Leaf got the idea. She indicated to the burrow with an expression of fear.
"He…No, it's still sleeping. It said that it wanted me safe Ash. It said that but it kept me in there. Like….like a prisoner." Ash nodded once and stood up himself before leading the way back, following the path of aura that he had followed to get here.
"What did it want?" Ash asked.
"Me. That's all it said. It went on about how it was the last thing that it remembered and that it wanted me safe…..Ash, I just want to go home. Can you take me home?" Ash nodded and led the way however there was something that made anxious in the back of his mind.
She said that she had been kept like a prisoner. That meant that whatever had gotten her was still in that burrow. Ash didn't like that thought but with each step that he took he knew that he was going to get further and further away from-
The sky lit up with a flash of white before dying back down and practically after the boom of thunder entered their ears. Leaf let out a short scream at the sight of the lightning, Ash still moving forward despite that. He knew that Leaf wasn't the best with lightning, to be fair it was her only weakness currently, but stopping and trying to comfort her was not the thing to do in this situation.
Leaf knew that as well and they continued but did not even get two steps before they heard the roar. They knew the direction it had come from and they didn't even need to look back at it. They paled and Ash tried to hurry his pace but because of it he tripped on his own cane and tumbled to the ground with Leaf.
Leaf lay on the ground, looking nowhere but behind her as if waiting for the form to take her back. Something grabbed at her leg and she knew that it was the form. It was the form that had come to-
"LEAF! Run!" yelled Ash towards her as he tried to grab his cane, his hands shaking too much for him to get a proper grip, something that Leaf felt on her own leg.
"What?" Leaf asked a stupid question as her mind tried to process what she had just been told. "No! What about y-"
"Isn't it after you Leaf?! You need to make it home! Quickly! Please!" Ash pleased towards her and she stood up, ready to go before looking straight at Ash.
That was the boy that had made his way for her. This was the one that had moved forward despite the bruises that covered his body. And right now, that boy wanted her to run away. Run away and be safe. He wanted to protect the only friend that he had.
Leaf was silent for a moment, contemplating her decisions before she reached one. And she didn't turn around and run. She didn't go where it was safe. She didn't do the smart thing to do.
Instead, she knew that what she did was the thing that was undeniably right.
"Hurry up Ash!" she said as she tried to make him stand up, Ash giving her a look as if he had been hit in the face with a Magikarp. Leaf's attempts were in vain as no matter how far Ash got he would never manage to get any further without his cane. Leaf realised that and tried to use her aura to get the cane.
"What are you doing? Hurry up and g-"
"HOW COULD I LEAVE MY FRIEND?!" she yelled towards him and Ash fell silent, his expression one of anger before changing to one of sadness. Leaf reached the cane and began to bring it towards her however saw something blue through the corner of her eye.
She didn't need to guess what it was. And she didn't even have time to move as the form slammed into both the boy and girl, sending them flying with it as they cleared the trees and entered a clearing with short grass. The Pokémon there immediately fled the scene as boy, girl and cane went in all directions through the clearing before coming to a still.
Leaf, despite being held captive for the entire day was the one that managed to get to her feet first. She wanted to help Ash however the only thing that she could do in the situation was simply look at the form that had been her father. She tensed every single part of her body as she looked at the form and knew that the only way to completely escape was to….."
"Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaf….." moaned the form as it held out a hand. "I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant yooooooooooooooooooooou…" The moan made her shiver however that was not the main concern at the very minute
"Ash!" called Leaf but had to keep her focus completely on the form. "Are you OK?" she asked.
"I-GYAH!?" Ash let out a cry as he tried to stand up however with the damage that he had sustained as well as the fact that he lacked his cane meant that there was no way that he was going to get up anytime soon. He withheld the urge to simply scream, instead looking at Leaf as he lay in the ground, helpless to do anything.
"Don't worry Ash. I'll make sure that everything is alright." Said Leaf.
"So you just sit down and watch. That's what friends are for right?" She looked straight at Ash with a grin as the sky lit up with a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder.
"Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaffffffffffffffffff…." That moan entered the children's ears and Leaf turned towards the form and held up her hands, forming Aura Hands as a result.
"I don't know who you are. But you aren't my Daddy." Said Leaf towards the form and the form responded with a shake of its head.
"Nooooooo….I am…your….Dadddddddddddddddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…" The tone of the voice was neutral without feeling or emotion so it was hard to tell whether or not the form was tormenting Leaf or actually trying to get across a serious point. But to Leaf, that didn't matter. Her Daddy wouldn't harm other people. Her Daddy would never harm a friend of hers. So this wasn't her Daddy.
"No….you're not." Said Leaf and moved forward. She didn't know just what kind of thing this form was but it was alive. And that meant that she was sure that if she could defeat it then she and Ash could get to Pallet Town and be safe. And that was what she needed right now.
