Disclaimer: Pokemon and its characters are copyright of Satoshi Tajiri. Additional story and characters by me.

(A/N: It's just occurred to me that throughout these chapters the word Pokemon (and other Poke related words) alternates between having an acute accent over the e, and not having it. This is because the original drafts were written on my older phone which required me to manually save the word into its dictionary and I always forgot the accent. The final edits on the other hand are being done on my new phone which apparently has the correct spelling of Pokemon already pre-set complete with accent ^^; )

Chapter 4

The boy and his Pokémon were swept downstream by the strong current. Ash clung on to Pikachu with everything he had; if he lost his grip on it now it would be all over for the little rodent, though with the way things were going neither of them would make it if they couldn't get out of the river soon.

By a stroke of luck, just when Ash didn't think he could hold his breath much longer, he felt the back of his jacket snag on something followed by being pulled roughly out of the river and deposited on the bank. He'd barely had a chance to cough up the water before he heard a disappointed voice.

"Aw, it's just a kid... Ohh and a Pokemon! Are you okay?" Ash looked up to see a young girl rushing over to him. She looked to be about his age and wore a yellow sleeveless top with denim shorts held up by braces. Her orange hair was tied into a short ponytail out to the side and she looked concerned.

"I.. I think so," he stuttered, still trying to get his breath back.

"Not you!" The girl snapped, her expression changing to one of intense fury. "Your Pokemon's in bad shape, you need to get it to a Pokemon Centre right away!" Ash flinched; by the fishing rod she was holding he guessed she'd been hoping for a different kind of catch.

"I know!" He said getting up off the ground "Where's the nearest one?"

"There's one in Viridian City, it's not far," she replied pointing in the city's direction. She sounded a little gentler again but there aggravated tone was still present in her voice.

At that point the sound of squawking got their attention as the Spearow flock caught up with them. Crud! They just don't give up! Ash thought. Looking around in a panic he spied a bike nearby and ran to it quickly, placing Pikachu in the basket on the front.

"Hey! What're you doing?! That's my bike!" The girl protested running towards them.

"I need to borrow it," Ash stated jumping on and getting away before she could catch up to them. "I'll bring it back!"

Ignoring the girl's angry cries Ash peddled as fast as he could with the Spearow flock still hot on his tail; just when he thought this day couldn't get any worse the heavens opened, unleashing a torrent on them. The rain quickly turned the ground to mud, causing the front wheel of the bike to slip. Ash lost control of the bike and both Pikachu and himself were sent sprawing onto the wet ground.

He pushed himself back up again, crawling over to where his Pokemon had fallen as quickly as his sore muscles would allow.

"Pikachu... look, I know we haven't gotten off to the best start but..." he pulled Pikachu's pokeball off his belt and continued to plead desperately with the rodent, "please, just this once listen to me and get inside the pokeball. I know you don't like it but... you'll be safer in there and I can protect you easier." Ash left the ball by Pikachu's side and resolutely turned back to the angry flock. He hadn't tried transforming since that day but he could feel the murderous intent just laying under the surface -he was in no doubt that he could call that form back if he tried.

"Spearow, do you know who I am?" he yelled facing them head on with his arms wide open in a show of defiance. The flock stopped briefly, obviously not expecting such a bold reaction. "My name's Ash Ketchum and one day I will be the world's most powerful Pokemon Master. I will capture and defeat you all! So..." Ash paused briefly to regain his wavering confidence, "COME AND GET ME!"

Ash tensed as the flock suddenly dove towards him; concentrating on changing his form but froze up when he felt something climb up his back. Quick as a flash Pikachu launched itself from Ash's shoulder into the oncoming Spearow and let out the biggest Thundershock it could muster; taking out the entire flock with the force of an explosion and accidentally sending Ash flying with the shockwave.

For a moment Ash stayed where he fell, exhausted from the chase and adrenaline rush, but after a while of silence the trainer opened his eyes to see Pikachu laying next to him.

"Well... we beat em!" He stated sitting up and looking around at the birds littered on the ground around them. "Maybe we should get out of here before they wake up." If any of them are still alive! he added to himself

"Chu..." Pikachu agreed weakly as Ash picked it up. Today had been one big mess but at least now it had stopped raining. Ash looked up as the sun came out, forming a beautiful rainbow as though it was celebrating their victory. He squinted as he noticed a shimmer of gold passing by it -it looked like a bird of some sort.

