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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 34
Chapter 34 - Home
Roxy stood on the prow of the cruise ship, looking out at the seemingly endless expanse of ocean that surrounded her. The sea breeze was cool but not chilly, the sun was bright but filtered by clouds, and the smells of the ocean were nearly intoxicating. She wore the biggest smile. Roxy was having the time of her life.
She had never been on a cruise before, but had always wondered what it would be like. So far, she was enjoying the experience. The ship was very large, offering an infinite number of places to explore. The other Pokémon passengers on board were all quite friendly, and Roxy had shared a truncated version of her adventure to many of them. There were entertaining shows, performed by both humans and Pokémon, and lots of fun activities that she took part in.
The biggest and most amazing discovery had been the food. Roxy had been astonished to discover that the cruise ship offered an all-you-can-eat buffet to its Pokémon passenger
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 33
Chapter 33 - The Last Goodbye
It was a typical spring day in the modern metropolis that was Castelia City. Weather or season hardly ever affected the constant flow of humans, vehicles and Pokémon in this sprawling city, but at least people could go about their day with a smile on their face and no rain falling on their heads. Two Pikachu were walking down the road next to the city's large port. One was positively beaming. She was very excited, and happy to begin the second-last leg of her long journey home.
The other was staring at the city around him in utter shock. It was a marvel that he could even get his legs to move. Taka's wide eyes and even wider mouth had not closed since the moment he had laid eyes on the collection of massive skyscrapers. He looked like he was in a daze.
Roxy snickered and bumped him with her hindquarters. "Snap out of it or you're gonna run into a street sign."
"I…never imagined…"
"Yes, Taka, so you've said about 50 times now.
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 32
Chapter 32 - Beyond the Forest
"So, why are you so short, exactly?"
Roxy turned her head and gave Taka a look. "S'cuse me?"
Taka kept his gaze forward, but smirked as he did. "It must be because of what they feed you."
"Hey, I'm not that short!" Roxy replied somewhat indignantly, "I'm only a few inches shorter than the official Pokédex entry!"
Taka chuckled softly and shook his head, and then continued looking at their surroundings carefully.
The two were walking along the old dirt road, having successfully returned to the spot where the Seviper had attacked. The two had woken up in that tree without satchels, without food, and without either of their spears, as Roxy had dropped hers in panic once Taka had gotten poisoned. Literally the only thing they had left was Taka's boomerang. They'd had some more Pecha Berries for breakfast, despite Taka having grown sick of them after eating so many, but now they were truly on their own.
It had been a bit of a frighten
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 31
Chapter 31 - So Close
Roxy was super giddy.
There was almost a spring in her step as she moved through the forest. She was on cloud nine and felt like even if the whole forest erupted in flames it wouldn't damper her good mood. Her excitement level was at an all time high, which made it all the more difficult for her to focus on the fact that she was still in dangerous territory.
Getting to sleep last night had been difficult. After traveling as far as they could the previous day, they had once again found a tree to sleep in. She found she just couldn't relax, knowing that they had already covered at least half of the remaining distance home. That meant that when the sun rose, it would be the last sunrise she ever experienced in this damn forest.
Today was the day she finally escaped.
It had been an exhaustingly long journey. Roxy had lost count of the number of times they had encountered a predator. Either by sneaking past it, running away from it, or fighting it off, they had
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 30
Chapter 30 - Old Wounds
Roxy entered the den with a huff, still shaking her head over how ridiculous Taka was acting.
While the entrance had been rather small, the inside of the den had been dug out quite expansively. For a hole in the side of a hill, it was surprisingly roomy. The 'ceiling' was high enough that Roxy didn't need to duck her head.
"Lover's spat?"
Roxy turned to look in the direction of the voice, and saw Vi sitting near one of the far walls with a smirk on her face. In front of her was a small collection of twigs that was burning softly, providing just a touch of light to the dark cave. "Something like that…" Roxy murmured.
Vi snickered in a teasing way, and then motioned with her paw for Roxy to sit down. The Pikachu obliged, and sat staring at the fire for a couple of seconds. "Most of us can see in the dark," Vi said, "so we do not usually require this. Wake me up if the whole den catches fire, okay?"
"Mm…" Roxy muttered as she continued to gaze at
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 29
Chapter 29 - The Burning Paws
Roxy took a moment to consider just where her life had taken her at this point.
She was currently riding on the back of a wild Pokémon, who also happened to be a predator, running through the endless forest like it was a joyride. Taka, her stoic and unsmiling partner, sat behind her, sharing the ride with her. The predator below, who could eat them both with a snap of her jaws, was kind and friendly and had stated her intention to never harm them, as thanks for saving her life.
Where was the nature documentary covering that?
To tell the truth, Roxy was having the time of her life. She had come to trust Vi as much as she could, given how long they had known each other, and was now just enjoying the sights. Being with a predator meant they didn't have to worry as much about other predators. She let her mind relax a little and watched the passing scenery as it whizzed by.
Vi was really fast, considering she was carrying two Pokémon on
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 28
Chapter 28 - Trust Issues
"Is this one tall enough?"
"It should be. Hurry up."
Roxy nimbly hopped up the branches of the large tree, trusting Taka's word that it would be tall enough. She kept up, never more than one branch behind him, as this was something she considered herself adept at. She climbed the branches like they were simple stairs. Her tail carefully curled around each one to give her balance, making her thankful that she could still use it despite missing a quarter of it.
Her heart was pumping, but it wasn't because of the exercise she was enduring. There was a fluttery sensation in the pit of her stomach. She felt excited and eager, but also nervous and uneasy. She didn't know what they would see from the top of the tree. She was hoping to see something. In fact, she was betting that she would see it, and that was why she was so excited. There was a perfectly good chance they wouldn't see it, though, which was why she was so nervous.
Taka reached the highest
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 27
Chapter 27 - Battle Scars
Yesterday, nearly everyone in the Gaia Tribe had been watching a spectacle unfold. Everyone had been standing around, gathered together, and staring wide-eyed at what they saw. It was easy to say that many of them were shocked. Today, the exact same thing was happening.
Except this time, they were all staring at Roxy.
"…How?!" someone blurted out.
Roxy giggled as she waved some of the grass strands around in a showy manner. "Humans," she replied, deciding to oversimplify the answer.
A vast majority of the tribe was gathered in the middle of the patch, watching Roxy perform a Move that she figured most of them probably already knew. Even so, to them it was still fascinating to see a Pikachu capable of pulling it off. Roxy hated to admit she was starting to enjoy being a spectacle.
One of the Simisage lumbered over, and reached out his hand to grasp one of the strands. He seemed mystified by what he was seeing, or perhaps feeling.
"Taka!" Aro
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 26 (Part 2)
Chapter 26 - Old Friends, New Ideas (Part 2)
With some time still left before the match, she found herself examining the various stones once more. There was a surprising amount of colour variance between them. There were green, blue, and even orange stones. She couldn't tell if they were naturally like that, or if they had been recoloured somehow.
About twenty minutes later, Taka returned to her. "Where did you get that?" he asked as he strode up.
Roxy lifted her gaze and gave him a nonplussed look. "Well, hello to you as well," she said flatly, "Aro gave it to me so I could get a closer look, but then he had to run off."
"Ah."
Roxy watched Taka shrug and then wander off to the side. She rolled her eyes, supposing that was the end of that conversation.
A short time later, the air was suddenly filled with a loud sound that sounded like a deep horn. Roxy straightened up in alarm and looked around in confusion.
"It is an instrument made out of a hollowed piece of wood," Taka
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 26 (Part 1)
Chapter 26 - Old Friends, New Ideas (Part 1)
I'm on my way home…
It still feels, in a way, impossible to accept as the truth. Ever since first waking up in this forest, it had felt like my old life was something that was just gone forever. Oh sure I always had hope, but nothing ever seemed to take me a step towards actually going home. That village had been my prison, no matter how nice the 'jailors' had been.
Then, one thing led to another, and itself to yet another thing, and now Taka was leading me home. It didn't feel real when we first left the village. Now, about a week later, it still doesn't feel real.
A whole week of nothing but running through this seemingly endless forest. Since day one, it has been basically hammered into my brain that this forest is chock full of danger. We have left behind the territory of the Thunder Clan. Then, we left behind the territory of those that directly neighboured the Thunder Clan. Finally, only a few days ago, Taka had
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 25
Chapter 25 - Unpaid Debt
As the early springtime sunrise began to peek through the leaves of the trees above, Roxy yawned and stretched out her paws.
Then her heart practically jumped out of her throat as she scrambled to get a grip on the branch she had nearly fallen off of.
After she took a few breaths to calm her pounding heart, Roxy reminded herself that she had fallen asleep on the branch of a tree. Memories of the previous night quickly came flooding back to her. After bidding farewell to Karizu, Taka had led her quite a ways outside of Thunder Clan territory. She had been pretty anxious, especially since they were traveling in the dark, but luckily they hadn't encountered anything.
Then, Taka had picked a tree and instructed her to sleep in it for the rest of the night. She had thought that she might be too nervous and/or excited to even get to sleep, but slumber had come surprisingly easily.
Now, the sun was rising and casting a bit of light down into the forest,
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 24
Chapter 24 - Parting Gift
Roxy stared at Taka, blinking a few times but not saying anything. Her jaw hung open just slightly. Finally, after Taka started raising an eyebrow at her odd reaction, she gave her head a little shake. "I'm sorry…What?"
Taka gave her an odd look. "I said 'We leave tonight.'"
"Y…Are you serious? It's…already 'tonight'!"
"Be there in 15 minutes or I might leave without you."
Roxy's eyes grew wider. "You…I- Y-you really mean…now? As in right now? We're…leaving?"
Taka nodded.
She felt her head spin just a little. "You're not kidding? You really want to leave with me…right now?"
"…Yes," Taka said, giving her an odd look, "How many times must I repeat myself?"
"But- The wise ones said it was okay?"
Taka shook his head. "No," he added, "I would suggest you take care that nobody sees you."
"But…Are we ready? What about my Electric attacks? I still can't do very much!"
"What skills you have and
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 23
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 so
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 22
Chapter 22 - Tensions Rising
Roxy sat on a low branch in a tree in the middle of the village, twiddling her paws anxiously.
She could hear yelling.
Well, perhaps it couldn't really be called yelling as much as 'heated discussion', but nonetheless she could hear it despite how far she was from the wise ones' mound. She could hear them quite well. Even though she couldn't hear their words, it wasn't hard to imagine what words they were saying.
The wise ones weren't happy.
Roxy sighed, feeling a cool breeze pass over her. She was pretty down in the dumps. She was the one who had accidentally let it slip that she and Taka were going to leave, and yet Taka was the one they kept yelling at. No-one had said a single cross word to her. It made her feel guilty.
Taka, on the other paw, wasn't speaking a single word to her at all. Whenever they crossed paths, he would ignore her questions and just give her a disapproving glare. He was obviously upset with her, but it was so much wor
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 21
Chapter 21 - Class is in Session
"Anything?"
"No…"
"Are you sure?"
When Bamaka nodded in response, Roxy sighed and slumped her shoulders. "Don't worry about it," she told him, "You gave it a try."
Her old friend Bamaka was just one in a long line of Thunder Clan brethren who had tried and failed to learn the Grass Knot. As she had expected none of them could manage to pick up on the subtle energy that was needed to perform the move. It was just something she herself was familiar with and couldn't share.
"I will not give up," Bamaka told her, "I will try again later."
Roxy just groaned softly in frustration. This wasn't going as planned. No-one had even taken a step forward in learning the move. She was running out of Pokémon to try it on! Someone had to learn this, but she wasn't sure if anyone could.
It was at least a week, probably more, since Taka stated his intention to lead her to the forest's edge. Upon his request, she hadn't yet told anyone about the pl
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Literature
The Thunder Clan - 20
Chapter 20 - Everything Changes
"Left! Right! Right again! Dodge!"
Roxy was sweating bullets while she did her best to adhere to Taka's directions. She held the spear tightly in her paws, keeping it always at the ready so she could fend off anything that came her way. She blocked, slashed and dodged away from the imaginary enemies called out by Taka.
"End!"
She let out a sigh of relief and relaxed. That had been tough, to be sure, but Roxy was smiling at the result. She had handled herself pretty well during that session.
"Good," Taka said. It was a compliment, even though it didn't really sound like one.
"Thanks, Taka," she said through her heavy panting. She sat down on a nearby log and fanned herself with her paw.
"Next round. Ready?"
Roxy shook her head. "No, no…Need to breathe…"
If Roxy had uttered such a response only a few short months ago, her teacher Taka would have berated her for being weak and forced her to get up and go anyway. Now, though, she di
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Chapter 34 - Home