She needed to be safe.
So she would fight to make sure that both she and Ash were so.
Leaf jumped forward, using her Aura in order to lessen the gap further. She wouldn't reach her Limit even though she had little sleep she had gotten. So she wanted to make sure that she finished this quickly. She was only 7 so she was confident in her moderate lack of fighting ability. But she still wanted to make sure that Ash would not be alone.
She had an aura level that was equal or if not higher than a high level. So she was sure that she would be able to make it through if she did this smart and fast.
She used her aura to mould one of her Aura Hands into a fist, smashing it down onto the place where the form currently was however through one jump to the side the form evaded completely.
"Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaf…" the form let out that sickening moan again before jumping towards Leaf. The action was so fast and sudden that Leaf had no time to react, being slammed with the form's 'shoulder' and sent her flying backwards. Leaf created an Aura Platform in order to try and stop her flight towards the trees, only being slammed against said Platform with the same force.
She let out a cough of pain before falling to one knee and looking straight at the form. It was swaying, almost like a branch, as if it was awaiting the next attack that it knew to be coming its way. Was it baiting her? She didn't know but simply sitting down would make a difference.
She leaped forward again and did the same tactic as before, smashing the ground with an Aura Fist. The form jumped to the side again and tried to get in close however Leaf was prepared. She quickly formed an Aura Shield and used it to slam against the form. The form recoiled and Leaf to the chance that she had.
She swung her arms together, Aura Fists formed by both of them and smashed the head of the form using her aura. They made contact and as soon as they did, Leaf jumped forward, kicking the form in the chest before focusing as much aura as she could manage in her feet.
Her jump from the form's chest was aura enhanced, the force from the blow causing the form to be blown back where it smashed into a tree, smashing the trunk before disappearing into the Forest. Leaf panted from the Aura Platform that she had made in mid-air, sweating. She doubted that it was over. Life was rarely as easy as the ending that she expected from just those blows.
The roar from the Forest confirmed her thoughts. She tensed up for the appearance of the form however she never even got to see it come. With a flash of lightning, the area lit up white for an instant and in that instant, the form leaped from the Forest and slammed into Leaf where she was standing on the Platform.
She let out a cry and fell backwards, slamming onto the ground before tumbling a few times and lying still.
"Leaf! Leaf!? LEAF!" called Ash from where he lay. The form landed on the ground without so much as making a sound before tilting its head as it looked at the girl. And then it started to move towards her.
Ash panicked. In his head he tried to think of everything to do in this situation, to help Leaf. But there was nothing that he could do. He was powerless after all and there was nothing that he could do to defeat the monster in front of him. But still, he refused to sit down and let things take this course.
Ash crawled along the ground, reaching for his cane that was only a few centimetres away before grabbing it, using it to stand up. He let out a groan as he did so. He felt that the one action that he had just done was similar to moving one's body with Aura once they reached their Limit. It was though he was going to simply lose his life by moving one more step.
"You….." Even so, he let out a sound. And the form looked at him in response. Perhaps it was the tenacity of the six year old or the fact that it knew that he was the one that had taken Leaf away. Either way, the form looked at him and Ash took the opportunity to speak with his voice.
"YOU STAY AWAY FROM LEAF! YOU MONSTER!" He yelled as he tried to take a step forward doing so but pain ravaged every core of his being. The form titled its head in response before slowly taking steps towards where Ash was.
Ash's head went into overdrive. What in Mew's name was he supposed to do in this situation!? He was an Aura Zero, six and injured. There was no way that he could fight and win. There was no way. Ash looked over at Leaf and all of his thoughts stopped.
Had Leaf known that she would lose? Chances were that she did not. But even so, she stood up and fought. She had tried to fight someone that she did not know that she could defeat. She had tried to defend him, someone that she called a friend. Was he simply going to sit back and let some unknown fate come over her in trade for his safety?
Ash stood his ground and thought hard about what to do as he clenched his cane. What did he have as an option? There wasn't much but….
Ash silently shivered at the thought of what he was going to do but he did it anyway. With a yell and closed eyes, he took another step forward, swinging down the cane with as much force as he could manage, feeling the object slam onto the part of the form in front of him.
Ash opened his eyes to see the damage that he had given the form, only to see that it had grabbed the cane and titled its head once more. Then with a simple action, the form lifted up the cane above its head and Ash fell to the ground, looking only at the form that was looking down at him.
What had he expected? There was nothing that he would have thought that he would have managed to do in this situation. There was nothing at all.
As the form looked at Ash, he could hear the moan of both it and Leaf who was regaining consciousness. Was this how things ended? Ash had no idea but he was silently glad. He had achieved something that he had wanted ever since day one.
A true friend.
And as Ash Ketchum had that one thought, his sight filled with white and he could remember nothing else.
