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Chapter 23 - Taka's Tale

"Congratulations."

Roxy nearly tumbled right off of the tree branch. "Almighty tap-dancing Arceus!! Don't do that, Taka!" she shouted, admonishing the Pikachu that had snuck all the way up the tall tree without her even noticing.

He smirked, somehow without smiling, and said, "This is why you are lucky that I am on your side."

Roxy simply grumbled and shuffled to the side, allowing space for Taka to sit next to her. She was up on the tree branch of that particularly tall tree that she and Taka both liked to frequent. The two of them had shared quite a few 'discussions' on this very branch before.

Once he was seated securely on the branch, Roxy gave him a sidelong glance. "Congratulations for what?" she asked him.

"For teaching Natoka Grass Knot."

Roxy turned to look at him fully. She knew that she should have been focusing on more important things in the conversation, but she was oddly intrigued by the fact this was the first time someone had referred to the Move by its human-given name.

"From what I hear," Taka continued, "He has already picked up considerable skill with it on his own. He has started sharing what he has learned with others."

"Really?" Roxy asked excitedly, "Is anyone else learning it?"

"Not yet," he said with a shake of his head, "but I feel that Natoka may have a better understanding of the power than you."

Even though that sounded like something she should take offense to, Roxy couldn't because she knew it was true. TMs still made her head hurt. "Well, great!"

Taka didn't say anything after that. He didn't even look at her, and instead began staring off towards the horizon where the sun would set before long.

"…Is that all you came up here for?" Roxy asked dubiously.

Taka closed his eyes and let out a slow breath before he responded. "I made you a promise."

"You did?" Roxy asked with a tilt of her head. It took a few seconds for the memory to return to her. "You did! That's right!"

Taka simply nodded.

"You're, uh…gonna tell me what happened?" she asked in a more subdued tone.

Another minute or so of tense silence passed before Taka spoke. "Understand, Roxy, that I have not shared this with anyone before."

"Really? Not even…" Roxy hesitated, nearly choking up on her own words. "Not even…Makari?"

Taka shook his head. "I trust that you will not be spreading this tale around to others."

"Oh no. Of course not, no," Roxy quickly said, "I wouldn't dream of it. I know, Taka. It's very personal to you."

He closed his eyes tight for a moment, and seemed to be contemplating whether or not he really wanted to go ahead with this. Then, Taka sighed heavily and began to speak.

"His name was Izuki…"

Roxy furrowed her brow for a moment, initially not having a clue who Taka was talking about. However, the way he had worded it sparked a memory from a talk the two had shared a long time ago. "Your…The one you fell in love with?"

Taka nodded, continuing to face the horizon. "I left this village because I felt like I was looking for something." He closed his eyes briefly and sighed once more. "I thought I had found it when I met him…"







I was different back then. Loud, arrogant, boastful…

I did not know what it was I was longing for. Perhaps I still do not know. Something was drawing me away from the village. Something strong that I felt I could not ignore.

Though I did not know what it was I was looking for, I set out with my head held high and a daring feeling in my heart. Whatever the outcome, I knew that this would be an adventure. Through highs and lows, I knew that this journey would be exciting, and I cared not where it would ultimately take me. Things were difficult at times, and I got hurt more than I would perhaps like to admit…

Yet, I never wanted to turn around. I wanted to keep going.

I passed by many Pokémon and many tribes. Most were hostile and I was forced to carefully make my way through undetected. It was like a game, only with the stakes as high as they could be. Predators were everywhere. Aside from a few choice times, I had to always be on my guard. As many have told you, the forest is filled with danger.

On the other paw, a few tribes did welcome me into their lands. They provided food, safe shelter, and unmolested passage through their territory. I tended not to stay for long. That sense of drive and adventure was always pulling me forward. I felt like I could not sit still.

I met many friendly faces on my journey. When I met Izuki, it at first felt like just another friendly face.

He was a Furret. His kind are often seen as weak, soft and childish. Izuki was no such Furret. He had a bravery that far outweighed his size. He was proficient in paw-to-paw combat, enjoyed sparring matches, and he was fast. He was perhaps the fastest Pokémon I have ever seen in my life. Fast and agile.

When I first came across him, he was being attacked by a group of predators. Without hesitation, I stepped in to help fend them off. Izuki was strong, but he was outnumbered. He always believed that I had saved his life that day.

