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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 19
Chapter 19 - Waking Up
Ugh…
Uuuuuughhh…
Roxy didn't want to wake up. She was just too tired. Must not have gotten enough sleep last night. She felt like a flat lump of pudding, completely incapable of movement. Would staying in bed forever really be that bad?
She was exhausted, she felt weak, and she had a terrible headache. All she wanted was for that blissful sleep to come back to her. She didn't want to wake up. Just five more minutes, or maybe five more hours. Laying down just felt so nice, and she wasn't entirely convinced that her muscles were functioning.
Roxy had to get up, though. Master didn't like it when Roxy was late for breakfast.
After she scrunched up her face in distress and groaned softly, Roxy cracked open one of her eyes. She then immediately decided that the waking world was too bright for her, and that she would rather sleep forever. Then she sighed and called herself ridiculous.
After squinting and blinking her eyes for a b
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 18
Chapter 18 - The  Invasion
"Miri, do you ever just sit sometimes and think about what life is all about?"
Roxy gazed over at the Audino sitting nearby, and saw that she hadn't quite expected that question.
"I…suppose so," Miri answered hesitantly, "I think it must be something that everybody thinks about at some point or another."
"Hm."
Roxy was sitting with Miri on one of the raised walkways between two of the village's treehouses. The former was sitting down, slumped to the side and lazily resting her head on the six-inch parapet that encircled edge of the walkway. The latter was sitting nearby in a more dignified position, idly weaving together something with vines.
"…Why do you ask?" Miri spoke up.
Roxy shrugged. She saw out the corner of her eye that Miri was frowning at her.
"Roxy, are you feeling all right? Is there something you want to talk about?"
The Pikachu simply breathed in through her nose and let out a long, drawn out sigh. "Not really
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 17
Chapter 17 - What Makes You Special?
It took three days for Roxy to get up and leave the hut for more than a couple of minutes.
She had spent that time lying uselessly in Makari's old hut, without the strength or energy to do anything. She spent every minute thinking about Makari, and every thought left her with a heavy pain in her heart. Miri stopped by twice a day to see how she was doing and to talk to her, and a few other villagers visited to give their condolences.
Finally, though, she was up on her paws and stepping through the doorway into the chilly winter air. Roxy had heard that time healed all wounds. She wasn't sure if that was completely true, because she still felt completely awful, but she did feel a little better.
Perhaps it was the thought that Makari was somewhere watching her, which was a thought that she had often. She realized how pathetic and sad she must have looked if he was indeed watching her. Roxy had no solid beliefs about life after dea
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 16
Chapter 16 - The Pain of Loss
Roxy found herself wandering despondently through the village. Her head held low and her tail dragging along the ground behind her, she walked without purpose or direction. She just felt completely aimless. Like a zombie Pokémon wandering the Earth, searching for something she couldn't remember.
Her spirits were low, maybe lower than they had ever been before. Honestly, she was amazed she could even make herself walk. She didn't want to think about the past because of how upsetting it was, she didn't want to think about the future because of how terrifying it was, but she also didn't want to think about the present because it just hurt too much.
So she wandered forward, as if in a daze, not caring where she ended up. Joyful memories filled her mind, tainted black with tar by the knowledge she would never be able to experience them again. That chapter of her life was over and gone forever, torn right out of the book, and she felt like she
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 15
Chapter 15 - Farewell
"They have not arrived yet…"
"Troubling indeed…"
Roxy glanced down from the raised walkway at the two Pokémon walking below. Karizu was speaking with a Pikachu she didn't know the name of, but it was clear that both of them were anxious about something.
Roxy sighed. She had lost track of time, but it had to be at least one month and a half into her 'exile', if not much, much more. It had been just over a week since the incident that had shaken her to the core. After a day of recovery, training with Taka had resumed, but that was all. No-one had asked her to join any more expeditions outside of the village. At least, not yet.
She had tried her best to come to terms with what had happened, and she was just now starting to feel okay with herself. The more she, unwillingly, thought back to the incident, the more and more she viewed it as a freak accident. If she had actually been brave enough to fight back against the Houndoom, she knew
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 14
Chapter 14 - The Power Within
Roxy hugged the warm blanket around herself like a cloak as she sat on the little bed. It covered her from head to toe, even covering up her face. She was shivering and whimpering, tears streaking down from her eyes. To her, this blanket was the only thing protecting her from the scary, dangerous world outside.
There was a loud BANG and Roxy cried out in terror. She scrunched herself up even more into a tightly-wound ball of stress. Everything around her was so terrifying. She wanted all of the scary things to just go away and leave her alone. This was way too much to handle.
Roxy had never been more terrified in her whole life. She felt sick. Fear had such a tight grip on her, that it felt like a ghostly claw had reached through her body and was squeezing her insides. It was hard to breathe, her stomach wouldn't sit still, and her heart wouldn't stop beating. She couldn't take much more of this.
She heard footsteps nearby, but she har
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 13
Chapter 13 - Excursion
It was astonishing.
Still, to this day, it was absolutely astonishing to Roxy. It was like living in a dream that never ended, though not one that was all bad. Three weeks had passed since the festival. Three whole weeks, and she was still here.
And she was still alive.
The sun rose, the bird Pokémon crowed, and Roxy was awake. She yawned, stretched her paws, and got out of bed, only to find that Makari had woken up earlier once again. A warm hug, a peck on the cheek, and Roxy walked over to the far side of the hut. Her collar was put on, the flower was put behind her ear, and Makari was back with breakfast.
It was so routine at this point. It felt familiar. It felt…normal.
Five minutes breakfast. That was all she could afford before Taka would be mad at her for being late. Breakfast with Makari was pleasant, and it made her smile. With food in her belly, she stepped out the door and made her way to the training area. Makari would
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 12
Chapter 12 - Racing Pulse
The early morning sunlight filtered through the vines covering the hut's door, and Roxy's eyes fluttered open. She yawned and brought up a paw to rub her eyes, trying to clear away the lingering feeling of sleepiness.
She smiled. Upon Roxy's face was a bright, genuine smile. It was the first time she could think of where she had woken up in this place with a smile.
Roxy's dreams had been sweet. Usually her slumber was plagued with nightmares or mournful dreams of her home and her master, but not this time. She was still trapped in this village, and she was still in a dangerous place, but right now she was waking up with a flock of Butterfree in her stomach.
The good kind of Butterfree in her stomach.
Roxy lazily rolled onto her back, feeling the brush of fur against her side. She turned her head and glanced to her right, still with a warm smile, and let out a happy sigh. She gazed fondly at the sleeping form of Makari, still with one of hi
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 11
Chapter 11 - The Marking Ceremony
"Nice of you to join us…"
Roxy shot the Pikachu a glance. "Taka, don't start…"
"She was sick, Taka," Makari retorted, "No-one can blame her for that."
Taka simply shrugged and walked off to the middle of the training area, ready to begin for the day.
Roxy let out her breath slowly, moving her joints about and stretching. Complete recovery from her illness had been a slow, week-long process. She had been saddled with congestion, mild fever and an upset stomach that didn't seem to go away. It had been pretty unpleasant, but nothing that she couldn't handle.
Especially since Makari continued to stay by her side while she got better.
Now she was feeling better, though this meant an immediate return to training. Roxy had enjoyed her brief vacation from the demanding Taka, but the downside was that she felt a little out of practice.
"We are going to spend half of the day going over everything you have learned so far," Taka an
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 10
Chapter 10 - Fever
A few days had passed since the visit of the Earth Tribe. On this particular morning, Roxy found herself waking up in tears.
She gasped in confusion for a moment, feeling the tears staining her fur. There was a hurt deep in her heart, and at first she didn't know why. After her eyes adjusted to the light and she saw that she was still in the safety of Makari's hut, it hit her. Memories of what she had just been dreaming about returned to her.
"Roxy…" Makari was at her side in an instant, laying a comforting paw across her shoulder.
The distraught Pikachu shivered and let the tears flow for a few moments. This was nothing new. It was almost routine at this point. Sleep was never pleasant because it was always filled with dreams of home. In those distant, fleeting moments of subconsciousness she was back at home, safe in the loving comfort of her master's arms.
To have that suddenly yanked away from her the moment she woke up was hard on her. Someti
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 9
Chapter 9 - Visitors
It was a relaxing day in the forest, something that was quite rare to Roxy.
She was seated on a small grassy knoll just off to the side of the village centre. She had a big Chesto Berry gripped in her paws, and a demure little smile on her face compliments of the one she had just finished eating. Sitting next to her was Miri, whom she'd met up with after the day's training.
To Roxy's shock and elation, she was actually starting to gain skills. She'd been training for more than a week at this point, but signs of progress could definitely be seen. She still had a long way to go when it came to using weapons, but she had started picking up skills in close-quarters combat and self-defence. She was even getting better at defending oncoming strikes with a stick or spear.
She sighed and gently leaned her head against Miri's much larger form. The atmosphere of the forest seemed different on this day. It seemed calm and serene, the perfect way to wind d
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 8
Chapter 8 - Stepping Up
Taka narrowed his gaze and simply said, "What?"
Roxy remained steadfast. "Please, train me to fight." She took a deep breath and then added, "I am ready to learn."
Once again, Taka arched an eyebrow. "Really?" he asked, "Is that so?"
Roxy nodded.
"Where is this coming from all of a sudden?"
She sighed and lowered the blunt spear. "You know I was attacked yesterday?"
"I do."
"It was very frightening," she spoke, "I went out into a dangerous place, let my guard down, and nearly paid for it with my life."
Taka scoffed, but Roxy ignored him.
"I guess I just realized how little choice I have in the matter. I don't know how I got here or why it happened, but I'm here. It's dangerous here. I…I might not be happy about it, but…this is something I need to do, isn't it?"
She glanced over at Taka. The warrior was giving her a scrutinizing gaze, but after a few moments of silence he didn't say a single word.
"Taka," Roxy continued, "I want t
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 7
Chapter 7 - Enough
Morning arrived without any fanfare.
Roxy struggled to wrench open her eyes. She felt sluggish, worn out and utterly devoid of motivation to get up. Her whole body felt like it weighed twice as much as usual. She moaned quietly in aggravation. Her limbs felt too stiff to move.
The distressed little Pikachu sighed mournfully. It was another morning dawning on the hell that she was currently in. She wondered what she had to look forward to today, but none of the answers she thought of were any good. At least it sounded like it had stopped raining.
Roxy lethargically forced herself to sit up. She had no idea what time it was, but why would she? There were no digital clocks in this Arceus-forsaken place. She felt uncomfortable and brought up her paws to scratch her fur, discovering to her dismay that she was still coated in dried mud.
She sat there for a few moments like a lump on a log, trying to wake herself up. It was surprisingly difficult, despite what
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 6
Chapter 6 - No Choice
"Makari?"
Roxy turned her head to look at the other Pikachu sitting next to her. "Where did you go today?"
He turned to meet her gaze, and she focused on his bold, hazel eyes. They shone in a strange way under the moonlight, but his warm smile was there to prevent his expression from looking sinister. She glanced up at the feather behind his ear. She liked the way it complimented his look, much the same way she adored her own flower.
"I was on patrol," he replied.
"What is 'patrol'?"
"It is a task that everyone in this village, again save for the cubs and our healer, contributes to," Makari explained, "We take it in turns to traverse the outer reaches of our Clan's territory, usually in pairs or groups of three. We watch for intruders, and fight off anyone who attempts to come in. Patrol runs for all hours of the day and night, and it is thanks to those on patrol that our village remains safe from attack."
Roxy listened to his words with wide eyes. "
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 5
Chapter 5 - Show Me Your Best
It was a little bit cold. Roxy rolled over in discomfort in her bed.
Why didn't master turn the heat up?
Roxy got the strange sensation that she was sleeping in. Master didn't like it when she slept in, so she tried to make herself wake up. However, it wasn't all that bright. Was it raining today?
"Roxy…"
The Pikachu smiled. Master was here. Her master was waking her up with her calming, gentle voice. Her tail started to wag of its own accord.
"M-master…" she mumbled.
"…No, Roxy."
Anxiety suddenly overcame her. No? Why was master saying 'no'? Master only said 'no' when she did something wrong. Roxy squirmed in agitation. Her master wouldn't be mad at her, right? Why would she??
"Nnnh…I'm sorry master…I'm sorry…"
However, it was no use. Roxy could see her master turning away from her, walking away and fading into the distance.
"Master! Master, no! Come back!"
She started to cry, holding out her paw desperate
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 4
Chapter 4 - The Spark
Roxy wasn't entirely sure what was going on, but she felt a lot better since she had stopped crying.
She knew that at some point she had been invited to sit upon the mound with the three Raichu, who were sitting nearby but still giving her space. Makari was there too, sitting a little closer than they were, and Taka had been sent away. Everything had been such a whirlwind of emotions that it was all a blur to her and she was finally beginning to regain her composure.
"I'm sorry…" she murmured as she munched on the pink Pecha Berry Makari had brought her.
"You have nothing to apologize for," Makari said with a comforting pat on her back.
"It is us who should be apologizing," Ozu concurred, "Taka is a respected warrior within our clan, but his temper can sometimes get the best of him."
Roxy shut her eyes and shook her head, trying to cast out the memory of Taka's rage-filled yelling. "It's just so overwhelming…I don't want to be a bother or
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Thank you everyone.

Activity


Chapter 19 - Waking Up

Ugh…

Uuuuuughhh…

Roxy didn't want to wake up. She was just too tired. Must not have gotten enough sleep last night. She felt like a flat lump of pudding, completely incapable of movement. Would staying in bed forever really be that bad?

She was exhausted, she felt weak, and she had a terrible headache. All she wanted was for that blissful sleep to come back to her. She didn't want to wake up. Just five more minutes, or maybe five more hours. Laying down just felt so nice, and she wasn't entirely convinced that her muscles were functioning.

Roxy had to get up, though. Master didn't like it when Roxy was late for breakfast.

After she scrunched up her face in distress and groaned softly, Roxy cracked open one of her eyes. She then immediately decided that the waking world was too bright for her, and that she would rather sleep forever. Then she sighed and called herself ridiculous.

After squinting and blinking her eyes for a bit, the world became visible, but the light still felt harsh. Didn't the bright lights know that she had the worst headache ever? How inconsiderate…

Roxy didn't know where she was. This wasn't her Master's bedroom. Had she fallen asleep in a tree again or something? It certainly wasn't her comfy little Pokémon bed. She slowly tilted her head and tried to see more.

Ow. Ow! Head hurts. Eyes hurt. Body non-functional. Zero energy.

Isn't this what happened to those silly humans on TV when they drank too much "beer"? Could Pokémon even get drunk? Thinking hurt Roxy's brain. Again, Roxy considered the possibility of going back to sleep, but she was already starting to wake up now and so it didn't make sense to stop. She grimaced and then tried to focus her vision on her surroundings.

Grassy walls, and a grassy roof. The inside of a rural hut.

Oh, right.

Roxy finally managed to shake herself out of her half-dreaming state and realize where she was. She was in the same village that she had been trapped in for about four months now. She cynically wondered how she could even remember her real home. Then she sighed, having thoroughly depressed herself.

So now she knew where she was, but she didn't know why she felt like this. Come on, brain. Remember…stuff. Everything was still a fog in her head, and she couldn't use Defog because her brain hurt so much. Also, she didn't know it. Also, also, she couldn't know it.

She wanted to sit up or roll over, but she just couldn't. Every muscle in her body felt useless. She moaned louder in discomfort and pain. At least her eyes were fully open now. That was an accomplishment, right?

"You have awakened!"

Roxy grimaced as her ears splayed back. He was speaking in a soft voice, but it still made her head throb like crazy. Groaning some more, she forced her weary muscles to move just a little bit, and she rolled over onto her side so she could see who was talking.

It was Taka. He was sitting on the ground not too far away from her, leaning his back against the hut's wall. There was a stiff but genuine smile on his face. "That is good to see," he continued to speak, "We were beginning to get worried about you. Are you feeling all right?"

Roxy didn't answer. Her eyes had drifted downwards and rested upon Taka's hind leg. It was bandaged up tightly with leaves, and a lightly coloured circle of red had stained them right in the middle. His injured leg…

…Where Tazoka had stabbed him.

Oh heavens. Suddenly, Roxy remembered everything.

Her first instinct was to panic, but that only made her head hurt even more. She moaned louder and brought her aching forepaws up and held them against her skull. Forced to remain calm so she did not keep driving that ice pick into her brain, she reflected on the memory of the fight that had just happened. The fight that she had taken part in! Turns out it hadn't been a nightmare.

"Are you well?" Taka was asking, his usual gruff voice a little softer, "Miri should be back soon."

"Taka…?" she spoke, barely above a whisper as it was all she could manage without making her head throb.

"Yes, I am here. You are safe. All is well."

Roxy blinked. Was Taka trying to reassure her? It sounded weird coming from him, she couldn't deny. "Wh'happ'n?" she slurred.

As if on cue, the vines in the doorway parted and Miri stepped in. She gasped quietly when she saw that Roxy was awake, and immediately stepped over to the opposite side of the hut where Roxy couldn't see. A moment later, Miri was suddenly right beside her.

"Eat," Miri instructed, holding a Persim Berry right up to her muzzle.

Roxy whined softly. "But I dun…"

"No arguing," Miri cut her off, "Eat." She gently tapped the berry against Roxy's lips.

The Pikachu grimaced, only partially from her headache. Roxy really hated Persim Berries. They tasted weird and had an unappealing texture. Besides that, though, she didn't feel very hungry. However, Miri was being insistent, and so Roxy gave in and took a bite of the detestable fruit. She cringed a little when she swallowed, only to have Miri insist she take another bite.

"You are very weak," Miri spoke to her in a soft but firm voice, "You lost a ton of energy, and eating this will help bring it back. Once you eat it all, I promise you'll feel good enough to sit up. Okay?"

Roxy wasn't really listening. Every word from the Audino felt like a bullet through the middle of her poor head. She just kept eating the berry in hopes that Miri would go away and let her go back to sleep. It did not taste very good at all, and it did nothing to help her appetite, but she did manage to finish the whole thing. Miri then walked off elsewhere.

The Pikachu lay there for a moment, groaning softly. Taka said something at some point, but Miri apparently told him to shut up. For the present, Roxy just focused on keeping her skull from imploding.

After what felt like an hour but could really have just been a couple of minutes, she felt mobility starting to return to her muscles. The feeling of fatigue started to lift, leaving her feeling a bit restless. With a grumble and a lot of slow movements, Roxy finally pulled herself up into a sitting position. She let out a long breath. The tiredness may have been gone, but all of the pains and aches were still there.

Finally, she slowly turned her head over towards where the other Pikachu was sitting. "…Taka?"

"Yes," he replied with a nod, "I am thankful to see that you have recovered."

She closed her eyes and held a paw to her forehead. "Did we win…?"

First she heard Taka give a short half-chuckle, and then he said, "We did. We won, thanks to you."

Roxy smiled. "Yaaaay…" she murmured lethargically.

Miri returned to view and gave her a smile, though she looked rather strained. "You should be fine in a few hours," she said, "I am needed elsewhere. Yell if you need me." Then she promptly rushed back out the door of her hut.

Taka then continued. "The Earth Tribe has fled from our territory, and no-one has seen them since."

Opening her eyes to look at him once more, Roxy said, "Good…I'm just glad you're all right." Her eyes drifted down towards his wound.

Taka saw this and explained. "Miri has been healing me. I should be able to walk by tomorrow's sunrise. His claws went deep but, well…It could have been so much worse."

Roxy grimaced. Despite it being a victory in their favour, she still found the memories of that battle gruesome and distressing.

"You saved my life," Taka spoke in an uncharacteristically quiet voice, "You saved the lives of so many others here, but it was your bravery that allowed you to stand before me when I had been defeated." He paused and bowed his head slightly. "You have my deepest gratitude."

"I…couldn't just stand there and let you get killed. I had to do something…" she murmured.

"Without you, we never would have defeated our foes," Taka commented, "It is thanks to you that we still have our lives, and we still have a home." He paused once more and looked right into her eyes. "You," he said, "are a hero."

Roxy immediately began to feel flustered and looked away. "Don't be silly…" she muttered, "I'm not a 'hero'."

"I must ask you…"

She turned back to look at him, and saw an expression that she had never seen him wear before. He was looking at her with a sense of reverence. Awe, perhaps. There wasn't a single trace of any of the hatred, malice or prejudice he'd had for her before. "…How?" was all he said.

Roxy blinked and grimaced. Her brain still hurt too much to think. "How what…?"

"How is it possible? How were you able to…to do all of that?? I…There are no other words to describe it. I am baffled. The entire tribe is baffled. All anyone has been talking about is the…impossible things that you did."

"You mean my Grass Knot?"

He studied her for a moment. "Somehow…" he spoke, barely above a whisper, "you were able to call upon the power that is wielded by Pokémon that are not our kind. You summoned the energy that is commanded by those, such as the Nature Tribe."

Roxy presumed that to be a tribe of Grass-types. "Yeah. I dunno what you call it, but to me it's a Move called 'Grass Knot'," she muttered. Her head was still swimming.

"It was incredible…impossible…Even now, I find it hard to believe that what I have seen was true. Please tell me. How could you do that?"

"My master taught me," she replied with a sweet smile.

"Your…master?"

She nodded.

Taka furrowed his brow. "Your…human master?"

She nodded again. Taka didn't say anything after that, and simply turned his gaze away. He looked to be deep in thought about what she had just said, so she decided to elaborate.

"Humans invented these…things called 'Technical Machines', or TM's. They, uh…" She paused and faltered. "Well, I don't really know how they work, to be honest. I didn't really get it. But they, like, contain information or knowledge or something, and it helps Pokémon learn new Moves. My master got the Grass Knot TM as a gift and taught it to me. Suddenly, I knew how to do all of…that."

Taka was looking at her, but still not saying anything.

She reached up and rubbed the back of her neck. "Gosh, I never expected that I would ever use it to fight…Mostly I would just do it to show off. I had no idea if I would be able to do it well enough, and…I guess luckily I did. They were weak against it, so…"

Taka still wasn't saying anything.

"Taka?" she prodded.

He let out a breath and skewed his lips. "Regardless of anything else," he spoke, "It was this talent of yours that saved this whole village. You did something that…none of us are able to do."

