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~ Apsy ~
Fan Fiction by Krafty Quill
Chapter 1 - Losing It...
On one sizzling afternoon, Ash, Brock, May, and little brother Max, were enduring the endless complexity of Viridian Forest. Somewhat sadly for the gang, Ash would be responsible for navigation through the thick, green maze. His appointment as leader was entirely due to the inconvenience of their soggy Kanto map, and was not to be mistaken for the belief that his fellow travellers trusted his sense of direction. Brock and the others assumed that since their current destination was his hometown Pallet, Ash would be able to weave the best route there. They were dead wrong.
The group treaded alongside a lane of tall trees, dwelling in the narrow strip of shade offered by nature’s skyscrapers. Preferable as it was, the shade could only do so much to counteract the sun’s dominant presence.
May trailed behind on numb limbs, praying he’d put an end to this madness and admit he had gotten them lost. Again. It was simply too hot to be circling Viridian futilely. “Ash,” she whined with what little voice she had left. “We’re lost, aren’t we?”
Guilty beads of nervousness adorned the leader, adding to the sweat of fatigue soaking his brow. “I said I’d get us to Pallet Town, didn’t I? That’s exactly what I plan on doing.” He could be thankful the rest of them were behind him, unable to see his brown eyes jumping about, desperately hoping to spot something familiar.
“So you actually planned for us to get lost?” Max asked, sceptical to the promise Ash just made.
“No,” Ash shot back. “That was a mistake.”
May laughed dryly. “Ha! So we are lost! Typical.”
Ash gritted his teeth. She didn’t have to rub it in. “What’s typical is you complaining, May.” Anyone could fret about a bad situation but he was the only one trying to get them out of it. “It’s kind of funny too, seeing as it’s your fault we’re in this whole mess.”
“What?” She squealed, surprised that he could blame this on anyone else. “Actually, we’ve all been following you, Ash. You got us lost all on your own.”
“Actually,” Ash started strongly. “If you hadn’t pushed Brock into that swimming pool back at Cerulean City, the guidebook wouldn’t have got drenched in the water! And we’d still have our ticket out of this forest.”
Brock pulled out a jumble of wet pages from his pocket. His pants were still a little damp but bearable. Unlike Ash and the others, he thought best to walk in the hot sun. As he tried to peel the guidebook open, the soggy pages tore easily despite his cautious handling. He frowned. “He does have a point, May.” He tossed the ruined handbook back over his shoulder.
“Pleh,” was May’s hard-hearted response. She had only been trying to have a little fun. If she’d known anything precious was in his pockets at that moment, she certainly wouldn’t have pushed him in. Not without pulling his pants down first anyway. She smiled to herself.
Bit by gruelling bit, the next fifteen minutes passed silently. Reserving energy became everyone’s top goal and so conversation was severed from their strolling. Brock joined Ash at the head of the pact, lending his knowledge of the forest to their needy navigator. They were the only two in the group that had ever been in these parts of Kanto. Working together could’ve got them out of Viridian Forest quicker. Meanwhile, making up the rear, May eyed her young brother toying with a stick he’d randomly picked up somewhere. She found watching samurai Max wielding his makeshift sword a helpful distraction from things.
Try as she might to contain her optimism, the endless grass roads stressed May. Whether it was a sharp left turn or a long right curve, every route led them deeper into unknown territory. She could tell by Ash’s constant sighs and groans that he was getting frustrated too. All the wooden signs meant to help trainers had either been vandalized or worn out by time, bidding them useless. To make matters worse, crickets, and other sounds from hidden wildlife, tested her patience from within the surrounding shrubbery. It was cute at the beginning but now they were just mocking her and her friends. She glared at the bushes dangerously, as if expecting red beams to shoot forth from her eyes and burn right through all the obstacles, drawing the right path out of there.
May sighed, tending to her needy stomach with gentle rubs. “Can’t we at least take a break to set up lunch?” she finally asked.
“That’ll waste a lot of precious time,” Ash decided, keeping his steady pace intact. In reality, he was just as hungry as May, if not more. It took an insane amount of willpower for him to turn down lunch. There was a mulish part of him that didn’t want to give into May’s whining however. “We’ll eat when we get to Pallet Town. Mom makes the best spaghetti and meat balls ever!”
“I don’t think I can wait that long,” she confessed. As if on cue, her tummy grumbled shyly for food. “To be honest, I’m surprised that you can, Ash. Makes me look bad.”
Brock smirked. “I’d be surprised too if I didn’t know Ash’s been secretly scoffing down snacks since we left Cerulean.”