If not for the wounds he had sustained that needed attention, we would have parted ways and I never would have seen him again. Instead, I helped him find a secure place to rest and tended to his injuries. We spent a few nights together in this small cave. With nothing else to do, we talked. Hours and hours went by, and it seemed we never ran out of things to talk about. When he was able to walk, we both set off in the same direction together.

I had never known anyone like Izuki before. He was very proud and brave, something akin to what I was like back then, but he also had this quieter side to him. When night fell and the moon was above us, he sometimes had very profound things to say. The fact was that I enjoyed his company more so than any Pokémon in my life I had ever known.

We journeyed together. He was all too happy to tag along on my journey towards whatever goal I was chasing. With each and every passing day, we grew closer and closer. About a day before we reached the forest's edge, he told me that he loved me. I could not see any reason not to say the same thing back to him.

We emerged from the forest one day, quite unexpectedly. Neither of us had any idea what it was that lay beyond the forest. We knew what humans were, from tales told through the ages, but I can safely say that neither of us were prepared to see the massive, incredible village that the humans had built.

One of the first human words I learned, in fact; 'City'.

With the trees no longer blocking our view, the city spread out for what seemed like forever. It almost seemed like it was touching the horizon. Massive, tall structures that reached up to the sky and could have held thousands of Pikachu inside of it. It hugged the curve of the ocean, which in and of itself was another thing we had only heard tell of. It was astounding to see that much water in one place.

Others would have been frightened. Others would have been intimidated. Izuki and I, we were more excited than ever before.

We spent weeks in the city, never staying in one spot for very long. We were constantly exploring, and it never felt like we ran out of places to explore. We saw all of the ways humans constructed houses and other such structures, we were fascinated by the machines, and we spent a lot of time just sitting and watching the humans do strange things.

We kept to the shadows and out of sight. Hardly anyone ever noticed us, Pokémon or otherwise. Izuki knew what Poké Balls were and he warned me about what the humans could use them to do. At first I did not take him very seriously, but then I saw some humans catching Pokémon in a park. Suddenly his warnings became real. I remember staring in shock at the flash of light that had appeared, engulfing the tiny Eevee completely until it disappeared without a trace.

That had been…rather horrifying to see. And yet, it only put a slight damper on my enthusiasm. I knew that nothing was ever perfect, and the best things always had a dark lining to them. There was still so much of the city for us to explore.

We eventually found the Pokémon Stadium, and watched trainers having battles. That sight made the idea of Poké Balls a little less disgusting to me. It was still something neither of us wanted to happen to us, but the Pokémon down there at least looked like they were having a lot of fun. We saw 'caught' Pokémon in the park too, running and playing. That was where I learned what a 'pet' was.

I digress, though. We spent weeks and weeks in the human city having a fantastic time, and then everything changed.

We were in a wooded park one day, on the outskirts of the city. Still frequented by humans, but it was remote enough that wild Pokémon were more plentiful than in other such parks. I do not even remember why we were there. Perhaps we were seeking out some peace and quiet for a change of pace, or we may have even been looking for other Pokémon to get into a skirmish with.

We were both deep in the park, away from the humans. There were other Pokémon nearby, running amongst the trees or feasting on the berry bushes. I remember…Izuki kept trying to hug me. He always had this smile on his face. It was just the way he enjoyed life. When things were going even a little bit well, Izuki was smiling. I kept trying to tell him that other Pokémon were staring, but he didn't care.

And then, our ears both twitched and we immediately dropped into a defensive position. Something silver whizzed by through the air, almost too quickly to see. I turned my attention towards it, only to see more silver objects being projected through the air. At first, I did not know what to think. Weapons? Was someone trying to attack us? All of the other Pokémon in the vicinity looked quite spooked.

None of the silver things came anywhere near us or the other Pokémon. They all landed into the ground, where they stuck like a thrown spear. We both glanced around as we heard the sounds of them hitting the ground, and realized that they had landed all around us. Whatever they were, they were encircling us.

Before I could say a word, there was a blinding flash of white light from all directions. A horrible, shocking feeling ran up my spine and coursed through my whole body. As impossible as it seemed, it felt like I was being electrocuted. The pain I felt was immense. It was impossible not to scream.

What truly made me worry, though, was that I could hear Izuki screaming. I could hear all of the Pokémon nearby screaming, but Izuki's voice stood out. It was like a dagger to my heart, more painful than whatever it was that was shocking me. His cry reached the heavens, a much more pained scream than my own.

Then, as quickly as it had begun, the blinding light disappeared. I could do nothing more than collapse to the ground and pass out.

