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Chapter 4: Birth of a PowerEdit

Ash was out of breath by the time he caught up with Lily, who had tripped over some upturned roots and was lying head-down on the ground and whimpering. “You okay?”

Lily suddenly whirled on him. “Why did it have to be Gary who rescued me? Why couldn’t you do that? Then maybe our romances will both have had it made!”

“Huh?” Ash asked in surprise.

“Go away, Ash. I hate you. I HATE you!!” Then she turned around and sobbed some more. Ash didn’t leave, because he could tell that Lily didn’t really mean what she said… She probably just said that because her own emotions were so confused, and because – and Ash blushed once again at the thought of this – because Gary had told her that Ash had a crush on her. Oh, how was he going to get this all sorted out now?

“It’s okay, Lily, we’ve each got a starter pokemon, so we can continue with them. Once we get good enough, we’ll take the fight back to Team Rocket and make them pay—“

Before he could finish, Lily had tackled him onto the ground. “I don’t want any consolation! I’ll do this myself! You can take your Ralts and go your merry way, because I’m going mine! Regardless of what Gary said, I’m not going to stick with you, since you had proved earlier that you obviously didn’t care what torment happens to me! But Gary does, he even said he sensed that we were in distress and came looking for us, I’m going to go travel the world and make my Butterfree strong and proud, and then beat those weepy little pokemon that those... witches" - she pointed in the direction of the other people Gary had saved - "...have for familiars!” Evidently she was getting a little carried away…

“Ah, okay, I’ll believe you,” said Ash glumly as he picked himself up. “As for me, nothing can replace my Charmeleon. Gary can have his Ralts back. I’m quitting.”

Those were even stronger words there, and Lily knew that Ash meant this for real. “Wow, I didn’t know you had that in mind…”

“Yeah, whatever, I lost my pokemon, got tricked by villains, got tied up in a tree, and got showed by my nemesis, all in one day. I don’t need you to redirect your own anger at me. I’m sick and tired of your mistreatment. Whatever feeling I had for you earlier is gone, you got me?” And at that, he stormed off through the woods. His Ralts stayed behind, looking intently at it with hidden eyes.

“Hey watch it!” Ash shrieked in dismay as his Ralts suddenly entered his mind and teleported him back to the ground right next to Lily. “And I don’t need you also getting on my nerves and keeping me falsely imprisoned here, Ralts! Get inside!” He clicked the button and immediately recalled the gifted pokemon.

Lily was more than startled by Ash’s sudden burst of anger, and slightly quailed before him. Ash continued the tempo with a final “Read my lips, I’ve had enough of pokemon!”

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Three days later, Ash arrived, all depressed and worn out from his travels, and utterly defeated, back at his home at Pallet Town. During that entire trip he had not dared to free his Ralts for fear that it would get it into its head to teleport him all the way back into the forest. “Mom? I’m back,” he said with a grimace, half hoping that his mother and sister weren’t home.

They weren’t. Which was a relief to Ash, who got to work preparing food – something, he recalled with great sadness, which his guardian Charmeleon would have accomplished easily. The refrigerated food would have been cooked in seconds suspended over its burning tail…

Without knowing it, his arrival had sounded an alarm back at the police headquarters, and suddenly they were upon him, with their guns trained. Officer Jenny (for there was at least one of these nearly identical officers in each town as well) stepped forth in her blue uniform and gave him a hard look. “Doesn’t look like Team Rocket to me, Delia. It’s safe for you to come out now.”

Ash watched in amazement as his mother daintily stepped out of a police car, and rushed over to hug her son. “Oh, I’m so glad you got back here safely! I heard reports that Novice trainers from Pallet were getting in big trouble in the Viridian Forest and had been worrying ever since…”

Ash thought this through in his head. Something didn’t seem right. Why would that be a reason for his mother to rig up her house with silent alarms, and then live, perhaps, in the police HQ? No, something – something bad – must have happened here… And then it struck him, and it filled him with horror: where was Kay? He looked with shock and fearfulness from mother to officer and back, and registered the distraught looks on their faces. His mind was unable to formulate any words. How could it be?

Officer Jenny gave Ash a knowing look. “It’s Team Rocket. They set up a sting operation for a week after you Novices had set out from Pallet, both in Viridian Forest where they could steal pokemon and in Pallet Town itself, seeking out every family whose thirteen-year-old had gone off, and stole many things. In your case, although your mother was too terrified to fight against armed guards, your sister did struggle, though of course ineffectually. As a result the robbers decided to abduct her as well – to where and for what purpose, no one knows.”

