Note ~ There are Australian spellings in this story.
"Please tell me the story, Kouri," the young Fire-type cried. "I'm old enough now, right?"
I smiled at the Vulpix, looking down at her with interest. Killara was a young fox Pokemon. Her fur was a deep red, always well brushed and cared for. Six, curled tails followed her as she walked gracefully on padded paws. Between her two, pointed ears was an elegant curl which highlighted her forehead, and her eyes were black diamonds, sparkling with life.
"Oh, come on!" she whined, nuzzling my chest with her soft nose. Her crimson fur was of great contrast to my white pelt.
"Okay, okay," I chuckled, amused at her behaviour. The young Vulpix had been orphaned at birth, but ever since she had hatched I had promised to tell her the story of her birth once I thought she was old enough to handle it.
The young Fire-type's eyes lit up. She smiled, swishing her six tails in the air as she sat on her hind legs, peering up at me intently.
Killara, my trainer and I were currently camped out in a small forest near Viridian City. Tall trees loomed overhead, casting shadows over us, while a large, silver moon hung low in the sky. My trainer slept in a sleeping bag under the stars, and as usual, Killara and I were up late, enjoying the fresh night air.
"Are you ready?" I asked seriously, placing my large, clawed paws over hers, connecting us. I was a Dark-type, but I had special psychic connections. I didn't have to tell Killara her story; I could show it to her.
The young Vulpix nodded slightly, unsurely, and then shut her eyes tight.
"Here we go," I smiled, shutting my own eyes and calling on my memory. Soon my head began to spin as a vision of the past filled my thoughts.
"I'm afraid she's badly injured," a woman's voice spoke softly.
I looked up from my place next to my trainer on a small chair inside the Pokemon Center waiting room. The nurse was speaking to a young human. His eyes shone as if he'd been crying, and his face was puffy and red. I could sense my trainer watching him, too. She was sitting beside me, waiting for the nurse to give her Arcanine a check-up after he had been in a tough battle.
"Will... will she be okay? She was trying to protect me..." the dark-haired boy sobbed, running his hands anxiously through his hair.
"Well, I'm sure you know that she shouldn't battle in her condition," the woman replied gently. "But she wanted to protect you. There was nothing you could do." The woman had bright pink curls which framed her face, and wore a neat light pink and white uniform, complete with apron.
I turned my gaze from the pair and peered at the door behind the humans. A sign with a large cross on it was lit up above the frame, indicating that the Pokemon inside was still in danger.
"I really must get back to the operation. We'll do our best," the nurse nodded solemnly, then turned from the boy and walked swiftly through the swinging doors behind her.
The young man ambled over to where my trainer and I were sitting, dropping into the seat next to me and then leaning forward, his head in his hands. His whole body shook as he sobbed despondently.
"Are you alright?" my trainer asked, brushing a strand of light brown hair from her face, her blue eyes blazing with concern. When the boy didn't reply, she leant over me, tapping the boy on the shoulder.
I watched him as he slowly looked up, his eyes puffy and his cheeks wet with tears. "My... my Ninetales... she..." he paused. "We were on our way to R... Rock Tunnel when we stumbled across a wild Primeape... we... we were just walking and... it tried to attack me. Ninetales... jumped in. She saved me... but she got ba-badly hurt," he stammered, inhaling sharply.
My trainer nodded sadly and I could tell that, as a fellow trainer, she knew what he was going through. "She'll be alright," she started, turning her gaze from the boy, and playing with the zip on her blue jacket. "I'm sure she'll be fine. Nurse Joy is great at helping Pokemon."
"I know... but... Ninetales has never been hurt this badly before and... she's... she's supposed to be having an egg soon. What if it... what if I..." he broke off, sobbing uncontrollably.
I watched the human somberly, his voice cracking with desperation. It was clear that he cared about his Pokemon.
My trainer looked up in surprise. "You can't blame yourself!" she cried, standing up. "Ninetales chose to protect you. Even if you tried to stop it, Ninetales would choose to save you every time."
At that moment the light on top of the door went out with a 'ding'. The two humans and I looked up just in time to see Nurse Joy burst from the room, her eyes glistening with tears.
Ninetales' trainer jumped from his seat and ran at the nurse, clasping her hands in his. "Please, tell me she's okay, just tell me she'll be alright..." he begged, looking into the woman's eyes.