I awoke much later, and it felt like the inside of my head was swimming. I had been knocked out cold before and had been groggy upon waking up, but nothing like this. I, er…even ate some fermented berries once, but still it did not measure up to what I was feeling at that moment. It felt like my body was not functioning properly. It felt like I could not breathe right. I was not sure if I would be able to get up. I thought I might have been dying.

Through sheer force of will, I somehow found a way to sit up. The world was spinning and blurred, but I knew a few things. I was sitting on something cold and hard, and I was indoors. As I drunkenly felt around with my paws for a while, nothing I touched felt natural. I was forced to sit there like a lump for what seemed like forever as my senses slowly returned to me and I lost the urge to throw up.

I was behind bars. I was in a cage. Once my senses had finally regained their full strength, I found that I had been stuffed into a tiny little prison, surrounded by three cold walls and a metal grate separating me from the outside world.

As I shook my head to get the last of my drowsiness out, I made my way over to the grate and peeked out. The outside world, it turned out, was this unnerving room inside of some human structure. The walls were all white, there were strange objects littered around a table and two shelves, and there was a single light hanging from the roof emitting an irritating buzzing noise. It was very bright, painful to look at, but it did not spread its light around very well, leaving many corners of the room in shadow.

I gripped the grate with my paws and gave it a shake, finding it to be quite sturdy. I shook it harder, but it was clear that strength was not going to make it budge. Heavens, I was very confused, and still a little disoriented. I was not sure if I was actually awake or not. I could barely remember what I had been doing before I had been knocked out.

As I sat there for a moment in silence, contemplating the situation, I realized that there were sounds in the room. Straining to listen closer, I realized that it was the sound of other Pokémon. I was not alone in the room. None of them were saying anything, but I could still hear sounds. Whimpers, sobs, growling, mumbling. Since I could not see anything in front of me, I pressed my face right up against the grate to try and look to my cage's left and right. I could just barely see the grates of other cages like mine spreading out in either direction. Mine was just one in a wall completely covered in cages.

"What happened…?" I murmured, holding a paw to my head for a moment. "Where am I?" I then shouted a little louder, "What is going on?"

The voices of the others rose to a slight tremor, as if they were frightened that I was making so much noise. No-one answered me.

"…Izuki?" It suddenly became crystal clear to me that I was the only occupant in my cage. "Izuki?? Izuki!! Can you hear me, Izuki?!"

There was no answer at first, and so I kept shouting his name. A sense of dread began to grow deep in the pit of my stomach. Escaping was not even a priority at that point. I just needed to know where he was.

Finally, I heard a familiar voice groaning. "Izuki?" I shouted once more.

"Nghh…T-Taka…?" he replied in a groggy tone.

"Izuki, are you okay? Where are you?"

There was a brief pause, where I imagine he was fighting through the same dizzying experience I had gone through. Then finally, he answered. "I…Taka? Where are you?" I heard the grate of a cage rattle. "I am…trapped!"

My ears swiveled. It sounded like his voice was coming from the same wall I was on. I guessed he was about three cages over and two up, so I tried to angle my head in that direction so he could hear me better. "Are you okay?" I repeated.

"I am…dizzy…nauseated…but I am unharmed."

I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Taka, where are you?"

"I am nearby, in another cage."

He was silent for a few moments. "Taka…What happened?" he asked, his voice much quieter and more subdued.

Some of the other Pokémon were starting to say things, but I didn't hear any of their words. I only cared about Izuki. "It…seems as if we have been captured…by someone." I spoke, though I was still quite confused over what had happened. If we had indeed been captured by humans, why had they not used Poké Balls? Why were we in cages like this?

"Can…?" Izuki's unsure voice floated down to me, "Can you get out?"

I frowned and focused my attention on the grate and its lock. "I…do not know if I can." I reached back to confirm what I already knew. "They have taken my weapons. Hang on…"

Without my weapons, I only had one tool left at my disposal. I got down on all fours, focused my electricity until it was sparking from my cheeks, and let loose a powerful thunder attack directly at the lock. Instead of what I expected, a strange feeling overcame me and I did not see any thunder. The entire cage…Walls, ceiling and all…It all glowed briefly, and then stopped as if nothing had happened.

Confused, I tried another thunder attack, but this time paid attention to what was happening. The same feeling overcame me, but I focused my gaze elsewhere until I saw what was happening. Somehow, all of my thunder was being absorbed into the floor beneath my paws, causing the cage to glow briefly again.

