Ascension


ACT ONE - IMMOLATION


Chapter 2 - First Blood


The grassy path had finally ended. On crossing the main valley, he found himself at a crossroads of sorts. From there onwards, there were two choices ahead —the longer, windier, albeit neater route, and the shorter, but infinitely more dangerous path through the forests that grew abound, surrounding the valley. Now if he had been the pompous grandson of a certain professor, he could have easily covered the distance in a convertible in less than a day, reaching Viridian City the following afternoon. However, that wasn't the case, and he didn't want to waste four days walking to the city.

He had chosen the grassy path amidst the forest. It was short, and it cut the time required to reach Viridian in half. He conveniently ignored the stories of rookie trainers getting lost in the woods and going around in circles over and over again. Fortunately, Red had some prior experience with forests, and therefore, his chances of getting lost were fairly low.

Well, according to him anyway.

The real problem was the abundance of wild creatures in the Pallet Forest. With the old man's overindulgence towards them, the Pallet Town forest played host to several dozen species of grass, bug, and flying-type pokémon. While this made it easier for a rookie trainer to catch a decent baby pokémon, or perhaps, a rarer second-staged one, it didn't erase the dangers that came with essentially walking into a forest filled with wild creatures.

A year ago, he'd have called the plan stupid. Tales of young trainers getting maimed by a flock of rogue spearow was more than enough to carve such an impression on him. Things had gotten so bad that Samuel Oak was forced to take matters into his own hands.

Dragonite had been rather forlorn after being assigned to what was essentially pest control and had ended up moping about it for weeks.

The spearow flock was still probably somewhere in the forest, albeit with a much-reduced population. Come to think of it, while wild spearow were known to be quite hostile, they did make good battlers. Perhaps he could try his hand at catching one.

"I'm so glad you decided to join me. You're even immune to dragon-type moves! I'm gonna use you exclusively whenever I find dragons." Red beamed at his starter.

Mawile flinched. Of course, she would deny it later, but she was slightly wary of her trainer, and his ridiculous obsession with those giant, angry, fire-breathing monstrosities. The human had even shown her videos of those beasts killing little creatures with scorching flames and superheated dragon breath. True, her fairy nature made her immune to dragon-type moves, but they were so big and she wasn't keen on fighting them. One single slam with their enormous legs and she'd be squashed, type advantage be damned.

"We'll defeat the eight gyms, catch dozens of pokémon, and build the strongest team ever. You'd be the leader."

That did feel good. Having lots of powerful servants do her bidding all day long certainly felt nice. It would be a nice transition compared to her time with Mabel. The fact that Red had meant leader and not queen, didn't make a difference in her mind. It wouldn't do for someone like her to get stuck on such unimportant details.

Mawile nodded to herself, her mind racing ahead in her dreams of grandeur. Unfortunately, Red noticed her nods and arrived at the most unfortunate conclusion.

"I knew you'd be excited. I'm sure you can't wait to grow stronger, rising until you crush Lance's army."

Mawile flinched. Why was her trainer so hell-bent on throwing her at those monsters? Couldn't he catch other pokémon to do that? What part of her looked like it was built to deal with those huge things? She had the misfortune of watching an ongoing battle between the dragon-raising human her trainer wanted to beat, and some gigantic, bare-bodied beast named Bruno or something equally ridiculous on the telly thing in Red's room. Mawile refused to believe that the muscular creature was human no matter what Red told her. Of course, she was quite inexperienced and knew that in the course of time, she too would probably get stronger, but those dragons were scary.

"Come to think of it, though," Red frowned as he walked on, glancing down at her. "You are rather tiny and lacking in moves at the moment. It will take some time before you grow strong enough for that."

Mawile looked up and gave him her version of a cute smile.

Yes, Red was smiling too, he finally understood that his desires were impractical. He wouldn't make her fight those scary monstrosities and she'd get to live a long and happy life. More importantly, she was going to live.

"— But I guess you are too enthusiastic to wait, aren't you? I'm sure you can't wait to face a real dragon. I'll try to find one for you to battle as soon as I can. Maybe the professor's Dragonite can spar with you if I ask nicely."

She was going to DIE.

"Maw… wile." It should have sounded painful. It should have revealed her untold suffering to him, but it didn't. He should have been rendered to tears even thinking about the trauma that she would go through if forced to face such a beast. Unfortunately, it just sounded horribly cute and optimistic. Sometimes Mawile hated just how adorable she sounded.

"I know, I know." Red chuckled. "That reminds me, you aren't getting tired from all the walking, are you?"

Mawile let out a soft moan, before shaking her head. Truth be told, she was a little exhausted, especially after walking such a long way from the ranch. They were already inside the forest, and it was shadier here. Pallet was warmer than Pomace Mountain, and she was feeling it.

"We can take a little break if you need to. Or you can just return to your pokéball for now. I'll get you out when I call it a day."

Mawile shook her head again. This was her first day out as a starter, and she refused to be defeated by something as pathetic as lethargy. Besides, her trainer was pretty interesting to talk to, though it would have been better if she had something to eat.

Her stomach groaned loudly, in reaffirmation of her earlier thought.

Mawile blushed.

"Heh!" Red laughed, glancing at his watch. "We've walked quite a bit. Let's put up a tent and make some lunch. It looks like it's past noon, anyway."

Mawile looked up at the sun, or rather, at the beams of sunlight trickling down the thick canopy above them. The rays were pretty much slanted. Perhaps her trainer had a point.

"Well, let's get started. After all, we can't hope to win our battles on an empty stomach," Red cheered. "Hunger is the enemy."

Mawile disagreed. If anything, the feeling of hunger increased her desire to hunt. As she was now, she could probably feast on a bug or a grass-type with ease. Perhaps she could hunt for a quick snack while Red prepared his meal. From the way the bushes on the right were rustling in the wind—

Wait. There was no wind. The bushes were rustling. That had only one implication.

FOOD.

Mawile rushed ahead towards the swaying bushes, the large protrusion on the back of her head already imagining delicacies. Grass-types were rather juicy, with warm meat and tender fat on their bodies.

With a decently loud declaration of 'Maw…', she opened her maw, the sharp steel fangs snapped into the bush, her eyes beaming as she recognized wet flesh within her jaws. There was nothing like a good meal, and by the looks of it, it was a short, tapering organ, possibly like a tail, only with a distinct charring sensation that she wasn't sure that she liked or not but—

"CHAAR!"

With a shriek, the steel fangs shot outwards, letting the prey go, as Mawile sensed a fire of all things within her fangs, followed by a confirmation that yes, out of all things in the evil, cut-throat world, she had been unfortunate to bite right into a charmander's tail. The moment the fire-lizard had registered the pain, its tail flared up, nearly charring the top of her steel jaws.

Mawile leaped back, her large black jaw still smoking slightly, as digestive juices cooled down the remnants of the sudden inflammation. The tissue at the apex would be rejuvenated in a couple of hours, but it would leave a scorched taste in her mind until she got herself something really juicy. And currently, the head of the squeamish charmander— who was presently glaring daggers at her —seemed just fine as a replacement meal.

