Re: Ghost Road Blues
“Well, I’d stunned the birds ‘n’ was gettin’ ready to hit ‘em with a Vacuum Wave when the kid comes runnin’ over, shoutin’ like crazy. He’d been sittin’ on a boulder not far ‘way, ‘n’ I hadn’t noticed ‘im ‘cause I was happy ‘bout findin’ some birds. So when I Screeched it got ‘is attention. But anyways, he came over ‘n’ kinda freaked me out, but he turned out to be pretty nice.”
“Really? How so?”
“Well, he ain’t do anythin’ ‘cept talk to me ‘n’ try to calm me down after spookin’ me. Then one o’ ‘is Pokemon came over ‘n’ talked to me. He explained why they was there. Keichi -that’s the kid- were lookin’ fer Cleffa in some caves further down the mountain. But they ain’t find none ‘n’ when they came back out it were too dark fer ‘em to safely head back down. So they gonna stay the night where they is now, on a flat li’l area. “N’ in the end, Tobias -the Spiritomb- even showed me where some o’ the birds had run to after they’d come back to they senses. They was both real nice.”
“And this Keichi…he didn’t try to catch you?”
“Nope, didn’t even mention it. He didn’t even say he wanted to catch a Cleffa, just that they’d been lookin’ fer ‘em.”
“How very odd,” Mama Kamada said, ‘er voice soft like she was talkin’ to ‘erself. “A human let you go without even mentioning capturing you. It’s very strange, you see. I’ve traveled quite a bit during my life, and though I’ve avoided contact with humans, I know that Riolu and Lucario are quite rare among them. Most humans would do anything to get one or the other. But here you are, such a unique little black Riolu, yet this human doesn’t breathe a word of trying to catch and enslave you, and doesn’t attempt it, either. It’s peculiar.”
“Mama Kamada, Tobias…well, he ain’t act like no slave. He seemed real happy with ‘is life. I saw ‘is Aura, ‘n’ Keichi’s Aura, too. They both had nice colors, the colors o’ good bein’s. Tobias didn’t have no signs o’ anger or sadness or resentment or anythin’ like that.”
“Captured Pokemon quickly learn to live with their imprisonment,” Mama Kamada said, ‘er flamin’ mane castin’ shadows on ‘er face. When she lowered ‘er head, the shadows covered ‘er face completely, but I saw the shine o’ ‘er eyes where the moonlight reflected offa ‘em. They glittered a weird yellow-green, like gems burnin’ with they own inner fire. It was a very eerie sight, what with the rest o’ ‘er face lost in shadow. “Make sure you always remember that, Jerma. A human’s Pokemon might seem to be content with being a fighting slave, but a Pokemon’s place is in the wild.” I wanted to argue with ‘er then, fer the first time since meetin’ the mighty Fire Pokemon. I wanted to point out that a creature’s Aura don’t lie, no matter how much that creature theyself might. A creature’s Aura shows exactly how they feel ‘n’ what kind o’ personality they got. Tobias’ Aura hadn’t had any hints o’ bitterness or anythin’ o’ the sort. But I bit my tongue, ‘cause it was clear Mama Kamada was gettin’ uneasy with all this talk o’ humans ownin’ Pokemon. “Anyways, I’d thought you’d battled your first human. Still, there’ll be plenty of chances in the future, I suppose.”
“I want to see how strong you’ve gotten!” the she-Typhlosion said, liftin’ ‘er head enough that the moon stopped slingin’ its light into ‘er eyes. The eye-shine instantly faded ‘n’ ‘er mane no longer threw strange pools o’ darkness over ‘er face. “Battling a human’s Pokemon is different from battling a true, wild Pokemon. Like I’ve told you, humans generally carry several Pokemon on them. That, too, is different from facing one or two opponents. Human Pokemon don’t know when to flee; they keep battling until they grow too weak or faint. That means you can’t chase your foe away by intimidation or quick skirmishes. Yes, battles with human Pokemon are much different than battles with fellow wild Pokemon.
“Now then, let’s stop worrying about humans and everything to do with them. We’ll get these birds plucked and ready for dinner, and once we’ve eaten we can get some sleep before we do our night training.”