Roxy glanced away bashfully and smiled softly. "Well, I, y'know…I'm just glad…" Something then occurred to her and she looked back at him. "Is…everyone all right?"

Taka's expression became neutral. "Thanks to you, the battle was won with much less bloodshed than what could have been. Only three brave warriors lost their lives."

She felt her heart sink into her stomach and her ears fell. "Wh-what…?"

"They shared a pyre together and have gone to the everafter. We have thanked them for their sacrifice."

Something else occurred to her. "Wait…" she muttered, "How long was I out?"

"We battled as the sun rose, and then you collapsed," Taka replied, "The sun has since set and risen, and is now close to setting once more."

Roxy was shocked to hear this news. That meant she had been unconscious for at least 30 hours! That was certainly a frightening prospect.

However, she was more focused on the awful fact that three warriors had died. In the span of a few waking hours, three Pokémon would never again walk through the village. Had she known any of them? Roxy asked for their names, and Taka provided them. They sounded familiar, but not anyone she had particularly gotten to know.

"Oh heavens…" she murmured with her head downcast, "That's horrible…That's so sad…" She grimaced, trying to fight against the tears. "I'm…s-so sorry…" she said as she felt herself begin to tremble.

"Sorry?" Taka replied, "Sorry for what?"

"I…I don't know…"

"Young one, if you had not defeated the Earth Tribe, they would have slaughtered us. I would have died. Many others would have died. Ozu would have died. Many more of us would have died after fleeing from our home into enemy territory. The loss of life is saddening, yes, but it could have been so much worse." He paused for a moment, and then continued in a softer voice. "I am sure that if you spoke to the families of the deceased, they too would be singing your praises."

Roxy let out a heavy sigh, her shoulders slumping a little. "Yeah, I guess you're right…But still…" She closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to focus on the positive. "It's still horrible…Those awful, horrible Ground-types…"

They were both silent for a minute. The deaths of those three Pikachu hit Roxy hard in the pit of her heart, but definitely not as hard as before. She hadn't really known them, and may not have even talked to them before. She knew that she would be okay, but right now she was just feeling the shock of it all.

"Ozu," she spoke after a while, "Why did you mention Ozu specifically? Is he okay?"

Taka neither smiled nor frowned. "He was seriously hurt during the fight, but he is alive. Miri has been treating him. That is where she has run off to."

"Oh," she said with a nod, "Well, that's good. I hope he'll get better soon."

Taka paused for almost a full minute before he spoke again. "Did your human really teach you those impossible techniques?"

Roxy blinked once, then nodded and said, "She did."

"That is…very interesting."

That was as far as their conversation got before Miri suddenly returned. Roxy could tell that Miri was working really hard and probably treating more patients than just herself, Taka and Ozu. She had no time for formalities. From somewhere nearby, she fished out a pair of Oran Berries and handed them to Roxy.

"Do you feel better?" she asked as she indicated for Roxy to eat.

Luckily, Roxy's appetite was beginning to return and she didn't hesitate to bite into the fruit. Since her mouth was full, she nodded in reply.

"Good," Miri said with a strained smile, "Eat those, and then come take a walk with me outside. The fresh air should help, and you should move your muscles."

Roxy swallowed her mouthful and then said, "Okay." Taka and Miri then allowed her to eat the two berries without bothering her with conversation. Roxy suddenly realized that she hadn't eaten in a whole day, and was quite relieved when she satisfied that hunger.

Finally, Miri stepped over and helped her get up. She was a little woozy on her feet, so she was thankful for being able to lean on Miri's side. The Audino helped her over to the door, where they both paused. Roxy turned and looked back at Taka, still seated in the same spot. The village obviously didn't have crutches or wheelchairs, so Taka was stuck in Miri's hut until his leg healed.

"I'm glad you're safe," she said to him, "I…I don't think I could've handled it if you died-" Her voice caught in her throat for a moment before she could choke out the last word. "…too."

"Thanks to you, I merely lack mobility for a few days," he replied with a nod, "I will find a way to repay you for your bravery, I promise." Then, with a small but genuine smile, he added, "Thank you."

She smiled back at him.

"We will talk later, okay?"

"Okay," she replied.

Then, Miri was helping her out the door and into the slightly chilly air outside. By this point, Roxy felt okay enough to walk on her own, but she stayed near Miri just to be safe. She couldn't remember the last time she had felt this tired and weak, if ever.

It wasn't long before the other villagers were alerted to her presence. It was only thanks to Miri that she didn't get completely swarmed. Everyone nearby who had seen her had immediately run over, and the commotion had drawn out further villagers until nearly the whole village was around her.

They were all smiling and cheering, each one giving her praise. Many called her a hero, some all but demanded to know how she had performed her Grass Knot, but almost all of them at least gave her their thanks.

At first, she tried her best to be modest. All of this attention at once was not something she found particularly enjoyable. Multiple times she tried to claim that she was not a hero, but her protests were always drowned out.

Eventually, though, she began to focus instead on the smiling faces of those around her. Maybe she wasn't a hero, but she was responsible for what she was seeing. It slowly became real to her that if she hadn't done what she had done, none of these smiling faces would be here. It was something to be proud of, which made her smile as well.

It was also something to be thankful for, which made her smile even more.

It finally dawned on her that she had managed to reach a happy ending. Her story was still being told, but this smaller book in her history had come to a close with a bright finish. It was something, at last, to feel truly happy about, and everyone else seemed well aware of this fact. She was hugged more times that she could count, and soon all of the praise and thanks melded together until it was just happy cheers.

"Gather together everyone! Give a cheer for Roxy!"

"Hooray!!"







The sun had almost set, and Roxy had returned to Makari's hut. Even though she had spent most of the day sleeping, she still felt exhausted. Speaking figuratively, it had been a very long day. Now that everything was done, she just wanted to lay down in the hut and go to sleep.

Makari's hut. The hut that still stood, and was still there for her. In the village that was still there, with all of her friends whom were still there. Thank the heavens. She shivered when she thought about what could have happened instead.

For the moment, she sat down just outside the doorway of the hut. She found herself gazing up at the sky, seeing the first few stars twinkle into view as the sun disappeared. Everything felt so calm and safe, more than things had felt in a long time.

Everyone was happy and content. She had briefly explained the origin of her Grass Knot to Karizu and Natoka, and promised to go into more detail later. Some of the cubs had begged her to show it off again, but Miri had insisted that she not exert herself. She had also gone to see Ozu, who was resting weakly but with a smile in his own hut, as well as the families of the Pikachu who had died. Even they were smiling, relieved that things had not gotten any worse.

"Did you see me, Makari…?"

Roxy's whisper caught on the gentle breeze. She stared up at the sky, wondering if one of those particularly bright stars was looking down on her, listening to her words.

"Did I do good?" she continued, "Are you…proud of me?"

She wished more than anything that she could hear a reply, but she did not.

"I wish you were here…I wish you had been there." She sighed. "I'm just glad Taka's safe," she muttered in a melancholy tone, "I wish you had been in that battle…so I could've saved you too…"

"He would have been very proud."

Roxy nearly fell over. She turned her head in surprise towards the source of the voice. "Taka…"

The warrior was slowly walking towards her, a noticeable limp in his step. He still wore the bandages around his thigh.

"Taka, what're you doing up?"

He came to a stop on the opposite side of the door, where he sat down on the ground. "Miri let me go so long as I promised to check back tomorrow morning."

"Oh…"

She glanced over at him, wondering if he had just come to talk, but found that the other Pikachu was simply gazing up at the darkening sky. After a moment of silence, she followed his gaze.

"He was right about you."

Roxy's ear twitched and she turned to look at him again. "Huh?"

"My brother," he said as he turned to look back at her, "He told me, many moons ago, that there was something special about you. I can see now that he was right."

"He…did?" Roxy muttered, feeling a mix of emotions rush through her.

"You are still so unlike us. You are very different from anyone else in this tribe. In some ways, that is a weakness, but it is clearly also your strength." Taka sighed and shook his head a little. "I must apologize, young one."

She blinked. "For what?'

Taka glanced away in silence for a moment before he answered. "I have…treated you wrong, and regarded you poorly, because you associate with humans."

Roxy chuckled. "That's, uh, nothing new. It's okay, really…"

Taka shook his head more vigorously. "No, it is not okay. Humans…" He paused and considered something. "Or rather, your human…your master…has given you a strength that I could not have ever imagined. I had considered you weak because of your affection and longing for your master, but…clearly I was wrong."

Thoughts of her master came flooding back, bringing on a heavy wave of homesickness. Roxy bit back the bitter tears. "It's okay, Taka," she answered, "I forgive you. It didn't really bother me that much."

Taka was still glancing away, a troubled look on his face.

"Taka?" she spoke, "You don't seem very happy that I forgave you…"

"I do appreciate your forgiveness," he replied, "It is just…difficult for me."

Roxy tilted her head, not quite understanding.

"It matters not," Taka said, "In a way, your human friend is also partly responsible for the salvation of our tribe, so we all owe her our thanks as well."

While these were nice words to hear, Roxy's lips were still skewed. "Taka?"

"Hm?"

"Why do you hate humans?"

That struck a chord of silence between the two of them. Taka didn't answer right away, but Roxy didn't push him.

He looked over at her with cold, hardened eyes. It was the gaze she was used to seeing from him. Taka had become decidedly more amicable recently, but underneath there was still a very cold heart beating in his chest. Sometimes, it made her shiver to remember.

"…Please?" she asked. A couple of silent minutes passed by, and it seemed like he wasn't going to answer at all. Roxy sighed quietly and glanced away.

"I left our village because I wanted to see what lay beyond the forest."

She looked at him once more, giving him her full attention.

"I detested what I found."

Her heart sank. "Oh…"

"When I turned around and began the journey home, I promised myself that I would never return to that world or have anything to do with it ever again." He gave her a glance. "Unfortunately, you fell into that distinction."

That hurt a little, but Roxy knew that it was in the past now. "So, did you just end up in, like, a bad city? Or did you just not like, uh, y'know…modern stuff? Or…Did something happen?"

He didn't answer, but his silence told Roxy which answer was more likely to be true.

Unfortunately, she also got the feeling that he wouldn't want to talk about it any further.

"I recognize now that I misjudged you, and…perhaps your master as well," he spoke, "But I cannot claim that my distrust of humans has gone."

Roxy shook her head. "No, of course not," she replied empathetically, "And, y'know…I'm not gonna sit here and pretend that there aren't some really bad humans out there…"

"That is true, logically," Taka replied.

The two fell into silence for a few minutes, having reached an impasse in the conversation.

"Please tell me about your grass power," Taka asked, breaking the silence.

Roxy half-heartedly chuckled. "Everyone's been asking me that all day. I-"

"Could you teach it?"

She gave him a look. "Teach…my Grass Knot?"

Taka nodded.

"I dunno," Roxy frowned, "I'm not even sure how I learned it. It was all the TM. I don't think Pokémon learn TM Moves without…the, um, the TM."

Taka scowled a little. "So, it is a secret of the humans then…"

"…Maybe?" Roxy answered with a Mareepish shrug.

"Can you not explain it?"

She skewed her lips. "Kinda…It's like…Well, there's this energy. I know from reading books that Grass-type Pokémon-" At Taka's look, she clarified, "Pokémon like Snivy and, um…Pansage, they can control the energy. They use it to move plant life. As far as I know, it's not perceptible to other Pokémon types, or at least not to Pokémon that can't learn a Grass-type Move naturally."

Taka did not have a very comprehending look on his face, so Roxy backpedaled. "Pokémon like us, like Pikachu, can't feel this energy…but after the TM, I could. I know it's there now, and I know how to focus so I can grab onto it. It's still really difficult for me, and I have to focus for quite a while just to connect to the energy. It's hard enough to perform, and it's hard enough to explain, I don't think I'd ever be able to teach someone…"

"…I see," Taka said, letting his gaze drift away, "That is disappointing to hear."

Roxy slumped a little. "Sorry…"

Taka sighed. "It is not your fault." Then, shaking his head, he sat up straighter. "The important thing is that you can perform this skill."

"Heh…I guess…"

"You are very unique," he continued, "You do not possess the skills that are intrinsic to a Pikachu. You were not born with the same abilities as we all were…but you do have a strength. A fantastic, almost magical skill, and I would be remiss if I did not recognize this."

She smiled softly. "Well, thank you."

"You have my respect, Roxy…I am sorry I could not give it earlier."

Roxy then stared at the other Pikachu for a long while, and eventually Taka gave her an odd look in response. When she saw this, she smiled and shook her head. "Taka, I think that might be the first time you've ever called me by my name that I can remember."

Taka smirked, but said nothing.

"Well, thanks Taka. I, uh…I hope…" She fell silent for a moment, gazing up at the stars that were starting to appear. "I hope we can be friends now."

After a pause, Taka gave a simple reply. "Perhaps…"

Taka then began to stand back up, grunting a little from his injury. Roxy immediately hopped over to his side and began to help him up. At first he resisted, as if he wanted to show he could get up on his own, but it didn't last long. Once he was standing, Roxy gazed down at his bandaged wound. It still made her shiver a little when she recalled what had caused it.

"Karizu wanted me to tell you," Taka spoke, "that he has called for a Marking Ceremony tomorrow night. There will be a festival as well, and you are of course welcome to come."

"Oh, really?" she replied, "Cool! Yeah, I'll be there." She then gave him a little nudge. "Are you maybe gonna get a new green stripe?"

Taka gave her an unamused glance. "No," he replied blatantly, "I fell in battle."

"…Oh. Um…" Roxy glanced away and rubbed the back of her neck, feeling completely awkward. Obviously he wouldn't be receiving any awards. "S-sorry…"

He shook his head. "Yesterday was a loss. A loss is simply a lesson to be learned, and the doorway to further victories." He gave her a confident gaze. "There may be more marks for me, but they shall be in the future. Time will show."

"Right. Yeah. I guess that's a good way to look at it…" Roxy scuffed her paws a little, thankful that he wasn't taking her faux pas too seriously.

Taka nodded. "I must rest. I shall return to my hut now.  I bid you goodnight, Roxy."

Roxy looked at him for a moment, and didn't immediately respond. "Taka…?" she finally spoke up.

"Mm?"

"…Will you promise to tell me more one day? About…what happened out there?"

Taka closed his eyes. "I will not promise anything," he replied, "but…perhaps." Then, with a friendly nod farewell, Taka turned and slowly limped his way back to his hut. Roxy stood there and watched him go, wondering if she should've been helping him walk. She reasoned that he probably didn't want to be coddled, and there was probably something about getting stronger through pain or something too.

Roxy turned her gaze up to the moon that had now appeared in the sky above the trees.

"A festival tomorrow, hm…?"







The next day was wonderful. It was quite warm for the time of year, the sun had broken through the clouds as much as it could, and everyone was feeling rather upbeat. There was a happy sensation that seemed to permeate through the village, infecting everyone it touched. The bloody memories of the battle with the Earth Tribe seemed faded and distant.

Everyone was working, getting ready for the festival if they were not on patrol. In between all of this, many of them still wanted to talk to Roxy about her amazing new powers. This turned out to be a little difficult, however.

Roxy was out and about. She was on the move with a purpose in mind.

Others occasionally caught her moving through the village, or just before she entered her hut. They would see her carrying some things, but most were too focused on her Grass Knot to ask what she was up to. Roxy held polite conversations where she could, but she mostly kept inside of her hut.

By midday, Taka was back on his paws. The bandage had been removed and the wound had been healed. This was accompanied by a very exhausted Miri who was content to just take a nap before the Festival arrived, but she was happy that her patient was healed.

Roxy had caught him in passing and had made him promise not to look into her hut until the Festival. Taka was rightfully confused, but agreed.

Finally, the day began to wind down. Once the light of the sun began to disappear, the torches were lit to signal that the festivities were not far off. Everyone began to gather in the central clearing,  and there was a big cheer once the bonfire was lit. It wasn't long before everyone who wasn't on patrol had gathered there.

Roxy watched this, or as much as she could from the doorway of her hut. A thought occurred to her as she realized that she was now calling it 'her hut', instead of 'Makari's old hut'. She sighed softly. Technically it was her hut, since the wise ones had given it to her, but it still made her feel a touch wistful.

She felt nervous, though she didn't know why. She had been to one of these festivals before, and she both knew and trusted all of these Pokémon. She had been working through the day, making sure things were just perfect. She wasn't sure where the whim had come from, and now she was wondering if she should have followed it or not.

"Stop being silly," she said to herself under her breath, "You just fought off an army of Ground-types. This is nothing."

With a slow, calming breath, she stepped out of the hut and began to walk towards the party. She put on a sweet smile, carried her head and her tail up high, and walked with slow and graceful paw-steps.

Just like master had taught her.

Though the ceremony hadn't begun yet, the Thunder Clan members were already dancing wildly to the music of the drums. It seemed that spirits were higher this time around, and Roxy knew the reason why. They were all moving and swinging about in their wild, unchained ways.

Roxy approached the group, still with a smile on her face, and everyone stopped and stared at her. She felt a twinge of anxiety, a sudden spike of stage fright, but she fought it off. Instead, she simply moved herself forward into the crowd and sat down on the ground.

"Roxy…" one of them spoke up. She turned to look and saw that it was her old friend Bamaka. He was looking at her as if trying and failing to decide what to say.

"Greetings, Bamaka," she said with a bow of her head, "And hello to you all as well. Thank you so much for inviting me to the festivities."

Some of them smiled and nodded back, but a few were giving each other looks.

"Ah, Taka!" she spoke up, picking him out of the crowd, "How lovely to see you here."

Taka stepped forward, giving her a dubious expression that showed off his classic uncensored self. "Roxy, what…What is all of this…?" he asked, gesturing to her.

Roxy glanced back with a smile. The flower behind her ear was gone, sitting safely back at the hut. Instead, tied around one of her ears was a long green ribbon. It was done up in a large bow, with two long flowing strands hanging down her back. Roxy had carefully crafted the ribbon out of leaves, and it had taken her quite a while to get them just right. Tied around the base of her tail was another, smaller bow with the same ribbon.

She smiled shyly, standing up on her hind paws and twiddling her forepaws. "Well, uh…" she murmured, feeling just a little silly, "You've all welcomed me here…and you showed me your ways and your customs." She indicated the ribbon on her ear. "I thought, maybe tonight, I would show you all a little of my world."

That gained her a few understanding nods from her audience. Most still looked rather curious, though. "Oh, I see…" Taka said, studying her adornments with a somewhat critical eye.

"It looks very nice," Karizu commented as he suddenly strode up next to Taka.

"Thanks," Roxy said with a little grin.

"It is different, but in my opinion it is rather appealing," he added.

"Is this what Pokémon pets wear?" Taka asked. Roxy noticed that in this case, he didn't spit 'pet' like it was a curse word.

"Ah heheh…" she glanced away, flushing just a little in embarrassment, "No, not really. This is how we dress up…when we want to look, um…pretty." She sighed wistfully. "This is what I wore to my master's graduation…"

"Interesting," Karizu commented, "Thank you for sharing with us."

"Do humans really make these…?" Miri asked from the side.

"Well, they don't make them out of leaves," she clarified, "I had to improvise. I think ribbons are made out of cloth, or some kind of thread. They're human manufactured in any case."

Everyone began to comment on her ribbons, and most of the Pokémon there seemed to like them. A few even mentioned that they might try making some on their own. Taka never gave her more than a raised eyebrow, but she didn't take offense. She figured that his prejudice against pets ran deep and wouldn't just go away overnight.

Soon, Roxy was smiling brightly. It was the biggest smile she had worn in many days. This had started out as a random idea to show off some of her own culture, but now she found she was enjoying herself. The reason was fairly simple.

She felt pretty.

Roxy had made the ribbons with a lot of care, and tied them up just like her master used to do. She had also bathed in the river and spent a good hour trying to comb her fur down with just her paws, all in an effort to make herself presentable. She felt clean and pretty. She felt like she was her old, cute self once more. It made her feel good inside, and it clearly showed on the outside.

Before long, the drummers played their final number and everybody was seated. Roxy found a log and sat down upon it neatly, sitting up straight and pretending she was on one of those Pokémon Contests. She was dressed to impress after all, and she giggled a little at the thought.

Karizu and Natoka both stepped up to the head of the crowd, standing before the drummers and the bonfire. Roxy noticed with dismay that Ozu was still absent, and she hoped that he would get better soon.

"Brethren of the Thunder Clan…" Karizu spoke once the crowd had fallen silent, "Welcome everyone! Today is a wondrous, glorious day. Only a couple short days ago, our very way of life was threatened. The odds were against us, but not a single one backed down without a fight. The heavens shone upon us brightly that day, my friends, and the battle was won!"

A humongous cheer roared through the audience.

"So many of you displayed courage, bravery and determination in the face of almost certain defeat, and we have gathered here to honour you."

There was another cheer. Roxy joined in wholeheartedly.

"As these are slightly different circumstances," Natoka then went on to say, "We will simply call out your name, then you will come to the stage to have a new mark bestowed upon you."

From there, the ceremony began. One by one, the wise ones called out the name of someone in the tribe. They would make their way to the stage amidst applause and cheering, where Kaziru would congratulate them and spoke the oral rite that was spoken before all of the previous recipients. Natoka would then dip his paw in the green substance and apply their new mark.

This time, Karizu also explained out loud what each mark was for, which was probably because the ceremony was impromptu. It made the ceremony that much more interesting to watch. She was always sure to give a loud cheer whenever the new mark was complete.

The ceremony went on for hours, and it seemed like almost every single member of the tribe was getting a new mark of some kind. At some point, Karizu and Natoka even granted new marks to each other, which was interesting to watch. They even promised the crowd that Ozu would receive a new mark once he was on his paws.

When it seemed like the ceremony was finally wearing down, Roxy had to guess that it was pretty close to midnight. Food had been passed around while the long ceremony took place, so she wasn't hungry, and she hadn't gotten tired because she didn't want to fall asleep again like last time.

As she sat there, watching the last few Pikachu receive a new mark, a soft sigh escaped her lips. It was a wonderful ceremony, just as engaging to watch as the last few, and it felt so good watching these brave warriors get recognition for their accomplishments.

It wasn't the same, though, without Makari. She had no-one to lean her head against.