"Mawile? What happened?" Red rushed up to her, wide-eyed, staring at her still-smoking jaws.

Mawile clenched her teeth fiercely, glaring at her new challenger.

"Who did this to— A charmander?" Red was hit by several thoughts right at that same time. He wanted to express surprise at seeing a Charmander in the wild. He wanted to express his feelings on Mawile having hurt herself. He wanted to express his exhilaration at finding a wild Charmander to add to his team. He wanted to express his curiosity at what caused Mawile's jaws to smoke in the first place. His rapidly fleeting thoughts left him slightly disoriented, and he tried to express them all at once. So, it wasn't surprising that what came out was something like—

"Mawile, why are you... smoking … charmander?"

Mawile gave him a dead stare, telling him exactly what she thought of his contribution.

The charmander in question barked furiously, incensed at nearly having his precious tail amputated. Here he was minding his own business when this tiny monster came out of nowhere and promptly chomped on his tail. He protectively held his half-mutilated tail close to his chest, wincing at the throbbing pain its movement induced, while angrily glaring at Mawile.

Red was still stuck in an inter-mental loop regarding how he had been given a divine opportunity to capture a charmander. The Pallet Forest was a true haven, a place where he had found true happiness. If that wasn't a sign that some deity was watching over him, then what was?

"Zippo…what's wrong? Why are you— ?" A new, but positively human voice resounded from within the bushes. Two seconds later a face erupted from within. He was a young boy about Red's age, wore a maroon hat on his head, and seemed to be a trainer by the looks of it. "Your tail's bleeding. How— what happened?"

The charmander— Zippo, Red registered —only glared at Mawile.

"Is… Is that charmander yours?" Red croaked in despair, his dreams shattered. It was almost him reliving a moment in his childhood when he dreamt of beating the pokémon league and becoming Champion, only to be woken up by Kaz who so happened to be in a particularly sadistic mood. Though there was no bucket of water involved this time, he still felt as though someone had doused him in ice. He had wanted a charmander so badly for so long and to come across one in the wild, only to find out it was owned was heartbreaking.

"Yeah, and what of it?" The boy snapped, charmander's tail wound clearly agitating him. "You don't seem to give your pokémon— whatever it is —enough food, or else it wouldn't need to eat—"

SNAP!

The boy yelped, falling down onto the ground, narrowly avoiding becoming a replacement meal for a clearly agitated Mawile. "It… it bites?"

"It also chews and swallows. And Mawile gets angry if you talk about her that way." Red replied in a casual tone, which combined with the innocent expression on Mawile's face, only managed to make the words sound more sinister.

The charmander barked again.

"Oh well…" The boy uneasily got up, the charmander rushing towards him, never allowing the mawile to leave his sight. He continued in a softer tone. "Why did you send your…?"

"Mawile." Red supplied helpfully.

"Mawile." The teen continued. "—to attack Zippo?"

Red glanced at Mawile, awaiting an explanation.

Mawile only raised her tiny hands and shrugged.

Zippo complained bitterly.

"I think Mawile just mistook your charmander for food," Red suggested. A part of his mind supplied that she was still considering the charmander as potential food, but he ruthlessly suppressed it.

"Oh well, I suppose it was just an honest mistake." The boy chuckled uneasily, clearly hesitating for a moment before he slowly extended his hand towards Red. "I'm Ritchie."

"Red."

"I haven't seen a… mawile, prior to this. Are you from some other region?"

"Nah! I'm from Pallet." Red indicated his starter "Mawile though… she's not from around here"

"I see." Ritchie gave the fairy another wary glance. "I'm from Frodomar City. I suppose that means you are a trainer registered for the Indigo Circuit?"

"Not exactly." Red rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. "I actually started my journey today."

Ritchie arched an eyebrow.

"Mawile is my first pokémon."

"…"

"…"

"Don't you think you're a bit late?"

"You figure that out by yourself?" Red muttered sarcastically, before his grim expression cleared up. "No worries." He sighed, "I'm pretty good at catching up."

"I hope so, for your own sake" Ritchie remarked, in an almost condescending fashion. "And this mawile is your only pokémon, so far?"

"So far," Red admitted. He casually wondered if Ritchie had been one to capture half a dozen on his first day out.

"I have six. Let me introduce you to the rest of my team. Come out, everyone." He quickly flicked his pokéballs off his belt, releasing his team.

Red didn't need a pokédex to identify the pokémon. Other than the dark blue avian that looked like a more streamlined pidgey, they were all Kanto-natives except for one, and rather common ones at that. There was a tentacool, a metapod, a nidorino and a—

Pikachu.

Red repressed the urge to take a step back. He would not show weakness to that creature. Not again.

Ritchie seemed oblivious to his reaction, as he went ahead and introduced his team. "That's my taillow, Chirpy, my metapod, Happy—"

He doesn't really look all that happy to me. Red mused.

"My tentacool, Squishy," he paused, "my nidorino, Princess, and my starter, Sparky." He indicated at the pikachu.

Squishy? Princess? Red suppressed a snicker.

"That's… nice." Red didn't know what else to say. He was hardly an expert on social behavior, but publicly trashing one's naming sense did not seem like an appropriate thing to do. He knew for a fact that most pokémon disregarded human naming conventions outright.

Not that I can blame them. I can totally see him naming an alakazam 'Teaspoon' or something. I wonder how Kaz would react?

"So," Red asked, wanting to change the subject, and ignoring the fact that the pikachu was now on top of Ritchie's shoulder. "What are you doing here in Pallet Forest?"

"I'm on my way to the Orange Archipelago. They have a local league as well as several unique species of pokémon. I was thinking of trying my luck there before attempting the more… difficult gyms in Kanto."

Ah, so that's how it is. "Why not go to Johto?"

Ritchie frowned. "Because I don't want to."

Red got a feeling that he was treading on unwelcome grounds and quickly aborted that line of questioning. "Well, I'm on my way to Viridian City. After that, I'm planning to get to Pewter and challenge the gym over there."

"Isn't that like… one of the easiest gyms in Kanto?" Ritchie snorted. "I tried Celadon myself. Erica's not as great as she seems. It took me a while, but I beat her. Fuchsia was the same. Lt. Surge of Vermillion though…" He shuddered, remembering his horrific experience at the hands of the electric-type gym leader.

Red rolled his eyes.

"What? You think differently?"

"Yeah. Erica was your first gym battle. Of course, it was easy. You'd have won it with a rattata."

"Huh!? What makes you say that?" Ritchie countered in indignation.

"Uhm, the Trainer and Gym regulations? Am I the only one that did any reading?"

"That's just legalese bullshit. Why should I read that?" Ritchie went on the defensive.

"Oh, no reason. It's just the list of rules that can get your license suspended if you break. It also happens to talk about the gym battle regulations."

Ritchie's ears had a slight reddish tinge. "What about them?"

Red sighed, giving up on the world. "The gym battles are supposed to get increasingly difficult with every win on your part. Obviously, you found Celadon and Fuchsia easy, they were your first two gyms."

"Big words for someone who's yet to win a badge." Ritchie taunted back, not willing to keep being the subject of a less-than-savory commentary. "Let's see how you face against one of mine."