"What…?!" I breathed, incredulous.

"Taka?"

"My…thunder," I replied, "I cannot use my thunder! The cage is…absorbing it somehow!"

"Oh, heavens…"

I heard the sound of Izuki rattling on his cage as well, but he could no more escape than I could. After a moment of silence, he asked me, "What do we do…?"

"Shut up!"

We were both taken aback by the sudden hissing shout of another Pokémon in one of the other cages. From his voice alone, I could tell he was beyond terrified.

"Stop making noise!" he shouted, "You're gonna make'm angry. Just shut up, or they'll…"

Before we could ask him what he was talking about and who 'they' were, the door on the opposite end suddenly opened. Everyone in the room, even myself, was silenced as we watched the humans pile into the room.

There were seven of them, all fully-grown humans. Three of them were dressed completely in white. They wore those things called glasses, held something that they were writing on, and wore coverings over their hands and their mouths. The three of them moved towards the table in the centre of the room.

The other four, though, were very strange looking. Aside from a difference in gender, they all looked almost exactly alike. They had the same outfit with flashy colours, some sort of human letter on the front of their clothes, dark glasses and…really strange hair on their heads. They all remained near the back of the room, watching.

The three in white spent a really long while just standing there, talking to each other, writing stuff down, and occasionally looking over at us. I had learned quite a bit of the human language at that point, but not enough to understand them.

They kept using the word…specimen.

After an excruciatingly long time with nothing happening, I decided to take a chance. "Hey!" I shouted at them, knowing full well they could not understand me but hoping to get the message across anyway. "Let us out of here!!"

All seven of them fell silent and glanced at me, then resumed what they were doing as if nothing had happened.

"I am stronger than I look! You would be wise to let us go!"

This time they didn't even pay attention to me. I sat down and frowned. We would just have to wait for them to do something, which would hopefully provide us with a small chance to get out of this situation.

Finally, one of the white ones walked over towards us. I bristled, ready for a fight, but he opened a cage below mine. From out of it, he pulled a very terrified Nidoran. I felt pity and rage as I looked at the tiny little thing. She looked far too young to have left her mother, and now these humans were grabbing her like a plump berry. She did not scream nor shout. She barely breathed.

I tried shouting a few more things, but the humans were still ignoring me. The Nidoran was taken over to the table, where the other white ones joined in to place her down and hold her there. I doubt she could have put up a fight even if no-one had been holding her down. I flinched slightly as there was a sudden sound, and some sort of restraints slipped out of the table and around her four limbs.

"Let her go! Hey!"

The voice of Izuki echoed my own feelings, but I was in a place I had never been in before. I was powerless to do anything, and the feeling was alien to me. I did not know who this Nidoran was, nor did I care, but I felt a desire in the pit of my stomach to break out and help her that was stronger than anything I'd felt before.

The white ones said a few more things and wrote down some stuff, while the colourful ones just kept watching. I could see the Nidoran's chest heaving up and down as she panicked. Then, finally, one of the white ones stepped forward with something in his hand.

It was tube-shaped with a handle or a button on one end, and a sharp needle point on the other. It looked like it was filled with some sort of greenish liquid. Before I could even comprehend what was happening, the white one had plunged the needle point right into the lower back of her neck, causing her to scream out loud. No blood came out, but I watched in horror as the green liquid went in.

Izuki and I fell silent. In fact, the whole room fell silent save for the whimpering of the Nidoran. Everyone's attention was trained on her, waiting for whatever would happen next.

She grit her teeth and started twitching about as much as she could in her restraints. It looked like she could not sit still, like something was bubbling and boiling inside of her. A moment later, shockingly, that turned out to be not far from the truth. There seemed to be…ripples…under her skin. I can barely describe what I saw. It was as if someone had decided to play games with the laws of nature. It was like her whole body was…churning.

She let out a loud shout, partly a growl, and I was taken aback by how deep her voice was now. She sounded like a Nidoking! I could not be sure, but it looked like, somehow, her teeth were sharper. After a moment, I could finally see just what was happening to her. It was her muscles. Every one in her body seemed to have grown somehow, causing her skin to bulge outwards grotesquely. At a glance, it looked like she had gotten much stronger, far stronger than any Nidoran I have ever seen, especially at her age.