Karizu stepped forward and faced the crowd. He waited until the Pikachu that had just gone up was seated once more, and a hush fell over the crowd. It seemed like that Pikachu had been the last one, and the ceremony would wrap up. It was getting really late, but Roxy felt like she still had enough energy to dance for a bit.

"My friends," Karizu spoke, "My brethren…You should feel proud of the new marks you wear on your fur. We have been tested in a way that we have not been tested before, but we all worked together to come out on top. If not for the combined teamwork of this entire tribe, victory would have been but a faint dream."

Roxy smiled and nodded softly, silently agreeing with him. It had been a really frightening battle, but it was teamwork in the end that had earned them success.

"…We have one more mark to bestow."

Roxy's eyebrows raised a little. She had thought the ceremony was over, but apparently there was still one more Thunder Clan member left. While she didn't know everyone in the tribe personally, she was finding it hard to think of anyone who hadn't gone up yet. Who was left?

"Roxy."

What?

Why was he looking at her?

What?

Karizu extended his paw in her direction, inviting her to stand up and join him. Roxy just sat there frozen in place for a moment with a confused look on her face, which changed to one of nervousness when she saw that everybody was looking at her.

"Uhh…Wh-what…?"

The Raichu was still beckoning her, and he had the most encouraging smile. He was serious. This wasn't a prank.

"…Really?" she murmured, probably not even loud enough for Karizu to hear.

A few of the Pokémon around her began gesturing towards Karizu with their paws, urging her to go. A few of them said some encouraging words. Roxy glanced around, but she couldn't see a single villager who was upset by this. Everyone seemed to be on board.

"Come, Roxy," Miri said, patting her on the back and causing her to jump in surprise. She hadn't even noticed the Audino's approach. With a nod and a smile from Miri, Roxy stood up on her hind paws. She slowly but surely made her way up to the Raichu standing there waiting for her.

Everyone was still looking. They were all staring at her. She could tell even though she could only see Karizu. She was now centre stage, the main attraction, and all eyes were on her. They could see her stupid bows. Why did you put on the stupid bows?!

"Roxy," Karizu said, snapping Roxy out of her mild panic.

"Ah! Um…y-yeah?" she asked, then mentally face-pawed. That's a real formal word, "yeah"…

"You have been with us for more than three moons, soon to be four. In that time, we have all gotten to know you, and consider you a part of this family." He gestured with his paw to the assembled crowd. "We know that you are different, and that you come from a different world. Things are not the same where you come from.

"Two days ago, however, none of that mattered. At a time where no-one expected anything from you, and no-one would have blamed you for doing nothing, you stood up against the leader of the Earth Tribe. Many of us agree that this is one of the bravest things any of us have ever seen."

Roxy was blushing furiously from the praise. She smiled nervously and tried to think of something to say, but came up empty.

"You are different," Karizu continued, "You come from a different world. Yet, you have become a part of us. You have leant to this tribe a powerful skill that is yours and yours alone, and we are eternally thankful for what you have done."

He then closed his eyes and bowed his head slightly. "For your contributions to our tribe, and harmony with our brethren…" There was a slight pause. "Though these may not be your customs, and though…though we know that you do not intend to stay with us forever…"

Roxy's smile faltered a little, but she didn't interrupt him. It was the truth after all.

"…we would like to bestow upon you, these two marks."

Her eyes shot open wide. She had figured that they wanted to give her her very own mark, but to actually hear it being said was still a shock. It was something she had not expected, nor something she had even considered before. In a lot of ways she was still an outsider, and they wanted to give her one of their special marks that belonged only on the fur of Thunder Clan members?

And they were going to give her two!! In every past ceremony, Roxy had only ever seen recipients receive a single mark. The reaction of some villagers in the crowd confirmed to her that this was something highly unusual.

Karizu was looking at her. She was supposed to say something now, right? Roxy hesitated for a moment, though. She wanted to ask him, 'Really?' She wanted to ask, 'Are you sure? Do you really want to give one to me?' Plus, she wanted to speak up and yet again claim that she wasn't a hero. It still made her squirm in embarrassment when someone called her a hero.

After a moment of silence, though, Roxy smiled. "I…accept," she said. When Karizu then nodded and stepped to the side to reveal Natoka with the bowl of paint, Roxy got Butterfree in her stomach. This was really happening, and it was happening to her. She had never really thought about wanting a mark before, but now she found herself both nervous and really excited. It was as if something in her mind had finally clicked and she knew that this was an honour to receive. An honour they were giving to her. Her!

Natoka sat down quite close to her, which would have been really uncomfortable if Roxy hadn't known the reason. He dipped one of his paws into the bowl of naturally-made body paint. She could still smell the berries that it was made from.

Once his paw was no longer dripping, he then faced her. "This," he spoke to both her and to the crowd, "is the mark of a special skill. Something unique you can do that no other can."

Roxy grinned and nodded demurely. There was no question as to what he was referring to.

The Raichu indicated for Roxy to raise her right forepaw up, and she had a brief moment of panic that she would get ticklish and ruin the design. Natoka was careful, though, and very gently pressed his paw into the fur just above her hips. It hurt her neck to watch him while he worked, so she simply focused on the crowd and all of the smiling faces out there. She saw Miri, Bamaka, Baza, and Adi, Kiga and their son. Suddenly that stage fright didn't seem to be there anymore. These were all Pokémon she knew now. Pokémon she trusted. They were all happy that she was receiving this, with not a single objection.

Natoka finished much faster than Roxy would have expected. When he stepped back, Roxy twisted her body a little so that she could look down at herself. She gasped when she saw it. Now emblazoned on her fur was a green stripe that curved around from her back to her front, ending at a point just to the side of her tummy. It reminded her of an Arcanine stripe. It was quite large, much like the marks on others' abdomens. It would be easily visible from a distance, but no so garish as to make her easier to spot if she were trying to hide.

It was incredible. It was just paint on her fur, but it was incredible. Her very own mark, and she had earned it with her Grass Knot skills. This wasn't some meaningless little gift to make her fit in. She had earned this.

"Wow…" she whispered.

No-one in the audience was applauding, and at first Roxy was confused. Then, however, she noticed Natoka dipping his paw into the bowl once more. She remembered that she was still going to get another one!

"And this," Natoka spoke, "represents courage, bravery and selflessness in the face of not only certain death, but crushing fear." He paused for a moment before continuing. "None of us can know what it was like to cast everything aside and stand up against Tazoka like that. We can only imagine."

A thousand emotions were running through her mind, so she simply nodded.

Natoka then took hold of her left paw, on the opposite side of her body from her other mark. About halfway down the limb, just above the joint, he began to paint her second mark. This time, she could watch him as he worked. Again, she marvelled at the way his paw moved so deliberately, showing a great amount of artistic skill and yet not needing ages to make it perfect. With a flourish of his paw, he was able to draw the paint into a single point, as if the edges had been drawn with a pen.

In no time at all, he stepped back and her mark was finished. Roxy held up her paw and gazed down at it in wonder. She had been given a green 'band' of paint that went all the way around the limb. On the front facing side, though, the two ends came together as a pair of interlocking but unconnected 'hooks'. It sort of resembled the yin yang symbol.

Natoka then stepped back and washed his paws in the bowl of water. It was done. Roxy now had two marks. After giving the one on her forelimb a good look, she dropped her paws down to her side. She ended up accidentally brushing against the mark on her left, but found that the paint on her fur was already dry.

It was then that the crowd burst into applause and cheers. Roxy turned to face them fully, a smile reaching from cheek to cheek. She felt pride welling within her, as if her accomplishments had suddenly become real. All of these Pokémon were happy for her. They were cheering for her. There was no-one out there to be afraid of. No-one to be uncomfortable around.

She glanced down once more at the green marks on her body, just to see if they were real. The applause was continuing, and so she raised her head up again. They looked really excited for her, maybe even proud of her. She even saw Taka, sitting somewhere near the back. He wasn't smiling, as per usual with him, but he was clapping his paws right along with everyone else.

Roxy choked up and almost began to cry.

Concerned, Karizu stepped up and put a paw on her back. "Roxy?" he asked quietly, "Is something wrong?"

She sniffled and wiped away the couple of tears in her eyes. "Sorry," she murmured, "I'm sorry. I-It's fine." Roxy glanced up and gave a wave to the crowd. "Thank you," she said to them, "Thank you all so much. I…I don't know what to say…"

"There is no need to say anything, Roxy," Karizu said to her with a smile, "New marks speak for themselves."

She laughed softly, a smile returning to her face. When Karizu gestured, she walked back down to her place in the crowd. Many of the villagers she passed gave her a pat on the back.

"With that," Karizu announced, "the ceremony is concluded. The night is late, but if you still have the energy, your company is most welcome!"

The drummers started to play an upbeat song not a moment later. Many of the villagers began to dance, though a few tiredly walked off. Roxy found herself so full of positive energy that she needed no coercing to dance. It was as if all of her inhibitions had vanished. Roxy began to dance like she had never danced before.







After three songs, Roxy took a break. She was sitting on a log, watching everyone else dance the night away.

Or rather, that's what she had been doing before getting distracted by the green paint on her forelimb. Yet again, she was staring at it and trying to convince herself that it was actually there. Just a few short months ago, she had been freaking out about being separated from the life she knew and all of the comforts that came with it. Now, she was a bona fide member of a wild Pokémon tribe, and had the look to prove it.

"Congratulations."

Roxy almost fell right off the log. She caught her balance and then shot the Pikachu a look. "Good heavens, Taka! Do you just not make noise? Is that your special power?"

Taka chuckled without smiling. That alone nearly made her roll her eyes. "I do mean it, though," Taka went on to say, "You have my congratulations. No-one has ever received two marks at once before."

She could already feel the embarrassed blush coming back. The high of the ceremony was beginning to wear off. "S'just 'cus I had none…" she murmured.

Taka then stepped over the log and sat down next to her. Roxy hadn't quite expected that, but she didn't really mind. The days were long gone from when she had found Taka unpleasant to be in the company of. Her show of skill, and the revelation that it was all thanks to her master, had earned his approval. In some ways, that may have been a little petty, but Roxy was just glad they were approaching something that might be called 'friendship'.

"Why were there tears?"

Roxy glanced up at him, frowning at his question. "I, uh…" she stammered softly. Taka was looking at her, awaiting an answer, so she sighed and gave one.

"It…just all became so real when I was standing up there. I had won a fight. I was being called a hero. I was being invited to stand in front of everybody in the tribe to receive…" She held out one of her forelimbs. "…these. It was such an honour. I was just so happy and proud of myself and…" She sniffled a little. "…and Makari wasn't there to see me."

She then hung her head. "It's just not fair. I mean…Look at all the things I've done. Things I never thought I would be able to do. I fought an Excadrill! I've never even fought before! Makari, he…he was taken away…before he could see. My accomplishments. Everything that he saw in me that I didn't believe was possible." Roxy closed her eyes. "I just wanted to see his proud smile…"

"You know he was watching you," Taka replied, "You have said it yourself in the past."

"I know…" she murmured, "But it's…different…"

"He was watching you while you fought, giving you strength."

"I wanted to hug him…I wanted to tell him how far I'd come…"

There was silence between the two of them for a moment, so Roxy opened her eyes and glanced over to him. Taka had his own eyes closed, and looked like he was deep in thought.

"But, I know," she said to him, "I know that I didn't need to cry. I told myself that up there, and I shook it off. This is a time to be happy. It's a time to be proud, and…" She gazed downwards for a moment. "I still can't believe this green paint is on me…"

"It suits you."

She gave him an odd look. "What…?"

"In a way."

The two lapsed into silence once more. Roxy sat there and idly pawed at the ribbon hanging from her ear. The slowly dwindling group of villagers continued to dance before the magnificent bonfire.

"For what it's worth," she said at last, breaking the silence, "I think you should've gotten a mark."

"I already told you-" he started to say.

"That's baloney, though," she interjected, "Before you were knocked down, you were the one who…y'know, led the charge. It looked like the tribe as a whole didn't know what to do when the invasion came, but you stepped forward and you stood your ground."

"…"

"Even with their best efforts, not everyone can win…"

He still didn't respond, and it looked like she wasn't going to get much more conversation out of him. Roxy sat there for a while with the enigmatic Pikachu. There was still so much about him that she didn't know, and that he wouldn't tell. After a while, she decided to leave him be and get in a few more dances before bedtime.

"Hey."

Roxy paused and turned back to look at him. "Hm?"

"Will you be in the training area tomorrow?"

She blinked and furrowed her brow. "Uhh…I guess so?" She hadn't exactly been planning on it, but before the Earth Tribe raid she had previously been visiting the training area once a day. Now that the mayhem was over, she supposed it was time to get back to doing it again. She had no idea if it was doing her any good in a physical or technical sense, but it was still quite therapeutic for her.

"Good," Taka replied, and then gave her an inquiring look.

"Why?" Roxy asked with a tilt of her head.

"Would you mind if I joined you?"

Her eyes widened a fraction. "Wha…? You mean-?"

"Not like before. I promise."

"…Oh."

Taka shrugged and gave her a bit of a half smile. "I hear that you have been training there on your own. That is certainly commendable, wanting to improve your skills and such. I do believe, however, that it would be much more beneficial if you had…someone experienced on your side."

"You want to teach me again…?" she asked with a frown.

"'Teach' is a poor choice of word," he replied, "How about 'train'? You have potential in you, Roxy. It just needs to find a way to come out." He paused for a moment before adding, "I believe…my brother was right about you in that way."

"Really…?" Roxy muttered. She gave him an unsure look. Taka really was starting to see her in a different light after all. She had been practicing in the training area mostly to take her mind off of more depressing matters, but maybe Taka could actually help her this time. If he had this new respect for her, maybe she could actually learn how to fight from him. And then, maybe…

"Sure," she said with a pleasant smile, "I'll see you there."

Taka gave her a nod, and then she happily turned around and returned to the dance floor. There was no doubt about it. This was definitely the second-best day she had ever had in this damned forest.
The Thunder Clan - 19
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The Thunder Clan

A Pokémon by Giga Bowser

Pokémon and all related characters © Game Freak & Nintendo

This work of fiction, its setting, characters, and ideas are © Giga Bowser.

Do not use without permission

---


Roxy the Pikachu is not part of a Pokémon Trainer's team. She does not take part in Pokémon battles. No, she is happy to spend her days relaxing at home and enjoying the company of her loving human master.

So when Roxy somehow ends up in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by dangerous wild Pokémon, suffice to say her entire world is flipped upside-down.
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Chapter 18 - The  Invasion

"Miri, do you ever just sit sometimes and think about what life is all about?"

Roxy gazed over at the Audino sitting nearby, and saw that she hadn't quite expected that question.

"I…suppose so," Miri answered hesitantly, "I think it must be something that everybody thinks about at some point or another."

"Hm."

Roxy was sitting with Miri on one of the raised walkways between two of the village's treehouses. The former was sitting down, slumped to the side and lazily resting her head on the six-inch parapet that encircled edge of the walkway. The latter was sitting nearby in a more dignified position, idly weaving together something with vines.

"…Why do you ask?" Miri spoke up.

Roxy shrugged. She saw out the corner of her eye that Miri was frowning at her.

"Roxy, are you feeling all right? Is there something you want to talk about?"

The Pikachu simply breathed in through her nose and let out a long, drawn out sigh. "Not really…" she murmured. In truth, she was just feeling moody and down in the dumps. She hadn't felt like this yesterday, but today she had just woken up with storm clouds over her head. The snow that had accumulated had already started to melt, and Roxy knew it would only be a week or two before things finally started getting warmer. However, her mood had nothing to do with the weather.

"If there is anything you want to talk about, you know that I am right here for you."

"I know, I know…" Roxy mumbled, as Miri had said that very same thing at least five times already, "I don't really have anything to talk about. I just feel bleh…"

"'Bleh'?" Miri replied with a tilt of her head, "Is that a human word?"

Roxy tilted her head and looked over at Miri. Then, after a moment, she chuckled quietly. "Thanks for caring, Miri," she said.

"Of course, Roxy. Of course. That is what I am here for."

"I just feel kind of down…"

Miri sidled herself a little closer to her. "Well, tell me how you have been feeling as of late."

Roxy let out another heavy sigh. She could feel it in her heart. "It's been three weeks…"

A somber look appeared on Miri's face, and she simply nodded.

"It still hurts…Deep down there's this hurt whenever I think of him…I'm trying so hard to be strong, like I know he would want me to be…"

"I know that must be difficult for you, Roxy, but I also think that it is to be expected. Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things to go through."

Roxy swallowed a lump in her throat and nodded. "I guess…sometimes it's hard to see the future. Even before I fell in love with him, he was always there in my future in one way or another. I always thought he would be the one to…lead me home."

Miri glanced away for a moment, giving this some thought.

"Right now, the biggest challenge is getting the strength to move on. I'm just trying so hard…"

"But, I think you are doing quite well, Roxy. Especially considering that, well…death is not so common to you."

Roxy flinched at the word 'death'.

"It was not any of us that made you get up, leave the hut, and start living life again. That was all you. We knew it would be tough for you, but I think many of us had faith that you would be okay given enough time." After a pause, she added, "To be honest, we were more concerned about Taka…"

"I kinda was too…"

"We were very glad to see him return, though he still expresses no desire to speak about his brother…"

"He's just…We both lost a loved one, so…" Roxy glanced away and took a few calming breaths of the fresh forest air. "On the other paw, I'm glad that I don't have to worry about training or fighting anymore. That's a load off of my mind. I guess I'm thankful that it came at such a helpful time."

"I have seen you at the training area quite often, though," Miri said, "You seem to be continuing your training anyway."

Roxy waffled with her words a bit before replying. "It's…different. I started doing that at first to keep my mind occupied, y'know? Then I just sort of…kept doing it. It's a lot different when Taka's not there doing what he calls 'teaching', and there's no pressure to learn fast. If it's just me at my own pace, I enjoy it a little more."

"I see," Miri said with a nod.

"But, I mean…" Roxy continued with a half-hearted chuckle, "I'm still not a fighter at all. I can barely swing a spear around properly. I wouldn't be able to fight anyone in this village or this whole forest…not even you!"

Now this made Miri laugh. "Roxy, come now. You know that I do not fight."

"You'd still beat me."

"Oh, I think you are being ridiculous."

Roxy simply shrugged, the faintest hints of a smile on her lips. Talking with Miri was helping her bad mood a little, but it wasn't a perfect cure. At the back of her mind, there was still the memory of Makari, and the sadness that came with it. It was something that was always there. A burden of sadness that she had to carry with her everywhere.

At that moment, though, they both began to notice a commotion. Pokémon on the ground and in the distance were talking, yelling and making a ruckus. Roxy and Miri both stood up and made their way to the parapet, where they looked down to see what was happening.

The villagers directly below them looked confused, apparently still unsure of what was happening. In the distance, though, they could see warriors running about. Something was happening, and from the sound of the shouting, it wasn't good.

Roxy saw one of the wise ones, Karizu, in the distance looking like he was trying to organize the growing chaos. He held his spear out like a giant pointer and directed Pokémon around.

Hearing a familiar voice, Roxy and Miri glanced down to see that Natoka was below them. He was asking the nearby villagers what was going on, but wasn't getting many answers. When he saw the other Raichu in the distance, he started to run towards him.

But, Karizu was already running towards him. Natoka slowed down when he saw this, and soon the two Raichu met up. "Karizu!" the latter shouted, "What is happening?"

"They are here!" Karizu replied, slightly out of breath.

"Who? Who is here?"

There was a loud crashing sound in the distance, drawing everyone's attention. More Pikachu warriors started flooding through the trees and into the village, running past the Raichu or staying near them. Roxy gasped when she saw blood dripping from wounds on many of them.

Roxy whimpered quietly and watched in both fear and awe as suddenly, the whole village was on the move. Most Pokémon were rushing towards the two Raichu, who were standing in a small clearing about the size of three huts. Other Pokémon, mostly females, were running in the opposite direction. Most of them were leading or carrying cubs away.

"Miri?" Roxy squeaked, "What's happening?"

"I…do not know."

A rather sizable group of warriors had now assembled in the small clearing, including Ozu who had showed up in the midst of the confusion. Everyone was talking and shouting, but Roxy couldn't make anything out. Many warriors were holding their weapons up and rushing into the nearby trees. However, even more were fleeing back out of the trees.

"I need to get down there," Miri was saying, "They need medi-"

There was a loud crunch that nearly made Roxy jump out of her skin. Her frantic eyes scanned their surroundings until she saw a tree not too far away snap and fall to the ground. It made a tremendous, frightening crash as it hit the forest floor. One brave Pikachu ran forward to the tree to investigate.

A moment later, a powerful limb reached over the fallen tree's trunk and swatted the Pikachu away like a tiny Bug-type. Roxy had to stifle a scream. Then, from behind and around the tree, the enemy finally made itself visible as they advanced towards the village. Roxy's pupils shrunk to pinpoints as she felt her heart nearly stop.

The Earth Tribe was back.

The entire Earth Tribe.

Roxy watched in horror as tons of Thunder Clan brethren ran for their lives away from the slowly advancing group of Ground-types. The more she looked, the more Roxy realized that this was more than just a group of Pokémon. This was an army.

There was a line of at least ten Graveler marching forward in near-unison. They were at the front of the group, smirking as weapons from the Thunder Clan bounced uselessly off of their bodies. Amidst their ranks was a single Golem, who was humongous. Roxy didn't doubt that he was the one who had knocked over the tree.

Behind them were scores of Pokémon, all manner of Ground-types. There were tons of Sandshew and Sandslash, Marowak and Drilbur. She saw some Diggersby as well, and a couple of Rhyhorn. She even spied two or three Quagsire in their midst. Some of them had brown body paint like the Thunder Clan did, but most did not. Few of them were carrying weapons, but that didn't make any of them look any less threatening.

Roxy cowered behind the parapet, looking down with frightened eyes as the Earth Tribe continued to advance. One of the wise ones shouted an order, and then everyone gave up fighting the intruders and fell back to regroup.

She was too terrified to even think straight. It dawned on her at a painfully slow pace that she was watching the Thunder Clan getting invaded. This group had already pushed past the villagers out on patrol, and hadn't been slowed down by their combined efforts to push back. Now they had reached the village and they didn't look any worse for wear. Like so many times before, she broke her own record for level of fear in that moment. Frozen to the spot, she could only watch in terrified anticipation.