Red arched an eyebrow. Apparently, Ritchie wasn't a big believer of the 'don't kill the messenger' ideal. "I've just started out. I don't even have the required number of pokémon for an official battle."

"Of course, you don't." Ritchie snorted contemptuously. "It doesn't need to be an official one. One of mine, versus that… mawile was it? Let's see what we can make of your starter."

Mawile perked up at that.

Red considered the proposal for a moment, before clarifying. "My mawile versus what?"

"Zippo." Ritchie waved at his charmander. "He's been with me for quite some time, but hasn't evolved yet. Maybe this win will do some good to him."

Red was no expert, but he didn't think that Zippo shared Ritchie's confidence over the subject. Not especially since the charmander seemed clearly uncomfortable with the gleaming expression floating on Mawile's face.

Mawile versus charmander. Who would have thought?

"All right. No bets. One on one. No items allowed. First one to forfeit or lose consciousness loses." Red intoned.

Ritchie waved him off. "Just get started already."

The teen's words seemed to inject some confidence into the charmander, who stepped forward, his tail flame blazing brightly.

Quite close to evolution, Red noted.

Ritchie flipped his cap backward as if to make a statement, before pointing his fingers outward like Red had seen being done in some trashy TV soaps.

"Hope you and your mawile are ready then, 'cause your in for the fight of your life! Go Zippo, I choose you."


Red had to give it to the other trainer. The charmander was nimble and had an adequate array of moves. So far, he had seen it use both Fury Swipes and Headbutt, and it had now progressed to Ember. None of them had been remotely lethal since Mawile could easily brace through the impact with her metallic jaw. It was actually her vulnerability to fire-based attacks that was forcing this kind of caution.

"Leap up and bite it."

Mawile extended her jaws outward like a large scythe, deflecting stray Ember particles that she couldn't dodge before they got close to her skin. She leaped into the air, her fangs spread out wide almost as if she intended to swallow the charmander whole.

"Use Metal Claw," Ritchie commanded.

Now he uses Metal Claw?

Red felt slightly unimpressed. Metal Claw was a barely-intermediate level technique used by pokémon with claws (or other, similar appendages), by coating them with steel energy. It could be performed within a second by any barely competent ground or steel-type pokémon. Charmander on the other hand, was a pure fire-type, and thus, not only would Metal Claw take a considerably longer time to activate, it would also be inferior to a standard Metal Claw execution.

And that was ignoring the fact that Mawile was partly a steel-type. Charmander might as well be a sitting duck.

He had never been an exemplary student, but he did understand pokémon battling. And currently, Ritchie was up for a serious surprise.

"Use Astonish."

And everything changed from Charmander's perspective. One moment, he had the ivory pokémon with those gaping jaws in the air above him, and the next, his entire body seemed to be gripped with a preternatural uneasiness, bringing premonitions about an inevitable misfortune that was about to strike him. He shivered, feeling the air turn cold around him, as if trying to suffocate him. The image of Mawile rushing towards him flickered, replaced by enormous, gaping jaws that were coming down at him in all directions. His own psyche was screaming that his attack was going to be inadequate.

Zippo flinched.

The layer of steel-energy slowly congregating on his claws flickered, and the Metal Claw failed.

"Zippo, lookout," Ritchie yelled.

"Maw…wile!" Her gargantuan jaws stabbed into the charmander's abdomen, crushing his arms, causing the fire-lizard to scream in agony.

"Pull yourself together Zippo!" Ritchie yelled. "Use Ember. It is a direct shot."

And it was. With her fangs around the charmander, Mawile was practically a sitting duck for a head-on Ember attack. The fire-lizard opened his maw vengefully, ready to belch out scorching flames at her.

If only it was that easy.

"Mawile, bite its tail."

Mawile was only too happy to follow. Relinquishing her hold on the fire lizard's abdomen, she quickly maneuvered behind the charmander and latched on to its tail. Making sure to avoid the fiery tip! Whatever Ember attack might have begun to form, it was quickly extinguished as the charmander screeched out in pain.

What followed was perhaps the most surreal thing that Red (and presumably Ritchie) had ever witnessed. Mawile lifted the lizard by its tail, up into the air and violently slammed the creature upon the ground.

Repeatedly.

"Zippo, escape. Use Ember, ignite your tail, DO SOMETHING" Ritchie screamed, as his features grew increasingly desperate with every passing second. Unfortunately, Zippo, who was looking more and more like a rag, wasn't really able to respond.

Red was so shocked that he actually let this go on for a while before he finally told Mawile to stop. "Umm… good job." Red said lamely, still caught up in her fascinating display.

Mawile lit up at the praise. This way of fighting was unconventional for her since anything within her jaws basically translated to food. Using her primary weapon in this way was new to her, but nonetheless interesting. Perhaps this was an outcome of fighting new pokémon? With an exuberant cheer, she let go of the tail, allowing the charmander to land on the ground, his entire body bruised and swollen.

Zippo did not move again.

"Zippo!" Ritchie yelled, running up to him, before picking him up from the ground. The charmander was bleeding and had multiple contusions all over his form. He was no medic, but even he could say that Zippo needed intensive treatment before it could be considered fit for further battling. Not even Lt. Surge of Vermillion city had been this barbaric!

How… how can this be? I've trained and traveled so much. I grew my team from nothing and defeated so many trainers. How could I… How could this 'nobody' just defeat me like that?

Rage erupted in his mind as he glanced at the bruises and the openly bleeding wounds on his first pokémon. This… a starter did this? A side-glance at the creature only confirmed that while Mawile was tired, she was far from reaching the point of exhaustion. It was unreal. Silently, Ritchie returned the charmander into his pokéball, before glaring at Red.

"What kind of savagery is that? How can you just stand there like that? Look at what that monster did to my Zippo!"

"What happened is that Mawile defeated your charmander fair and square." He raised a finger to prevent Ritchie from exploding again. "I get that she might have gone slightly… overboard." He carefully avoided looking at Mawile as he continued. "And trust me, I will talk to her about it. But more importantly, though, why didn't you forfeit the match?"

Ritchie sent a withering glare at him.

"You didn't." Red continued. "Because your pride didn't allow you to forfeit in front of a… badge-less rookie, was it? If I had told Mawile to let go earlier, wouldn't your charmander have attacked? If you forfeited, I could have had her stop immediately, without fearing that she may get hurt. You allowed your charmander to sustain the damage, and now you call my mawile's actions savagery. How pathetic."

And that did it. Somewhere between Red's harsh words, Zippo's condition and his unpalatable defeat, Ritchie snapped.

"I'll show you who's pathetic." he sneered, "Chirpy, use gust."

The taillow shot off like a rocket into the air, screeching madly at Mawile, before beating its wings furiously, easily manipulating air currents into a miniature gale of dry wind, which lashed down towards Mawile on the ground.

"Hide behind your jaws!" Red yelled, before glaring at the other teen. "That was uncalled for. You cannot just randomly attack my pokémon out of battle."

His words fell on deaf ears.

"Use Double Team."