Roxy stood on the prow of the cruise ship, looking out at the seemingly endless expanse of ocean that surrounded her. The sea breeze was cool but not chilly, the sun was bright but filtered by clouds, and the smells of the ocean were nearly intoxicating. She wore the biggest smile. Roxy was having the time of her life.

She had never been on a cruise before, but had always wondered what it would be like. So far, she was enjoying the experience. The ship was very large, offering an infinite number of places to explore. The other Pokémon passengers on board were all quite friendly, and Roxy had shared a truncated version of her adventure to many of them. There were entertaining shows, performed by both humans and Pokémon, and lots of fun activities that she took part in.

The biggest and most amazing discovery had been the food. Roxy had been astonished to discover that the cruise ship offered an all-you-can-eat buffet to its Pokémon passengers! All any Pokémon had to do was walk in, point at what they wanted, and they got it! No-one even bothered to check that she was a real passenger, since many of the Pokémon were visiting the buffet without their owners.

Roxy had nearly eaten Leppas until she exploded.

It had been five days since the ship had left Castelia, and Roxy had heard that it would still be another day or two before they reached Vermillion. The sun was setting, casting a wonderful orange glow across the expansive sea. At the end of each day, this one included, the only thing that truly mattered was where this ship was taking her.

Home.

Home at last.

This could have been a dirty prison boat filled with insane convicts and she wouldn't have cared, so long as it was taking her home.

She stood there for another hour, watching as the sun slowly disappeared and was replaced by the stars in the sky. She felt like she could see the imaginary number getting smaller and smaller, counting the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds that were left until she reunited with her master.

Once the sun had truly disappeared and the temperature started to drop, she decided to retreat indoors. Unfortunately, the only real downside to their voyage was finding a good place to sleep. Most passengers slept in their assigned rooms, and obviously Roxy didn't have one of those. She didn't want to just sleep on the deck either, because that would just arouse suspicion.

Roxy entered through the small doorway designed for smaller Pokémon and entered the inner hallways of the ship. She made her way down many carpeted halls, passing by the rooms of other passengers and other such amenities. She gave a friendly wave to other humans and Pokémon she passed by along the way, until eventually she reached her destination.

Before her stood the door to one of the ship's storage rooms. While exploring, she had discovered that the lock on the door didn't work properly and she could nudge it open. There wasn't much being stored inside, meaning that few people would visit this room aside from when the ship was in port, making it the perfect place to hide out.

So, when she was sure no-one was looking, Roxy quickly jimmied the door open and slipped inside. It was somewhat dark inside, but there were a few portholes offering a miniscule amount of natural light. Roxy manoeuvred her way past the boxes and other assorted things until she found the little hideaway where she had been spending the nights.

As she climbed over the box that concealed this small hidden spot, she saw the collection of blankets that had been procured from elsewhere in the room. It wasn't particularly comfortable, but it was better than lying on the cold metal floor. Presently, the blankets were all bunched up and forming a medium-sized pile in the corner.

"Taka~" she called out in a gentle voice and made her way over to the blanket pile. She reached out a paw and gently shook it.

"Urrrrghhhhh…" the blanket pile responded.

"Are you okay?"

"You know the answer…" the blankets replied grumpily.

Roxy put on a sympathetic look and gently reached down to remove the blankets. Hidden underneath them was Taka, who was curled up and lying on his side with a grimace on his face. He looked quite pale and even a little green around his cheeks.

Unlike her, Taka was not handling the sea voyage very well. It had taken less than an hour on the ocean for him to get horribly seasick. He had managed to stomach a few short hours on the deck, but since then he had spent the entire trip curled up in the storage room and throwing up into the bucket that she was trying her best to avoid eye contact with.

She really felt bad seeing him like this, but there wasn't a lot she could do about it. She should have expected it, considering the most seafaring Taka had ever done before this was bathing in a river, but then again she hadn't expected him to join her on board at all. Roxy's master's father had a small boat that the family sometimes took out on lakes or short trips on the ocean, so she had her 'sea-legs'.

Roxy carefully reached over with her paw and slowly stroked his back, doing what little she could to help ease his discomfort. She knew what he was going through. While she didn't really get seasick, she did sometimes get carsick.

"Can I get you anything?" she asked him.

"No…" he grumbled in a voice that sounded like death. It was quite jarring to hear and see Taka in an incapacitated state like this.

"Are you sure?"

"Just tell me when this torture will end…"

She smiled regrettably and sighed. "We're more than three quarters of the way there. It's almost over."

"Urrghhhhhh…"

She rubbed his back some more. "I'm sorry you have to go through this."