"Roxy, I need to get down there," Miri whispered, "I will be needed."

The little Pikachu didn't look away from the scene below, but she did whine quietly.

"Stay here," Miri instructed in a firm tone, "Stay out of sight. You will be safe here. If anything happens, climb higher into the trees."

She whined again in response.

"It will be okay, Roxy, but I have to go."

Roxy then heard Miri make her way to the ladder and slowly climb down, leaving her alone up on the walkway. She was shivering like mad, feeling sick to her stomach as she watched the very formidable and very dangerous tribe continue to advance. The Thunder Clan were all grouped together at this point, standing strong and facing down their enemy, but Roxy could see many worried faces.

Finally, once the Graveler reached the edge of the small clearing, they came to a halt. The rest of the tribe behind them halted as well. Suddenly, the entire village fell into a terrifying silence.

At first, no-one moved or said a thing. After a moment it looked like Natoka was going to say something in anger, but Karizu stepped in front of him and held him back. He then addressed the newcomers. "Earth Tribe!" he proclaimed, "What is the meaning of this?" There was no anger in his tone, but there was also an underlying demand for answers.

The Earth Tribe continued to remain still. Some looked smug, while others looked rather eager. Then, a few seconds later, a lone figure jumped up on top of the massive Golem, making Roxy quietly gasp.

Tazoka looked down at the assembled Thunder Clan from his high vantage point, wearing that same sickening smile that he always had. "My, my, my…" he said, his voice practically dripping with venom, "This certainly is a full reception, is it not?"

"Tazoka?" Karizu called up to him, "What is going on?'

The Excadrill simply smirked at the Raichu and chuckled darkly.

"Why have you intruded upon our land?!" Natoka demanded in a rage-filled voice. In response, some of the Ground-types began to stir and shout things back at him.

"Oh, such harsh words, Natoka…" Tazoka practically purred, "Such a temper…"

Karizu held out his spear to the side, once more holding Natoka back, and took a step forward. "Valued allies of the Earth Tribe," he announced, "You did not arrive last moon to receive your berries, but we still have them here for you. We are happy to provide them, as well as the berries for this moon." He paused, looking up at Tazoka with brave eyes. "We do not wish to break the agreement, Tazoka," he stated firmly.

Tazoka crossed his forelegs. "That is very amicable of you," he replied. Then he grinned, and Roxy could practically see the 'evil glint' off of his teeth as if she were watching a movie. "We, on the other paw," he continued, "do not see reason to continue this agreement."

Many in the Thunder Clan gasped.

"Your land," he went on to say, "is where the best and most freshest berries grow, and in such plentiful supply. We are quite capable of foraging on our own, so there is really no need for lesser species like yourselves to do it for us."

Roxy shrunk back a little. The logical thing to do was to duck below the short wall, cower, and hide. Yet, she couldn't tear her eyes away from what was happening. She was witnessing the breakdown of the agreement; the only thing that kept this group safe from Ground-types!

"Furthermore…" Tazoka continued, letting his voice dip a little lower, "Not all of us, in this tribe…can subsist entirely on berries."

Roxy's eyes opened even wider, a nervous sweat running down her neck as she understood the connotations of that statement.

Things were tense on both sides, though luckily there was still no-one charging forward. Karizu remained a step ahead of his tribe, still bravely maintaining eye contact with the Excadrill. "Tazoka…" he spoke, "You must reconsider…This agreement has kept our two tribes happy for such a long while. This goes further back than you or I. My father and your father met on equal grounds, and they were very happy with the agreement. And their f-"

"My father was a sentimental old fool!" Tazoka exclaimed, cutting him off, "Ever since he died and I took his place, I have been considering this rather pathetic state of affairs. We are the Earth Tribe! We are strong, we are mighty, and we have no place bowing to the demands of a few tiny spark pups!"

Behind him, the whole tribe let out a cheer.

"This is an insult!" Natoka boomed as he stepped in front of Karizu, who this time was powerless to stop him, "Our tribe works hard, day and night, simply to please you, and this is how you repay us? Do not underestimate our might, Tazoka! This agreement was forged on the grounds of equal strength, so that we could benefit each other."

Tazoka smirked. "Do you really believe that?"

"I do!!" Natoka exclaimed without hesitation.

Roxy, meanwhile, was nervously scanning the ranks of the Thunder Clan. She picked out quite a few of them who had bloody injuries from their efforts to prevent the Earth Tribe from entering the village. Trails of blood on the ground marked the passage of many who had already retreated to wherever Miri was hiding. Comparatively, there was not a scratch on any member of the Earth Tribe.

"Perhaps there was a time," Tazoka continued in his sickening voice, "when our tribe did see yours as, hmm…capable? It is admittedly impressive the things you are able to construct out of mere wood, rocks and plants." He then lowered his gaze slightly, causing the blade on his head to cast a dark shadow over his features. "However strong you may have been, though, you have grown soft. You are weak and sentimental, too kind for your own good.  You no longer command the same level of respect, I am afraid."

Natoka growled, while some of the Pokémon behind him gave each other concerned glances.

"Tazoka," Karizu spoke up, "Please consider what you are doing…"

"Oh, I have," Tazoka replied with an eager grin, "and after careful consideration, I have decided that your territory shall become ours. Perhaps, though, you have convinced me to reconsider my options. Okay, I have reconsidered them and my decision remains the same." With that manic grin of his, he began to chuckle.

In response to this, many Thunder Clan warriors held up their weapons to show that they were ready to fight, but Roxy didn't see very much confidence among them.

"Oh, do not try to fight back," Tazoka chided them, "You know it would be a waste."

Natoka glanced back towards Karizu and Ozu, and all three shared a glance. Afterwards, though, the Raichu were all silent. They continued to appear steadfast and resilient, but things were quickly turning from bad to worse.

"I will give you five minutes to leave," Tazoka spoke, "After that, well, I cannot promise what will happen."

"What will happen is that you will be gone!"

Tazoka's grin vanished as he sought out who had dared to shout those words. He didn't have to search long, because Taka was already pushing his way to the front of the crowd and marching forwards. Karizu and Ozu half-shouted at him, trying to keep him from advancing. He ignored them.

There was no other way to describe it. Taka was pissed. Roxy wasn't sure she had ever seen a Pikachu so angry before in her whole life. Just looking at that scowl on his face made her feel intimidated. Taka bravely marched across the clearing, heedless of any danger, until he was only about two metres in front of the Golem. None of the Earth Tribe had moved in response, though Roxy wasn't quite sure that was a good thing.

Taka then lifted his boomerang and pointed the tip right at Tazoka. "Turn around and leave us!" Taka demanded, with a threatening gaze in his eyes. Roxy subconsciously shrunk a little further down behind the wall.

Tazoka made a graceful leap off of the Golem and landed right in front of Taka, who didn't flinch even in the slightest. When the Excadrill stood up straight, he crossed his forelegs and looked down upon the smaller Pikachu before him. "Taka," he said in an uncomfortably calm voice, "I am surprised it took you this long to speak up."

"Leave."

Scoffing once, Tazoka shook his head. "Every last one of you has delusions of grandeur… If I say 'no', which you know I am going to say, then what exactly do you plan to do? You should consider yourself lucky that my tribe is standing still and not tearing you all to pieces right now. Try as you might, you know that you cannot harm us."

"I will not ask you again," Taka spoke, "Leave now. Take your berries if you wish. We still freely offer them to you. Either way, turn back and leave. Your Tribe is not welcome here."

Tazoka began chuckling, which sent a chill down Roxy's spine. "Do you speak for your tribe now?" he asked.

"It matters not which one of us speaks it. We all share the sentiment."

"My, your temper seems particularly venomous today…"

Taka said nothing in response to that.

"On any other day, Taka, I would have at least entertained your petty little threats. Even I will not argue that you are the strongest member of this tribe. Now, though, your threats mean nothing. Stand aside, Taka, or I will kill you."

Roxy watched, her heart caught in her throat, as this tense situation unfolded. Tazoka was waiting for Taka to move, but the Pikachu was not budging. She got more anxious with every passing second. This felt like an elastic band, being pulled farther and farther and getting that much closer to snapping.

It happened in the blink of an eye.

One minute, the two had been standing there. The next, Taka had suddenly swung his boomerang upwards, aiming for Tazoka's face, and the Excadrill had blocked it with his claws. A loud tang rang out through the air.

The area fell frighteningly still once more. Roxy couldn't breathe.

Then, Tazoka swung out and Taka blocked. Then, Taka retaliated but Tazoka blocked that as well. In a matter of seconds, the two were fighting. Taka began using his boomerang as a blunt weapon, darting about and swinging wildly at his opponent. Tazoka, meanwhile, slashed out with his claws, aiming for the smaller Pikachu that dodged every strike or blocked them with his boomerang. How strong was the wood in that thing?!

Roxy whimpered and quivered on the spot as she watched their fight begin. "This can't be happening…" she whispered to herself in a trembling voice, "Please, don't let this happen…!"

Taka and Tazoka seemed evenly matched, with neither seeming able to land a hit on the other. They had been fighting for about 15 seconds before others began to move. The rest of the Thunder Clan, at the command of the three Raichu, quickly began to rush forward to assist Taka. When Tazoka saw this, he used up a brief opening in his duel to snap his claws and point forwards.

It was as if he had opened the floodgates. The Ground-types that had been standing patiently behind him all rushed forward at once. The ground seemed to quake as they all moved quickly, like a powerful landslide. Though, astonishingly, every one of them moved seamlessly around Taka and Tazoka, letting them continue their duel.

Roxy wanted to close her eyes and cover her ears, but she couldn't look away. Before her terrified eyes, the forces of the Earth Tribe intercepted the Thunder Clan before they could reach Taka, and the brawl began.

Suddenly the air was filled with war cries as the two armies met one another. The Thunder Clan warriors scattered and tried to use their agility to gain the upper paw, but the Earth Tribe was like a solid wall that none of them could get past. Though some were probably trying, none of them was able to get through so they could help Taka.

Roxy's anxiety spiked to a new all-time high. Her heart pounded painfully against her ribs as she watched the Thunder Clan, so many Pikachu and Pokémon that she knew, that were her friends. They all wore brave expressions, and they used their skills and their weapons as valiantly as they could.

Yet, they were beginning to lose already. Despite their best efforts, they were still horribly outmatched against the forces of the Earth Tribe. Not a single bolt of electricity could be seen, considering just how useless they would be. Roxy actually saw many warriors stab, smack and skewer the Ground-types with their weapons, and some even managed to dig their spears in a bit. However, each successful blow was laughed off as if they had been hit with a feather. The thick skin of the Ground-types, especially those that were also Rock-types, were proving just how difficult it was to hurt them with sticks and stones.

The most vulnerable of the Earth Tribe, though more susceptible to damage from weapons, had their own defenses. Some like the Sandslash were shockingly fast on their paws, even managing to outrun other Pikachu. Some, like the Quagsire, had more varied attacks at their disposal. She saw Water Guns and other such attacks used to fend off the Thunder Clan and keep themselves from getting hurt.

While this was going on, Tazoka and Taka continued to duel off to the side. Roxy saw that Taka's boomerang had been broken in half, and now he was using a spear. The two circled around one another, darted left and right, and struck out whenever they saw an opening. Neither seemed to be wavering, though she saw more blood on Taka's fur than on Tazoka's. She hoped that this was just due to the colour of the Excadrill's fur.

Roxy whined once more, muttering to herself, "Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh…" She was watching an all out brawl, with pretty much everyone she had come to know down there fighting. She saw Kimi get thrown through the air, leading to a rough landing. Roxy had just shared berries with her this morning. There was a painful, growing fear in the depths of her heart, and it was much more than fear for her own life. She had already lost someone. She didn't want to lose anyone else.

On top of worrying about the lives of herself and everyone else, Roxy was also terrified of the aftermath. Even if everyone survived and ran away, then what? She would no longer have this village to keep her safe. She would be out there, possibly all alone, against the dangers of the forest. If this battle ended in defeat, she would lose her shelter, her food source, her safety, and any hope of getting back home.

This was more than a catastrophe. This was a nightmare come to life. And there wasn't anything she could do about it.

It seemed, at the very least, that the Thunder Clan were fighting back defensively. They were being smart and not taking unnecessary risks, considering the formidable foes they were faced with. How long would that last, though? She had already seen at least ten Pikachu stumble away from the fight, clutching wounds to stop the bleeding. Miri was down there somewhere too. Was she safe?

Roxy found she was hugging her tail, and really tightly as well. It took a moment for her to feel the stinging pain from squeezing too hard. Roxy hadn't hugged her tail in quite a long time, but she couldn't stop herself now. She was simply watching this unfold and hoping for the best.

But what was the best? Could the Thunder Clan really win against such odds? Even if they did win, would the Earth Tribe just come back? Should the whole tribe flee before anyone could die? Things were so chaotic down there, that someone she knew could very well have died and she hadn't even noticed. Was there any positive outcome to this, or was this invasion doomed to succeed and she was now trapped in the depths of hell?

She let out another worried whine when she realized something else. Except for Tazoka, the Earth Tribe warriors were going easy. Many of them were standing still, and not doing much except for fending off attackers. When an opportunity presented itself, they would strike, but Roxy could easily see that they weren't using their full strength.

And her stomach twisted when she realized the reason why. If the Earth Tribe just came in and attacked mercilessly, then their opponents would have taken the defeat as a sign to get stronger and strike back. By doing this, though, they were showing that they could be stronger. Why would any opponents come back later if they knew that the Earth Clan could do so much more? This was more than an attack, it was a psychological manoeuvre.

A Pikachu let out a cry as she was thrown to the ground.

Another stumbled after his spear failed to make more than a scratch on the Graveler.

An Emolga screamed in pain as she was hit with a Rock Blast.

A Raichu was struck down.

Roxy was beginning to cry now. They were going to lose this battle. There was no question about it. She tried to figure out what she was going to do next, but she couldn't think straight. All she felt was that familiar, horrible feeling that everything around her was crashing down. She was convinced that this was going to be the end of her journey, one way or another.

A loud grunt could be heard, drawing Roxy's attention back over to Taka and Tazoka, who were still dueling on their own. Taka was definitely showing the scars of battle by now, but the worrying thing was that his spear was now broken as well. Taka was facing the Excadrill with no weapon. Both combatants looked like they were starting to get winded, but Taka had his teeth grit and looked like he was in pain. Roxy was witnessing the impossible; Taka was losing.

Tazoka was currently standing in between Taka and the rest of the fight. The fact was that Taka was backed into a corner. If he kept on fighting, it looked like he would lose. But, with Tazoka standing in the way, he couldn't run to the rest of the villagers and their battle, nor could he escape off to where Miri was hiding. He could turn around and run away from the village into the forest, but how far would that get him?

Before she could ponder this any further, Taka took a chance and quickly lashed out at his opponent. Tazoka effortlessly blocked his attack and threw Taka back down to the ground onto his back. Taka groaned and tried to sit up.

Tazoka leapt forward and plunged his claws right into Taka's hind leg.

"No!!" Roxy cried out in horror, and then quickly cupped her paws over her mouth. No-one had heard her, though. She had been drowned out by the blood-curdling scream escaping from Taka's throat. Tazoka's claw had gone deep, maybe even all the way through. To Roxy, it looked like a fountain of blood was erupting from the wound.

No… she thought to herself. She couldn't lose him too.

Most of the rest of the Thunder Clan had heard his cry, and many immediately tried to come to his aid. Once Tazoka ripped his claws out of Taka's flesh, he snapped his claws once more. The Earth Tribe members stopped fighting back, and instead formed an impenetrable wall so that none could reach the two.

"I told you…" Tazoka said to his downed foe, "You cannot win against us."

Taka had both of his forepaws pressed to the wound to stop the bleeding, so all he could do was look up at the Excadrill and growl.

"I gave you a chance to flee, but you chose not to take it."

"You are despicable," Taka spat, "This is a coward's victory."

"I will not stop you if that is what you choose to believe…"

Tazoka then took a step forward, so that he was looming over the downed Pikachu. Thunder Clan members were desperately trying to break through, but the Earth Tribe was impermeable. Taka was a sitting Ducklett. He couldn't move with an injury like that.

The dread in Roxy's heart felt like heavy black tar. Her breath caught in her throat and she was sweating like crazy. Before her very eyes, the 'invincible' Taka was going to be killed. A frantic voice in her head told her that she had to stop this. She had to help. She had to save him!

But what could she do? Roxy whined at her own inadequacy. Taka was going to be killed, and she couldn't do anything about it. If a whole tribe of strong wild Pokémon stood no chance against an army of Ground-types, then what hope did she have by herself? Running to his aid would only end up getting her killed as well.

Tazoka grinned and sharpened his claws. The moment was approaching. Taka continued to glare at him for a moment, and then closed his eyes and lowered his head, accepting his fate. Roxy's heart beat even faster. This couldn't happen! Someone had to do something! Someone just had to, except there was no-one left to do anything. Those would could fight were trapped by the Earth Tribe, while those who weren't trapped were those who couldn't fight.

Roxy was the only one who could do anything, but what could she possibly do? She had the same weaknesses as everyone down there, plus a whole heap more. What did she have that they didn't? Unless she could somehow, within seconds, find somebody who knew Hydro Pump, or Ice Beam, or…or…

Her eyes shot open wide and she gasped as the thought hit her like a speeding train. Her pupils shrank to dots, though, as this new thought brought with it so much fear and anxiety.

Time seemed to slow down as she considered her options. Her eyes darted everywhere, from Taka to Tazoka to the rest of the tribe, and everywhere in between. She tried her best to see if there were any other possibilities at all, but there was simply no time. Each second that passed was a second closer to Taka's execution.

Roxy's heart hammered against her chest like a gong. Every thump felt like it was asking her the same question.

Are you really about to do this?

She bit her lip. Indecision and anxiety worked together to gnaw away at her confidence, and she was rooted to the spot by fear for a brief second. It was almost enough to make her stay put.

But almost was not enough.

Roxy scrambled on her paws and took off like a bullet. She darted over to the ladder and climbed down faster than anyone had ever climbed before. She was practically jumping down the rungs. She hit the forest floor about a second later, landing just the way she had been taught in training. Without a glance back, and certainly without paying any heed to the voices in her mind screaming at her to stop, she took off running.

"Roxy?!" Miri shouted in disbelief. Roxy caught a brief glimpse of the Audino as she ran past, seeing that she was hiding behind a bush and tending to the wounded. All she saw was Miri holding her paw out to her before she disappeared from view. "Roxy, stop!!"

She didn't stop. She pushed her little paws harder and harder, so they could carry her as fast as possible. There was no time to stop. No time to pause, to breathe, or to think about what in the world she was doing. She harkened back to the very first day in the forest, where she had run faster than ever before in her life.

The difference this time was that she was running towards the danger.

Roxy was small and unassuming, and she was entering the fray from off to the side. With the Ground-types focused on herding all of the Thunder Clan, Roxy was able to skirt by them nearly unnoticed and completely unmolested.

Tazoka's claws were raised in the air. Any moment, he would bring them down and end Taka's life. Roxy pushed her body past its limits. She strained herself to get there on time. The reality of what she was doing came crashing down on her, and she suddenly became convinced that she had just signed her own death warrant.

But, she couldn't stop now. Roxy closed her eyes, braced herself for the pain and mutilation that would come, and made her move.

"STOOOPPP!!!"

The forest fell frightfully quiet. One could have heard a pin drop, and on the leaf-covered ground no less. Everything became still and silent.

Roxy's eyes were closed and her face was cringing away. She stood there, having placed herself between Tazoka and Taka, and kept her forelimbs outstretched as if to shield the downed Pikachu. She quivered like crazy, absolutely expecting to be torn apart in a most painful manner. When, after a few tense seconds, nothing happened, she cautiously opened one eye.

Tazoka was standing there staring down at her, his claw held up in mid-slash. He looked quite surprised, and even a little baffled. "Well, well…" he said after a moment, lowering the claw to his side and tapping his chin with the other, "This was unexpected…"

"Pet…!" Taka hissed from behind her, "What are you doing?!"

Now that she saw he wasn't attacking her, at least not immediately, Roxy opened her eyes fully and stared directly into the eyes of the Excadrill. She kept her paws outstretched to shield Taka from Tazoka, and stood up as tall and as firmly as she could.

"I did not expect to see you until our siege was complete," Tazoka spoke with a little confident smirk, "What, oh what, has gotten into your little head?"

"Get out of here…!" Taka urged. His voice sounded weak.

Roxy turned halfway and glanced back at him. His leg had been painted red, and his forepaws were still pressed tightly to the wound. There was a serious, fierce look on his face, the kind one might give to a misbehaving child. She could tell just by looking at him that he would not be moving any time soon.

"Young one…" he hissed, "Run! Do not be a fool, and run!"

Instead, she turned back around so she was facing Tazoka. Behind him, she could see many shocked and worried faces among the ranks of the Thunder Clan. Her appearance had somehow slowed the energy of the entire battlefield. Now, it seemed, everybody was just waiting to see what happened next. Perhaps some of them thought that if they tried anything, she would be killed in response.

The thought had occurred to her as well.

"Go on, little pet…" Tazoka purred, his voice once again sending a shiver down her spine, "This battlefield is no place for someone like you. I do admire your bravery, and I am sure this little pest that you are protecting does as well, but I would advise you not to stand in my way."

Roxy stared up at him, and the two remained silent for at least half a minute. Her nerves were going crazy, and she simply couldn't stop herself from shivering. She was expending a lot of energy just to force herself to ignore all of the warning signs in her head. She knew all too well that Tazoka could kill her in the blink of an eye, and at any second.

"…Leave," she demanded.

Tazoka blinked. "Pardon?"

"Leave," she repeated, and then said, "D-don't hurt him. Leave us alone. W-we don't want to fight." Roxy knew there would be no way to keep the quiver out of her voice, so decided to just ignore it.

Roxy couldn't tell if Tazoka was baffled or amused by her actions.

She gulped, shoving all of her fears down into the depths of her mind, and forced herself to be unwavering. "T-take your army…and go. We don't want to fight. We don't want to break the agreement…"

Tazoka arched an eyebrow but continued to say nothing, which made Roxy feel even more terrified.