The taillow's eyes glowed with an eldritch power, as the air around it seemed to flicker for a moment. Almost instantly, three more taillow appeared around the original. All four of them screeched in unison, circling the hapless creature on the ground, before swooping down towards their prey.

Mawile watched the four avians swoop down at her from the skies, and raised her steel jaw upward to shield herself from damage. The first avian hit the jaw, before dissipating, followed by another, and then another, each coming from a different direction with the last hitting her perpendicularly from above. Every single time those optical illusions dispersed, Mawile felt a sudden elation, and at the same time, her instincts screamed to her that her next time might not be that lucky.

"Low!" A sudden screech rang in her ears, as the real taillow tore into her from behind, slashing against her left arm, bruising it.

Mawile cursed.

"Ritchie, stop that," Red growled. "This is enough."

"Why? Don't like it when your pokémon is the one being played with?" Ritchie taunted. "Use Double Team again, and go ahead with Wing Attack."

Red widened his eyes in recognition. Double Team employed the creation of optical illusions using meager amounts of psychic energy. Originally, the idea wasn't to utilize the mirror images of the pokémon to trick the opponent into using techniques on its doppelgangers, but with trainers usually yelling out their commands, Double Team had been renditioned into an evasive maneuver at best.

Mawile's anatomy didn't really allow her the advantage of speed, thus putting her in an extremely disadvantageous position as long as Taillow continued its assault from the air. What Ritchie was doing was illegal and immoral, but it did a wonderful job of shattering all illusions of Mawile's invincibility.

And here I was planning to make her battle dragons. Was I really that naive?

Mawile screamed as the taillow landed a hit for the second time. A gash appeared on her right shoulder, blood slowly oozing out. She hissed in pain before taking up an offensive stance. Red could almost see the air around her jaws slowly simmering.

What is she ...? "Mawile, use Icy Wind."

Mawile stopped in her tracks, listening to the strange command her trainer had just suggested. She was almost about to use her Iron Head, in the hope that she might hit the real taillow, and if not, then at least deflect the incoming attack away. But what Red was suggesting was… odd.

"Mawile," Red repeated, his voice slightly hoarse. "Use Icy Wind. Spread it out."

Ah. So that's how it is. Mawile let out a squeak in elation, before closing her eyes. For that one moment, she wasn't in the middle of the forest, defending against the vicious taillow. Instead, she was back on Pomace Mountain, in the middle of ice and snow. She wasn't the one bleeding, she was the predator.

Mawile's lips twisted, as she gazed back at the taillow, smiling peacefully through her eyes.

As a fairy-type, the ability to mutate the more esoteric elements, namely psychic, ghost, and dark, came pretty easily to her. One of her parents had been a beartic, from whom she had gotten her affinity for manipulating ice and snow. Living on Pomace Mountain had given her a prime environment to develop her skills.

Back there, she had no use for Icy Wind. It had been something she had simply been developing on her own. with the entire land enveloped in glaciers and snow, her deception and her steel jaws had been more than enough to prey on whatever she required. This was the first time in her life that she was using the skill in battle, and ironically, it was to keep herself from becoming prey.

Such is the life of the deceiver. Mawile almost chuckled at the irony. Her fairy energies swirled around herself before she relinquished her hold on the ice.

The poor thing never saw it coming.

It wasn't just a gale of chilling wind and powdery snow. It was hoarfrost, shattered into tiny fragments by the force of the howling wind, shot brazenly in the taillow's general direction. The tiny avian was swift, there was no doubt about it. However, there was only so much one could dodge if the very air around it had turned cold. Several fragments of sharp ice hit it talons, causing the avian to screech in fury.

"Use Double Team, again. Finish her." Ritchie snarled.

Taillow screeched again, but this time, only a single optical clone appeared, before flickering out of existence.

"What?" Ritchie murmured, taken aback. Double Team was one of the most basic moves that were sold as TMs. As long as the pokémon in question wasn't a pure dark-type, it was able to use it with considerable efficiency. For a flying-type, the idea of losing control over Double Team was almost laughable.

"You cannot maintain a psychic illusion if you cannot focus. Your taillow is shivering too much for that." Red pointed out in a half-condescending tone.

"Worry about your own pokémon first!" Ritchie shot back. "Finish it with Wing Attack, Chirpy."

The taillow squawked angrily, beating its wings to drive away the cold, before swooping down towards Mawile, its sharp beak ready to spear through her delicate flesh.

"Mawile, get ready," Red instructed.

"Wile!" Mawile acknowledged, steel energy flickering all around her jaw. Mawile moved forward, her metal flap revolving in a quick circle, gathering momentum before—

SLAM!

Taillow's beak met raw, energized steel.

It began with a slight creak, before the overwhelming force fractured the taillow's beak, actually pushing the shattered parts into its skull. The poor bird was in just enough pain to realize that something went wrong before the momentum of the swing sent it flying back into a tree trunk. After a second, it slowly slid down to the ground.

Red winced. That's not getting up for a while.

Ritchie blanched as he saw the taillow slide down to the ground, his shoulders shaking in shock, rage, embarrassment and untold amounts of frustration. His features became more and more hysterical with every passing second, as he watched his team get taken apart, his eyes now close to being flooded with tears. "You… I will… Sparky, Princess, attack it. Kill the damn thing."

"Enough!" Red snarled, raising his pokéball. Without further ado, he clicked upon the red button, sending out a jet of red light, towards his starter, hoping to get her back before things took a nastier turn. Unfortunately, Sparky had something else in mind. The pikachu leaped off Ritchie's shoulder, and intercepted the red light with its own body, before firing an arc of electricity towards Red.

Red screamed.

For that one moment, he was back to Oak's lab, extending his hands out to the pokémon he had wanted to be his starter, his future best friend, his new family. Instead, all he got was a malevolent grin and agonizing pain. Right there, in the forest, as he saw the arc of lightning drag its path through the air streaking towards his person, Red lost his hold on reality and fell down to the ground.

And then he screamed.

At that moment, several things happened.

Something around his person changed. Princess— Ritchie's nidorino, and Sparky the pikachu, felt an unnatural shift in the space around them, the surrounding world itself seemed to freeze. Sparky tried to leap off into the air, pushing his tail into the ground, but it felt like his entire body had been frozen in space. A strained glance at Ritchie told him that like him, the teen had also frozen, just like that.

The problem was, not everyone had been the subject of this apparent spatial paralysis.

Mawile didn't sense the sudden change in the air. She didn't care that both the pikachu and the nidorino were somewhat… frozen in space. All that mattered was that Red was screaming, and this little rodent had tried to kill him. Just like that damned raichu had tried to kill Mabel.

She was going to make it suffer.

Steel energy washed over her black jaw, as Mawile snarled, smashing the nidorino away with a single hit on the back of its head. Princess bawled over in pain, as it tumbled over the ground, bruising one of its hind legs. From the way it limped unsteadily, it had probably fractured the leg.

Mawile continued undaunted. The nidorino was simply an obstacle impeding her path. Her steel jaw snapped menacingly, as she got closer to the rodent. Crossing the last bit of distance towards the unresisting pikachu, she bit into its tail with extreme prejudice. Gathering momentum as she pulled the pikachu in her jaws, she tossed the electric-type into the air, not caring that over half of its tail had been torn through leaking profuse amounts of blood.