Now he seriously needed time to digest what had transpired. His dear sister Kay had vanished! He had just fallen for this massive trap, and lost his dearest relative! And here he was, returning home, with a spirit utterly broken, without the guardian he had set out with, and with a stupid Ralts that wouldn’t even listen to him…

He and Delia went with the police back to headquarters, where they could make temporary home. His mom prepared some form of soup dinner for them both, but although the food smelled wonderful, to him it was nauseous. He was still thinking… was the last time he would ever see Kay some ten days ago? He couldn’t bear it, couldn’t bear it at all… Oh, this was horrible, definitely what Novices should be going through… He didn’t notice that he was fidgeting with his meal and his spoon to no end. Of course Delia saw him do so. “Please, son, don’t dwell too much on that subject. It’s too painful.”

Ash suddenly pounded the butt end of his spoon on the table. “No, I’m not going to just give up on them! Dear Kay is counting on me, and I must do my best to save her! I may have returned a defeated pokemon trainer, but this is going to get me to set out anew! They’ll be SORRY they ever tried to break this family!” Ash had worked up his anger incredibly quickly.

Delia’s eyes were wide open with fear. “Don’t you even think of doing that, Ash! You’re too small to go face to face with a gang that has a global presence! Where will you go? You don’t even know where she’s been taken to! You’ll never get Kay back that way! You don’t know if she’s… even…“ She couldn’t bear to finish her sentence.

That did nothing to placate Ash, whose mind was whirring and whose face was starting to sweat profusely in passion even as his hands continued to fidget. Instead, he felt horrible. He felt like a young sapling that had just been stepped on and was now entirely bent, but was going whip back with force. He was going to do some damage. Team Rocket had already gotten too far. Not only had they abducted Charmeleon, they also abducted Kay! Who would they abduct next, Delia?! Or Ash himself? No, he was going to teach those bastards a lesson: he was NOT a quitter! And sooner or later, everything that got in the way of his quest for Kay would be forced to bend before him!

The next moment his steel spoon’s head dropped backward, suddenly very bent.

“What the--!?”

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“Okay Ralts, I’ve decided not to quit. We’re going to go find Kay before anything bad happens to her.” Ash tossed the pokeball onto the ground, and the toddler-like pokemon materialized. It yawned, then began dancing a skit. “Hey, Ralts! Ralts! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!”

It opened a single glowing eye, and suddenly Ash felt a presence enter his mind. He knew what that meant – Ralts was going to teleport him again! There was a nauseating spin of the world, and Ash found himself holding onto the edge of his house’s second-story roof for dear life. “AHH! Get me down! Okay, Ralts, I’m sorry for having mistreated you, please forgive me before I die!!” exclaimed Ash, suddenly not at all worried about Kay’s fate.

A psychic presence entered his mind. ((A noble goal, but like Delia said, you don’t stand a chance of succeeding.))

This caused such an immense headache that Ash felt he was going to black out. “Hey, quit that! That’s what you’re here for, remember? To be my guardian, so that if anything like that were to happen you’d be able to do something about it!”

((Actually, I prefer to get as far away from negative emotions as possible.))

“GAH!!”

((You still need to learn more about yourself. The best place to do that is at Professor Oak’s laboratory.))

Ash’s mind felt like cracking. “Why would I go there? Obviously Team Rocket isn’t there! What is over there?” he asked, while setting off in that direction.

((A machine that can test your psi levels. I am a psychic pokemon. I won’t tolerate it if you can’t even communicate with me properly.))

Ash’s mind suddenly flashed back to that evening’s dinner. I AM psychic, though… I bent a spoon without realizing it, probably because I was so charged up with my desire to rescue Kay… If so, then maybe I stand a chance after all! I’ll be able to communicate with my Ralts …

In the darkness of the night, the silhouette of Oak’s laboratory loomed upon Ash before he knew it. He rang the doorbell, knowing that the Professor was still awake at 10:00 PM. “Ash! What brings you back here?”

“I’d rather not talk about it,” muttered Ash. “But my Ralts thinks I should come to test out my psi levels.”

“Ah, come right in please. This way.” Soon the two had come across a room that Ash had never ventured into before, one which had a large, doughnut-shaped machine reminiscent of an MRI. “Lay on that stroller, and we can begin testing.” Ash did as he was told, and soon his entire body was being carted into the large contraption.

For a while nothing happened. Then he could start feeling signals, and felt obliged to tell the Professor what he heard. “That was an E… An A… Left… Right… Up…”

“Relax, Ash…”

Then the signals began to get progressively louder, resonating in his head like nothing else in the world could possibly do. They became so powerful that Ash would have grasped his head in pain if he could. He was wracked by the – oh, this was torture! He tried to free himself, but the inner chamber of the machine left too little room to maneuver. Then he tried using his mind to block out the pain his body was experiencing. In moments it had died down to a dull throbbing…

Finally, Ash was pleasantly relieved when he was carted back out. “Don’t… EVER… do that to me again, Professor,” he panted worriedly.