"T-take the berries…They said the offer's still there, so…take them." Roxy took in a quick deep breath and let it out slowly. "Please…Don't hurt anyone else…" She stole another quick glance back at Taka. "Don't hurt him. I…I-I won't let you."

"Pet…!" Taka's voice was getting desperate now. "Run! Run away before it is too late!"

"You should listen to him," Tazoka commented casually.

Roxy gulped but held her ground.

"This battleground has no place for the likes of you. If you are not careful, you could get seriously hurt," he said while leaning down closer to her, speaking in a parent-like voice, "Run along and let the grown-ups play."

At this, she gave him a flat look. "I'm not a child…"

"Listen, my dear," he continued, ignoring her, "The law of the forest is taking place here, and I am afraid there is nothing you can do about it. Change is inevitable, my little doe, and it does not favour the weak."

Roxy shook her head. "I said 'go'." She cast a furtive glance at the tribes standing behind him, all of whom were still watching to see what would happen next. The tension was as thick as bone.

Tazoka sighed. "Listen, little pet. I quite like you. I think you are rather charming. If you want to flee now and save your own life, go ahead. I will not stop you. In fact, I will make sure no-one chases after you." He paused for a moment and idly tapped one of his claws on the ground. "However," he continued, "I would advise you to do so before you deplete my patience!"

Roxy took a breath of air in through her nose and calmed her wild nerves as much as she could. It was now or never. She had to decide if she was brave enough for what she needed to do next.

"I-If you don't leave…" she stated, firmly but cursing the ever-present tremble in her voice, "Then I will…I-I will make you."

Tazoka snickered loudly. Roxy would have been insulted had she not been terrified. "I beg your pardon?" he asked incredulously. Behind him, Earth Tribe members were giving each other grins and nudges, while Thunder Clan members looked shocked at what she had uttered.

"I will…" Gulp. "…force you leave. A-and trust me…It'll hurt…"

As expected, instead of the reaction she wanted, Tazoka gave her a smirk and a shrug of his shoulders. "Cute," he commented, "Now get out of the way."

When he took a step forwards, Roxy took one back but remained standing strong with her forelimbs outstretched. "I-I-I'm warning you…!"

"Pet, stop this!" Taka hissed, "He has already defeated me. There is no need for you to do this and waste your life as well."

"Your friend is wise," Tazoka continued, "His advice might save your life."

Roxy could feel the threat of death encircling her completely, crushing her down with the weight of a thousand bodies. She was almost expecting death at this point, and had so many mental voices asking her why she had done this crazy thing.

But still, she couldn't stop now. The moment she stepped aside, Taka would die. "This is your last chance…" she warned the Excadrill with as much bravado as she could muster.

Tazoka gave a huff of frustration. "Fine. You want to die? I will deal with you after this one," he said as he stepped forward, intending to shove right past her.

A chorus of audible gasps filled the clearing a moment after Roxy had forcefully shoved him back. Now, Tazoka was staring down at her, once more dumbfounded. She could see him silently asking himself, 'Did she really just do that?!'

"Leave us…alone!!" she shouted, meanwhile praying that this would actually work. After another moment of tense silence, Tazoka uttered four frightening words.

"That was a mistake."

He took a step forward and raised his claw up into the air. Roxy grit her teeth and grimaced, bracing herself for the worst.

"Tazoka, no!!" Taka shouted.

She just needed a little more time.

!

Her ears snapped up and she gasped softly. Got it! The energy within her was practically brimming at this point, and she was finally ready. No-one had noticed the grass blowing nearby, despite the utter lack of wind.

Roxy drew in her forelimbs, then let out a loud cry and thrust them outward. She felt the powerful energy draw up from the Earth, use her body as a conduit, and burst outwards all around her. Large, softly glowing tendrils of grass spread out from her hind paws and encircled her, forming an elaborate floral pattern on the ground. Before Tazoka could do more than stumble back a step, she raised her forepaws up. The lengths of grass followed her command and rose up around her, as if the flower had closed into a bud. She held them there, surrounded by a curving, glowing cage of thick grass strands.

Many of the Pokémon surrounding her had gasped in shock when she had first unleashed her Grass Knot, and now they were all staring at her in silence. Tazoka had stumbled a few steps back, and was staring at her in utter confusion. She even saw a bit of disbelief in his eyes. They darted around, taking in the entire construct she had created with the grass, but no words came out of his mouth.

Roxy sighed. She could feel the immense amount of energy she had pulled from the Earth. It had taken quite a bit of time, and she had been secretly drawing the energy since the moment she first stepped in front of Taka, but now her gambit had been successful. Ground-types were weak to only three things. Luckily, one of them happened to be Grass Moves.

While everyone was frozen in shock, she tilted her head back to regard Taka. He was still lying there in the same position, but he wore the same expression that Tazoka had. He was staring up at her, eyes wider than she had ever seen them before, with his mouth hanging open in a perfect 'O' shape. It was the most emotion she had ever seen him show. He looked like he had just seen Arceus itself descending from heaven.

She then turned her attention back to Tazoka, who was starting to recover from his shock, and quickly thrust her forepaws out. She idly noticed that her fur was dimly glowing green. That had never happened before.

Some of the blades of grass separated from the 'bud' and suddenly lashed out towards the Excadrill. His quick reflexes allowed him to deflect one of them, but the others moved too quickly. They wrapped themselves around his forelimbs and held him in place, while a third, rather thick, blade of grass swept along the ground and caught his hind legs from behind. Tazoka let out a cry of surprise as he was knocked off of his paws and landed on the ground in a heap.

Roxy had read that Grass Knot was useful for tripping larger opponents. She had never dreamed she would ever put her own Grass Knot to such use.

Tazoka quickly stood back up, swiftly slicing up the grass into ribbons with his claws. He glared at her, seething quietly. She could tell that he was in pain and trying to hide it. Grass-type Moves were usually executed with the same type of energy that Roxy used for Grass Knot, which allows Pokémon to move plant life. Roxy knew from the encyclopaedia that this energy felt hot and painful to Ground-types, which is why they were weak to Grass-type Moves.

Roxy didn't even give Tazoka a chance to make another move. With a flourish of her forepaws, more blades of grass rose from the ground. They snaked through the air like vines come to life. These ones, she used to snap at Tazoka like a Vine Whip. She grouped a few of them together to make a thick grassy vine and sent it directly towards him. He tried to dodge, but it impacted him in the shoulder and sent him staggering back once more.

After knocking him on his rear end again with another low sweeping strand, she pulled the grass blades back in and reformed the 'bud' around her. Tazoka quickly stood up, and glared daggers at her. She could see the way he was holding his paws to parts of his body where he had been struck. Roxy also knew that the energy of Grass-type Moves weakened the typically thick, rough skin of Ground- and Rock-types.

Tazoka whipped his head around and glared back at his army. "What are you all standing there for?!" he barked, "Kill her!!"

None of them needed to be told twice. At once, they all turned around to fully face her, and adopted intimidating glares. They didn't all charge at once, much to Roxy's gratitude. A couple of them did, however, begin to run towards her at a frightening speed. Others began to follow behind them at a slower pace, but this made them no less frightening.

Roxy froze for a moment as fear and anxiety consumed her whole body, but she shook it off, grit her teeth, and thrust her paws forwards once more. This time, every single blade of grass that was under her control shot forward like a mass of tentacles. She focused on each foe one at a time, lingering on them just long enough to get a blade of grass wrapped around them in some way. This was usually enough to bring them to a stop, or at least to a crawl. There were so many of them, though, and some of them were beginning to get uncomfortably close.

A collection of valiant war cries erupted through the clearing. Roxy witnessed the wonderful sight of every able-bodied Thunder Clan warrior quickly rushing to action. They dashed forward on their speedy paws, zeroing in on those that Roxy had already wrapped in Grass Knots.

She watched a group of three Pikachu converge on the Graveler that she had just attacked. They all began slashing and thrusting with their spears, digging into the Graveler's skin and managing to draw blood. The Graveler was forced to abandon its focus on Roxy and defend itself.

Roxy smiled as this continued with the rest of her foes. The Thunder Clan kept those that she had weakened with her Grass Move occupied, and allowed her to focus on those that were still coming after her. With careful, deliberate movement of her paws, the grassy blades moved to her whims and sought out opponent after opponent. Each strike was like a flurry of living ribbons, wrapping up each Ground-type like a Christmas present.

She panted as she continued her Grass Knot assault. This was ten or twenty times more blades of grass than she had ever had under her control before. This was requiring much more effort and concentration compared to just showing off for her master in the garden. She didn't let it get to her, though. She just kept her focus on the continuous wave of enemies, and did her best to make sure that none reached her.

This was working. This was actually working! Though she wasn't very strong or powerful, the energy from her attacks was weakening the Ground-types enough that the Thunder Clan were able to attack more effectively with their weapons. Slowly, but surely, they were starting to turn the tide of the battle.

Through all of this, Roxy was continually forced to focus on Tazoka. The Excadrill was relentless in his approach. Though the Grass Knot was clearly hurting him, he kept pushing himself towards her with those deadly claws of his. Any Thunder Clan warriors who tried to engage him were easily swept aside, and he was frighteningly fast at cutting up her grass with his claws.

Sweat was running down her neck. This was getting really difficult, but she refused to stop. No matter how hard this was getting, she couldn't back down. If she did, things would just go back to where they had left off before. Taka would be killed and the tribe would be run out of the village.

There was so much going on, though. She had to split her focus among many different foes and all of the various grass blades she was controlling. It was like a difficult puzzle, and it was quickly giving her a terrible headache. Through fleeting glances, she saw that many Earth Tribe warriors had been beaten down into submission, and others were retreating to the sidelines. The Quagsire, in particular, were nowhere to be seen. Grass Moves, after all, were especially volatile against them.

Tazoka, though, was a relentless foe. He was not giving up, no matter how many grass blades she slung at him. Slowly, but ever so surely, he was advancing closer to her. Roxy couldn't move without stopping the Move entirely, and then it would take her a while to get it going again, assuming she even could.

Roxy half growled, half groaned through the intense exertion she was pushing herself through. This was leagues longer than she had ever thought she could maintain a Grass Knot, especially considering that she had never tried one for so long before. The fact that it was working was the only thing giving her the energy to keep going. The Thunder Clan were holding their own once more. Maybe she really could help them to victory!

A vicious claw swipe severed one of the blades of grass forming the 'bud' around her, and she cried out in surprise. She nearly lost her focus, but strained to keep the Move going. Earth Clan members were lying on the ground defeated now, blood leaking from the wounds on their weakened skins. This could be the end. No-one else had to die.

Of course, this all depended on what the one behind that claw swipe would do next. Tazoka was seconds away from skewering her before she rose more blades of grass up from the ground and tied them tightly around his forelimbs. He growled and struggled to free himself.

With a mighty roar, he ripped free of his bonds. "Enough of this!" he bellowed.

Roxy tried to summon even more grass, but she just couldn't do it fast enough.

Before Tazoka could attack her, a pair of brown paws reached under his forelimbs and hooked around his shoulders. They hauled him back out of striking range from Roxy. The Excadrill tried to retaliate against Karizu, but Natoka was too quick for him. The latter Raichu leaned back on his tail and delivered two devastating kicks with his hind paws, reminding Roxy of a Breloom. Tazoka was knocked to the ground, and the two Raichu quickly followed him.

"To your right!"

She quickly heeded the advice that Taka had yelled at her, and sent blades of grass to the right. The charging Sandslash was interrupted, and he cried out in pain as the grass curled around him. A Jolteon was quick to take him out of Roxy's paws.

Roxy then gave Taka a quick glance back and smiled in thanks. Taka hadn't moved a muscle, and was still holding his paws against his wound, but he had a determined look on his face and nodded at her.

She then turned back to look at Tazoka. The two Raichu had delivered a nasty beating to him, and now he was standing apart from them with a defiant look. By this point, a lot of the Earth Clan was now standing behind them, hiding and resting on the sidelines and away from the brawl in the clearing.

"You have seen what we are capable of!" Karizu proclaimed.

Tazoka simply growled at them.

"Our young warrior here," Natoka continued, holding a paw up in Roxy's direction, "can take on your entire tribe without moving from that spot. We know your weakness to the energy of nature, and certainly you are intimately familiar with it."

"She is a weak pet!!" Tazoka spat back, "She will run out of strength before long!"

"Can you really afford to take that risk?" Karizu asked.

Now that the fighting had paused, Roxy had drawn back all of the blades of grass towards her, and they were spread out below her in the flower shape once more. She continued to hold the Grass Knot in place, even as the fighting had stopped. Intimidation was the important thing right now.

At first, Tazoka looked like he was going to say something defiant and charge forward again. Then, however, he turned his head and glanced at the rest of his warriors. They were all hurting. They were weakened from Roxy's Grass-type energy, and injured from weapons that had now found purchase thanks to their weakened skin. Roxy had no doubt that the majority of them would not hesitate to keep on fighting, but the advantage was no longer theirs.

The Thunder Clan held the power right now, and Tazoka knew it.

He growled, indecision written across his face. Now that things had slowed down, it seemed like he was taking notice of his own injuries as well, as if for the first time. How much more of his strength would be sapped away before he would be defeated by the 'pathetic' Thunder Clan? How many more times could Roxy sweep his hind legs out from under him? Running away would be admitting defeat, but staying to fight might end up doing even more damage to his pride.

After a couple of very tense minutes, Tazoka scowling the entire time, the Excadrill finally came to a decision. He raised one of his claws, which caused Roxy to flinch, but then he snapped his claws and pointed into the forest. Without missing a beat, the entire tribe began to retreat.

Tazoka remained standing there as his tribe left the clearing and made their way through the trees and out of Thunder Clan territory. No-one stood in their way. If any of them were grateful or upset, Roxy couldn't tell. They all wore expressionless masks, and moved with military-like precision.

Soon, Tazoka was the only non-Electric-type left in the clearing. He was continuing to glare, immeasurable rage in his expression. Specifically, he was staring at Roxy. If looks could kill, Roxy would be dead on the spot.

She tried to keep her nerves under control and look as threatening as possible. She even raised a few blades of grass up into the air threateningly. Inside, though, she was just desperately hoping that he would leave already.

Finally, Tazoka tore his eyes away from her and took a few steps away. He turned his back on the Thunder Clan without a word and took a grand leap into the air. As he crested through the air, he pulled his claws up above his head and began spinning rapidly, and when he hit the ground he drilled right through it. A tiny noticeable bump under the soil quickly slinked away from the clearing and out of sight.

Roxy immediately let go of the energy within her, and the grass fell back to the ground limply. She let out a huge breath of relief.

A moment later, the whole tribe began to cheer. They raised their paws and their weapons up into the air, yelling with joy and celebrating their victory. It was the happiest that the tribe had ever felt, even more than during the ceremony. A great sense of relief and pride was sweeping its way through the village.

"You did it…!"

Roxy slowly turned her head to regard Taka, sitting on the ground next to her. There was a mix of disbelief and amazement in his eyes.

"You did it! We won! The village is saved!"

Roxy then turned around to face the rest of the tribe. The warriors were all gathered around one another, cheering and hugging each other. The females who had hidden with their cubs came rushing out, children in tow, to join the celebration. Miri was already rushing over so that she could treat Taka's wound.

And so many of them were looking at her. Smiling at her. Cheering for her. She saw so many grateful faces, and heard all their shouts of amazement and congratulation that all blurred together into a wonderful white noise.

A petite little smile graced her lips. She had done it. She had chased off the invaders, she had saved Taka's life, and she had saved the whole village. She had done something that she never, ever would have imagined herself doing before. Now everyone was safe, the battle was over, and she could finally relax.

Roxy promptly fell face-first to the ground and passed out cold.
The Thunder Clan - 18
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The Thunder Clan

A Pokémon by Giga Bowser

Pokémon and all related characters © Game Freak & Nintendo

This work of fiction, its setting, characters, and ideas are © Giga Bowser.

Do not use without permission

---


Roxy the Pikachu is not part of a Pokémon Trainer's team. She does not take part in Pokémon battles. No, she is happy to spend her days relaxing at home and enjoying the company of her loving human master.

So when Roxy somehow ends up in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by dangerous wild Pokémon, suffice to say her entire world is flipped upside-down.
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Chapter 17 - What Makes You Special?

It took three days for Roxy to get up and leave the hut for more than a couple of minutes.

She had spent that time lying uselessly in Makari's old hut, without the strength or energy to do anything. She spent every minute thinking about Makari, and every thought left her with a heavy pain in her heart. Miri stopped by twice a day to see how she was doing and to talk to her, and a few other villagers visited to give their condolences.

Finally, though, she was up on her paws and stepping through the doorway into the chilly winter air. Roxy had heard that time healed all wounds. She wasn't sure if that was completely true, because she still felt completely awful, but she did feel a little better.

Perhaps it was the thought that Makari was somewhere watching her, which was a thought that she had often. She realized how pathetic and sad she must have looked if he was indeed watching her. Roxy had no solid beliefs about life after death, but since Makari had died she had started to hope that there was some form of afterlife that would keep his spirit alive somehow.

The words of Miri and the others were starting to ring true. 'Makari would have wanted…' they would all say.

When she had woken up this morning, Roxy had taken a good look inside of herself. The pain, the depression, and that feeling of emptiness were all still there. They hurt just as badly. She was sure there would still be moments when she would unexpectedly feel like bursting into tears.

However, she also reflected upon what she had gone through. Roxy's stay in the village had been quite tumultuous, but she looked back on how her training had gone. In the time before she had gone on that fateful foraging trip, she had learned how to push herself to do things she didn't want to do. Roxy had wondered if she still had that strength somewhere inside.

Perhaps she did, since she was standing outside of Makari's hut. A part of her did want to just crawl back inside and hide again, but she couldn't deny that the fresh air was a relief. It was bitterly cold, but the smells of the forest were still there and they reminded her that this place, while utterly dangerous, was still a place of beauty.

Roxy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She felt turbulent all over, like one wrong move would shatter her entire being like glass. She knew, though, that this was something she had to do. No matter how hard it would be, she didn't want to just lie in the hut every day for the rest of her life.

This is what Makari would have wanted. She was knocked down, and he would have wanted her to get back up.

Roxy started to take a slow walk around the village. There weren't many villagers around at the moment. Roxy figured they were mostly inside, or out on patrol. Still, though, she kept her head low and didn't look anyone in the eye. It wasn't that she wanted to be antisocial, but she didn't quite feel ready to strike up casual conversations. She promised herself that that step would come later.

Thankfully, the other Pokémon seemed to sense this and respect her wishes. A lot of them waved to her and called out a 'hello', which she returned with a polite nod, but none of them pressed her for more interaction.

She walked around the village in as wide of a circle as she dared, taking care not to stray too close to the village edge. She had to admit that it felt nice to get out and walk. The air, though very chilly, was quite calming and relaxing. She felt like her thoughts didn't wander to dark places as much now that she was up and moving. Eventually, she had circled back around to where she had started, at Makari's hut.

There, Roxy paused and sighed. She couldn't lie. The village of the Thunder Clan was different without him. The whole tribe had lost something valuable when his life had been taken away. It, like many other things, would never be the same again.

This was a big change to her life. Roxy had already dealt with a huge change, when she had first found herself here. Things had gotten a lot better since her first few nights here. Roxy could only hope that the same would happen again.

But then, she felt bad for thinking that. To her addled mind, it sounded like she wanted to try and forget about him. Roxy shook her head and tried to tell herself that it wasn't true, but her mind was in a very pessimistic place. She was still so mixed up emotionally. She wanted to remember Makari forever and never forget about him, but did that mean suffering forever from the pain of losing him?

Roxy eventually found her paws taking her to a different place. She entered the clearing in a quiet and respectful way, and waited off to the side until the three Raichu noticed her. She tried not to eavesdrop, but it sounded like they were talking about something that had them concerned.

"Hm?" Natoka grunted as he turned his head and noticed her.

"It is Roxy!" Karizu proclaimed, "Hello, young one. It is so nice to see you."

She took a few more steps into the clearing, standing at the base of the large mound. "Hello," she said, rather quietly but still loud enough for them to hear.

"Greetings, Roxy," Ozu spoke, "How are you feeling?"

"I'm okay. Thanks for asking," she said, telling a white lie.

"We must admit that we were worried about you," Karizu said to her, "but it is good to see you out of the hut."

Roxy nodded. "I, uh…I just wanted to thank you. Y'know, for the…um…your consideration about me and the food and…stuff…" She trailed off and started scuffing the ground with her hind paw.

"Ah yes, well…" Karizu's expression changed into a sad smile, as did Ozu's. Natoka didn't seem like he was paying attention.

"Yours is definitely a highly unusual case," Ozu said, "We at first felt that we had to try and have you conform to our standards, and we tried to help you along the way, but it seems that is not to be the case."

"We are very sorry that we have to limit your food," Karizu said, sincere apology in his tone, "It is just that-"

"No, no, no," Roxy said, waving her forepaws in the air, "It's fine. Really, I'm being honest. I'll survive. I'm just glad I don't have to…you know…" She trailed off again and suddenly decided that the ground was very interesting to look at. Thinking about going on patrol had made her remember the reason why Makari had been killed. She shivered a little and tried to steel herself against the tears that threatened to fall.

"Are you sure you are okay?" Ozu asked.

It took her at least half a minute before she finally squeaked out, "…No."

She clenched her eyes shut as a few tears slipped down her cheeks. There was quite a long period of uncomfortable silence before someone finally spoke up.

"Would you like to come up and sit with us?"

Roxy sniffled, wiped some of the tears away with her paw, and looked up at the Raichu. "Huh…?"

Karizu smiled and patted a spot next to where he was sitting. Ozu also had an inviting look on his face, though Natoka still seemed disinterested. Was he pointedly looking away?

"Are you…Really?" she murmured.

"Why not?" Ozu asked.

Roxy blinked, and then she couldn't help but chuckle a little. Even after all this time, she still forgot that the wise ones were not to be treated like 'royalty'. They were rulers just because they were the strongest and smartest. There wasn't much pomp and circumstance required when in their presence.

