Thread: [Pokémon] Survival Project
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Old November 27th, 2012, 01:25 PM
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diamondpearl876
you can breathe now. x
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Illinois, USA.
Age: 21
Nature: Careful

SURVIVAL PROJECT

chapter 14 ; [SENORI]
chance

*

We thoroughly searched the city and its outskirts for two days before we… stopped. I don’t want to say that we gave up, but it almost felt that way. It seemed that we had accepted the fact that Sai was erratic, and to find any sort of predictability in his life was impossible and a waste of time. So we stopped searching—or gave up—all the while hoping that he would come back to us, and soon.

Though we had settled on having him find us, I of course was worried about him and his health. Surely, a human thinking that other humans following him wasn’t a good sign. There was that and the fact that he had left his backpack behind, so where he could go without access to money—and therefore human food—was beyond me. And hadn’t he said his home was in Vermilion City? That was in another region entirely! There was no way he would be going so far away to see that female friend or family member of his, but then… where else could he have gone? Nothing made sense to me.

But I didn’t have much time to think about Sai, because while we waiting for him to get over whatever spell he was going through, we had to figure out how to take care of ourselves. For the first day, things were easy. Since Sai had left his backpack behind, we had access to the room key and were able to stay in the pokémon center room. All I had to do was climb on Kuiora’s back and insert the key into the lock, and we were inside, even after a few unsuccessful tries on my part.

In one of our many group discussions, it was suggested that we try backtracking and going to Azalea Town, but it was too risky. What if Sai came back while we were gone? The idea of going to the next city, where no one had ever gone before, was worse. Besides, it was even riskier to separate and not be able to keep an eye out on each other—it was especially worrisome for the younger pokémon like Kuiora and Rennio. The only ones capable of taking care of them were me, Ezrem, and Atis. But I had so painfully learned that I couldn’t be in two places at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to trust Ezrem when I was so far away from him, and Atis didn’t seem too interested in the job anyway. I decided it, then: we would stay in Goldenrod City.

The next problem had us questioning whether or not we would be staying in the pokémon center until Sai came back, or if we would have to settle for temporarily living as wild pokémon again.

“I don’t want to be spending all of Sai’s money,” I said, “but I want him to have a place where he can look for us when he comes back.”

“If he comes back,” Kuiora said.

I shot her a look and said, “He’ll come back.”

“How do you know?”

I didn’t know, but I had to believe in him. I had to believe that this journey wasn’t all for nothing and that it wasn’t going to crash so easily. “I just know,” I said.

“Well,” Kuiora said, “I don’t care what we do, but it’d be cool to know what it’s like to be a wild pokémon.”

“You don’t want to know,” Rennio said rather solemnly. He was probably still feeling guilty, and I didn’t blame him.

“No one else has anything to add?” I said, trying to keep things on topic.

“I-I think we should stay here… for now,” Atis said.

“You do?”

“Yeah… This is a big city, and it’ll be a lot harder to find him when we’re out in the wild…” Atis replied.

“Fair enough,” Senori said. “In that case, I say we should stay here for five days. That seems like a reasonable amount of time, right? If he’s not back in five days, then we’ll leave.”

No one protested or offered any other possible solutions.

And just as I had suggested, we waited for five days. Amidst all the curious thoughts I had about Sai, I tried to take care of everyone. If anyone wanted to be out of the room—which was fairly often, as our personalities liked to clash so much—the pokémon that wanted to leave had to make sure that someone was still there, just in case Sai came back. For food and water, we used what Sai’s backpack had available; there was plenty to spread around. We passed the time mostly by sleeping, and there was the occasional teasing between Atis, Kuiora, and Ezrem. I thought that I even heard Rennio crying at some point, but I didn’t want to intrude. He needed time to heal, I knew.

Yes, we waited for five days… but Sai didn’t show up.