“What!?” Max and his sister exclaimed in chorus. “What are you talking about, Brock?”
“Yeah, Brock,” Ash said, brow creased in worry. The accusation seemed to have puzzled him just as much as it did the others. “What did you see me eat?”
The former rock gym leader continued to walk on quietly for a moment. “Well, I didn’t actually see you eat anything, but I know you’ve still got those platinum chocolate bars you won back at the competition,” he explained.
“Oh yeah, that’s right!” Max recalled delightfully. During their last visit, Cerulean City held a light-hearted eating contest in which dozens of participants did battle over a ridiculously large portion of roasted beef, the winner being the diner to complete his or her meal the fastest. Naturally, Ash entered, as did they all, for the free entry and food. Practically no one was even able to finish over twenty pounds of roast in one serving, except for Ash that is. It was suffice to say that he had made mincemeat out of the competition, and earned himself two extremely rare chocolate bars, said to have ceased from production since ancient times. The tale insists that only twelve of the platinum chocolate bars were ever produced. “Ash, we better make good use of that of prize before it goes bad!”
“That’s such a good idea, Max.” May smiled hopefully.
“Since you’ve got two, why not give one to May and Max to share, and you and I can have the other?” Brock suggested.
Ash reached into one of his backpack’s side pockets and brought the silver-wrapped chocolate bars into view. All eyes marvelled at the sight hungrily, oozing with pleading desperation. “Sorry guys, but these chocolates aren’t for eating.”
Brock frowned. May sighed, lacking the physical or mental energy to argue with him. Max had to restrain his quick fingers from launching forward to make a grab before Ash deposited the chocolate bars back into his bag and then zipped their cravings from view. The toddler stepped into Ash’s way and pointed the tip of his samurai stick to the trainer’s throat threateningly. “Come on! We could all do with some energy replenishment right about now!”
Ash slowly moved the would-be weapon away with the back of his hand. “You don’t seem like you need any energy at all,” he stated in a bored fashion, walking passed the young boy and continuing down the path like the tempting treats never existed.
Provoked hunger grumbled in Max’s stomach. It was arguable whether retaining the rare edibles was a good decision. Max hated Ash for making that choice at such a deprived moment. If they weren’t for eating then what good were they? While renowned valuables could dig deep pockets for a fortunate merchant, Max doubted a high paying market would come rushing to Ash with enormous bids for his soon-to-be melted chocolate bars, regardless of how exceptional they were acclaimed to be. He thought to bring this to Ash’s attention, just in case he was hoping otherwise, when he was suddenly distracted by a cheerful gasp. It appeared Ash found something.
“Hey!” The trainer smiled, brown eyes brightening up with possibility. “I think I’ve seen this tree before! We must be getting closer to Pallet!”
The rest of the group, bursting with new, positive energy, raced towards Ash’s side to see the tree in question. Max pushed between his sister and Ash to get a closer view. It appeared the landmark was a short, sickly-looking tree that would otherwise bear beautiful fruit under favourable conditions. Nothing but dry leaves and shrivelled apple-like features adorned the scrawny figure. Max sighed, as he too recognized the sight. “Ash, you worry me sometimes.”
“Huh?” Wasn’t it a good thing he found something that could help them?
“Maybe you’ve seen this tree before because we’ve walked passed it at least four times today!” Max blurted out. “Does it always take you this long to notice something?”
“But how can you be so sure, Max? I can barely make out one Oran tree from the next,” May admitted, desperately clinging onto her tarnished sense of hope.
Max grinned, pushing his spectacles higher up with a finger. He brought his samurai stick to view from behind his back. It twirled rapidly in complex motions in his hands before he planted it firmly into the ground behind the Oran tree, right next to four other identical sticks, all upright and lined up neatly.
Everybody sighed as they realised Max had put up the other sticks on previous occasions. “Then we’ve definitely been here before,” Brock said cynically, crossing his arms above his chest.
“It’s hopeless…” Ash bowed his head in defeat.
The vibrant chirp rang loudly into his ear from atop his right shoulder, startling him quite a bit. “Hey, you’re finally awake buddy!” Ash greeted, trying not to let the melancholy flow into his voice.
“Pika!” The electric type pointed a yellow finger in one direction. Ash and friends moved their gazes accordingly. Pikachu must’ve sensed they were lost and this was his way of helping out.
At first, May couldn’t tell the thick trees apart from any others of the forest. She’d soon discover it wasn’t the trees Pikachu was pointing at. As she squinted for better focus, a faint sort of fog became visible between the cracks of the tall brown structures. The mist beyond the trees was rising. And rising mist at these parts could only mean one thing.
