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This will be an OT journey fic, with each chapter told from the point of view of a pokémon belonging to the main trainer. The point of view will rotate but will not go in any specific order, and the pokémon will be identified (by nickname) with the chapter name.
Rated PG-13 for language, violence, and some mature themes.
Any and all comments are appreciated.
Mind led body
to the edge of the precipice.
They stared in desire
at the naked abyss.
If you love me, said mind,
take that step into silence.
If you love me, said body,
turn and exist.
— "Vertigo" by Anne Stevenson
chapter 1 ; [SENORI]
all or nothing
I never saw him coming.
Was I too young? Was my tail not yet long enough to help me stand higher to watch for danger? Who was to say that my tail was going to grow any longer? And how old was I, anyway? Younger sentret had always been susceptible and vulnerable to such restrictions, but we had no developed, concrete idea of age, just loyalty and ability. I only knew that I was old enough to be shunned by my clan and I was old enough to be blamed for the catastrophe that preceded the banishment.
Was it sleep deprivation? I was alone, after all. There was no one to switch shifts with because no one wanted to defy the clan and end up in my position, too. I could have dozed off without realizing it, and snapped back awake and pushed back the memory into the back of my mind just as quickly... But I'd trained for much of my life to do this. To protect. Sleep was never an issue, not even when I failed—once. Just once. After standing guard almost all day, every day, nothing as pathetic as sleep should have interfered.
It always seemed like there was some kind of opposition to every aspect of my life. It always seemed like life and fate were trying to show me that things could never go completely right or completely wrong, that it all fell somewhere in between and that was how it was meant to be. I never questioned this idea until now, when I thought that I should've felt his presence or smelled him or seen him. He still would have attacked. He still would have taken and given... everything. But things would have made some sort of sense if I had seen something, anything.
I never saw him coming.
It's funny, I guess. Humans are supposed to make some kind of mark when walking through the forest like the one I lived in. They're supposed to snap twigs or leave footprints or mess with the branches and leaves on the trees simply out of boredom. Even if the human that attacked me hadn't done any of this, I still should have seen his shadow with help from the few sun rays pouring through the tree canopies. Or a blur as ran behind me because he was... fast, so very fast.
This human, he was different.
I first noticed that he wasn't just another pokémon when he suddenly came from behind me and swung his leg out to hit the side of my tail as quickly and as hard as he could, causing me to immediately lose my balance and fall face forward into the ground. And as I fell, I was expecting to see claws. Paws. Not human flesh caked with dried dirt and blood.
To say that I was a bit surprised would be an understatement. Before, I was walking around the forest, making sure that everything seemed peaceful. I thought that I was paying attention. Not only had he attacked me after being completely undetected, but I had never seen a human attack anyone before. Only pokémon seemed capable of and willing to face the challenge in the past. I didn't know how to react to this new situation. So I simply remained where I was, silently hoping against hope that he would realize that I wasn't worth the effort and walk away. And then it hit me that this human was a threat to my clan. If he was willing to hurt me, then he would be willing to hurt any other pokémon. And they didn't know he was here. Of course I was the only one that knew he was here.
And of course I was choosing to just... lie on the ground. Though my intentions were true, my confidence was gone. There was no one to cheer me on from the side, no one to acknowledge my efforts, no one to come and assist me at times like these, when things were going wrong.
I didn't really know what else to do. What could I do? Scream? My clan would ignore me and think that I was looking for attention or help for absolutely nothing. I could run to them, but I would probably lead the attacker straight to them. Unacceptable. But I couldn't attack, that much was clear. I didn't know how to track him, I couldn't even see him move properly, and I didn't feel that pokémon and humans should fight. For a moment, I wished that I had had previous experience with fighting humans, but that seemed to be the same as wishing for more attacks on my clan, so I pushed the thought away.
Suddenly, I realized that time had passed, and the human had done nothing else. Time was passing with him standing silently nearby and with me doing nothing but thinking too much. He was most likely waiting for me to do something.
Eventually, I lifted my head up slowly, carefully. The view before me was skewed since mud clung to my face. All I saw were bits and pieces of branches swaying with the wind, bits and pieces of trees just sitting. And watching. Just as they always do. It was all so peaceful and life was so easy for them and they didn't even know it and that would never know and I would always, always know and—
And maybe, just maybe, there were bits and pieces of a stream in my view. Water moving gently in the only direction it knows, going nowhere at full speed. I might have been imagining it, and I sure hope that I was, because if that were true, that would mean the attacker was very close to my clan and I didn't want that. I didn't want that at all.
There were no signs of the human's presence. Fate had sent danger my way and didn't want me to see it, apparently.
I thought that my attacker was still behind me, because it didn't make sense for him to send me sprawling toward the mud only to leave. Finally, I stood up, clenching my tiny hands. I turned around quickly and pulled my fist back, intending to use my sucker punch attack, but no one was there. Briefly, I thought that I had fallen over on my own, and that I was torturing myself by creating visions of a human, believing that it would waste its time on me before realizing its mistake, since no pokémon in the forest would make that mistake ever again.
But those thoughts were interrupted when, from the corner of my eyes, I saw him trying to kick me from the side this time. I didn't even have time to move an inch from my new position before he was pinning me to the ground with his foot. And he bent down, tried to pick me up with his hands. This was the only honest attempt I made during this so-called battle: I bit him. I bit him hard and he didn't cry out but he stopped trying to pick me up and instead, he pressed his foot down harder. And harder. Sharp pains coursed through my jaw; sharp pains flowed through my body so effortlessly, yet in deformed rhythms. I sank further and further into the mud, an everlasting reminder of what defeat really is. And I screamed. I wailed.
My cry echoed and echoed and time passed and it was still just the two of us at the end of it all.
No one was coming to help me and I wasn't going to help myself and finally, finally, he stopped pinning me down and he stepped over me, turned to face me. And he stood there, his fist raised, blood seeping down his right hand to his elbows and inevitably to the innocent forest floor. His tense face had no clear expression; his dark eyes showed no feeling. And I knew, I knew that he was trying to say that he was waiting for me to do something. That he thought I was too slow and needed some kind of false hope.
I didn't move. I didn't say anything. I was giving in, and at the same time, I wasn't. He could have me, as long as he left my clan alone.
Eventually, he moved toward me again. Slowly. Carefully. He shouldn't have been giving out second chances. But he did and I didn't take them as he pulled his arm back and as his fist collided with my body with more force than I could ever imagine a human having. The world seemed to be spinning as I fell back into the mud and saw the sky looking down on me instead of the human. And then there was nothing.
Before I fainted, I could have sworn I heard him sigh and look... disappointed. That was the very first emotion I saw from him, and I will always remember it. But I didn't know what he was expecting. Pokémon are supposed to fight other pokémon, not humans. Was this guy a trainer? He couldn't have been, and maybe I just hadn't spent enough time with him yet, but there was nothing else truly... off about him at this point. Except for the emotionless face and the fact that he wasn't wearing shoes because he was kicking me around, he looked somewhat like all the other young trainers that passed through here with his unkempt black hair, a plain black t-shirt, and shorts that were frayed at the bottom.
Had he not attacked me, I would have thought that he was just like everyone else.
He was different, though.
His movements: silent, yet loud enough to shake the earth and throw it off balance. His words: non-existent, yet sharp enough to break the skin.
When I regained consciousness, I felt a dull, soft throbbing on the side of my head. I was able to open my eyes, though it didn't help the dizziness that accompanied the pain. Confused at first because everything seemed blurry, I kept blinking and my vision slowly became clear.
The first thing I noticed was that the mud on my face was gone.
The second thing I noticed was that I was propped up against a tree and I could see the area where my body was facing the ground not long ago.
And third? My attacker was sitting right next to me, just staring off into the distance, seemingly unaware of my awakening. I thought that I would have been better off unconscious, or at least with my eyes pasted shut. I did not want to see what he was capable of doing next.
I was able to relax, however, when I was able to understand that the forest, aside from our pathetic battlefield, was left untouched. My clan wasn't running around, some panicking at the idea of danger, some preparing to fight. But if they showed up and saw this human next to me, this human so calloused and dirty and void of emotion, they would know that he was some kind of fighter. And they would hate me even more for allowing this threat to be let free.
I wanted to just get up and run. Physically, I didn't know if it was possible. The human had come pretty close to successfully crushing my skull, after all. I was also tired and lacking in energy and motivation. He would catch me easily. What I also wanted to do was tell the human that it wasn't his fault that I wanted to run, that it wasn't his fault that I didn't want to give him a second chance. That it wasn't his fault that I thought I deserved to be attacked the way I was. Of course, I didn't think that he would understand me anyway. In the end, everything I did would have been in vain.
Realizing this, I sighed. I didn't mean to. I really didn't.
Before, the human was just leaning against the tree and he had his arms wrapped around his legs, holding his knees close to his face, his left hand holding on his right wrist. His bloody wrist. And he seemed all right, aside from the dark, dark red painted on his skin. He really did.
But I sighed and that slight noise made him turn his head in my direction immediately and he stared at me with those cold, dark eyes and with a face that I couldn't quite read, no matter how hard I tried or how badly I wanted to. And the grip on his own hands tightened around his right wrist and didn't seem to want to let go as he allowed his knuckles to turn white. White as snow. Whiter than white. I should have been scared. Anyone else would have been scared, but all I could think about was how he was threatening the circulation to his hands by doing so and it wasn't his fault at all. Somehow, it was mine.
"You're awake," he said after a few more moments of nothing.
So much for running. I jumped a bit when he spoke, because I hadn't even thought about him trying to communicate with me and I wasn't expecting his voice to sound both hollow and childish at once. I wasn't sure how that was possible, but that was the best way to describe it at the time.
Moments before, I was regretting making a sound, but now, I wanted to say something again. That, again, it wasn't his fault—but that wouldn't mean anything. What would I have told the children from my clan to do? I would tell them to play along. Get on his good side, act cheerful, and leave whenever the right opportunity presented itself. An opportunity that showed no potential for revenge, anger, or other threats.
"Stating the obvious, are we?" I said, trying to ignore the pain in my jaw, trying to make myself feel lighthearted in order to offer him a somewhat sincere chuckle or smile.
"Yes, I guess I am."
"Look, I—" I cut myself off when I realized that he had actually responded to me. Understood me. Did he, really? This human was different, yes, but it didn't seem likely that he would mistake a genuine, happy response for some sarcastic and somewhat insulting comment directed at him. And suddenly, nothing made sense again.
"Why... Why do you understand me?" I managed to ask even with his stare burning holes into me again and again.
"Am I not supposed to?"
"You're... not supposed to know what I was saying, no. New trainers come by here with their pokémon all the time. They have to try to read their pokémon's body language and gestures first, and the language will come in time, I assume, since I've seen older trainers come by, too... I don't understand..." I stopped myself after I realized that I was rambling.
"If it helps you, I can pretend to not understand."
"If it helps me to do what?" I asked, shifting uncomfortably against the rough trunk of the tree.
His answer sort of explained why he felt the need to attack me earlier. He wanted to test my strength. The outcome, apparently, was that I was weak. That, I could understand, at least. But there was something missing.
"Why would you need me to get stronger?"
Perhaps the only time he couldn't seem to look at me that day was before he answered, "We're going on a journey. For the badges here in Johto. I'm sure you've seen others do it, right? They told me to go and find the first pokémon I saw and capture it, and that was you. The meeting was different than I expected, but... you'll have to do."
"I still don't—"
"You're my first pokémon, Senori."
The human sounded so sure of himself, but I wasn't sure at all. This would mean leaving my clan. Not that they wanted me, but I was convinced that they still needed me. All of them. They just didn't know it. I couldn't leave and come back to find them maimed or eaten or burned to the ground with the rest of the forest or anything else. The blame would go to me—again. No, no, no. And who was Senori? Clearly, it was me, but that wasn't my name. I had never heard it before in my life, but there it was, directed at me, as if I had possessed it my entire life. But the finality of his words almost made my heart stop. Almost made everything seem okay and... real.
I decided to start with the idea that was most likely to help me keep my sanity.
"Um... I'm sorry, but that's not my name. I'm usually called—"
"I don't care what anyone's called you. Your name is Senori," he interrupted, his gaze focused on me once more.
"Fine. It doesn't matter, because I'm not going anywhere with you." I paused for a moment, realizing my quick temper toward him could get me into more trouble if I wasn't careful. He didn't reply, just smiled slightly, as if what I was saying meant nothing. After a few moments, I smiled, too, and continued, "You didn't even catch me in a pokéball. All trainers get their first pokémon in New Bark Town, anyway, which is very close to here. I don't know who helps you start out, really, but I'm sure you can ask around."
The human's eyes widened, as if what I had said now was some kind of revelation that needed to be made known to the entire world. "But that's not what they told me to do. I just listened. I just listened..." His voice trailed off, and he appeared to be lost in thought before he came up with what he thought was an appropriate response. "You're coming with me, and I'll get a pokémon in... New Bark Town, too. That way, I'm doing it right for everyone."
I wondered why this boy didn't know how to start his own pokémon journey properly. Every child always talked on and on about how they imagined their first day as a trainer ever since they learned about the idea of going out, raising all of their favorite creatures and making friends, and becoming so free, so independent, so strong. I started to think that, maybe, his parents kept him sheltered from the idea... but I didn't see how that was possible. There was no way that he would not have heard the fact that he could leave for his journey at the age of ten. Maybe his parents forbid him to go, but he went anyway, and he didn't want to talk to whoever gave out starting pokémon, and he was feigning innocence, but...
I was getting nowhere with these senseless thoughts. That was my problem: I thought too much, and I knew next to nothing. All I knew was that I wasn't leaving with him, and that I would have to get him away from me and out of this forest somehow. Someone else would have to take care of him. There's always someone who wants nothing more than to hold someone else's hand until they know it's time to let go.
"Okay," I said, and realized it was the wrong thing to say when his eyes brightened, just a little bit. "Um... I'll go with you to New Bark Town and see what I can do about helping you get that real first pokémon in your first real pokéball. But then I'm out of here. I have family and friends that I need to stay with."
In response to the last sentence, the words stuck in my throat while his face contorted with fury and he clenched his fists again. "You can't go," he said firmly, looking down at the ground. "You can't ruin this for me. You can't."
"Ruin what? Your journey? There are plenty of other sentret on the other side of Cherrygrove, if you really want one. Just... It can't be me."
"It has to be you. There is no one else but you." He stopped, reached into his pocket and I could feel myself tense up quickly. He pulled out a small object shaped like a cube. It had smooth, rounded corners. It was white with a varying amount of black dots placed randomly on each side. I didn't know what the black parts meant, but it seemed harmless enough, so I relaxed and settled against the tree once more. I remained calm even as he forcefully handed the object to me.
"What's this for?" I asked, struggling to hold it in my rather diminutive paws.
"It's a standard six-sided die. Roll it."
"Excuse me? Roll it?"
"I don't know what you mean..."
"Just roll it. Throw it. Whatever. I can't do it for you or it won't mean anything."
"It's been with me for years. It lasted all this time, survived all the obstacles thrown its way, only to end up in your hands. Only you can roll it." He pushed the paw holding the die toward my chest, causing me to feel a pressure similar to when his foot was pressed against my body. My bones ached, and somehow, I felt my heart when I thought that it was gone. "There is no one else but you," he added, placing emphasis on each and every word.
"What happens when I roll it?" I asked, not quite ready to give in. I was never sure of others unless I knew them personally. I was always careful to not get caught up in someone else's lies or bad intentions. I was sure that here was some good in everyone, but this belief couldn't make me any less wary of him. I didn't trust him and I kept wanting to ask and ask and ask, which made sense, but I wanted to learn more and I didn't know why.
"You'll see that I am right."
I couldn't gather the courage needed to ask anything else. I thrust my paw forward, releasing the object, my eyes never leaving it. It rolled around in the grass before determinedly landing on the side with a single black dot on it. I didn't feel a thing, but his smile was so, so wide, and I was more interested in the object after seeing him like that.
"See? You're number one. There is no one else but you. Even if that pokémon from New Bark Town is supposed to be my first, it won't be. It never will be." He reached forward and grabbed the die delicately, as if he was scared that it might break if he wasn't careful. He held it up high, toward the small amount of sun that was able to pour through the tree canopies. "I'll keep it in my pocket so that you'll always know, Senori. And so everyone else will know. Let's go. Now."
I was reluctant, I swear. I always wanted to be loved, needed. I couldn't help it. I was especially desperate since that terrible incident. And being called number one, well, that fit right into my desires. But I wanted to be loved by the family that I grew up with. The members that I swore to protect from the moment they were born. But they weren't there when this human came to me and they weren't here now and who was I to say that they would definitely be with me at any point in the future? This was my chance. My opportunity. Not theirs. Never would it be theirs. I knew all of this, but I still didn't want to go.
"...Okay. Let's go. But, um... I'm sorry, but I don't know your name." I paused. Stay optimistic. Stay happy and believe in fate. For them, forever and always. "Should I decide it for you?"
And I started to think that, maybe, I was unsure about him and didn't want to leave because—
"My name? My name is Sai."
—I just didn't want him to be right.
We started walking, away from the site of the attack and away from my clan. But I didn't say good-bye. Not yet. We'd have to turn around and come back, and then... Well, I didn't know what I would do then. I tried to turn around to look back, as if it really was my last time seeing this place, but Sai was blocking my way.
"I'm carrying you because it will go faster," he said, annoyed by my constant movement. "From here on out, you could just walk and suck it up."
I wanted to protest and say that he was the one who had caused the pain to begin with, and that if he hadn't come along and ruined everything, then I'd be just fine.
"So... why can you understand me already?" I asked instead.
"That doesn't matter. Are we close yet?"
"It sounds to me like you just don't know. You don't have any kind of explanation, do you?"
Sai stopped walking abruptly and turned me around to face him, obviously not caring about causing further wounds. He was frowning and his eyes seemed even darker than before, and I thought that he was going to explode and attack me again, but he didn't. He set me down on the ground quickly and ordered me to keep walking.
"You can suck it up now rather than later, then. Don't complain. It was your choice," he said, and then waited impatiently for me to start moving.
I took a few steps and realized that I couldn't quite walk straight. I wondered how Sai ended up by me and still didn't know how to get to the two closest cities. I wondered if I was even taking Sai down the right path toward New Bark Town, because if I wasn't... He got angry fast. Real fast. And I didn't want that.
"So what starter pokémon are you thinking of choosing when we get there, anyway?" I asked, trying to distract myself from that thought.
"I don't know. Does it matter?" he asked curiously.
"Well, yeah. They're different types, all with different strengths and weaknesses. Some specialize in attack while others specialize in defense. There's a lot of things to consider."
Sai didn't say anything for the longest time, and I shrugged it off, thinking that he was just daydreaming about what he'd get. I didn't know then that he had no idea what starter pokémon were even available. I never thought that his lack of knowledge could go this far.
"And you're going to help me, right?" he finally said, throwing me off guard when I was already dizzy to begin with. I almost toppled over, but regained my balance and absorbed his words.
"Help you do... what?" I asked, thinking about the last time we talked about helping each other through lack of communication. The conversation didn't look too hopeful.
"You'll tell me about each of them. The pokémon. And then I'm going to watch them and I'll decide from there. The one with the most potential will join us."
"The most potential for what? Actually, nevermind that! You can't just... watch them!" I cried, stopping and nearly falling over again. He stopped, too, and once I knew I was holding his attention, I continued, "Most trainers just walk in, knowing who they want, and they take that pokémon along with any other items the person gives them, and that's that. They're so excited about it and they blabber on about it for hours when they pass this forest. It seems like it's all a part of the journey. Why are you making this so complicated? Why are you the only one who doesn't know what to do?"
Sai paused. "As long as I get the pokémon, it shouldn't matter, right?" he said slowly. "It's still starting out the correct way."
"I suppose that's true," I said quietly, reluctantly, unsure of whose rules he was so determined to follow until the end.
"And you're going to help me, right?" he repeated with that same hollow and childish voice. Like he was embarrassed to ask for my help but he needed it more than anything else in the world so he gave in and asked anyway. And I didn't know why he needed this help. I wouldn't know why for a very long time. Once, I thought that I accepted once more because of my penchant for taking care of others. I thought that it was because he both wanted and needed me, unlike my clan. Or it was because I was afraid of what he'd do to me if I didn't. It would take time until I realized how wrong I was.
"Don't worry. I'm going to take care of you," I said.
My voice was so, so cold.
Firstly, welcome back to the section, diamondpearl876! Always nice to see members return. =)
Secondly - I quite like this beginning too. Very nicely written - the character of the Sentret is very clearly portrayed and I find it a neat choice of Pokemon as well. I'm also quite intrigued by this trainer who doesn't seem to know much at all about how to do things properly and yet can understand Pokemon speech just fine - so I wonder what his deal is and am looking forward to seeing more (as well as seeing what other Pokemon show up and what they are like).
Not much to fault here, really, although I did find the Sentret's tangent rambling a touch overdone after a while. I do wonder what it had done to be outcast by the other clan on that note... I didn't feel the first scene separator was necessary either, although there's not much issue with keeping it there either I suppose. The last line felt a bit disjointed as well from the previous and I wonder if the chapter would feel better finished without it, or at least some rewording to clarify that it was the way the sentret spoke was so cold (assuming that wasy what you had meant).
Nice start, certainly - good luck with the rest of the fic!
Hm! This is interesting, and very intriguing with it. Today seems to be a good day for finding fanfictions.
Well, let me first say that it's great to see someone making full use of the first person. So many times, I've seen people missing the opportunity to really develop the character of their narrator, by manipulating their voice and choice of words - but here? It took me about two paragraphs to get the measure of the Sentret. That's not a good thing, that's a great thing.
I'll have to agree that Senori rambles a little too much on occasion - particularly when he poses rhetorical questions, replaying the scene of the accident over and over in his mind. I'd suggest keeping questions like that down to bunches of threes, and also that each of them ought to be as clearly expressed as possible, in order to keep the flow from thought to thought and make it easier to read. It's a bit jarring to find yourself stumbling over the third sentence in a story:
I do also think that Senori's knowledge of Trainers and the nearby cities might be a little too extensive for a creature that has comparatively little contact with humans, and may not fully understand them anyway.
Other than those general points, I've only got three typographical/grammatical errors and one vague annoyance to point out. I'll take the errors first:
Finally, the vague annoyance: you tend to use a double hyphen (--) instead of both a dash (–) and a long dash (—). This is a wild overreaction on my part, but I really, really hate them, and would consider your story very much improved if you'd use the correct punctuation marks. It's something so minor that it doesn't actually matter, but I'm afraid I can't bear to finish this review without mentioning it.
Anyway. Those few little things aside, this was one of the best things I've read here all month. I'm looking forward to seeing more.
The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World * The Rocket Case * The Rocket Revival
Neither Here Nor There * The Beastman * Coriolanus Rowland's Guide to Pokémon Husbandry
Robin Goodfellow's Christmas Carol * Snow * Stranger Than Fiction
My Trip to the End of Time, by Pearl Gideon * A Smell of Petroleum Pervades Throughout
For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
The beginning sector was mostly supposed to be an attention getter and give the reader the first impression on the sentret's questioning and "dwelling on the past" personality.
I"ll also fix the ending to clarify that, yeah, the way that the sentret spoke was cold.
Anyway, it's nothing to be worried about. Just make sure he doesn't come across as too knowledgeable, and it'll be fine.
The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World * The Rocket Case * The Rocket Revival
Neither Here Nor There * The Beastman * Coriolanus Rowland's Guide to Pokémon Husbandry
Robin Goodfellow's Christmas Carol * Snow * Stranger Than Fiction
My Trip to the End of Time, by Pearl Gideon * A Smell of Petroleum Pervades Throughout
For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
On that note, here's the second chapter.
chapter 2 ; [KUIORA]
Once upon a time, there was a boy who loved a girl—and then the girl left him and the boy did not love her anymore.
She did not want to leave, but she felt that it was her duty to do so. The two of them had been together for many years, and the girl loved the boy more and more every day. The girl was eternally grateful to have him in her life, and often wondered what she had done to deserve him. He deserved more than her. He deserved more than life. But he chose to stay where he was, and the idea of what could have been haunted her. She dwelled on these thoughts, but could not find a way to ease the chaos in her mind.
One day, she stumbled upon someone who told her about the three legendary pokémon that represent emotions, the will to live, and knowledge. They had all been born from the same egg, created by the god of the pokémon universe. They reside deep in the caves of Sinnoh, safe from harm and disturbance.
She felt that it was her duty to see these pokémon, and she told her husband this.
“We have them to thank for everything,” she said. “Every tree, every mountain, every sea, they have all conspired for millions and millions of years to get us both here. And I don’t know why they conspired so much, but I want to see them and thank them for not making their efforts in vain. I need to.”
But the husband did not want to go. He wanted to leave them be, wanted to accept things as they were and not try to interfere with things that cannot be changed.
“You are the most important part of my life. These creatures have given me the ability to love, the desire to live in this terrible world, and the knowledge to know how to survive long enough to make you happy somehow. Do you not think of this? Will you not go with me?” she asked, but still, he would not go.
He tried to convince her to stay, but could not. She left, explaining where she was going and saying that she would be back as soon as possible. She took a ferry to Sinnoh, and several people asked her what was wrong, why did she look so sad, but even she did not know, though she carried with her the comfort of finally finding the answers that she had been looking for.
She visited Uxie at Lake Verity, and thanked the legendary pokémon for its service and effort. The Uxie did not lash out or respond negatively, and so she felt that her emotions were true. She loved her husband, and he loved her, and that was how it was meant to be. When she visited Mesprit at Lake Acuity, it was the same, and she now felt reassured about knowing how to make her husband happy and how to live a fulfilled life.
When she reached Lake Valor to visit Azelf, the pokémon was not there. The cave was empty, and nothing could be found in the lake itself. She decided to stay in the nearest town and try again soon, but she heard rumors of a man who had disturbed Azelf’s resting place and was now being punished for it. Upon hearing more information, she came to realize that the man from the rumors was her husband.