*

Needless to say, it was unfavorable to all of us when I said that we were going to leave the pokémon center room and return to the wild for now. We were bored and antsy and confused and we just wanted our trainer to be back, but we had to make the best out of our situation.

That was when Ezrem spoke up.

“Who said that you get to be in charge here?” he said.

“W-What?” I said, not expecting that from him at all. Even though I didn’t trust him, I didn’t expect him to have anything against me.

“I asked you what makes you think you get to be the boss of everyone.”

“Well,” I said, pausing because I really didn’t know, I really didn’t deserve it, “no one else wants the position, do they?”

“I do,” said Ezrem, standing up and walking over to me. “I’ll be the new leader.”

“You?” I said. “You’re not even officially on the team!”

“I can make a better leader than you.”

“You think so? How?”

“I’ve been with a trainer a lot longer than you, so I know what to do in dangerous situations,” he explained. After a moment, he added, “Plus, when we met, I gave you good advice on how to win that battle, so you owe me.”

“You may have been with a trainer longer, but you haven’t been with our trainer as long as I have. I was Sai’s first pokémon!” I said proudly. I could feel Kuiora’s subsequent glare.

“We should stay here. It’d be safer! What are you going to do if an extra strong pokémon attacks us? Huh?”

I thought for a moment before saying, “The pokémon around the forest are weaker, we already know that. We could stay there.”

“What about food and water?”

“We have food and water in Sai’s backpack still. And we know how to get food in the wild. Is that what you’re afraid of? You don’t know how to be a good wild pokémon, so you want to hide?” I said, grinning.

“That’s not it. I just think it’s a dumb idea!”

“Look, Sai’s money is not ours to spend. We need to save it for when he has to buy us stuff. And what are we going to do when we run out of food and water? We can’t go buying food like a human can. We were lucky that Sai had paid for the five nights we’ve spent here already!”

“And what are you going to do when a trainer comes along and tries to catch us?”

“I’m not worried about that. We’re strong, and can’t be caught by pokéballs,” I said, feeling more confident in myself when Ezrem didn’t say anything in response. “Now, I think everyone should have an escort that stays with them. This should keep everyone safe, especially when you want to wander off and do whatever.”

“Fine,” Ezrem said, smiling now and going back to sit with the others. “I’ll let you be the leader if I get to go with Kuiora.”

“Really?” Kuiora squealed.

“Yes, really!”

“That’s fine,” I said. I looked at Rennio and Atis. Both of them had been mostly quiet until now, but it was time to get their input. “I’d like to take Rennio with me, so I can protect him if needed. Is that okay with you, Atis? You’re strong enough to handle yourself, right?”

“Right,” Atis said immediately, and I could tell he was thankful for my decision to put him alone.

“Okay, then Rennio is coming with me. Is that fine?”

“Yeah,” Rennio said simply, looking down. I could tell he felt ashamed, and perhaps a little upset that he wasn’t with Ezrem. I looked over to the bird to see if he had any reaction to the pairings, but he was busy talking with the croconaw.

“Good,” I said softly. “Then let’s go.”

*

If Ezrem was good for anything, it was for deciding where to stay while we were in the wild, because he had brought up a good point, after all: strong pokémon could be out there. Staying near the forest was out best bet. So I took everyone to the outskirts of the forest, a little bit past the daycare center. Kuiora suggested that we stay at the daycare center for the time being, but I explained that that, too, would cost money that wasn’t ours to spend.

And so began our journey into the wild once more. If I was being honest, it did feel strange to be back right where I started. Still, I had to continue believing that Sai would return when he was ready, no matter how long it took. He was my trainer, and he wouldn’t just abandon us like that.

It was amusing, at least, watching Kuiora try to be a wild pokemon. I second guessed my decision to let her be paired together with Ezrem, noting his deceitful nature, but he seemed to genuinely help her out. I had suggested that they try to avoid the food and water in the backpack and try to earn it out in the open, so that they always had something to come back to if they were desperate. Surprisingly, they listened, so now Ezrem was teaching her that drinking out of ponds and rivers was the only way to get water, aside from having her shoot out water guns, of course. And since killing wild pokémon for food was apparently against his personal beliefs, Ezrem and Kuiora explored the area to find out where the best berries were, and he taught her how to choose which ones were good to eat.