“Huh? Oh, I thought that your Ralts would have told you about the pain that comes with that particular test… He didn’t? Sorry, then…” Ash sighed, while Oak whistled at the score results. “Your Psychic Quota on the Psychic Aptitude Assay is 32!”

A pause, during which Ash expected the professor to continue. Realizing he wasn’t about to, Ash explained, “that… doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“It means that you have the potential to one day achieve the power of a level-32 Abra or Kadabra. Pretty darn good. It certainly puts you in the top tenth of one percent. Most people score in the zero to three range…”

“Wow, that’s… pretty darn impressive, I guess,” said Ash, stunned by how high he had scored. “But why wasn’t I aware of this earlier?”

“True psychic powers are in most cases only launched after a traumatic, or death-defying experience. Only then do we know just how psychically powerful a person can become. And after that, it’ll be another long while before you reach your maximum potential. What is so wonderful about the Psychic Aptitude Assay is that it can predict, based on your brain’s patterns, just how powerful your psychic powers can get at any time. So, you’ll probably never be able to perform psychic actions that only a level-33 Kadabra or higher would be able to perform, for example.”

Well, I guess that makes sense, thought Ash. I DID have both a traumatic experience and a death-defying one… So I guess that does make me special.

“Hey, where do you think you’re going?” asked Oak.

“Why, I’m off adventuring to improve my psychic powers and to train my Ralts.”

“Well, you go do that—“

“I will—“

“But don’t forget to pay me 1000 Y for the use of my equipment!”

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Ash and his Ralts were in his bedroom that morning. Ash had already cooled down a bit from last night’s dinner, and knew that he was sending himself to his death if he were to just go out into the world right now and seek vengeance on Team Rocket. Even if it meant that every second Kay got a bit closer to dying – or something worse – he had to do this properly to ensure everyone’s safety. Even if that meant that Ralts would be training him instead.

“All right, Ralts, let’s get started with training. We need to get you to at least high enough to beat another Psychic pokemon if we are to stay safe. It’ll be bad if I go forth now and come back as a possessed member of Team Rocket ready to possess someone. And, of course, I’ll need you to teach me how to challenge my energy as well.”

((You ought to learn telepathy first. That’ll come in very handy.))

“Okay, so teach me.”

((This is something you need to learn by yourself. I can only nudge you in the right direction. Now. Concentrate on my telepathic link with you. You sense anything?))

“Err… No?”

((Then give up, at least for today. If you can’t sense that link yet your psychic inclinations aren’t developed yet, and you can’t possibly start using or practicing it today. Let’s try something else: attempt to sense your surroundings. Can you do that? Hmm… I’m in your mind right now, and you don’t seem to be able to do that, since all I sense really is you listening to me and being really confused. Okay, number three: try to block out my mind. You can sense my presence in your head, can’t you?))

“Yes, that I can.”

((Good. Now try to block me out. You do this my focusing on the idea of a barrier: a block. Got that? Good. And try to concentrate exclusively on that fence you’ve erected. You’ve got to make it into a stone wall, not just a fence. That’s how tough it has to be. Hey, pay attention to what I’m saying, all right?--))

“I’M GETTING A BIG HEADACHE FROM YOU!!”

Ash collapsed on his bed, his mind worn out from struggling to erect a wall right on top of Ralts’s mental presence, coupled with the torturous feeling he kept getting whenever Ralts communicated to him that way. “Ralts, why can’t you use your mouth to speak?”

((I’m lazy.))

No one spoke or made a telepathic statement for a few seconds, in part because Ash half expected something else in reply. “That’s IT!? You lazy bum! Fine, since I can’t learn from you just yet, you’ll have to learn your own stuff! And while we’re doing this, try not to speak to me unless there’s a major problem, okay? I can’t bear it. Now, first…” Ash looked at a copy of the primer named Psychic Pokemon Power that a friend of his had just delivered that morning. “We’re going to teach you how to do some damage with your telekinesis powers. I first need to know just how good you are at that in general. Try to move the sofa.”

For a while, nothing happened. “Did you hear me, Ralts?” Still nothing. "Answer me, Ralts! Did you hear me?"

((I did as you asked, and I thought you didn’t want me to talk to you.))