The colourful ones started giving praise, a few of them lightly clapping their hands. It looked like they were impressed by this sickening display. The white ones, too, gave each other approving looks and seemed proud of themselves. Was this really the outcome they had actually expected?! It looked like something had gone horribly wrong with whatever they had been doing, but quite the opposite seemed to be true.

I nearly threw up just looking at what that poor Nidoran had become. By pure outward appearances, she looked so much stronger in terms of physical strength and more...vicious. She also looked like she was in pain, and was still writhing around. Whatever strength she may have gained, she did not look in any position to use it.

Then, she let out a horrifying sound. It was like a strangled gurgling in the back of her throat. I saw slobber drool out the side of her mouth, and then she promptly passed out. The coloured ones looked confused, while the white ones all shared a sigh of disapproval. Then, without any further ceremony, they worked together to remove her restraints and toss her back into her cage. She did not wake up while they handled her.

I sat there, utterly shell-shocked, for a good length of time. It took far too long for my brain to suddenly snap back into awareness and remind me that we needed to get out of there!

"Izuki!"

I heard his shuddering breath.

"Izuki, think! They cannot understand us, so help me figure a way out of here! We do not want that to happen to us!"

"T-Taka…?" he spoke uncertainly. The hesitation in his voice was so uncharacteristic of him that it caught me by surprise.

"Focus!!"

"But what do we do??"

"I…" I muttered, but my words fell flat. I honestly did not know what to do. The two of us had been in trouble before from time to time, but one of us had always been there to be strong for the other. Being left with no course of action made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

I did not have much longer to think on it, however. The white ones soon stepped forward to open the next cage, ready to repeat their horrifying experiment. I warily watched them, seeing which cage they were moving towards. I heard the sound of a cage opening.

The protesting voice of the Pokémon inside that cage made my blood run cold. "No…No!!" I watched, quickly panicking, as the humans reached in and pulled my Izuki out of his cage. His long, nimble body was doing its best to writhe and try to free itself from the human's strong grasp, but it was no good. Neither were his attempts to bite the hands holding him, thanks to the thick covering they wore around their hands.

"Stop!! Put him down! Release him!!" I shouted, despite how useless doing so was. I have lived my life, before and after this event, keeping myself calm and under control in even the most dire situations. When I saw the Furret who occupied so many deep parts of my mind being taken over to that table, I nearly lost it. I panicked hard.

"Izuki!!" I shouted, "Izuki!!"

My paws pounded against the cage door, creating a loud cacophony through the whole room. My heart thumping in my chest was nearly as loud. My Izuki, my love, was being put through the same motions as that Nidoran. I knew that if I didn't do something, the same horrible thing was going to happen to him. I needed to get out, now.

"You monsters!!" I shouted as he was placed face-up on the table. The restraints popped up, securely locking him down. He was gritting his teeth and struggling his heart out, but he couldn't move anything aside from his head and his tail.

"Release him!!" I shouted frantically, "Release him now, or I swear to Arceus above…I will destroy every one of you! I will paint the walls with your blood!!"

Some of the humans were glancing at me, but most of them were managing to ignore my very loud protests. How they managed to stay focused I will never be sure.

"If you hurt him…!" I continued, "If you dare lay a finger on him, I will not rest so long as any one of you still breathes! What you did to that Nidoran will be nothing compared to what I will do to you!! Do you hear me?!"

But, they could not hear me. I knew this, and yet I still refused to shut up. My blood boiled, and my mind panicked like never before in my whole life. I felt like I was going to be sick. Nothing at all had ever mattered to me as much as, at that very moment, getting out and saving Izuki.

The fact that I could do no such thing only made everything worse. That sense of soul-crushing hopelessness and that feeling of uselessness… They had my Izuki, and they were about to do horrible things to him, and all I could do was sit on my useless behind and watch.

Izuki was putting up a valiant fight, but he was no match for the restraints holding him down. He had his teeth grit in determination, but I could see the fear growing in his eyes. The desperation slowly taking over him as danger drew nearer and nearer.

"Izuki!!" I shouted, reaching out a paw towards him even though the cage was in the way.

He looked back up at me, his eyes silently screaming for help. He needed me.

"Izuki, fight!! Fight!!" I yelled desperately.

Izuki tried once more to break free while the white ones mulled around. I could see him pushing himself beyond his limits, but still to no avail.

"You can do this!" Giving him motivation was pretty much all I could do at that point. "You are strong! I know you are! Fight, Izuki!!"