She nodded in thanks and then clambered her way up onto the mound. She sat down between Karizu and Ozu, sighing and wiping away a few more tears. "I'm sorry…" she muttered, though she tried her best to smile, "I'm just a mess…"

"That is understandable, young one."

"I'm trying…I'm trying so damn hard…"

Ozu patted her on the back. "We know you are."

"I want to be strong…to move on and…do all of the things that he thought I could do." A stray tear ran down her cheek. "But sometimes it feels like I'll never feel better."

"Well," Karizu said, "in a way, there will be a wound in you that will never fully heal. That is what happens when we lose the ones we love…" When Roxy looked up at him, he continued. "Miri has told us that this is…your first experience with death?"

She nodded.

"Then this wound may be especially deep…"

"But," Ozu politely cut in, "tell me, Roxy…What happens to a deep wound if it does not kill you?"

Roxy furrowed her brow and considered the grisly question. "It, uh…heals?" Ozu nodded, but continued to look at her as if he was expecting more of an answer, so she gave it a bit more thought. "The wound, um…it closes up. The body fixes itself."

Ozu nodded sagely. "But what is left behind?"

She was silent for a moment, before she whispered her answer. "A scar…"

He nodded once more. "That scar shall always be there. You will always notice it, and it will always sting a little bit…but it can also serve as a reminder. An immortalization. Warriors wear their scars with pride. It shows others that they went through tough times, but were strong enough to come out on top."

Roxy brought up a paw and held it to her chest. It felt like there was real scar on her chest, hovering on the edge of existence like a phantom.

"Makari's death has wounded us all," Karizu said calmly, "Some of us…much more than others. But the wounds will heal and we will all be left with scars. That, young one, is one way that he will never be forgotten."

Roxy glanced up at the two Raichu, a small frown on her face. That was what she had been worried about; forgetting Makari. If what they said was true, then she would always have a 'scar' to remember him by. Roxy didn't have any actual scars on her body, so she didn't quite know what it felt like to live with one.

"That's…That kind of helps…" she said after a moment.

"It is a belief that our whole tribe shares," Karizu said, "Death is never easy. It is finding ways to fight back against the sadness and despair that will make things better."

Roxy closed her eyes for a moment and imagined herself standing there with a huge scar across her chest. In her mind's eye, she reached up and gingerly touched the scar. Then, he was there. She could picture him so clearly. His warm smile, his calming eyes, and that sense of quiet optimism that he always seemed to radiate.

When she opened her eyes, she gazed up at the two Raichu again and then sighed. Ozu reached over and patted her back once more. "It will get better."

"I know…" she said sincerely.

Looking up at them, she could see that they were both sad as well. They were clearly much better at dealing with it, but neither of them were moving on as if Makari had never existed. They were being so nice to her, and she was so thankful for that. She stole a glance over at Natoka, who had his back to the three of them. He didn't seem upset, rather he just seemed like he didn't want to be a part of the conversation. He had always been a bit distant and antisocial, so Roxy didn't take offense to it. She had Ozu and Karizu to make her feel better.

"Thanks for this…" she said.

"You are not alone, Roxy," Ozu said, "Remember that. You are a part of this clan now. We care about you, just as you clearly care about us. If you ever need something, even just a shoulder to cry on, remember that you are not alone."

Roxy smiled tiredly and nodded. Her smile was tainted with the poison of sadness, and she could feel its toxins in her chest even as she smiled. That would last for a while, but she just had to believe that it would eventually get better. Move forward, keep pushing, don't give up.

It's what Makari would have wanted.

She took a breath to relax herself and spent a moment just looking at her surroundings. As she turned her head to look at the nearby trees, something caught her eye that was sitting just behind the Raichu. She turned her gaze upon it and her eyes danced a little in wonder. "Is that…?"

Ozu turned around, curious to see what she was looking at. "Ah," he said in recognition as he picked it up with his paws and brought it closer so she could see.

Roxy's eyes sparkled as she gazed at the Thunder Stone. She had only ever seen them in books before. It was a shiny green crystal, almost totally translucent, with the image of a lightning bolt near the middle. It was radiating a soft green glow, and Roxy could swear she saw electricity dancing through the inside of it.

She leaned in a little closer, and immediately she could feel the energy radiating off of it. It swept through the air and passed straight through her body, giving her a very stimulating feeling. It felt like every electron in her body had just taken a shot of espresso. She knew that this was the evolutionary energy contained within that small stone, the power with which three known Pokémon could use to instantly evolve.

Her curiosity got the better of her for a moment as she started to reach out her paw towards it, but she snapped it back to her side before she made contact.

"A Thunder Stone…" she breathed.

"Is that what the humans call them?" Karizu asked with a chuckle, "We know them as the 'Sacred Stones'."

Roxy nodded in answer to the question.

"They are extremely rare out here," Karizu continued to explain, "Only a few know the proper way to seek them out. We are lucky if we can find more than one in the span of four seasons."

"When one of our tribe is selected to become one of us, the wise ones," Ozu added, "they are given one of the few sacred stones that we have, and can become a Raichu."

"Wow…" Roxy murmured. It was really fascinating to see. She had grown up knowing that one of those things could be used to make her evolve, something which she had no interest in, but she had never actually seen one. She wanted to hold it, but was afraid it would accidentally make her evolve. Pokémon were able to stop evolution, right? She racked her brain for the answer.

"It's very pretty," she said, continuing to gaze at it.

Both Karizu and Ozu let out a soft sigh. Then, after a moment of silence, Karizu said something to her in a quiet voice.

"It was to be Makari's."

Roxy's eyes opened a little wider as she absorbed this information. For a moment, she just sat there and continued to silently stare at the stone. Then, she slowly turned to look up at Karizu with a vulnerable look on her face and whispered, "…What?"

"We had decided…that Makari would be the next wise one."

"As soon as one was needed," Ozu added, "Makari would have been presented with the stone."

"He would have made a fine leader…"

Roxy blinked slowly, trying to comprehend what she was hearing. "Did…" she whispered, "Did he know?"

Karizu shook his head. "The choice is not revealed until it is time for the stone to be given."

She wanted to say something else, but found for a moment that her jaw didn't seem to work. Muddled emotions began welling up inside of her upon learning this news. She continued to stare at the stone blankly. Minutes of absolutely nothing passed by, and then she started to feel agitated. Restlessness began to stir within her.

"I…I gotta…" she mumbled as she stood up.

Karizu and Ozu looked at her with mild concern, silently asking where she was going.

Roxy closed her eyes for a moment and steeled herself. When she opened them again, all she said was, "I need to be alone for a little bit…"

When the two Raichu nodded their heads respectfully, she nodded back in thanks and then started to turn around. She hesitated for a second as her eyes fell upon Natoka, who still had neither moved nor said a word. She briefly considered saying something to him, but decided against it.

Right now, she just needed to leave.

Roxy left the glade and walked around aimlessly for a little bit. She wanted to keep her promise to herself and stay out of Makari's hut for more of the day, but she couldn't decide where she wanted to go. Emotions that she wasn't even sure she could identify were boiling up inside of her and threatening to spill over.

Finally, she found a spot within the village where no-one was around. Roxy quickly slipped into the deserted training area.

Roxy stood near the back end, took in a deep breath, and let it out in a shuddering sigh. She was shocked to hear about Makari's Thunder Stone. If he were still alive, he could have been looking forward to holding the most respected position in this tribe. It was like the biggest kind of a 'promotion'.

Now it would never happen. Life had cruelly taken him away before he had even known about it. Had Makari guessed? Had he even aspired to such a position? Roxy would never know, and the world would never know either. It was just another thing cut short.

It…wasn't…fair…!

Roxy quickly realized that the emotion welling up inside of her was anger. She opened her mouth and let out a loud, frustrated scream, and simultaneously drew her fist back and punched it as hard as she could into one of the nearby targets.

The woods fell still as Roxy stood there, panting heavily and shedding more tears. There were tiny rivulets of blood running down the wooden target from where her paw had struck it. She seethed from the pain, but she didn't care. She was just too upset.

She swore loudly and shook her head. "Why…?" she then muttered, "Why did it have to be like this…?"

Roxy couldn't remember the last time she had felt this angry. Everything that had just happened in the last few days felt like an injustice to Makari, to her, and to the whole universe. It was a wrong that she was both desperate and powerless to right. Seeing Makari's Thunder Stone had just reminded her that it was one of many things he would never experience. He would never see it, and he would never get to feel the excitement of being chosen to receive one.

He would never get to become a Raichu.

Roxy was weeping once more, but for a change she didn't feel like sobbing or curling up into a little ball. She wanted to growl and scream and let out all of her frustration.

She wanted to hit more things.

The frustrated Pikachu took a moment, though, and glanced off to the side. She eyed the pile of practice spears, and then went over to pick one up. If she was going to hit things, no use hurting herself any more, right?

With another frustrated growl, she started to swing her spear wildly at the targets, the support beams, and anything else in the training area that looked hittable. She didn't care if anyone saw her. She didn't even care if she ended up breaking something. All Roxy cared about right now was letting out all of her frustration and anger at the way things had gone.

"Makari should be here!" she said as she whacked a target. "He should get that stone!" she shouted, slashing at another target. "He should be awesome and amazing and wonderful, but now he can't!!" With that final exclamation, she brought the spear up high over her head and swung it down as hard as she could on the target in front of her.

There was a resounding WHACK that echoed through the village. It was quickly followed by Roxy's yelp of pain.

She seethed a little and held her paw up to the tender area on her face where the wooden shaft had bounced right back off of the target and hit her. She couldn't feel any blood, but it really stung. She let out a little groan and softly rubbed the sore spot.

"Thanks, universe…" she muttered darkly.

Roxy then glanced down at the spear she had dropped in surprise. She reached down and picked it up. She was still mad enough to hit things, but certainly didn't want that to happen again. As she took a moment's pause and gazed down at the practice spear, she remembered something that Taka had once taught her about knockback.

She gripped the spear and faced the target, once again imagining that it represented all of the problems she was facing. She racked her brain and tried to remember what Taka had taught her. She had learned something about how precisely to strike so as to minimize knockback.

It took a bit of effort to remember his lesson, but when she next struck the target with just as much force, she didn't end up with another stinging welt on her face. Roxy focused and hit the target a third time, receiving the same successful result. Roxy let out a quiet grunt of approval, complimenting herself for remembering what Taka had taught her.

But what about her punch? Hadn't Taka taught her something about that too…?

Roxy then resumed attacking the targets, both with and without her spear. This time, though, she started thinking back on the lessons Taka had taught her. Before long, she found herself surprised at just how much she could remember.

Soon, she wasn't so much taking out her aggression, but rather training and practicing. So many of Taka's lessons started to come back to her, and she ended up practicing each one and seeing if she could still do it.

Eventually, Roxy glanced up and was shocked to see that the sun was setting. She immediately questioned just how long she had been there. Where had the time gone? Apparently, she had been training all day and hadn't even realized it.

Roxy put down her spear and contemplated this for a moment.

"…Huh."







The next day arrived. Roxy awoke bright and early, and immediately went to the training area. By the time the sun was up past the horizon, Roxy had already begun to practice. As morning passed overhead and shifted into noon, Roxy spent the whole time training.

She had hardly even paid any attention to the fact that it had snowed overnight. It wasn't a whole lot, as it had stopped falling from the sky before she had woken up. Rather, there was simply a thin coating of white covering the ground and the trees. It was only slightly chillier than it had been in the past few days.

Roxy found that training was the perfect thing to keep her mind occupied. When she had been sitting around, doing nothing, her whole mind had been filled with horrible thoughts, crushing depression, and worsening anxiety. Training was giving her brain a chance to focus on something else.

It was working great. Roxy did not completely forget about Makari. He was still present in her thoughts, but she didn't allow her mind to dwell on them. She needed to focus on remembering the proper techniques and keeping her stance steady. It turned out to be very therapeutic.

She, of course, took breaks every now and then to rest or to eat something. In those moments of downtime, she did feel her mood slip a little bit as she started to veer back towards those darker thoughts. However, she found that it wasn't as bad. With her mind working on a challenge like this, she was still using it to reflect on what she had just done and think of ways to improve.

A few others stopped by to train, and she greeted them all with a smile and a wave. She didn't feel better enough to smile brightly and act cheerful, but her cloudy mood was starting to let a few rays of sunshine through.

Miri stopped by as well to see how she was feeling, and was pleasantly surprised to see such an improvement in Roxy's demeanour. She wasn't patronizing at all, and was happy to let Roxy get back to what she was doing.

The whole day passed by, and Roxy spent it improving her skills. A lot of Taka's lessons were coming back to her, and she was even beginning to teach herself. She had figured out the basics of the sharpened wooden sticks that resembled daggers all on her own. Though maybe not quite as optimistic as she could be, Roxy started to feel a little of that confidence, which she had lost on that fateful outing, starting to return.

The sun started to set, and most of the villagers started to return to their huts. Roxy decided that she would get in another ten minutes or so of training and then go do the same.

She gripped the spear tightly in her paws and stared at the waiting target. She had been practicing with the bows, the daggers, and even experimented a little with the boomerang, but now she had returned to the trusty spear. After just a few moments of silent preparation, she started to dash forward. With a mighty leap in the air, Roxy performed a perfect jump slash. A solid, perfectly straight scratch mark appeared on the wooden target, bisecting it perfectly.

Roxy straightened up from her landing and let out a huff, smiling in satisfaction at her accomplishment. That had been one of the first things she had ever learned, and she was getting close to mastering it. In a way, it was still astounding to her. If the Roxy of last year could see what she was doing now, she would be floored.

Her ears twitched as she heard pawsteps in the snow. She turned to see who it was, and almost dropped her spear.

Standing at the edge of the training area, equally frozen in place, was none other than Taka.

The warrior was looking at her with an unreadable expression. His brows were furrowed, but his eyes were wide. To Roxy, it looked sort of like a mix between surprise and crossness. Roxy, meanwhile, just stared at him. Taka had been missing since the funeral, and everyone had been getting really worried about him. Now, here he was, just standing there. Roxy was afraid that if she did anything, Taka would run away again like a frightened Deerling.

His eyes were moving around, taking in what he saw. Was he surprised to see that she was training? Roxy thought that he looked indecisive about something. She could only imagine what might be going through his head, given recent events.

Then, slowly, a frown began to form, until Taka scowled and spat out an irritated groan. He then turned tail and ran off.

"Hey!" Roxy called after him, quickly discarding her spear and taking off on all fours in pursuit. "Taka, wait!!" she called as she ran, "Come back! Please!"

Taka didn't stop or even slow down. He didn't answer her, and he didn't even turn his head back to acknowledge her. He simply kept running through the trees, and he was really fast which made it hard for Roxy to keep up.

"Taka!" she called again through her panting, straining to keep him in sight. This was hard enough despite the fact that she was worn out after training all day. "Taka, stop!" She couldn't let him get away, though. Taka was obviously going through some really difficult emotions, which had to be the reason why he had been missing in action. Also, though, she just really wanted to talk to him about what had happened.

Roxy darted around a tree, having almost lost sight of the speedy Pikachu. She was just barely able to see him reach the base of a thick tree and climb it. She slowed down for a moment and caught her breath, thankful that it wasn't yet too dark for her to have seen him. Once she could breathe properly again, she made her way towards the base of the tree.

There, she craned her neck and looked up. The tree was really tall, but she couldn't see Taka anywhere up there. "Taka?" she called out, but again received no answer. Roxy figured that he could have just easily jumped from tree to tree and gotten away from her, but she figured she had to at least try.

Roxy then began to scale the tree as well. This was the one thing she was very adept at doing, having climbed countless trees back home. She had developed an impressive sense of balance when it came to skinny platforms such as branches. With a series of quick little hops, she ascended higher and higher into the tree. The branches were covered with a little bit of snow, but she just made sure to take extra care with her footing.

The tree just kept going though. She was only about halfway up when she figured she would have been near the top. This may have been the tallest tree in the forest for all she knew. Luckily, Roxy was scared of a lot of things, but heights didn't bother her at all.

Finally, as she neared the top and the tree started to thin out, Roxy glanced upwards. There, perched on the highest branch that could support his weight, was Taka. His boomerang was hooked onto his back and he was facing away from her, staring out at the sunset.

"Taka?" she called up to him, quieter this time. When he still didn't respond, she said, "Taka, please…I just wanna talk to you. Everybody's been worried about you…" She frowned and hopped up one more branch. "It's…been a really hard time. For me. For everyone. I know you don't really like to show weakness and all that, but…He was your brother, Taka…I know you must be hurting."

"Go. Away."

Roxy froze in surprise from the harsh, icy tone in Taka's voice. It didn't sound anything like the Taka she knew. Regardless, she didn't back down. "I…Taka, I just…I-I don't think it's good for you to…Well, I dunno if I'm really an expert on this…" She hopped up another branch, leaving only one more branch between him and her. "It's just that this is the hardest thing I've ever had to go through…and it still hurts so much…so I can only imagine how much it hurts you…right?" Roxy gazed up imploringly at him, but he still didn't move a muscle.

She frowned and leapt up towards the next branch. "Taka, c'mon. I-" When she landed, however, her hind paws slipped on the snow that was covering the branch. "Waah!" she cried out in sudden panic as her paws slipped out from under her. Seconds later, she was airborne. Time seemed to slow down for a moment as she realized that she had just slipped off of a branch at the top of one of the tallest trees in the forest.

Roxy closed her eyes and screamed again. If this didn't kill her, it was going to hurt.

A mere half-second later, after her life had briefly flashed before her eyes, Roxy's fall was halted. Her scream died on her lips and she opened her eyes. She hadn't landed on anything, but was now dangling suspended in the air.

Roxy glanced up, and marveled at what she saw. Taka had slipped off of his own branch, using both his tail and his boomerang to hold onto it and hang below it, and had grabbed onto her paw with his other free forepaw.  

For a moment, she just stared up at him dumbly. Taka had caught her. Barely a single second had passed since her paws had slipped on the snow, and he had leapt into action and caught her before she could fall. A moment later, a shiver ran up her spine as she imagined what could have just happened to her.

Taka just stared down at her with a plain expression, looking neither relieved nor angry. He looked at her in silence for a moment as he continued to hang there with her, and then he indicated with a nod of his head that she should climb back to safety on the branch in front of her. He swung her just a little bit forward, and she was able to securely grab onto the branch she had slipped off of. A moment later she had climbed up on it, after which Taka swung himself back up onto his own branch.

She took a breath to slow her rapid heartbeat, and then looked up at the other Pikachu. He had gone back to sitting in that same spot, but now he was looking over his shoulder at her. A moment later, he shifted to the side, away from the tree's trunk.

"If you insist on staying," he said in a low voice, though not quite as icy as before, "then sit up here where you will not fall." He punctuated his statement by tapping his paw on the empty spot between himself and the trunk.

Roxy was silent for a moment, and gazed up at him. He might have just saved her life, for all she knew. It still didn't seem like he wanted to talk, but it did seem much safer sitting next to him and against the trunk, rather than just standing on a snow-covered branch. Besides, she had to thank him.

A moment later, she jumped up gracefully and pulled herself up onto the branch next to Taka. She sat herself down securely, resting against the trunk and curling her tail around the branch a bit for stability. Once she was comfortable, she turned to look at Taka. He had returned to gazing out silently at the sunset. At first she thought of saying something to him, but then decided to turn and look out at the sunset as well.

The sight truly did take her breath away. She had never seen the sunset without all of the trees in the way. It was sinking below the tree-filled horizon, casting the warm colours of dusk across the sky and the clouds. Its waning light filtered through the distant trees, casting the whole land in a strange but beautiful illumination. It again reminded Roxy of just how beautiful this forest could be.

After at least five minutes of total silence had passed between them, Roxy finally opened her mouth. "Thank you," she said in a quiet voice, "Thank you for…catching me."

As she figured, he didn't reply. She didn't dwell on it, though. The most important thing to her was having expressed her gratitude to him. Instead, complete silence reigned as the two watched the sun set. The silence lasted for quite a few minutes, until Roxy finally decided that she needed to say something else.

"…I'm sorry you lost your brother."

She turned to look at him, but still it was as if she were not even there.

"I've…I didn't have siblings growing up. I don't know what it's like to have a brother. So, um…I can't say I know how you feel right now. Not exactly." She paused and glanced away, biting her lip a little. "I just know that I…I cared for Makari so much." She started to choke up a little, but kept on speaking. "And it hurts so much, now that he's gone…"

Roxy took a deep, shuddering breath before continuing. "To me…he was special, but to you…he was your brother. He was family. If it hurts me this bad, I can only imagine how much it hurts you. And…I, um…" Roxy stammered over her words for a moment. "I'm sorry…I know you don't, y'know…like to show emotions, or whatever. I just…I know how it feels. Partially, anyway. I just wanna be there f-"

"Shut! Up!"

Letting out a quiet little screech, Roxy jumped just as much as her heart did, and she shied away from Taka's sudden outburst. She had nearly fallen out of the tree again.

Taka had turned to look at her, and was now giving her a rather venomous glare with his teeth grit in anger. He was taking in quick, deep breaths. To Roxy, it looked like he was barely holding in his anger and was trying to keep himself from lashing out at her. Roxy was not shy to admit that she was scared.

After about thirty tense seconds, Taka's glare softened a bit. He closed his mouth into a frown and furrowed his brow, keeping his gaze locked on her. Then, finally, he let out a heavy sigh and turned away. Roxy remained frozen on the spot until she saw his shoulders slump and his head hang down a touch.

"Why you?" he muttered almost under his breath.

Roxy carefully shifted herself back into a secure sitting position. "What…?" she spoke in a soft, calm voice.

"I cannot understand it…" Taka continued to mutter, "Why you? What it is about you? What is so special about you?"

Roxy blinked and tilted her head. "What d'you mean?"

Taka tilted his head to look at her, and he still had half of a glare on his face. Roxy flinched just a little.

"Makari was there since I was an egg," Taka spoke, "Whatever happened, and whatever the world threw our way, we were always brothers and we were always there for one another. We knew everything about each other." Taka then turned back to the sunset. "Then suddenly, you drop right out of the sky, and he becomes obsessed with you. Suddenly everything is about you. Night and day. Your every whim is of utmost importance."