“Aargh! My head hurts! Shut up, Ralts, and I mean it!” Ash was hyperventilating and shaking. “All right, since you couldn’t move the sofa… Move this chair!” Again nothing happened. “Why the heck can’t you budge a chair if you can teleport me by a dozen paces?" Ralts uncovered its eye and stared at Ash, as if daring him to want it to enter his mind again. "Never mind, don’t tell me; I’m better off searching for the answer in this magazine than having you tell me telepathically…”

He looked at the section for beginners and saw a page differentiating between the five primary skills of anyone and anything psychic:

1. Telekinesis: Moving an object via the mind. This is generally easier done on smaller objects, or on objects that are already moving in that direction.

2. Telepathy: Communication via the mind. This category includes sensing thoughts and emotions in someone else’s mind.

3. Teleportation: Instantaneously moving an object via the mind. This is an instinctive ability for Abra, for which it may be used on itself or on any willing conscious being. To do this, one must have at least partial control of the living being in question.

4. Telesensation: Sensing the surroundings via the mind.

5. Teleblock: Resisting any of the above four via the mind.

Oh, I didn’t even have to worry about Ralts teleporting me back to Lily, since it only works if I’m willing… Then again, it did happen already… I guess that’s because of my crush on Lily that tells a part of me that I didn’t want to leave her? Oh, this crush is going to become such a handicap…

“All right Ralts, let’s start with Telesensation,” decided Ash, flipping to the chapter on that topic. A note near the top of the page ran, ‘As with all forms of psychic power, practice makes perfect. At the same time, it is quite a tedious and painful skill to develop. Therefore, only those with fortitude and courage should attempt to improve their current abilities.’ Aww shucks,' thought Ash. The kind of stuff I told Charmander about having to endure the suffering of getting watered down is coming back to bite me in the head. But a trainer’s got to do what a trainer’s got to do.

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A week later, Delia found Ash already up at the early time of 8:00 AM, busy attempting to communicate telepathically with his Ralts. “Wow, you’re up early. It’s nice to know that you’re at least not stupid enough to just venture out into the open again and look for your sister. You still need to grow up and mature a lot before taking on the world like that. Of course, police in every city have put up posters of Kay, so I’ll daresay she could be back any day.”

Ash broke off his communication with Ralts. It had already been a week, and it was time to try it out on Delia. Hopefully it wouldn’t hurt his mother if she could not sense his mental presence. With anything new there was a risk that he always ran, just like when he was training his Charmander. He turned to look at Delia with an intent stare – for from that book he had been lent he learned that this was vital to success, especially for newbies in the psychic arena – and started using his mind to form a link with hers.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” asked Delia, a bit worried.

Suddenly, Ash felt the channel completing. The link was established! Albeit considerably slower than the last time he had done so with his Ralts, which probably indicated that his Ralts had been secretly helping him out in getting it to work correctly. Ash took great care to slowly, cautiously extend his mind into Delia’s.

There was a torrent of thoughts that just washed over him. However, due to all his practice Ash was able to withstand this onslaught and focus on finding what he wanted to know: particular, useful aspects of his mother’s thoughts that were standing at the forefront. Of course, the mind of a human and that of an Ralts were clearly different, but since Ash was a human he figured that he would have an advantage.

Oh, dearie, my little precious darling boy does look considerably possessed, I wonder what he’s going to do now? I hope he won’t jump me, that would be bad… very bad! But nothing has happened so far, and why would he get possessed? You know what, I don’t think he even is possessed, Delia’s thoughts flowed outward, an interminable river. None of those thoughts indicated that Delia had sensed his invasive mind.

Wow, thought Ash. This is wonderful. Now let’s try telling her that I am ready.

He focused his own myriad, getting-more-confused-by-the-moment thoughts together, and then communicated a line of thought toward her. This was not too hard, since he had already opened up a telepathic link between the two of them. ((I think I AM ready, I’m not your baby boy any more, you know…))

Delia screamed out in fright, just as if she had been physically assaulted, and looked at Ash with absolute terror. “What are you, and what did you do with my Ash?!” she shrieked, backing away, shuddering, and preparing to dart out the door.

Ash was so shocked the telepathic link between them simply fell apart. He held out his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Hey mom, it was nothing really, just trying to show you—“

“You’re not my boy! Get out! Or better yet, stay here, and I’ll get out!” With that Delia fled out the door, screaming “Help!!”

“Oh no, we’re in trouble,” Ash told Ralts as he retrieved his backpack. Earlier in the day he had placed 3000.00 Y Kanto dollars in his debit card. “I take this as an indication that we’ve been here too long, and now have overstayed our welcome. Let’s get out of here. Don’t forget to teleport my backpack over there along with us.”

There was another nauseating, spinning feeling, and an incredibly dizzy Ash toppled flat on his back into the knee-high grass of the road separating Pallet from Viridian.

Don’t worry, Kay, I’m coming for you now.

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