"This is the most challenging thing I have ever endured in my life…"

Roxy paused for a moment, thinking about Taka's wild past as a warrior of the Thunder Clan. She was about to call him out on his hyperbole, but the more she thought about it the more she was inclined to agree with him. Taka had faced down predators ten times his size, and he had done it countless times to the point where it was easy for him. This was something new, something difficult, and something that could not be overcome.

"Well…" she said, "I guess we're both really looking forward to the end of this boat ride."

"Or death, whichever comes sooner…"

"Oh shush, Taka. I said we're almost there. Trust me, you'll feel completely better once your paws touch the ground again."

As she continued to rub his back, Roxy stared off into the distance as thoughts of home began to fill her mind. She too couldn't wait to set her paws upon the ground. It would be home, truly home. Familiar ground that she had tread before. She was so excited, but she felt like she had burned through all of her excitement. Instead, she just felt a strong yearning and an eager expectation of what the near future would bring.

She couldn't wait to see the look on her master's face.

Of course, assuming her master was okay.

A frown quickly spread across her face and she suppressed a shiver. Immediately she got to work pushing those negative thoughts out of her head. The truth was, she still had no idea what had happened to her or why she had ended up in the forest in the first place. She wanted to imagine that her master made it to Kalos just fine without her, but she truly didn't know. There were some scenarios that she could easily imagine where trouble would have struck the both of them.

But, Roxy shook her head. She knew she couldn't start thinking like that. Until she saw proof that something bad had happened, she had to assume the opposite. It was better than panicking over a thousand possibilities.

"Are you sure you don't want me to get you a Pomeg?" she asked, recalling his favourite fruit.

"Do not mention food around me right now…"

Roxy grimaced. "Sorry."

"Living, land-dwelling creatures were not meant to spend this much time on the water."

"Oh, stop your complaining," Roxy scolded him jokingly, "Human ingenuity is what is letting me get home at all, or I'd be trapped in Unova. If humans had to be known by only one thing, that would be their ability to create… Hey! I should show you the Vermillion Gym some time. It's got this cool electric puzzle that trainers have to solve!"

Taka didn't reply to that, or at least not at first. After a couple of minutes, she saw Taka slowly lift himself up and rise to a sitting position. His seasickness still made him look beyond intoxicated, but he was at least able to sit up on his own.

"Are you going straight home after this boat arrives?" he asked her.

"Huh? Yeah, of course! I can't get home fast enough!"

"Mm…" Taka slowly glanced away, and for a moment stared off at nothing.

"What?" Roxy asked, tilting her head.

He looked at her once more. "So, when exactly were you planning to show me this gym?"

Roxy furrowed her brow, at first not understanding the question. "…Oh," she said a moment later as her ears drooped, "Uhh…I dunno…"

"When you think about your future back home…you are picturing myself in it?"

"I…Sorta, not really… I dunno, it was just a random thought," she mumbled, "You never really told me what you plan to do after you get off the boat, so I don't really know if…" She bit her lip and stayed silent for a moment.

"I do not have…plans to come and live with you, Roxy," Taka stated flatly.

Roxy sighed softly. "Yeah, I know. I never thought you would. I thought maybe you might stick around for a few more days or something, or stay in the city for a bit…" She then shook her head. "It doesn't matter. Whatever you want to do is fine, Taka. It's your choice. I know you want to explore."

"Mm…"

"But, just…" Roxy leaned in a little closer to him. "If you do go off exploring Kanto and whatever…could you promise to come and see me again once in a while? If we're on the same continent at least, then, y'know…"

Taka looked at her in silence for a moment. Even through the sickness that clouded his eyes, Roxy could still see the calm, collected, somewhat wise eyes of Taka the warrior. It was the truth; she had never once imagined Taka coming to live with her. He was a wild Pokémon warrior that thrived on adventure. The idea was laughable.

"I think that is agreeable," he said with a nod.

Roxy smiled. "Thanks."

"Mhm."

After a minute of silence, Roxy spoke up again. "I, uh…do encourage you to at least check out Vermillion before running off. We've got a lot of cool stuff there!"

She turned and gave Taka a hopeful smile, but it faded when she saw that Taka just had this glowering look on his face.

"What?" she asked, "You don't have to. It's just a suggestion."

"No, no…" Taka said dismissively, but in a weird voice, "I am…"

"You're what?"

"I'm going to throw up again…"







"Taka!!! Taka, Taka, Taka! Wake up!!"

"Mnnghhh…"

Roxy was jumping up and down next to Taka, who was sleeping under his pile of blankets. She was bouncing around so much, one might have thought she was made out of rubber. Taka groaned at having been awakened, and then sat up.

"What…?" he murmured grumpily, rubbing one of his eyes with his paw. It seemed like Taka was finally starting to get his seasickness under control, to the point where he wasn't throwing up every couple of hours, but being on the boat still left him looking rather queasy.

"Taka, come on! Get up!" she practically squealed, reaching down to grab his paw and pull him up.

"What? Stop it," he said indignantly, wrenching his paw free from her grasp, "What's going on with you…?"

Roxy, meanwhile, couldn't sit still. It felt like she was filled from ears to tail with fizzy soda pop. She could barely breathe properly with how excited she was. "Come on, Taka! You gotta come up on the deck and see!"

"See what…?"

This wasn't moving fast enough, so Roxy reached down for his paw again and this time succeeded in dragging him up onto his hind paws. To his credit, he only swayed a little bit.

"We're here!!"

Taka blinked, and it took a moment for the news to breach his intoxicated mind. "…Here? We have…arrived?"

"Yes!!" Roxy exclaimed.

"…This horrible ocean journey is over?"

"Yes! Come on! Come look!!"

It took some pushing and prodding to get Taka to move his tired body, but he eventually relented and allowed her to lead him out of the storage room and up onto the deck. As they stepped out of the door to the deck itself, Taka initially flinched from the bright light and the strong wind. Though it drove her insane to do so, Roxy stood for a few minutes with him so he could get used to it. Eventually, he actually started to look better, perhaps because of the fresh air or the scent of the sea. Roxy then wasted no time in leading him directly to the front of the vessel.

They made their way to the passenger deck that extended just above and behind the bow, the furthest forward that passengers were permitted to go. Below them, the pointed front of the ship was cutting through the waves effortlessly, taking them to their destination. Looking up at the horizon, both Pikachu could see that destination was now visible in the distance.

Vermillion City had never before looked so beautiful to Roxy's eyes. She was already crying.

"That is your home?" Taka asked from beside her.

Roxy sniffled, suddenly feeling emotionally overwhelmed. "Uh huh…!"

Even though there was still quite a bit of ocean separating them from the city, Roxy felt like she could reach out and touch it. She had spent her whole life among those buildings, and now hadn't seen them for six long months. Every building, no matter how nondescript it actually was, looked like an amazing spectacle to her.

"You made it home, Roxy," Taka commented, "Congratulations."

"It…doesn't feel real. Pinch me. I might be dreaming…"

"No, this is no dream, Roxy. Look upon that city in the distance, and view it as your greatest accomplishment. Even after exiting the forest and seeing that the distance was so much greater than you had imagined, you still made this happen." After a pause, he added, "I am proud of you."

Any other time, Roxy would have been quite pleasantly surprised to hear such praise from Taka. Now, however, all she could think about was how close she was to home soil. How little time remained before she could truly be home again.

"Master…" she whispered.

"Where precisely do you live?" Taka asked, "In one of those really tall buildings?"

Roxy giggled a little. "No, those are for businesses. I live right up there." She pointed with her paw, though it didn't accomplish much for how far the city was in the distance. "Right up there on the hill."

"I see. I will accompany you while you return to your home."

Roxy turned and gave him a surprised look.

"It would do no good for you to come this far only for something to happen to you when you are so close to the end, hm?"

"Ah, um…Yeah. I don't think anything will happen, though. I've walked these streets for years. I could probably get home blindfolded." She gave him a pleasant smile and added, "Thanks, though. I'd love to have you join me."

"I am not going to approach your dwelling, however. I have no desire for your human family to catch sight of me."

Roxy frowned at him. "Aww, really? Are you sure? I want to-"

"No," Taka interjected, "Quite sure."

She pouted for a moment, but found she simply couldn't stay upset for very long. Too many happy and excited emotions were welling up within her, and she soon found that she had already spent too much time looking away from the approaching city.

It was still there on the horizon when she looked again, slightly closer now.

Over the course of this crazy adventure, Roxy had encountered many things that had made her heart race like crazy. Most, though not all, were frightening memories of something horrifying that had happened to her. The way she felt now was similar, but she found it hard to describe all the same. Her life had changed so much and she had been thrown so many curveballs, that it had felt for a while like the universe wasn't going to allow her to return to her normal life.