She visited him in the hospital, where he was alive, but still gone. She screamed. She screamed so loud, and he did not—could not—hold her. The doctors could not explain much of anything. She knew more than them, yet knew nothing at all. He had come to see the legendary pokémon after all, but why? And what had the legendary pokémon done to him to make him like this, and again, why? She would never know.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved a boy—and when he died by her hands, she could not stop loving him.
This was the last story that Professor Elm told me before I left the lab. He said that it seemed a little too heartbreaking and dark for a young totodile like me, but I had insisted that I could take it, and so he did not hold anything back. The story was sad, yes, but it made me want to travel the world so I could see what else was hiding from me, and so I could see the good parts of life that the professor was much more eager to tell me about. They seemed so common and pure to the point where I couldn’t stand being here.
I didn’t usually value self-induced vulnerability or a lack of strictness, but I believed that I was somewhat lucky to have been raised by Professor Elm. It was destiny, of course, but I still felt lucky. He was timid and quiet and patient, and most importantly, very flexible. I couldn’t imagine another professor giving up a potentially perfect starter pokémon just to keep me satisfied with life, but that’s what he did. While he emphasized training for all of the other starter pokémon, while he taught them to listen to trainers and practice controlling their beginning moves, he told me stories of legendaries and myths about lands that he promised I would see someday. Of course, I took part in the training and had learned that obedience is necessary, especially under certain circumstances—I wouldn’t have wanted to meet a legendary pokémon someday and be completely weak and clueless and disrespectful, after all—but I was not avoiding sleep or practicing outside of normal training times with the others who seemed to exhaust themselves more than needed. It was all about balance and routine. Every day, I woke up, ate, trained, listened to Professor’s Elm stories (or reflected on previous stories if he happened to be too busy), ate some more, and slept. And that was enough for me.
It wasn’t enough on the day that the trainer came for me.
“We’ll be starting the training for today, all right? I hope you’re all refreshed from sleep and ready to go,” Professor Elm said. As usual, I got up from my normal resting spot. The back of the professor’s lab was surrounded by split-rail fences that were designed so that we could look outside of the fence if we wanted to, but without the space to escape. I could understand the precautions, though Professor Elm seemed to trust us so much that I wondered why it was needed. Even I would not have escaped given the opportunity. I was to wait for whatever the legendaries had in store for me, whether it was being stuck here forever or for a special, designated trainer to come and choose me. Still, I adored sitting near the fence, right where the sun shone the brightest, where I could see the entire backyard and everyone in it. This was also where the professor would read me stories; he would never ask me to move, even if the sun was in his eyes and it was difficult for him to concentrate. I only left when told to, and so I left when he announced that it was time to train.
All of the totodile, chikorita, and cyndaquil gathered in the middle of the backyard. I sat on the grass while the others remained standing, already preparing their known attacks. They were having trouble standing with the wind blowing against us, though I did not feel it, as the professor standing in front of me and blocking it. Aside from excited squeals from the pokémon, all was quiet, as if nothing and no one else existed.
As usual, the professor started by talking about us being starter pokémon.
“What can you, as a beginning trainer’s pokémon, do to help the trainer grow and learn? You yourself are not necessarily weak, but are just beginning as well… I cannot teach you much, because it is not up to me,” the professor said, a hint of sadness in his voice. Had he wanted to be a trainer once so he could travel the world, too? “But I can make it easier for them. You will all have to battle, as you know. We’ll warm up by starting out with tackle and scratch attacks, which you’ll often use in battle to start out with.”
There were three large trees in the backyard, all of which looked beaten up and as if they would tumble at any given moment. They had taken much abuse over the years, and we were about to add more to it. We were instructed to go to a different tree based on what type of pokémon we were. At first, we were just told to tackle the tree with however much strength we wanted to, though we would have to increase the strength every turn, so I started out slowly, lightly. With every tackle, I let myself get stronger, allowing my head to adjust to the collision and rough texture of the bark on the tree more and more every time. I didn’t practice my scratch attack, since I had a tendency to scratch at things when I was nervous, so I felt that I had enough practice with it, and that it would just remind me of things that I didn’t want to think about.
“I really like training,” one of the other totodile stated after a while, “but tackling just makes my head hurt all the time!”
“Same here… and I’m not even hitting the tree that hard since I’m so tired!” another totodile said, and for the next few turns, they kept missing the tree entirely and had to be told to stop by the professor before they got hurt more or crashed into something else. The totodile pouted and watched in dismay as the rest of us continued practicing.
I wanted to say that starting out too roughly without any real experience would, of course, cause a headache, as can a lack of sleep and not allowing the body to rest after training for hours on end… but I said nothing and just kept setting a quiet example. I was verbal once, but got nowhere; they weren’t willing to listen and adapt. They didn’t seem capable of watching and adapting that way, either, but at least that didn’t seem like a failure on my part.
Eventually, we moved on to our specialized elemental attacks.
“Of course, all of you have special attacks that only certain pokémon can learn,” the professor said. “Each one of them will be helpful to your trainer in a different way. A cyndaquil’s fire can keep things warm, especially in the winter. They can also help cook food when traveling. Chikorita can carry things with their vines, and, when they evolve, can provide health for all. Totodile can provide water, and, since they generally look tough, can scare away unwanted predators. All of you should be willing to do these things for your future trainer and teammates, just as you are willing to do them for me. Understood?”
We all nodded in agreement and got to work. The chikorita tried carrying anything in sight, whether it was a rock, a plant, or another pokémon. Cyndaquil were practicing on each other, since fire didn’t hurt their bodies, but instead provided more heat to help them feel more powerful and energized. That, and because if they tried to fire at the grass or the plants, the professor would be panicking over the results; it had happened before. And finally, all of the totodile were aiming and shooting water at anything possible, with each of our targets varying in distance and size. Most of the totodile considered the exercise a success based on how soaked the target was, though I didn’t think that helped much since more than one totodile was aiming at the same thing, so my success based on how long I could keep the attack going without having to stop to take a breath.
Just when I thought that I had started improving, the professor forced us to stop due to the cyndaquil starting to miss and setting things on fire again. The totodile were asked to put the fires out, but dead grass still proved that the incident occurred and would likely happen again, so we didn’t bother asking to continue.
The professor eased our sadness with food. He brought out various trays filled with different kinds of berries and he let us choose what we wanted. I just took a few of my favorite Cheri berries. We all spread apart once we got what we wanted, with me going back to my normal spot near the fence, and with the others going back to preparing for training with attacks that wouldn’t destroy the lab completely.
I sat in peace and ate the berries, waiting for Professor Elm to show up and talk to me as he always did around this time of day. The sun shone overhead, rays of light pouring onto my body and the entire backyard, keeping everything warm and safe. I shielded my eyes but didn’t mind doing so. I found it fascinating and strange how the legendary pokémon had made the sun necessary for everyone to live, yet it never had any reaction toward what happened on the land it provided so much for. We could all be gone tomorrow, and would it even notice? Probably not. It would still rise and fall. It did not care about anything or anyone. It did not care about me. Someday, I vowed, I would make it care.
While getting lost in thought, Professor Elm had come over to me and sat down next to me, his back resting against the fence comfortably, and he was smiling. This was unusual to me, since he tended to look rather uncomfortable at other times. He would lean forward and put his face in his hands to try to avoid the sun. If he was annoyed, he never let it show, but I always assumed that he was.
“You look awfully happy today,” I pointed out. As soon as I said it, I hoped that I didn’t sound too rude. My tendency to talk without thinking had caused more problems and fights than I had wanted, and I had been trying to improve and keep my thoughts to myself.
“Yes,” Professor Elm replied. “Someone’s here for you.”
My head snapped in his direction immediately, and I just started at him. “Who would be here for me?”
“A trainer, of course.” He would not stop smiling.
“A trainer… How do you know they’re here for me?” I asked. I didn’t normally ask so many questions, but this seemed too good to be true. And too specific. There were many totodile here. If he would just say that the trainer was here for a totodile, any one of us…
“He said that he saw us training through the fence when passing by,” the professor explained. “He was impressed with what he saw from you.”
I was special, then. The things I had done better than everyone else had finally paid off. I vaguely wished that I had known the trainer was there, so I could have tried even harder and made him think that his decision was undoubtedly the best one that he could possibly make.
“I’m leaving today, then? Now?” I asked stupidly. I felt as if I had not spoken in weeks. I wondered if I really hadn’t.
“If you’re ready. If you want to. I can say no and explain that I feel that you are not ready to be handled, though I’m not a fan of lying…” the professor said, rubbing the back of his head nervously.
“I want to go. It just seems odd, of course...”
“You’re different from the rest, you know. So you’ll be fine. You’ve always wanted something more than just training and the basic necessities of life, unlike the rest of the pokémon. I’ve tried to provide that as best as I could for you, since it’s my job. And I think you’ll get even more of what you want if you leave.”
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go,” I said, trying not to sound too excited. It reminded me too much of the others.
“You don’t want to say good-bye to any of the others?” the professor asked, though it sounded more like a statement to me.
I hesitated before saying, “No. They won’t care.”
“They’re young. They just haven’t reached the level of maturity that you have yet. Don’t be too hard on them,” he said, as if he was reading my mind.
“I know.” But it didn’t change my mind. Being stuck in one place had not gotten me far at all, and I seemed to be the only one who noticed how all that the lab’s land was good for was holding the world together. Did the others even know what a world was?
I had never been inside the front of Professor Elm’s lab before. There was a space behind this part of the lab for pokémon when it rained or stormed, so I had been inside a building before, but it made me kind of angry to know that I could have had access to this part of the world this entire time, and yet I had never actually taken advantage of it. There were tall shelves filled with the books that the professor would read to me from, and there were several machines with other people attending to them, looking serious and concentrated on whatever it was that the machines were doing for them. The walls were filled with pictures of what I assumed were other types of pokémon, and with places that I did not recognize. The ground beneath me was soft like the grass, but did not tickle my feet as expected. My attention was immediately drawn to the boy, however, when I first laid eyes on him.
The trainer had asked specifically for me, yet he did not seem pleased to see me. He looked as if he had just woken up, and his arms were covered in cuts and bruises. His hair looked wild. I supposed that I could take it as a sign that he had already traveled to get here, and I was suddenly very interested. Already here was an example of what my future would be…
“This is Sai,” Professor Elm said, motioning to the boy.
“Sai,” I said. I kept repeating the name over and over in my head. Since all of us were called by our species name and had to rely on the differences in voice and body sizes, I had assumed that humans were similar. I had imagined that perhaps they were all named Elm and that they all had to identify each other by individual, unique characteristics. But it looked as if they all had different names! I was learning a lot already.
I was barely paying attention to their conversation, but I heard the parts where Professor Elm explained that I was the totodile that Sai had seen through the fence. I heard bits and pieces about things like the attacks I knew, precautions to take when starting out as a beginning trainer, and then—
“Do you have a trainer’s card?”
“…No, I do not.”
“You do know that you need a trainer’s card if you want to go around traveling with pokémon, right?”
“I… wasn’t expecting to see the totodile. I just happened to be passing by,” Sai replied slowly, carefully. For whatever reason, his words made me grin.
“Where are you from?”
“Ah… Vermilion City,” Sai said, rubbing his arm.
“That’s a bit far, huh? I can’t think of why you’re here, then…” Professor Elm said, more to himself than anyone else, I guessed, since he was starting to pace back and forth, and he wasn’t making eye contact with anyone in the room.
“I happened to be passing by,” Sai repeated, more confidently this time.
The professor ignored him. Eventually, he stopped pacing and looked at me. He looked sort of sad. His eyes told me that he shouldn’t be giving me to a trainer who now looks extremely suspicious by showing up to a random town without any sort of identification. But I wanted to go. I didn’t care who this trainer was. If he was a bad trainer, then the legendary pokémon would punish him accordingly, and my fate would be decided by them. He had to let me go. I briefly wondered what this meant for his job should anyone discover that he gave me away like this, but I found that it didn’t matter to me. I had to leave.
“I assumed that you would have had a trainer’s card already since most people come to this town to get their first pokémon. I will give you a trainer’s card so that you may travel the region of Johto with pokémon. If you want to travel in Kanto, however, you will have to get a new trainer’s card, even though that’s where your hometown is. Understand?” Professor Elm said, looking directly at Sai. The boy nodded, and followed the professor to the back of the room. I was told to wait where I was, and so I did.
It was the first instruction given to me as a pokémon who was owned by a trainer.
When they returned, Sai was holding a small item that I assumed was his new trainer’s card. In his other hand was what I recognized as my pokéball. We were not put in our pokéballs very often, but the experience of being in one was unique, and so I had never forgotten it.
When it was time to leave, the professor walked in front of me, and knelt down so that we could see each other face-to-face. He was smiling again, yet looked sad at the same time. I wondered why this was, since it seemed to be part of his job to say good-bye to all of the pokémon he raised. Shouldn’t he have been used to it by now? Maybe you never got over some things. As I thought of the other pokémon that were still in the backyard and myself, I hoped that that wasn’t true.
“Well, this is what you’ve been waiting for, so I hope it goes well for you, of course...” He sounded wary, and I knew that it was because of the trainer. He didn’t sound as nervous as before, though, so hopefully he had come to trust the trainer more after being together in the back of the room. “Don’t forget anything you’ve learned here, okay? You’re a good pokémon, and I’ll miss you,” Professor Elm said quietly, petting me on the head. I winced, not knowing what to say. I almost felt guilty and believed that I should stay, but it was too late now. And I didn’t truly want to stay. There was nothing to stay for. The professor would have to go on without me.
After what seemed like forever, the professor stood up and shook Sai’s hand, wishing the two of us the best of luck. Sai merely nodded and started walking to the door. I started to follow him. It felt right and odd at the same time. When Sai reached the door, he stepped out into the sunlight, holding the door open for me to walk out, too. Before I did, I looked back at Professor Elm one last time, seeing him wave with one arm, with the other arm tucked behind his back. I waved back for a brief moment, turned, and left. I wondered if I would miss the professor, whatever that meant.
When I stepped outside, I realized that I also had never been in any other part of the town. Flowers were blooming everywhere. There had once been flowers in the backyard of Professor Elm’s lab, but they were quickly burned by the cyndaquil, so he stopped trying to plant them and take care of them. He had enough to take care of, anyway.
I could also see a ton of water to the right. It seemed endless, and I wondered where it led to. Instinctively, I started walking in that direction. As I did, I continued looking around. There were several more buildings, and inside I knew that there was more to see—it was just being hidden from me. Only the determined and curious could be able to see what was inside.
I kept stepping forward toward the water, the only familiar things being the sun, the sky, the grass… They were important, of course, because the legendaries created them, but the rest of the town was why the legendaries had put so much effort into creating such sustainers of life.
I was stopped dead in my tracks, however, when I bumped into something in front of me. I fell backward and looked up. I saw a creature that was standing on its tail, making it taller than me. Its brown fur had felt soft, so I wasn’t hurt too much. I recognized the creature as a sentret, since a few of them had snuck into the professor’s backyard to play around.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, getting back to my feet.
“That’s a good way to meet each other, I guess,” Sai said, walking up from behind me.
I looked back and forth between the two of them, wondering how they knew each other. Surely, it couldn’t be Sai’s pokémon… I was a pokémon for beginners, after all, and the boy just got his trainer’s card…
“I guess so! We’ve spent a while trying to get you, and now you’re here. That’s all that really matters,” the sentret said happily.
I blinked. “This is your trainer?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“He’s yours, too.”
“I was his… first pokémon…” the sentret said slowly, “but he insisted on getting a true starter pokémon. He wanted the strongest out of what he could get. He’s been watching you for a while… and he finally said that you were the right one. He got what he wanted, so we can finally get out of here and—”
“Why would he need me if he already had a pokémon?” I asked, slightly upset. It seemed silly to want to be the trainer’s first pokémon when I really just wanted to travel and see the world, but I had put in all of that work only to be second best. I still felt glad, though, that I was chosen at all. I deserved it, after all, and I had wanted this for a long time.
“I wish I knew. Ask him,” the sentret said. But Sai didn’t answer, though he seemed to be paying attention.
“We can leave in a moment,” he simply said after a few moments. Instead of walking like I expected him too, however, he reached into his pocket, and pulled out another object that I had not seen before. He knelt down to see me, just as Professor Elm had done, and handed it to me.
“Did you get this from the professor?” I asked, taking it in my hands. It was warm, but it didn’t look like anything a pokémon could use. “Is it mine?”
“Nope. I got it a long time ago,” Sai explained. “I want you to roll it…”—he glanced at the sentret before looking back at me—“or throw it… or whatever. Please.”
I immediately did as I was told. I threw it on the ground, even though I wasn’t sure why I was doing it. The small, white object revealed two small, black dots when it was done rolling on the ground.
“Your name is Kuiora,” Sai stated after staring at the item for a moment.
“My name?” I didn’t see the correlation.
“Your name is Kuiora, yes.”
So pokémon even got their own names from their trainers. The sentret must have a name, too, then. I would have to see if it was the same as mine or different.
“Kuiora. My second pokémon,” Sai stated. “As I expected.”
“Yeah… I thought we had that established already,” I said, distracted from the name thoughts already.
“I wanted you to know,” he replied quickly, picking up the item and putting it back in his pocket. “I wanted to make it official for you. I made the right choice. And now we can leave.” He stood up, and turned toward the direction I supposed we would be heading in.
I still didn’t fully understand, but at least he hadn’t said I was second best. I had no idea how tough the sentret was, but I was obviously still special to this boy for some reason. And that was fine. Though I was impatient, I knew that I would have to wait to learn more as time would go on.
“Let’s go,” Sai said. He started going in the opposite direction of the town, and I followed. I wondered why we didn’t explore the rest of the buildings, but I had to obey. It was what I was born to do. The legendaries put me with Professor Elm to learn this, and so I could reflect on myself, what I needed, what my destiny was. I was destined to travel, to become stronger, to become special to the legendary pokémon somehow, someway… I would have to find a way to make the best of this all on my own. I was nothing if not the sum of the parts that I had made for myself and for the legendary pokémon, after all.
I thought one last time about the pokémon still in the backyard before leaving the town. They were completely oblivious, and had no idea what they were missing. I hoped that they would know someday. Until then, I would fear well for them. I would fear well for my one and only home.
I like your protrayal of the starter Pokemon in general, as well as Kuiora and his comparatively superior nature and characterisation. The only qualm I might have is the indication that he was the only smart one out of the bunch, although admittedly the Chikorita and Cyndaquil got less of a mention. The fact there were all rather juvenile and didn't know much fitted though, and I also liked how Elm appeared here even if he is one of my less liked professors. Description is again solid as are the small details fleshing out the world, such as the humorous mentions of cyndaquils burning things. XD Sai's still seeming fairly mysterious there as well...
I did feel that some points got repeated a bit too often again throughout this chapter, namely the mentions of the legendarys and the Totodile thinking it was destiny to meet one. Totodile just walking around after leaving the lab made Sai seem somewhat forgotten for a while too imo - maybe at least a mention of him or Kuiora (btw where do the names come from/any meaning to them curiously?) mentioning being more interested in the town than his new trainer for the moment. I also found at the end the 'fear well for them' phrase to sound odd - can't say I've come across that before. I liked the example of a story the Totodile was read though used at the beginning.
Nicely done with the second chapter, certainly. Keep it up!
As someone who thinks she's superior, Kuiora probably wouldn't acknowledge or admit if someone was smarter. She tends to suppress things that go against what she wants/believe. So I didn't think it fitting of her personality to mention someone else.
As I was writing, I thought that I actually didn't mention the legendaries enough, so that's interesting. Hmm. For some reason, I think noticing repetition is the hardest part of editing for me? I tend to do it a lot.
The names are just a combination of things... For Senori, sen means "forest," and ori means "my light," for instance. There's also a reason Sai is choosing these names in the order he is, but that reasoning won't be revealed for a while.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment again~
chapter 3 ; [SENORI]
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t grateful to have Sai take me away from my home for a while. I led him to New Bark Town in silence as quickly as I could, not only to keep him from getting angry and attacking me again, but to escape from some of the guilt and the obsessive thoughts that had been haunting me for a long time. He followed behind me, his expression blank and his arms loosely dangling back and forth at his sides, but with his eyes never leaving me. I kept looking behind me to make sure that I was safe and that he was still there, but my paranoia was pointless, as he never made a sign that made me think he was a threat.
We reached the town at nightfall. We didn’t see any other humans or pokémon, which I was kind of disappointed in. I had wanted to see how someone else reacted to Sai, but I supposed that I would have to wait. This also meant that Sai would have to wait to get what he wanted.
“Everyone’s sleeping, I guess,” I said softly after a few moments of silence.
“Where are the pokémon?” the boy asked simply. His blue eyes looked darker with the night, but maybe I was imagining things.
“They’re with a human who raises the pokémon to give to new trainers.” I pointed my paw to a nearby building with the back enclosed by a fence. Beyond the fence was simply grass with a few charred areas here and there, and some large trees that appeared a bit old. “He trains the pokémon there so they don’t run off into the forest. I’ve see them sometimes when I’ve come close to the town, but that’s always been during daytime. We’ll have to wait.”
Sai stared at me, and I wondered if he was angry for me pointing out the obvious. There seemed to be an invisible, fine line between treating him as if he were stupid and trying to help him with things that he was somehow completely unaware of.
But all he said was, “Time to sleep, then. You can help me with the rest tomorrow, right?”
“…Yeah,” I replied. No threat. It was all I could think about. Did I want him to punish me? I deserved it, after all. The fact that I was being given a chance at redemption seemed lost and non-existent.
Sai turned around and went to sit by a large tree near the entrance to the town. He put his hands behind his head and then rested the top part of his body against the tree. He closed his eyes shortly after, and he seemed so peaceful and relaxed that I thought he had fallen asleep already. I also went to where he was, though I kept a bit of distance between us.
I jumped a bit when he started talking again. “You’ll help me tomorrow, and then we’ll go through the forest again, and we’ll keep going from there,” he said.
“That seems to be the simplified version of things, yes,” I said under my breath. I didn’t think he would be able to hear me.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Picking out your first pokémon seems to be a big deal. When you say we’ll keep going from there, there’s a lot of places to explore, I’m sure. And when we pass through the forest, I guess I’d like to say good-bye to some people, if possible…” My voice trailed off from there. I curled up on the grass, wrapping my tail around my body for warmth. I had forgotten what it felt like to be in this position, and what sleep near someone else felt like. With my eyes still open, I saw Sai snap his open, and look at me curiously.
“Who do you have to say good-bye to?”
“My clan. Or just someone in my clan. I just think that they should know I’m gone, since you’re insistent on taking me on this journey of yours,” I explained. I felt slightly bitter that he was permanently taking me away from my home, but I would find a way around that tomorrow to avoid feeling this way forever.
“You don’t seem too happy about it,” Sai observed.
“They don’t like me anymore, so I’m not really happy, no.”
“Then it should be easier to say good-bye.”
“Yes and no. I’d rather have no one to say good-bye to. It’d be so much easier.”
Sai didn’t answer for a long time after that. Again, I thought that he had fallen asleep. But then he started stirring, trying various positions to get comfortable, and nothing seemed to work. He groaned and complained until he finally went back to his original position. And finally, he said, “I always thought that it’d be better to have someone to say good-bye to. Maybe I was wrong.”
“And why do you say that?” I asked after a few moments.
“It means that, at some point, you had someone, and you cared about them,” he said.
“And you didn’t have anyone to say good-bye to?”
“I could have… but they were hardly worth saying good-bye to.”
I didn’t answer him, and he didn’t say anything after that. He stayed silent for good this time. I didn’t want to press him for further information when he clearly wasn’t comfortable with it and was avoiding specific details. And I didn’t want to try to become closer to him when I still felt connected from my clan. Tomorrow, I would get permission to leave. Tomorrow, I would know that they had officially let me go. Tomorrow, maybe Sai would think that he’d someday have someone to say good-bye to.
As it turned out, we didn’t spend just one day in New Bark Town. Sai just couldn’t decide in a few hours what pokémon he wanted. I told him that there was a grass-type, a fire-type, and a water-type starter that he could choose from. I had to admit that I didn’t know what each species specialized in, but Sai seemed to brighten up again when I pointed out that there was a whole batch of each type that he could look at. I also explained that since each pokémon had weaknesses and strengths, and since he had no other pokémon to try to figure out what weaknesses and strengths he needed, his choices weren’t limited. He said that, in that case, he just wanted the strongest pokémon, and I thought that it would be a simple enough choice from there. But somehow, it wasn’t.
“There’s so many of them,” he said, a hint of excitement in his voice. “I only got a close look at two of them. We’ll have to come back tomorrow.”
This was his excuse every day from then on. We slept in the same area every night, and we stood at a distance from the fence every day to watch the pokémon. Sai tried to walk right up to the fence and climb over a few times, but I had to yell at him to not do that, since the fence was there to keep others out for a reason. He also tried to sit right by a part of the fence to look inside the backyard through the rails, which also seemed odd, so I kept telling him to stop looking creepy and to get away from the fence entirely.
Sai refused to go anywhere else that would make him miss seeing the pokémon during the hours of daylight they were outside. A few times a day, I briefly left to go get some berries from the forest to eat. Seeing that Sai didn’t seem to have anything to eat, I brought him some, too, which he ate quickly and hungrily, though he never asked for more when he looked sadly at his empty hands after eating.
I didn’t really question him, and thought vaguely about going to the forest to say good-bye a few times in order to save time, but then I knew that I’d get the urge to do it all over again when we finally left for good. So I kept quiet and tried to be patient, but it was hard when I wanted to move on. Still, it was better than staying in the forest by myself while torturing my mind with memories.
“Have you picked out a pokémon yet?” I asked after a few days of this.
“No. None of them has stood out so far,” Sai said. “Most of the fire ones keep burning the grass… and each other. I don’t need more chaos. The green pokémon don’t seem much like fighters. I’ve almost gotten through watching all the water-types.”
“Okay,” I said. “Well, I’m going to get more food, then.”