And Mawile still wasn't done. She let out a war cry before stomping towards the fallen body and slammed her jaw into the pikachu's cheek, straight into its electric pouch. The sheer force of the blow sent the rodent spinning in the air, before falling face-first into the ground. It appeared comatose, its body spasmed gently as stray electric sparks jumped out of its ruined electric pouch and trailed down its body.

"Mawile?"

Mawile shot a feral look in the direction of the sound, only to recognize the source. Red seemed to be slightly disoriented and was weakly staring in her general direction. For a brief moment, Mawile wondered if Red would leave her, having seen her feral brutality upfront. It wasn't unprecedented since many on Pomace Mountain had shied away from her over the same.

Mawile breathed out. "Wile!" She had prepared herself to be treated with wariness and caution, but instead, she felt his hands entwine around her abdomen as he pulled her up. Before she realized what was happening, Red had grabbed her, held her close to his chest, and fled into the forest.


At first, it was the start of a grand and momentous journey, and then, in an instant, everything changed. Ritchie, the young teen had seemed like an ordinary trainer like himself. A tad dumb in certain things, but an ordinary trainer nonetheless. The initial fight with the charmander had been slightly trifling but had morphed into an ugly manifestation of madness. This ordinary trainer had been actively trying to murder his Mawile, and yet another pikachu had tried to kill him. He was really suspecting that the pikachu-line had something against him.

Was it so surprising that he had grabbed Mawile and ran?

Red wasn't sure how the arc of lightning had missed him, not that he was complaining. One moment he was screaming, his mind torn between trying to survive and acknowledging, perhaps even accepting the possibility of death. The next moment, he had seen Mawile leap off, and slam into the electric rodent, almost tearing its tail in half. For someone who had worked as an assistant in a ranch, seeing a pokémon (even if it was a pikachu) get mutilated like that felt… horrible, but he was way too involved to care. His mind was preoccupied with a single thought.

Ritchie has six pokémon. Two are gone, and one tried to kill me. He still has three pokémon left.

Nothing else mattered. He had taken up Mawile in his arms, ignoring the fairy's surprised squeak, and sprinted off into the darkness of the forest.

That was two hours ago.

If this was the kind of excitement and adventure found in a trainer's journey, Red would rather have less of it. He found himself a comfortably large trunk to lean against, dropping his backpack on the grassy floor.

"Wile!" Mawile angrily kicked a tuft of wildflowers blooming on the ground, exterminating it with extreme prejudice.

Apparently, she doesn't agree with me. Red mused. Mawile had been somewhat… disgruntled, ever since they had deserted from the fight against Ritchie and his horribly-named pokémon.

"Something got you into a horrible mood?"

Mawile glared at her trainer.

YES!

She was terribly infuriated that Red had taken her away from what was essentially a win, and made her look like a fleeing coward instead.

"Mawile, you aren't saying anything."

"Maw… Mawile!"

"You are angry about Rit— that guy attacking us like that, right?" Red guessed.

Mawile let out a long-suffering sigh. Pokémon understood other pokémon. Pokémon understood the human tongue. Humans did not understand pokémon. Yet, humans were the supreme species on the planet. Either she was missing something, or the world was hopelessly wrong.

Or perhaps simply ignoring the rules.

She sighed again. "Wile!"

"I'm sorry you had to deal with that jerk," Red muttered, stretching his hands and feet, pushing his back against the large Oran berry tree. He had plucked several sweet berries from the lower branches, not an inordinate amount but enough to fill their stomachs until they decided to call it a day. Oran berries were pretty much the pokémon version of health supplements, and even humans could eat them without any repercussions, provided the intake stayed with limits. The average human would easily declare a single berry enough for the replacement of a homely meal, while most pokémon would easily munch three to five. It probably had something to do with their innately high metabolism rate when compared to their trainers.

Oran berries, like the Pecha and the Chilan berry trees, were native to Kanto. That being said, there had been intensive cultivation of the Sitrus berry— a plant from Sinnoh-in the greenhouses of Kanto. The major reason for that was that the Sitrus berries provided nearly three times the amount of health supplements than an average Oran berry, but the trees required extreme cold and mountain soil to survive, making the mountainous and snowy land of Sinnoh the ideal habitat for them. In fact, nearly half of Sinnoh's revenue was from the mass export of Sitrus and Rowap berries. Some eleven years ago, the Kanto government had gone ahead with the construction of greenhouses to cultivate Sitrus berries— which hadn't aided in the already increasing hostilities between Kanto and Sinnoh back then. The Rubeus Plantation, located north-west of Pallet Town, was the brainchild of Erica Flores, Celadon City Gym Leader, and Grass Mistress. It was one of the largest glasshouses in all of Kanto, built to provide a pseudo-natural environment identical to Mt. Coronet of Sinnoh, and was the leading producer of Sitrus berry in the region.

"Come on, try this one out. These berries are sweeter." Red gently coaxed.

Reluctantly enough, Mawile let go of her inner conflict and accepted it with her tiny hands. A few little nibbles and Mawile was cooing softly, munching the red berries in her hands. Mawile, Red realized, had an innate talent for choosing the sweeter berries from the comparatively sour ones. He had studied that certain pokémon were able to do this, sometimes by vibrations and mostly by smell, this was, however, the first time he was seeing it happen in front of his own eyes. Once the sweetened ones were dealt with, her terrifying jaw came out and snagged the rest in one go. The mechanism was clear-the frontal mouth was for things she could savor and taste. Everything else was taken care of by her gigantic maw on the posterior end of her head.

"You must have been really hungry." He chuckled.

"Maw…" the deceiver pokémon moaned in contentment.

"Heh!" Red chuckled. "It's barely a day and yet it feels like we've been journeying for weeks. Is this what everyone else feels on their journey?"

Mawile shrugged. She didn't care about others. Others were supposed to care about her. Well, her trainer might be an exception to the former, by a little bit. And then there was Mabel, but that was neither here nor there. A part of her did feel slightly nostalgic about Mabel, and her own mother, but she had chosen to see the world, and she would achieve her objective without reservation.

"Hey, Mawile…"

Said pokémon tilted her head in his direction.

"I was thinking of our battle with that charmander." He caressed her head, making her moan in delight. "You did excellently, of course." He paused. "That said, Ritchie also lost because of improper planning."

Mawile arched an eyebrow in curiosity.

"Charmander is a fire-type. It would take at least a couple of seconds to generate the necessary steel-type energy to procure an efficient Metal Claw. Besides, it was on the ground and was only moving its claw upward. You, on the other hand, were up in the air, and had the advantage of both momentum and gravity to score a powerful hit. Furthermore, he used a steel-type attack as well, which don't come naturally to them. There was little chance of it winning the exchange."

Mawile took a moment to bask in her victory.

"That said, if Ritchie had ordered a long-range attack like Ember, or perhaps, if Charmander had known Flamethrower, you'd be at a massive disadvantage. A fire attack to your jaw could cause significant damage to the metal, allowing Charmander the time to use a fully formed Metal Claw in that interval. Which would result in your defeat, and more importantly, potential injury."