Yet, there it was. Growing closer every second. Roxy would have happily jumped into the cold water and pushed the boat if it would have meant getting there faster.

"Taka?" she spoke up, "Thanks again for everything you've done for me."

"I appreciate your gratitude, but there is no need for any of that."

"You told me that you indebted yourself to me for saving your life twice, but that's just silly compared to just how much I owe to you. I will never be able to repay your kindness and your help."

She caught a glimpse of him shaking his head. "That is why you will not. There is no need."

Roxy just sighed softly and smiled at him. "You're a good friend, Taka."

"You as well, Roxy."

As the two lapsed into silence once more, Roxy found herself reflecting on the incredible journey she had gone through. Once her Poké Ball had deposited her in that forest, she had thought her life was over forever. It had felt like all but her beating heart had been taken away from her all at once, never to return. A brief spark of hope was all that had remained, and that had been the only thing that kept her safe from the predators.

When that Zangoose, Kazaka, had cornered her and she thought that it was all over, Taka and Makari both appeared as if from the heavens above. Her life had been rescued from the bottom of the depths and, with the help of not only them but the entire Thunder Clan, had slowly been pulled back up to the light.

What a ride it had been becoming a part of the Thunder Clan. She had the physical marks on her body to prove to the world what she had gone through. Yet, she still wore both her collar and her master's flower, the ties to her true home that had never been broken.

From day one in that forest, Roxy had wanted nothing more than to get out and go home. No matter how nice the Thunder Clan had been in rescuing her, she had wanted nothing to do with them. Time went on, though, and fate kept her tethered to the tribe. In the end it turned out to have been a pleasant stay, for the most part anyway, and saying goodbye had been so much harder than she had imagined.

Despite the nightmare that it was, so many wonderful things did in fact happen in that forest.

She had fallen in love…

Now, though it pained her in some ways, that was all behind her. She highly doubted she would ever return to the forest or see any of them again, so that chapter of her life was truly closed off for good. That was okay, though, because the memories would stay with her forever. Good and bad, they would always be a part of her from now on.

Now, though?

Now it was time to go home…







"It still doesn't feel real…"

Taka chuckled dryly. "Believe it."

"We…used to come to this park all the time," Roxy murmured, "We had picnics here…"

As soon as the cruise ship had docked, and the two Pikachu had made a sneaky escape down one of the mooring lines, Roxy's innermost desires had told her to run home as fast as she could. Her experience, however, told her that until she was home she still needed to be cautious. Instead, she and Taka had set off at a brisk but comfortable walk through the city, with Roxy leading the way.

Taka had expressed a silent interest in the city, particularly the business and industrial part that they had crossed through to reach the residential area. As they started climbing the gentle grade, leading up to the street that Roxy called home, the city air around them slowly grew quieter and quieter.

Roxy couldn't help but be excited, but she did her best to contain herself. She knew she would see her master again soon, but she was also acting as a tour guide for her own city. It made her feel strangely proud to show off Vermillion City to the curious Taka.

"Ahh, I can't wait!" Roxy quietly squealed as she did a little hop of joy, "I can't wait to see master~!"

Having left downtown Vermillion behind, the two were now walking through one of the city's quiet parks. Roxy was walking along a paved trail leading through it, which was surrounded on both sides by flowering bushes, while Taka walked next to her balanced on the path's curb. They were approaching a place where an open grassy area opened up on the right, before leading to a short path through the woods to the other side of the park. From there it was only a hop, skip and a jump away from Roxy's neighbourhood.

"Whaddaya think so far?" Roxy asked to her companion.

"It is…interesting," Taka answered as he glanced around, "I have always been somewhat intrigued by 'parks'. With all they change and create, humans also set aside areas where they touch very little."

"Oh yeah, parks are great! They're a great way to relax, unwind, or get some exercise!"

Roxy glanced up at Taka, still snickering at the way he chose to walk up on the curb like that. He was also still wearing the collar, and even Roxy had to admit that it did look a little strange on him. She silently hoped that he would have the foresight to keep it with him, even if he did not wear it all the time. Roxy had never given much thought to the capture of wild Pokémon before, but imagining Taka being captured by a trainer just sent shivers down her spine.

It made her so thankful for the special relationship she shared with her master.

A young human couple came strolling down the trail and walked past them, the girl glancing down at Roxy and remarking how cute she looked. Roxy smiled at the compliment, but she also noticed Taka tense up and briefly stop walking as the couple passed.

Once they had gone and he resumed walking, Roxy frowned at him. "Taka? Do you think you'll ever be able to trust humans?"

Taka didn't look at her and grimaced in response. "I have no answer for that."

"Sorry," Roxy said, feeling a jab in her heart at her own insensitivity, "I didn't mean to upset you. You're probably right that humans as a whole are not very trustworthy, but…Well, I mean, they're not all out to get you, y'know?"

"Mm…"

"I mean…I guess it's sort of like running through the woods. You meet friendly Pokémon, and you meet predators. With humans it's the same, only you can't tell just from looking at them. It's like a challenge, and I know you like a challenge…Right?"

Taka just gave her an odd look.

"Never mind," Roxy sighed.

"No, I think your analogy is apt. I suppose that I have just always…erred on the side of caution with predators."

"You just need to get to know some really nice ones." Like my master, her mind added, and suddenly her bright and cheery mood was back. The pep returned to her step as she continued along the path, reaching the part with the open grassy area on the side.

"Do you know where to go after this?"

"Uh huh!" Roxy nodded. "Taka, I know this whole place like the back of my paw. I'm honestly surprised I haven't run into anyone I know yet. Lots of our friends and neighbours visit this park."

"Is that so? The park seems rather quiet right now…"

"Well, it's not the weekend, and it's the middle of the workday, so…"

"It is probably for the better, anyway."

"There's a few people here, though," Roxy said, seeing a couple of humans and a few Pokémon on the grass.

Taka shrugged as he continued to walk. "I must admit it was strange seeing an…image of a Pikachu above that gym we passed, and it was so very large. It is like looking at a strange, gigantic reflection up in the sky… You mentioned there was a powerful Raichu who lived there?"

He then stopped and turned around when he realized that Roxy was no longer walking next to him. "Roxy?" he asked, tilting his head slightly.

She wasn't looking at him. She wasn't even listening at him. In fact, she was barely breathing. She had come to a complete stop, as her hind paws had stopped working properly, and was now standing there on the path staring. A numb sort of feeling came over her as her eyes focused intently on one particular area of this small park.

There she was. Sitting right there on a park bench reading a book. She was right there.

Her master…

"Roxy?" Taka spoke up again, returning to her and waving a paw in front of her face, "Are you okay?"

She barely registered that he was even there. Her heart was caught in her throat as a churning mix of emotions swirled around inside of her. She was pretty sure that she was quivering and simply couldn't get a full breath in. She blinked multiple times, if only to prove to herself that what she was seeing was really there.

Taka stepped up next to her and looked in the same direction as her. After a short pause, he turned to her and asked, "Is that her?"

Roxy just numbly nodded.

Once more, Taka glanced in the direction of the bench and then looked back at her. She was barely able to catch the small smirk that appeared on his lips.

"So go to her," he said, "What are you waiting for?"

Those last five words were what finally chiselled through to her malfunctioning brain, where they reverberated as if shouted through a megaphone. What are you waiting for? What was she waiting for?? Her master was there.

Her master was there!!

As if a fuse had been lit, a sudden surge of energy flowed through the little Pikachu, bringing with it the biggest smile she had ever worn in her whole life. She started to run forwards, and then ran faster. When that wasn't making her move quickly enough, she ran even faster. Tears streamed from  her eyes as she was soon running full tilt across the damp grass towards the park bench. As she ran, she opened her mouth and let out a wonderful, joyful cry.

"MASTER!!!"

The young woman glanced up from her book, a slightly puzzled look on her face. She glanced around a bit in confusion.

Roxy just continued to run. The relatively short distance between her and that bench was not very long, but to her it felt like the longest sprint of her entire life. She didn't let it stop her, though. Her heart hammered as her paws barely touched the grass.

"MASTER!!!"

Finally, the girl turned towards the sound of her voice and the two made eye contact. A mystified sort of look clouded over the young human's eyes for a moment as her jaw slowly dropped. The book slipped from her hands and tumbled to the ground below, forgotten. She too blinked a couple of times, and then her eyes slowly grew wide.

"…Roxy?"

"Master, I'm here!! I'm here!!!"

"Is it…really you…?" her master asked in disbelief, speaking in her own language, and holding a hand up to her heart.