Roxy hesitated, not sure how to respond. "I…I, uh…"

"From the moment he met you, he insisted that we bring you back to the village and do everything to keep you safe. He knew you for a pawful of months, and it was obvious even before he said so that he had fallen in love with you. Why? Why you? What makes you so special that you could get inside of his head so quickly?!"

Now Roxy was frowning, idly twiddling with her paws. "I…I dunno…" she murmured, "I just…I loved him. I was so happy when I knew that he loved me too…" This line of conversation was easily drawing out her tears, but she just wiped them away and kept talking. "I was just…Th-that's just love, right? It just…happens. I can't explain it, but I could never change it either…Haven't you ever loved someone like that?"

Taka just continued to stare at the sunset with a moody expression. "I do not think I will ever understand it…" he muttered, frustration evident in his voice, "You became so much a part of his life. He started neglecting his duties to take care of you, and before he would have never done that. From the moment you arrived, you somehow managed to take all of his attention for yourself. You were like a Delcatty, somehow poisoning his mind with infatuation. Heaven forbid he would spend the time to speak with me, his own brother…!"

Roxy stared at him in silence for a moment, the gears in her head turning. "Taka…" she ventured slowly, "Are you- Were you…jealous of me?"

Taka turned and gave her a glare that suggested he wouldn't hesitate to push her right off of the branch.

She quickly backpedaled. "Well, okay, maybe 'jealous' isn't the right word, but…Are you upset because I, um…sorta…took him away from you?"

He didn't reply, and simply sighed in frustration as he turned his gaze away from her once more. Roxy bit her lip. All she had were wonderful, happy memories with Makari, and just thinking of him made her heart ache. But, had those happy times come at the cost of making Taka upset? That definitely hadn't been her intention. She tried to convince herself that Taka was just overreacting because he was upset.

To that end, Roxy commented to herself that she had never seen Taka like this before. He was handling it in his own unique way, but Taka was definitely upset. This was good, right? This was why she had wanted to talk to him.

"Do you know what my brother's last words were?"

Roxy's heart skipped a beat. She stared at him, wide-eyed. "…What?"

Taka slowly turned his gaze back up to her, giving her an eerily calm glare. "The last words Makari ever spoke…The last thing he said to be before he could breathe no more…Do you know what he said?"

She thought back, and she could vaguely remember Makari whispering something in his ear. Not knowing what had been said, she timidly shook her head.

"Six words." Taka then turned himself around so that he was facing her more directly. He stared at her with that icy look of his, remaining silent for a few seconds, and then he leaned in close to her. Roxy's fur stood on end as he whispered the words to her, just as Makari had whispered them to him.

"'Keep her safe. Keep her happy.'"

As he leaned back away from her, Roxy felt as if her heart had stopped entirely. She was left with her jaw hanging open slightly, staring off into space as this news set in. The revelation that Makari had used his last precious breath to tell this to Taka hit her with a mix of emotions. It was astounding, and it was really touching. It warmed her heart in such a powerful way. Even to the very end, Makari had shown that he had truly loved her, and it brought a tear to her eye.

At the same time, looking at Taka and his angered expression, Roxy also felt troubled. What Makari had said was wonderful to her, but she could easily see how it was far less wonderful to him. It made her feel like she didn't deserve those words, and that they should have been something else that would have made Taka feel happier. Roxy was just in disbelief. Had Makari really said that?

"Taka, I…I don't know what to say…"

"My own brother…" he murmured, "Moments from death…and that is what he had to say."

"I'm s-"

"Do you understand now?" Taka suddenly snapped, "Why you?!"

"I don't know!!" Roxy suddenly shouted, anguish in her voice and tears streaking down her fur.

Taka kept his gaze on her steady, but didn't say anything else.

"I'm sorry, Taka! It just happened. Isn't that what love's s'posed to do?! He made me so happy, Taka. I was miserable out here, and I still am, but he made things so much better. I didn't mean to make you upset and I'm sorry if I did, a-and I…I…"

After a moment of watching her fumble over her words, Taka sighed and closed his eyes. His anger seemed to wash away from him, leaving him calm and collected.

Roxy sniffled, trying to get her own emotions under control, impossible though it seemed. "Taka…We both loved Makari. In some ways it was different, but in some ways it was the same. I know he was your brother and you two have been so close for your whole lives. I don't know what that's like, so I don't know exactly how you feel…but I was in love with him. In a different way, I was just as close to him as you were…"

She brought her paw up to wipe away more of her tears. "Taka I hate feeling like this…a-and everybody in the village is getting worried about you. Can we please…just be strong for each other? You lost a brother, and I lost…a very, very special Pokémon… I've never had a brother, but have you ever lost someone that you loved the way I loved Makari?"

He didn't answer. He didn't even look at her.

"…Taka?"

He softly grumbled, so Roxy decided to drop the conversation. She sniffled and wiped away some more tears. This wasn't what she wanted. Losing Makari had left a big enough hole in her heart. She didn't need to have it torn open larger by Taka's harsh words.

"You will never know what it is like…"

Roxy perked up at the sound of Taka's quiet voice.

"To stare into your brother's dying eyes…beg the heavens to let him hold on just a little bit longer…He only has precious few seconds, precious few breaths left, and he doesn't even say to you 'I love you'…'I will miss you'…'Be strong, my brother'…"

She gazed at him as he spoke. There was obvious pain in his words. Deep pain. Yet, he was holding himself together remarkably well. No tears, no sobbing, not even a frown on his face. Taka was managing to keep all of his emotions safely inside of him. That wasn't healthy, was it?

It felt like a stab in the heart, though, to hear those words. It gave her a little bit of an insight into what Taka was going through. It was hard for her to put her own pains aside and see the pains of others, though she knew they were there. Taka had lost a part of his family forever, and there had been no parting words between them.

Then, a thought occurred to her. "Taka?"

He didn't answer.

"Taka…Why didn't you say anything at your brother's funeral?"

Taka turned and gave her a glance with one eye, caught somewhere between skeptical and irritated.

"Please, just…tell me the answer?" Roxy begged.

The other Pikachu closed his eyes once more, and then spoke. "We do not speak at funerals," he stated, echoing Miri's words from earlier, "The deceased's life has been lived. Their accomplishments, their tragedies, their loves and their hates, and everything of value that they contributed to the world…these are things that need not be said, because they are there for all to see."

Roxy nodded. "Uh huh," she said, "You don't say anything because everybody knows. Well, um…Makari was doing the same, I think."

Taka gave her a puzzled look.

"Makari didn't say that he loved you because…well, because you already knew that. I think Makari was sure of this. There was no need to say he loved you because you both knew it." Roxy glanced away and mulled this thought over for a bit. "I guess…that's why he didn't say it to me either." She smiled a moment later.

When she looked back towards Taka, his expression hadn't changed. She started to get a little nervous that she wasn't getting her point across.

"Makari…" She sighed. "Makari was just so loving…and caring…I think, in a way, he loved everyone in this village. Maybe given enough time, he would love everyone in the whole forest, or the whole world! He knew…that you knew that he loved you…but he didn't know if I would be okay." Roxy bit her lip and held her foreleg with a paw. "That's…why he said that…"

While he still didn't answer, Taka's gaze had softened and he had turned back to the sunset.

"He was so compassionate. Who am I? I'm nobody out here, but he still cared so much about me. In a way, I guess he still does…"

"He was very brave. A strong warrior like no other."

Roxy looked over in surprise when she heard Taka speak. After a moment of silence, she added, "He was…"

"He was very smart. He always had the answer."

A small smile appeared on Roxy's face. "He was very generous."

"He handled his errors with dignity and respect."

"He was a sympathetic shoulder to cry on."

"Above anything else, he had a strong sense of what was right and wrong…Something I, perhaps, could have learned more from him."

Taka then turned to regard her. Once more, a moment of silence passed between them. Then, Roxy saw something that she had never seen before in her whole life. Taka smiled.

"I think you may be right," he spoke, "I understand now why he said what he said." After a pause, he added one more thing. "Thank you, young one."

Roxy blinked once, then smiled once more. "H-he really was amazing, wasn't he…?" she said, on the verge of tears once more.

"He was…" Taka said sorrowfully.

"I'm gonna miss him forever."

"As will I." Taka then sighed and looked her straight in the eyes. "I must apologize for snapping at you earlier," he said, "I fear that I had let my emotions cloud my mind. I could not see things as they really were. Now I feel as though my brother's honourable death has been sullied by my misguided feelings." He grimaced a little. "Makari, can you ever forgive me…?"

"Oh, of course he'll forgive you. Didn't we just go through this? He loved you!" Roxy said, trying to put on a reassuring smile, "And, well…I forgive you too, Taka. It's fine. You weren't yourself. I mean…" Now it was her turn to sigh. "Losing a brother can't be easy."

He continued looking into her eyes, seeming lost in thought for a moment. Then, he said, "Losing a loved one is not any easier…"

Roxy's eyes widened a bit, and then her lips curled into a sad smile. She wanted to hug Taka, but was afraid that one way or another that would lead to her falling off of the branch.

When things grew silent once more, she asked him a question. "Did Makari really whisper that to you…?"

"He did."

"That's…I can't even believe it. To know he really did care about me that much…"

Taka simply nodded.

"Is that…why you caught me? When I fell?"

He gave her a sidelong glance with an arched eyebrow. "Of course not," he replied, "You were falling and you were going to hurt yourself. I do not want to see you, nor anyone in this tribe for that matter, getting hurt."

"Oh…" Roxy said, feeling just a hint of disappointment.

A moment of awkward silence passed, with Taka once more gazing out at the sunset. The sun had almost completely disappeared from view, and the world around them was starting to get dim.

"Taka…?" she spoke in a quiet, timid voice, "Does this mean we can be…friends now?"

After more uncomfortable silence, Taka answered her. "No."

She grimaced a twinge. "Really…?"

"Do not take it the wrong way," he continued, "I used to dislike you."

"Y…You mean you don't now?"

"I have realized that I have not been treating you fairly. Not in the days before Makari was lost, nor in the days afterwards. You are very different from me, and that is something I simply must accept. That said, though, your words tonight have been…helpful. I am finding it…" The tiniest of trembles passed over him. "…difficult to come to terms with his death…but getting angry at you will not make anything better."

Roxy smiled softly and reached over to pat him on the shoulder. "It's okay, Taka…I know this is hard for both of us."

"Do not touch me."

"Sorry."

Yet another moment of awkward silence, and then Taka cleared his throat. "I will return to the village later tonight. You should get back before it gets too dark."

Roxy glanced around at the fading light and nodded. "I just have one more question, though." When Taka turned to look at her, she asked, "Was that you…looking in through the door of Makari's hut a few nights ago?"

Taka sighed and nodded. "I…wanted to spend some time alone in my brother's hut, hoping to calm myself with a feeling of familiarity with something that was connected to him. I…did not expect to see you there."

"Oh…Sorry. The wise ones gave me his hut to stay in."

"This was distressing to me at first, but I realize there is no reason for me to have any qualm over this." He turned to look at her once more. "While I may not understand it, you two were in love…and besides, I think you need it more than I do."

Roxy spent a moment just looking at him. She was starting to see more than just anger and irritation in his eyes, like she had always seen before. She had always known that Taka was more than just a stuck-up sourpuss, and it was refreshing to finally see that.

"Thanks, Taka," she said, "And thanks for…understanding."

He nodded in response, and she stood up on her paws. "I'm gonna go now," she announced. Roxy then began to carefully make her way back down the tree. She took care to plan out every jump from branch to branch, and kept her paws gripped tight on both the branches and the trunk.

"Hey!" Taka called down to her when she was about eight branches down from him.

She paused and glanced back up, luckily still having a clear view of him.  "Yeah?"

"It is the middle of winter now. Are you warm enough at night?"

"Uhh…" Roxy muttered, not expecting the question. "Sorta. I guess…" she then replied.

"I will find you another blanket," he stated.

For a moment, Roxy just stood there unsure of how to respond. Then, she smiled warmly. Taka had been a closed book since she had met him. A mere bud of a flower lacking any hue at all. Now, though, perhaps she was starting to see his colours after all. It had been eluding her for quite a while, but perhaps there was a tiny silver lining to be found.

"Hey, Taka?" she called back up.

"Mm?"

"You never answered one of my questions."

Taka looked down at her with an impassive look, and then turned once more back towards the sunset. He was silent for quite a bit of time, and Roxy was just about to give up and keep climbing down the tree when he finally uttered a response.

"His name was Izuki…"

Roxy simply gazed up and nodded in comprehension. That was all that needed to be said after all. With that, she turned around and jumped down one more branch.

"Take care not to fall," Taka's voice floated down to her, "I will not be able to catch you if you are that far down."

Roxy paused, turned, and gave him a sidelong glance. A little smirk appeared on her face and she shook her head. As the last rays of the sun vanished, Roxy safely made her way back to the base of the tree and made her way back to Makari's hut.
The Thunder Clan - 17
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The Thunder Clan

A Pokémon by Giga Bowser

Pokémon and all related characters © Game Freak & Nintendo

This work of fiction, its setting, characters, and ideas are © Giga Bowser.

Do not use without permission

---


Roxy the Pikachu is not part of a Pokémon Trainer's team. She does not take part in Pokémon battles. No, she is happy to spend her days relaxing at home and enjoying the company of her loving human master.

So when Roxy somehow ends up in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by dangerous wild Pokémon, suffice to say her entire world is flipped upside-down.
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Chapter 16 - The Pain of Loss

Roxy found herself wandering despondently through the village. Her head held low and her tail dragging along the ground behind her, she walked without purpose or direction. She just felt completely aimless. Like a zombie Pokémon wandering the Earth, searching for something she couldn't remember.

Her spirits were low, maybe lower than they had ever been before. Honestly, she was amazed she could even make herself walk. She didn't want to think about the past because of how upsetting it was, she didn't want to think about the future because of how terrifying it was, but she also didn't want to think about the present because it just hurt too much.

So she wandered forward, as if in a daze, not caring where she ended up. Joyful memories filled her mind, tainted black with tar by the knowledge she would never be able to experience them again. That chapter of her life was over and gone forever, torn right out of the book, and she felt like she had barely started to read it.

Roxy didn't know she could hurt this bad. She didn't know how anyone could hurt this bad and still go on.

Hearing a rather loud, droning sound, she stopped and lifted her head slightly. She found that her wayward paws had taken her to the river, at the spot where she would bathe. The waters were running forward through the trees, just as they always had. Makari had been swept away from her by the river of life. He was there and then, in a flash, he was gone. The river's current was strong.

The constant din of the river was a little bit soothing to her mind. Now that her world had been turned upside down and everything was chaos, it was nice to at least know that some things were still constant. No matter where she went, how long she was gone, or what she did, this river would still be here.

Maybe she should jump in and see where it would take her? It was an utterly stupid idea, but she was so tired that her anxiety simply had no energy to fight back. Maybe it would take her to where it had taken Makari…

Roxy closed her eyes and listened to the sound of the river for a few moments, but then one of her ears twitched. She realized that she could hear something else. Furrowing her brow a little, she strained to listen closer. It was the sound of someone else. Someone who was utterly exhausted and panting heavily.

She opened her eyes and scanned her surroundings, trying to see who it was. It almost sounded like someone was in trouble, which made her a little nervous. At first she couldn't see anything. Then, however, she spotted movement in a bush across the river, a fair distance away. It rustled a bit, and then someone stumbled out of it.

It was another Pikachu. By the looks of it, another member of the Thunder Clan. That was difficult to tell, though, considering that they were covered in dirt, mud and a fair bit of blood from numerous scratches and cuts. He definitely looked to be in bad shape, and collapsed down onto his paws in a panting fit.

"H-hey!" Roxy called, "Are you all right?"

The Pikachu groaned in distress, struggling to stand back up.

Roxy glanced around in concern. She tried to decide if she should go and get someone. "Are you hurt? Do you need help?" she asked.

She looked across the river as he put a paw on the ground and tried to force himself up. It looked like he had been through hell twice. When he finally hefted himself up into a kneeling position, he lifted his head and looked back at her.

Roxy gasped in shock and cupped her paws to her mouth. Her breath then caught in her throat as she stared at those eyes of his. He was dishevelled and dirty, mangled and bloody, and almost completely unrecognizable. However, Roxy knew who the only one in the world was to have such sparkling eyes.

"…Makari??" she sputtered in disbelief.

"Roxy…!" he called out to her, stumbling on his hindpaws as he stood, "Thanks heavens I…Augh…"

Roxy slowly shook her head and stared. This was impossible. This didn't make any sense. No matter how badly she wanted it to be true, she knew that logically it couldn't be.

"Please, Roxy…Help me!"

She sputtered to speak for a moment. "But…y-you can't be…" she said, tears in her eyes, "You're…d-dead…"

He grunted in pain. "If I do not get back to the village, I will be…"

"But I…" Roxy felt like she was looking at a ghost, which may have actually been the case. There was a chilling sensation keeping her locked on the spot, staring across the river at this apparition with a mix of horror, sadness and longing, "I saw you…"

"They…they captured me, Roxy! When no-one was looking, they snatched me! I barely escaped!"

Roxy shook her head. She couldn't allow herself to believe something like this. It was just a product of her stress. "I…I was at your funeral! You…They put you on the fire, and-" She suddenly choked up. It was difficult for her to outline the reasons for her grief out loud.

He was silent for a moment, and then shook his head. "I…Whoever that was, it was not me! I am here, Roxy, and I-" He suddenly lurched forwards in pain.

Roxy caught herself half lunging forward, concerned that he would fall over and hurt himself.

"Please…" he whimpered, "It hurts…"

As he sat there, quivering in pain and still bleeding from some of his injuries, he locked eyes with her. For a few moments, Roxy was lost in his eyes. There was no-one on the planet who had eyes like those.  Deep hazel, with a certain shine to them. She could see them, and she could see him there clear as day.

"Makari…" she whispered. Did this make sense? Was this possible? Before long, Roxy realized that she didn't care. He was right there, across the river, and he needed her help. He was still alive and he was going to be okay! A wonderful, warm smile began to grow on her face.

He saw that she was smiling, and smiled gratefully in return. "I love you…" he said.

"I love you too…"

There was a flash of black, and suddenly he was gone. Roxy blinked twice in bafflement, but then she heard his cry for help. It took her but a moment to find where he had gone.

For the second time, she gasped in horror.

A Weavile, slightly taller than him, had just zipped out of the bush and grabbed him. Now it was running and carrying him away into the woods. She heard a cry for help that quickly grew distant.

"Makari!!" she shouted. A second later, she leapt into the frigid river and swam as quickly as she could to the opposite side. She quickly scrambled up onto land, and then took off running. She ran on all fours as fast as her paws could take her. She focused all of her energy on dodging the trees and speeding herself up.

A couple of minutes later, she had caught up with them. In the distance, past many trees but easily visible, she could see the Weavile still dashing away. It was carrying Makari under its forelimb, gripping onto him with its claw. Roxy could see drops of blood forming a trail towards them. She huffed through the exertion and pushed herself to speed up even more.

The Weavile glanced back and saw her, then scowled and continued running.

Trees whipped past Roxy in a blur as she tried to run even faster. Makari was in trouble and she had to catch him before it was too late. That was the only thing on her mind. Nothing else mattered!

When the Weavile glanced back again, it growled. Roxy realized that she was slowly catching up. Weavile were pretty fast, but she was running on four legs and it was running on two, not to mention it was carrying Makari. Roxy could feel herself getting tired, and could feel her heart painfully pound in her chest, but she kept going. Just a little bit more and she could reach him!

Then, suddenly, the Weavile skidded to a stop and whirled around to face her. "Stop!" it commanded with a male's voice. With one claw, he lifted Makari up by his ears, making the Pikachu cry out in pain. He then extended one claw on his other limb and pressed it right up against his throat.

Roxy gasped and slammed on the brakes. She came to a stop just a few metres from the pair of them.

She held her breath, her eyes locked on that sharp blade that was pushing against his neck, drawing a thin line of blood. With one little move, he could slit his throat and kill him. Roxy gulped and shivered. "P-please…" she whispered, "Let him go…"

"Roxy…!" he spoke, his voice strained, "Run away! Save yourself!"

"Please, just let him go. I'm begging you! I'll do anything!"

The Weavile simply growled and started backing off slowly. Roxy made to take a step forwards, but he growled louder and pressed his claw tighter against Makari's neck. Roxy froze on the spot.

"No…Please!"

The Weavile simply kept slowly backing away.

"Please don't take him…!"

Makari was starting to look weak from his injuries and the loss of blood.

"…Makari!"

The Weavile got further away.

"…Don't go…"

When the Weavile stepped behind a tree and disappeared from sight briefly, Roxy felt a jolt to her systems. She was losing Makari! He was taking him! Without thinking, she quickly began to run off in the direction they had gone.

The Weavile stepped around the other side of the tree, saw she was approaching, and promptly slashed Makari's throat.

Roxy screamed in utter horror. "No!!"

There was a vile spray of blood, and Makari's body was unceremoniously dropped to the ground. The Weavile darted off into the forest, but Roxy didn't care about him. She ran as quickly as she could to Makari's side.

Makari was twitching and convulsing, struggling to breathe but just making bubbling, gurgling sounds.

"Makari! Makari, no! No, please!!" she shouted, "What do I do? What do I do?!"

"Roxy…!"

Tears ran down her cheeks as she tried to use her paws to somehow stop the blood from pouring out, but it was useless. All she accomplished was getting her paws soaked in red. "Makari, hold on!!"

"Roxy!"

She sniffled and sobbed. "I love you…I…I can't lose you!"

She was surprised when his paw suddenly lifted up and grasped her by the shoulder. "Roxy…" he whispered in a strange voice.

"P-p…please don't go…" she whimpered.

"Roxy, you have to wake up."

Her eyes became as wide as dinner plates.







Roxy took a sharp intake of air as her eyes shot open. She squirmed around a little bit in panic.

"Roxy…Hey, Roxy! Calm down…"

She took in a deep breath and tried to figure out what was going on. The light was painful against her eyes and her heart was hammering away in her chest. Someone was holding her by the shoulders. "Wh…?" she breathed, still confused and disoriented.

"Roxy, it is me…" the voice said. It was a female's voice. It wasn't Makari.

