July 5th, 2009 (10:32 PM).
I've crawled out from the ROM Hacking forums to start posting a fanfic Should be fun!
A few of you may already know of this fic - I've been updating it on Fanfiction.net and also on Serebiiforums. However, the version here is different from the version on those sites - the chapters have been revised and expanded since their first appearances, and small typos and spelling/grammar errors have been patched up where ever I could catch 'em. And for those of you to whom this fic is totally new - welcome! Be sure to check out the Author's Notes
1. First thing first - this fic stars Ash Ketchum. In third person limited. If you don't like Ash, you probably won't enjoy this too much (well, unless you really like to see him suffering, which he does quite a lot of in this story *laughs* ). The inspiration for this fic came from looking at too much fanart, and also from disappointment with how the anime squandered a golden opportunity with Hocus Pokémon/As Clear as Crystal. I see it as my way of righting a wrong, and doing something interesting with the world's most adorable Big Lipped Alligator Moment
2. This fic is rated PG-15 for a reason. That means, while it probably won't get R rated (and if it does, I'll ask a mod to change the thread rating), it might veer pretty close to R rated territory at times. This fic presents a rather dark and violent view of what the life of a wild pokémon is like - they do not talk to each other, natural selection and survival of the fittest is very much in play, and battles can be deadly. Blood is shed, cute little creatures end up dead, and the vicious depths that lurk in the mind of your average wild pikachu are clawing at the brain, trying to escape....readers should be able to handle violence, as well as sexual themes (though the latter is less Playboy and more Discovery Channel XD)
3. This fic is AU, and is set in an AU version of the Johto Arc. Ash still has Noctowl, Bayleef, Pikachu, Phanphy, Cyndaquil and Totodile with him, along with a PokéGear; and he's never even heard of May or Dawn, much less met them. The year is 2001-2002, and Ash is 13-14 years old. I wanted to warn you ahead of time since, because of its AU nature (in comparison with normal anime canon), this will be a slightly different Ash in a very different situation than what we saw in the anime. Virtually nothing here could ever be in the anime XD
4. This is the first fic I've ever written primarily from the perspective of a developed canon character. I'm not as familiar with anime canon as I probably should be to be writing something like this, and I ask that you keep that in mind as you read. ’ I likely made some silly errors in Ash's characterization (though I made him a bit less dense with age, since it seemed realistic), and I appreciate being informed of anything I might have done incorrectly. Part of the revisions to the completed chapters so far relate to bringing the poor boy more in-character, and also, better explaining why he sometimes has to do things that ordinarily would go against his nature.
5. To those who may complain about the use of the term “kitten” as a synonym for a young pichu in this chapter and others – not only cats have kittens. Rabbits and squirrels also have kittens – and I always thought the ‘Chu family looked more rabbit-y and squirrel-y than it ever did mouse-y. Deal with it XD
Now, on with the show! - Pink Parka Girl
-Paws for Alarm-
The most intriguing and miraculous; and indeed, possibly the most dangerous, of all the 'Evolution' Stones would be - if only I could conclusively prove them to exist! - the Transmutation Stones. It is said in the old myths of exotic Sinnoh that they are the size and weight of a pidgey’s egg, and in hue they are rumoured to be a stark white, with swirls of colour reminiscent of mother-of-pearl. Touching the artefact is said to transmute pokémon in strange and wondrous ways - but for those of our own race who handle the stone, the transmutation is generally not beneficial; indeed, it is said to be sobering or even terrifying. Time will tell their true effect – if the minerals ever leave the realm of myth and enter into the tangible reality. - Richard Locke, from the notes to a speech given at a dinner for the Plinian Society, 1827
-Chapter One: Transmutation-
The wildness of squirrels is an awesome wildness. – Douglas Fairbairn
The pikachu cowered back in her drey, teeth bared; with the long fur upon her tail fluffed like a dusting brush. The heavy smell of a predator surrounded her, penetrating the mass of leaves and twigs in which she lived, cloaking her in an instinctive terror. Her pichu kittens lay curled up before her in a mess of eggshells and dried leaf dust, their large silky ears folded tightly against their skulls. Unaware of the danger, they continued to mewl, pulling themselves towards their mother with tiny claws.
A paw pushed through the mass of the drey wall and tore down, widening the entrance gap; and a small, sharp muzzle worked its way into the pikachu's home. She snarled, the fur along her spine rising, and she lowered her body further over her pichu. Instinctively, she knew the slightest electric spark could have set her entire drey ablaze, yet her body still pulsed with power; her cheeks glowing an eerie blue in the darkness.
The sneasel gave a heave and tore the entire wall of the drey asunder; the full smell of the rodents within hitting his nose. He had not been able to find food for himself since he had been abandoned by his Trainer several days ago, and his chance discovery of the pikachu nest was certainly a stroke of good fortune. Slavering in anticipation, he tensed his paws, preparing for a Metal Claw attack.