When I came back, Sai was gone. I had come back just in time to see a familiar human walk back into the building with a pokémon following behind him, and I assumed that Sai had finally made his choice. I simply paced back and forth in front of the building that I had first taken him to days ago. It seemed like we had been here forever and done everything that needed to be done, yet in reality, we had accomplished next to nothing. It was all just wishful thinking on my part. The boy had needed a ton of time here for some reason, and I hoped that his decision was worth it. I believed that whatever pokémon he chose would be the correct one to help complete his journey, to make sure that he “listened” properly, as he had put it before. I still didn’t know who he was listening to, but he seemed content when following the instructions given to him, and that was enough.
Soon, I heard the building’s door creak open and saw Sai standing outside, holding the door open for someone. A small, aqua colored creature with red spikes protruding from its back and tail stepped out of the building, and Sai closed the door. So he had chosen the water-type pokémon. No wonder it had taken him so long to choose. The water-types were the last he had looked at.
The totodile walked around aimlessly, seemingly entranced by the surrounding area. Eventually, the totodile’s snout bumped into me, and I bumped into the awkward situation of explaining that I was really Sai’s first pokémon, but admittedly, I had no idea why, nor did I have any idea why the creature in front of me had become a necessary part of our team and journey. I watched as Sai had the totodile roll the dice, just as he had made me do. I wondered if Kuiora—as Sai had named her on the spot—understood him any better than I did at the moment. Probably not. She didn’t look confused, but instead seemed fascinated and relieved.
It was time to go after that. I hoped that I would be fascinated and relieved soon, too, as we moved on toward the forest for what I believed would be the last time.
They later reminded me of Sai.
They had blended in with the night, and they were fast.
They were not from around this area, but they were here nonetheless. And they intended to make the best of their trip at my home. Their trip with my clan.
I’m sure, in their minds, they screamed success.
I was watching out for danger when one of them had come up to me. It was crawling, and moving so slowly. I immediately let my guard down as I sympathetically realized it must be injured. It was too dark to see any blood, but I couldn’t think of any other reason why it was crawling pathetically on the forest floor when I could see that it had feet to use instead. I was using my tail to see as high up and as far as possible, but now I was on my own feet, scrambling over to the seemingly damaged pokémon. As I got closer, I could see that its skin matched the color of the dark sky, with red feathers jutting out of its back and one of its ears. Its eyes looked weak and tired and the creature had dulled yellow jewels on its forehead and chest to match. Its white claws were sharp, and the pokémon had been using them to dig into the ground and propel itself forward. I had never seen this type of pokémon before.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “What happened?”
The pokémon stopped crawling and looked up at me. “I was in a battle and got separated from my trainer,” it explained, stopping to take a breath every few words. “Please help me find him. He couldn’t have gone far… He must be looking for me, but I’m hurt…”
I wished that it was daytime, that I could see its wounds, and get it the proper berries to help heal him. But I didn’t know what was wrong with him, or what kind of pokémon it was and what kind of food it ate anyway. But I also couldn’t just leave my post when I was supposed to be looking out for danger. I had never left my post before.
“Why don’t you just stay with me? I’ll keep you safe, and if your trainer comes through here, I’ll make sure you get back to him. It’s not safe to travel through the night like this.”
“My trainer likes to travel through the night, though. He could be out of the forest by sunrise. He could leave me here,” the pokémon said pathetically.
I found it odd that a trainer would leave his pokémon here, but I had no reason not to believe him. I tried to consider my options. I could stay with the pokémon here, putting it at risk for losing its trainer and getting hurt even further due to lack of proper care. I could go with it and keep watching for danger as we moved along, and then we would have a better chance at finding the trainer. I chose the latter. I figured it was rude to wake someone else up just to take over for me, so I would just do two jobs at once. It would just be a bit different compared to other nights. I would have felt terrible just leaving it where it was and risking its life. It had obviously found me for a reason, after all, and I had to do something about it.
I simply nodded and helped pick up the creature so that it could walk while using me as a crutch. I didn’t care so much about blood, if there was any, as I figured that I could just wash it off later and explain to my clan that I helped a pokémon rather than just idly standing in one spot as usual.
The pokémon explained that the battle had taken place near the edge of the forest, so I led it there. We traveled in silence, and by the time we got there, it was almost sunrise.
I stopped moving with the pokémon. “This is the edge of the forest. It’s close to New Bark Town. Could your trainer be here?” I asked.
“Maybe…” it said softly.
I set the pokémon down so that it could rest on the floor rather than use extra energy trying to stand up. I turned and looked around everywhere, but I saw no one but the damaged creature. I started to say that we could look again when the sun rose completely, since we’d have better luck then. But no one answered me. I turned and looked around everywhere once again, but this time, the pokémon was missing.
The first hint of daylight was showing through the tree canopies. I looked at my body, my paws, the grass.
There was no blood. There was no other pokémon with me.
I thought that I might have learned that helping people and pokémon from then on would have been a terrible idea. But I could not give up my penchant for taking care of people. Not everyone was fake. Not everyone was out to hurt others. I had to believe that there were others that truly needed help. There was no way that Sai could feign such naivety, and there was no way that Kuiora could consume the outside world with a human boy who was just as clueless as she was. Was there a way? I couldn’t believe it. This was my second chance. I had to keep reminding myself of this fact as we traveled through the forest once more. I had been here all my life, but it was time to leave.
I was too preoccupied by my thoughts to pay much attention while Kuiora mumbled on about how pretty and vast the forest was, with Sai agreeing wholeheartedly. She also mentioned how lucky that all of the pokémon here were so friendly so that no one had to battle and exert themselves too harshly, and Sai made some comment about how he didn’t know pokémon could be this calm and quiet. I could see from their point of view to a certain extent. The pokémon here usually left trainers alone unless provoked, but I also thought about the pokémon that had tricked me while she rambled on. But I completely came back to reality when we came across the river that was so close to my home. I stopped moving and asked them to stop for me, too, though my voice cracked when I did so.
“What’s wrong?” they asked in unison.
“My… My clan is near here. I told you I wanted to say good-bye. Do you remember, Sai?” I asked, looking up at the boy. He said nothing, but I could tell by the way he was averting eye contact that he definitely remembered our conversation. “So I’ll be right back. I’ll bring you guys some berries so that you can eat while I’m gone.”
They both nodded, but I wondered if they both understood. Sai didn’t have anyone to say good-bye to, and what about Kuiora? I knew next to nothing about her, except that she didn’t seem to find Sai odd. Instead, everything was new and fascinating to her childish mind. I told myself that I’d have to change that as soon as my head was cleared of this lovely yet degrading place.
I did as I said I would. I brought them various kinds of berries from the nearby trees and bushes, hoping that they could find at least one kind that they liked. I couldn’t recall what kind of berries I had brought Sai before, but I could pay attention soon and fix this, too.
I turned and made my way toward the river without saying a word, unsure of what I would say to them, anyway. I certainly didn’t want to reveal too much about what I was doing and why I had to do it at all.
I found the trees whose branches extended all the way across the river. To get to the other side, I simply climbed up the tree, and ran across the branch only to jump to the ground when I reached the end of the path. It had been a long time since I climbed that tree, and it didn’t feel as natural as usual. I took that as a good sign and was able to smile a little.
I made my way past the clearing on the other side of the river only to find another clearing. While the other clearing was empty, this one was filled with other sentret. Some of them were playing, some were training, some were eating, and some were resting. All of them were unmistakably from my clan, and all of them unmistakably recognized me as an outsider and froze when they realized I was here. Some stared, some ran, and some of them scowled at me. I tried not to look down at the ground in shame, but it was hard. I simply asked to see Ari in the most confident voice that I could manage.
No one moved or acknowledged my request. Some of the smaller sentret asked why I wasn’t able to play with everyone else. Their innocence and lack of awareness at least let me know that at least someone in the clan didn’t know what I had done.
One of the sentret who had previously run away must have gotten Ari for me, even though they didn’t hear my request. Upon seeing Ari, I turned and went back to the first clearing I had been in. The river was loud, but Ari’s footsteps rang louder in my ears. I turned to face him when they became too loud for me to feel comfortable.
“Why are you here?” Ari asked simply. He seemed void of emotions entirely, though I knew what he was thinking. He was thinking of how worthless I was. He was thinking that this was a waste of time, and he was hoping that I would regret showing my face again.
“I’m leaving,” I stated simply. Ari’s expression remained the same; there was no hint of happiness in response to my words. “It was my fault. I know. I’m sorry. I would take it back if I could.”
“Words don’t change anything,” Ari said sharply.
“Words are all I have when my actions aren’t acknowledged anymore.”
“Then you have nothing.”
“…It was my fault.”
There was no injured pokémon. There was a liar and a sentret who was foolish enough to trust the liar.
The pokémon, whatever it was, had lured me away so that its friends and family could invade my home. Simply attacking me at my post may have been loud enough to alert my clan of intruders. It also eliminated the possibility of me shrieking to tell everyone to run, that someone was coming to hurt them. The worst part was that I helped them. I fell into their trap so easily.
When I realized what the pokémon had done, I rushed back to my clan as fast as I could. I nearly fell out of the tree and into the roaring river because I was too focused on trying to get back as quickly as possible. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an odd movement in the river, a mix of red and brown that I hoped was a part of my imagination. I ran and ran and ran. I didn’t bother trying to protect myself or watch for danger anymore. The danger was already here. I failed, and I wanted it to come after me instead now.
It didn’t. It was already gone.
Before the danger left, it destroyed the clan. Torn parts from sentret and blood were what I had seen in the river. More blood and limbs were splattered through the grass, on the trees, on the leaves. Everywhere. Some sentret bodies were smashed underneath tree branches that had been cut off and left to drop. From the small amount of sentret left, I assumed that some of them had been taken… but I didn’t want to think about why. The sentret who were wounded or almost unharmed were squealing and crying over the sight, not daring to move out of intense fear and sorrow. They had been attacked while I was leading the pokémon to the edge of the forest. The pokémon had successfully taken me far away enough to where I couldn’t hear the slaughter. There was nothing I could do now.
My heart cried and my stomach lurched. My mind screamed disaster.
My family, things were peaceful just moments ago—
The babies, they were just learning to walk—
I should have heard—
I started mumbling about what happened, as if an explanation could reverse everything. The pokémon seemed genuinely hurt. But it was my fault for not looking for blood carefully enough, or other proof that the pokémon was hurt. Wouldn’t we have wanted other pokémon to help us if they could, too? Why hadn’t anyone else helped? It wasn’t my place to ask, but I was asking anyway. They must have been scared. I would have been scared, too. I’m scared right now. I’m sick right now. I was just trying to do a good thing. It would have been terrible to not help, too—
And in the midst of my thoughts, Ari crashed into me and started pummeling me faster than I could blink. He must have heard me, must have been listening, must have been watching the clan break further.
“Why didn’t you warn us about this?! You could have said something before you left with the enemy, at least!”
I didn’t fight back, I didn’t try to breathe, I didn’t dare look him in the eyes.
“They told us that you were on their side. It looks true! Because of you, my wife is hurt, the kids were eaten right here—”
I thought that he was going to kill me, but his punches and his cries eventually weakened and quieted. He eventually stopped, and I heard pathetic wails that only reminded me of the baby sentret once more. He left me with some throbbing, aching bones and a body covered in blood. I was sure that most of the blood was not mine.
“Get out of here. Just go, just leave,” he snarled.
After torturing myself with one last, long glance at the gory scene, I left, and did not try to come back, though I ached to. I could not sleep, could not eat. I wanted to mourn with the others. I didn’t even know everyone who was gone or everyone who had survived. I wanted to mourn, to apologize, to make up for it… but they wouldn’t let me. Unfortunately, I was not completely dead. It should have been me. But I was only dead to them, and rightfully so.
And I was so, so very sorry. So, so sorry. So sorry. I could beat many pokémon, many trials that were thrown at me. Over the years, I had learned that I could beat many things, but—
Life was not one of them.
“They should have gotten you. You were at fault, and yet you were the only one left unharmed.”
“They were trying to avoid commotion from the town as well. If I had heard any of them approaching, you know I would have called out…” I explained, though I knew it was in vain. But I had to try. When Ari would give me permission to leave, he would have all the information to know that he had made the correct choice. His decision would be final and real, done after many weeks of being able to calm down and think rationally.
“Those monsters were not from around here. It shouldn’t happen again, not just because of that, but because we will have more reliable people on post next time from now on,” Ari said, ignoring me almost completely.
I made one last attempt at helping them and said, “Perhaps you should consider relocating the clan—”
“Don’t tell me what I should do! You are not a part of this clan anymore!” Ari cried, rushing after me once more, but stopping halfway through. He didn’t want to relive that night again, not even the best part of it, where he got to punish the one who had caused him so much misery.
“…A trainer came by here and attacked me,” I said simply, now looking at the ground.
I could feel his glare.
“I know that you think he is a threat,” I said quickly. “He is. But he also wants me to be his pokémon. He wants me to… help him.” I wondered: how can words feel so wrong but be so true at the same time? “With your permission, I would like to take him away from the forest and be his pokémon so that he is no longer a threat.”
“As I said, you are not a part of this clan. You may do what you wish, as long as it doesn’t involve us,” Ari said. He was looking around now, presumably watching for Sai. I couldn’t keep the mysterious pokémon from attacking the clan, but I seemed to have some control over Sai. I could get him out of here. I could. It would be so easy.
“So I can leave,” I said.
“…You don’t want me.”
“We don’t want you. Too much damage was done. Take the trainer away from here, and make sure neither of you ever comes back.”
That was all I needed. I felt like a burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. Of course, I still wanted to help the clan. I didn’t want to leave. I would do anything to be accepted again and to be expected to protect everyone again. I would do anything to bring the others back. But nothing could fix what had happened, and it was time to move on. I would protect Sai now. I would protect Kuiora, and anyone else who was going to join us. I would believe that I had survived this attack for a reason, and would take my second chance.
I could leave with Sai now. This was all I wanted.
I didn’t say anything more. I only made eye contact with Ari for a few more long, agonizing moments, hoping that he could see how sorry I was, how much regret I carried around with me. Ari was the only one who had ever broken my heart by banishing me from the clan, the one thing I had loved at the time. But I also broke his heart, though indirectly; I took his wife away, I took his children. No one is ever safe.
When I was walking back to Sai and Kuiora, I still went slowly, taking in the scene one last time. I took in the rough feeling of the bark on the trees as I walked on it. I took in how big and old the tree itself was, and how it took years and years for it to grow this tall and be such an important part of our lives. The river was purely blue, which made me feel a bit better. Everything seemed clean and peaceful. The sun shone down and made me remember what was wonderful about the clan. Seeing the babies learn about the world for the first time. Always discovering new kinds of berries and indulging in the old ones that had treated us so well for so long. Knowing how friendly the other pokémon in the forest seemed to be. Seeing the new trainers with their new pokémon come by with such excitement and joy shining in their eyes.
I would try to remember everything from then on, the good and the bad. I hoped that that was what moving on meant.
When I reached Sai and Kuiora, I simply said that I was ready to go. It seemed easier to speak, as if I wasn’t keeping such a careful watch on everything I said anymore. I certainly had to do that with Ari, but not so much with these two. I’d still make sure to be careful, because I didn’t want to hurt them.
“Where are we headed next?” Sai asked curiously.
“Well, the next town is Cherrygrove City. I don’t really know anything about that place except that new trainers don’t ever seem too happy about going there.”
“They always want these badges, and you apparently can’t find one in Cherrygrove.”
Sai started walking slower and frown a bit. “I’m supposed to get the gym badges. I think that’s what you’re talking about. Well, I don’t want to waste time there, then. Not allowed.”
“Badges?” Kuiora asked, coming out of nowhere. She had been so quiet that I had nearly forgotten she was there.
“Yeah… We train, battle, and get badges. That’s what I was told to do, so that’s what we’re going to do,” Sai said, smiling again.
“I was training at the lab, so I’m ready for that whenever you are,” she said confidently.
“Senori will lead the way,” Sai said, looking at me expectedly.
“I’ve never been anywhere else… but I’m sure we can find the path to whatever place is next,” I said, trying to sound confident as well.
“Okay. It’s unfortunate, but I knew that you couldn’t have already visited everywhere. Thanks, Senori,” Sai said.
Sounding more confident already seemed a little easier after that. I started to lead the way again, unsure where I was going, but feeling all right about it.
Like most new trainers, Sai didn’t care for Cherrygrove City. But he sure did enjoy Violet City, a place completely new and refreshing for all of us.
chapter 4 ; [ATIS]
I saved Mondays and Thursdays for Shannon because she loved the idea of type differences, their weaknesses, their strengths. One day, she said, all of her pokémon would have two types. I saved Tuesdays for Joey. Items fascinated him, man-made or not. Fridays were for Jason, since he got so discouraged when he lost a battle. Every Wednesday varied. Saturdays were for Earl–every other day wore him out. I saved one day of the week for me, and that was just to make sure that I was still alive.
I tried to remain optimistic. As a pokémon who didn’t care for pokémon training yet was a classroom pet for a pokémon training school, I didn’t need more than one day of the week. There was no need to indulge myself in information that I didn’t care for, and I didn’t like attention anyway. It was better to focus on someone who wanted to be given attention so that they could learn, someone who enjoyed the subject and would make use of it someday.
It wasn’t that I hated pokémon. I hated peoples’ love for pokémon. It was consuming and overwhelming and encouraged far too much. It seemed to be the only reason for people to wake up in the morning, the only thing that made life worth living. Everything else was forgotten—reading, writing, school for jobs that made food and buildings, school for jobs that helped the sick... There had to be something else to life that not enough people were seeing.
But there was nothing I could do. The kids couldn’t understand me, Earl seemed just as consumed, and I wouldn’t have known what to do out in the world if I left—because despite all of the time that I had spent in a school, I had learned next to nothing.
“Why don’t you teach them something that doesn’t have to do specifically with pokémon?” I asked Earl one day. It was a Friday and the kids had just been let out for the day. We were cleaning up and getting ready to go home. I picked up the garbage on the ground while Earl sorted out papers and straightened out the desks that had been moved in result of the children’s excitement when they were told that they could battle. The excitement was always present. I thought that they got louder each week, and that they caused more messes every week when they tried to run and pile out the door all at once. Now, it was quiet, and I wanted to take advantage of it.
“What you want me to teach them?” Earl asked, not even bothering to look at me. He twirled over to the side of the room to close the windows, as if no one could hear what I was about to say.
“I don’t know…” I faltered, suddenly embarrassed for asking. I didn’t particularly like attention, and I had just blatantly asked for it when I could have stayed invisible. During the day, it was impossible, since the children’s fascination with pokémon automatically turned into a fascination of me, the only pokémon that was allowed out in the classroom. I simply made an effort to say only what needed to be said, and to never leave the corner in front of the classroom unless I really needed to.
“Maybe teach them how to light fires…” I continued, trying to get over my embarrassment. This did need to be said, after all, so I couldn’t back down now. I kept hoping that Earl wouldn’t look at me, and I too refused to look at him and distracted myself by picking up more lost paper and pencils on the ground, though they were bitter reminders of why I was bringing this topic up in the first place.
“Want to teach is a fire? Teach kids fire-types, yes,” Earl replied as he finished closing the windows. I imagined him nodding his head eagerly and intensely. This would have been a good thing if he had understood what I said.
“No… Fires for their journey. To keep warm.” Perhaps, I thought, trying something else that couldn’t be directly related to pokémon would help. “Teach them how to budget their money. How to choose and save food.”
“No, no, no. Kids learn to do that on own time,” Earl said earnestly. And that was the end of that.
What could I say to make him understand? He taught the subject of pokémon all day, and he taught it almost every day. It was ingrained in his mind, probably permanently. He had no desire to teach about the dangers of the world or the possibilities of being something greater. He had told me many times while smiling from ear to ear that this had been his dream since he was a boy, and he was so glad to be here…
Doesn’t it ever get boring? Don’t you ever wonder what holds the world together outside of this school? I wanted to ask, but didn’t.
And I was his pokémon. He certainly took care of me. He kept me fed and rested, didn’t make me battle often anymore since I didn’t like the attention, and he boasted about his oh so special hitmontop every chance he got, even if it was in fragmented English. There was no doubt that I was his, but I just couldn’t think the same way.
On Monday, things went by as they normally did. Water beats fire, grass beats water, and fire beats grass. Electric beats flying, and flying beats grass. “Beats” would be a term used loosely, as factors such as experience and strategy also had a huge effect on the outcome.
Shannon eventually called me over. As usual, she made some statement that was similar to what was just taught, and I would nod my head or shake my head depending on whether her answer was right or wrong.
“Ghost can beat psychic, right?” she said, fidgeting in her seat restlessly and looking at me expectantly.
I nodded and wondered how many questions she would ask me today.
“And psychic can beat poison.”
I nodded at the statement and grinned despite myself.
“Psychic can’t do anything to dark-types, though. I always forget...”
“But—oh! Fighting-types can beat dark-types! You could beat a dark-type with no problem, right?” I would have nodded, albeit reluctantly, but she didn’t give me enough time as she added, “Dark-types seem evil. You could beat all the evil in the world, huh? So cool!”
“I wish,” I said quietly, but all she heard—if she heard me at all—was my name.
She decided that she was done after that. She jumped out of her seat and moved on to show off her newfound knowledge to her friends, and I went back into my corner. I was already exhausted from the conversation and was ready for the day to be over.
On Tuesday, the class got a new student.
He was obviously a bit older than the rest of the kids, and I wondered why he was here. He probably should have been on his journey for at least a few years already. But Earl welcomed him with open arms.
“This is Sai! Sai is new student,” he said after rushing the boy to the front of the classroom. His eyes were closed and he was smiling broadly while the boy only looked to the ground, not bothering to introduce himself. I felt instantly connected to him just for that. My first impression was that he was clearly the outcast and that he didn’t like attention, either. “He will learn lots, yes? Yes. Take a seat now, boy.” And the boy listened. He took a seat in the back of the room, the only place available.
I didn’t think that having Sai here would change anything, but it still felt nice to be a little bit closer to someone. I started to wonder about my first impression, however, when he saw me for the first time. He flinched when he saw me, and I couldn’t tell if it was from surprise or from seeing something rather repulsive. But he didn’t look away. His expression was blank as he stayed focused on me. He seemed to struggle when trying to pay attention to both Earl’s lesson and me, even though I wasn’t doing anything but standing in the corner.
I actually tried leaving the corner to walk in between the desks so I could get out of his sight a few times, but his eyes always seemed to follow me. I even stayed with Jason longer than normal, and tried to stay focused on what he was saying and asking. But Sai was always looking, and I knew it. When you don’t like attention, you always know when someone is looking at you. Someone is always looking at you, no matter how illogical the idea is. The idea consumes your mind. I was used to this since the other kids often recognized my presence, but the anxiety was never this intense with them. Probably because their attention wasn’t constant, and they gave me attention with enthusiasm rather than apathy.
I wished that he would look away. He was here to learn about pokémon, after all, and I was here to pass time until something… anything… happened.
Look away from me. Look away. If you don’t like such attention, why am I getting it? I cannot and do not want to help you.
On Wednesday, I didn’t have anyone to focus on in order to distract myself from Sai. No one seemed to need my help, and there was nothing else for me to do until everyone left. I considered simply leaving the school and hoping no one noticed, but the new boy would definitely have noticed. He was still staring at me. And I still didn’t know what to do about it.
When all the kids were doing an activity with one partner, Sai didn’t have a partner. He hadn’t talked to anyone and everyone was set in their ways by choosing the same partner every time. Earl, with all his good intentions, told me to go be Sai’s partner. The new student spending time with a pokémon in a pokémon school would be good, after all. I didn’t have the energy to protest, and I didn’t want to risk causing a scene, so I reluctantly went to the boy. Up close, his blue eyes seemed soft and intense at the same time. Still unnerved and holding on to silence, I tried to smile as best as I could.
Admittedly, I had no idea what the activity was, so I didn’t know what to do next. He must have known the assignment, but all he said was, “You made it possible for me to be here, so thanks.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. Shifting around uncomfortably, I wanted to say that I just a classroom pet, nothing more. I figured that I should have been grateful he didn’t want to talk about just pokémon, but somehow, I wasn’t. The topic was at least comfortable and familiar, even if I despised it.
“I’m not supposed to take the time to be here,” Sai explained, and I wondered if he caught on to my confusion. “But since you’re here, it’s okay now.”
At this point, I was beyond confused. I was nervous and tired and I wanted this boy to go away. We connected on the wrong level, I decided. My first impression didn’t mean anything good for me.
“Well, you should start the assignment,” I said, trying to say words that would make him stop talking and would make me sound confident at the same time.
“I’m not interested in the assignment,” Sai said, suddenly frowning. He looked back and forth between the paper on his desk and me, and eventually, he settled on staring at me. I was about to open my mouth again to speak when I realized that he had understood me. I hadn’t pointed to the paper or picked up a pencil or made any sign that I was talking about the assignment. Had I? In my nervousness, I may have missed my actions completely…
I stared back at him, not so confident anymore. Maybe I never was. Despite Shannon’s words, I couldn’t beat the evil in the world, especially when I could hardly keep my eyes focused on the path in front of me. I always looked down to the ground, and I ignored the present as best as I could. I focused on what I wanted, but never did anything to get what I wanted.
“You’re so shy…” Sai observed, still looking at me. “You don’t seem to like it here.”
This seemed familiar. He said a statement, so I nodded. He was right, anyway.
“Well, you don’t have to worry anymore. I like it here, since I’m learning about pokémon and getting better like I’m supposed to. But I can’t stay here forever. And when I leave this place, I’m taking you with me.”
On Thursday, I didn’t go to the school. I just told Earl that I didn’t want to go, and he was okay with that. I mentally apologized to Shannon for not being there, but I wasn’t really sorry. I needed a day for myself. All I did was sleep, I was so, so tired.
On Friday, I was glad that I had taken that day off. Friday was all about battles, and I hadn’t battled in such a long time. Earl made me battle a lot as a Tyrogue, but once I had evolved after battling the students’ pokémon so much, I was considered too experienced. And Earl caught on to the fact that I didn’t like being on the battlefield so that everyone could watch me and judge me.
I didn’t usually battle, but thanks to Sai, I had to battle on that particular Friday.
The boy said that he had no pokémon to battle with. I thought that Earl was going to have me battle for him, but he didn’t. Again, he said that I was too experienced, and that I may not listen to a beginner like him.