The smile on her face vanished instantly.

"What I want to say is, the same trick won't work every time. You need to be prepared in case the opponent uses a long-ranged technique, like a Flamethrower or some sort of beam."

Mawile bobbed her head, inwardly wondering just how speculative her trainer was, as far as battling was concerned. For her, it was all about the adrenaline rush as well as the feeling of domination over creatures larger than herself. Red's… logical and speculative approach seemed alien to her.

"There's also this thing."

Mawile looked up.

"You were conflicted during the fight against that taillow of his. I asked you to use Icy Wind, but you were working on Iron head instead."

Mawile didn't shirk off from that statement. She knew for a fact that humans preferred their pokémon to obey their every command in battle. In fact, most trained pokémon out there were little more than versatile puppets, in the absence of their trainer's orders. Being the independent little thing that she was, Mawile wondered how the human—how Red —would take it.

Red's blue eyes met Mawile's black ones. He could almost see the answer in her eyes.

I did. And what of it?

"I'm…" Red spoke after a moment, "not angry with you or anything. Just curious. Did you really believe that Iron Head would be a better alternative than Icy Wind?"

Mawile shook her head vigorously. As a remarkably free pokémon all her life, Mawile had never been subjected to the Double Team experience. If not for the fact that the images shattered when she hit them, she'd have never believed that the other three were illusions.

"I suppose I cannot fault you for that." Red bit into his lip. "Taillow was in her domain and had the advantage of speed as well. If Iron Head had hit it successfully, she might have been defeated."

He paused. "But Icy Wind stopped it from using Double Team, which is why I suggested it in the first place. By the way, that was an awesome demonstration. You're really good with that move."

Mawile couldn't help it. She raised her head high, and crossed her arms in front of her chest as if to say-'praise me more'.

Red chuckled at that before his expression turned speculative once again. "But that said, it was also because of Ritchie's fault that the taillow was defeated. After Icy Wind, Double Team wouldn't work, but what would you do if it remained in the air and spammed Gust. Or even worse, if it knew something like Air Cutter."

That dropped the smile right of Mawile's face.

"Your moveset can't really deal with a pokémon that abuses its aerial supremacy, to simply stay out of your range and bombard you with long-range maneuvers. Next time we might not be so lucky against a flying-type. We need something to cover this—" Red paused before he finally came up with an alternative for 'weakness'" —this disadvantage. A way for you to deal with pokémon who abuse the effects of terrain."

Only one answer popped up in his mind at the moment. He'd need to purchase it after reaching Viridian City. And probably Double Team as well. If used with Astonish, the combination was a far better deceptive tactic than most. It would also fit into Mawile's strategy.

"I have something in mind. We can address this issue when we get to Viridian." He promised. "Let's set up camp and call it a day."

Mawile yawned cutely, before walking up to him. Allowing her steel jaw to lean into the tree trunk, Mawile pushed herself down beside her trainer and sunk her head into his shirt. A couple of mewls later and she was fast asleep.


The next day

The Pallet forest had its own share of creeping, crawling pokémon along with a few more mobile ones. Occasionally, Red would even spot a diglett peeping out from its hole in the ground, or a rattata running around, perhaps trying to find a rare weedle on the forest floor. He had set up camp in the early hours of the evening, and after a few attempts, managed to create something edible for himself and his starter. The food had been subpar compared to his mom's legendary culinary skills, but they had to make do with it.

Thankfully, his first two attempts hadn't been bad enough for Mawile to lose all hope on her trainer and abandon him in the brutal wilderness. He had pampered the little fairy quite a bit to get her to forgive him for his first attempt. Which involved cuddles. Lots of cuddles.

Yes, it was official. Mawile really liked cuddles. This was unless she was trying to seduce her prey with her impish charm and cute stature, drawing them closer and closer until, with an adorable smile, she swallowed them whole.

They were still several miles away from the outskirts of Viridian city and in all probability, would have to sleep in a tent once again, before getting access to the divine comforts of a proper bed at the Viridian Pokémon Center.

"Squawk!"

The sudden noise shook Red out of his reverie. A couple of yards to his left, he could see something spiky and brown. As he moved a step closer, he was able to make out wings on its back and a beak. Of course, if he was right, he'd need to approach it with extreme caution and—

"Maw… wile!"

Red nearly lost it for a second. While he had been lost in his thoughts, Mawile had decided to go ahead and introduce herself to her new acquaintance, and by the way, the avian was looking at her, it seemed like her charm was working perfectly. Maybe all that philosophical bullshit about love at first sight had something to it after all.

He reached into his belt pocket and pulled out his pokédex. He was a little excited as he pressed the button. Something about using the dex to scan a pokémon he encountered made him feel like a real trainer. He pointed the pokédex at the creature in front of him and with a quick beep it provided him with information about the target.

Spearow, the tiny bird pokémon. Spearow have loud cries that can be heard over half a mile away. If its high, keening cry is heard echoing all around, it is a sign that they are warning each other of danger.

Whoa. Red mused for a second. This thing worked perfectly. The scanning ability was faster than he had anticipated. He had played with the pokédex's functions before starting his journey. It could scan things almost instantly in the right conditions, though it could take longer depending upon factors such as light sensitivity and distance from the object. Also, according to Oak, it held information about pokémon non-native to Kanto, but he wasn't sure how helpful that would be.

He reluctantly took a step closer, his fingers releasing an empty pokéball from his belt, as he proceeded to throw it at the unsuspecting pokémon.

Just a little closer now. Red focused intensely as he inched forward.

Keep on doing that Mawile! You're perfect. Keep it focussed on you while I throw this ball at it. I'll capture it in one go.

Red threw the pokéball. It formed a perfect arc as it traveled through the air, rotating all the way. He could almost see how the spearow would see the pokéball coming at it, feel a surge of panic in its heart, but it would be useless. Oh, so, so useless. Then the pokéball would hit it directly in the head, and spearow would get sucked into—

CRUNCH!

His jaws did not really drop down to the floor, but the sentiment did match it. Before the pokéball had gotten remotely close to the avian, Mawile's strangely clairvoyant jaws had reached into the air, snapped the unfortunate pokéball out of its trajectory, and crushed it with extreme prejudice, before swallowing it whole.

….

It felt bad. It felt really bad. In fact, it felt so bad that Red indignantly raised his head upwards and opened his mouth to scream at his irresponsible and fundamentally-irritating starter about its utter lack of—

"Maw…wile?"

It must be noted that with an entire week's exposure to Mawile and her charms, Red did not instantly give in to her adorable face. No, he resisted for four whole seconds before folding like a pack of cards.

"I was waiting to catch the spearow, Mawile. I didn't want you to eat the pokéball."

"…Wile?" Mawile tilted her head in confusion before she lit up with comprehension and cooed back in acknowledgment.

She had finally understood, Red presumed, and hopefully, she knew that with the clandestine approach wasted, she would have to fight for her trainer and defeat the spearow and—

"SQUAWK!"