Once she was finally close enough, Roxy leapt high off the ground and dove directly towards the young girl. "Master!!" she exclaimed, tears streaming from her eyes as time seemed to slow down for a brief moment.

She was caught in her master's arms and immediately swept into a tight hug, which Roxy was very eager to return. From that first moment that the two made contact, and when she felt those loving arms holding her tight, she knew that this was real. This was truly happening. She had made it home. She had found her master.

"Roxy!!" her master exclaimed in both disbelief and joy. She squeezed the Pikachu even tighter and held her close enough that Roxy could feel the human's familiar body heat. Wet spots appeared on her neck and she realized that her master was crying too.

Roxy buried her muzzle into the crook of her master's neck and held tight with her paws, genuinely afraid that, if she let go, then her master would be taken away again. She held herself so tightly to the human as if she were holding onto a cliff for dear life. Even this tight, warming embrace was not close enough. Roxy wanted to hold on like this forever.

She wasn't sure how long the two of them sat there hugging each other in emotional silence. Roxy had never felt a sense of relief like this ever before. It was so powerful that it hurt, and all she could do was let it out through her tears of joy. She was shaking again, but that was okay. Her master was shivering too.

Then, her master brought her hand up and rested it on the back of Roxy's neck, gently petting her fur. With it came that long sought-after sense of safety, security and care. Already, in the blink of an eye, all of her worries were gone. Everything was okay now, because she had finally found her master. Everything was perfect.

Roxy finally pushed back from the hug once her lungs demanded a full breath of air, though she was reluctant to do so. She still remained in the cradle of her master's arms, and gazed up at the young girl's face with a quivering lip and a smile that reached both of her ears.

"Oh my gosh…! Roxy, is it really you?!" her master babbled, "I…I can't believe this! It's impossible! It's…Oh, Roxy! Sweetie!"

"Master!! I missed you so much!!"

"I…I…I really hope this isn't a dream. Not this time, please…!"

Roxy shook her head and beamed. "It's really me, master! I'm here! I'm home!!"

Her master leaned forward and gave Roxy another tight hug, though this one only lasted a few seconds. Roxy enjoyed every little moment of it nonetheless.

"Roxy! Oh my gosh, it's really you! You're here! I…We thought we'd lost you forever! We thought we'd never see you again! Oh, Roxy, I'm so happy to see you, sweetie!!"

It only made Roxy even happier than she already was to see the joyful look on her master's face. She had known how much her master had been missing her over the months, but it was another thing altogether to see it. "Master…" she whispered, her voice quivering. "I'm sorry…!"

A sense of guilt was starting to creep up on her. She felt really bad for making her master so sad by being away, even if it wasn't her fault at all. It hurt for a few moments, but soon she couldn't help but smile again. There were simply too many happy emotions that wanted to come bursting out.

"Roxy, what…what happened to you?! This is incredible…"

"I'm here now, master. I came such a long way, but I'm here…!"

"What happened to you? Where did you go? What's this stuff all over your-?" Her master then let out a sharp gasp of shock. "Omigod! Roxy, what happened to your tail?!"

Roxy cast a glance behind at her mangled tail, but even the sight of that wasn't enough to erase her smile.

"Oh you poor thing…" her master cooed, "The pretty little heart is gone…"

Shaking her head, Roxy placed her paws on her master's hands and looked her in the eye. "I don't care, master! It doesn't matter!"

Her master glanced down at her for a moment, and then said, "…I guess you're right. It could've been a lot worse. I'm just so glad you made it back!"

And with that, Roxy was swept up into another quick but loving hug. She felt like she would never get tired of them.

"I saw you running up to me…I wasn't sure at first, because it seemed so impossible, but when I saw the collar and the flower, I knew it was you for sure!" Her master pet her on the head, and she could feel her smiling. "You're still wearing them! After all this time out there…"

When the hug ended and Roxy was placed upon her master's lap, she gazed up at the young girl with a perturbed look. "Master…" she spoke in a soft voice, "What happened to me? I still don't know…"

"Oh, sweetie…I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry!"

Roxy tilted her head, confused as to what her master could possibly be apologizing for.

"We never should have made you go into your Poké Ball for that flight. We knew you were worried, and truth be told we were worried too. Daddy and I were talking about trying to get you approved to sit in the cabin somehow, but the idea never really got rolling, and…" She bit her lip. "If we hadn't…then this wouldn't have…"

"Master…" Roxy put her paw on her master's hand again in a comforting gesture, and smiled up at her. "It's okay, master. It wasn't your fault, right? I don't blame you for anything."

She then sighed. "We landed in Kalos and went to the desk to pick you up, but they told us your Ball was missing. I couldn't believe it. I was devastated. Daddy was angry! We stayed at that desk for hours trying to figure out what had happened to you, but no-one there knew what was going on. Eventually we bit the bullet and flew right back to the Saffron Airport.

"Eventually we…sort of figured it out. It was really just a theory, I think. The staff there said that, based on the circumstances and such, your Ball might have gotten mixed in with a shipment of empty Poké Balls that were on a different flight."

Roxy shivered as she imagined herself, trapped in that little ball, getting mixed in with thousands of completely identical Poké Balls in a huge container.

"We were like, 'Great. Just tell us where it went and stop the shipment, or whatever, and we'll get you back,' but… They said that shipment was going to be split up and sent to all sorts of really remote places. Y'know, places deep in the jungle or on top of mountains, where it's hard to get Poké Balls. By the time we figured out what might've happened to you, the shipment was already separated and on its way…"

A dark, pained look crossed over her master's eyes and she turned away as two tears rolled down her cheeks. "Basically, you could have been anywhere"

A strange feeling overcame the Pikachu. A weird, uncomfortable kind of relief upon finally learning what had happened to her. Her master's story had been frightening, and she could only imagine how helpless she and her father had felt.

However, that still didn't explain how she ended up in the middle of the forest with a broken Poké Ball. Roxy had a feeling, though, that no-one would be able to shed any light on that part of her adventure.

"We contacted all of the towns that were receiving the shipment, but none of them had found you…After that, there wasn't anything left to do. You were just…gone." More tears stated to run down her master's cheeks. "I cried myself to sleep every night for a whole month. I love you so much, Roxy, and I missed you so bad!"

"I love you too, master…!"

"You were gone for so long, Roxy! How long has it been? Like five or six months? What in the world happened to you?"

Roxy smiled up at her master, just grateful to be in her presence once more. She wanted to speak up and tell her all of the wild and crazy things she had gone through, but she didn't because she knew it would mostly be a waste of time. Roxy knew it was a lot easier for her to understand her master's language than the other way around.

"Were you in Kanto somewhere? Or Johto?"

Roxy shook her head.

"Were you even on this continent?"

She shook her head again.

Her master's eyes grew wide. "You mean, you crossed the ocean to get home?"

Roxy grinned and nodded proudly.

"Oh my gosh…Roxy, that's incredible! I can hardly believe it! You traveled all the way across the world just to get back to me…"

"Of course I did, master!" Roxy perked up, "I would have gone double, triple or ten times that distance to get back to you! I missed you so much!! Every day without you hurt so much!"

"That's amazing, Roxy. Simply amazing." She then glanced down at the green markings on Roxy's fur once more. "What are these things on you, Roxy? They look like…something Aboriginal." Her master studied her for a moment, during which Roxy proudly stood tall. "Did you end up in the wilderness somewhere…?"

Roxy nodded. "These are my Marks!" she said, though she knew it probably went right over the young girl's head. This part of her story, though very important to her, might have to wait until she could draw a picture.

Her master gasped after she nodded. "You ended up in the wilderness, with wild Pokémon?" When Roxy nodded again, she reached down and gently pet her on the back. "Oh Roxy, that must have been so scary. Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry you had to go through all of this…But, you're here now. And you're in…mostly one piece, so you must have managed to survive out there all on your own."

At the mention of her tail, Roxy glanced back at it again and ended up chuckling. Somehow, it didn't even make her upset anymore. In some strange way, it was just another one of her marks. A sign of what she had gone through, and what she had triumphed over.

She squeaked in surprise when her master reached down and picked her up for another warm hug, which Roxy eagerly reciprocated. She had always loved her master's hugs, but now they felt better than ever. As corny as it sounded, Roxy felt like she was being wrapped up in love. The love she shared with her master, and that her master shared with her.

"I'm so proud of you, sweetie," her master whispered in her ear, "I promise I'll never let you get lost ever again…"

"I love you, master…"

When they separated from the hug, Roxy remained cradled in her arms. Her cheeks were damp with tears now, but she didn't care. She had never felt this warm and happy inside in her whole life. She felt like she could be content resting in the arms of her master forever.