"I... I'm afraid... she was hurt too badly. We tried to operate, but it was too late," Nurse Joy said softly, her own voice trembling.
"No..." the trainer yelped, dropping to his knees. "She can't be gone!"
"We did manage to save her egg. It seems to be fine," the nurse continued, hoping it would comfort the boy.
"This is all my fault," the boy murmured in despair as if he hadn't even heard her. Hot tears streamed down his face. "How could I let this happen... my first Pokemon... Ninetales!" he cried, sobbing on the ground.
I looked down on the sorry sight with unease.
"Take me to her," the trainer cried shakily, his fists clenched by his side as he got slowly to his feet.
The nurse nodded, leading the distraught trainer through the swinging doors.
When they were gone, I turned my gaze to my own trainer who had dropped back into her seat. "That poor trainer," she said softly, running her hand down my white coat absentmindedly as she stared after the pair.
I nuzzled her arm gently with the dark-blue scythe on my head. She looked down at me, smiling. "You were lucky, Kouri," she said softly, admiring my white pelt, but her mind seemed to be elsewhere. Time continued to pass and soon my trainer drifted off to sleep. I just sat silently, waiting for the pink-haired nurse to return.
After what seemed like hours, Nurse Joy reappeared through the doors, this time with a red and white orb in her hand. "Sarah?" she called my trainer, who opened her eyes slowly and sat up. "Your Arcanine is fighting fit. Sorry about the wait, we had an emergency," she smiled weakly.
"It's no problem. Thank-you," Sarah smiled, standing up and taking the Pokeball from the nurse's hand. "We'd better go, Kouri," she said, beckoning me over. I hopped gracefully from the chair and followed her toward the Center's front door.
Before we could reach the entrance, Ninetales' trainer burst from the swinging doors, a small bundle of reddish-brown fur in his arms.
"I... I can't do this. Take her," he sobbed, holding the small Pokemon under her arms and thrusting her at my trainer.
The Vulpix had red fur and a cream belly. A single, large red tail was present on her back and a wisp of bright orange fur was curled upon her forehead. Her eyes were shut and she seemed to be sleeping, unaware of the events that she had been a part of.
"What?" Sarah cried in surprise. "Is that Ninetales' baby? She'd want you to look after it!"
"Yeah, just like I looked after her," the boy muttered sarcastically, tears still streaming down his cheeks. "I killed this Pokemon's mother. How can I look at it every day knowing that all of this is my fault?!" he raved, holding out the Pokemon at arms length and turning away as if she was the cause of all his pain.
"Please. Just... take her," he finished, his tone softening. He pushed the young fox into my trainer's hands, turned around, and ran back toward the swinging doors where Ninetales' body lay.
My trainer looked confused. "What... what should I do?" she asked Nurse Joy softly, clutching the reddish-brown bundle in her arms. Vulpix's mouth was open slightly and she seemed to be breathing slowly.
"It would be so difficult for Sam to be reminded of what he considers his fault every day, even though it will probably haunt him for the rest of his life," Nurse Joy said softly, referring to Ninetales' trainer. "He gave Vulpix to you, and unless you don't want her, I think you should honour his wishes."
I looked up at the Vulpix with interest.
"That Vulpix is a very special Pokemon. We had to remove Ninetales' egg before the operation, or it would be in danger. When we removed it, its shell was already cracked. We were worried that it had been damaged in the battle. Unfortunately, Ninetales was too weak to hang on any longer," Nurse Joy continued sadly. "As soon as we removed the egg, she gave up. Our medicine stopped working. There was nothing we could do. Then, the most amazing thing happened. As Ninetales exhaled for the last time, her egg began to hatch. It was as if she gave it the breath of life, but in turn lost her own... Of course we had to monitor Vulpix and make sure that she hadn't been harmed, that's what took so long."
Sarah peered down at the baby Pokemon in sorrow. I looked up at her, watching her study the bundle in her arms. "Alright," she said softly. "Please tell... Sam... that I'll take good care of Vulpix, and give him my PokeGear number, incase he ever changes his mind." She pulled out a notepad and a pen and scribbled the number down.
The pink-haired nurse nodded, and took the paper, smiling sadly as we walked out through the front door.