Mawile's large jaws gobbled Spearow up, engulfing over eighty percent of said avian inside her steel fangs. The poor spearow in question had simply come down from its nest in search of food and had now become prey to this ridiculous, little yellow thing. Such are the ironies of life.

Then the pain started, and with that, the squawking began in earnest.

"Mawile!" Red exclaimed, literally crouching down on the forest floor next to her "Don't eat that. I need to catch it for God's sake, so please do not eat it."

Mawile tilted her head slightly, before nodding in comprehension.

Red sighed with little elation. Yes, he would finally have his second pokémon, even if it was a spearow, and a baby one at that. He'd grow his little spearow into a powerful and fearsome fearow exactly like the one right next to him and would use him to defeat all kinds of powerful pokémon and—

…..

Wait.

There was something wrong with the statement.

Red considered it again. And paled.

An immense, fearsome, and obviously enraged fearow had just perched right next to him. Close enough that it could drive its beak through his neck and back before he even registered its presence. Logic shut down, and instinct rose. Or perhaps it was just his sense of coordination failing, as he stumbled to the ground, tumbling over until he ended up on the ground beside Mawile, who still had the spearow in her jaws.

"…row!" The fearow threatened them.

Red instantly prepared to escape, ready for a fight for his life. Mawile made no movement but the spearow let out another squawk.

The fearow raised its wings, its threatening eyes making Red wonder why he wasn't already dead. As the wings extended outwards, a tinge of blue began to appear on them. Evidently it was forming an attack.

We're screwed.

"Wait, wait, wait," Red interrupted, gaining a little of his courage back. "Look, we're sorry. Mawile didn't mean to do it, and it was a mistake. If we let the spearow go, will you please let us leave?"

The fearow continued to power up its move.

"Squawk!" The unfortunate victimized spearow cried out.

"…"

"…"

That seemed to generate a reaction out of the fearow, who stopped midway, her wings returning back to their normal shades, before letting out an angry screech. The vibrations stemming from such a high-pitched sound threatened to tear Red's eardrums. He gritted his teeth, trying to ignore the pain as he attempted to reorient himself and face what was looking to be the most dangerous challenge he had ever experienced. The fearow's eyes softened as it glanced at its captured child before it nodded begrudgingly. It spread its wings to the side, indicating a small area near it. It was an area where he could get back to the road fairly easily, Red realized. Apparently the fearow was trying to guarantee Red's safety after he released the spearow to ensure he didn't renege on the deal.

We're actually going to survive. Red rejoiced mentally.

"Alright let's walk to the road. Mawile, you can release the spearow once we get near the main road."

Said spearow in question let out a loud squawk in elation. He would finally be freed from this monster's clutches, free to spread his wings out, and then exact an unholy and terrible vengeance on this monster that had tried to charm it before making it its prey. He would carve entire tree trunks with this yellow creature's treacherous blood.

In short, he got excited, a little too much in fact, and in doing so, he unknowingly scratched the innards of Mawile's jaw with his claws.

In hindsight, that was a mistake.

Apparently, despite being made of pure, unadulterated steel, her menacing jaws did, in fact, happen to be ticklish. The moment the claws scraped over the hardened innards of her jaws, Mawile let out a short giggle.

Loudly.

As it turned out, the loud noise was actually the sound of a helpless spearow being gobbled up into Mawile's mouth and instantly digested by the highly corrosive, digestive juices within her steel jaws.

Mawile burped.

She looked at Red in confusion, then back to the fearow, and then back to Red again. Glancing at the fearow out of the corner of her eyes, she subtly shook her jaws, trying to eject the unfortunate spearow out.

Nothing happened.

Mawile turned to her human. "Maw…wile?"

Red gave his starter a blank stare, before turning towards the fearow.

The fearow was looking at Mawile in stunned silence, almost in disbelief, before it shifted its gaze to her lethal jaws which had just swallowed her baby spearow, and then back to Red.

Mawile burped. Again.

We're dead. Red reaffirmed. "Uh… Mawile, get ready to run."

"…wile?" Mawile looked at him in incomprehension, before glancing at the fearow, as the realization of what she had done began to dawn on her.

Oh.

"Maw...wile." She confirmed and began to sprint towards whichever direction came to mind. Yes, any direction that led away from the angry predator seemed good enough.

"Yes," Red confirmed, more to himself than to her, as he turned to face the fearow again, who looked all but ready to imitate his starter and swallow him whole. Considering the sharp beak and those lethal claws, Red had no doubt that death by mutilation wasn't something he really wanted. But there was also Mawile to consider. There was no way that he'd allow anything to happen to mawile, even if he had to stand and fight against the entire flock of spearow and their ferocious leader.

"Get ready, Mawile… We need to—"

The rest of the words died down his throat, as he felt something extremely horrible happen. It was one of those premonitions that came before death when one was on the verge of doing something terribly heroic and suicidal.

"...Mawile?"

Nothing at all.

Red turned around, noticing the sudden emptiness in the space where Mawile once stood. Even from his point, he could still see the little yellow thing trying to run her way out of the situation.

Did she just abandon me when I was trying to save her? I cannot believe—

"Wile!" Mawile yelled from her vantage point, several yards away, raising her large jaws upwards in the air, in the hope that her somewhat goofy trainer would spot it.

Oh. Red confirmed. Well, that's hardly any better.

Fearow let out a loud screech.

"GAAH!" Red yelled, before turning around and sprinting his way, right behind his starter's tracks.

And that was how the Great Fearow Chase of the Pallet Forest began.


Kaz had been Delia's pokémon for as long as he could remember, starting from when he had hatched into a tiny abra from an egg 15 years ago, doing nothing but sleeping all day accumulating enough energy to evolve, to the Alakazam he was today. Delia being a researcher had never really focussed on the training aspect of Abra's growth, allowing him to grow at his own comfortable pace. It had taken a little over a year, for him to develop the will and power requirements required for his evolution.

Abra had become Kadabra. It had been more than an evolution. Unlike his earlier self, Kaz had become a self-valuing psychic. Kaz was inquisitive, even when compared to psychic standards. Where Abra preferred to sleep and store power, Kaz had gained a fetish for knowledge. Abra had been a baby psychic pokémon, but Kaz was a researcher. Further evolution into Alakazam some seven years later had only made him more obsessive.

Just like his trainer, or as he liked to address her, his mother.

Over the better part of the last two decades, Kaz had been a part of Delia's life as a researcher, and in a manner of speaking, reinforced her desire to study the psychic-type in addition to her duties as Oak's assistant. Between the mass availability of knowledge at the Oak Laboratory, access to inter-regional Database, and most importantly, Oak's alakazam's tutelage, he had grown, taking it upon himself to meticulously study, experiment and develop all possible abilities that he might be able to develop in his current state. The more he studied, the more his mind elevated, and the more he was able to comprehend the existence that was psychic energy. Of course, Kaz was at most, an expert connoisseur of the subject, his interests being mainly of the intellectual variety, rather than the physical aspect of it, unlike the senior and infinitely more battle-hardened alakazam.

And that brought him to the present situation.