"How did you do it, Roxy?" her master asked, "You've never had any Pokémon training, but you survived in the wilderness and made it all the way home!"

Roxy's ears perked up. "Oh!" she exclaimed, "I didn't do it alone, master! I had lots of help!" Then, in spite of her mindset not two seconds ago, she squirmed until her master let her go and she dashed over to the edge of the bench. She stood up with her front paws resting on the hand-rest of the bench, and scanned the park.

"Taka!!" she shouted, "Taka?" Her eyes first went to the spot where she had first spotted her master, but Taka wasn't there anymore. She gazed around the area, but still couldn't see him. "Taka?!"

"What're you doing, Roxy?"

"Taka, come on! Come out! I want you to meet my master!" Roxy continued to call, "I want her to know the reason I'm still standing here! Where did you go?" She ended up turning all the way around, taking in a full 360-degree view of the park, but Taka was nowhere to be seen.

"…Please?" Her heart sank a little as she wondered if Taka had already left. He had finished his 'duty' by returning her to her master, so he could have decided to just head off on his own adventures. Roxy frowned, hoping that wasn't true. Even if Taka wanted to run off so quickly, he could have at least said goodbye…

"Roxy, are you looking for someone…?"

The Pikachu sighed, her shoulders slumping a little. "Never mind…" she murmured. Of course things would turn out this way. Roxy knew she was cursed to have every positive moment of her life tainted by something negative in some way. It had been like that ever since she had woken up in the forest. It was just the way life had decided to treat her.

"Well…So long, Taka…"

Roxy then started to turn around and head back to her master, looking for more warm hugs. Right as she was turning her head, though, she just barely caught sight of something that made her pause. She leaned forward on the hand-rest once more and squinted, trying to focus on what she had seen. Had she imagined it?

"Ah!! Taka!" she exclaimed, "There you are!!"

She could just barely see a few patches of yellow hidden in the bushes at the edge of the grassy area. The green paint on his fur helped him blend in alarmingly well, so much so that Roxy didn't blink because she was sure she would lose track of him if she did. A comforting sense of relief washed over her.

"Taka, come on!" she called to him, "She won't hurt you, I promise! Trust me! I'm more of a threat to you than she is! Come on, please? You know I couldn't have done this without you. I want my master to know! You deserve it, Taka!"

Seconds ticked by, and for a while it didn't look like Taka was going to move. That suited Roxy just fine anyway, because if he didn't want to get out of the bushes then she was going to drag her master over to the bushes.

Then, finally, the bushes rustled and Taka darted out into the open. Roxy noticed that at some point, he had discarded the collar he was wearing. He stood there for a moment at the edge of the bushes, looking as if he was gauging the situation, and then started to approach her at a reserved pace. The whole time, he kept his eyes locked on the human sitting behind her.

"Oh? Who's this?" her master asked.

Once Taka had reached the foot of the bench, Roxy turned around and hopped back into her master's lap. She then gestured towards the empty spot on the bench next to them, indicating that he should jump up.

Taka was hesitating quite a bit. Roxy was proud of the fact that her master hadn't said another word, obviously having clued in to how skittish Taka was. It was a bit strange to see their roles entirely reversed, with Roxy now pushing Taka towards something that made him nervous.

With enough smiles and reassuring looks from Roxy, Taka finally got the courage to jump up onto the bench. He was standing more than an arm's length away from her master, and still standing tense like a coiled up spring that was ready to bounce away at the first sign of danger.

If this were anything else, Roxy would have poked fun at how nervous Taka was. However, she knew his history with humans and didn't blame him one bit for being so cautious. She knew she had to take things slowly.

"Master?" Roxy spoke up, tilting her head to look up at the human, "This is my friend Taka. He helped me get home!"

Her master turned to regard Taka, but did nothing else. "This is a friend of yours?" she spoke. Roxy saw her put on a gentle, reassuring smile. "Hello, there!" she said softly.

Taka may as well have been a rock, for how much he responded to this.

Nothing happened for a few tense moments, as the three of them just sat there looking at one another. Then, Taka visibly jumped as her master moved her arm just a little bit. The young girl saw this reaction and froze in place.

"Taka, it's okay," Roxy said, repeating herself, "She won't hurt you."

Taka still hadn't taken his eyes off of the large human. When her master tried moving her arm again, Taka recoiled back slightly and got into a more defensive pose. Her master drew her hand back in.

Roxy sighed. "Taka, c'mon now. You beat up an Ursaring like a week ago."

"What is she doing…?" Taka spoke up, though Roxy could barely hear his voice. He still wasn't looking at her either.

"She wants to pet you," she explained.

"What…?"

"You know…Pat you on the head? Rub your fur? It's how humans show affection, and it's a way for them to say hello to unfamiliar Pokémon."

It didn't seem like any of her words had convinced him at all.

Sighing again, Roxy turned to look up at her master once more. "Pet me first," she said, pointing to herself and then to her master's hand. It didn't take long for the girl to get the message, and she used the hand that was farther away from Taka to reach up and pet her gently on the head. Roxy smiled warmly at the gesture.

"See?"

Taka still looked quite tense. Roxy thought he looked like he was preparing himself to leap in and rescue her the moment her master's hand decided to turn evil and strangle her. She let her master pet her for a bit longer, and finally she started to see a tiny bit of relaxation in Taka's posture.

"Now you, okay?" she said, "I promise you, cross my heart and soul, Arceus strike me down if I'm wrong…She will not hurt you." She then looked up at her master once more and nodded. "Okay. Go ahead."

When her master slowly started moving her hand towards Taka's head again, Taka visibly tensed up. He looked like he was preparing himself to endure torturous pain or something. Roxy maintained eye contact with him the whole time, trying to give him a comforting smile.

The hand touched his head, ever so gently. Roxy saw all of the muscles in his body contract and his eyes shut tight for just a brief moment. When nothing horrible happened to him, he opened his eyes again and looked up at the human, who began to very slowly pet him on the head.

With every stroke of her hand, Taka visibly became more and more relaxed. A look of confusion seemed to spread across his face for a moment, and soon he was looking up at the human with reserved curiosity instead of fear.

"See?" Roxy said with a giggle, "Gentle as a Jumpluff."

"Hello there…" her master said to Taka, "You're a friend of Roxy's? It's nice to meet you."

Taka still wasn't saying anything, but he was standing up straight on his hind legs now and letting the human's hand stroke across his head, ears and upper back. He didn't look like he was enjoying it, at least not from the outside, but he wasn't hating it either.

"This is Taka," Roxy said, addressing her master, "He's from a village of Pikachu and other Electric-Types who live in the Aspertia Forest, and he's helped me with so much!" Again, she knew this went right over her master's head most likely, but she was mostly saying it for Taka's ears. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have made it home, master. Him and his wonderful tribe!"

"You still seem nervous…" her master said to Taka, and then paused with her hand resting on Taka's head. "It's okay, I won't hurt you, sweetie…"

Then, her master moved her fingers into different positions and Roxy knew already what was coming next. Taka looked confused, and even a little jumpy, again. He tensed up once more when her master started, his paw halfway to the weapon on his back, but it took only seconds for all of that tension to melt away.

Roxy was jealous already. Her master gave the best ear scratches.

"What…is she doing…?" Taka murmured, seeming a little disoriented. Every single muscle in his body relaxed and his eyes even seemed to go a bit unfocused. Roxy had to laugh at this. In less than two seconds, Taka was completely disarmed. That was the humans' secret weapon.

"There we go!" the young girl said as she continued to scratch behind Taka's ears. She took advantage of his mellowed state and shifted a little bit closer to him on the bench. "Hmm…" she said as she leaned down to examine him, "Are you a wild Pokémon? You have no collar…"

She fell silent for a moment, and Roxy could see that her eyes were drifting over the green paint that was adorning his fur. "You have them too! What is all of this? It looks like…sort of looks like tribal markings…And what is this thing on your back…?" She glanced back towards Roxy. "Good heavens, what in the world have you been through?"

Roxy chuckled dryly.

Her master removed her hand, and Roxy glanced over to see that Taka looked like he was in bliss. His eyes were closed and he looked completely relaxed, which was something she had never seen on him before. Once he realized the scratching had stopped, he quickly came back to the real world and shook his head.

"Enjoy that?" Roxy asked.

"Shut up," he replied, and Roxy snickered.

"Roxy, did he help you get back home?" her master asked, recapturing her attention. When Roxy nodded, she turned to Taka with a smile on her face. "In that case, thank you so much. You have no idea how happy I am to have my little Roxy back safe and sound!"

Taka turned to Roxy and gave her an inquisitive look. It was clear that, even though he was familiar with the human language, he was far less advanced in it than Roxy was.