A smile crept onto Ash’s face. “I think you’re right, May!”
“Where!?” The shortest of them hopped desperately to catch a glimpse.
“You’ll see it soon enough, Max. That’s where we’re setting up camp,” Brock decided. “I know you’re all excited but try and hold it in just a little bit longer. It would be best if we gathered firewood now, before it turns dark. Then we can sit back and relax in the warm waters for the rest of the day!”
“Good idea!” May congratulated him with a pat on the shoulder. “Hey, why don’t you and I go start making lunch while my brother and Ash search for firewood?”
“I don’t think so.” Max had heard the suggestion for what it really was: May seeking the path of least resistance while he and Ash struggled with all the physical labour. So what would he do about it? Make a suggestion of his own, of course. “Why don’t you and Ash go look for logs and let me assist Brock with the preparations? You’re a lot bigger than me, May. You could probably carry more firewood…”
Ash blinked, slowly catching on. “…And I probably couldn’t carry anything with these tired arms of mine. What good would I be out there? At least here I could --”
Pikachu leapt off his trainer’s shoulder and onto the ground then turned around to face them. Small fists pressed against his waist. He had heard enough. Hard eyes considered each of them with disbelief. “Pika! Pika! Pika!” He pointed from one to the other, signalling which ‘pika’ referred to which teen, or pre-teen in Max’s case. “Pikachu!” He asserted finally, gesturing for the three of them to follow him into the woods.
“Pikachu said it best, guys.” Brock chuckled. “You should all go!” Before May could interject, he added, “don’t worry, I’ll be fine!”
“It’s not you I’m worried about,” May mumbled as Max dragged her away. Starving and miserable, she could only feel sorry for herself the whole trip there. She refused to lift her head. Instead, her gaze lingered about her old trainers for minutes on end. She didn’t realise just how dirty they were. As she contemplated how she’d wash them the first chance she’d get, Ash made an announcement.
“Looks like we’re in luck!”
“Pikachu!” His partner agreed brightly.
May sprung out of her pit of depression almost instantly. She brought her eyes up. They were standing in a circular clearing at the centre of a ring of trees. Sand covered most of the landscape but a few patches of yellow grass sprouted at random spots. She failed to notice why the others seemed so excited about the place. “You know where we are, Ash?”
Max smirked. “You should know better than to ever ask Ash that question.” Ash only grunted, knowing the answer would only validate Max’s point. “I suspect we’ve been fortunate to come to this place because it appears to have been a campsite for prior visitors in the near past.”
May thought about it. She re-surveyed the area and noticed a burnt out pile of logs she hadn’t detected before. But more importantly, there were fresh, perfectly cut samples of firewood next to the extinguished fire. At least they wouldn’t have to cut down branches to acquire what they needed. “What are we waiting for then? Everybody grab some logs and let’s get back to the hot spring!” She ordered urgently.
Everybody followed May’s example and began to collect as much wood as they could carry. Things were finally starting to look up until Ash suddenly yelped, dropping the cylinders of firewood he was holding on his own feet. He cried out again as they crashed, then rolled off his toes. Max looked at him curiously, while May glared at him irritably. What now?
“Pika?” Pikachu sounded concerned.
“Oh,” Ash said absent-mindedly, staring at something in his finger. “It’s nothing, just a splinter.”
May sighed. “I can’t wait to see what cruel obstacle this world will drop on us next.”
As if on cue, a shiny red orb came crashing down from the heavens. It landed square on the top of Ash’s head before bouncing onto the ground. “Ouch!” The injured boy rubbed his head briefly. He picked up the renegade object, and studied it closely. “It’s … an apple.”
“An apple?” Max inquired. He considered all the trees in their vicinity and made a startling discovery. “But there are no apple trees here!” In fact, the very apple in Ash’s hands was the only spec of red for miles, despite Pikachu’s cheeks and that on the clothes they were wearing. “What are we going to do with it?”
“…eat it?” May suggested, hunger getting the better of her. Ash, Max and Pikachu shrugged in chorus.
“OK!” They all agreed, Pikachu nodding.
As Ash’s teeth parted for the first bite, a soft drone entered his head. He drew back and looked at the apple curiously.
“What’s wrong?” Max asked.
“Huh? Nothing…” He tried again. This time the drone came when he was only inches away from piercing its crimson flesh. Unlike the first time, Ash could’ve sworn that the humming sounded like a voice.
‘… Please … I bring you no harm … grant me the same courtesy …’
Ash panicked! The apple fell from his careless grasp and landed on the ground with a thud. “Huh? Where are you? Who-who are you!?”