We went inside the den, where Izoki, the first-born female o’ Mama Kamada’s litter, was sashayin’ back ‘n’ forth like a crazed Furret. ‘Er younger brothers, Rota ‘n’ Ako, was runnin’ circles ‘round ‘er ‘n’ laughin’ crazily. All three o’ the Quilava were about a foot tall ‘n’ three or so feet from nose to rear end. They had the same kind o’ fur as Mama Kamada; creamy yellow on the bottom ‘n’ dark blue on the sides ‘n’ top. They had burners on they lower backs ‘n’ on they foreheads, where li’l orange-gold flames burned. They all twitched they li’l ears when they heard us comin’ in, ‘n’ a second later they crowded ‘round us with squeaky voices.
“Yay, Jerma’s home!”
“You were gone a long time, Jerma! Didja run into a giant monster or something?”
“I wanna eat!”
“There’s only four, someone’s gonna have to share!”
“Jerma, Jerma, was it a big monster that made you get back late?”
I sat down by the fire that was burnin’ further back in the den. I then put the birds on the ground next to me, keepin’ hold o’ one ‘n’ pluckin’ the dull gray-brown feathers from its body.
“There ain’t no monsters out there ‘cept fer the jaguars, ‘n’ they stay in the forest,” I said to Ako, the youngest o’ the litter. He was also the runt, nearly half the size o’ ‘is sister. He was healthy, though, in spite o’ being small. “I just went a bit further down the mountain to find food is all.” I kept my mouth shut ‘bout meetin’ Keichi, though, ‘n’ when I looked up from my task I saw Mama Kamada nod in approval. I was right in decidin’ she didn’t want ‘er babies to think it was neat to go off runnin’ into humans at night. “Now, who wants to help pluck ‘n’ behead these so we can get ‘em cooked ‘n’ ate?”
We made short work o’ the birds. Mama Kamada had two, ‘n’ the other two was split a’tween the rest o’ us. They was big ‘n’ plump, though, so there was enough meat to fill all o’ us up. After dinner, I gathered up what was left ‘n’ took it outside, where Mama Kamada used ‘er awesome Eruption move to reduce the remains to li’l piles o’ black ash. After the torrent o’ glittering white flames faded ‘n’ my eyes stopped leakin’ tears from the strong light, we headed back inside to settle down fer some sleep.
It seemed like I’d just drifted off when I was startled awake by screams ‘n’ roarin’. I was thrust into confusion ‘n’ fear as I scrambled to my paws, unable to see what was goin’ on ‘cause the fire had gone out. I saw dim light near the mouth o’ the den ‘n’ realized it was Mama Kamada’s fire mane.
“What’s goin’ on?” I mumbled, my voice hushed with fright. I yelped when Izoki answered, since I hadn’t been expectin’ a reply.
“Ma’s fighting humans,” the Quilava said, ‘er voice a choked whisper. I squinted as I looked in the direction o’ ‘er voice, then gave up ‘n’ switched to Aura-sight to find ‘er ‘n’ the others. We was back far in the cave where we lived, ‘n’ Mama Kamada was several yards ‘way. The light o’ ‘er fire mane didn’t reach back far enough to let me see with my normal vision, ‘n’ Izoki ‘n’ ‘er brothers had doused they own flames.
My Aura sacs started vibratin’ a second later. I saw the Auras o’ the three Quilava flare up, not surprised to see ‘em flamin’ a sharp, jerky red. There was also giant slashes o’ purple so dark they was almost black. Mama Kamada’s young was scared ‘n’ mad, but I didn’t need the Aura to tell me that. I could smell the heavy, rot-sour scent o’ fear rollin’ from ‘em in waves, punctuated by the sharp, almost metallic scent o’ anger.
Now that I could see where they was, I hurried over to the three Quilava ‘n’ huddled down with ‘em, listenin’ to the awful sounds comin’ from the mouth o’ the cave. I knew without askin’ why my siblin’s had extinguished they flames: Iffin the humans Mama Kamada was fightin’ couldn’t see ‘em, then they couldn’t find ‘em. It were survival instinct, much like my need to stay close to the ground ‘n’ hold completely still.