"She's thanking you for helping me," Roxy translated.

Taka simply turned to look up at the human again and curtly nodded his head, making Roxy roll her eyes.

"Are you a wild Pokémon? Do you have a trainer?"

Roxy shook her head. "Nope! He's wild!"

"A wild Pokémon…? So that means you must have met him…when you…" Her master gasped. "Does this mean he crossed the oceans with you?"

"Yeah!"

"He came all this way with you? He helped you get home, even though it's so far away?"

Roxy nodded, and gave Taka a grin.

"That's amazing! How selfless. You must be a really kind Pokémon under that tough exterior. Thank you again so much for bringing Roxy home. I just can't thank you enough!" She glanced down and caught Roxy's eye. "I want to give him a hug, but I get the feeling he might not like that so much."

Roxy snickered and then giggled. "That's okay, master!" she said, and then immediately dashed over and pounced on Taka, giving him a big hug.

"Ack! Hey!" Taka protested, "Would you explain what's going on…?"

"You're awesome, Taka! That's what's going on!"

"Er…"

When Roxy broke away from the hug, she found that all of her bubbly, happy feelings were returning. Like a second wave, she felt that rush of relief and joy that she was finally back home and with her master again. She couldn't help but scamper over and give her master another hug as well.

"Oh, sweetie! I'm happy to see you too!" her master said, "This is the happiest day of my life…"

"Me too!!"

"You've been through a lot, Roxy…but now you're safe. We'll get you home, sit on the couch with a couple of nice warm blankets, eat some cupcakes and Poké Puffs…"

There were stars in Roxy's eyes as she listened to her master list all of the creature comforts she had missed so dearly. Just picturing her nice warm house, with the comfy couch and the yummy food, was enough to make her quiver in anticipation. Her bed! Roxy couldn't wait to spend a night in her comfy little bed.

She gasped. She would get to have a real bath!

"Oh my gosh!" her master exclaimed, gasping as well, "We gotta get you home so daddy can see that you're okay!"

"Desmond!!" Roxy squealed. She couldn't wait to see him again as well.

"Yes, Roxy! Desmond is home right now! What're we sitting around here for? Let's go!" The young girl gave Roxy a quick squeeze, still holding her in a hug, and then started to stand up.

She paused halfway through, and both of them remembered that Taka was still there. Roxy turned her head to look at him, and saw that he looked strangely at ease. He was looking at her, or rather looking at the two of them, with a contented sort of look of realization. He looked as if some great question had finally been answered to him.

"Taka?" Roxy called to him.

"…Mm?"

"You all right there, buddy?"

Taka's facial expressions seemed to soften, something Roxy hadn't really seen since not long after Makari had died. He let out a slow breath of air, and then said, "Nothing. I'm fine."

Roxy's enthusiasm simmered down a bit as she realized the question of 'What now?' was hanging in the air. Was it truly time to say goodbye to Taka now? He hadn't even planned on being present when she reunited with her master, but they hadn't planned on finding her in the park. Roxy was itching to get back home, and her master was ready to take her there right away. With a heavy heart, Roxy realized that it was probably time to say farewell to her friend.

Before she could, however, her master spoke up instead. "What about you? Are you coming with us?"

Both Roxy and Taka turned their heads up to look at her curiously.

Her master was smiling warmly. "You can if you want. That's totally fine."

Roxy turned back to Taka with her eyebrows raised, unsure of how the other Pikachu would react to this invitation.

Taka looked like he hadn't expected this at all and was slightly caught off-guard. Roxy figured that his answer would probably be 'no', but truth be told she was secretly hoping otherwise.

"I…" Taka murmured.

"You've come such a long way with Roxy," her master continued, "You aren't just gonna part ways now after everything, are you?"

Taka glanced at Roxy, confused. She gave him a brief summary of what her master had said.

"If nothing else, I've gotta give you something nice as thanks for helping Roxy. I can get daddy to cook some yummy food for you."

Again, Roxy relayed this information. "I dunno what you wanna do, Taka," she added at the end, "but…Desmond's cooking? Trust me, you'll be impressed."

"…"

"It's up to you, Taka…but I gotta admit, a big part of me doesn't want to say goodbye yet…"

"Roxy…" Taka murmured, sounding slightly irked.

"It's okay," her master spoke, "I know I can trust you. You helped Roxy, after all. And don't worry, we're not gonna try to catch you or anything." After a pause, her master turned to Roxy and added, "Speaking of which, where's your Poké Ball?"

Roxy grimaced, and mimed the act of breaking something in half with her paws.

"Oh dear! We'll have to get you a new one right away!"

This made Roxy grin. Even though she hated Poké Balls, it was the symbolism of the act that she cared about. Being registered to a Poké Ball was one of the biggest things that connected her with her family, and it had been bugging her that this link had been broken.

Her master then stood up with Roxy in her arms, clearly getting anxious to get back home as well. "So?" she said, turning to Taka once more, "You wanna come? Again, you're more than welcome!"

Taka's eyes shifted around for a bit, his brow furrowed. Roxy gasped softly, seeing that he was actually being indecisive about this proposal. "Come on, Taka!" she encouraged, "You know it doesn't have to be forever or anything."

He gave her a sidelong glance.

"I'd really like it if you came along…"

He then glanced at the ground. "Roxy, I…"

"Let…Let me show you my home…"

Taka looked up at her one more time, and then sighed softly as a reflective look appeared on his muzzle. It seemed like a thousand thoughts were going through his head, none of which Roxy was privy to.

Then, he gave her a smirk, though it was decidedly less smirk-like than usual and closer to a smile. "Sure," he said with a nod, "Why not?"

Roxy smiled brightly. "Yay!" she cheered, "Awesome! Well, come on then! Let's get going! You wanna ride up here? Master can carry us both!"

Taka gave her a flat look.

"…Or, you can walk behind. Y'know, whatever."

"You wanna come with us, huh? Okay, then!" her master said, and then leaned towards Taka. He flinched from her extending arm briefly, but then stood still and allowed her to pet him a couple of times. The young girl then fully stood up, still cradling Roxy protectively in her arms.

"Let's go!!" Roxy cheered excitedly, giving her master an eager look.

She laughed. "I know, I'm excited too! Let's go see daddy!" She glanced over her shoulder and gave Taka a toss of her head. "Follow us!"

Taka nodded, and then they finally set off. Her master didn't run, but she did walk rather quickly and there was an excited pep in her step. Roxy grinned eagerly as they headed down the path, knowing that it led to streets that would lead to more streets, eventually leading to the house that she so dearly missed.

Roxy turned to look behind her and saw that Taka had to run to keep up, but he didn't seem to mind. It brought a certain, unique kind of joy to see that he was still sticking around with her, even though she didn't know ultimately how long it would last. For the moment, it was nice to see these two worlds that she now belonged to coming together like this.

She eeped softly as her master surprised her with another tight hug as she ran. Roxy squealed and nuzzled herself into the warmness of the hug, relishing in the familiar feel and scent of the human she had missed so much. Roxy guessed that the smile she wore would not be going away for a long while.

"Welcome home, Roxy…" her master whispered into her ear.

Roxy sighed happily, gazing out at the familiar city that lay before her. She was as happy as she could possibly be, and eternally grateful that things had finally turned out okay. She looked upwards, seeing the fluffy clouds covering the endless blue yonder above. She held her gaze there for a moment in silence, then closed her eyes and rested her head contently. She whispered soft words that only those who were truly listening would be able to hear.

It would probably be a long while before she felt comfortable taking a long-distance vacation again, but that was fine. She didn't plan on leaving home for a long while.

Her smile grew even wider as she sighed in contentment one more time.

Home…
The Thunder Clan - 34
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.

---

Thanks to everybody who read along, I really hope you enjoyed this story. I spent a long time working on it, and I'm super proud of it. This is the largest Non-MLP story I have ever written...and also straight up THE largest story I've ever written. I am so happy I was able to make it through to the end and complete Roxy's story.

Roxy was named after a family pet who passed away a couple years ago. She was a Black Labrador X Golden Retriever X ??? dog who was insane, but we loved her so much.

Infinite thanks to ArtyLovr for her pre-reading and editing. Go find her on Tumblr before the site crashes and burns completely. She draws the pokeymans.

Finally, if you enjoyed what you read, please share. Sharing this story with others is the number one most important way to help me out.


~GB

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Chapter 33 - The Last Goodbye

It was a typical spring day in the modern metropolis that was Castelia City. Weather or season hardly ever affected the constant flow of humans, vehicles and Pokémon in this sprawling city, but at least people could go about their day with a smile on their face and no rain falling on their heads. Two Pikachu were walking down the road next to the city's large port. One was positively beaming. She was very excited, and happy to begin the second-last leg of her long journey home.