"You'll help me take care of her, right?" Sarah asked me as we walked.
I peered up at the sleeping Pokemon, still protected by her ignorance. The Vulpix and I shared much in common. I felt somehow like it was my duty to protect her; I nodded.
"I'll name you Killara, meaning 'always there'," my trainer whispered to the sleeping bundle. "Because your mother's spirit will always be there inside of you."
Suddenly I began to feel dizzy. My head spun and I felt myself being pulled back to reality. Slowly, I opened my brown eyes to see the young Vulpix before me, her own eyes still tightly shut. I could see her whole body shaking.
"Killara?" I asked softly, removing my large paws from hers.
Slowly her eyes flickered and opened. They glistened with tears, but she was smiling. "My mother was a brave Pokemon, wasn't she?" she asked proudly, looking up at me. "Just like yours."
"I believe she was," I replied, acknowledging the similarities between us that I had known about for so long.
"You know... sometimes I remember things from when I was still an egg. I've always known my mothers voice, but now I know her story.... and mine. Thank-you, Kouri," she whispered, tears still streaming down her cheeks. She rubbed her head against my front leg affectionately.
I licked the Pokemon's cheek. Since losing my own family so long ago, Killara had always seemed like a little sister to me. Unfortunately, I knew that soon enough, I would lose her too. Even though she travelled with my trainer and I, she had never been captured, and therefore was not my trainer's Pokemon. Now that she was old enough, she would have the choice to go back to the wild where she belonged, or to battle my trainer and be captured. I shook the mere possibility from my mind, not wanting the false-hope. What Pokemon would choose captivity over freedom?
"Kouri?" Killara asked, jolting me from my daydream. "What's it like in a Pokeball?"
Her question startled me, I looked over at her, intrigued by her serious expression.
"Is it scary?" she said softly, fearfully.
"It's... nothing for you to worry about," I replied quickly, wondering if she was thinking what I thought she was.
"Kouuuuri..." she whined agitatedly, "Tell me!"
I looked into her diamond eyes, sensing her emotions. "Yes, it's scary," I lied.
The young Pokemon looked up at me in fear, then turned away.
"It's dark and lonely, endless blackness. And unless your trainer calls upon you, you can't get out," I continued gravely, trying to frighten the young Pokemon. "It's claustrophobic, and even the brightest light cannot repel the engulfing darkness." As soon as Killara was hatched, she had been in the care of humans. She didn't know what the world was like, and if I didn't discourage her now, she might never find out. A Pokeball was no place for a child, and I knew that the feeling deep down that wanted me to beg her to stay, to tell her that it wasn't scary, was only selfishness on my behalf.
"Kouri..." she started, turning back to face me. I looked down, waiting for her to tell me that she had made up her mind about leaving. "Battle me," she said softly, though her voice was confident.
I looked up in surprise. "You're not afraid? You don't want to leave?" I questioned, not understanding her motives.
"I've never wanted to leave," the young Pokemon said, now standing on all fours, her back arched. "I don't care how scary a Pokeball is. You and your trainer have cared for me since the moment I was born. Did you really think I would want to leave the only family I've ever known?"
I smiled proudly, amazed at the young female's maturity.
"Now battle me, Kouri, and promise me that you won't hold back," she said, frowning.
"Fine, I'll battle you," I said, nudging her playfully, my heart bursting with happiness. "But not until dawn," I added, peering over at my sleeping trainer.
The Vulpix nodded, then yawned, curling up next to me. "I know I can't beat you, but that doesn't mean I won't try," she whispered as I lay down my head.
"I wouldn't expect anything less," I replied softly, shutting my eyes. "Goodnight."
The calls of nocturnal Pokemon echoed under the moon as I slowly drifted off to sleep.
I was awoken early by the smell of my trainer cooking breakfast. It was still early; the sun was barely over the horizon, but I could tell from the cloudless sky that it was going to be a beautiful day. Next to me Killara slept peacefully, the warmth of the fire in her heart had kept us both comfortable during the chilly night. Slowly I rolled over and sat up, causing the young Vulpix to awaken and yawn groggily, before getting up.
"Are you sure you -" But before I could even finish my question, the Fire-type nodded determinedly. "If that is what you wish," I said seriously, but couldn't help smiling.