“This isn’t fair. I have to be a wild pokémon again? I’m sick of these berries and gross pond water!” Ezrem said once, but I knew he was just making excuses so he could devour the food and water in the backpack, so I laughed at him.

“Don’t laugh at Ezrem,” Kuiora said seriously.

“You should choose your battles more wisely,” I said, remembering how Kuiora had recently confronted Ezrem to stick up for Atis.

“Whatever you say.”

I laughed again. Whatever I said, huh? I admitted that I liked when everyone followed my rules, my directions. It made me feel like a leader again. Granted, I had always felt like the leader of this team, since Sai seemed incapable of taking care of himself sometimes, but now, this only confirmed my self-centered thoughts and made me feel as if I were truly back with my clan once again. Still, I hoped Sai would return, because a part of me felt lost without him.

Atis stuck to himself, which wasn’t a shock at all. Occasionally, he tried to help out Kuiora when Ezrem could only laugh at her for whatever reason, so that was nice to see. But otherwise, he stayed in between the trees and kept himself hidden, and he slept by himself, as usual.

As for Rennio and me… Well, it was a quiet adventure. That was the best way I could put it. I just couldn’t get many words out of him, no matter how much I tried to make small talk. He knew what he was doing, however. He knew how to pick berries, where to get water, and he followed all the rules I put on him—the ones that said we should all sleep together, we shouldn’t leave our partners, and so on. So he wasn’t completely intolerable.

Eventually, though, I decided to try getting to the root of the problem, since it was clear that making small talk with him wasn’t going to get us anywhere.

“It’s not your fault, you know,” I said to him a couple days after we had ventured out into the wild.

“Huh?” he said—with no emotion, so I knew he was pretending to not know what I was talking about.

“It’s not your fault that Sai left,” I said. “He’s always been a little bit weird. If you had been around longer, I guarantee that you wouldn’t be blaming yourself as much as you are now.”

“How do you know I’ve been blaming myself?” he said. That was the longest sentence I had gotten out of him thus far.

“Because I’ve felt guilty for things in my life, just like you, remember? Once you feel guilty for one thing, you pretty much feel guilty for everything bad that follows. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.”

“Oh. Yeah. You’re right.”

“See? So don’t worry about it,” I assured him, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“I’ll try not to.”

“Is that all that’s bugging you?” I said, having a feeling that there was something else. There was always something else when it came to guilt—it was true. I hadn’t lied to him.

“Well,” Rennio said, “we’re so close to where my trainer was killed. I don’t know if I like it.” A pause. “Okay, I definitely don’t like it.”

“I understand,” I said. “I went back to my clan after the incident, and it wasn’t exactly the best experience in the world.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. But it helped me start to let go. So hopefully, this can be the start of your new adventure… again. You get a third chance.”

Rennio chuckled lightly. It was a success in my book. But then he frowned and sniffled… and then he started sobbing.

“I’m sorry,” he said, wiping at his eyes. “Water is supposed to be a good thing for electric-type pokémon, I know, but I can’t help but be so sad.”

“It’s okay. Don’t cry,” I said. “Don’t cry.”

He did anyway.

*

We continued with what we were doing. At least we were no longer bored and antsy, but we still definitely wanted our trainer to come back. But then, there was an incident. As if our luck couldn’t get any worse.

Sai’s backpack was stolen.

Even though I carried it by day and kept it near me by night, it was stolen. One night, we had gone to sleep with it there, and when we woke up, it was gone.

All that money, all that food, all that water… It was now gone. I vaguely wondered if Sai had come back to pick it up, but it didn’t seem likely. Surely he would have taken us with him if that were the case. Also, even if he was back in Goldenrod City, he wouldn’t know where we were. So someone—another trainer, probably—had swiped it while we were sleeping.