Near the Pinwheel Forest, Unova
"That's it!?" said Iris with more loudness in her voice than she could have cared for. The boys looked at her with a surprised expression but somehow for Cilan, she could tell that her question was one that he was feeling as well. For Liberty…..she couldn't tell at all what he was thinking but if anything, he looked completely amused by her outburst.
"Yeah." Said Ash with a nod. "The next thing I knew, I woke up in Viridian Hospital. The doctors said something about shock and the pain that I had experienced, I can't really remember. But yeah. With that flash of white, it was all over. Leaf was OK as well and we both got out fine."
"But what happened? What happened to Mr Green? Why was Mr Green acting the way that was?" Iris's questions kept on coming. "I mean, there was something up with him so what was it? And why did it happen?"
"I said Iris I don't know! Do you even remember why I was telling this to you!?" complained Ash.
"I don't care! I want to know!" Iris's voiced entered a sort of whining tone that one would associate with a child wanting to touch a newly hatched Pokémon. Everyone sweatdropped at her outburst however she didn't even seem to notice.
"I don't have the answer! Besides, I thought that you wanted to know how I dealt with it in the end?!" Ash's voice rose as well and the two of them glared at each other while both Cilan and Liberty felt as though they were babysitting children for their parents.
"I do! But I also want to know why this all happened!" said Iris as Ash remembered how many people had been disappointed by his lack of results. Ash didn't really want to let his friends down but he didn't have-
"Liberty! You're smart! Why don't you figure it out?! What happened to Mr Green?" Ash turned towards the boy in the suit and he responded with a dark look that came into his different coloured eyes.
"Are you sure you want me to do that? I do have an idea but it isn't for the faint hearted." His tone and his glare seemed to suggest that he was serious and everyone gave slow nods. Pikachu and Axew looked at each other and with cries of anxiety also did the same. Liberty gave a sigh, ran a hand through his hair and looked at his empty mug.
"OK then. Whatever. What I'm about to tell you is classified information. Only a few people know about this to a large extent so I'll try and narrow it down. A few months ago, in Orre, there was a crime syndicate called Cipher. Their plans were thwarted but what they created was something….different. It's called a Shadow Pokémon."
"Shadow?" asked Cilan.
Liberty nodded. "These Pokémon had their emotions completely separated from them. Their hearts were closed from all emotions, indifferent to the pleas of people and Pokémon and essentially machines used only for the acquisition of Cipher's goals."
"That's….." Iris shivered as she held Axew close to her while Ash continued to listen, silently wondering what part Liberty had played in what he was talking about.
"The process itself was basically that of both psychological and physical torture. Doing this had the…unfortunate results of creating Shadow Pokémon by getting rid of emotions indeed but there were also side effects regarding their aura. But the thing is, a laboratory inside Orre suggested that the 'test subjects' for these Pokémon did not happen a year ago or two. Instead Cipher was researching this idea for around 7 years. And the thing is, since Pokémon were their final goal, they did most of their research on….."
He trailed off and the group in front of him went white. He didn't even need to finish the thought as it was obvious where he was heading. For experimental medicine, Pokémon were sometimes tested to see if they would work against it for the hope of trying to on humans. But if the end result was to work on Pokémon, then the test subjects would be-
"Orre is surrounded with desert. People who don't know the region can get lost fairly easily and as a result, Cipher could easily 'pick them up' and then use them for testing. Mr Green was working in Orre for historical relics right? Cipher could easily ambush then entire team of researchers and commence operations right then and there."
"Wait…..are you saying that Leaf's dad is…..dead?" Ash found that the words came out fairly easily and was horrified that they had been so easy to say. Liberty responded with a solemn nod before talking again.
"But here's the thing. The physical and psychological trauma of what happened to these people sometimes caused a separation of their aura when they died. Their aura didn't go to the Earth but rather went to fill the last thought inside their heads as a sort of 'compensation' for the pain that they endured. Suffering for peace. That kind of thought. You can see where I'm going with this right?"
Iris didn't nod however it was Cilan that did. "So….the 'Mr Green' that Ash saw wasn't him but rather….his aura? Wanting to try and find peace?"
"Exactly." Liberty nodded. "And think about it. When Mrs Green mentioned Ash's mom, Mr Green didn't remember who she was. After all, he was focused completely on wanting to protect Leaf. Mr Green's 'aura substitute' would have only been filled with that idea so it would have tried anything. And when its ideals were questioned, it broke. It's only reason for 'living' became obsolete so it took Leaf in order to try and protect the peace that it was looking for."
"But then what happened to Mr Green?" Ash's thought were not really limited towards what had happened but also how he would have to tell Leaf. She didn't know that her father was truly dead. Sure, she suspected but in her eyes, there was always the slight denial of that fact. And Ash didn't know whether or not to tell her.
"You said there was thunder and lightning on the day right?" asked Liberty to which Ash nodded.