I left Killara to prepare her thoughts, and perhaps a battle strategy, and padded slowly toward my trainer. She chucked me a few Oran Berries as I approached, which I caught in midair and gulped down quickly. I nuzzled her legs for a moment until she turned to face me, and then I pulled at her jacket pocket with my teeth. She looked confused but didn't stop me.
Eventually an empty Pokeball fell and rolled onto the ground. I picked it up in my mouth and dropped it in my trainer's outstretched hand, then nodded toward Killara. My trainer followed my gaze, watching the young Vulpix as she crouched down into battle stance. Finally she understood, and nodded. "Okay Kouri, if she's ready."
Killara nodded and let out a small burst of fire from her mouth.
"Well, raring to go, aren't you?" my trainer smiled, "Alright then, let the battle begin!"
I turned to face my young opponent, surprised by the hardness in her eyes.
"You can still leave," I said softly, knowing I had to give her every opportunity, even though I was hoping that she wouldn't take any of them.
"Stop it Kouri, I've decided," she said strongly, and it was if I could see a different side of her; determined, strong willed, older.
I nodded, then crouched low, centering my body mass.
"Alright Kouri, try a Double Team!" my trainer called from behind me.
Excellent, one of my favourite attacks. I shut my eyes, envisioning my soul splitting in several pieces, then each one growing, taking my form. When I opened them again I was surrounded by copies. With a nod, they began to move, encircling Killara. I smiled as I orchestrated the attack with expertise. I had full control; I was the puppeteer.
I saw fright in my young opponent's eyes as she struggled to identify the real me, but only for a second. All traces of fear were gone as she opened her mouth widely and let out a piercing screech, followed by a stream of fire.
As Killara directed it, the Flamethrower attack soared through each of my copies in turn, demolishing them all until only I remained. Before the scorching flames could seize my flesh, I sped to the left, almost gliding across the ground. I nodded, impressed. Seems like Arcanine, another of my trainer's Pokemon, had taught her a few tricks...
I thought as I recalled the same move being used against me before.
"Well done Kouri, now use Bite."
In a single motion, I spun and raced forward toward Killara; my mouth open, sharp fangs glinting in the morning sun. Don't hurt her...
At the last second I slowed down, lunging at the Fire-type, who dodged a little too slowly. My fangs tore at her reddish fur, but as I had hoped, they had not caused much damage.
Killara looked at me in surprise, knowing that I messed up on purpose. "Don't you think I can handle a real battle?" she whispered, our eyes centimetres apart.
I didn't answer, sorry for breaking my promise.
The Vulpix continued, "I don't need you to go easy on me. I guess I'll have to prove it to you."
Without a second glance, the Fire-type opened her mouth widely, once again releasing a puff of hot flames. The attack was a direct hit, and at close range. I felt the flames lick at my skin, starting at my padded feet and moving up my white coat to engulf my face. I roared in pain.
I heard the command faintly over the crackling sound of Killara's flames. I shut my eyes, gathering my strength and releasing it as pure energy to shield me from the fire. Soon a cooling sensation began to flow through my veins; my senses heightened.
"And now Take Down!"
I shook off the dying embers of the attack, then lunged forward without a second thought. I slammed into the Fire-type, sending her flying backwards. She slid through dirt and mud before coming to rest in a small patch of grass.
She wants a real battle...
I reminded myself as I watched Killara shakily get to her feet.
Before I could feel too guilty, however, the Vulpix had shot another stream of fire at me, this time in the form of a Fire Spin attack. The flames danced toward me, waiting to trap me in their fury, but I knew better than to wait. Just as the warmth of their light reached my dark face, I jumped into the air, dodging the attack, and landing before my opponent; her black eyes still blazing with reflected light.
I'm too fast
, I thought, knowing she would not be able to land another attack.
Instead she looked up toward the sky, and I wondered if she was reconsidering her decision. I followed her gaze, letting her thoughts wash over me. It's not too late
, I pushed the idea into her mind, but she didn't answer. Instead she crouched low, her six curled tails began to wave in the air even though there was no breeze. All at once she released another attack, this time toward the sky. The beam of fire licked at the tree branches above us, causing them to shrivel and fall toward the ground.
Once again I was impressed; it was an attack that I could not dodge.