One of the white ones stepped over with that needle thing. My heart stopped. It was full of the same green liquid as before. "No…" I muttered. The human reached down and brought the needle point right up to Izuki's neck. I saw panic ripple through him as he stared up at the human in horror, trying desperately to inch his neck away from the offending instrument. I had truly never seen him so afraid before.

"No!!" I shouted, "Stop!! Leave him alone!!" Of course, I was ignored. "Take me instead!! Just let him go!!"

The needle pierced Izuki's skin.

It felt like the world had come to a standstill in that moment. Izuki's scream ripped right through me like a thousand spears, tearing me apart on the inside. An unfamiliar feeling of dread filled me as I watched, transfixed. It was so much worse than the pain of seeing your friend get hurt, or even the pain of losing a family member. I was hit with an overwhelming sense of failure. I had failed him…

I could only watch in horror as every last drop of that vile liquid was drained into his frightened body. Immediately after the needle was withdrawn, he started writhing for an entirely different reason. He had the most horrible grimace on his face as he twisted and squirmed in the restraints.

The fire in my heart reignited itself and I continued my useless shouting at the humans. I resumed my banging on the cage door. I tried my thunder a few more times.

Izuki's face was twisted up in pain. He looked like he was in more pain than the Nidoran was; much more. He let out a few screams of agony and twitched violently. It looked like his insides were rearranging themselves and he was being forced to endure every agonizing second.

Then, my dread grew as I realized something else. Time had passed, but Izuki's skin and muscles were not…well, the same effect was not happening to him as had happened to the Nidoran. He was not being transformed into a horrible super-strong version of himself. "No, no, no…" I whispered. Those horrible things weren't happening to my Izuki, but this was much worse.

Something was going wrong.

The white ones seemed to notice this as well. One of them reached forwards and actually undid his restraints, leaving him free on the table. However, he could no more run away than he could control any other part of his body. He was seizing up on the table in a terrifying display. I could see foam in his mouth. His eyes were not focused. Now that his paws were free, he was using them to tightly grip his stomach.

I was not shouting anymore. I was too horrified. I just watched, wide-eyed, as my love went through the fires of hell.

There was blood now. Blood coming from his mouth, and blood leaking from where his claws dug into his fur from clutching himself so tightly. The only sounds he could make at this point were strangled gasps. The white ones were all saying somewhat concerned things to each other, but no-one was stepping in to do anything.

"T…"

My ears perked up. I heard the precious sound of Izuki's voice, so tired and strained.

"T…Taka…!"

And then, a tremor went through his body, he gasped, and suddenly went limp. He had stopped moving entirely, lying face up with his eyes wide open and foam still leaking out the side of his mouth. All at once there was a deafening silence. Despite how far away I was from him, I could see. I knew what I saw, despite all of my desperate hopes to the contrary.

Izuki's chest no longer rose and fell. He had stopped breathing.

What happened next is a blur in my mind. There were so many thoughts and emotions running through my head at once that it felt like I was in a trance. I remember sitting stock still, staring for what seemed like an eternity at his unmoving body. One moment I was barely breathing, and the next I was screaming to the heavens. All of my grief, rage, disbelief and despair all erupted at once.

It seemed one of the colourful ones had finally had enough of my noise. While I was slamming myself against the cage, partly to try and get out but mostly because I was so angry and grief stricken, he walked over to my cage. He had a very cross expression, and was carrying something in one of his hands that he was pointing threateningly at me. I think it may have been some sort of weapon, but I do not know for sure.

In fact, I am not entirely sure what happened next. The colourful one had opened my cage, presumably to discipline me, and a moment later I had broken free of his grasp. Perhaps he had struck me with the weapon and I was too far gone to feel the pain. The point was that I was out of the cage.

Instinct kicked in as I vaulted over the human's head. Some of the other colourful ones made to catch me, but I bounced off of one's head and kicked off the face of another. I made a quick loop of the room by clambering over the shelves and stuff next to the walls, causing as much confusion as I could to disorient my attackers. They all stumbled around after me, some shouting things at others, and two of them went to block the door.

I was not going for the door. Once I was certain nobody was close enough to catch me, I hopped up onto the table in the middle as quickly as I could. I rushed over to Izuki, collapsed onto my knees, and reached out to cradle his prone form.

For as long as I dared, I listened. I stood still, listened, watched and felt. I desperately looked for a sign, even the faintest little sign, of a heartbeat. A moment later, I shoved my head down against his chest and pressed my ear against his fur.