I was vastly relieved—until Sai asked if he could borrow me for the weekend so that I could help him catch his first pokémon.
“Well,” Earl started. No one had ever requested such a thing, and I had no idea how he was going to react. At that moment, that was what scared me most, more than the idea of actually going with him. That quickly changed when Earl said, “Yes, of course! Hitmontop is strong pokémon. He will help catch for you. A good idea it is.”
And then I was scared of everything.
I spent the day watching other kids battle. But I could hardly pay attention to them when they asked me questions, and eventually, they just left me alone, which I was eternally grateful for. Hearing kids yell commands at the top of their lungs made me anxious. Having others point out when a pokémon lost or won made me cringe. I didn’t need this, but it was what I was going to get with Sai, who simply also watched and seemed to be faring much better than I was. He was absorbing it all, I was sure. He was learning. About pokémon. He would spend his life going on a journey, I was sure. He was no better than the rest of them.
My fears were confirmed when Sai took me away from Earl when the school was let out, even though it was soon revealed that he already had two pokémon. He had brought me to the edge of the city only to meet up with his sentret and totodile, two popular, common choices among the kids in the school. They stared at me with interest, especially the totodile, and I was sure that they had never seen a hitmontop before. I silently wished that I was as common as them so that they would look away from me, but then, the idea of me belonging to a trainer—especially a new one—was inevitable. I couldn’t win.
But I was soon going to be expected to win, I knew...
Looking directly at me, Sai said, “We’re going to the pokémon gym now. You didn’t battle today, so you should be fine.”
Despite myself, I immediately said, “I… I thought that you needed me to help you catch a pokémon.”
“Lying gets you what you want, no? Earl wouldn’t have let me take you if he knew I was going to fight a gym leader for my first battle…”
There was too many things wrong with that sentence, but it successfully shut me up until we got to the gym. When we got to the entrance of the gym, however, I couldn’t stop talking.
“I haven’t battled in forever. You don’t want to use me… What about these guys? I’m a fighting-type. This gym uses flying-types. E-Everyone knows that. Didn’t you learn anything when you were in—”
This time, I shut myself up. To actually deem the information used in class worthwhile was astonishing and unfamiliar to me. I didn’t deserve to get out of this situation so easily, since I hardly was supportive of my real beliefs.
The sentret answered for Sai, anyway. The boy probably wasn’t listening. That was good. “We were going to train, but Sai saw the school and decided to do that instead. We haven’t battled at all,” the sentret said.
“Why… don’t you train and battle when you’re stronger, then?” I asked.
“I can’t waste too much time here. We can do it on the way to the next city. Don’t be difficult,” Sai said sternly, the softness in his eyes gone. So he had been listening. I wished that he hadn’t, and I scolded myself for speaking out to begin with.
“I won’t do well. I wasn’t meant for this,” I said solemnly.
“You’ll be fine. Let’s go,” Sai said. He probably had meant to sound reassuring, but it didn’t work. His voice was now impatient and eager and harsh. Nevertheless, I stepped inside the gym after him and his pokémon.
The first thing I noticed was how big the gym was. The walls extended much higher than that of the school’s, presumably so that the bird pokémon had room to fly without being restricted in any way. Maybe everyone would be so fascinated by the flexibility of the bird pokémon that I wouldn’t be noticed. I could only hope.
The second thing that I noticed was that there was a small line for those who wanted to battle Falkner, the well known gym leader of this city. We waited in line, mostly in silence. The sentret and the totodile made conversation and they briefly introduced themselves to me, but quickly left me alone when they realized that I didn’t want to talk. I could hardly pay attention, anyway. Maybe sometime later I would apologize, if I ever saw them again. They seemed kind enough, but Sai’s first impression had been wrong, so I was wary.
It was eventually, finally, our turn to battle. I just wanted to get it over with. Falkner approached Sai and shook his hand. Sai stared at the handshake curiously and oddly, as if he wasn’t used to the greeting.
“Since I’ve had a lot of battles in a row, this will just be a one-on-one battle,” Falkner said as he turned around impatiently, going to his stand on his side of the arena.
“Should I… make an appointment next time?” Sai asked, his hand still outstretched. Falkner turned once more and stared at the boy.
“If you want. It’s hard to battle ten trainers in a row with just a few pokémon,” Falkner explained, his voice softened and his body less tense.
“Okay, then. I apologize,” Sai said. I stared at him, dumbfounded. Just a moment ago, he had seemed furious with me for trying to disobey him, and now he was acting like the friendliest boy in the world with the gym leader. I tried to dwell on this instead of the fact that I was about to be sent out for battle, but these thoughts also made my head spin.
I staggered back slightly when Sai bent down to talk to me face-to-face. “Look,” he said, “I’m not going to tell you what to do. You battle how you want to. I… wouldn’t know what to say, and you don’t seem to like being told what to do…”
This boy made my head spin. Now he was being just as kind to me. But I couldn’t deny that I appreciated his concern and kindness. I simply nodded and walked slowly to the battlefield, sparing him from having to announce the fact that he would be battling with me.
“A hitmontop, huh? This battle may not last long, then, and that’s a good thing. I’ll send out pidgeotto,” Falkner said, grinning while throwing out a red and white pokéball onto the arena. A bird whose body consisted of various shades of brown appeared. I just looked at the pidgeotto’s features, waiting for the battle to start. The feathers on its head were red, as were the feathers on its tail. I noticed some yellow on its tail as well. It looked a bit tired and dirty, and I really did feel sorry for it. It had probably battled just earlier today, whereas I had been safe for months at this point. I wasn’t so lucky anymore.
“Challenger usually goes first,” Falkner stated after quite a few moments of silence.
“He will be battling on his own. He does not wish for me to command him,” Sai said just as sternly.
“All right, then,” Falkner said, shrugging his shoulders and brushing some of his blue hair out of his eyes. “Pidgeotto, start off with a wing attack!”
Of course he had to choose a move that required flying. The bird spread its wings and took off into the air, completely and easily annihilating all chances for me to attack it. I had no long range attacks, and this was why fighting-types would forever be considered weak to flying-types.
The pidgeotto flew high enough to ensure its own safety, and then flew closer to me. Then it started diving downward, its wings spread out and ready to attack me. I just stared at it, waiting for Sai to give me a command. I didn’t want it, but I was used to being told what to do. The fact that he wasn’t going to command me to do anything hit me too late, as the pidgeotto’s wing slammed into the side of my face and sent me flying to the side and colliding with the concrete floor of the gym, near the wall. Before it hit me, I saw how intense and serious the bird was. Why did it have to look at me like that? I was here against my will…
“Now use quick attack, pidgeotto,” Falkner said.
This time, Sai’s lack of participation didn’t have to register. I got out of the way, though the pidgeotto was still very close to hitting me again. It was much faster than me, but this turned out to be a disadvantage as the bird collided with the wall that I had been near. Its tiredness and speed had made it unable to turn out of the way of danger in time. The bird quickly slunk to the ground, but quickly got back up and stood on its two feet.
“It’s all right, pidgeotto. We’ll avoid speedy attacks from now on. Try to peck at it. Be persistent.”
The pidgeotto extended its wings once more and flew in my direction again, this time more slowly and carefully. I held up my arms to cover my face, but I realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere if I kept being so defensive. As the bird flew at me with that same intense look, I made it think that I was going to give in to its attack. When it was close enough, I tried to forget the look—just for a few moments—in order to lift my arms from my face and slam one of them down onto one of the bird’s wings. I had successfully pinned one of the pidgeotto’s wings down, and the other one was safely tucked back into the bird’s body. Taken by surprise, the bird kept trying to peck at me out of anger instead of with confidence, but it couldn’t reach me in the position that it was stuck in.
“Pidgeotto, try to get out of there!” Falkner said, his calm and smug demeanor gone.
But it was no use. My arm was stronger than its lone wing. It seemed that the wall had done a lot of damage last time, so I prepared to use my rolling kick attack to send it in that direction once more. As I started to swing one of my legs behind me as far as I could to generate as much power as possible, I quietly said, “I’m sorry,” and hoped that the bird understand. But I wasn’t sure that it would. I couldn’t tell who had more experience, but it was tired, and the type advantage had turned out to be a disadvantage because of it. And since Falkner was the first gym for new trainers, he had obviously been chosen because he was weaker than the rest of the boy’s pokémon. I was sorry for it. But I did what I had to do.
When I had finished preparing my rolling kick attack, I swung my leg around my body and made direct contact with the pidgeotto’s side. The white spikes on my feet dug into its side and the collision made it fly into the wall, just as I had wanted. This time, however, it didn’t get back up on its feet. It was only as the bird fainted that I realized the battle had been done in almost complete silence aside from Falkner’s commands and my apology.
“Pidgeotto, return,” Falkner said solemnly. I wished that, if I had to be here, that it was with Earl, so I could be returned to a pokéball, too. I suddenly remembered that I was with Sai again, and I felt a mixture of nervousness and pride.
I distracted myself by watching Falkner walk over to Sai, who was smiling and had his arm outstretched once more. The gym leader dug into his pocket and took out a small, oddly shaped object, and placed it in Sai’s palm.
“I wish that I could have fought you at full strength, but the hitmontop still would have been tough,” Falkner said. He obviously didn’t like to lose, as told by his voice when he returned his pokémon, but he sounded glad now. “Next time, though, you should use your own pokémon. Earl must have given you the hitmontop to see how you’d do, am I right?”
Sai frowned for just a moment, and I wondered if Falkner would do anything about it. But he didn’t. Sai simply nodded, and Falkner added, “It feels a bit weird, then, giving you the badge when you didn’t seem to do much… but the teamwork was still there. Allowing the hitmontop to do what it wanted based on its personality was a good thing. I can tell you’ll be a good, considerate trainer to your own pokémon.”
Sai smiled again, though not as broadly. With a quiet thank you, Sai turned to leave the gym, clutching the badge in his hand. He looked to the ground as he walked out, just as he had done when being introduced to the class by Earl. I felt connected to him again, but didn’t have much hope for it this time.
Outside of the gym, the mixture of anxiety and happiness returned. It didn’t help when the sentret was tending to my wounds and when the totodile kept yelling about how strong and awesome I was to have beaten the bird so quickly and with apparent ease. I didn’t want their praise. I had just directly contributed to Sai’s journey. Even if I hadn’t meant to, I still did it. He could be doing something else. I’m sure that the world was in need of something besides pokémon trainers. But I had probably just encouraged him to stay as a trainer by winning him his first badge. I hated myself for it, yet I liked knowing that I still had strength, even if I didn’t know it.
I knew that I was right about encouraging Sai when he came to me and told me that I had done a good job, and that he had made the right choice when he chose me to be his pokémon. Again, I remembered him telling me that he would be taking me with him on his journey. It seemed like he had said that so long ago, but really, I had been pushing it into the back of my mind, because the idea seemed impossible. I had no idea what was out there. And the idea of facing the unknown was terrifying. But he seemed set on taking me with him, since he then nicknamed me on the spot.
“Your name is Atis. And Atis, I think you did a good job,” he repeated. The name made it more final. Earl had never given me a name for some reason, and it seemed like a more creative name compared to the kiddy names that the children called their pokémon. There had been many cyndaquil named Blaze, I recalled…
Sai dug in his pocket and pulled out an object. Dice. I recognized the object from some activity that Earl had done with the kids once, but I wasn’t sure what Sai was going to do with it. It seemed pointless in regards to pokémon training, after all, so surely he couldn’t be interested in it.
He seemed to have found some use for it, though. He handed it to me, and told me to throw it. I did so since I could see no harm coming from it. It landed on the number three, and I was still just as confused as before.
“Now you can see it with your own eyes,” Sai said, grinning. “You’re my third pokémon. It’s official.”
“But I—” I started to say. But what? I belonged to Earl? I was miserable with him, though his intentions were pure. Could Sai be much better when I despised trainers who thought of nothing but pokémon? I could at least learn more about the world... Maybe I could convince Sai of being something else. Focusing on one child had always been easier than a whole classroom full of them, anyway. “What about Earl?” I decided to ask anyway. “What about the school?” Surely, I would have time to decide and think. Or time to push back the thoughts and go crazy when I only have a few minutes to make a decision. And I was right.
“We’re leaving in a week,” Sai said. “You best be ready.”
chapter 5 ; [KUIORA]
Violet City wasn’t violet. There was green grass and brown buildings and white walking paths and there weren’t even any violet flowers. And the purple roofs didn’t count. It was sort of disappointing. I don’t know what I had been expecting, but it was certainly more than this. This city looked just like New Bark Town, except just organized in an entirely different way. A city full of flower houses and purple people would have been better.
Senori had a sad expression on his face when we got there. He didn’t even look up from the ground. I didn’t think he was upset for the same reasons as me; he had seen much more than me. I guessed that he was upset about saying good-bye to whoever it was he had left Sai for, but I thought that meant he should be happy. Whoever was holding him down no longer had to hold him down. Unless Senori let it get to him, he was free, just as I was free from Professor Elm. I told him to cheer up a few times, but he just told me that I didn’t understand, and that he’d get over it soon.
Sai seemed unresponsive to the city as a whole at first, too. He walked slowly and said nothing until we came across a large building that he called a school, and another large building that he called a gym. That was when Senori finally spoke before spoken to.
“You know, normal kids wouldn’t be excited about school. Trainers would complain about how they wasted so much time there instead of raising pokémon. Normal kids would be dying of hunger or thirst by now,” he said, holding his stomach.
“What’s school?” I asked. I could be curious, at least, without being scolded.
“It’s where you can learn about a lot of things… especially pokémon-related things,” Sai explained, walking up to the building and pushing his face against the windows.
Senori promptly ran in his direction and pulled at his legs, yelling, “Get away from the window! You got lucky at the professor’s lab, but they’ll definitely see you and think you’re a freak here!”
I noted how Senori mentioned the lab, how Sai must have been watching me and the others the entire time, but I hadn’t noticed at all. It must have been the little brown creature keeping him in line, and he was trying to do it again now. Sai moved, but not because of Senori’s force. He brushed off the pokémon like it was nothing and went back to where he had been before.
“Okay. You don’t have to yell at me. But I’m going there. I won’t stay long, but I think it will help me get better,” he said, still looking at the building.
“Get better at what?” I asked.
“Training. Raising pokémon. Getting badges and getting stronger as fast as possible,” he said. And he smiled.
“I can help with that,” I said eagerly. “Professor Elm taught us how to train at the lab. I knew how to train better than everyone else there, too.”
“You don’t have any experience, little guy. I bet those kids do… and especially the older guy there.”
“But I know how to train. And people should just bring food to you and your pokémon,” I said, trying to speak louder. The pokémon at the lab were hopeless. Hopefully Sai and Senori weren’t like them. I would find out in time by trying to talk more, I decided.
“Fine. We’ll rest and go get food. Happy now?”
“Yes,” Senori said. “If you don’t remember to sleep or feed yourself or your pokémon, there’s going to be issues… Good thing I’m here.”
“But if we just wait here—”
“Shush.” He glared on me and I cut myself off immediately. I had never seen that much seriousness or lack of emotion packed into one face. “I know what you’re talking about, but we don’t need to deal with that anymore, do we? Let’s go, little guy.”
What on earth was he talking about? He thought that I was a boy and he pushed me away in favor of the true first pokémon. I already didn’t like him.
But things got better. He took us to the store and bought enough food to last us for what seemed like forever. He also bought an unbelievable amount of pokéballs, and a backpack to carry it all. I thought that he should’ve just taken the entire store if the owner was willingly given so much away, but Senori explained that he could only buy so much with pokédollars. So this was why Professor Elm never got a bigger lab for us, even when we just seemed to grow and grow…
“Are you really planning on catching that many pokémon?” I asked so that I could stop thinking about him. Professor Elm was gone, and I was free. He didn’t mean anything to me. And I was hoping to prove to him sometime soon that he wouldn’t need to catch so many. I would get stronger, and I’m sure Senori would, too. While I reluctantly accepted that Senori would get better with me, I believed that we could be enough, and that only a couple more pokémon couldn’t hurt.
“What about medicine?” Senori suddenly asked, not seeming to care about what was already bought anymore.
He paused. “Medicine has never helped me,” he said softly.
“It could work for pokémon.”
“Then we’ll get it later.”
“But you’re already out of pokédollars,” Senori pointed out.
“We’ll get more of those later, too,” he replied, his voice stronger again.
Senori sighed and apparently decided to settle on food. “Whatever will be, will be, I guess,” he said, and he made his way over to the entrance of the door, signaling his desire to leave.
And that was the end of that. As we walked out, I noticed that the guy behind the counter, the one who had given Sai suggestions on food types and the pokéballs themselves, was looking at us rather oddly.
Next, we visited a place called the Pokémon Center for the very first time. Sai seemed to have never heard of such a thing. The place was huge and crowded with other trainers who were conversing with each other and showing off their pokémon. I tried holding on to Sai’s ankle to keep myself from getting lost, hoping that he’d join the crowd soon enough. There didn’t seem to be too many totodile around, so surely someone wouldn’t object to seeing one with their own fortunate eyes.
Instead, Sai headed to the front counter and asked what he could do here for his pokémon. There was a lady with pink hair and a soft but genuine smile there for him to talk to. She happily informed him that he could leave us here to get healed from any injuries, or to simply have a place to sleep peacefully and out of pokéballs for the night.
“But I don’t want to give away my pokémon,” Sai said flatly. He glowered at her. “I just got them.”
The lady behind the counter frowned and looked almost like Sai had hurt her physically. “Oh, we don’t keep your pokémon here. You can come back and get them whenever you’d like. Or you could rent a room for yourself for the night and take your pokémon with you.”
The boy’s face almost returned to normal, though he was still frowning. He was still suspicious. “Okay,” he said. “Well, maybe I’ll come back when it’s dark. Thank you.”
After turning away from the front counter and the lady, Sai bent down toward us and whispered, “Now we’ll definitely get that medicine later.” Senori nodded, satisfied this time around, and the boy led us outside once more.
Needless to say, Sai didn’t want to go back to that Pokémon Center. We slept on the outskirts of the city in the grass once again. No one complained, since us two pokémon had been used to it for our entire lives. Sai didn’t seem to mind, either, though I couldn’t understand why.
After that day, though, he left his backpack with us and went off to that school. He’d be gone when we woke up, and he wouldn’t be back until it was dark. We knew where he was, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but we didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t as if we particularly liked each other. And if we tried to do anything, we risked getting lost. One day, though, I had an idea.
“Let’s catch a strong pokémon for Sai,” I suggested. “If he sees how strong and awesome we are, then he won’t have to use all of those pokéballs.”
“I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t like that. He seems picky about who he chooses,” Senori said. He was sitting against a tree, eyes closed. I glared at him for dismissing my idea in such a nonchalant way, but he continued, “I’m also tired. I haven’t slept well since we’re in unfamiliar territory…”
“Who cares? He has to keep whoever we choose. We’re his pokémon! He has to listen to what we want,” I said. I went over to his backpack, trying to figure out how to reach the contents inside of it. There seemed to be no opening for me to put my hand into. With this roadblock and Senori’s annoying self, I ended up ripping a hole into it with my teeth and not caring too much about it.
“Not listening, huh? I bet you don’t even know how to catch a pokémon,” Senori observed.
“I bet I could,” I said confidently, pulling out one of the spheres with my paws. It was a bit difficult to pull it through the hole I had made on the backpack with my tiny paws, but I managed it. I turned toward Senori, and went to push the button in the middle of the ball. I dropped it once in the process, since it was difficult for me to hold. Senori snickered, and I glared at him once more.
“You’re a baby compared to me. You’re fun to mess with. And it seems natural for someone older like me to do so…” Senori added a bit sadly.
“Yeah, well,” I started, unsure of what to say. I was young, true. But he didn’t have to rub it in my face. I pressed the button on the pokéball instead, and dropped it again as it grew larger, making it harder to hold than before. “All I have to do is press that button. Then, I have to throw it at the pokémon I want to catch. It’s easy. Why don’t you try catching something?”
Senori’s eyes were still closed, but I didn’t give him a warning as I tossed the pokéball in his direction. It didn’t occur to me for a moment that the ball, when it got close enough to Senori, could snap open and suck the little brown creature inside. But that’s exactly what it did. And then it fell to the ground, swaying back and forth every few seconds. I stood there, dumbfounded. Hadn’t Sai already caught him with a pokéball? This shouldn’t have even been possible...
I expected Senori to pop back out and start teasing me again. But he didn’t. The ball stopped moving after what seemed like forever, and then I was left alone to wonder what I had just done. I successfully shut him up, and I could have something to use against him whenever he made fun of me from now on. Also, I figured that I had just saved Sai some time, and that I could now tell him that Senori had a pokéball if it was ever needed.
Walking up to Senori’s pokéball, I wondered if I should let him back out. But that would just be asking for more teasing and more complaints about things I wanted to do. Also, he was tired… Wouldn’t it have been best to just leave him in there to rest? Plus, I wasn’t the trainer. Sai could decide thing about his pokémon himself. This was just an accident, so my actions didn’t count. I picked up the ball, which was easier now that it was back to its original tiny form. It didn’t feel any heavier, nor were there any signs that a pokémon was inside of it. It was almost as if Senori didn’t exist at all. I vaguely wondered again if I should release him, because if I were him, I wouldn’t want to be erased so easily. I had so much to do. I had to get stronger. I had to be deemed worthy of the legends. So much to do, and Sai made it seem like there wasn’t much time…
I decided to just train myself and put Senori’s pokéball in Sai’s backpack. I didn’t need the other pokémon standing around and watching me or trying to say that he could do better just because he was older. I could get a lot more done without him around, and this was especially true since it was still daylight. Sai wouldn’t be back for a long time. Still. So much to do, so little time.
I trained all day and all night, working on punches and kicks and aiming my water attacks correctly while still causing a lot of damage. I had been hoping to find new ways to train after leaving Professor Elm’s lab and seeing what else the world had to offer me, but I tried not to dwell on that and worked with what I had. I trained even after Sai came back, because when he came back, he didn’t ask where Senori was, and I didn’t tell him. He actually seemed calm and satisfied for once, and with the awkward and solemn demeanor he had presented already, I didn’t want to mess with that. He also didn’t ask why the grass or the trees were so wet. He still sat in the grass and he still slept against the trees and I still trained.
As it turned out, it was a good thing that I didn’t catch another strong pokémon for Sai, because he found one on his own. It was a strange looking creature that had been named Atis. It was strange looking, but also intimidating. He didn’t seem to like anyone, his feet and head had spikes on them, and when he battled in the other building Sai liked—the gym, was it?—he fought impressively. The battle was short, and even with the type advantage (I had learned about that from the bird owner, not Sai), he wasn’t afraid and he did what he had to do to win. I wanted to be like him. I vowed to be used in the next gym battle.
This was also the first time I had seen Senori since I had accidentally captured him. That morning, Sai finally asked me where he was when he said that we were going to the gym, and I explained everything to him. Besides a slight smile, Sai didn’t react much, and had to dig through his backpack and try every pokéball until he found Senori’s and let him out. He announced that we would be going to the gym later that day, and to be prepared. Now that I thought about it, I wasn’t sure why, since he never intended for us to battle at all. But that was okay. Atis showed us the regular routine, and next time, I (or Senori, unless Sai realized how much training I had done) would know what to do.
“Was there a reason you had to go and catch me like that?” Senori asked when he finally saw me. We had been standing in the line of the gym.
“Yeah. You didn’t think I could do it. So I did it,” I replied, smirking.
“You knew I was joking. But at least I’m not tired anymore,” Senori said softly, already seeming to give up on the scolding. He just didn’t have the heart to be angry at anyone, I realized.
“Why didn’t you just break out of the pokéball? You were tired, yeah, but it should have been easy.”
“I didn’t want to make Sai mad at me for wasting it.”
And then we were quiet and watched Atis, who seemed naturally quiet unless coerced into speaking. I had no idea how he accomplished such a thing, but he did.
Violet City. The place wasn’t violet, but I got to train, Senori got to rest, Atis got to leave his home, and Sai learned an awful lot in order to earn his first gym badge at the end of it all.
When we were leaving Violet City, the lady from behind the counter at the Pokémon Center was outside, unlocking the doors for the day. She shouted to us, saying that there was a Center in every town, but Sai ignored her. He hadn’t even brought Atis there to heal after his battle, but he hadn’t sustained many injuries, so it was understandable. And when we passed by the school, Atis peered into the windows one final time, but he didn’t seem to need a good-bye like Senori did. I wondered why, but I didn’t question him. I would have to earn his attention through strength in the future, since he was so strong himself.
Unlike the trip to Violet City, we ran into quite a few pokémon trainers and more wild pokémon on the way to the next town. Atis destroyed all the pokémon in one hit, wild or not. Senori and I had a bit more trouble… which I guess was to be expected. It was also difficult when Sai didn’t know attack names when trying to command the both of us (though he let Atis do what he wanted). He just gave us general commands and thought that we should be able to comprehend and act on them in a matter of seconds, but sometimes, we couldn’t. How was I supposed to know what “ram your body into it” meant? I told him that he must be talking about the body slam attack… which I didn’t know anyway, I had to admit. Someday, I’d learn how. Or someday, Sai would learn how to win (or lose) battles like a normal trainer. By the end of the day, I didn’t care which came first.
The hardest part about the traveling trip was the cave that we came across. The cave was old, we could tell. Wild pokémon were even afraid to come out at times since rocks were falling from the ceiling pretty much everywhere. Other trainers didn’t want to take the time to battle. Senori voiced his concern about us getting squished to bits, but Sai didn’t seem fazed. He walked where he wanted and rested where he wanted, with the rest of us being separated while trying to find somewhere safe, somewhere where no other trainer or pokémon was already occupying. I didn’t know how long it took to get through that cave, but it seemed like way too long after being paranoid about rocks and having your life end before you really got anywhere.
Senori was the first and only to be endangered. He had picked an obviously bad spot, and a trainer noticed. The rest of us were resting. We were too far away to look out for him or notice what was going on.