The female pikachu glared at her attacker and growled louder, before sitting up on her haunches and hitting at him with her forepaws. The sneasel, his attack readied, slammed her muzzle with his bladelike claws, knocking her face to the right and exposing a stretch of nape. The pikachu screamed as he snatched her neck in his jaws and pinned her down, gouging into her sides.
The pikachu knew from instinct what she could expect next. After incapacitating her, the predator would kill and eat the drey's pichu at his leisure before returning to finish her off. Twisting her neck as far as she could, trying to ignore her terrible pain, she picked up the nearest of the pichu and propelled herself forcefully away from the sneasel with a Quick Attack. She knew that no matter how strong the instinct burned within her to protect the rest of her clutch, the choice was saving one for sure, or losing every last kitten.
As the sneasel began his slaughter of the pichu behind her, she flicked her ears parallel to the ground and leapt for a branch beneath her, her plumy tail acting as a parachute to slow her fall. From this lower branch she soon reached the tree trunk and made her way swiftly to the ground, traveling deeper into the forest with long, bounding strides.
She ran right into a snare trap.
The wire loop cut deep into the female's throat, crushing her windpipe. Her jaws went slack and she released the pichu; the kitten tumbling slightly before coming to rest not far from its dying mother. Her paws scratched desperately at the wire, trying to release the pressure, her mind and her instinct all too soon clouding and dissipating into inky black nothingness as she passed out.
The scent of terror surrounded the pichu kitten, and it huddled deeper into the dried grasses surrounding it, wanting to vanish.
“We don’t want Trainers here.”
The old man regarded the youngster with a weary eye, carefully folding his gnarled hands on the desk before him. His snow white hair hung in limp, thin wisps upon his spotted scalp and along his temples, framing his weary, furrowed visage. “This area of Mt. Silver is a game preserve - a protected area. This isn’t some sort of Safari Zone where you can catch things willy-nilly!”
“I’m not here to capture anything.” The young teen sat down, studying the old man with a studious air; the pikachu on his shoulder chattering. “Well, not anything that lives naturally in the preserve, at least.” The warden sighed, his heavy wrinkles becoming more prominent as he slouched forward. “What is it you want, then?”
“All I want is to find the sneasel.” Ash stood up again, clenching his hands together and glaring down at the warden, who blinked his rheumy eyes in ignorance. “I heard some jerk Trainer brag about abandoning a sneasel in the preserve. A tame sneasel, who likely knows little about how to survive in the wild.”
“Nature is cruel.” The warden coughed; a raspy, phlegmy sound that made the pikachu flinch in surprise. “What does another man’s sneasel mean to you?”
Calming the pikachu with a gentle scratch behind the ears, Ash looked the warden straight in the eye, his gaze dedicated and intense. “No pokémon deserves to be abandoned to a slow death like that, no matter who the original Trainer was.”
The warden held the stare for as long as he could, before finally lowering his head with a meek acceptance. “Fine then, foolish child. Go and get the sneasel. But I'd be quick about it if I were you, young sir. And...”
Taking off his bifocals, the warden carefully wiped the lens with a tissue. “There are plenty of things in this wide world of ours, beyond what most of us can know and perceive. There are reasons, and very good reasons, that this area was shut off from people – especially Trainers - like yourself. If you must be noble for this sneasel, just remember...be careful.” Resting his head on the desk, he watched, through half-lidded eyes, as the young Trainer left through the backdoor – and into the preserve.
The pikachu lay where she had been snared – partially on her side with belly aimed to the sky; back paws spread and limp forepaws uselessly dangling. Foamy spittle, stained with a crimson tint, glistened along her slack-jawed muzzle, occasionally bubbling as she took what few remaining breaths she had left. Her neck, brutally torn by the sneasel and further maimed by the thin wire of the trap, gleamed with blood; which had also pooled and collected amid the leaves and pine needles on which she lay. Although not quite dead, there was little she herself, or Ash, or even a Pokémon Center could do about her situation - with injuries as terrible as those she possessed, there would be no hope for her survival.
“Looks like maybe the sneasel got to her first, though. Do you think he had a little wildness in him after all, Pikachu?” Ash bent down to examine the sad little creature, who made a weak attempt to bear her teeth; fresh blood pooling about her jaws. “Maybe he'll do okay. But this pikachu...” He pulled the snare up out of the ground, making the wire go slack. “At least if the sneasel had gotten her, her death would have had a real purpose. But the poachers…who can guess at their motives.” Taking his jacket off, Ash carefully wrapped it around the tiny animal, lifting her from the hard packed soil and holding her close to his chest. In too much pain to try and defend herself, the pikachu made no protest as Ash began walking again, afternoon sun flickering through the maples.
He could not postpone the deed any longer.