Then I heard a sound that made my blood freeze in my veins. It was a loud, short explosion, ‘n’ I knew in every fiber o’ my bein’ that that sound meant death. Right after the blast came a horrendous shriek. It was Mama Kamada, screechin’ in pain ‘n’ fury. It was such a terrible noise that I couldn’t stop myself from leapin’ to my paws ‘n’ rushin’ forward to help the she-Typhlosion. A’hind me, I heard Izoki ‘n’ ‘er brothers followin’ after me, driven by the same instinct to help they momma.
“Dammit, you shot too high!” I heard a human voice shout as I drew closer. I ignored it, though, only focused on reachin’ Mama Kamada ‘n’ helpin’ ‘er drive ‘way the humans. When I finally reached ‘er ‘n’ got a view o’ the humans outside o’ the den, I saw they all had sickly-lookin’ Auras. Pus-yellow ‘n’ mold-green pulsated around all o’ ‘em; hoverin’ over they hearts was spheres o’ red that reminded me o’ open, oozin’ wounds. These was bad people, ‘n’ the sight o’ they Auras enraged me fer some reason. Maybe it was just ‘cause I realized how twisted they was ‘n’ wanted to make ‘em leave.
“No, Jerma!” Mama Kamada cried raggedly when she saw me go chargin’ at the nearest human, a short, fat li’l male who was wearin’ black cloth-hide. Every part o’ ‘is body was covered, even ‘is head. He didn’t see me comin’ at first, since I blended in so perfectly with the shadows o’ the night, but he a’came ‘ware o’ me just a’fore I slammed into ‘is stomach. The blow knocked ‘im offa ‘is feet on to ‘is butt, ‘n’ I rolled offa ‘im as he wheezed ‘n’ gasped. I landed in a crouch, then stood up as I whirled ‘round to face the other humans. I quickly counted ‘n’ found there was six o’ ‘em, includin’ the one I’d just knocked over. They all was facin’ me, three o’ ‘em holdin’ strange black sticks that was about as long as I was tall. These was pointed at me, ‘n’ once ‘gain instinct kicked in to tell me that these was the source o’ the blast I’d heard a few seconds earlier. I knew that, despite how harmless they looked, the sticks was in fact dangerous. It was then I caught the stingin’, coppery scent o’ blood. I blinked ‘n’ glanced ‘round a’fore my gaze rested on Mama Kamada. She had a large bloody spot on the right side o’ ‘er chest, ‘n’ there was blood squirtin’ in thin streams from a wound right ‘bove ‘er heart. I gasped when I saw it.
“Mama Kamada!” I exclaimed, my paws curlin’ theyselves into angry fists. “What happened, yer hurt…”
“These humans are poachers!” the injured female answered, ‘er voice tight with pain. “One of them shot me. But quickly, you must get away! You can’t let them catch you!”
“I ain’t leavin’ ya ‘n’ the others!” I replied. Then I let out an angry howl ‘n’ flung myself at the next closest human. This one was tall ‘n’ skinny, but he was wearin’ all black, just like the other humans was. I landed ‘bout two feet from the male ‘n’ got ready to launch into a Blaze Kick, but then that blastin’ rung out ‘gain. A’fore I had time to react, somethin’ small hit the ground right a’tween my footpaws. Tiny bits o’ stone went scythin’ through the air as I jumped back with a strangled yelp. Mama Kamada bellowed the next second ‘n’ I twisted my head around to see ‘er chargin’ at one o’ the men. She struck ‘im so hard they both went rollin’ several feet a’fore comin’ to a stop. Mama Kamada hastily sprung back up, inhalin’ so deeply it seemed ‘er lungs might just explode through ‘er chest. O’ course that didn’t happen, ‘cause the angry Pokemon dropped ‘er jaws ‘n’ disgorged all that air as a furious streamer o’ orange flames. The Flamethrower tore the night apart as it swallowed the distance a’tween Mama Kamada ‘n’ the human she’d bowled over, roarin’ as it went. The attack hit the man with enough strength to flip ‘im on ‘is back, where he started to thrash ‘n’ scream as the fire eagerly ate at ‘im.