“Watch out!” said an unfamiliar voice out of nowhere, and Senori’s ears perked up. He looked above him and went to move out of the way, but no one would ever know if he would have been too slow or not. The trainer crashed into him and the two went careening away from the rocks, which promptly fell as soon as they were out of the way. I could hear Senori screaming in surprise, not from pain—a good sign.
Sai didn’t react to the situation until after Senori had screamed, until after the trainer pushed him out of the way, and until after the noise of rubble and failure from the rocks subsided. The trainer got up and helped Senori to his wobbly feet. He dusted Senori off and then himself, then stomped angrily over to our trainer.
“You should really watch your pokémon more. Return them to their pokéballs or something. I came in here not long after you, so I’ve seen you this entire time. I feel sorry for your pokémon,” the trainer said.
Sai stood up from his resting spot, and stepped in front of the other trainer so that their faces were inches apart. “I’m sorry that happened, and thanks for saving him. But don’t tell me what to do with my pokémon. I have enough orders without you butting in to my life.”
“A trainer makes his own rules, but should be careful with the rules he makes,” the other trainer said, backing away from Sai, but still looking just as angry.
“You don’t know anything about me. I’m as careful as I can and want to be.”
“Again, I feel sorry for your pokémon. It was none of my business, but if I hadn’t stepped in, your sentret would be dead. Let that sink in,” the trainer said, and then he walked away, stopping only to scratch Senori behind the ears for a few moments of reassurance.
Before Sai let him get away, he yelled, “How long have you been following us, anyway?”
“I’m not following you. But we’ve all been in here for two and a half weeks now, which makes us all even more lucky that no one’s been killed yet,” the other trainer answered, not bothering to turn around.
“Two and a half weeks,” Sai murmured, making his way over to Senori. He bent down to see him face-to-face. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Let’s just get out of here.”
Senori could only nod, still confused and shocked and full of dirt.
“Do any of you want to go in your pokéball?” Sai asked loudly, clearly, looking around at the three of us.
“No,” Senori said quickly. “Who will protect you, then?”
“…Fine,” Sai said. “And you two?”
Atis agreed to go in his ball, but I wasn’t about to give up possible training time. I was younger and more alert and stronger; I could handle whatever came my way by myself. I also thought that I could use this incident to tease Senori, but I would have to wait until later.
When we started to make our way through the cave again, Sai took the time to process just how much time had passed. He became increasingly furious with every passing moment. He started sacrificing resting time just to travel more, and all he kept murmuring about was how much time had been wasted here. No more time could be spent here. If we were hungry, we ate and walked at the same time. If we were thirsty, we had to take a drink from the ponds quickly for fear of being left behind, which was a risk we had to take since the availability of water was few and far between. If we were tired, we went in our pokéballs (at which point Senori actually half-heartedly thanked me for catching him and giving him a place to rest). I even saw Sai fight some pokémon himself, even the rock-types, and I made a mental note to myself so that I could see just how strong he was sometime.
It took us three more days to get through the cave, Sai announced later. Somehow, he had been carefully keeping track of time. It was nighttime when we reached the outside of the cave, but Sai didn’t want to stop and rest there. Being near the cave was dangerous, he said, and being in the actual town would make him feel better. That night, we slept in the pokémon center, with the boy making it very clear that he would be taking his pokémon with him into the room. The pink-haired lady behind the counter was confused by his apparent hostility, but she agreed and gave him a room nonetheless for a certain number of pokédollars. The boy didn’t sleep much, but we certainly did. And we took every drink and piece of food offered to us by the people who came by the room and knocked cheerfully.
We had finally reached Azalea Town, where I got to train some more, where Senori realized just how weak he was, where Atis apparently learned how to speak, and where Sai went crazy for the first time.
Writing this almost literally made my head spin. :p I felt all the emotions present, and in such a rollercoaster fashion. How about you?
chapter 6 ; [ATIS]
I lost track of days not long after I left Violet City with Sai.
Saying good-bye to Earl had been an easier feat than I had expected—he was happy for me, and seemed all too eager to give me away to a boy who was leaving his school much earlier than the rest of his students. That was his personality, I knew. He was caring and trusting and he always had everyone’s best intentions in mind. I wondered if he would miss me or if he really didn’t want to let me go, but I tried not to dwell on it. I wouldn’t have been able to stand knowing that he would be thinking of me in such a negative way whenever he encountered something that reminded him of me.
Even if he hadn’t wanted me to leave, I would have done so anyway. Leaving meant a better chance of finding joy. And although Sai was rather odd, it was this lack of normalcy that attracted me to him. Maybe, just maybe, I could change him. I could deter him from pokémon training. I could be… something. The path to Azalea Town made me think of this even more, especially when the sentret—or Senori, as I eventually learned—almost got hurt, but was saved by another trainer. Possible danger and discouragement from others could be ideas used against him during my efforts. The situation even made me second guess my decision, though I was prone to such swaying.
Yes, I lost track of the days in order to use time to the best of my ability, rather than to just watch my life pass by slowly, yet in the blink of an eye.
Still, Sai made it difficult to lose track of time. It took a little over three weeks to get out the cave, he said. During those last few days, I was forced to keep up with him because he was walking so fast. If I tried to get lost in my thoughts and ignore the rest of the world like I usually did, I fell behind and panicked. So I tried to keep myself focused. I could hear him mumbling numbers over and over as he swiftly made his way through the rest of the cave while simply assuming that we were close behind. Time seemed important to this boy all of a sudden. Before, he was content to come to the school day after day, and he allowed me an entire week to prepare for my departure. Now, he seemed obsessed with numbers and speed, as if his life depended on it. Kuiora seemed to notice, but didn’t care much—she only tried to get his attention by beating the occasional wild pokémon that dared to fight. And Senori often looked at him with concern, but was too paralyzed to say anything.
When we got to Azalea Town, his suddenly obsessive self scattered and escalated to a pace that no one else could keep up with.
The first night was normal enough. He wanted to sleep in the pokémon center, as expected. No trainer could resist the luxury of pokémon centers, though he didn’t try to hide the glares he gave the nurses who looked at us. Despite his unnecessary anger, they gave us a room with two beds and other standard human things. I watched from the doorway as Sai paced around the room anxiously, and as Kuiora and Senori stared at objects that perhaps only I had seen before—lamps, carpet, indoor plants. They treaded lightly and refused to touch anything, as if it all was sacred and fragile. At one point, a worker from the center knocked on our door and offered us some pokémon food, which they also took as if they were being presented with the greatest gift in the world.
Though curiosity was present, tiredness was overpowering, and the night soon ended. Kuiora and Senori slept together on the bottom bunk since they were closer friends, while I took the top so that no one could see me. Sai didn’t sleep at all—he just kept pacing, back and forth, back and forth, mumbling incomprehensibly. I thought I could feel him watching me, but I was too exhausted to care. Anxiety had a limit when you were constantly exposed to the idea of being crushed by a bunch of rocks, I supposed…
Sai woke us up at sunrise. I thought that I was starting to have a nightmare about earthquakes, but it was just Sai shaking the bed in order to get my attention from the top bunk. I immediately sat up and tried to control my uneven breathing so that I could tell him to stop, but by the time I prepared myself, he had already yelled up to me about going to get breakfast and was out the door.
I climbed down from the bed and saw the other two pokémon staring at me, slightly confused. I almost fell as I tried to steady myself on the floor, and thought to make a break for it like Sai had before they could ask me anything.
“I like his style today,” Kuiora said, not bothering to let the boy get to her. She bounced off of the bed and headed for the door herself, smiling. “I’m going to get some food.”
Senori soon followed her, though he didn’t say anything. I just stood in place for a few moments, wondering whether or not to go with them. Staying and enjoying the peace and quiet was an option, but I knew that if I really wanted to start getting involved with Sai’s life before he decided his fate on his own, I couldn’t just hide forever. I made my way out of the room, finding small amounts of comfort in the soft floor below me.
I followed Senori around the corner, noting how quiet it still was. Everyone else still must have been sleeping. The center surely couldn’t have just been empty—there had been too many trainers around when we arrived last night. It was impossible for me not to notice. While I was wondering why the place was so quiet, I didn’t notice that Senori had stopped moving, and I accidentally bumped into him.
“I-I’m sorry,” I said, looking down to the floor bashfully and running my foot along the carpet, seeking more comfort.
“It’s fine. I’m not sure where Sai went,” Senori said simply.
“Oh. Well… we could try to find a nurse and see if they can tell us where to go…”
“Good idea,” Senori said, nodding. And with that, he took the lead again and kept moving forward. I followed and vowed to pay more attention this time. I considered my endeavor rather successful when I saw a pink-haired nurse first and pointed it out to Senori. He nodded again, went up to the nurse, and tugged at the bottom of her white skirt. She had been talking to another trainer, but immediately took notice of Senori and smiled, asking if the poor pokémon was lost. Again, Senori nodded, and I wished I could have taken the useful role—especially since I would have been allowed to remain silent.
“What are you looking for, dear?” she asked.
“…Food. My trainer went to get food,” Senori said hesitantly, gesturing toward his mouth with his paws.
“Don’t worry, silly. I can understand pokémon,” the nurse said, chuckling slightly. “I spend enough time with them to know what they’re trying to say, no matter what species. Now, the breakfast room is through that door on the other side of the building. Enjoy!” She pointed behind Senori, and then turned away to continue talking to the trainer, a boy who looked vaguely familiar. I didn’t stick around to see him, though, as I followed Senori in the direction that the nurse sent us in. Luckily, the lobby was empty save for a couple people, so I didn’t have to worry about getting lost this time around.
When we got there, however, Sai was gone. Kuiora was obliviously eating nearly everything in sight, especially the berries. She didn’t see us come in, and we had to ask her quite a few times where Sai was before she acknowledged us.
“He came in here and then left this place. Didn’t even eat,” she explained in between bites of food.
“You didn’t follow him to see where he was going?” Senori asked, tilting his head to the side.
“Nope. I was hungry… and he’s the trainer, not me.”
“Huh…” Senori turned to look at me. “He seems, um, rather upbeat today. I’m not really sure if we should go after him and risk ruining it,” he added, smiling awkwardly.
“You can eat,” I offered. I was hungry, but staying meant that I would have to be alone with Senori, since Kuiora clearly wasn’t interested in speaking to us. One-on-one interaction wasn’t exactly my favorite situation to be in, so I just offered to go look for Sai instead. After receiving a skeptical look from the sentret, I quickly said that I’d be careful. He agreed and scrambled over to the table next to the totodile. I was free to leave.
The sky was half bright, half dark when I walked out of the pokémon center. The city itself was half bright, half dark, as the forest towered over the part of the city that we hadn’t come in through. There were some hints of light on the other side where we arrived, and I looked at those areas first, noting how the pavement was uncomfortable beneath my feet. I was used to darkness—I craved it, even—but I couldn’t help hopefully looking toward the lighter side of things. With so little people out this early in the morning and with the illuminated part of the city demanding my attention, finding Sai was an easy task, though deciding whether or not to chase after him was another story.
I had to decide whether or not to chase him because I saw him entering a random house.
It occurred to me that I had no idea where my trainer lived. Wherever it was, it couldn’t have been in Azalea Town… right? Why sleep in the pokémon center, then? He wasn’t the kind that seemed to like much interaction, however. I understood this, but I also understood that there were more efficient ways of going about avoiding those you lived with…
I decided to chase after him. I ran through the small town, trying to focus on the house so that I wouldn’t arrive there only to forget which one he had entered. They all looked the same, just as all trainers were the same. When I got to the house, the door was still propped open, so I reluctantly stepped inside. My heart was beginning to race, and I tried to calm myself down with the idea that this was no different than entering the school. Everyone was allowed there, even if it belonged to Earl. I could only hope that the owner here was as nice as he was.
My heart stopped when Sai tried to walk out just as soon as I entered, and ended up colliding with me unexpectedly. I stumbled backward, falling and landed on my back. I stayed on the ground, making no attempt to stand back up. Surely, things could have been worse, but the idea of being caught unwanted in someone else’s home was enough to send me panicking. And hadn’t I left the other pokémon to avoid this kind of reaction? I couldn’t win.
“Atis!” Sai said excitedly. He reached down and lifted me to put me back on my feet. I looked up at him and nothing something odd about his eyes. I knew they were a dark blue, but now they seemed… glazed over. Deadened and desperate, somehow, though his demeanor said otherwise.
“Um, hi,” I started lamely. I couldn’t stop looking at his eyes.
“I’m sorry I skipped breakfast, Atis,” he said quickly. “I wanted to go out and, you know, um, meet people. The door here was unlocked, but I went in the first room and no one was there. And the place was so big and cozy, you know, I couldn’t take it, I’m not used to it, but I’m going to try again, okay?”
“Uh…” He was speaking too fast for me to fully understand. Something about seeing people and not being used to it. I simply nodded—words were useless here.
“Okay, let’s go find the next house then,” Sai said, holding on to my arm and pulling me to the next house over. Why did these things have to almost be right next to each other? I didn’t have much time to process what was going on, but I immediately made a whining noise when Sai went to try opening that door, too.
“What’s wrong, Atis?” Sai asked, though he still went to turn the knob. It was locked.
“I, uh, these houses… They aren’t yours. You can’t just go in them,” I mumbled. His eyes widened in response.
“Why not? Senori always says things like that.”
“They’re private. You have to ask to go in,” I said, a bit more confidently this time.
“Oh. I guess they’re too good and cozy for everyone to have,” Sai said, though his voice was still upbeat, as Senori would have put it.
“Okay, then! Well, we now have a goal for today.”
“Yep. We’re going to get invited to everyone’s houses. We’ll get to everyone in town,” Sai declared, grinning ecstatically.
“Oh…?” I started, but Sai had already started wandering off to find the few people who were already wandering about. I made my way over to him as fast as I could, but I was a bit late. He was talking to a girl who didn’t look quite as confused as I was, but pretty close. Her hands grabbed on to the straps of the bag that rested at her side, and her lips were parted slightly, as if she were going to speak, but was unsure of what to say. There was more sunlight now that dawn had passed—was Sai looking for brightness, too? I couldn’t tell what he wanted. I felt more and more disconnected with this boy with every passing minute, but it seemed to be the opposite for him. He was feeling more, connecting more—at the expense of his dignity, no doubt, but he nonetheless seemed to be making an attempt at being… human.
“So, yeah…” I heard Sai say. “I’d really, really like to come by and see everything and, uh, talk.”
“Um...” the girl said, looking around nervously. And then she spotted me. I was standing behind Sai’s legs, trying to stay hidden yet present so that I could stop him should he do anything too stupid. “Are you a trainer?”
“Yes,” Sai said proudly. “This is Atis, my hitmontop. He’s a little shy, but that’s okay.”
“My brother’s a trainer, too,” she said proudly, thankfully ignoring me from then on. “He just got back to town after getting his first pokémon. He says being around non-trainers is already a bit weird, so maybe he’d like you to come over.”
“That’d be nice. Let’s go, then,” Sai said, taking a step toward her.
“Oh, it’s a bit early right now... Why don’t you come back later? For dinner or something,” the girl said. “Just remember which house I live in, okay? They all look the same.”
Sai’s face fell a little, but he didn’t lose his spirit. He said good-bye to her and told me he was going to go find someone who would talk to him now, and he was off again. What luck he had, after all, getting one step closer to reaching his goal not even five minutes into his adventure! And what terrible encouragement, I thought bitterly.
The next few people he talked to, though, were trainers who didn’t live in Azalea Town. They offered, however, to give away their phone numbers, just in case he ever wanted to talk or if he needed something. When he explained he didn’t have a phone, he was advised to get one, and to hand out his number whenever he was given the chance. It was extremely helpful among trainers, apparently, to have some kind of back-up help if necessary. I wondered where they had learned that. While I didn’t approve of the training thing, I did approve of the tactic…
And while I was lost in my thoughts, Sai had left again. He was off to the pokémart.
At least I knew where the pokémart was. They were always easy to point out because of their blue roofs and a sign that blatantly said what the building was used for. I went inside and spotted Sai talking to the sales clerk, presumably asking for a phone.
We were there for quite a few hours, which was the longest amount of time I had seen Sai sit still for thus far, if you didn’t count the adventure in the cave. There was just so much to choose from, Sai pointed out. Some phones had special features. All of them came in different shapes and sizes, too!
After a while, I no longer bothered to stick around and listen to his ramblings. Following him around everywhere had already been tiring. Instead, I wandered around, seeing what other things that humans were allowed to buy. I ended up in the clothes section, since it was the only part of the store that didn’t scream out to trainers. Yes, people needed clothes for everyday use—and who made these clothes, anyway? Were there really enough people in the world to make enough clothes for everyone, when most people insisted on raising useless pokémon like me? The clothes aisle really wasn’t cutting it, either. Luckily, or unluckily, Sai eventually ran over to me and presented three phones that he had just bought. They all had the same essential feature that he was looking for, though if I remembered right, some of them had games available, along with maps and information about pokémon.
“Don’t you only need… one?” was all I could ask.
“I couldn’t decide which one, so I just bought them all,” Sai said, going to put them in his backpack. He stopped in the middle of this, however, to look at the same clothes that I had just been staring at. “Good idea, Atis. We need some clothes, too.”
And thus began my adventure of watching him pick out clothes. He never looked at more than one article of clothing for more than a few moments, nor did he take the time to put them back. He simply threw them on the ground and kept on looking. He kept a few things, such as a dark green pullover sweater, pants, and some shoes that he’d probably just get annoyed with since he would have to carry them around all the time. He really confused me when he even chose some baby clothes.
“You’re not a baby, Sai,” I pointed out numbly.
“I feel like buying them anyway. I like them,” he said simply. “I don’t know, maybe you or Senori or Kuiora could wear them. You guys are small enough.”
I blanched and wondered why I had to say such things when extremely nervous.
It took a lot of convincing, but I managed to get him back to the pokémon center after his crazy shopping spree. Senori and Kuiora were waiting outside of our room’s door, since we had been gone so long with the key. Sai let us all in the room, and I thought that our day was over—until I remembered that he had to go to that one house for dinner.
I flopped down on the bed, not aiming to get back up. But Senori walked over to me and questioned everything. He was worried, but didn’t know what to do.
“I’m not really sure what happened today, either,” I said lazily, lying there.
“He ran around everywhere, trying to talk to everyone, and he wasn’t angry over nothing. And he bought an awful lot of things. And, uh… I thought you said he was out of pokédollars,” I finished stupidly.
“I did say that.”
“Winning battles, maybe? Maybe he had more than you thought.”
“Maybe…” Senori said. He looked down at the ground, lost in thought.
“Anyway, uh, we’re going to be leaving again soon… for dinner,” I said after a few moments of silence.
“Yep. Apparently, Sai now thinks that the town and everyone in it is his friend.”
Senori’s face brightened. “That’s a good thing! Maybe he won’t be angry anymore.”
I didn’t think that he could change so easily, but I didn’t say anything back. I wasn’t given a chance to, anyway, as Sai came up behind me and tried putting on one of the smaller t-shirts that he had bought earlier.
“Atis, your head is too big. I can’t get this on you,” he said, trying to pull it down harder. I was surprised it hadn’t ripped yet. When I could, I ducked down and pelted forward, so that I was out of the boy’s grasp. He easily took it as a sign that I didn’t want the shirt, and went to Senori instead. Being much smaller (and with a much narrower head), the shirt went on easily. It was a white shirt that had a plain pokéball image on the front of it.
“Do I get a shirt?” Kuiora said, running up to Sai and pulling on his sleeve.
“I bought a lot, so sure…” he said, grabbing another one. This one was black and was designed with random designs like swirls and stars. I had to admit that I preferred that shirt, though it quickly got ripped due to the totodile’s red spikes protruding from her back. It was wearable, but it looked odd. Kuiora didn’t seem to mind; she just liked the attention. She didn’t get much of it, however, as Sai started getting anxious again and didn’t want to stay in the room. He took us back out to the lobby, which was much fuller than it was earlier. It was loud, crowded, and full of pokémon. Apparently, it was exactly what he was looking for.
Until it was time to go to dinner, Sai spent the rest of the time running around the lobby of the pokémon center, talking to everyone and showing off his partly dressed pokémon. Whenever he simply introduced me as his strong hitmontop, I closed my eyes and felt myself redden from embarrassment. There were so many pokémon around—none of which were evolved—and I knew they were all looking at me. All the new pokémon at the school had done the same. Some of the girls thought it was cute, but most people were trainers and were in a hurry to get going in order to get a head start in the forest before dark. They ignored him or brushed him off, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Despite the girl’s previous warning, it was difficult to remember where her house was. I had left it up to him to remember, but apparently, he hadn’t. Thanks to Senori’s generous explanation, Sai was at least able to knock on the door and ask for her, whatever her name was. It took us a while to find her. Sai never seemed keen on using pokéballs, so I took this time to rest as best as I could and to prepare myself for the upcoming situation. I hadn’t been with the boy long, but I had already learned that anything could happen.
I was able to get a better look at her when we found her since it was daytime. Blonde hair, big dark eyes, a narrow face with soft skin and a small mouth. She looked an awful lot like the guy who had saved Senori in the cave, and I hoped my assumptions weren’t correct. Since I had to memorize faces at the pokémon school and there had been quite a few siblings there over the years, I didn’t think I was wrong. I knew, at least, that he wouldn’t be here tonight, but still…
I started paying attention to the situation at hand when she solemnly announced that Sai had been an hour late and had already missed dinner. And she didn’t have any pokémon food, though her brother should have been out shopping for some at that very moment. That only heightened my suspicions, but I didn’t have time to think about it as Sai pushed past her and walked into the house anyway. She looked shocked, but didn’t question him or make any attempt to get rid of him.
Us three pokémon stared at one another, wondering if we should follow. Kuiora decided to take the lead and went in as well—he was our trainer, after all, and we couldn’t get in trouble for being loyal, now could we? I was about to point out my observations about the girl, but decided against it.
“Your house is very pretty,” I heard Sai say as I walked in. It was, indeed, a nice house. I mostly noted how full and complete the place felt—this was the home of people who had been here a long time, and would continue to stay. Everything was clean. There were several pieces of furniture, all of which looked worn but still cared for. The walls were adorned with various paintings, some of them consisting of ordinary items, some of them containing rather inspirational quotes that might have affected me if I wasn’t walking around so uncomfortably. The lights weren’t too bright, which made me feel slightly better, but I had a feeling that the girl was watching us with caution. We were weird and new, but mostly weird.
The other three—especially Sai—were especially interested in all the things that I didn’t care for. Tables, doors, couches, several kitchen supplies—what were they made of? Where did she get them? Why did anyone need a table, anyway? I thought that it would be easy to tell how confused the girl was by her hesitant responses, but she was polite and responded to every question nonetheless. I admired her for it. Finding out that everything that made you comfortable in life was a complete mystery to someone else was surely awkward.
“I don’t mean to be rude… but do you have your own place? Where are you from?”
Sai stopped. He didn’t blink, didn’t move. For a moment, he was passive once again. “Vermilion City. And sure I did,” he said finally, “but it was different.”
“Oh? How so? I don’t know much about the Kanto region,” she explained. She sat down at the table and motioned for Sai to join her, but he didn’t. I wondered if he missed the gesture entirely or was too fascinated by the table to the point where he was afraid of breaking it.
“I’ve never been in a kitchen. People brought food to me,” he said, smiling again.
“Not much of a cook, huh?” she said, smiling back. I noted that she didn’t take Sai so seriously, though I believed actions spoke much louder than words.
“Yeah… I mean, I had walls. And, uh, a bed…”
“I see…” she said, looking at him oddly again. “You sound like my brother. He’s not one for conversation, though he knows how to use words pretty effectively when the situation calls for it. Are you the same?”
The conversation went on like this, with her trying to probe for answers, and with him not being specific at all. He had things. Yes, generic things that anyone could have. He really lived in a city… in some region. He had people who lived with him. Who? Just people. You know. No, I don’t know. Had he always been around pokémon? Maybe. He didn’t like to remember. …I hope you don’t mind my pokémon looking around. They’re curious. And they’re wearing shirts.
Eventually, she gave up, but Sai didn’t get the hint that it was time to leave. It was like playing twenty questions, and Sai had just proved that there could actually be a loser to the game without even knowing it.
I tuned them out until Sai said it was time to go. I was thinking that, in a sense, this was like being with Earl in Violet City. Conversations were vague and inconclusive. No one was particular close with anyone, though they sure tried to be. The main difference was that Earl was never so excited to be in such a place, while Sai was ecstatic.
I thought that maybe something good could come from this hectic day. Sai seemed happiest in a comforting place like this. He sure was happier than any other time I’d seen him so far, anyway. Maybe he could stay in Azalea Town. He didn’t have to travel or train; he could make new goals. Yes, this morning he had had a rather odd… goal. But it had nothing to do with pokémon, and I could work with that. He didn’t even complete his goal, either, but I could work with that, too. I wasn’t accustomed to being a battling pokémon, and neither was Senori. Kuiora may have been another story, but she was young; she could adapt without problem. We could stay, and Sai could become something that wasn’t a trainer, something that wouldn’t make him miserable.
When Sai said it was time to go, the girl ushered us out the door. I was hardly paying attention to anything being said anymore, but I did hear him address her as Sasha. I mentally said good-bye to her, and hoped that we wouldn’t be getting any trouble over visiting if her brother really was the boy who didn’t like Sai.
I also noted that she didn’t invite us to stay for the night. Wasn’t that a normal thing to offer your guests? It was probably for the best if my assumptions about her knowing the hero from the cave. I wasn’t human, so I couldn’t tell the depth of her wariness toward Sai. I just knew that I probably felt more human than he did that day, and that needed to change.
My plan seemed ruined when Sai bought four rooms in the pokémon center that night—one for each of us. The nurse looked at him oddly at first, but then smiled and said it was a considerate thing to do. Pokémon need their alone time, too, after all. My worries ceased when she explained that she would have all of our rooms next to each other, just in case.
After getting room keys, we went around the corner to where all the rooms were located. It was quiet, again, just as it had been during the morning. Sai let the other two pokémon into their rooms, and told them to be good, to not cause trouble. When he went to open my door, though, I stopped him and asked f I could talk to him for a minute.
“Why?” Sai asked, tilting his head to the side slightly.