His body was cold, and his heart was still. There was no longer any question.

Izuki was dead.

I wanted to stay there and mourn, but the humans were already advancing on me. I shed a few tears and pressed a kiss to his cheek, then forced myself to focus so I could dodge away from the hand reaching out to grab me.

My Izuki was dead.

I remember clenching my paws tightly and quivering as unfamiliar emotions rippled through me.

He was dead! Gone forever. Neither of us had been able to say goodbye.

And they had killed him.

I do not remember much of what happened after that moment. All I can tell you is that I caused havoc. I trashed the room, smashed the bars on a few of the other cages, and inflicted as much pain on those humans as I could…though I did not kill any of them. Perhaps I would have eventually, but…

Sigh…

I wanted revenge. I wanted to punish these humans, and make them feel just how much they had taken away from me. However, my sense of self-preservation took control. When another human opened the door, I seized my chance and ran. I flew through the rooms of that building, causing more chaos, until I finally managed to find a way out.

It was pouring rain outside. There had not been a single cloud in the sky when we had been in the park, so I had no idea how much time had passed. I ran as fast as I could away from that horrible place, and I did not slow down until I was sure that they were no longer following me. Then I kept running even more, until I slipped on a spot of mud and landed face-first in the muck.

…I cried more tears than the clouds did that day. In even the darkest parts of my mind, imagining the worst day possible, I had never thought something like this could happen. I had lost the only thing that was important to me, so I felt like I had nothing left.

I started cursing myself for running away. I looked upon myself as a coward for fleeing and letting such an injustice go. I realized that there were still plenty of Pokémon in cages back there, all of whom were going to undergo the same horrible thing. The right thing to do would have been to go back, break inside, and rescue everybody before anyone else could die.

Instead, I turned and ran. I had ended up near the forest's edge anyway, so I took off running into the woods and did not look back. I cast that place, that city…the whole human world, I cast behind me. I wanted nothing more to do with it, and I wanted to be as far away from it as possible. Eventually, my wayward paws took me home again.

This forest is dangerous. Some Pokémon are predators, and must kill to survive…but no Pokémon alive today could ever be as cruel and heartless as those humans who had taken Izuki away from me…







Roxy just stared at the other Pikachu. Her jaw hung open slightly and she felt completely numb from head to tail. "T-Taka…" she whispered, but found she couldn't say anything else. Taka's story had enraptured her, and now she felt physically sick. Now that she had finally heard the truth about what had happened to Taka, she almost wished she had never asked. She felt shaken to her very core.

Taka heaved a huge sigh and gazed out at the horizon, where the sun would be setting in a matter of minutes. "I have never told anybody that," he spoke, "Not even…Not even my brother…"

"Really…?" Roxy replied in a very tiny voice.

"It has been a long time…It has taken me these many years…just to get over the pain. I saw him everywhere I went, as if he was still alive and just playing hide and seek." Taka paused for a moment, and then shook his head. "I left because I was looking for something…and I felt like I had found it."

He slowly turned to gaze at her. "And the humans took him away from me."

Roxy gulped as a shiver ran down her spine. She was fighting off tears of her own, while marvelling at the fact that there weren't any in Taka's eyes. "I-" she croaked, but her voice caught in her throat. She was still in disbelief. She had guessed that something awful had happened to Taka that had turned him into the quiet, stoic, unfriendly Pikachu that he was, but she had never imagined anything like that.

Then, she shut her eyes for a moment and forced her stomach to sit still. "Taka," she said, though there was a tremble in her voice, "I'm so sorry…I really had no idea…" She glanced at him. "Thank you for telling me."

Taka just quietly grunted.

"I understand now…Taka, if I had known you'd been through something this awful, I…" Roxy then shook her head and refocused her thoughts a little. "Those…Those humans," she said, "They sound like a gang…"

Taka turned to look at her, confused by the human word.

"There are some really bad humans in the world, and they all get together to form a big team so that they can work together to commit crimes. They're called gangs, and each region of the world has at least one. Back home, there's Team Rocket. I dunno for sure, and I don't know which gang it would be, but those humans were probably part of Team something-or-other…"

She then gave him an imploring look. "Taka, those humans are…they're the worst example of what humans can be. They're just…they're low, they're the scum of the Earth. Everything they do is horrible and wrong, no matter how they try to justify it, and everybody else knows it. There's a reason that they have to form gangs like that, Taka, and that's because it's literally them against the world.