A large birch grew on the right side of the weathered old trail upon which Ash had soon found himself; a massive, sloping pile of stones arranged, cairn-like, around and against its trunk. Although fenced off by ancient, rusted strands of barbed wire, it had been a simple matter for the teen to step over them and carefully perch on the rock pile, his back against the side of the tree facing away from the road. Carefully unfolding his jacket, Ash picked the limp pikachu up from her cocoon and set her down on the rock on which his feet were resting. The small creature looked at him with a milky gaze; large black pupils, rimmed with a pale amber iris, pained and yet emotionless. Swallowing hard, Ash picked up the stone nearest to him, hefting its weight unto his knees. Can I really bring myself to do this? Killing a pokémon was a deed he felt lay far outside his morals – but leaving an animal, wounded beyond medical help, to suffer and die in a slow, excruciating manner seemed equally repugnant to him. I…I don’t want to hurt you…ending your suffering would be the right thing to do, but to do that…I’d have to kill you...
He looked down at the rock in his hands, glad to take any excuse to draw his mind away from the daunting task ahead of him. It was small – only about the size of a pidgey's egg - and wasn’t a terrifically heavy object, but he hoped it would be enough to bring a quick end to the pikachu's suffering.
“Sort of an odd stone, though, don't you think?” Ash said softly, holding it up for his pikachu to see. It was mostly a creamy-white color, with a hint of rainbow luminescence to its surface. As he turned it over in his palm, the colors flashed and twirled like beautiful, formless dancers; casting refractions upon the pale bark of the birch tree. The pikachu watched the swirling rainbow dash across the tree's surface, his ears pricked attentively and his eyes focused.
“Still, I...” Ash hesitated, closing his eyes as his shoulders slouched. The longer he struggled with his feelings, the more the little female suffered – and he knew, despite his terrible reluctance, that the act must be done. “I...I wish I didn't have to do it. But it's better than letting her continue to suffer like this...you probably don't want to watch me, Pikachu.”
The pikachu sniffed Ash's cheek, sensing the intensity of his feelings. Obediently, the little rodent hopped off his Trainer's shoulder and leaped across to the side of the cairn facing the road, resting his muzzle on his forepaws.
Steeling his nerves, Ash stood up, lifting the rock as high as he could, the muscles in his arms quavering slightly from anxiety. The quicker he did the deed, the better.
After taking one last look at the limp pokémon at his feet to insure his aim, Ash closed his eyes and drove the rock forward with as much force as he could.
Scarcely had the stone touched the pikachu when a fierce, suffocating pressure seized Ash's chest, slamming him against the tree with enough force to splinter the side. Pieces of birch flew past his body as he gripped the torn side of the tree, gasping in pain and digging his nails in as tightly as he could. While tornadoes or earthquakes were rare occurrences in Johto, he knew from reading travel guides that both had happened before. Struggling to think, Ash tried to figure out which had led to his situation. It must be one or the other...mustn’t it?
A bright, blinding glare suddenly filled the clearing; a white so pure it made Ash dizzy. “Pikachu!”
His pikachu made no reply, and, struggling to find his pokémon, the teen groped about his feet blindly with one hand, wanting to see something, anything, familiar. The vague outline of what had to be the pikachu he had struck with the rock shimmered before his vision, and, steadying his body, he grabbed at it.
One hand holding the pikachu's ear, the other still holding the tree, Ash clung to both as tightly as he could. He couldn’t let go of these last strands of reality...
The white light retracted, fully enveloping the two figures in its center and squeezing them with a suffocating force. Digging his fingers in further, Ash hung on for all he was worth, even as the crushing light tore at their very existence. The pikachu, with nary a whimper, faded into mist and slipped through his fingers; a clammy fog that invaded his pores and nose.
Fighting to stay conscious, Ash gasped as the pressure upon his body increased even further, as if a giant was trying to compress him into a small, manageable form. I must...
Unable to think further from the crippling pain, Ash passed out; the light fading into nothingness.
It was night when Ash awoke.
The moon hung low in the sky, its pale light filtering through the spread branches of the evergreens, occasionally interspersed by especially ambitious deciduous trees struggling for an equal place in the forest. Small creatures rustled nearby; the sound of paws pattering against dried leaf matter ringing amazingly loud in Ash's ears. Startled out of his dream-like state, he opened his eyes, struggling to adjust to his surroundings. A choking, overbearing darkness surrounded him; which was surprisingly tangible – reaching forward, Ash could feel thick, heavy strands of fabric surrounding his entire body. A scent, musty and strong, emanated from the material.
Where on earth am I? Through the weave of the strange covering, Ash could feel a cool breeze flow past, and the rustling that had finally awakened him from his stupor continued, intermingled with a noctowl’s hooting not far off. At that sound, something within himself that he had never experienced awakened, and, succumbing to the intense internal desire, he crouched low to the ground and ceased all moment. But I have no need to be afraid of a noctowl...especially since I train one!