The frightened little Pikachu blinked a few times to clear away her grogginess, and then looked around once more. Her surroundings were not quite as frightening as she had expected. She was in Makari's hut, the same place she had fallen asleep last night, and sitting next to her was Miri.

"Are you okay now?" Miri asked her in a calm voice, "Are you awake?"

Roxy sat there for a moment in stillness, blinked once, and then started crying. The reality hit her that what she had just seen had been a very vivid dream. Now that it was gone, she found herself overburdened with too many emotions to count.

Miri didn't say anything after that. She simply reached forwards and gave Roxy a warm hug. Roxy hugged back and laid her head on Miri's shoulder, bawling like a cub. She didn't even try to talk. She just had a powerful urge to cry that didn't seem to ever go away. Every sob hurt. Every tear stung. She felt weaker and smaller than ever before in her whole life, and she wanted nothing more than for the hurt to stop.

These tears had been building up since Makari's last breath. A whole day and night's worth of grief was coming out, now that all of her defences had finally been brought down by that dream. It had started out absolutely wonderful, seeing Makari alive again, and then turned horrible. She felt like she was crying over the dead body of dream-Makari, dealing with the grief that the dream hadn't been real and he hadn't actually still been alive.

Roxy didn't stop crying until she simply couldn't anymore. She had no idea how long it had taken, but eventually her cries dwindled to pathetic little sobs and hiccups. Finally, after an eternity had passed, there was nothing left to come out. She just rested there in Miri's embrace, feeling empty.

"Sorry…"

Despite the dour mood they were both in, Miri managed to let out a soft chuckle. "Roxy…you apologize for the strangest things sometimes."

"Mnn…"

Miri shifted back from the hug so that Roxy was sitting in her lap and looking up at her. The Audino wore a sad, understanding look. "Did that make you feel better?" she asked knowingly.

Roxy sniffled and then nodded. "Uh huh…"

"Yesterday was….rough. To say the least."

Roxy just lazily gazed off to the side. She felt quite relieved after such a long cry, and didn't feel quite as bad, but she could still feel a painful sadness planted in depths of her heart, ready to grow and tangle itself around her again when it was ready. Her body felt heavy and her muscles felt useless. If given the choice, she wanted to just lay down and sleep until the pain went away.

"He's really gone…isn't he?" she spoke softly, her voice sounding empty and dead.

Miri let out a heavy sigh, and then replied, "It is tragic, but true…"

"I don't wanna believe it…"

Sighing again, Miri simply patted her on the back.

Just thinking about him made her want to cry more, but she was all cried out. She knew that she would probably be bawling again before the end of the day, but right now she was caught in a strange calm moment. It was like passing through a storm and reaching the eye in the centre.

Roxy groaned, feeling weak, and flopped to the side so that she was leaning against Miri's chest. She found herself staring out the open door of Makari's hut into the village beyond, which seemed less vibrant than before. Just one night before, out there was where they had…

"Why did you…?" Roxy started to ask.

"Hm?" Miri asked once she had trailed off.

Roxy bit her lip. The words hurt her, and so she rearranged them and asked the question again. "Why was he…cremated?" She didn't want to think about the funeral, or anything to do with his death, but it was all she could think about. With her tears and sadness at bay, her curiosity couldn't help but shine through for a moment.

"Fallen warriors have always been cremated," Miri replied in a soft tone, "Not only is it safer considering where we live and who our neighbours are, but some of us believe that burning the body helps the spirit to be set free."

"What do you mean…?"

"We all have a spirit inside of us…It is what makes us who we are. When we die, our bodies cannot be used any longer, but our spirit shall remain for eternity. Burning the body helps to sever all ties and allow the spirit to fly freely into the skies, away to better places beyond our world."

Roxy was silent as she pondered this.

"We see the smoke and the ashes rise up into the skies, and we like to believe our fallen brethren's spirit is with it. Some say the bonfires at the marking ceremonies are a way to call back the spirits, who join us for one evening of fun before departing once more."

"Oh…" Roxy was quiet for a few more moments, still staring listlessly out the door. Truth be told, talking about this sort of stuff was helping to get her mind off of things, without really getting her mind off of things. "Everyone was so quiet…"

"What do you mean?"

"Nobody said anything…" When Miri continued to not respond, Roxy clarified. "Where I come from, people give speeches at funerals and, like, talk about their life and stuff…"

"Oh, I see…" she replied, "Well, in our clan, the lighting of the pyre is a time of respect and reflection. The fallen have already lived their life, and the hope is that their life was impactful enough to speak for itself without anyone's help."

Roxy nodded softly, and then fell silent. Many minutes passed as Roxy just sat there, still as a ghost, staring off into space. As time wore on, she felt the desire to cry returning. With nothing to do and nothing to occupy her mind, all she could think about was Makari. He was in all of her thoughts, even in ones he didn't belong in.

"What were the berries for?" she asked. Roxy figured that learning new things was as good a way as any to keep herself from crying.

"The berries in the pyre?"

Roxy nodded. "Yeah…"

"Those were Aguav Berries," she explained, "Aguav Berries have a very strong scent, but the scent is very similar to the scent of the trees. We burn them so that their scent covers up the scent of the pyre. Any other Pokémon nearby would just smell more trees."

"Oh…" Roxy blinked, and then realized the reasoning behind that logic. She frowned. "Ohh…"

"We are thankful that Aguav Berries are not very tasty."

"Mm…" Roxy murmured quietly, almost silently.

"Some of our best foragers are assigned to find Aguav Berries. They are plentiful, but sometimes difficult to get off of the bushes."

Roxy abruptly let out a sound that was like a cross between a hiccup and a sob. It had come out of nowhere, and soon after she started to feel tears burning behind her eyes once more. Suddenly, her mind started to loudly remind her that Makari was dead and she was never going to see him again.

"Roxy…?" Miri spoke in concern.

"I can't believe he's gone…" she whined, sniffling as her vision became blurry.

"I know, Roxy…I know," Miri said with a pat on her back.

"I miss him so much…I-it hurts…"

"I miss him too, Roxy," Miri said, "He was a very close friend of mine. I have known him since he was very young, and he was always so kind and pleasant to me. It hurts me as well to have him taken away from us."

"I loved him…" Roxy murmured, "and…and I needed him…He was the only reason I didn't just give up and let the wilderness take me…"

"Oh, Roxy…Please do not cry. You are going to make me cry as well…"

Roxy sniffled and turned to look at Miri. There were a few small tears in the Audino's eyes, but she was trying her best to keep herself together. Truly, Roxy wanted nothing more than to cry forever and mourn Makari's death, but she remembered that it wasn't all about her. She wasn't the only one who was hurting.

So instead of breaking down and crying again, she shifted around in Miri's lap and leaned in to give her a big hug. Miri didn't hesitate to hug back.

"He was a brave warrior, Roxy, and our clan will never forget him."

"I just…don't know what to do now…What'm I s'posed to do?"

"No-one expects you to do anything right now, Roxy. Give it some time. Think back on all of the pleasant memories you shared with him and remember that he enjoyed life. He always seemed to have a smile on his face."

"I…" Roxy shivered a little. "I never got to say…"

"He knew, Roxy," Miri interrupted, "I am certain. He knew."

She buried her face into Miri's fur. "Miri…I'm scared."

"I know you are, sweetie. I know…"

Roxy tried her best to fight off the tears, but it was very difficult. She felt lost now. Makari hadn't just been a close friend and someone she had developed feelings for. He had also been her guide, her protector, and her rock. When things seemed their darkest in this horrible situation she was trapped in, Makari had always been there to bring her back to the light. Over the months no progress had been made towards getting her home, but she had always felt that one day Makari would be able to show her the way.

In a way, it felt like her escape rope had been cut off. She felt more trapped in this forest than ever before. He would no longer be there to comfort her, dry her tears, and keep her from panicking in this dangerous area.

Even since the very beginning, Makari had calmed her down. Insisting on bringing her back to the village where it was safe had only been the first in Makari's endless line of selfless acts. Roxy couldn't tell if it was just because he liked her too, or if he treated everybody like that, but Makari had done way more for her than anyone would have expected of him.

Losing the one she had such affection for was heart-wrenching enough, but the fact was that Makari was even more than just that. In just a few short months, he had become her 'everything'. Now he was gone, and she felt like she had nothing. Nothing to keep her sane and, worse, nothing to keep her safe.

Miri started to get up, jostling Roxy back to awareness. "Come on," she said softly.

"Huh?" Roxy asked as she was gently deposited on the ground.

The Audino reached into the leaf pouch she had around her shoulder and fished out some Oran Berries. "Have something to eat."

Roxy frowned and glanced away. "I'm not hungry…" she mumbled.

"I do not doubt it," Miri said, putting just a hint of authority into her voice, "but eat something anyway. It will make you feel better, I promise."

She hesitated a bit, and then reluctantly took one of the Orans. It didn't go down very well. Roxy had felt sick ever since the ghastly incident, and her stomach threatened to send the food right back up. However, she managed to keep it down.

"Thank you…" Roxy whispered.

"I know you will not feel like eating, but you still should. It is important after all." Miri finished off her own Oran, and then sat down next to her. "Do your best not to let this defeat you, Roxy. You do not have to do it right away, but eventually you must pick yourself back up and continue towards your goals."

"My goals are impossible now…"

"Nothing is impossible, Roxy."

Roxy turned her head and glanced up at the Audino, who gave her a sad but warm smile in return.

Then, Roxy scowled. "Aren't you upset?" she spat suddenly, "Don't you care? Makari was…he was…a-and he's gone now…!"

Miri frowned. "Roxy-"

"Stop smiling like everything's okay!"

"I am not-"

"Someone…" Roxy clenched her paws tightly. "S-someone just got murdered! This is so horrible! How can you smile like that?!"

Roxy held her eyes shut as tears started to stream down her cheeks. She quivered, feeling a mix of rage and anguish.

"Roxy…" Miri spoke in a soft voice, "I do care. However, remember, I have lived here for many years in this forest. Death is common."

The troubled Pikachu stiffened a little.

"Makari's death was tragic, but his was not the first, and it will not be the last. I have seen many brethren perish, some of them very close friends to me. Some of them…more than friends…" Miri was silent for a moment. "Each one is as painful as the last, but…I have learned how to get past the sorrow. To smile is important, even at the smallest things. The pain is still there, but a smile can help drive the dark clouds away."

Roxy sniffled, trying to keep herself from bawling again.

"I do miss him, Roxy. I shall miss him every day, and I am sure you will as well. None of us will be able to forget him."

"I'm sorry I yelled at you…" Roxy mumbled.

"Aww…" Miri lifted her into another quick hug. "I forgive you, Roxy. These are difficult times for you."

Roxy let out a heavy sigh, feeling that same emptiness inside. She tried her best to think positive, tried to think of something to smile about, but the only thing she knew she could look forward to was more crying. It was impossible for her to see anything but sadness on the horizon, and that notion only made her feel more depressed.







Miri had needed to leave eventually. She had tried to convince Roxy to go outside, get some exercise, and take a breath of fresh air, but she hadn't been successful. In the end, Roxy couldn't bring herself to do more than just lay there. At the very least, she promised Miri that she would eat something later.

The day passed by in a haze, and Roxy honestly spent almost every minute lying limply on her side, blankly staring out at nothing. She was empty. Completely out of fuel. She had no motivation, no drive, and no energy.

Makari had been with her every day she had been in this forest except for the first one. He had become such an integral and constant part to her adventure, and he had always seemed like an important part of the key to her escape. Roxy had no idea what exactly that might have entailed, but now it felt like that key had been shattered.

She was utterly terrified, and now she felt more alone than ever. She felt trapped, lost in a deep pit of despair and danger. In some ways, it felt like she was already dying and there was just a silent countdown until the moment that the dangers of the forest finally claimed her.

She had barely managed to survive with his help. Without him, what chance did she have?

At some point, one of the wise ones had come to visit her. Honestly, afterwards, she didn't even remember which one it had been.

They told her that she could stay in Makari's hut. They said something about discussing it and believing that Makari would have wanted it, but she barely responded beyond a tiny nod. They too had tried to encourage her to get up and go outside, but she couldn't be moved. She just laid there like a lump on the ground.

Eventually, Miri returned to keep her company. Then, eventually, she left. Roxy didn't blame her. Everyone had busy lives and important things to do in this village, after all.

She didn't know how many times she had broken down and cried as the hours of the day had gone past. The whole day was a messy blur to her. All she could remember was sadness and heartbreak. She wondered if she would ever have the strength to get up and move on, and began to doubt herself. She started to ponder dangerous questions, such as if there was anything she could have done to prevent this. Her mind was constantly agitated, but her body was just still.

She just felt so empty now.

The sun started to set. Miri had left the leaves parted, offering her a glance at the outside. The light was fading, causing her view of the village to slowly diminish and turn to darkened silhouettes. As the night grew closer, Roxy began to feel a sort of dread creep over her. What little stability she had started to crumble away. The darkness just seemed to bring out all of her negative emotions and magnify them.

She gasped quietly in surprise when she heard movement right outside of the doorway. Her heart thumped for a moment before they stepped in front of the door, revealing the silhouette of a Pikachu. Roxy immediately calmed down. She squinted through the darkness and tried to see who it was.

It was Taka. He was standing still in the doorway, looking right at her. It looked like he had paused in mid-step, and looked surprised to see her there.

The two stared at each other quietly. After a while, Roxy started to feel a sense of empathy forming. She tried to imagine just what Taka was going through. After all, he was Makari's brother. He must have been feeling loss just as much as she was.

"Taka…" she breathed, almost too soft for him to hear.

He continued to just stand there and stare at her. It was hard to see his expression in the waning light, but it seemed like a hard look that he was giving her. He wore a frown, but then again he always wore a frown. Roxy wanted to sit up and ask him what was wrong, but she just didn't have the energy nor the motivation.

Then, Taka suddenly scowled and growled, so softly that Roxy barely caught it, and promptly turned and walked away.

Roxy felt herself deflate even more as a painful sigh slipped past her lips.







The next morning arrived with Roxy once again waking up from a nightmare. After she stopped quivering and got her breathing under control, she realized that she had slept in for quite a few hours, and yet somehow didn't feel rested at all. She didn't want to move at all and just wanted to go back to sleep, but she forced herself to get up and eat one of the berries Miri had left her.

An hour or so later, the Audino herself stopped by once again. "Roxy," she greeted with a gentle smile, "How are you feeling?"

Roxy just glanced up from where she was sitting, half slumped forward, and gave a nonverbal response.

"Have you eaten breakfast?"

Roxy nodded.

"Good. That is good." Miri slowly stepped inside, standing awkwardly nearby for a moment before continuing. "I, uh… I have something to tell you. The wise ones have been discussing your…situation."

The lethargic Pikachu slowly rolled over onto her side and looked up at Miri, but still didn't say anything.

"With everything that has happened, it has become clear to them that you are not a fighter. It is simply not who you are…"

Roxy glanced away in shame for a moment.

"Yet, neither they nor anyone else in the village is callous enough to want to cast you out…So this is what they have decided…You may continue to stay in this village and be a part of this tribe, and you will no longer need to learn how to fight or leave the village for patrol or foraging duties."

"…Really?" Roxy whispered. Her voice sounded scratchy.

Miri nodded. "There is a downside, however…" she said with a frown, "Since you will not be able to contribute to the tribe, you will be given smaller rations of food to eat." After a pause, she added, "I am sorry, Roxy…Extra mouths to feed do make things difficult."

Roxy glanced away for a moment and considered this. Then, she looked back up at Miri and shrugged. "That's fair," she said simply, "I don't mind, really. I'm just more relieved to hear that I don't have to…do all of that stuff."

"Oh! Well…That is good to hear," Miri said, seeming a little surprised by her reaction.

Roxy just nodded tiredly and rolled over again, curling up into a furry little ball. "It's fine," she said sincerely, but wearily. Roxy wasn't bothered by the thought of getting less food. Honestly, she had thought that Makari had been treating her to too much food sometimes. As long as she had enough to live, well, she would survive. All she could think about was how great it was not to have that looming sense of responsibility to the tribe.

What was that they said about silver linings?

A long uncomfortable silence passed, though Roxy never heard Miri leave. Roxy was just resting her head and dealing with the sick feeling in her stomach. She didn't feel strong enough to do anything beyond eating dinner later, and that was just fine with her. It was just too hard to deal with sadness like this.

"Is there anything I can do?"

Roxy's ears perked up at the sound of Miri's voice, but nothing else on her body moved.

"Anything at all? Do you want to talk? Is there something I can bring you…?"

She could hear the concern in Miri's voice, and that only added another painful needle to her heart. Feeling the lowest that she had ever felt was one thing, but it was another thing altogether to bring down others with her. But, what could she say? Could Miri do anything for her? There was only one thing Roxy wanted, and she was pretty sure that Miri couldn't raise the dead.

"I hate to see you like this, Roxy…I know it hurts…"

Roxy sighed. Miri was such a kind soul. She had the perfect bedside manner. Unfortunately, Roxy felt like her wound was simply too deep.

She heard pawsteps as Miri began to leave. "Just let me know…" she said, "If you need anything, do not hesitate to ask…"

A few seconds passed, and Miri was nearly out the door. "Miri?"

The pawsteps stopped. "Yes?"

Roxy slowly, achingly, rolled over until she was sitting up. She could feel the gravity of depression trying to drag her back down to the ground, but she fought it so she could look up at Miri. The Audino had a small look of relief on her face.

"…Have you seen Taka?"

Miri stood there for a moment, and then frowned and shook her head. "I have not…"

"No?"

"No-one has seen him. No-one knows where he has gone to."

Roxy glanced away for a moment, frowning as she considered this. Had she actually seen him last night, or had that been a dream? She wasn't quite sure.

"Taka has been known to wander off for days at a time, though," Miri added, "Usually this frustrates the wise ones quite a bit, but in this case it is understandable."

"…He must be really torn apart…" Roxy murmured.

Miri sighed. "Who can say? Taka has always been a loner. He never knew his parents, never made any close friends…Makari was the only one he really trusted."

Roxy felt a stab through her heart upon hearing Makari's name, a trend that she was sure would continue for quite a while.

"If he is gone for much longer, we will go out and search for him…but for now, I think he just wants time alone."

Roxy hung her head and nodded softly. "Y-yeah…I get that…"

Miri stuck around for another couple of minutes, then said goodbye and left. Roxy sighed heavily once she was alone again. Yesterday was such a depression-filled haze that she really couldn't remember if Taka had actually been there or not.

Roxy couldn't imagine losing a brother; she had never had one. She could only imagine, though, that it was hurting Taka just as much as it was hurting her. Sure the reasons were a bit different, but they had both lost someone they loved dearly. Ironically, it was probably the first thing that they had in common.

What if it really had been him last night? He had come to this hut, which Roxy belatedly remembered used to be Makari's. Maybe he had wanted to spend some time reminiscing in his brother's home, and hadn't expected to find her there.

With a whine of distress, Roxy began to wonder if she had indirectly made him even more upset.

Roxy sighed once more and closed her eyes, feeling the tears starting to come yet again. Already she was sick of crying, but she felt like it would just keep happening over and over. The pain and the longing never seemed to get any better. Makari had taken a place in her heart, and a piece of her heart had gone with him when he had been taken away.

It truly felt like the wound would never heal.
The Thunder Clan - 16
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The Thunder Clan

A Pokémon by Giga Bowser

Pokémon and all related characters © Game Freak & Nintendo

This work of fiction, its setting, characters, and ideas are © Giga Bowser.

Do not use without permission

---


Roxy the Pikachu is not part of a Pokémon Trainer's team. She does not take part in Pokémon battles. No, she is happy to spend her days relaxing at home and enjoying the company of her loving human master.

So when Roxy somehow ends up in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by dangerous wild Pokémon, suffice to say her entire world is flipped upside-down.
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Please stop giving me llamas. I would much prefer you actually check out my work and either favourite, follow me, or (most preferably) leave a comment. Llamas mean nothing to me and I don't care about them, so if you actually do enjoy my work, please do something that actually shows it.

Thank you everyone.

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GigaBowserNS

Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
Canada
Tis me!

Hey dA! I am Giga Bowser, and I guess we should get all of the crazy stuff out of the way first. I'm an insane fan of Pokémon, even though I'm absolutely terrible at the games. I'm also a furry and a brony. So yeah.

I've been dabbling in digital art, but I feel that my real talent is writing. So watch this page for my prose and fiction!

Enjoy the art!

Current Residence: Vancouver, Canada
Favourite genre of music: Symphonic Rock
Operating System: Windows 7
MP3 player of choice: Sony Walkman
Wallpaper of choice: Beautiful Princess Luna
Favourite cartoon character: Princess Luna
Personal Quote: Allons-y!!
Interests

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:iconmangarrow:
mangarrow Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2016
hey cool i found your picture in a PMD2 remix lma o
well done my dude! Peace 
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:icongigabowserns:
GigaBowserNS Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Oh boy, don't remind me XD

I reacted quite poorly when I saw that and didn't see any credit to me as an artist.
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:iconmangarrow:
mangarrow Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2016
nahhh you had rights to
still a nice picture tho 
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:iconbrickwalldrawsstuff:
BrickWallDrawsStuff Featured By Owner May 14, 2015  Student General Artist
I have 3 favorite fanfics, Past sins, the death of princess Luna, and Lost to the sands.
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:iconbrickwalldrawsstuff:
BrickWallDrawsStuff Featured By Owner May 14, 2015  Student General Artist
When I read "The Death Of Princess Luna" it kept me up all night. It was so tense and just kept you reading.
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:icondashiemlpfim:
DashieMLPFiM Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2014  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Have a watch my dear friend. :)
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:icongoldrose141:
GoldRose141 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014
just wanted to say that i LOVE YOUR EMPTY DARKNESS STORY!!!!! I am a dummy! 
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:icongigabowserns:
GigaBowserNS Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well thank you! If you've got any other pony-loving friends, please consider sharing with them :) Sharing my work is the best way to help me out, and I would really appreciate it!

And the next chapter shall be coming within the week! O:
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:iconjinseikyuzai:
JinseiKyuzai Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Two things:
1.) I'm redoing that god damn Distraught Six picture for the second time.
2.) You deserve WAY more attention then what you've gotten.
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:icongigabowserns:
GigaBowserNS Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Don't forget that I'm on other websites as well. My stories are published on five different sites.
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