"The human world is made up of all kinds of humans doing all kinds of things, and working together to help one another. Some build houses, some make food, some of them are just there to make you laugh. Some, though, make the rules and keep order, and they help keep everybody safe, Pokémon and human alike. Some really important humans are in charge of basically running the whole thing! Imagine if the wise ones were just one Raichu, and he was in charge of the entire forest!"

Taka was listening closely to what she was saying, though he wasn't yet responding. Roxy once again found herself a little frustrated by her inability to read his emotions.

"The point is…" she continued, "that for every member of a gang, there's ten humans trying to stop them, twenty more humans trying to help the first ten stop them, and then at least a hundred who simply hate them." She sighed and glanced away. "Every society has a few bad Leppa Berries…I'm just so sorry you had to meet ours…"

Roxy waited for Taka to reply, but for a while no response came. A cold stillness hovered around the two of them, with silence hanging in the air for at least three or four minutes.

"You are right."

When the silence was suddenly broken, Roxy perked up in surprise. She turned back to look at Taka.

"It has taken me a long time to accept this, but I already knew the truth of what you just told me," Taka explained, "I had unfairly painted the entire human race as blood-red as those…'gang' members."

"…Yeah?" Roxy replied, a touch surprised.

"Obviously, I know now how untrue that must be," he said with a short nod, "After all, there must be some truly good and wonderful humans out there to have raised you."

A smile slowly began to form on her face. "Yeah!" she said with a nod of her own, "Yeah, my master…She is about as far, far, far away from the kind of human that those gangs are! Literally the opposite! She…" She paused, her voice growing more sombre. "She would lay down and cry if she heard about what happened to Izuki…"

She saw Taka stiffen slightly upon her mentioning Izuki's name, but it didn't seem to affect him too much.

"My master is the kindest, sweetest, most generous…loving, helpful, caring…" Roxy trailed off, her gaze slipping away from Taka.

"Whenever I thought about humans," he continued, "…all I could think about was them. In my mind I thought that any one of them could and would do the very same thing. A part of me was happy to return to this life in the forest, where humans do not set foot. Then you showed up, being dropped literally right out of the heart of the human world. Those memories of those horrible humans, somewhat buried over time, returned to the forefront of my mind and when I looked at you, I could only think of Izuki. You are much more than a 'specimen', to your human and to us as well, so I can tell that the humans you know must be…different."

Taka stopped talking, as if expecting her to say something. She didn't, however, as she was busy staring off into the early sunset.

"…Roxy?"

To be honest, she hadn't even really been listening. Her mind had been elsewhere.

"What is wrong now?"

Roxy tried to respond, but all that came out was a pathetic squeak. She slowly turned to Taka, trying to fight off tears that were starting to form in her eyes. When she again tried to speak, opening her mouth only allowed a sob to escape.

"S-sorry…" she murmured as she wiped the tears from her eyes, "I'm sorry…I just…Suddenly, I really miss my master…"

"…Ah."

"I was talking about her, so I started to think about her, and it's like I suddenly remember just how badly I miss her…" Roxy sniffled and again tried to wipe her eyes clean. "Sorry…I know you think I'm a crybaby, but it was just so sudden."

Roxy took a moment to compose herself, and was able to get her tears under control before she totally lost it. After a few deep breaths, she was able to look up at Taka without tear-stained eyes. He was looking down at her somewhat impassively, though he also looked like he wasn't sure how to react.

"I gotta get home…" she said simply, "I gotta see my master…I gotta show her that I'm alright…" Roxy sighed and hugged herself a little. "I know you're trying, and the wise ones are sayin' stuff, but…Ugh…" She shook her head before adding, "I have to go…"

She felt the branch shift under, and glanced over to see that Taka was standing up. She looked up and gave him a curious look as he turned to look back down at her.

"Well," he spoke, "Ensure you are prepared enough. I will meet you by the bathing spot."

She tilted her head at him, confused at first. "Wha…?" After a moment, though, it dawned on her what he was talking about. Her eyes grew about as wide as dinner plates. "W-wait…" she murmured in disbelief.

Taka just nodded. "We leave tonight."
GOOGLE DOCS LINK

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.
:iconhungrypumpkin:
Oh, poor, poor Izuki... Rest in peace, little buddy. :iconcryingplz:
Taka needs a lifetime supply of hugs. Losing a best friend right before your eyes... This must be painful beyond imagination...

If anyone needs me, I'll be in a bathroom, bawling my eyes out.
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