He wasn't too fond of Red, that much was clear. However, Delia loved her son, and so, Kaz tolerated him, or at least that was what he told himself. He liked to think that the boy would sooner or later, develop bits of his mother's genes, and perhaps in time, would become someone worthy of a tiny bit of acknowledgment from him.

And then, around a month ago, the midget had gotten himself electrocuted by an electric rodent. One would think that the klutz would know better than to directly interact with an unknown electric-type like that, but Red was funny like that. If not for the fact that Delia was worried to tears, Kaz might have even laughed at the boy's misfortune.

The fact that Kaz had slammed said electric rodent with a sepulcher-lock, slamming powerful psychic energies from six directions at the same time was not at all related to the fact that the Pikachu had hurt Red. No, he simply disliked the electric-type in general, because it was damaging the wires of the lab. Nothing else. It was merely a coincidence that his judgment had befallen the unfortunate rodent merely an hour post-Red's accident.

However, it seemed that even electrocution hadn't been enough to activate common-sense in the boy, who had then proceeded to accept that ridiculously annoying little creature as his starter, one that seemed to differentiate the world into things she could eat and things she couldn't. The little monster had gone for Kaz as well, but a psychic barrier had kept him safe. He liked his tail un-mutilated and in order, thank you very much.

And that brought him to the current situation.

"I fear that Red might have problems dealing with Mawile in the beginning. I think Delia would feel better knowing that there's someone out there, ensuring that her son stays safe until he's gotten ahold of being a trainer in the wild. If only there was a way to ensure a silent watch on his person without his knowledge…(sigh)"

Never let it be said that Samuel Oak was above emotionally blackmailing pokémon species. The fact that the target of his blackmail happened to be a psychic, only added to the grim nature of the situation. Kaz didn't know what that said about the man.

He had sensed his baby brother choose the forest path instead of the proper, established, and more importantly, safer route. Trust him to literally walk towards danger. It was official, the boy was suicidal.

He had teleported in the middle of the forest, and calmly observed the ongoing duel between the midget and the arrogant midget-lookalike. The lookalike even had a pikachu on his person. Maybe in another world, Red would have been moronic enough to accept the rat as his starter despite his electrocution. In fact, it was probably Kaz's own magnificent presence that prevented such an outcome. It was probably for the best that the teen and the rodent weren't together. The world and nature were indebted to Kaz for his silent role in ensuring that. Or at least, they should be.

As the battles continued, Kaz grudgingly admitting that Red did have a good head on his shoulders. At the very least he seemed to temporarily acquire a certain modicum of common sense, preventing him from influencing his pokémon into making mindless moves. Or was it his own presence that was keeping the boy's unusually low IQ at bay?

Then, the other midget, the one who had the audacity to name his metapod Happy, completely flipped out and commanded his pokémon to outright attack Mawile. That pikachu had the gall to throw a lightning attack on his baby brother. Trust the electric rodent to try and finish the other pikachu's unfinished business with Red.

Seriously? Why are all these pikachu after Red's life?

It demanded some serious thought. Perhaps his teacher might have some knowledge on the subject.

Either way, he had not taken the brazen attack on Delia's boy too well and had frozen the space around the pikachu and the nidorino. He had almost smirked at their pitiful attempts at trying to break out of his Psychic.

Like the little electric-type had any business trying to overpower a psychic ward. It was so pitiful; it probably didn't even realize what was going on.

The psychic lock had given the gluttonous fairy enough time to return to her senses and ferociously retaliate. Kaz had to give it to her. The mawile had admirable levels of bloodlust in her system. The nidorino was superficially bruised, but the pikachu's wounds were far more serious. Wounds like that did not heal easily, not even through the use of the latest technology. Such injuries would persist, and even should the fool use a Thunder Stone to evolve the rodent, it was quite possible that some of the wounds would carry. Kaz wouldn't, of course, be there to see it, but the results would surely be beautiful.

The little tyke sure had some baggage of her own, but it seemed like Red had found himself a rather fitting starter and companion in the mawile. He was sure of it.

On second thought, he might have spoken too soon. The fairy monster seemed to have a fetish for trying to swallowing things not meant to be swallowed in the first place. A part of him wondered if his little step-brother would forever remain a rookie because she kept ruining his attempts to capture pokémon.

At least Red had some talent in diplomacy. He'd give him that. Not many humans in his position could adequately negotiate with an angry fearow of all things while holding its baby spearow hostage.

Then again, he should have expected this. It was natural that even an instinctual brute would gain some amount of adroitness, in the presence of a consummate scientist and philosopher like himself.

He saw Red stand true and hold his ground, despite the fearow's attempt at intimidation and mentally gave the brat a few more points. By the looks of it, the large bird of prey seemed to be considering the deal if nothing else.

But just in case… Kaz raised his spoons in their direction.

The captured Spearow let out another squawk, and the Fearow slowly voiced his agreement, albeit with extreme reluctance.

It would do, Kaz mused. Good job, brat. Keep this going and in a few years, you might call yourself intelligent enough to hold an intellectual conversation with me.

BLURP!

Wait a second. That didn't just happen, did it? Kaz ruthlessly suppressed his urge to gawk, his eyes trying to comprehend what had just happened. He could see Mawile look at Red blankly, then back at the fearow, and then hopelessly try to throw back the Spearow that she had gobbled up in one go.

Kaz sighed.

I almost feel sorry for him now.

Red and Mawile raced their way through the forest, with a furious spearow flock, and a vindictive fearow right behind them, vying for blood. Kaz raised his spoons, his eyes flickered an iridescent blue, as a psychic shield erected between Red and the flock, the latter slamming hard against the psychic barrier. The alakazam winced, feeling the entire momentum of the flock ram against his psychic power. The fearow seemed slightly disoriented, but that would do for now.

This will be easy.

His pupils glowed again, before he teleported, appearing directly behind his barrier. Calling upon his entire reserves, Kaz created an enormous blanket of psychic energy, enough to envelop the entire spearow flock within it, before unleashing it towards the flying-types. The moment he felt the flying-types fall under his mental power, he induced confusion in their minds. For pokémon of that speed and dexterity, the spearow-line was rather easy to confound.

Yes, he was speaking from experience.

Bah! I'm too old for this. Kaz sighed. His job was done, now the only thing left here would be to inform those two retards that they didn't need to keep running and— wait, that's not the direction you need to go, that's the —

SPLASH!

The river.

Apparently, Red and the little monster had jumped off the precipice, right into the river that flowed beneath.

For a moment, a little frown appeared on his face, silently pondering over whether he should intervene before the boy sunk beneath the water. Then, to his elation, he saw two tiny heads appear in the current, with Mawile's large maw biting into Red's backpack, holding onto him firmly as she tried to swim her way against the current. Kaz created a small psychic shield around the duo to ensure they wouldn't hit a rock and die. The current wasn't very strong and the surrounding mud was soft, but he wouldn't put it past the kid to find a way to kill himself regardless.

Well, at least this way they will reach Viridian faster. Kaz winced, as he felt the aftereffects of using all that psychic power in one go take its effect on him. Maybe he'd come back after a couple of hours and see what the unfortunate duo was doing.

Yeah, that seemed like a good idea.


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