“Really?” Ezrem remarked, grinning. “It’s ironic to have all that money and food and water stolen when you were trying not to use it all, don’t you think? I knew I should have been the leader.”

I said nothing, evaluating the situation. On one hand, things were not so bad. We were faring quite nicely in the wild, here. The loss of water and food was not a problem. It was really the loss of money that worried me. What would happen when Sai came back and found that all of his hard earned cash was gone? Even worse, the two badges we had won were gone! How would he react to that? Would he go crazy again? Would he leave again? That’s how unpredictable he was.

I sighed.

“I guess we could keep an eye out for it,” I said. “Other than that, there’s nothing we can do but keep going on, just like we have been.”

Everyone agreed, even Ezrem, so that’s exactly what we did. The group dispersed and separated into escorts once more, except, I noted, that Ezrem went over to Rennio and whispered to him about something for a few moments before returning to Kuiora. He must have said something better than I did, because later on, Rennio actually decided to start a conversation with me.

“Do you feel guilty now, too?” he said.

“Of course. I was in charge of the backpack, after all. All of Sai’s stuff…”

“Well, don’t feel bad! I just remembered something about Goldenrod City as you were talking. I know of a way we can fix things!” Rennio said, smiling at me.

“You do?”

“Yeah! When we were exploring a bit with Atis, someone told me a secret about the people of Goldenrod City.”

“Oh…?”

“Apparently, they’re very giving people. They like to help out in others’ times of need. A human could walk up to another human, ask to borrow their kitchen, and the kitchen owner would say yes in a heartbeat! I’ll bet they’re kind to pokémon, too.”

“So you’re saying we should go to a bunch of human houses and replace the stuff we had in the backpack?”

“Exactly!”

“Uh,” I said, stunned. I hadn’t heard anyone say such a thing about the people of Goldenrod City, but it certainly was plausible. It’s not like we would be breaking into their houses and stealing or anything. No, they would be offering to us. Maybe it was finally a sign of luck coming our way. We could really maybe replace the money, food, water we had lost, as well as some of Sai’s clothes.

“We wouldn’t be able to replace the badges we lost,” I finally said. That was the most important part to me; that was what we had worked the hardest for.

“No, but perhaps Sai won’t even notice,” Rennio offered.

“You’re certainly optimistic,” I pointed out.

“So, are we going to do it or not?”

“It’s worth a try,” I said. I just couldn’t ignore that happy face of his, especially when he was so forlorn the day before. “We can even keep an eye out for Sai while we’re there, which is good. Let’s go.”

“Now?”

“Now.”

*

We let everyone know where we would be for the rest of the day, and then we headed back to Goldenrod City. I should have known better than to get my hopes up, because we didn’t see Sai anywhere.

“He’ll come back,” Rennio said, and I thought about how ironic it was that our roles had switched so suddenly.

“Yeah. I know,” I said, but I wasn’t entirely sure that I sounded at all convincing.

Coming back to Goldenrod City sure brought back some memories; it already seemed like forever since we had been here. Mostly, they were good memories. Sai was out expanding his horizons while Atis was breaking out of his shell. Kuiora and Ezrem got closer, and Rennio… Well, Rennio got the worst of it, but still. This city was on my list of favorites—until Sai had left us, of course.

Now, we had to pick up the pieces after his selfish disappearing act. I had had high hopes up until this point, because the idea of going from house to house to replace his belongings made everything feel all too real, and I didn’t want to accept that my trainer, the one I had put so much faith in since the very beginning, would do this sort of thing.

“Are we sure this house belongs to a human?” I asked when we came upon our first potential helpers. “This isn’t a building like the flower shop or anything, right?”

“Don’t know. Who cares? Anyone could help us out at this point.”