His friends witnessed his antics with blank faces. “Ash, are you OK?” May asked.
‘… I’m here … right where you dropped me, sir … please help me ... ’
Whatever it was that was talking to him, it could hear his words. Crazy thoughts raced through Ash’s mind as he stared at the grounded apple. Was it really talking to him? From the expressionless faces of his friends, he concluded that they couldn’t hear what he was hearing. But what did it want from him? How could he trust it? How could he trust … an apple? “Why should I help you?”
“You’re the one that needs help,” Max commented on the teen’s strange behaviour.
“Shut up!” Ash snapped. He knelt down and picked up the eccentric fruit once more. “I’m trying to talk to the apple!”
‘… The others are deaf to my cries … But with your hand, my natural form can be mine once more … Please, help me … ’
It sounded like a young girl's voice, almost struggling for air or dying from thirst. The words echoed in Ash’s head. Real or not, he could feel the pain and desperation playing over and over again in his mind. He didn’t care what or who it was; he made his decision! His fingers carefully brushed the dirt off the apple. He brought it close to his lips. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you,” he whispered.
Max believed he had figured it out. The whole thing was Ash’s way of having the apple to himself. He wanted them to think he could talk to the apple so that they wouldn’t be allowed to eat it. But once Ash got the chance, he’d devour it selfishly in hiding. It was the same thing he was doing with the chocolates. Max ignored it and continued to collect the logs.
May had never seen Ash be so gentle with his food. It was hard to believe, but maybe he wasn’t actually planning to eat it. “Ash, if that thing can really talk I want to hear it too.”
Ash shrugged. “OK.” He walked over to her and placed the apple close to her ear.
Minutes passed but May couldn’t hear anything. She squinted her eyes and cleared her mind of any thoughts. Then suddenly…
'... Eat me ... Eat me ... Eat me...'
“Oh my God, I can hear it too, Ash!!!”
“Really!?” Ash said excitedly. His sanity was reconfirmed! “What did it tell you!?”
“It wants me to eat it!!!”
“…” Ash crossed his arms and frowned. “Very funny, May. None of us are going to eat this apple.” He tucked his new friend safely away in his pocket where May couldn’t reach it. There was no way she was telling the truth. The apple even told him that the others couldn’t hear it.
“Give it up, May,” Max cut in, irritated at the both of them. “Let’s just finish our job over here so we can get back to Brock and the hot spring.”
Frustration from their disbelief built up in May’s cheeks. She admitted she was hungry, but why would she make up something like that!? “Whatever,” she spat bitterly, getting back to work. She wasn’t even sure if she heard it at all, or if even Ash heard it. It was probably just their hunger getting the better of them. She’d concentrate on gathering all the logs so they could all get back to the hot spring already!
~ End of Chapter 1 ~
Krafty! You wrote another Fic! Hehe, that’s so awesome, I just clicked on it... but I didn’t know it was by you! ^0^
Anyways, I don’t read many fics on this site o.o” but the title grabbed my attention! (hence the reason I clicked on it… ”)
Interesting tale. Totally odd idea, but it could happen, and actually makes for a very entertaining story!
Well, actually this is really well written, and I love the way you do detail.
The characters are really ‘In-Character’ too, and they respond to each other really well. I like their attitudes, even if Ash did seem a little angry at the first, I’ve come to terms that Ash has anger management issues, can’t believe it took me so long to notice. He picks a fight with like… everyone. (-.- tch. Tough guys.) BUT, I could actually see this whole thing being on the big screen.
Parts to pick out~
//The vibrant chirp rang loudly into his ear from atop his right shoulder, startling him quite a bit. “Hey, you’re finally awake buddy!” Ash greeted, trying not to let the melancholy flow into his voice.\\
THAT was so mean! Heh, it sounded like you were either dissing Pikachu, or trying to hide Ash’s previous disappointment From Pikachu. ^.^ Either way, that sentence made me gape. x3
And this one:
//“You’re the one that needs help,” Max commented on the teen’s strange behaviour.
“Shut up!” Ash snapped. He knelt down and picked up the eccentric fruit once more. “I’m trying to talk to the apple!”\\
That part was Hilarious! It had me laughing out loud. (my sister thinks I’m insane..) Anyways, I like the jokes and sarcasm that you put between characters. It shows a lot of… hum, I want to say “character development” but I’m not sure if that’s the word… anyways, you hardly see any fun jokes on the anime, so… I like it.
Well, this was a fun read! And I hope you decide to write more of it. You’ve got a good plot line here, Quill!~ (it’s really Not cheesy)