"Then that'd do it. Remember, your cane was taken by the aura substitute and as such-"
"Acted as a conductor!" finished Cilan. "When the lightning struck, the cane would have acted like a lightning rod and the um….'aura substitute' would have taken the damage!"
"Correct. A strong burst of a natural force such as lightning or volcanic eruption usually disperses aura in such a way. And that explains the flash of white that Ash saw and why he passed out. Does that answer all questions?" Liberty asked to which everyone sat in thought at what question was left and it was Iris that answered.
"What happened to Cipher after that? In Orre? And how do you know all this?" she asked to which Liberty shook his head.
"It's not what I know that matters. It's the explanation that you guys wanted. And besides, I'm curious Ash. After all that, you being six, how did you get through that?" All eyes turned towards Ash and he finally realised that it was his turn to speak.
"Ah right." Ash gave a smile. "Isn't it obvious? I did this."
"…..What?" Both Iris and Cilan asked at the same time.
"I did this. Leaf and I sat down and we simply talked. We talked about what was troubling us, what happened, what to do, what could have been different. We just ….talked. We let out all of our feelings and soon we realised that the fear, everything was gone." Ash gave a small smile. "Because we had each other. And having friends and someone to talk to is the exact thing that we needed."
Everyone else was silent as they considered Ash's words.
"You guys are my friends. And I'll always be here for you guy. So are you scared? Is there something that scares you more than what you saw? Because that's why we're all here. We are on this journey together. So as long as we have each other, that's all that we need right now. Right?"
Ash's face turned into a grin and both Iris and Cilan felt one on their own faces as well. What had they been afraid of? In their nightmares, they had been alone, the only one facing what was in front of them.
But that wasn't the case in reality. Because in reality they had each other. In reality, there was no reason to face an encounter alone as there was always someone there. They had friends.
It was a simple thought. Simple and obvious. And it was that one thought that erased all doubts and fears. They weren't alone.
Because no matter where they were Ash Ketchum would be there for them. There were others, but Ash was there right now, the one that mattered.
Iris and Cilan looked at each other before they looked at each other's smiles and let out a laugh.
In the end, Ash had given them exactly what they needed.
"Thanks Ash." Said Cilan as he looked at him. "That story…..definitely had the right ingredients to it."
Ash returned Cilan's look with a grin. "No problem! I mean, we have to stick together right! And how about you Iris? Are you OK?"
Iris tried to hide the blush that was rising on her face as she gave a small nod in response to which Ash nodded back with a smile on his face.
"That's great! And Liberty! I want to tha-" Ash was interrupted with a beep that came from Liberty's blazer pocket. He reached in and took out a flip phone, opening it and having a look at whatever he had received before giving an exhale after giving it a quick read over.
"Well Ash, whatever you have to say, it'll have to wait until we see each other again. I have some business in the Pinwheel Forest to attend to quickly. A colleague of mine is um…I have no idea anymore. Something about a Legendary?"
Everyone's face seemed to erupt in amazement before Liberty gave a shrug. "I don't know. But Ash, I think that the answer to the question I asked you is something that you're close to figuring out."
Ash was silent as he remembered what Liberty had said to him. What path was Ash going to take now that he knew what an Aura Zero was? He was not born one, his aura had been taken from him. But this life was all he had known. So what was left for him?
Ash slowly nodded and Liberty gave a small salute in turn. "Well guys. See you later." He turned and walked towards the Pinwheel Forest, the others watching him go.
"Hey Ash? What was he talking about?" asked Iris.
Ash responded with a playful shrug. "Who knows? But…." He gave a yawn. "I'm beat. We have to reach Castelia City soon anyway so I'm going to get some sleep!"
"Pikachu pika pika!"
"Yeah! Finally!" said Iris as she used her aura to place herself on the branch that she had placed herself on in the first place.
"Axew axew!" cried Axew in response.
"Agreed!" responded Cilan as he and Ash got into their respective sleeping bags.
And as the fire died down and the thought of their friendship filled their heads, it was less than a minute before each and every one of them fell asleep.
I managed to do it. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees! While this is also the start of six year old Ash's journey towards dealing with things such as this, it also founds his idea that friends can be counted on. Which is something I think that then series does well.
Not only that but we have a synopsis for the 17th Pokémon movie! I'm actually quite keen in that regard. But apart from that, there's not much I can do except get some more Y into my day and I hope that everyone who read this enjoyed this chapter.
And I got some ideas from Pokémon Colosseum in there as well. That sure is a good game and the first Pokémon that I ever played in English so it's got a good place in my heart. So also assume you might see some more from the characters there as well. And apart from that-
And as always,
Review if you please
And I'll see you when I see you and I won't if I don't.
Somehow, dealing with all the incidents in one chapter always takes it out of me. I hope that everyone enjoyed the chapter regardless though.