“Damn stupid thing!” one o’ the other humans raged, jerking ‘is stick around ‘n’ aimin’ it at Mama Kamada. He ain’t have a chance to do nothin’ though, ‘cause three voices cried out, “Flame Wheel!” ‘n’ the next moment three giant circles o’ yellow fire came hurtlin’ into view. One o’ ‘em hit the human aimin’ ‘is stick, but the other two went wide ‘n’ soared off into the night.
“Awww, Izoki’s was the only one that hit!” I heard Ako complain. I turned to the den ‘n’ saw the three Quilava rushin’ outside, all three o’ ‘em in full blaze. They burners was alight with intense orange-red flames as they charged ahead, their scarlet eyes burning with a strong mix o’ emotions.
It looked like we would drive these cruel humans ‘way, but they quickly regrouped. The one I’d knocked down had gotten up ‘n’ scurried over to join ‘is friends, while the one Izoki had scorched limped over to ‘em, black smoke risin’ from where ‘is clothes ‘n’ skin had been charred. The other human, the one Mama Kamada had flamed, wasn’t movin’ no more, though he was still burnin’. Once they was all grouped up ‘gain, the four uninjured humans reached into holes in the cloth-hide on they legs, each o’ ‘em drawin’ out a weird li’l ball. They was red on the top ‘n’ white on the bottom: They was small ‘til the humans pushed somethin’ in the middle, which made the balls grow in size so that they completely filled the humans’ hands.
“Oh no!” Mama Kamada moaned, rushin’ over to stand with ‘er young. I went to join ‘em, watchin’ as the humans threw the balls into the air. They spun a few times a’fore openin’ with flashes o’ white light ‘n’ loud crackin’-pop noises. A white flood o’ light poured from inside each ball, stretchin’ ‘n’ warpin’ as they took on form ‘n’ substance. When the light finally faded, there was four mean-lookin’ Pokemon standin’ in front o’ the humans. Each was about a foot taller than me ‘n’ had brown-tan skin with dark cream bellies. They had stumpy tails with a tiny spike near the tips, ‘n’ on they head they wore wedge-shaped skulls that was bleached white. Savage red eyes glared through the eye sockets o’ they skull helmets, ‘n’ each one held a bone that was nearly as long as they was tall.
“Marowak,” Mama Kamada spat as I studied the Auras o’ the four Pokemon. They was the same colors as the Auras o’ they humans, ‘cept there was a dirt brown series o’ streaks through the Pokemon’s Auras. That meant these things was Ground type Pokemon.
“All right you four, take care of these stupid Pokemon!” one o’ the humans snarled. “Show ‘em what happens when they try to fight back! Kill the damn Typhlosion and Quilava if you want, but don’t kill that Riolu! That thing will fetch us a fortune if we sell it to Giovanni…”
“Yeah yeah, whatever,” a male, the largest o’ the four Marowak, hissed in response. He locked ‘is eyes on me as the other three let out strange barkin’ sounds, leapin’ forward as they spun they bones ‘round. I didn’t pay any attention to the others, ‘stead focusin’ on the big male in front o’ me. While we stared at each other, I breathed in deeply ‘n’ forced my knotted muscles to relax. Once I felt my Agility take affect, I grinned at my foe ‘n’ tore towards ‘im.
“Yah!” I cried, rushin’ at the Marowak with such speed that everythin’ a’came a blur. I practically felt like I was flyin’ as I dashed forward, my footpaws barely touchin’ the ground. The male glanced ‘round like he couldn’t see me comin’ right at ‘im, which meant my super speedy Quick Attack was a success. While he was busy lookin’ to ‘is right, I barreled in to ‘im ‘n’ sent ‘im tumblin’ head over tail. I landed lightly on my paws with a pleased smile on my lips, watchin’ my foe struggle to ‘is paws with a low growl.