“I, you know, wanted to talk about today,” I said, trying to sound confident. I was rushing into unknown territory here, I knew. But it seemed like as good a time as any, if Senori and Kuiora’s strange descriptions of Sai were anything to go off of.
“Oh…?” he said as he entered his own room. His backpack and other belongings were still there. I had forgotten that he already had a room. He also already had rented it for two nights, maybe more. Why buy separate rooms now, then? I wondered. My confidence lessened; the lack of concrete answers made me nervous.
“Yeah. I was, um, curious as to how long we’re going to be traveling for?” I asked.
“Not long… but long enough to be able to get all the badges in Johto!” Sai said quickly. He handed me my key—was he expecting all of us to know what to do with a key? I could do it, sure, but maybe not the others…
…Not only was I trying to deter Sai, I was trying to deter myself from the situation at hand. Focus.
“And how many do you have now? Just the one?” I asked.
“Yep,” he replied. I had been hoping for a different answer, but okay. I could deal with that.
“Well, I thought that we could… Well, you seemed happier in Azalea Town today.” I stepped a little further inside the room as I noticed that I was still by the doorway. I had to appear friendly, not scared.
“I guess… Visiting the girl was fun, but she also pointed out my enthusiasm,” Sai said, bending down to take off his shoes. Halfway through untying them, he stood up.
“That’s a bad thing?” I asked, watching him. He started rearranging things in the room—he opened the windows, put the plants in different corners, ruffled and then fixed the bed sheets. It took a long time for him to answer.
“Most of the time...” he finally said, slowly. Once again, he seemed passive, and I wasn’t sure why.
“I think it’s a good thing,” I pointed out, trying to cheer him up.
But it backfired.
“And what do you know?” he snapped, turning sharply to look at me. His eyes were still glazed over, I noticed. It was hard not to notice. I stumbled backward a bit despite myself, as if he had physically hit me.
“Being happy is a g-good thing, Sai… Y-You seemed happy here, you know? Talking to everyone and everything,” I said. I didn’t believe my own words. “M-Maybe we could stay here for a while. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but it could be longer than a few days…”
He simply kept walking around, slower this time, still cleaning things, still attempting to fix things that weren’t broken in the first place. I just stared and wondered if I had said too much and stayed too long.
Eventually, he mumbled, “Get out.”
“Huh?” I wanted to make sure I had heard him right. If I couldn’t succeed now, who knew when I’d try again…?
“I told you to get out,” Sai said, louder and more stern this time. He made his way over the table in the corner of the room.
“I got you guys your own rooms for a reason—”
—he moved the lamp on the table from one side to another—
“—so get out—”
—and it apparently wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t perfect, so he tried again—
“—go to your own room—”
—but it was no good, so he ripped the cord out of the wall—
“—just get out!”
—because it’s always the little things that get to us.
He finally stopped screaming and fumbling with the lamp.
Instead, he growled and threw the lamp at me.
I ducked and let the lamp crash into the closed door behind me. I could hear it shatter. A million pieces all around me. The result of a troubled teenage boy that no one could bother to understand.
I had no choice but to do what he wanted and retreat to my own room. I said nothing more. Opened the door, went into the hallway. Closed the door… and simply sat down. I was holding on to my key so tightly that it dug into my skin and made me bleed a little.
I thought it was over, but the chaos didn’t end there. I could hear him screaming again, unintelligibly this time. Things were still being moved around rather violently, I could tell—I just didn’t know what or how, and I didn’t want to find out.
Suddenly, I jumped a little as I heard someone else yelling. I calmed down a bit as I realized it was Senori. The poor pokémon was too short and probably couldn’t open the door. I stood up slowly and wobbled over to his room’s door, telling him that Sai was just angry… as usual.
“Is he okay?” he asked after we heard yet another crash.
“Yes… No one’s hurting him. He’s just… mad,” I explained as calmly as I could. It wasn’t hard, since I was too paralyzed to care much, like Senori had been earlier. Luckily, the sentret seemed to understand, and left it at that.
Kuiora, however, was another story. Her door opened and she looked at me with a mixture of annoyance and confusion. She had taken the time to drag a chair to the door so that she could open the door. Now, she was looking down at me.
“He’s just angry. We shouldn’t, uh, interfere…” I said before she could question anything, noting the obvious hypocrisy in my words.
“I thought you two were fighting,” she pointed out.
“We kind of were…” I said sheepishly.
“Physical fighting? Pokémon battle fighting?”
“Well, no, but—”
“I’m going to become stronger than you someday, you know.”
“Eh?” I asked. Just what I needed—more cryptic answers… I half-heartedly listened as I checked over the rest of my body to make sure I wasn’t hurt.
“Yeah. You got to fight the first gym battle all by yourself and you apparently got some attention tonight. But I’m going to get stronger than you. It’ll be a competition of sorts,” she said.
Well, I wasn’t hurt physically, but mentally… “I-I don’t want competition—” I started, but she cut me off with a water gun to the face. I didn’t finish my sentence, and was now spitting water out of my mouth instead of words. It was an accurate comparison, but annoying nonetheless.
“You can’t expect to be the strongest and not have competition!” Kuiora cried.
At least it wasn’t a lamp, I thought bitterly. At least I wasn’t hearing screaming or crashing anymore. But now I was wet and cold and utterly defeated. I was done.
“I don’t need this…” I said. I stood up, coughed up the last of the water that had been shot into my mouth, and I finally let myself into my own room. “I’m going to bed. You can have him.”
I shut the door.
I heard nothing else for the rest of the night.
I slept through most of the night, though I woke up shivering and cold a few times, thanks to Kuiora. For some reason, she had a grudge against me, and was going to do anything in her power to win. Cooperation for anyone’s sake was not an option for her.
And Sai… I didn’t know about Sai. All I had done was ask a couple questions, and then violence ensued. Yes, he had given us warning beforehand, but still… He seemed happy, and then it all changed in a few mere moments.
When I awoke, I tried to think about Violet City. I thought about Shannon. How was she doing? Her intentions were always pure. Was it getting her into any trouble? What about Jason? Battles could be so exhausting, I knew. I had been gone for what seemed like forever, now. I didn’t know what day of the week it was. Who was struggling today?
Eventually, I’d have to learn that everyone was always struggling. And I’d have to accept this fact.
I taught myself about some peace of mind and slept through the day.
I was woken up at some point by a loud knocking on the door. Judging by the faint light coming in through the windows, I assumed it was dawn or dusk. It was perfectly good timing or perfectly bad timing.
I got up lazily, rubbing my eyes with my hands, careful not to scratch myself with my spikes. Though I had to stretch a bit to reach, I was able to open the door.
It was Sai.
“Sai,” I breathed tiredly, slowly. He looked tired, too, with the dark circles under his eyes and his sagging limbs. And he still had those glassy, dead eyes…
“Could I stay in your room tonight?” he asked quickly. Well, he sure didn’t waste any time getting to the point, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. And what was I expecting, anyway? An apology? …A hug? It wasn’t likely.
“Um…” was all I could say. He looked tired, but apparently, he was still moving quickly, thinking quickly.
“Look, I’m sorry that happened. I-I mean… That’s not right. You have to understand. I get these moods sometimes. Everything speeds up for me, I think so much, and I want to do a million things at once and I want to talk to a million people so I forget things, things don’t get done, and there’s never enough time in the world though it goes by so slowly, and yeah, I seem happy, this is the first time I’ve ever been able to do things I wanted when like this, and it was fun but it turned wrong, I can always turn angry so fast and… and… I’m not usually violent, but that was a touchy subject. I don’t know… Being happy is depressing for me, it’s stressful, everything’s too fast. I can’t think straight right now. I can’t… Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I just stared. He was trying his best to relay his complicated feelings to me, but no, I didn’t understand. Since when was being happy a bad thing? Did all humans have emotions like this? I thought dumbly. I certainly didn’t think so, but what other explanation was there?
“I’m sorry, I am. I, uh, destroyed my room, as you might have guessed…” he said, and then he finally closed his mouth, though it appeared forced.
When I realized he wasn’t going to say anymore, I told him he could stay. And it was okay. Things happened, after all. I was really only saying that to avoid more problems, though.
“If you say so,” Sai said, though he looked happier again, smiling and making his way into the room, just as he had entered Sasha’s place without gaining full permission.
It hit me, then, that it must be nearing nighttime. How could I keep him entertained until he went to sleep? Would he sleep at all? I decided to stay silent.
Eventually, though, he was pacing back and forth, just like he had that first night. And he felt compelled to speak first. He said, “I bought you all separate rooms so you wouldn’t have to see me like that. It happened anyway. I don’t know what happened, I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” I said, climbing into the top bunk. If I couldn’t sleep, I would pretend to.
“I thought you’d be mad at me and all. Understandable, you know. I didn’t want to go to Kuiora or Senori, though, or they’d question things. They didn’t see anything, I’d like to keep it that way…”
“…It’s fine,” I said yet again, not bothering to mention their encounters with me.
“Yeah, and you didn’t come out of your room earlier when I knocked and all,” Sai said. He was pacing still, but I supposed it was better than rearranging things all over again.
“I-I was tired.”
“Oh. Well, you didn’t miss too much. Some poison pokémon threatened to kill me after I tried to pick it up and talk to it. Senori had to try to talk some sense into it or something. I don’t remember much else…”
“Sounds like it was another interesting day,” I noted. Somehow, I was still surprised.
But he wasn’t. He just said, “Something like that,” and then we were quiet.
chapter 7 ; [SENORI]
Like everyone else, I wondered what was wrong with Sai. I asked myself that question all the time, but nothing good came of it. He was my clan now, and I had to figure him out. I tried, yet something else crazy always happened the moment I thought I had him figured out.
Why did he buy three phones? Didn’t matter—now he was walking into random peoples’ houses. Why did he suddenly want to be everyone’s friend? Well, then he was causing a ruckus in the pokémon center, I had to focus on that. …Why was I wearing this shirt? That stayed constant, at least, but it got me nowhere.
All I knew was that he was rubbing off on me now that we had been traveling together for a while. It was just like being in my clan again, except it felt like only the two of us, since the boy was overbearing and consuming, unlike Atis and Kuiora. When someone in the clan was upset, so was I, and I tried to fix it. When danger came about, I could have left, but I felt their fear and diminished it as best as I could. Now, when Sai got angry, so did I. He was feeling frantic… and so was I. But I didn’t know what to do with this anger or sudden energy, because I couldn’t trace it back to any source. There was nothing.
So I went through the motions. Fate would decide for me. I didn’t try to stop the fight between Sai and that boy who had saved me. I stayed with Kuiora while Atis spent the day with his new trainer. I had been hoping that Atis, who had had so much more experience with humans, could do a better job at figuring him out.
But the day after, Atis didn’t show up at all. Had he given up already? I simply watched Sai get into more trouble. I was frozen, seeing how the anger and energy had no particular outlet. Everything was random… and potentially destructive. How could I get rid of it? I feared that I couldn’t.
And the day after that, Atis came to my door, calling my name to try to get my attention. The sound was so quiet and hesitant that I thought I was imagining things—but he tried again soon enough, more urgent this time. I wobbled over to the door, tired from thinking too much though I had just slept. I put my ears to the door and asked what he wanted.
“Sai is gone! I mean, well, yeah, he’s gone…” Atis started. “I, uh, went to his room… and he wouldn’t answer the door or anything… He’s gone.”
“Are you sure he’s not just sleeping?” I said, rolling my eyes. I wasn’t concerned for Sai at all, but rather upset that he was still pulling stunts like this.
“No… Well, yeah. Just trust me!” he said.
“I think we should just go to his room and see,” I said, sighing. Atis was being difficult, and I didn’t know why.
“That’s, um, wasting time. He’s not there. Sai… never sleeps,” he said, his voice becoming louder the more he spoke.
That made sense, though. At first, Sai seemed to sleep just fine, but then he started sleeping less and less.
“Okay… Do you know where he’d be?” I said, finally giving in.
“No. I was hoping you could sniff him out or something, since you’re not eating breakfast this time…”
Atis was just as lost as I was when it came to figuring out Sai, apparently. And he was asking me to help him find the boy again, just like he had asked when Sai supposedly ran off to breakfast. How could we be playing this game of follow the leader when I no longer felt like someone that others could look up to?
“Fine. I can do that,” I said. I didn’t sound confident, but it was a step in the right direction. “Can you, uh, open my door for me? I’m not as tall as you.”
A few moments later, Atis opened the door and looked at me oddly. “It was… unlocked… all night.”
“I don’t know how to use a key, as Sai called it,” I said a bit too quickly. I walked out the door, pushing past him. This was about our trainer, not me, after all.
“You know someone could have walked in here and hurt you or something?” Atis said, closing the door, but not bothering to lock it, either.
“Oh well,” I said instantly, and changed the subject. “Should we get Kuiora?”
Sai smelled like metal. The smell of dirt had clung to him a bit over the past few weeks, but it wasn’t powerful enough for me to focus on. It was both a good and a bad thing. It was a bad thing because it was a terrible smell and not at all like I was used to. It was, however, easy to find him.
It was early in the morning, though there were a few people out and about. They stared at us, probably wondering if we belonged to a trainer or not. If they asked, how would I answer? I wasn’t entirely sure. I didn’t think about it since Atis kept asking me how long it would take to find him even though little time had passed, and Kuiora kept telling him to be quiet.
I tracked the boy to the edge of the city before they started getting out of hand. After following the unmistakable metallic smell (and after wondering how I had missed his smell when he first attacked me), I realized that we would be following him down into some kind of cave, but it wasn’t the one we traveled through to get here. I made my way to the stairs and peered into the darkness. It was inviting, but I couldn’t stand staring at it for very long.
“I guess we’re going into another cave…” I said, taking a few steps back. I could only hope that this one wasn’t as dangerous as the other. “Maybe you two should stay here. I’ll get him real quick and bring him out.”
“You obviously need us,” Kuiora said. “Who’s going to fight the wild pokémon for you?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I stated, but I didn’t say why. If I was being honest, it would be better this time, since no one would be able to save me. Or maybe my newfound energy would provide me with enough power to win. “If it’s dangerous like the other cave, then you should stay.”
“That gives us more incentive to go in!” Kuiora said, making her way to the stairs as well.
Atis chimed in before I could speak. “Maybe Kuiora’s right… She should go with you.”
“And why shouldn’t you?” I snapped.
“W-Well,” Atis stammered, “I do have the most experience out of all of us…”
Kuiora turned around and stomped her feet. “So? I already told you that I’m going to be stronger than you. Didn’t you hear me?”
“I’m sure he heard you,” I cut in. “Look—”
“Professor Elm told me stories about this kind of thing. Someone always tries to be the hero and that someone gets hurt,” Kuiora said. Despite the morbid topic, she was smiling, and she was looking at Atis, not me. “I’m not going to try to be the hero. I really am going to be the hero, and to do that, I have to get stronger.”
“Those are just stories, Kuiora…” Atis said, rubbing the back of his head and refusing to look at her.
“He tells them like they’re stories, but they’re real. If you’re lucky, maybe I’ll tell them to you someday,” she said.
“You guys can follow, then. But don’t complain if you get hurt or something,” I cut in, turning my attention to the cave. I knew I could possibly regret it later, but I was too angry to care at the moment. I had the energy to stop their fight, but it was negative energy, and I was going to take it out on Sai, just like he was taking it all out on us.
The cave (or as Atis later corrected, the well) wasn’t even that big, nor was it dangerous. It was filled with clean ponds and the stone walls didn’t look like they’d collapse on us at any moment. The wild pokémon were friendly, saying that the residents from Azalea Town came there all the time to get water and to make deals with the fellow slowpoke that lived deeper into the place. I had to keep Kuiora from attacking them, and Atis seemed beyond relieved. We all had come in prepared to prove ourselves and to fight if needed, but there was no reason to fight. Would this cause our tension to grow?
If I had allowed the argument to escalate outside any further, it may have grown, for we found Sai at the fourth or fifth pond we came across. He was on his knees, crouched over the pond and reaching into it, seemingly searching for something frantically. Nearby was a large mound of pokéballs… all of which I knew were his, considering he had bought so many not too long ago.
“I guess he really did need that many pokéballs. I bet he caught a lot of water pokémon,” I said, turning to Kuiora.
“I guess so…” Kuiora said, staring at them with some discontent. “Water pokémon are obviously the best, but…”
“Anyway,” I said, focusing on Sai now. Admittedly, I was afraid to approach him. I couldn’t help him, so why bother? But I had to eventually, I knew… so I walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. He snapped his head toward me immediately, surprised.
“Senori!” he said. He almost sounded out of breath. Just what had he be doing down here? He stood up quickly, wiping off the dirt from his clothes. Whatever he was doing, he had been doing it for a while now. “Kuiora and Atis. What are you guys doing here?”
“Atis said you weren’t in your room this morning… We were worried,” I said, the last three words sticking in my throat.
“Oh,” Sai said simply. Then he smiled and picked me up, both of his hands soaking my fur. I tried to get out of his grasp since I was annoyed, but he wasn’t hearing any of it. He brought me over to the mound of pokéballs and extended his arms forward, making sure I saw them. “I’ve been fighting magikarp all night. I caught each one in a pokéball!”
“Oh…?” I said, still trying to get free. We certainly didn’t need more teammates at this point, but I didn’t dare point it out.
“We have… a lot of new teammates?” Kuiora said, her hands limping at her side. I guessed that she hadn’t been wanting more potential competition.
“No, I won’t use them. They aren’t fit to be on this team!” Sai said confidently. He finally put me down, and I shook my body to rid myself of the water. “I didn’t really, uh, think about it. I just wanted to do something and this was what I ended up doing.”
“We could, you know, release them…” Atis chimed in, picking up a couple pokéballs hesitantly. He didn’t seem to want new teammates, either.
“We could just bring them with us and use them as food when we need to. We’ll never run out of food at this rate!” Sai said.
I stared at him, dumbfounded. My instincts told me that it was a good idea. Having food handy was always vital. But these pokémon were probably expecting to be released at any moment to meet their new, friendly trainer and teammates. They were probably expecting to battle and journey with us… not get eaten.
“Sai, that’s not fair. You can catch pokémon to eat anywhere,” I said, glaring at the boy.
“Well, I’m not releasing them. I worked for them,” Sai said, but he wasn’t angry. He was smiling.
It wasn’t fair. I was only angry because he had been angry, and now he was smiling? I couldn’t keep up. This boy was exhausting.
“We’ll find something to do with them, something you’ll be happy with,” I said, trying to word myself carefully. Perhaps fate had a plan for all these poor magikarp, and in that case it wasn’t my place to intervene. But I knew Sai was meant for me, otherwise he wouldn’t have shown up when he did or forced me to come along as my punishment.
“Sounds good to me.”
We were all quiet for a moment. Kuiora was still staring at Sai, confused and frozen. Atis was looking at the pokéballs like he wanted to be in one at the bottom of the pile.
I finally spoke up. “Now what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Sai said. “Could go shopping again, could go deeper into the well and stay there for a while…”
Neither of those sounded like good options. I wasn’t a human but I knew that money was important. Staying in this well would drive Kuiora crazy, which would, in turn, drive the rest of us crazy. We were all feeling tension that needed to go away, but that was the easier task. Sai needed stability. I had to keep him on track, somehow, both physically and mentally… for everyone’s sake, not just his.
“Why don’t we go battle the gym leader?” I suggested. It was the only feasible option that I could think of. The idea of a journey and gathering gym badges was the only thing that had kept Sai sane so far, after all.
Sai opened his mouth like he was about to speak, and then he appeared lost in thought. Eventually, he agreed that it was the best idea, and that he was sorry that he hadn’t gotten around to it earlier. Yes, he had gotten off track, and time was running out now. At least he knew it.
“Okay, let’s get out of here. Senori’s right. Gym battle,” Sai said, starting to gather all of the pokéballs that he had spent so much time trying to fill.
We all left the well, trying to carry as many pokéballs as possible. None of us planned on returning, and we ended up leaving a few magikarp behind, but I couldn’t bring myself to worry about them. They were not meant to be with us, and that was for the best.
“Someday, we’ll actually make an appointment for these gym battles,” Sai declared on the way to the gym. He must have been somewhat aware of the gym this entire time, because he actually knew where it was, and led us there without problems.
“Why do you need an appointment?” I asked. I would make an attempt to remember this for the future. The more information I could get that would help me keep Sai stable, the better.
“Because Falkner was mad last when I came in after he already had so many challengers.”
“I see,” I said, staying close behind him. He was walking quickly, almost running, and I was glad to be burning off some energy. Atis was much further behind, and when I looked at him, he was frowning and looked like he wanted to say something, but never did. Perhaps he was afraid to be used in another gym battle. Kuiora, by contrast, was making an effort to keep up with Sai, also frowning whenever she started tripping over her own feet since she was trying to move so fast.
Azalea Town’s gym, unlike the last one, was completely filled. Trees everywhere, small ponds and bugs everywhere, the quiet sound of nature. I wondered if it was a building at all. In fact, I felt like I was home, and it brought about an unsettling feeling in my stomach. I considered tugging on Sai’s pants and asking him if maybe we could come back later, but I decided against it. What was the point of prolonging the inevitable? I stayed behind my trainer, though I let Kuiora take my place in front.
“I just keep learning more and more about buildings, don’t I? This one’s interesting,” Sai muttered, moving forward through the gym, faster and more confidently than when he had traveled through the other forest—my forest. This wasn’t a forest… but I could see that Sai was learning and becoming accustomed to more and more things. It made me less angry, and I figured that I could deal with being in this kind of setting once more for him.
“Gym leader!” Kuiora suddenly cried, breaking my train of thought and the quietness that was previously present. I wondered how it felt for her to be in a forest-like place though she grew up in a town. The gym didn’t look that big from the outside, but to her, it must have seemed large enough to warrant such a loud cry. It only went to show just how vast nature could seem—it was endless and it was everywhere. It was beautiful. Yes, I could stand being here.
I didn’t even change my opinion when Sai found the gym leader and sent me out to battle. Before, I would have protested against battling here due to being so angry and being reminded of home. But I could at least try here. This forest’s clan leader—a young boy who wore a sort of green ranger outfit—also made the place appealing. My clan was facing off against his, and who would win? I wanted to win.
“Why does Senori get to battle?” Kuiora said, jumping up and down and looking frantically at Sai.
“Does it matter?” Sai asked, peering down curiously.
“Yes! I’ve been training for this!”
“He hasn’t seen you train,” I pointed out. “I was with you the entire time and even I didn’t see you train.”
“You were in a pokéball!”
“My point still stands. No one’s seen you do much,” I said, smirking, and I turned toward my opponent. We were in a clearing, which so far was the only part of the gym that wasn’t crowded and full of trees. This area must have been set aside for pokémon battling, with the rest of the place being a home to these clan members. I was going to face one of them. There was a small green bug that was about half my size. Its red antennae were twitching randomly, and I wondered what it was thinking about me. The clan leader was smirking for some reason. Were they communicating somehow? It took a special bond to be able to communicate with silence… a bond that Sai and I didn’t have.
“You can battle if Senori gets knocked out,” Sai said after a few moments. “So, uh, we can get started, right? I want to get this over with and go get the next badge.”
“Yes,” the clan leader said, his voice eager and rather high in pitch. “The challenger is allowed to attack first.”
“I remember now!” Sai said. “Well, Senori, start out with a… tackle, right?”
So he had remembered some things from when we were fighting wild pokémon, too. Saying a single word instead of giving a full description of the attack surely helped things. I crouched down on all fours and then sprang forward, focusing on the power of the attack rather than the speed, since I didn’t think the little bug was moving anywhere.
Apparently, the clan leader knew this, too. “Caterpie, tackle it back!” he cried.
But I had had much more time to prepare myself and I was already close to it when the attack was called. We collided, and the little bug was sent flying back toward his clan leader’s feet. I had fallen forward, and struggled a bit to keep my balance. My head stung a little, but otherwise I was fine. The caterpie’s tackle was only successful in making me cautious about attacking it, knowing that I would get hurt as well. The little bug was still suffering the most, and it tried to keep himself upright.
“All right!” Sai cheered. “Now, uh, tail whip!”
I vaguely wondered how Sai could have remained so quiet during Atis’s battle at the last gym, when now he was anxious to call out attacks and cheer for our victory. Still, his excitement was contagious, and I was even more determined to win.
I got down on all fours once more and sprang forward, looking straight into the caterpie’s large black eyes. He wouldn’t look at me, because it knew that it was done. My tail alone was bigger than the caterpie itself, and it was, in my opinion, the strongest part of my body. How could a clan leader have sent out such a defenseless member out to fight? But I couldn’t worry about that. I didn’t bother with the fact that it was still trying to stay upright, and when I was close enough to it, I swung my body around and slammed my tail into its side. I landed on my feet and was able to watch long enough to see the little bug slam into a nearby tree with a wail.
“You’re doing good, Senori! One more tackle and it’s done for!”
I looked at the clan leader, who was still smirking for whatever reason, which worried me. But I had to listen to Sai, and I did just that. For what I thought would be the last time, I pounced at the caterpie’s defenseless body once more.
“Caterpie, use string shot,” I heard the clan leader say calmly.
Since there were plenty of caterpie back at my forest, I knew what the attack could do. I knew that it would be very, very problematic and dangerous if I let it succeed. But I was already going too fast to stop myself, and when my body slammed into the caterpie’s once more, it used the last of its energy to shoot its attack. Out of its mouth came a long, sticky, white string that easily wrapped around my body since I was so close by. I wouldn’t have been so worried if the string also didn’t restrict the movement of my tail. I tried to break free by putting as much pressure on the string with my body (specifically my tail) as possible, but that only helped me make the string tighten with each passing moment. And when I tried to walk away, I simply fell, since my tail was my main source of balance.
My tail was restricted, and therefore so was the rest of me.
I turned to the caterpie and scowled only to see it close its eyes and give no response. It reminded me that there was still another pokémon left to fight, and I thought that maybe Kuiora would get to fight after all.
“Caterpie, return. You finally got some experience and that was great,” the clan leader said, preparing a pokéball. My enemy was enveloped by a red light and was gone. I wasn’t sure who had won, and my confidence wavered. I stood in place, and just waited as the boy took out another pokéball and sent out his next pokémon.