“True,” I said. I looked up, overwhelmed by the tallness of the house’s door. I wished that, for a moment, I could grow to the necessary height to be able to look into a human’s eyes, and plead for help in our time of need. That wasn’t going to happen—I simply knocked on the door as hard as I could with my little brown paws.

At first, no one answered. We waited outside the door for a very awkward few minutes before I suggested that maybe no one was home.

“Try knocking again. I know that sometimes, if you’re persistent, people will eventually answer,” Rennio offered.

So I knocked again. Sure enough, someone showed up within the minute. I couldn’t tell if Rennio was right or if I just hadn’t knocked loud enough, but I made a note to remember his words for future houses.

The person who answered the door was a man who looked like he was older than Sai, but he didn’t look as wrinkly as the lady at the daycare center. He had blonde hair that was parted in the middle, and brown eyes. He looked like he was wearing pajamas, which I thought was odd until I realized the sun was already setting, and that it was probably around dinner time. My stomach rumbled in response.

This seemed to catch the man’s attention, since before, he was just looking out the door with a blank look, wondering who on earth had been there. Finally, he looked down at us, and smiled.

“Pokémon at my door, huh? That’s a new one,” he said. My heart fell—maybe the people of Goldenrod City weren’t so accustomed to giving out items and food to pokémon, after all. I was about to lose hope and turn around when he added, “Sounds like you’re hungry. Are you here for food?”

I nodded as vigorously as I could. Yes, we were hungry! Yes, we needed food! Nevermind the fact that we could get food back where we were camping. We wanted human food or pokémon food, it didn’t matter which. To avoid looking desperate, I didn’t say any of this, of course.

“One moment,” he said, closing the door on us.

“I can’t believe that worked,” I said, turning to Rennio, who had a wide grin on his face.

“See? I told you. All of our problems are solved!” he cried, jumping up and down excitedly.

“Yeah,” I said. Then, in a quieter tone: “Sai will be happy.”

A few moments later, the door opened again, and there stood the same man as before. He leaned down to hand us a bag of opened pokémon food.

“Here,” he said. “I’m sure my snubbull won’t mind sharing, right?”

“Awesome,” I said. “Thank you very much.”

“Have a good night,” he said, and closed the door once more.

Again, I couldn’t believe it had worked. Maybe all of our problems really were solved. There was only one way to find out, so we went next door to get to the next house. Again, I knocked—as loud as I could this time around.

And again, someone answered the door for us! Things were going a lot easier than I had anticipated. Well, I don’t know what I had been anticipating, but it wasn’t this.

Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

We ran into some immediate trouble as soon as I said, “Hello!”

The person—this time a lady with brown hair and brown eyes, also wearing lazy clothes—peered down at us. She didn’t greet us with a smile, though. She looked at me, puzzled, and was about to close the door on us. She only failed because I stuck half my body into the door so she couldn’t get rid of us that easily.

“Wait!” I yelled. “We’re just looking for some food… or water… or clothes. Anything you don’t need, anything you want to get rid of! Someone stole all of our stuff, so, yeah…”

But still, she looked at me oddly, remaining mute. Suddenly, it hit me. She couldn’t understand pokémon. The language barrier wasn’t an issue at the last house because my stomach had spoken for me by rumbling ever so loudly.

“Sorry, I don’t know what you’re saying. Good-bye now,” she said, confirming my suspicions. She went to close the door again, and this time I didn’t stop her.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” Rennio said as we walked away from the house. “I’ve always been so used to having Annie understand me… Sai could understand me, too…”

“All these gold houses look the same. You would think that all the people inside them would be the same—nice and friendly, like that first guy,” I said.

“That’s not how things work, I guess.”

“Apparently not.”

“Should we keep looking until we find someone who can understand pokémon?”

“Is it worth it? I mean, how many people can really understand us? Mostly trainers, and I’ll bet the trainers aren’t staying in houses here…”

“We could go to the pokémon center.”

“They’ll recognize us. We were there too long.”