But...but why do I feel so scared of it?
Carefully forcing himself to move, Ash pulled his body along the strange fabric, hooking his hands around the thick strands and inching forward. Suddenly, the darkness shifted; and before him appeared a sliver of grey, through which a blast of crisp air whipped through. The end of the tunnel was near!
Still crawling, Ash rushed forward, wondering what would await him.
Something sparkling rested between Ash's hands.
Sitting up the best he could, Ash examined the object, studying it as well as he was able to in the faint moonlight. It was silver colored, and made of thin medal, which was shaped into a rough rectangle. Another piece of silvery metal, slightly thinner, rested against the larger piece, but was also threaded through a strange material. The other material had a rich, smoky scent and felt smooth to the touch, with large holes, though which he could fit an entire finger, evenly spaced along part of its length. Around it, strips of fabric, different than the sort he had been trapped in before, held the entire arrangement in place.
I...I think I’m sitting on...a giant...pair of pants!
It felt foolish even to think it. But what else could the metal be but a belt buckle, the smoky material a leather belt, and the strips holding it in place part of an oversized pair of Levis? Mind reeling, Ash carefully turned around and crawled unto the thick threaded fabric he had been trapped in; even in the faint light, he could identify it as a massive sweater, glowing a sickly green in the moonlight.
It’s...it’s my sweater...
Backing up in horror, Ash tried to convince himself that what was going on was a dream, just a terrible hallucination of the night. He couldn’t have shrunk! Not for real! Crawling – why did he feel the need to crawl everywhere in this nightmare? – backwards at a fast clip, he didn’t even notice the heavy, choking smell of death until he felt something sticky under his feet.
The blood, thick and congealed, was a black smear across the stones, its deep red-purple color obscured by the heaviness of night. A rock, which looked to Ash to be as large as his head, rested before him, massive and cold. What had once been a pure white stone with faint swirls of color was now the hue of poor-quality quartz; whatever inherent magic it had held was now gone.
That must be where the pikachu had been...and if the pikachu's body has vanished, and the stone has burned out, that means...
I really have shrunk...whatever happened was real, very real...
A dark shape swooped down suddenly, and Ash, aware of his current small size, swiftly ducked behind the birch, heart pounding. A murkrow, eyes glittering with an almost mischievous glee, had alighted on the rock that had struck the pikachu, cocking its head in seeming curiosity. A few moments later, it gave a little hop and landed on a stone level with the smears of blood, looking for the carcass it had expected to uncover. Finding only a left behind scrap of offal, it took it up in one claw and tugged at the flesh with its beak, attempting to rip off a bite-sized bit. Once it had freed a strip, it flicked its head upwards; a sudden movement that caused the already skittish Ash to yelp in surprise.
Born of a moment of irrational phobia, his shout echoed about the previously quiet clearing, shocking not only Ash himself but the murkrow; which abandoned its food and flew off, cawing petulantly. Yet as noisy as the bird was, its voice could not drown the memory of that yell...
The sound replayed in Ash's mind, over and over like an unwanted earworm; a disturbing revelation that a smaller size was the least of his problems. There had been nothing human about the high-pitched, chattering noise that had burst from his throat – rather, it had been all pikachu.
Shaking his head in frightened bewilderment, Ash held his hands up to his face for examination, hoping to find them unchanged. The general shape still seemed to be vaguely human, although the fingers were somewhat stubbier than they had been, and the new size and positioning of the thumb digits made it clear they were now lacking in opposability. Reaching up with his strange new paw, he traced the outline of his face; experiencing the strange sensation of his now small, moist nose pressing into his newly thick and fleshy palm, running his digits along his slender, blunt muzzle, and reaching up as best he could to feel his tall, tapered ears. Turning his head, Ash scrutinized the rest of himself, his mind still not quite accepting what had happened. His body was small, stocky and covered all over with thick, short fur, which grew much longer and fuller upon his new tail. The digits on both fore and hind paws were tipped with short black claws, which curved over slightly at the tip.
I can’t be a pikachu. I can’t…
Pikachu! Ash screamed verbally, his mind reeling with confusion. Where was his pokémon? Had the bright light that turned the dying pikachu to mist destroyed his best friend as well? Heart beating furiously, he screamed out loud, not caring that simply more animal vocalizations emerged from his throat. He was alone. Forced into a new body, and without his precious partner for companionship…
“Pika?” Something damp brushed against the back of his neck, and Ash jumped back instinctively, feeling the fur along his spine rise and a strange, tingling pulse in his cheeks. Another pikachu stood before him, ears pricked attentively, a confused but responsive gleam in his eyes.
An image of himself as a human sitting on the rock cairn suddenly filled Ash’s head, as if he were reliving the events of earlier in the day from outside his own body. Lingering feelings that were not his own hovered around the periphery of the vision; an intense puzzlement, tinged with slight fear and hints of loneliness. The form of the vision-Ash suddenly shifted to that of a pikachu and back again, a pattern it repeated several more times before it faded, with the implication of a question attached.