I was expecting another tiny little bug. What I got was a big bug with long, sharp scythes. And a menacing look that sure put Sai’s angry face to shame. It was at least three times my size, and I was used to fighting enemies that were short and tiny. I was tied up and hardly able to move, too—even better.
The green creature let out a noise that resembled something like a battle cry. I might have whimpered.
“Senori, you can still use tackle, right?” Sai cried frantically. He knew how awful the situation was as well. That was a good sign, though I didn’t think he knew what to do about it.
“Yes,” I said as loud as I could. I could still tackle, yes, but I couldn’t run. I’d get close to the enemy and be stuck there. And I couldn’t prepare myself as well when my body was restricted by the sticky string. Could Sai understand that? I just knew that if he called the command, I would listen if that was what he thought was best.
“Scyther, use quick attack!” the clan leader ordered.
The scyther didn’t hesitate in its pursuit. The wings on its back fluttered wildly and soon it was in the air, heading my way. I could see it smirking, and though I knew that I had little hope, I tried to move out of the way. I was about to trip over my own feet when the creature’s head slammed into my belly, and I was sent flying into the same tree that the caterpie had hit. I scowled, making an attempt to not make any painful noises that would prove to the scyther that it was going to win.
“Even if I lose,” I started, then took a moment to catch my breath, “another clan member of mine will take over.”
“What are you talking about?” the scyther asked, its smirk disappearing only for a moment. “No matter. I’ll end you.”
“You do that,” I said, making an honest effort to smile.
“I will. I’m just waiting for the command,” it replied, turning its head to motion the boy to speak.
“Fury cutter,” the boy said confidently.
The scyther nodded and turned to me once more. He wasn’t moving as fast this time; he was probably trying to make this as miserable for me as possible. I had to admit that this was a rather admirable clan member that the boy had here. He looked strong, and he could probably ward off any potential predators by simply standing around. I closed my eyes and braced myself, knowing this would probably hurt. Those scythes seemed too sharp to only cause some mere scratches, and I knew it. I told myself it wouldn’t be so bad—it was my punishment for not being a strong enough clan leader, anyway.
I heard the scyther’s wings fluttering again. Over and over. It became louder with every passing moment, and I knew bracing myself was worthless since I would knw when the attack was coming now. A light breeze brushed against my cheek before I felt intense pain, before I felt some of my skin being dug in to. I screamed and screamed again when the other side of my body experienced the same blow.
And then it was over. The scyther hadn’t cut into me as much or as deep as he could have, but the pain lingered. I winced. Something warm was dripping down my sides, now—probably blood, since it couldn’t be tears. I wouldn’t dare cry. My theory was confirmed when I opened my eyes and saw blood dripping from the creature’s scythes through teary eyes, staining the forest floor. I feared for Kuiora—she would be next, and would possibly go through the same pain. And she was so young, too…
“Let the little thing stand up,” the clan leader said suddenly.
My eyes snapped open fully, looking around frantically for what could possibly be a trick. But the scyther was simply waiting in front of me, and the clan leader was standing on his side of the arena, his arms crossed. I also noticed that the scyther had cut the sticky string that was restricting my body. I was free.
“You heard him. Stand up,” the scyther said, its smirk gone and its scythes at his side. He showed no sign of wanting to defend itself. It was obvious that the scyther didn’t have to defend itself, but I could do anything I wanted to right now.
“Why should I? You said you’d end me, or something along those lines,” I said in between breaths.
“Stand up. I’ll let you get on free hit on me. You can do whatever you want… and then you’re done.”
So the scyther had cut the string on purpose. But if I was being honest, I didn’t want to move. My sides hurt and I didn’t want to see just how much blood would be shaming me, taunting me. But this… There was still a chance to win? I could somehow, possibly, maybe gather enough energy and concentrate on one attack. I was free from the string now, so that made things a lot easier. But I hadn’t hurt the scyther at all, so the chances of me winning was really low. Still, it was a chance. Wasn’t I trying to force myself to take chances lately?
But I wouldn’t even get the chance. Sai intervened before I could even begin trying to get on my feet. He charged into the battle arena, frowning and clenching his fists. He picked me up, and I winced again as he wasn’t trying to be careful about it.
“You know that walking onto the arena and interrupting the battle disqualifies you, right?” the clan leader asked. I couldn’t see his face, but he sounded confused and somewhat disappointed.
“No, I didn’t know,” Sai said. “But I don’t care. I don’t want to fight you if you’re going to go easy on me and treat my pokémon like they’re jokes.”
I flailed in his arms, ignoring the pain. I had suggested to come here, and we both knew that time was running out… I felt like so much had to be done in so little time, and I didn’t know why. But if it matters to Sai, it mattered to me.
“Sai, it’s fine,” I said. “You can still use Kuiora, and—”
“No, it’s not fine!” he cried, cutting me off abruptly. “Bugsy here used a weak pokémon on purpose. Now he’s obviously using a strong pokémon, but won’t use its strength because he feels sorry for you.”
Now I could hear the clan leader—Bugsy—was walking onto the arena, saying, “I didn’t do that to go easy on you.”
“Why did you do it then?” Sai said, holding me tighter, which only caused me more pain. I didn’t say anything else.
“Most trainers think that only strong pokémon are good for battling. But not’s not true,” Bugsy said, shaking his head. “Even weak pokémon are useful, and even strong pokémon have a chance of losing.”
“I don’t see why this matters. I came here for a gym badge.”
“Gym battles aren’t just about winning and losing! I wanted to teach you, a new trainer, about this as early in your journey as possible. It’ll be important—”
“Stop,” Sai said, taking a few steps back. “I’m really tired of people telling me what’s right and what’s wrong. Part of the reason I agreed to go on this journey was so that I could figure it out myself.”
“I understand… but we learn from others, you know.”
“That should be a choice. You shouldn’t be forcing it on me in the gym battle that I have to go through to complete my journey.”
“You’re right, I can’t influence your decision completely. But I did it so you could at least think about it,” Bugsy said, digging into his pocket. “I admire you, however, for standing up for yourself and your pokémon.”
“I don’t want your badge, so you better not be getting one out of your pocket,” Sai said defensively. He started to turn and go to where Kuiora and Atis were standing. They looked at each other and shrugged. Kuiora must have been happy since this would mean she could get a second chance, but I didn’t know about Atis. He was probably fine with whatever happened.
“I would give it to you if you would take it,” I heard Bugsy say, but his voice was becoming more and more distant.
“I don’t want it...” Sai muttered.
“Sai! This means we’ll be coming back soon, right?” Kuiora said, jumping up and down again. “Real soon, right? Because we’re running out of time and whatever.”
“This certainly wastes more time. We’ll just have to make sure I don’t stay in a town this long anymore, okay? If that’s even possible…” Then he looked down at me, and I winced again. Looking at the scyther’s eyes was terrible, but Sai’s eyes were still just as scary. “I’m sorry you had to fight and get hurt for nothing, Senori. Bugsy wasn’t trying at all and it was unfair.”
“It’s okay,” I said weakly, though I didn’t really think it was okay. I hadn’t seen it at the time, but the clan leader really wasn’t trying. A real clan leader should be putting his own pokémon above everyone else, no matter what. He shouldn’t have been worrying about us. And the fact that I had fallen into that trap made me feel like a terrible leader myself, all over again. I was angry and frozen—again.
I didn’t say anything more. He took us to the pokémon center. We were right back where we started, I thought. It was a fresh start, kind of.
The nurses took me to the back room and removed the rest of the sticky string. They stopped the bleeding and patched me up as well. I was hardly paying attention as they tried to say reassuring things and treat me like a baby. I just thought about how could I help Sai now? He was unpredictable, and his varying moods kept me from thinking straight. He couldn’t think straight, either, which didn’t help. If I hadn’t become angry and frozen, I would have told him to march right back in that gym and just use Kuiora for the rest of the battle. He could demand a fair battle if he wanted, but he couldn’t leave. But I had let him leave, and who knows what we would be doing next?
I wondered if I could try to become immune to Sai’s emotions. I would always put him above myself, sure. I just couldn’t get angry when he was angry, or excited when he was. His emotions couldn’t effect me or cloud my judgment, no matter what.
It would be difficult, I knew. But I could at least try.
I have to agree. This trainer is really different.
I could judge, but I'd rather wait for a few more chapters.
Anyway, I really really REALLY love the way you wrote your fanfic.
The different types of personality applied in narrations, I truly love it.
chapter 8 ; [KUIORA]
I had learned some things while traveling with Sai thus far. First and foremost, I had learned that every person and pokémon should have their own name for the sake of clarity. I had learned that not everyone knows about the legendary pokémon and how special they are. I had learned that every building looks almost the same, with some exceptions. I could live with those exceptions. But I could not live with the exception for the most important thing I had learned: I had spent so much time trying to separate myself from everyone else that no one could realize my superiority.
I hated admitting it, but Senori was right. Sai didn’t know how hard I had trained, and therefore he didn’t use me in the battle like I wanted him to. I had foolishly expected him to just… know what I had done. Panic coursed through me as I saw him send Senori out to the battle field. I jumped and jumped, tried to get his attention, but it didn’t work. Asking directly didn’t work, either. Anyone can expect things to happen, jump up and down, or ask for things. But not everyone can work as hard as me to get what they want. So, naturally, I was beyond confused and had way too many questions.
The only conclusion I could come to was that there were exceptions. Senori hadn’t done anything at all to get the special attention he got at the gym. He was chosen by Sai without a second thought, and the boy stood up for him despite how he needed that badge so badly and as quickly as possible. Yes, the sentret’s battle was rather humiliating, but being chosen by our trainer was still an accomplishment. Why was Senori an exception? Why was he Sai’s first pokémon? What about Atis, who wasn’t rewarded for the hard work he did at Violet City? How did the hitmontop seem so much closer to Sai than the rest of us?
…What about me?
When we started walking out of the forest-like gym, I immediately started thinking of ways to get Sai’s attention next time. I accidentally kicked a few bugs on the way out, but thought nothing of them. They were below me, and Bugsy’s caterpie certainly wouldn’t be causing me as many problems when we returned. We would be back, after all.
I thought that, perhaps, I would have to train in odd areas, like his room in the pokémon center. Destroying his room would force him to look at me, because who wants to pay money for a damaged room when it could be avoided? That was hard when we had separate rooms. Or I would have to force myself to evolve soon so that I could be bigger and even more intimidating than my unpredictable trainer. But I wasn’t close to evolving; my body wasn’t feeling any changes, nor did I feel ready emotionally. My more desperate plans consisted of asking Senori or Atis for help. They could ask him to pay attention to me, and Sai would listen without a doubt. But that would be a last resort, I decided.
I paced back and forth in the hallway where all of our rooms were. Atis did the same, but he muttered about Senori a few times. The snarky pokémon wasn’t on my mind. In my mind I was running from New Bark Town to Azalea Town once more, except this time I imagined myself more successful and stronger. I paced back and forth, but in reality I knew that I was going nowhere. I had to do something—and fast.
I turned to Atis. “Would you have wanted to battle against the scyther and caterpie?” I asked.
The hitmontop halted, seemingly embarrassed at being noticed and confronted so suddenly. “N-No,” he stammered, “not really. The scyther looked scary.”
“It did, huh? And Senori certainly won’t want to fight again.”
“I would agree with that…”
“So I’ll be fighting next.”
“Yes…” Atis said, rubbing the back of his head. He turned to the room to his door, probably wishing that it wasn’t locked and that Sai had given us the keys.
“That’s not really fair,” I pointed out. “That means Sai will just choose me because I’m last choice.”
“You’re a baby. It’s not an insult, he’s just protecting you…”
“I’m a baby, but I’m going to be better than you soon enough. Amazing, right?” I said, glaring at the pokémon. For a fighting-type, he sure chose odd battles to fight. “Do you think Sai will be taking long?”
Atis ignored my first comment and said, “It will probably be a few hours, yeah. Healing pokémon takes a while.”
“I’m going to the gym. I’m going to get that badge by myself, then.”
“W-What?” Atis said, turning to me swiftly and nearly falling over. “Why don’t you just wait for Sai?”
“If I can get Bugsy’s badge all by myself, then I’ll be first choice next time. I’ll be doing him a favor, anyway. He’s busy and in a hurry to get things done, which is a terrible combination.”
Atis looked down, shifted uncomfortably. “I guess… I still don’t think you should go by yourself.”
“Fine,” I said, thinking that I would need to learn from my mistakes and make sure there was a witness to my power, anyway. “I’m taking you with me.”
Physically, the city hadn’t changed much. It was still light, and it was full of buildings and trees and people walking around, all of which, unlike me, were going nowhere. The gym hadn’t changed much either. The bug pokémon still sat on sturdy branches and watched potential challengers walking through the door with disinterest. Things were still quiet aside from the occasional yell of a trainer that the bugs were so accustomed to that they didn’t flinch or even look in the general direction of the noise.
The feelings that stirred inside me, however, were much different. Last time, I stayed relaxed yet excited for what was (supposed) to come. This time, I knew that I was going into the unknown, so I was tense yet determined. There was nothing to be done—I had set my eyes on my, and nothing could stop me.
Nothing except Bugsy, that is.
“That’s the gym leader right there,” Atis said. He stopped walking and lifted his hand feebly, pointing out the small boy with purple hair and ranger clothes fit for the pretender that he was in this fake forest.
“I know that,” I said. Perhaps I spoke a bit too loudly, as the boy’s head snapped in our direction and his eyes widened in surprise. “And he knows who we are, too.”
“Where is your trainer?” Bugsy called out, standing up. His hands were curled around the handle of a watering can, and on the ground near him lay a bowl of what appeared to be berries. It would have been a decent sight had he been taking care of an actual part of nature rather than this fake place he had created.
“He’s at the pokémon center, healing the sentret,” I said, standing up as tall as I could.
“I see… Is he coming back for a gym battle later, then?”
“No,” I said sharply, offended. “I came to get the badge right here and now. I don’t need to wait for him.”
“Ah, yes. I remember you wanting to battle. Very eager, aren’t you? But you’re just like your trainer,” Bugsy said, kneeling back down and starting to water plants once more.
“My trainer is an idiot.”
Bugsy chuckled lightly. “Well, you should know that strong pokémon are not always the only kind of pokémon as well. If you want my badge, then you have to evolve one of my pokémon here. It doesn’t matter which, or how you do it—just be civil, of course.”
“Of course,” I said, rolling my eyes. I considered just leaving. I had come here to battle, and now I wouldn’t even get the chance. This was a job for the shy little Atis who didn’t want anyone near him. I looked at him curiously.
“We’ll do it,” Atis said, with no hesitation.
I glared at Bugsy.
The forest was vast, but so was the amount of pokémon in it. Evolving a pokémon, I thought, would be easy. Professor Elm, when confronted by several of our evolution questions, said that while we could grow and evolve fast, bug-types were the quickest. I had been training and traveling with Sai for weeks now, however, and still felt little change. I was stronger, yes, but I didn’t feel stronger. My body was growing, yes, but my mind was in the same place.
“Let’s see what I can do,” I mumbled. Since Bugsy was no longer available to glare at, I stared at Atis instead, hoping to shock him into thinking that this was hopeless after all, that Sai would just have to get the badge on his own time, like a normal trainer.
“R-Right,” he said, fidgeting and turning every which way that didn’t involve him having to see me.
We came across, of course, a ton of bug pokémon. They all seemed hesitant to come near us, but still intrigued at the same time as they stuck their heads out from behind bushes and as they stared down at us from the branches.
“We just have to pick one,” I said impatiently, stopping. I turned to my left. Standing in front of the bushes was a small and yellow pokémon with no limbs that I could see. It had black beady eyes, and it spoke its name over and over with a deep voice.
“This one? A Kakuna?” Atis asked, stopping as well.
“Yes.” I didn’t mention that I didn’t know it was a Kakuna up until now.
“You’d ask that about any pokémon, so I don’t feel too inclined to answer.”
Atis was silent.
I walked up to the pokémon and very briefly explained our mission. The Kakuna kept mumbling its name, completely apathetic.
“We’re pokémon, too, you know. You don’t have to say your name as if you were talking to a human… Not that you should have to say your own name when talking at all…” Atis said. He started to back up, probably thinking this was a bad idea. I was at least inclined to agree with him there.
“Uh, maybe we should find a different pokémon,” Atis suggested.
“No,” I said quickly. “If this thing is dumb enough to talk like that, then it has an awful lot to learn. Learning means growing and growing leads to evolution, right?”
“Okay. Go ahead and teach it to talk. You’re a school thing.”
“Um…” Atis said, treading lightly as he moved toward the still Kakuna and its robotic voice. “Well, like I said, humans will hear your name, but you can say whatever you want, okay? Please talk to us.”
“Kakuna, Kakuna,” it said. Did it even have a mouth?
Atis looked back and forth between me and the Kakuna, as if the little yellow creature was tricking him and going to attack at any moment. “I think evolution refers to fighting experience mostly…” he said.
“That’s the only effort you’re going to give?!” I cried, covering my face, wondering why I was bothering to hide my extreme disappointment.
Atis, the smart and strong one, said, “I know about pokémon, not speech.”
“Kakuna is a pokémon!”
He had nothing to say to that. I clenched my fist, bit down hard, wondering if I could chew him to pieces once we were outside and somewhere private. But then I got another idea. With my fist still balled up, I ran over to the Kakuna as fast as I could, drew my arm back, and punched it as powerfully as I could in an attempt to get some kind of reaction. I got a reaction, yeah—from myself. Excruciating pain shot through my stubby arm and then throughout my entire body. My hand throbbed. I winced, but tried not to whine. Don’t whine, don’t show weakness, even if the Kakuna is hard as rock.
“That was a bad idea,” Atis pointed out dumbly.
“You’re a bad idea,” I said, rather childishly, I would admit. My voice broke and he probably noticed. “I have another idea. I think”—I tried to regain my composure here—“that we should fight instead. Seeing things is still gaining experience.”
“I-I don’t think that’s a good idea…” Atis started, turning to leave immediately. “I think we should just go get Sai and let him take care of it…”
“If you won’t fight me, I’ll find someone who will!” I said, drawing back the same arm I used on the Kakuna and running toward Atis this time. I supposed that I should have made sure the Kakuna was watching first, but my rage toward Atis wasn’t really letting me think straight at the time. Since Atis was turned, I ended up punching him in the middle of his round back, sending him sprawling forward and into the dirt of the forest floor. His wails muffled as he landed, and he didn’t get back up for a while. I wondered if I had already won and proven that I was the strongest.
After a few moments, I peered over at the Kakuna. It had at least stopped murmuring its own name. I vaguely wondered if, like Sai and Senori and everyone else, the Kakuna had a special name aside from its species name. I didn’t get to think about it much, however, as I saw Atis stir in the corner of my eye. Looking at the Kakuna again, I prepared a water gun attack. The liquid filled my mouth and was bursting to get out, it didn’t matter where. Since I was convinced that the little thing was watching, I sprayed it toward Atis, just as I had done in the hotel on a day that seemed like forever ago. I didn’t hear any wailing this time, but I could tell he was hurt, since his body was splayed out on the ground once more, unmoving.
I walked up to him, sure that the Kakuna was still observing my obvious prowess. When I was close to his body, I lifted my foot and shook his hands, his legs, anything to get him up. While I wanted to be stronger, it would be bad if he lost here and I wasn’t able to evolve the Kakuna. Yes, I had brought him here for something, after all.
“Don’t be useless now,” I murmured, still kicking him.
Suddenly, a green aura appeared that stung my foot a bit. Naturally, I moved back, afraid of the new… attack? I couldn’t tell what this thing was. The circular barrier surrounded all of Atis’s body, and continued to do so as he stood up slowly, not facing me.
“I’m not useless, you know,” he said—calmly, I noticed. “I know Sai better than you do. I helped children… even if I didn’t want to…”
I didn’t say anything.
He still didn’t turn to face me. He was trying to stand up for himself and was still being shy when doing so, of course. Instead, however, he lifted his leg, and I knew an attack was coming, so I braced myself, tried to move back even further so maybe he’d miss.
But I didn’t do it fast enough.
The first thing I felt was his spikes digging into me despite my tough skin. Pain immediately coursed through my entire body, and I could see blood splattering from the corner of my eye. I flew backward, seeing Atis get smaller and smaller, further and further. He was also blurry… due to the tears in my eyes. I had no idea what my destination was until, of course, my body smashed right into the poor Kakuna who had simply been staring and standing still, innocently, the entire time. With the force of impact, the two of us also flew back into a nearby tree with a loud thud.
My head spun, my side hurt, I was crying, even my blood deserted me, the weak Atis was staring in horror, and I was laying on top of a glowing and mute Kakuna. I vaguely sighed in relief, thinking that Atis had found a way to make it fight. But this wasn’t a fighting glow. Didn’t Kakuna only know one attack, and that was to make itself harder so that poor opponents like me could break their hand with a single punch?
The Kakuna kept glowing, blinding me along with the tears. I could at least make out its figure, which was growing larger by the second. I was distracted as I heard Atis running over, crying out to me.
“You need to move! I’m sorry!” he cried. Screaming as he grabbed me on both of my sides, we made it back over into the clearing, away from the evolving Kakuna.
We could get the badge, now, at least.
I supposed that Kakuna needing a small amount of experience was an understatement, and it made me chuckle slightly, though I vowed not to do that for a while as my body stung in response. I turned my head as quickly as I could while still being careful in time to see the glowing fade away and reveal a new pokémon, one with stingers, a pair of antennas, and black and yellow stripes—definitely something to be feared should anyone else come across the pokemon now. Evolution, I thought, was surely an amazing thing.
Meanwhile, Atis was still muttering, “I’m sorry,” so I told him to shut up and not ruin the moment. He listened, but Bugsy decided to ruin the moment instead. If he made it better, I sure didn’t feel any better yet. No battle, I was hurt anyway, and Atis had made the Kakuna evolve, not me.
“You managed to evolve Kakuna into a Beedrill after all… and it looks like you got some battle experience yourself,” Bugsy said, smirking. Did he enjoy me bleeding on his forest floor? I wondered if he had been watching the entire time, the little brat. “As promised, you may have the Hive Badge.”
Atis took the badge in his hand after Bugsy took it out of his pocket. I simply looked at it, but didn’t touch it. I couldn’t get blood on it and then give it to Sai, though it may have proved I had worked for it… Nevertheless, the tiniest thing in the world, this little red badge with a black strip at the top and three black dots below it, made me smile a bit.
“Beedrill!” Bugsy yelled, also smiling. “Come over here and say something now.”
The Beedrill hovered over, and I found it amusing that this was the first time I had really seen the pokemon move. Was evolution really so easy, so simple? And could the Beedrill talk now, when it couldn’t before? I quickly received my answer.
“I was shy… so I kept saying my name to avoid fighting or making conversation… but I assure you, the entire time, I wanted to say thank you for choosing me.”
My head still hurt.
Every time Atis tried to talk after that—usually trying to say sorry or tend to my wounds—I simply said, “You’re weak, and I don’t want to hear it.”
When we were walking back with the badge, aside from dealing with Atis’s annoying self, all I could do was stare at it and think of what the Kakuna—now Beedrill—had said. Now, it would be my turn to get chosen. I would make sure of it. Fighting Atis had given me an idea. We remained silent the entire way back, since I knew that if I brought it up, he would be upset and flustered once more. Nevertheless, I would do what I had to. If you won’t fight me, I’ll find someone who will.
It really was that simple. Even though it was getting dark outside now, plenty of people were out and about, and they were all staring at me, some of them covering their mouth with their hands in surprise. But they didn’t do anything to help me. We made our way to the pokémon center, found Sai in the lobby, no one bothering to say anything, not even the nurse inside. Sai was even stunned into silence at first. All is always quiet when a known victory is made.
He ran to me with Senori in his arms and dropped to his knees.
“What happened to you?” he asked, his free hand moving toward my bleeding side, grazing it with care. I could tell he wanted to do something to help me, but I wouldn’t let him.
Instead, I said, “Fight me.”
“What?” Sai said, pulling his hand back.
I took the badge from Atis’s hand and presented it to him. “I won this for you. Fight me if you want it,” I said—slowly, seriously. He had to understand…
“You won this? For me?” he replied, ignoring me as he stared at the badge dumbly.
“I did. So fight me.”
“You’re my pokémon, Kuiora. I can’t fight you.”
“You fought Senori,” I said, making the disgust clear in my voice, not because it was immoral, but because he was denying me a chance now. I remembered Senori telling me about this, and knew, at that moment, I’d get Sai to fight me someday soon so that he’d accept me, too.
“I had no pokémon to help me catch Senori.”
“Senori was weak and I’m not. Fight me.”
“I won’t,” Sai said, taking the badge out of my hand. Had I not been injured, I would have bit him, punched him, kicked him, hit him with my water gun until—
I did punch him, at least. Right in the face. Right there, in the pokémon center, where everyone could see. Sai didn’t budge because the attack wasn’t very strong; my head still spun and I just couldn’t focus. But I was going to fight him and be chosen if it was the last thing I’d do.
Others wailed in horror, and the nurse cried for Sai to stop his pokémon, to return me to my pokéball. Atis tried to hold me back, but I just sprayed him with water and he gave up easily. Senori, with his injuries, was useless, so he simply jumped out of Sai’s arms and stood on the side to watch the event unfold. Sai’s expression was slightly more angry, but not angry enough to fight me back. I punched him again and again, sometimes in the face, sometimes in the stomach, sometimes in the back. It was much easier than fighting the Kakuna, but I tried not to let that bother me.
Sai took each and every hit, bleeding a bit himself and obviously having some bruises forming. But it wasn’t good enough. He wasn’t budging. His fists were clenched, and he was frowning, growling. I decided that I had to still be stronger. How could I do that? By getting rid of these wounds. All I wanted was for him to fight me and accept that I was his pokémon, a pokémon so strong that he had to fight back to control.
I had to evolve. Maybe I’d still be hurt, but I’d be stronger. My body had been growing, that was obvious. I was getting smarter, my mind was growing. I had trained so much, and in my desperate state of mind, I needed this, I needed this now.