"Data entry not found," the Pokedex piped up, reading his mind, "There are still Pokémon yet to be discovered,"

Fascinated he watched the bird until it was out of sight, then turned his attention back to his current situation. He still had to get Pikachu to the Pokémon Centre as soon as possible but cycling there was no longer an option -the bike was laying a short distance away in a crumpled, charred heap in the mud- and he was too exhausted and soaked through to run all the way. He would just have to walk it and hope Pikachu could last that long.

When the gates of Viridian City finally came into view Ash found his second wind and broke into a run; Pikachu seemed to be deteriorating and he wasn't ready to let his Pokémon go so easily when they were so close to help. He ran through the gate only to be stopped abruptly when someone grabbed the back of his jacket.

"Where do you think you're going with that Pokemon, Young Man?" a stern feminine voice asked. Ash looked round to find a navy haired Police Officer looking him over as though she was assessing a criminal.

"It's my Pokemon and it's hurt! I'm taking it to the Pokemon Centre!" Ash almost snapped back - he didn't need this right now.

"Well it is unusual for a trainer to carry a Pokemon around in their arms instead of a pokeball. How do I know you didn't steal it?"

"But I wouldn't steal a pokemon!"

"Well, show me your ID and you can go" The Officer stated. Ash tensed.

"I don't have any ID"

"Hmm well that poses a problem!" Ash was getting increasingly annoyed at this woman's apparent inability to notice the desperate condition Pikachu was in right now.

"Oh wait, a pokedex!" She said suddenly, noticing the corner of it poking out from his pocket and pulling it out "this'll clear things up" The Officer pushed a button inside.

"I am Dexter" The pokedex started up "I am programmed to assist Trainer Ash Ketchum and provide him with useful information. hints and tips." Ash blinked; nobody had ever told him a pokedex could also be used as a form of ID. He guessed it also listed the pokemon in his possession as she gave the pokedex back and told him he was free to go.

"Although to be honest, I really don't know why Pallet Town is still allowing their kids to travel alone like this. They still haven't found that poor boy's killer yet!" She added.

"Well... there haven't been any other killings since... right?" Ash asked nervously, his mind casting back to the mysterious absence of that girl's body.

"That is true, but I still don't think we should be taking that kind of risk... Anyway this is not something little kids should be talking about so move along please Young Man!"

"Oh, could you please tell me where the nearest Pokemon Centre is?" He asked quickly; all this crap was losing valuable time for Pikachu. At that moment it seemed the officer finally realised how serious the situation was.

"It'll be quicker if I take you there," the officer offered, leading him round the back where a motorbike and sidecar sat.

Within moments they were racing through Viridian at speeds that threatened to throw Ash out of the sidecar numerous times, and it wasn't long before the Centre came into view. It was much larger than he'd been expecting.

"Hold on, this is going to be a bit tricky," the officer stated as they approached. Ash wasn't sure what she meant until he realised the officer wasn't stopping. They shot through the front entrance and skidded to a halt in the lobby

"We have a driveway y'know!" came a curt voice from the reception desk. The speaker was a young woman with pink hair tied in loops; she was wearing a nurse outfit and her tag said her name was Joy.

"Sorry but it's an emergency," the officer stated as Ash got out of the sidecar and dashed over to the desk.

"Please, you need to help my Pikachu, it's hurt!" Ash said frantically. Without hesitation Nurse Joy called out for a stretcher which was brought out by a group of pale pink egg-shaped pokemon. Ash recognised them as Chansey; he'd seen them used as assistants in hospitals and Doctors' surgeries. It was no surprise to find them working in Pokemon Centres too.

"Is there anything I can do?" he asked as Joy put Pikachu on the stretcher.

"You can be more responsible," the Nurse scolded "you shouldn't battle your pokemon 'til it's in this condition." Ash sighed. If only she knew the half of it; he'd just started and already he was being labeled as a irresponsible trainer. Joy must've seen the downcast look as she suddenly became more gentle with him.

"Don't worry, just wait out here and leave it all to us. It's a good thing you got it here so quickly." With that she disappeared behind the swinging doors after Pikachu and the Chansey.