Where did that come from? Ash wondered, peering curiously at his pokémon. The pikachu stared back at him, and again the vague idea of a question entered his mind; a question that could not be asked, nor its answer understood, in human words. Pikachu is sending me messages?
He lay down, resting his muzzle on his forepaws, and tried to send a message of his own to the pokémon. Pikachu?
The pikachu sat up, staring straight at Ash. This is Ash, Pikachu. I…somehow…somehow I’m a pikachu now, too…
The pikachu looked blank, and cocked his head, chattering anxiously. An image of himself had appeared when he thought “Ash,” and an image of his pikachu when he addressed the pokémon, but the other words seemed lost on the little animal. How can I let him know? If words don’t work…
Closing his eyes, Ash concentrated, thinking back over his ordeal. The pikachu pricked his ears and carefully approached his transfigured master, sniffing him along his cheeks and muzzle and giving an occasional nibble at his fur. Yes, Pikachu, Ash thought, it’s me. It’s Ash. You’ll stay with me, won’t you, Pikachu? He added an image of traveling through a forest, his loyal partner still by his side despite his altered state. The impression he received in return was heavily infused with confusion, but even stronger were the feelings of assertion and love, mixed with a single word – his own name.
Pikachu! Grabbing the pokémon in as human a hug as he could manage, his own feelings of love needed no translation.
Pikachu waited obediently, curled up in a ball at the foot of the cairn, his muzzle resting on the tip of his tail as he watched his master at work. Ash stood upon his jacket, his face stuffed into one of the inside pockets. His much more sensitive nose rankled at the scent of old sweat, decaying crumbs of food, and general human odor that clung tenaciously to the fabric, and he scrunched his muzzle distastefully. At least I don’t have to stay in here long, he thought wryly, taking a small object into his jaws. Just long enough to find my other pokéballs. If Pikachu would listen to him, he thought, than it stood to reason that his other pokémon would as well, providing him with additional companionship and protection. And I need as much of that as I can get…if I got in a battle…I only know how to fight with pokémon, not as one…
He felt his ears droop at the prospect. I could never battle as a pokémon. My only hopes lie with you guys…my team…
Feeling deeper into the pocket, his paws brushed against the rest of his pokéballs, which rattled against each other with a sharp clicking sound. Scooping them up in his jaws, Ash retreated, spitting them unto his sweater and taking huge gasps of air. The pokéballs, in their miniature state, lay where they landed in a small depression in the sweater, their gleaming surface faintly illuminated by the thin moonlight. I hope you’re not too disturbed by my appearance, guys, Ash thought as he walked carefully around the small objects, wondering which pokémon he should release first. Maybe Bayleef, he decided, nudging her pokéball with his nose. That silly pokémon would know me anywhere.
Turning the ball over, Ash depressed the button with his paw, enlarging the ball to its normal size. He sent Pikachu an image of Bayleef, and the small pokémon stood up, eyeing the pokéball. Well, Pikachu, here goes…
He pressed the button once more, and the ball opened with a blinding flare, the shape of his bayleef materializing and forming before his scarred vision. Once solid, she looked around; a puzzled gleam in her eyes as she scanned her surroundings for any sign of her beloved Trainer. Bayleef, Ash projected to her, waiting to see the recognition arise in her gaze. Bayleef! Ash is here. Ash!
Bayleef paid no attention and sniffed at his clothes instead, her face registering sadness. She pawed at his jacket, shoving it aside and sticking her head under his sweater and hat. Sitting up, with Ash’s hat perched awkwardly upon her cranium and his sweater dangling from about her neck, she looked around, a hint of panic beginning to show in her demeanor.
Bayleef! He thought her name as intensely as he could, along with an image of himself turning into a pikachu. Bayleef!
“Baaaaay!” The pokémon bellowed, stamping her feet and swinging her head about threateningly. A pungent, spicy scent filled the air as the bayleef grew more agitated; desperately searching for the Trainer whose presence she was not aware of, whose messages she could not hear. Giving a final heave of her head, sending the hat and sweater flying, the pokémon began furiously attacking the birch tree from frustration, sending wood chips and flakes of bark flying with each Razor Leaf she launched.
Bayleef…you…you must not be able to hear me like Pikachu can…
Ash picked up Bayleef’s pokéball in his paws, hanging his head dejectedly. Without the power of speech, he had no way to return her to her pokéball, where she’d be safe until someone else found his cast-off possessions. There must be something I could do to show her who I am! Anything!
His hat lay in a crumpled heap where it had landed, and the boy ran to it, nudging at its fabric sides with his nose. Lifting it slightly with his head and forepaws, Ash squirmed his body underneath and then sat up inelegantly; the hat sagging at an angle over the left side of his face; the brim bumping against his muzzle. It’s not much, but at least it’s something…there’s nothing else I can do….