“I say we go to one more house, see what those people are like,” he said.

I nodded. It would be a waste to go to just two houses and stop there. We went next door, the last house in this row. For what I hoped wouldn’t be the last time, I knocked on the door—only to have it automatically open in front of me.

“Uh,” I said, knocking again. The door opened a bit further. It was evident that no one was opening the door, but that they had already left the door open, and that my knocking was propelling it forward.

“Does that mean anyone can go in?” Rennio said. I should have taken this as an obvious no—if even Rennio, after traveling from place to place, region to region, didn’t know, then we should just accept the defeat and leave. Still, I was curious—what if the answer was yes? There was so much to gain, and little left to lose.

“Stay here,” I said. “I’m going in.”

“Are you sure about this…?”

“Yes,” I said. I was the leader here, and I was going to do what I thought was best. So I got down on all fours and crept through the door. It was unexpected for me, really—I used to yell at Sai for walking into random houses and for acting like a creepy person, and now I was doing the same exact thing. Almost, anyway. The owners were practically inviting me in by leaving the door open! If I was wrong, it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t know everything about human customs. I was just a pokémon that was swept away by fate from the forest near New Bark Town, that was all.

Of course, there wouldn’t be a way to relay that to the owners of the house, if they saw me. No—they had to see me, or me taking anything would be stealing. I started to purposefully look for them amongst all the human things that surrounded me. I hadn’t gotten far yet; I was still in the front hallway. I could already see stairs leading upward, but I decided to stay on the floor I was on. It seemed more inviting that the unknown, anyway, what with all of the paintings hung on the wall and the comfy-looking couches and the lamps that offered a dim amount of light, enough for me to make my way around. I vaguely wondered what kind of people lived here, since their house seemed much different from Sasha’s in Azalea Town. It was strange to me how the furnishing and layout of a house was made to fit the lives of the humans in it, while pokémon center rooms were so bland and made for anyone. I hoped that Sai would have a comfortable place to live someday, and that it would look like how he wanted it to.

While I was thinking of Sai and us and living in a house in the future, one odd thing occurred to me: there wasn’t a single sign of pokémon living in this house. There wasn’t even a painting of a pokémon. This seemed so odd to me, as all the houses I had been in had shown some sign of being our fans.

I should have taken this as an immediate sign to leave, but I kept on going until I reached the kitchen. It looked like a normal kitchen, with a stove and a fridge and a table and such, though there was some weird thing protruding in the middle of it all. I think Sasha had called it an island, once. It didn’t seem to serve a purpose for anything, not like everything else. I thought that it was good for keeping me hidden, but that was about it.

As it turns out, that “island” wasn’t good for anything, not even keeping me hidden. I didn’t get a chance to search the rest of the house or find the owners, because they found me. And they obviously weren’t very happy to see me, because I was met with a big slap in the back from a broom. The bristles scratched against my skin, and the impact of the blow caused me to fall flat on my stomach. I cried out briefly, and tried to get back on my paws to flee, but I was hit again.

“Get out of my house, you evil creature! How dare you come in here!” I heard a lady yell, along with some other crazy obscenities that made me look like I was a monster sent to her house to kill her.

After a few more hits, I was able to get on my paws and escape the next swipe of the broom. I darted back toward the front hallway, and saw my escape! The door was right there! But the lady was chasing me, and was doing quite a good job of it. She managed to hit me one more time before I was able to swiftly run out the door, past Rennio and out onto the street. I had to backtrack in order to get Rennio, because he was as confused as ever and now he was being hit by her broom, too. I ran up to him, grabbed him by the arm, ignoring how the open bag of pokémon food was spilling all over, and dragged him to the other side of the street.

“And stay out!” the lady yelled, threateningly waving her broom in the air. She then slammed the door, and that was the last we saw of her.

“What was that all about?” Rennio asked, rubbing his head.