I finally let myself do so. I stopped punching Sai, stood back, and to them, I was glowing—just like the Kakuna had for me and Atis. I could feel my body changing. I grew another set of spikes, this time on my head. My tail grew longer. My jaw was changing by turning smaller and more round, my teeth growing sharper and larger in quantity as compensation. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt at all, but I supposed that was the result of my training. Pokémon were meant for evolution, anyway, and the body and mind prepared itself nicely… so nicely that my wounds weren’t as severe. The dizziness was gone, and I could concentrate again. I was no longer bleeding, though my side still showed signs of injury from Atis’s spikes. The nurse would have to take care of me eventually, and I wondered what she’d think of me.
When I felt complete, I opened my eyes. I was taller, and I was able to look down on Sai now. Perfect. I didn’t even stop to get a feel for my new form, just started punching him immediately once more. I would get used to my new body by training more and fighting—just to evolve once more, sometime in the near future, hopefully.
I hit him and hit him and hit him. Over and over, and this time, I could hear him grunting with pain, and asking me why I was doing this, and that I had to stop. I was hardly listening, and finally, finally, when his voice was emanating throughout the entire pokémon center and I still hadn’t stopped, I got what I wanted.
Sai punched me. Did he have a choice? He punched me. Right in the face. Right there, in the pokémon center, where everyone could see.
That was all I wanted.
Really liked to see Kuiora's view and how it changed throughout this chapter from being excited to almost... angry. Desperate, maybe? I'm curious as to how Sai will react next chapter, especially since Kuiora evolved, which may or may not be a good thing for him. Kuiora would probably go through a complete mental overhaul, stepping away from being so immature and more toward her being superior. And Sai must be small, or Kuiora is just huge for a Croconaw. Judging from the anime, I thought Croconaw were about belly-height in comparison to people, and Feraligatr were the ones taller than humans.
In any case, the chapter was well written and entertaining just as the last. Loved the way Kuiora was portrayed. Keep it up!
When I first started reading this, I thought I will hate Kuoira (I hope I don't butcher her name). I have never exhibited fondness toward characters with major superiority complex/over-competitive/acting aggressive- for -no -reason characters (imo, because I think they're an overused character trope in many books that I've read), but turns out, I don't hate her at all later in the story. That's how well you have executed her into this story. The scene when Kuiora punched Sai to earn acceptance was a nice touch. Add more flavor to the character...
Overall, this entire chapter is very well written, and the pacing and Kuiora's actions always keep me interest . :D (*un-constructive comment is un-constructive* )
And is that a "character development" that I see in Sai? At the beginning of the story, he was portrayed as a wild... creature (I really cannot say "young man", since well, he doesn't act like a man), who seems like he barely have any control over his emotion, and is definitely not the most patient trainer on Earth. But in this chapter, he steadily endured Kuiora's punches dozens of times and TRIED to not snap. (He did at the end anyway, but only leash out one punch. It was an awesome feat ). I feel like he was more stable compared to the last chapter. (Or maybe I'm looking too deep into this).
Out of all the characters, I have the most interest in Sai, since he is just so mysterious. :D
Keep up the good work!
"Is it okay if I never want to wake up ?"
I just finished reading the new chapter and it's really good, as always.
I like how that little Tododile -now a Croconaw- acts.
Though Bugsy has a weird way of giving away his badges, but oh well.
Looking forward for another chapter~
chapter 9 ; [SENORI]
When I was watching Kuiora punch Sai over and over again, when I was watching her evolve… I felt like my body was falling away from me, through the floor, and then back into myself, over and over again. When my body was falling, it was as if I was dreaming of what my life could be, but wasn’t. And when my body righted itself again, I was reminded that this was real, and that I simply didn’t know what to do about it. The sudden violence wasn’t entirely unexpected. She had been getting more and more desperate, and I had told her about Sai fighting me, thinking nothing of it at the time…I had told her that Sai fought me because it was what fate had brought upon me, upon us, not so that she could use the idea herself. Nevertheless, here she was, freezing me and everyone else in the pokémon center, leaving us to only wonder why she was doing this, why she evolved at this moment of shame, and most of all, why Sai felt compelled to punch her back.
I snapped back to reality as I suddenly tumbled out of Sai’s arms. Though he was still on his knees, he went to pull his arm back and swing it forward, immediately colliding with Kuiora’s rounded jaw. Had she still been a totodile, she may have staggered backward. With her new and larger form, she hardly moved an inch. And just as suddenly, she stopped attacking him. She merely smirked and looked around occasionally, mostly focusing on looking down at the stricken Sai in front of her.
“Kuiora,” he said simply, using his other hand to cover the fist that he had hurt her with, “I didn’t want to hit you.”
“But you did,” she said, smiling now, a different smile from the expectant smirk that was present just moments ago.
“I know, and I’m sorry,” Sai said, standing up now. He moved slowly, carefully, as if he would break or as if Kuiora would attack him again at any moment.
“I’m strong, and I wanted you to know it. You’re not allowed to say sorry!” she replied. She crossed her arms, but made no sign of future violence.
“But I always knew that,” Sai said, chuckling slightly. I vaguely wondered if he was telling the truth, but decided that I’d never speak about it.
“Then why didn’t you use me?”
“Everyone on the team has to fight. If I only focused on you, all the others would get left behind.”
“Who cares about the others? I’m special, aren’t I?”
“Of course you are… I chose you for a reason.”
“You chose me because I was the strongest, of course!”
“Yes, yes I did. But you have quite the temper, don’t you? But you seem easy to please, so let’s make sure this never happens again…” Sai said seriously, looking down on her now, scolding her like the child she was.
Suddenly, a new voice cut in. “You can’t expect to get away with another situation like this, can you?”
I looked around once more. Up until this point, some people were still watching, whispering amongst each other, probably wondering if they should do anything about the situation and wondering about why Sai was able to understand his pokémon while they couldn’t. Others had scattered and moved on, either changed or unmoved by the incident. Only one person decided to stand up to Sai, and I immediately recognized him from the cave and from the pictures in Sasha’s house. This boy had the same blonde hair and the same serious look on his face and the same determined eyes; it was just a different day with him wearing different clothes. The boy walked up to Sai, cutting off his view from Kuiora.
“First the cave incident, and now your pokémon is attacking you. I wonder why. You obviously don’t give your pokémon the attention they need and deserve,” he said, looking Sai straight in the eye.
“I didn’t know it would go that far,” Sai said, just as serious now and having to ignore Kuiora once more. He did pass her a glance, however, as he added, “I didn’t know what she wanted. She’s never told or asked me directly until now.”
“You should figure it out! You even have the advantage of being able to talk to your pokémon.”
I stared at the boy. What was his name, anyway? Did he really have to be here at the same time as us? Was there anything I could do about it? He couldn’t understand me… but he had saved me nonetheless. I was torn between wanting to spare this other boy from the grief and from trying to keep Sai on track, his emotions being my main motivation for remaining stable and calm.
Sai glared at the other boy and said, “Are you really going to be angry over me being able to talk to my pokémon while you can’t?”
“That’s not what this is about,” the boy said, breaking eye contact for just a moment. “I bet you don’t know a damn thing about your pokémon, especially not the sentret you almost got killed.”
Sai sighed, his face softening quickly. “I know that Atis likes the top bunk on the bed at night. I know that Kuiora likes to tell stories like no other. When we sleep outside I know that Senori likes the area with the most grass. Kuiora loves learning about things outside of herself even if she won’t admit it, and Senori always seems sad for some reason I can’t quite figure out yet. Just because it doesn’t look like I’m listening or watching doesn’t mean I’m oblivious.”
When Sai said that, I completely forgot about my trying to decide which trainer to stick up for. Did Sai really pay that much attention to us, enough attention to know about the little things? Did I really even like the area with the most grass? I didn’t even notice, and it certainly never seemed like he paid attention to anything but whatever crazy ramblings went on inside his head. I decided to stay silent for Sai, and watch him deal with this situation by himself.
There was a moment of silence. The boy looked around, glaring at the people who were still watching. “Doesn’t matter if you listen or watch if your pokémon don’t feel like you do,” he finally said, not looking at Sai anymore.
But it does matter, I wanted to say. It says a lot about Sai. I turned to Kuiora to see what she was thinking during all of this. She was simply standing next to Sai, eyes crossed and looking just as defiant as her trainer. She didn’t look angry anymore, and it was smart of her, I decided, to not say anything, knowing that the trainer couldn’t understand her either way. She had probably exhausted her voice for the day, anyway. Crying, yelling, battling all day… Just what had happened, anyway? So many questions were running through my head about her and my trainer, but no answers.
“If you’re not going to listen to anything I say, then we’re done here,” Sai stated, turning away from the boy. He walked up to the counter and said, “Nurse Joy, I deeply apologize for the incident here today. It won’t happen again. I would appreciate it if you healed my Kuiora now…”
“O-Of course,” the nurse said. “May I ask that your croconaw be put into her pokéball first?”
Sai’s expression hardened again, but he looked too tired to care. He returned Kuiora to her pokéball and handed it over.
But the boy wasn’t about to give up. He came up to the counter as well and said, “Have you not learned your lesson? I’m surprised Nurse Joy isn’t reporting you. If I see one more incident I will report you, though I don’t want to let it get to that.”
Sai turned to the boy, glaring once more. “And just what do you mean by that?”
“Fight me. Battle me so they can see what kind of trainer I am, and let them decide if they want to stay with you or not.”
Decide to stay with Sai or not? It almost seemed like every pokémon’s dream—every pokémon who had a bad trainer, anyway. The choice to leave. This had to be happening for a reason, or else it wouldn’t be happening at all… Without the entire situation played out, however, it was hard to judge what I would have done, should have done… and what I wanted to do.
“What’s your name, anyway, kid?”
“My name? My name is Marty.”
“Well, Marty, I’m not worried at all. You’re on, but I’m waiting for Kuiora,” Sai said, and that was the end of the scuffle in the pokémon center, but not the questions inside my head. Fate may have been trying to tell me something, maybe leaving Sai was really an option… Who could ever know?
The battle took place two days later. Kuiora was anxious to get started right away, of course, but Sai insisted that she wait for her injuries to be healed. It took a lot of courage, I observed, to be able to deny her after what just happened, but she seemed to realize that it was for the best—probably because Sai, at least, wasn’t ignoring her.
“You said I tell stories like no other, right?” she asked, hopping up and down on the bed. We were all back in the same hotel room, as Sai said he no longer wanted to spend money that way. He had really calmed down since Kuiora’s outburst, and it was extremely noticeable. No one had to chase him around the entire town or wonder when the next time we’d be able to buy food anymore, after all.
“Yes, yes I did,” Sai said, simply sitting next to her and bouncing up and down to whatever rhythm she wanted.
“That was different,” was all she said. She had already asked about being the strongest at least five times, anyway, since he was no longer ignoring her. Had it been on purpose? I supposed it was futile to ask, but perhaps I would someday.
“I want you to tell a story,” I said instead.
“You do?” Kuiora asked. She stopped bouncing, confused.
“Yeah. Why not?” Because yes, I was tired of hearing about her being the strongest. This could have been a more enjoyable substitute.
“A story about what?”
“Anything goes, as long as it’s not about you being the strongest.”
“Mean,” Kuiora said, crossing her arms. “There are no legends about me yet, anyway, but there will be someday.”
“Do you want me to tell a story or not?” she pouted.
“Go for it,” I said, smirking. It was always fun, picking on her… and that was why I never learned to expect anything serious from her. Her outburst was unexpected, and then soon I came to realize that her serious stories were unexpected.
She told a story of an old man who burned because he was mourning for his lost wife and child. She had died in a house fire while trying to save their three-year-old son. She had sacrificed everything and still failed, according to the entire town. In the man’s mind, however, she had succeeded. Until a child is old enough to take care of himself, he thought, the mother should always follow and keep watch.
“It simply would have been a sin to the gods had she done anything else but die saving him,” she explained. Atis lay on the top bunk, as usual, saying nothing, perhaps not even listening, just thinking. I lay on the floor, curling my tail around my body, occasionally looking up to watch Sai’s reaction carefully. Yes, he was listening, and he was listening well. The croconaw went on.
Every year, on the anniversary of the day they both died, the widowed man would dance with the air, imagining his wife there instead. Every year, he read a story to himself, imagining that it was his son he was telling it to. Other than this, the town never saw him changes his ways; they said he only changed his tires and his dreams.
One day, however, he wanted to face the very thing that had taken his wife and child. Oh, how bad he wanted to face the fire. He lit a candle and mourned for them. He mourned and mourned, planning to burn it and never see it again when he was done—until he heard a cackling sound, an eerie laugh. He opened his eyes, saw that the candle was gone. The candle had really been a rare pokémon shaped like a candle, its purplish glow said to steal the energy of humans and pokémon alike just to be able to burn some more. The man had no energy to stop the fire, or to even notice it was happening. He died in pain, but without even realizing he was in pain.
“The town,” Kuiora finished, “said that he was smoking in bed when he set the house on fire. And then they wondered how the house was set on fire the first time. The end!” she said, bouncing off the bed and scaring me into the corner of the room due to her new larger size and sharper fangs.
The battle took place two days later, after it finally hit me that Kuiora wasn’t just a kid—she was the same as all of us: she came with flaws and things that made her great, both of which she was afraid of showing.
Of course, Kuiora was also feeling much, much better. She was practically dancing over to our designated battlefield: Ilex Forest.
And of course, the battlefield reminded me of home. The forest smell and appearance was much different from home. The trees were much, much taller, and it made the place darker than the one I remembered and thought of often. And like the Azalea Town gym, several bug pokémon were everywhere, out in plain sight, as if they knew their home was protected. I wished that my clan still felt the same—I at least had the comfort of knowing that they felt safe at some point. How was Ari doing, anyway? What about the rest of the clan? Had they perhaps located due to what happened? I thought and thought but it was no use. No one could answer me, as usual. So I tried to focus on the issue at hand: Marty’s crazy ambition and obsession with Sai’s training abilities. We were going to be fighting in a clearing, just as Sai had attacked me in a clearing when we had first met so long ago.
Marty stood on one side of the clearing while Sai and the rest of us stood on the other side. Atis stood by my side, while Kuiora was already out in front of our trainer, knowing that she would be chosen to battle. I didn’t offer any protest this time, for I knew that this would happen as well. After her outrage, it was simply meant to be.
The other boy took no time in choosing which pokémon to send out. He sent out a pokémon he called Halcyon, a name true to the bug’s nature. The purple and white bug flew around with joy, fluttering its wings as fast as it could to pick up speed and show off.
“A butterfree, huh?” Sai said. He sounded tired, and I expected him to say something cocky like saying his croconaw was better or that he would win fast. But his feelings of invincibility seemed to have disappeared over the last few days. “Kuiora, use water gun!”
Kuiora stood up as tall as she could, just as she had when she confronted Sai. We could all tell how proud she was as she inhaled sharply and exhaled a long, steady stream of water toward the butterfree, the first official enemy of hers. Halcyon, with its wings still flapping quickly, easily moved out of the way. It stopped mid-air and looked at Kuiora, waiting for its next move. But its mistake lied in stopping, as Kuiora simply moved her body in the butterfree’s direction, bringing the water gun attack with her. The steady stream of natural liquid never stopped, just relocated—and it ended up colliding head-on with the bug’s small purple face and torso. Halcyon didn’t cry out or move, just took the brunt of the attack.
“Halcyon won’t lose to you, he won’t! Fly under it and use tackle!” Marty cried, smiling and not appearing too worried about his pokémon’s condition just yet.
Halcyon reacted instantly, as if he had known what kind of counterattack his trainer would think of. Halcyon broke free of the water gun, seemingly unscathed, and barely grazed the attack as he flew under the water and straight into Kuiora’s body. Finally, the water stopped, and Kuiora staggered backward.
“I didn’t have time to move my attack. You got lucky,” Kuiora said. I almost chuckled at her, since her excuses were always amusing and childish to me. It reminded me of the old her—but was there really ever an old her?
“You’re fine, Kuiora. Go ahead and use bite,” Sai said calmly.
“Will do!” the croconaw responded happily. She stood there expectedly, waiting for the butterfree to get closer so she could attack.
“We simply won’t go near you then! Try a stun spore instead.”
Halcyon stayed in the air, its wings flapping slower now to help keep the bug suspended, stuck in place, just like the rest of us were at the moment. According to Marty, we were all stuck her pitifully and against our will, and according to Sai, we were all stuck here because the other boy was in our way and was just another obstacle to overcome… Whose beliefs should I have been following? Marty made me wonder, maybe only because he saved me, maybe because fate brought him to me not once, but twice now.
No matter what the case was, it didn’t change the fact that Kuiora and Halcyon were fighting right now. Halcyon was emitting a strange, yellow substance, which started emanating throughout the entire battlefield within the minute. I wished that there were more bugs in my forest so that I could have warned Kuiora. She simply stood there and waited for the substance to sink into her, unsure of what it would do and probably thinking it was harmless enough to wait for.
“Kuiora, you’re going to have to attack quick!” Sai called, finally realizing what the attack was after seeing that Kuiora was having troubles just by trying to keep her arms from drooping.
Once the croconaw realized the situation as well, she immediately started propelling herself forward, past the yellow substance that was paralyzing her. I could tell that she was trying to run, but it looked more and more like jogging. Still, the butterfree remained suspended and focused on its attack as she got closer and closer, and when she was finally close enough, she jumped as high as she could and grabbed the butterfree with her clawed hands. Halcyon’s wings could no longer help him, and the stun spore attack ceased as he tried to free himself in vain. Kuiora had a firm grasp on him, despite the attack—it simply hadn’t had enough time to sink in and get to her completely yet.
Kuiora pulled down Halcyon and kept him in place with one hand. Instead of biting, Kuiora pulled back her other hand and thrust it forward, knocking the butterfree right out of her hands and into the bushes at the edge of the clearing. Kuiora, though she did not appear as tall and proud, stood there as tall as she could, tired and restrained from her battle. She was still smiling, though, which was a good sign. Marty ran over to the bushes to check on Halcyon, but came back with nothing.
“I put him back in his pokéball,” he mumbled glumly. “I’ll send out my next pokémon. It’s my only other pokemon, so this will be a two on two battle. Are you still using the croconaw?”
Sai’s eyes widened, as if he hadn’t considered removing Kuiora from the battle. He was quiet, looking at her, thinking.
“You did well, Kuiora,” he started. I could already see her starting to frown. “But you just healed and I don’t want you to get hurt more. I’d like to send Senori in… so that you can rest from your victory.”
She smiled again at the end, and said that it was okay. Her voice sounded weak and she couldn’t nod; the stun spore was taking its effect now, and it probably wouldn’t start wearing off until the end of the battle or until she got back to a pokémon center.
So Sai ended up sending me out to battle. Last time, I was facing a menacing scyther that could easily tell my weak point due to its clan leader’s commands. This time, I was facing a little cyndaquil that I recognized as one of Professor Elm’s starting pokémon for new trainers. Did Sai and Marty start around the same time? I looked back at Kuiora to see if she knew the cyndaquil, but there was no sign of recollection, just a smile that told me she was stronger than this thing despite the type disadvantage.
“Do you know the croconaw over there?” I asked.
“Nope,” the cyndaquil said, smiling.
“Gracie, start off with an ember!” Marty cried out, clenching his fist in anticipation. He didn’t seem to want to let us talk, probably because of Sai.
The cyndaquil known as Gracie inhaled and exhaled flames, directing them at me. It reminded me of Kuiora’s water gun attack, except this seemed much more dangerous and potentially painful. I ran on all four paws in order to dodge the attack. It didn’t seem as if Gracie was as good with controlling her attacks, so nothing followed me, though I did ensure this before I stopped running.
“Senori, use tail whip!” Sai called to me.
I ran over to Gracie, who was recovering from using her ember attack. She shrieked and covered her face with her tiny cream-colored paws as I attempted to smack her with my tail.
“Are you scared?” I asked, sort of actually feeling sorry for her.
“I get scared easily…” Gracie said, her voice trailing off, “but I can still fight!”
After she finished her sentence, she removed her paws from her face and ran toward me this time, so quick that she was leaving afterimages behind her every time she moved. Every cyndaquil I saw looked the same, and I couldn’t tell who was real and who wasn’t. I turned my body to the left and right, trying to find a good time to escape, but each time I turned, Gracie or her afterimages followed and I second guessed myself. This time, she smacked into me, sending me careening into the bushes this time instead of Halcyon.
When I went to get up, however, I saw another pokémon staring down at me.
“I see that boy around here a lot,” it said. It was a bird pokémon, with white feathers covering all around its neck, with only one red feather sticking up at the top of its head. Its red colored face stared down at me, smiling. Its beak opened and shut numerous times, trying to speak. “If you want to end this quick, just hit Gracie on the back. It’s her weak point. She’ll get scared, and with her trying not to fall, you can put enough pressure on her tiny legs to where she can’t get back up.”
“W-What?” I said, confused. Where had this bird come from, anyway? Had it been watching the entire time? And why even care about Marty and Sai and Gracie and me? I stumbled back to my feet quickly and hopped out of the bushes, not even bothering to say anything or look at the pokémon.
Still, as the battle continued, I couldn’t forget what the bird had said. I didn’t want to cheat and hit Gracie on the back, but she was starting to wear me down. She had hit me into the bushes, and now she was aiming more ember attacks at me and making me run as much as possible, exhausting my energy. I did want to end this quick so that Marty didn’t win and find further reason to antagonize Sai the way he was, but still—
I decided to try a similar strategy, one that I could be proud of. When Gracie shot out her next ember attack, I stopped and let it come straight at me. I prepared my tail as I watched the oncoming embers, and when it was finally close enough, I swung my tail at each and every one. While the embers simply dissipated upon contact, Gracie thought that they were going to come flying back at her and started cowering in fear once more, covering those already closed eyes of hers. Then I ran at her again and tackled her, hitting her in the side rather than mostly on her back. Seeing how small her legs were made me think that maybe there was enough pressure applied so that she couldn’t get up again, or perhaps just be fainted after battling so long and using so much energy on her ember attacks. Either way, she was finished battling, as she didn’t get up again, just kept whining.
“Gracie, it’s okay, I know you’re not much of a battler. Return!” Marty said, and she disappeared as a mere flash of red, maybe looking at me with those closed eyes with desperation. How could I tell, anyway?
“Good job, Senori. Return,” Sai said, copying Marty, though he didn’t return me to my pokéball. He rarely did.
“Well? I may have lost, but it wasn’t about winning or losing, just seeing trainer styles and appealing to our pokémon in the best way possible. Let them choose, and let them remember how you almost let Senori get killed and how you let Kuiora get so out of hand!” Marty cried, frowning and glaring at Sai. But Sai ignored him and turned to us instead.
“You did well, Kuiora, Senori. And Atis would have done well too. I’m sorry that Marty feels compelled to do this… and I’m sorry that I’m inclined to agree with him on some points. Maybe, someday…” he said, stopping to smile softly. “Maybe someday I can love you as much as I was meant to.”
“I’d like to stay now that I can battle!” Kuiora said immediately, hugging and squeezing Sai’s leg closely to her. Sai smiled and rubbed her side, the one that had been damaged by Atis.
“The croconaw is too young to know better, but her choice is her choice,” Marty said, crossing his arms impatiently.
“Why are you so set on trying to get rid of me as a trainer?” Sai asked, looking up at the other boy.
“I should just report you and have your pokémon forcibly taken from you,” Marty retorted.
“That doesn’t answer my question,” Sai said, still calm and tired.
“Most pokémon don’t know what a real good trainer can be like. The only example they usually have is their first trainer… and by the time they realize what they really need and want in a trainer, they’re too far from home to find their way back. It’s too late, and they feel trapped. But I don’t want pokémon to feel that way!”
“I wouldn’t want them to, either,” Sai said sympathetically.
“You don’t act like it!” Marty cried, frustrated.
“I told you before… You don’t know me. I try my best.”
“Then let them choose. I let Gracie and Halcyon choose, and I’ll let Gracie choose again someday.”
“I never said I wouldn’t,” Sai said. He kneeled down once more, looked at all of us—but not expectedly. Perhaps he truly didn’t know what to expect. It made me wonder why he had accepted this battle in the first place. He did care, he cared, he did, I had to believe it. “Senori? Atis? No one should feel trapped or feel like they have to stay, Marty is right.”
There was a long silence before anyone said anything else. There were a lot of factors I had to consider. I could start over here. I could build a new clan… not of sentret, but of bugs and whatever else was in this forest. I could try to find my way back—though, like Marty said, it seemed impossible and tough and risky. I could leave Sai’s world of unpredictability and go back to a life of routine and serenity…
“I’d like to have time to think about it…” Atis mumbled eventually, finally, though something told me he would end up staying. Where else would he go? Maybe he’d stay until he found another purpose in his life, one that Sai couldn’t contribute to anymore.
And me? I wondered. It was my turn. Yes, again, I could start over here. But didn’t I say I wouldn’t let Sai’s emotions get to me? And I had been doing well so far. I acted indifferent when he was going back and forth between being angry at me for losing the way I do and sad at himself for slowing him down, which he was still doing. Surely he’d be sad again soon—he was slowing down, and actually sleeping again, and he was no longer invincible… Yes, he was a rollercoaster. He always would be. And I feared his emotions deep down, even if I ignored them—I never knew what he was capable of, never knew what would happen next, never knew what kind of day I would have when I woke up. Still, he gave me a purpose, and he came at the right time in my life. He did seem to care, though there was something that was preventing him from showing it. Maybe, someday, like he said, he could show me, show all of us, and we could be happy…
In the end… I knew I loved him more than I feared him.
I chose to stay.
A great and lengthy new chapter.
It's a good read, as always.
I don't think I recognize that flying/bird PKMN based on your description though... =/
Wow. That is amazing. Is the bird Pokemon Arcutino or Lugia? Senori, Kulora and Atis are amazing charecters. Are you going to use the magikarp? Couldnt put it down and should of 2 hours ago. LOL. Nice to find something good! Well done.
Proud owner of *Splash* the Magikarp and Gyarados fan club! Proud writer of Grey's Journey, The Hoenn Dragons and Pokemon Diamond Dead fan fictions. Life, don't talk to me aout life.