Nudging the cap out of his face, Ash cautiously approached his anxious bayleef; half-raising a paw towards her foreleg but unable to bring himself to touch her. The pokémon’s whole body shook with fear and apprehension, and she panted; her head lying slack upon the stones. Pieces of bark and wood clung to her scales and the ground around her, intermingled with the sharp green leaves she had launched at the tree in her anger. Bayleef…poor Bayleef…if only I’d known, I would never have let you out to suffer like this…I just hope you can finally recognize me, by my hat and by my actions…
Ears drooping with shame, Ash swallowed his uncertainty and rested his small paw delicately upon Bayleef’s foreleg; a gentle, soothing Trainer’s touch not unlike those he often gave his team to show his support and affection. "Chuuu…."
The Grass-type lifted her head and stumbled back in shock and surprise; her feet scrabbling for purchase upon the loose stone cairn. Quickly regaining her footing, she spun towards Ash; her eyes blazing with rage and a blind fury, and her body language speaking louder than any words ever could – this monster, this creature who would mockingly wear her Trainer’s hat and dare to touch her, would have to be punished.
With a yelp of surprise, Ash ran from the clearing as a barrage of leaves enveloped the space he had been standing only a moment before, leaping over the barbed wire with a powerful spring and hitting the ground forepaws first. His heart ached with melancholy, but without a way to convince Bayleef of who he really was, he had no other choice than to run away. Not only had he killed a pokémon and lost his own humanity in one fell swoop, but now he was leaving another to suffer and starve in the wilderness, abandoned and heartbroken in the wilds of Mt. Silver. Bayleef, he thought, his mind choking with sorrow, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I had to do that to you…
A furry cheek rubbed against his own, and Ash turned to see his pikachu beside him, making a sad, anxious sound. He hugged his pokémon again, resting his muzzle against Pikachu’s shoulder. I’m a terrible person…a terrible Trainer…no different than that sneasel’s Trainer…
Pikachu, sensing the intensity of Ash’s emotion, churred sympathetically and groomed his friend’s ear in response. Without thinking, Ash returned the gesture, feeling an endorphin-induced calming effect wash over him as he ran his tongue along his partner’s fur. Mmm….that feels nice…
With a start, his human mind realized what exactly he had been doing, and he leapt back, mentally castigating himself. You’re not a pikachu! You’re a human! A Trainer! Even if you can’t help Bayleef, you can at least help yourself from turning even more into an animal!
He shook himself with revulsion, the hat’s brim slamming against his muzzle from the force of his movement. Wait…the hat…I still have the hat with me! If…if I were to bring it to the warden’s house, he might see it and send a search party out for me. And though they’d never find me, they could find Bayleef and the others…though I wish I could do more, this is the best I can do for my Pokémon right now…
Come, Pikachu. With that command, he started retracing his steps along the dirt path, resisting the urge to look back as Bayleef’s inconsolable cries reverberated about him.
Everything in the forest was a new experience for Ash. Every twig that snapped, every pokémon that cried, and the rustling of the plethora of foliage all above and around him was picked up by his sharply acute hearing, while the stink of pitch and loam, birth and courtship and decay, the grasses of the sweet summer and the dried husks of last year’s leaves blended together into an overwhelming cornucopia of scents. His rough pads were not as perceptive to textures and sensations as his human fingertips had been, but this was more of a boon rather than a loss, as stepping repeatedly upon twigs, thorns and thistles soon proved. His new tail dragged along in the dirt behind him – he had tried holding it upright as instinct advised him, but the alien feeling was too enormously foreign for him to keep it up.
He wondered what he could possibly do next. If there was a way to turn him into a pikachu, he reasoned, there had to be a way to turn him back into a human. But if I can’t talk, how can I let anyone know what happened to me? And…what if there isn’t a way?
What if I’m a pikachu forever?
Swallowing, Ash shook his head and tried to set his sights on the path ahead of him. The dirt road had faded into an almost completely overgrown trail, filled with towering weeds and burdocks and tinged with stale human scent. This must be near the area where the poachers had their snares, Ash thought, suddenly tensing fearfully. Sending a frantic mental image of a deadly, gleaming snare to Pikachu, he carefully made his way to the pokémon. Flicking his tail anxiously, he seemed to have made the connection between the image and the memories of the dying female from earlier in the day, and gave Ash a fretful look.
We just have to be careful, Pikachu, Ash thought, shuffling forward at a magcargo’s pace, sniffing and examining the air in between each step. A few hundred feet down the trail, however, the suddenly overpowering smell of blood and fear hit him like a semi truck.