“We explored the house of a pokémon hater,” I said. “Go figure. I think it’s safe to say we’re done, now.”

“I’m sorry,” Rennio said. “I was just trying to help.”

“It’s not your fault. At least we got one bag of food…” I trailed off, noting how there was very little left in the bag after having to run away from the lady. “Well, we got some, anyway.”

“Yeah…”

On the way back, I wondered who on earth would tell a pokémon that the people of Goldenrod City were so nice, when it was anything but true. I decided to ask him about it.

“Rennio, who told you that knocking on peoples’ houses and asking them for things in Goldenrod City was acceptable?”

“Um… Ezrem did,” Rennio replied. “He said not to tell you that he said it because you don’t like him… Why do you need to know?”

That explained everything—why Ezrem was okay with giving up the leader position, why Ezrem was whispering to Rennio that one time, and why Ezrem was okay with letting Rennio stay with me… All this time, he was planning to use Rennio to spite me somehow, someway. And his plan, whether it was thoroughly thought out or not, had certainly worked.

“Nothing. I’m an idiot.”

*

When we returned to the group, everyone except Atis came up to us to see what we had retrieved. When they saw that all we had was a measly bag of pokémon food that was already opened, they looked clearly upset.

“You guys were gone for a long time, and that’s what you come back with? Geez, I could have done better than that!” Kuiora cried.

“Yeah,” Ezrem said. “All that work for nothing.”

I glared at him. “Don’t you even talk, Ezrem. I know it was you who told Rennio about that. You wasted our time!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, smiling widely.

“I would think that your smile lights up the sky, considering how nice you were trying to be, but now I know it’s just the glow of everyone else’s hopes and dreams being incinerated,” I said, too angry and upset to care if my words hurt him or not.

“You don’t say,” he replied, still smiling.

“I’ll bet you stole Sai’s backpack and hid it somewhere just to make me mad!”

“I wouldn’t do such a thing to my new trainer,” he said. “You’re losing your head over something so silly. That just goes to show you that I should have been the leader!”

And maybe he was right. Maybe his deceitful nature could have benefited us in this situation. Had he gone instead of me, he may have been able to convince those humans to give him what he wanted. I didn’t know how that was possible since the language barrier would still exist and that lady would still be hating pokémon no matter what, but after what happened, I was second guessing myself yet again. He probably would have kept us in the pokémon center for a longer time, and then we would still be there, happy and safe, with all of our belongings intact.

I was no leader, and if I was, I was a shameful one—forever and always.

That night, I didn’t sleep. There wasn’t anything to protect except one bag of food, but I kept watch over it anyway. I lay there all night, wondering what I could do to be better. I thought that I had gotten past this pain already by scrutinizing the team’s individual needs and by deciding that I wouldn’t let Sai’s rollercoaster emotions get to me. Those things had gone over well for me, but now, Sai was gone entirely… and my world was turned upside down. He obviously needed me at this very moment, but I couldn’t help him because I didn’t know where he was. And the team here obviously needed me, too, but in different ways… in ways that always seemed to backfire against me no matter how hard I tried.

After thinking some more, I couldn’t rationalize any reason for me to continue thinking that I was a bad leader. I had done the best I could, and the bad things that had happened were out of my control. Besides, the bad things that happened weren’t even… bad. They hadn’t extremely harmed anyone emotionally and physically, after all. Really, all I had to do was go along with my instincts and not follow others’, mainly Ezrem’s (and Rennio’s, which was unfair, but look where it had gotten me this time).

So why was I still doubting myself? I recalled the conversation that me and Rennio had had earlier in our adventure. And of course, I concluded that the guilt of ruining my entire clan was still haunting me. Everyone’s cries, the sneasel’s lies, being banished after all of my hard work and after all of my heartfelt explanations… I always knew that it wouldn’t be something I could get over so easily, but the fact that it was still bothering me made me wonder if I would get over it.

There had to be another way.

I vowed to figure it out, with or without Sai.
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