“Stupid puppy!” the big male snarled at me, pullin’ ‘is arm back once he was on ‘is feet ‘gain. I watched, confused, as he started twirlin’ the bone in ‘is paw, makin’ it go so fast it turned into a white blur. Then, without warnin’, he snapped ‘is arm ‘round ‘n’ let the bone fly. It whistled through the air towards me, movin’ so quickly I didn’t have no time to dodge. I staggered back a step a’fore the bone smashed ‘gainst my forehead. I yowled in agony as a burnin’ pain erupted in my skull, liftin’ both paws to clutch at where I’d been struck. My eyes filled with tears as I tottered backwards, unwillin’ to fall even in my dazed, hurtin’ condition.
“Jerma!” I heard someone call, but I was a bit senseless from the blow I’d just taken, so I wasn’t sure who’d called my name. Still, it was enough to wrench me back to the battle, ‘n’ I dropped my paws as tears slid down my face. I was just in time to see the Marowak closin’ in on me. I reacted instantly, leapin’ to the side to evade the attack. The male was holdin’ ‘is bone ‘gain, I noticed, but he didn’t try to attack with it. ‘Stead, he whipped ‘is head ‘round ‘n’ managed to land a weak Headbutt on my side. It lacked any real power, but it was enough to over-balance me. I collapsed to the ground, wincin’ when my head smacked ‘gainst the ground. The collision made a fresh wave o’ anguish pound through my head, but I clenched my fangs ‘n’ did my best to ignore the hurt.
Growlin’, I rolled to my paws ‘n’ shakily stood up. The Marowak seemed surprised that I was already up, but he was over it quick as a flash. He gripped ‘is bone so tightly it creaked in ‘is paw as he flashed a nasty grin.
“You’d save yourself a lot of trouble if you just gave up and let the masters take you,” the Pokemon said, laughin’ cruelly at my angry snarl. “C’mon puppy, I can tell this is your first real battle. Look at you! I hit you with a single Bonemerang and tap you with a Headbutt, and you already look like you’re about to faint! Hah!” The Marowak snorted as he started twirlin’ ‘is bone ‘gain. “Though that Quick Attack of yours wasn’t half-bad.”
“Why don’t ya just leave us ‘lone?” I snapped, resistin’ the urge to rub my poundin’ head. “Why do ya have to do this to us?”
“Because, you worthless fleabag, the masters want to make money, and when they make a lot of it, they treat us very nicely. So in a way we want to make a lot of money, too. That’s what it’s all about, kid. You gotta step on others to get what you want, and I’ll step on as many stupid little Pokemon like you as I have to in order to ensure I get what I want!” The Pokemon then lunged at me, bringin’ ‘is bone ‘round ‘n’ whammin’ me hard in the gut with it. The air in my lungs exploded outta me in a rush, leavin’ me gaggin’ ‘n’ coughin’ as I instinctively wrapped my arms ‘round my belly. I stumbled ‘way from that hated bone as the Marowak crowed, “Hah, that’s what a Brick Break to your stomach feels like! What’s that? You wanna see it again? Well, I’m not one to disappoint a fan!”
“Take that damn bone o’ yers ‘n’ shove it!” I wheezed at the evil creature while he leapt at me. I forced myself to straighten as I jumped forward as well, ballin’ my right paw in a first ‘n’ throwin’ it forward with a deadly amount o’ speed. My Bullet Punch, another move I’d inherited from Pa, was faster than the Marowak’s Brick Break. I ducked under that cursed bone as my fist made contact with my foe’s stomach. The strike instantly ended ‘is forward movement ‘n’ dropped ‘im like a stone. He hit the ground hard, lyin’ there as he twisted ‘round ‘n’ gasped fer air. I landed a second later, holdin’ an arm with my palm facin’ the air. I focused on the appendage, feelin’ energy rush through my body to gather in my paw. After several moments o’ concentratin’, a sorta orange-brown glow began to appear around my arm. The more I concentrated, the stronger the glow a’came. When the Marowak finally got up, I stepped in towards ‘im ‘n’ pulled my arm back, then thrust it forward. The glow ‘round my arm shot down ‘round my paw, where the energy I’d been gatherin’ was released the second my palm cannoned into the Pokemon’s chest.