The snare lay where he had tossed it, the lethal strip of metal stained and spattered with cruor. A tiny pichu, eyes still a milky blue and ears still folded, licked at the salty congealed mess anxiously; upon seeing Ash and Pikachu, it arched its back and fluffed its fur defensively, bearing its minuscular, dagger-like teeth in what it thought was a threatening manner.
Poor orphan, Ash thought, guessing from its natal features that it couldn’t be any more than a few weeks old, and much too young to be away from its mother. I hope you’ll survive…
He had barely taken a few steps away from the kitten, wondering if there was anything within his power he could do to help it, before a new scent hit his nose, one of savage ferocity, ravenous hunger, and tortured rage born of loneliness. With a vicious snarl, the sneasel sprang onto the path, his eyes on the helpless baby pichu. Although he was not especially hungry after dispatching and gorging on its siblings, his anger at being abandoned by his Trainer burned brightly enough to make him want to take his frustrations out on anything smaller and weaker than he was – and yet another pichu was a perfect opportunity.
No! Ash thought forcefully, leaping towards the sneasel and mimicking the pichu’s defensive posturing. The sleek black pokémon sat back on his haunches and swung his massive, blade-like claws towards Ash’s face, making the boy-pikachu back off anxiously. What on earth did I think I was getting into? I can’t battle! I’m just a Trainer…
Pikachu! His pikachu lifted his head up, eager and attentive. Pikachu, Thunderbolt! Upon receiving the command, Pikachu tensed his body into a crouching position, cheeks glowing blue, sparks of electricity dancing along their surface. The sneasel turned from Ash towards this new attacker, swinging his paws threateningly. It looks like he’s preparing Slash…Pikachu! Duck, and then release your attack!
As the sneasel swung with his devastating blow, Pikachu ducked down underneath his paw and dove between his hindlegs, leaping unto the other pokémon's back to deliver the Thunderbolt. Stunned, the Dark-type fell to the loam, his muzzle agape and forepaws twitching spasmodically.
He should be down for a while, Ash thought, sniffing the fallen sneasel carefully. His muzzle jerked at the touch of the boy’s nose, and his eyes rolled back into his head, bloodshot and frazzled. Long enough to put the pichu somewhere safe, at least. Returning to the tiny creature, he carefully picked it up by the nape, like he had seen females do with their offspring. The little creature instantly went limp; tucking its paws close to its body and curling its small black tail in between its legs, where it stood out sharply against its creamy white belly. Ash looked back at the sneasel; the pathetic, abandoned creature. He had gone too feral to adapt well to captivity again, and his wild future still seemed uncertain. I came here to help you. And I can’t even do that. And I’ve left Bayleef to suffer like you have…
At least I can help Pichu.
After a few minutes of carrying, the overgrowth faded as the weathered trail was left behind. The roof of the old warden’s station was visible over the crest of the hill, and, with a fierce burst of energy, Ash propelled himself forward, up to the top and down the other side, the little pichu swinging back and forth in his jaws. How natural his leaping, four legged stride felt! It was strangely smooth; and running, testing the bounds of his own strength – it was absolutely invigorating, exhilarating, a rush not unlike that of winning a tough battle. It…it feels great!
I just hope it doesn’t start to feel too great…
Forcing his speed back down to a walking pace, Ash allowed his body to relax the last few hundred feet to the station. Upon reaching the back porch, he set the pichu carefully down, giving its head-fur a little ruffle with his paw. You’ll be okay. But now, I have something else to do… Reaching up, Ash nudged the cap off his head, feeling only the slightest twinge of loss as it landed, with a slap, upon the worn wooden slats. My Pokémon League hat…you’ve served me well, but now’s the time to let you go. You may be the only one who can bring help to poor Bayleef…
He jumped down to the bottom step, sitting up on his haunches next to Pikachu. If I head south of here, I’ll hit New Bark Town, and from there to Tojho Falls and Kanto. If anyone would know anything about all this, it would be Professor Oak, wouldn’t it, Pikachu?
He sent an image of the Professor to the pikachu, who chattered knowingly.
Yeah, Pikachu…everything will be okay for me as well as for Pichu, and for my other Pokémon. At least, I hope so…
Interesting tidbits: The rock cairn and the birch tree are real (as is the pathetic barbed wire around it). They're about a half mile from the house where I lived for many years in Bradford, Vermont - it was a place I liked to climb up on and around as a child. I included it here in this story as a sort of "in joke" for myself. XD Though as far as I know, no transfiguring rocks lurk within it!
A second tidbit - I'm sorry to report the scene with the pikachu and the rock (at least the killing part) is based on a real event that happened when my sister was young (She was the executioner). The victim was a chipmunk (who, we found out ironically later, had been run over by my parents) with a broken back - there was no way for it to survive. So my sister and a friend of hers went out to the woods (not the rock cairn though!), put it down on the ground, and slammed a rock on it to put the poor thing out of its suffering. This "cruel to be kind" act was incorporated into the story to add a dramatic tension to the scene that was lacking from the earlier draft.