Ash sat down in the waiting room; there was nothing more to do right now except wait and pray his pokemon would be alright. He just couldn't lose Pikachu, not now it was just starting to trust him. This whole situation was making his other problem worse too and 'fixing' it right now simply wasn't possible. But as soon as the time came to leave - whether with or without Pikachu - he would need to track someone down and... Ash suddenly shook the thought from his mind; he hadn't realised he was starting to think like that. His intention was to take himself away from people entirely, but it was becoming clear that wasn't going to be possible. The only way around this was to actively seek someone out every so often; a pre-meditated attack! Ash shivered a little; though he wasn't sure if that was because of what he had to do or because his clothes were still damp and cold, and looked around for something to take his mind off the subject.

The Pokemon Centre had some interesting pictures on the walls; one relief in particular featured carvings of what appeared to be four pokemon. One of them - depicting a bird - looked incredibly close to the strange Pokemon he'd seen not long ago. Before he had a chance to think more about it he was distracted by the sight of the video phones in the corner. That's what I'll do, I'll call Mom!

After a few rings she answered - practically screaming with excitement when she realised it was him. Anyone would've thought I've been gone for months!

"Honey, where are you calling from?" She asked.

"The Pokemon Centre in Viridian City," he replied tiredly.

"Really? You're there already? Oh I'm so proud of you!" She said happily "How was the trip?" Ash stalled briefly. He had been planning to tell her what a crap time he'd been having but her reaction was making him have second thoughts; he didn't want to let her down and that was a higher priority than her comfort right now..

"It was... fine," he replied.

"Doesn't look it," she stated, picking up on Ash's depressed demeanor "what happened?"

"Things just didn't go quite how I'd planned."

"Oh Ash, not all things start out going perfect, but what matters is that you keep trying, okay?"

"Yeah," Ash replied, feeling slightly lifted by her encouragement, "I gotta go, I'll see you later Mom,"

"Bye Son, I love you!"

"Yeah, I love you too," Ash placed the receiver back on the hook. It had been a short conversation, but there wasn't much else he could say without spilling everything that happened to her. At the very least he knew she still believed in him.

Ash sat back down on the chair and attempted to think things through, but his current "condition" was making his mind cloudy. He found himself turning his attention back to his earlier thoughts and toyed with the idea of going out and dealing with it now. However actively seeking a victim was a lot different from what he'd considered to be the "accidental" killings. He would be actually deciding who should die and he was unnerved at the twinge of excitement that brought all of a sudden.

Ash almost jumped out of his skin when the reception phone started ringing; breaking through the silence of the waiting area. He left it ringing a while; it wasn't up to him to answer someone else's phone, though it soon became clear that nobody else was going to. Surely Nurse Joy couldn't have been the only human at the centre!

Ash walked over to the desk and picked up the phone; he could take a message at least.

Upon answering he was surprised to find Professor Oak's image come up on the screen.

"Ash! Your mother tells me you're in Viridian City, is that true?" Oak blurted out excitedly.

"I couldn't have answered if I wasn't, Professor," Ash retorted.

"Oh! Right! In any case I knew you could do it. I bet my grandson a million bucks you'd have a new Pokemon by the time you reached Viridian" Ash felt cold; it was hard to hear that his progress was being bet on, even in jest. Even more so when it turned out that Gary's assumption of him was correct.

"Well... money isn't everything, right?" The downcast look on the professor's face made Ash think he probably should have lied. Still, there was nothing he could do about that now. "Although, I did see a pokemon that looked like that!" He pointed to the bird on the relief.

"You can't possibly have seen that pokemon," Oak replied dismissively "it's legendary. Very few claim to have seen it and those that do never have any evidence to back it up." Figured that the one cool thing that had happened that day would be rebuked. Ash sighed. "Well, I should get going," Oak added "things to do! Good luck Ash." Oak's image disappeared from the screen leaving the waiting area in silence once again. He'd been hoping for a little more enthusiasm regarding his sighting but that had probably been far too optimistic. Still, at least things can't get any worse!

"HEY YOU!" Came a shout from the entrance. Ash was shocked to find the red-head who'd fished him out of the river earlier. She was carrying the remains of her bike and looked none too pleased about it.

"Great... Just what I needed..."