And yes, to those who follow my ROM hack work, there is an Easter Egg in Jersey Quest that relates to this fanfic. XD
Signature under construction. Watch this space~
March 21st, 2010 (02:20 PM).
This is the kind of story that got me into Fanfiction. The description is good enough to make everything seem real. The only thing I have to point out is a character flaw with Ash. I know you said that this is a different Ash, but to me, this Ash is just not Ash at all.
Thats all, I eagerly wait for your next update I mean post NOW, *cough* anyways till then.
March 24th, 2010 (01:36 PM).
Thanks for the review, Bouysel Even if it wasn't stuff I really wanted to hear; it was stuff that I needed to hear...if I don't confront my flaws head on or have someone knock some sense into me; I'd keep being mediocre forever. After all, no amount of flowery language or pretty descriptions can make up for bad characterization...
This first chapter is a veritable Frankenstein's monster in terms of its history - a weird hybrid of material written in 2006, 2007 and 2009 - and in retrospect it probably wasn't the wisest of ideas to mate what was essentially three different fics together in that manner ' The bulk of the text written just before the scene with the murkrow was actually written in early 2006, and was originally conceived as a fic that didn't even involve Ash in any way - it starred an adult woman. Richard Locke's quote and the scene with Ash and the warden were written sometime before; possibly as far back as late in 2005, and in that fic Ash was portrayed as being eighteen years old; a skilled trainer; and fairly mature. Most of everything else in this chapter was written in 2007, after looking at too much fanart and basically becoming blindly enthralled with the entire concept of Ashachu and wanting to write about him. To more quickly channel this excitement and enthusiasm; I took some unpublished material of mine, smashed it together without too much editing or thought, and proceeded from there.
A VERY bad idea, in retrospect ' Before I posted this chapter here I tried to repair what I saw as the most blatant characterization errors based on reader feedback - making Ash much more conflicted and sorrowful over what ultimately happens to the pikachu, and greatly extending the scene with Bayleef; and also having him carry around his hat to leave on the warden's porch. But it just doesn't work; ultimately, I see that the best thing to do in this situation is to go back to the drawing board and rewrite once more, and kick my past reluctance to do any really significant changes in the patootie Once I get done with the rewrites, I'll PM you (I would appreciate your advice and feedback if you'd be willing to give it, but don't feel like you have to) - I don't think I'll ever write a perfect Ash, but I'll settle for at least a recognizable Ash. XD
Anyway, thank you again I have your feedback pasted into a Notepad document; to have open as I go back to confront this little hellion of a fic once more XD
Signature under construction. Watch this space~
March 24th, 2010 (04:05 PM).
First sorry, this is going to be a short post. My internet is down and typing on my phone is a pain.
That being said, I read your story and you had sound reasoning for the actions that every character took. Ash choosing bayleaf fist, she being upset, and ash fleeing.
Imo Where you went wrong is when he keept running. I'm going to guess anime ash would have gone back and tried again and again.
But just because you don't have him perfect doesn't mean you have to go rewrite it. It's okay to make ash seem different. For instince in the anime, ashchu talks English, but. Here he doesn't, and it makes the story all that much better.
Ignore any typos as this was typed on a phone and it took forever to do so.
December 4th, 2010 (08:57 PM).
This is my first time reading your story. Even though there are <i>some</i> deviations from Ash' original characterization, considering that this story is more dark (almost in a White Fang sort of way), while others may disagree with my stance, I think the tweaking in character could work. If one really thinks about it, Ash is pretty much a blank slate. Other than him feeling strongly about injustices done to Pokemon and being competitive, Ash doesn't necessarily have any flaws or redeemable/irredeemable qualities that just can't be touched. Other than loving Pokemon, he's somewhat devoid of definable personality traits. That being said, even if Ash had top notch characterization that went beyond 'I'm going to be the best Pokemon Trainer in the world!!!!' I don't think it would have been as realistic.
Even if 'anime Ash' would have never abandoned his Pokemon, if he had stayed this story wouldn't be very long would it? Real characters in (good) stories have to make sacrifices they don't like. I'd rather see a tweaked Ash that goes through some changes and grows from the experience than the same, stale Ash that is in every season of the anime: a clean slate that seems to regress further and further as the anime continues for the sake of milking the franchise to death, further alienating the fanbase that grew up playing R/B/G/Y/G/S/C/R/S/E.
December 5th, 2010 (04:41 AM).
Sooyun, as neat as it is to see another person post a review that has substance to it, this thread has not had any posts in it for over half a year, so that's thread bumpage. =p Be careful with thread dates in future (you can always PM the author a review if the thread is too old I suppose), as bumping threads older than a month since the last post is against the rules.
Hence going to close this thread - PPG, if you intend to continue this, let me know and I'll reopen when you plan to post more!
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