The other was staring at the city around him in utter shock. It was a marvel that he could even get his legs to move. Taka's wide eyes and even wider mouth had not closed since the moment he had laid eyes on the collection of massive skyscrapers. He looked like he was in a daze.

Roxy snickered and bumped him with her hindquarters. "Snap out of it or you're gonna run into a street sign."

"I…never imagined…"

"Yes, Taka, so you've said about 50 times now."

"Never…imagined…anything like this…"

She couldn't help but giggle. It was one of the few times that Taka's mask was slipping and she could see the more raw emotions underneath. Taka looked like a newborn cub who was seeing the beautiful world for the first time in his life. It was kind of adorable.

"How could…? There is so much…!" Taka murmured.

"That's humans for ya," Roxy replied, "They imagine, they build, they live."

"How many humans live in this city??"

"Ohhh, uhhh…" Roxy said, stalling for a moment as she tried to remember the answer, "About…seven or eight million?"

Taka stopped walking and held a paw to his forehead.

"Taka? What's up?"

"Ah…Nothing…" He shook his head and then took a few more steps, but then stopped and held his paw to his forehead again. "Ugh…"

"What's wrong?" Roxy asked in concern.

"Nothing."

"Taka…" She said sternly.

He sighed and relented. "I feel dizzy…"

Roxy at first frowned, but a moment later smiled sympathetically when she realized what was going on. "You've got vertigo from looking up at the skyscrapers too much. Sorry, I guess this really is a bit overwhelming, huh?"

Taka merely closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his muzzle.

"Here, turn around and look at the ocean instead."

He nodded and followed her instructions, and both Pikachu ended up standing there for a moment looking at the various different types of watercraft in the Castelia Harbor. There were Butterfree in Roxy's stomach. One of those boats was going to take her home…

"So?" Roxy asked, turning to look at Taka, "What'cha think?"

"…To be completely honest, it does not feel real. I am picturing what lies behind me, and my mind is trying to tell me it is but a fantasy…"

Roxy giggled at that. "Yeah, Castelia's one of the biggest cities in the whole world. It's not the biggest of them all, but it's still pretty massive."

"How long did all of this take…?"

"Oh gosh, I dunno. A couple hundred years at least… I think this used to be an old trading post or something, and it just grew and grew and grew!"

Instead of replying, Taka just stared out at the sea. There was a contemplative look on his face.

"What?"

"So, this is what happens when death does not hide behind every tree?"

Roxy blinked once, and then a frigid shiver ran up her spine. "Y-yeah…That's what it means to be the top of the food chain."

"Clearly…"

On that rather somber note, the two lapsed into silence for a couple moments and just stared at the sea. There was constant noise all around them, a wild cacophony of human voices, Pokémon cries and machinery. It could hardly be called relaxing, even when this close to the crisp smell of the ocean.

"So…What can be found in this city?" Taka asked.

"Hm? Oh, well pretty much every city on the globe has at least some of the same stuff. You're almost guaranteed to find a Pokémon Center, a Pokémon Mart, a police station, and a hospital. There's a good chance you'll find a library somewhere, and oftentimes a Pokémon Gym. There's one here somewhere, I think…

"Beyond that, I know there's an art gallery here. I dunno, you might enjoy that, but I don't think Pokémon are allowed inside. There's Castelia Cones, as I said. There's some places to get good food, a nice big park, and a big place called a 'University' where humans go to learn. I'm not sure, but I think there's also a big video game development studio here…"

Taka watched her silently as she spoke, and then nodded when she was finished.

"Lots of fun stuff to do! You'd get a better answer if you ask someone who actually lives here!" she said, and then gave him a friendly grin. A moment of thought passed, and her grin faded away. "Hey…" she then said, "Are you gonna be all right here…?"

"Hm?"

"Y'know…" She lowered her gaze to the ground and mumbled the next few words. "…After I'm gone…?"

She thought she saw Taka's face harden as he realized what she meant, but he glanced away. It took him a noticeably long time to form an answer. "I will admit, it is very beneficial to have you by my side while I am out here. You know this world better than I ever could…" He then closed his eyes and shook his head. "I will be fine, though."

"Is there anything I can do before we…" She trailed off before finishing the statement.

"Like what?"

"I don't know…Anything you want to know? Anything you want me to explain?"

"…I cannot think of anything off the top of my head, no."

"It's a big city, Taka. I don't want you to-"

"Roxy," he spoke up, interrupting her, "Do not worry about me. The important thing is for you to get home. Do not lose sight of your goal now that you are so close."

"I, uh…" Roxy frowned as she gazed up at his stern but not unfriendly gaze.

"Now, come. You need to figure out which of these boats to get on." He took a few steps in the direction of the harbor and turned to give her an encouraging tilt of his head.

Roxy glanced behind him at all of the ships both moored to the harbor, and floating in the waters. In her heart, she knew that Taka was right. He was a strong Pokémon and he could take care of himself, while she still didn't know what her next step was. So, she gave him a nod as she stepped past him and made her way down to the docks.

The Castelia City Harbor was fairly busy, but not as busy as the rest of the city. It wasn't too much trouble to travel to the different piers so Roxy could read the signs next to each of them. She saw the daily service ferries to Liberty Garden and Unity Tower, as well as a few larger ferries headed for nearby cities and islands. As they moved towards the east, they even got a view of the absolutely massive Royal Unova cruise ship sitting at the dock. Roxy had heard stories about how wonderfully luxurious a ride on that ship was.

It was at the second-last pier of the harbor, after Roxy had started to get a little bit worried, that she found what she was looking for. "Ah!" she perked up once she saw the sign, "Oh my gosh, this is it!"

"What?" Taka said, walking next to her and gazing up at the sign in confusion, "What does it say?"

"PokéTravel Cruise Lines: Explore Kanto aboard the Splendour of Unova. Departing for Vermillion City – April 3."

Roxy gasped at her good fortune. "That's tomorrow!!" she shouted excitedly to Taka. She knew what day it was from reading a newspaper back in Aspertia, and the current date was April 2nd.

"This boat is going to your home, and it leaves tomorrow?" Taka asked, confirming what she was saying.

"Uh huh!" she said as she nodded her head enthusiastically. In truth, Roxy hadn't known what to expect at this harbor. It could have been the case that she would have had to transit to other cities on the way home, perhaps a whole lot, or if there was one going to Vermilion, that it wouldn't leave for a number of days. This, however, was very fortuitous!

"I see," Taka commented, "And you are certain that this is going to your intended location?"

"Yeah! Right there!" She pointed up at one of the words. "Vermillion. That's my home!!" She then stifled a squeal and waved her paws excitedly. "I'm gonna be home in a couple of days!!"

Taka nodded. "Well then, that is indeed good news. I am happy for you."

Roxy turned to look at Taka, a huge smile plastered on her face, but then reality started to return to her. Her smile faded away as she realized the fact that this blessing was a double-edged sword. It was true that she would get to set out for home in less than 24 hours.

That also meant, however, she had less than 24 hours left to spend with Taka.

After a moment of somewhat awkward silence, Roxy cleared her throat. "Right," she said, "I just gotta make sure I'm back here early tomorrow morning so I don't miss it."

"I will make sure you are here on time."

"Thanks. What, uh…What should we do until then…?"

"…I would not mind finding something to eat."

"Okay, yeah. Right," Roxy said with a nod, "Yeah, sure, we can do that! And then I can show you around the city, just so you won't get lost…later…" She hid a frown from him by glancing away.

"Very well."







In the end, the day passed rather unceremoniously. They had found some food, explored the city, and even ventured over to look at the Skyarrow Bridge. The whole time, Roxy kept wanting to do something special; something exciting that they would both remember forever. It was the last day they were going to spend together, and she was probably never going to see him again.

However, that notion never got past the drawing board. It had been a fun day, of course, and it seemed like Taka had genuinely enjoyed himself. Throughout the day, though, Roxy found she just couldn't shake the thought that he was going to be gone soon. The last hours of their companionship were ticking away, and it constantly felt like she wasn't making the most of them.

Now it was nighttime. The two had made their way to the rooftop of a skyscraper, where they planned to spend the night. The moon was overhead, the city was still just as loud down below, and Roxy found herself simply lying on her side with a distant expression on her face.

Her excitement upon realizing she was about to go home had lasted only a couple of minutes. Now, she was having trouble getting excited at all. Her desires hadn't changed, and she never once doubted that the only thing she wanted to do was to go home.

Still, though, she couldn't help but feel depressed.

Even though it had only been six months, Roxy felt like she had known Taka forever. She felt like she couldn't remember a time without him somewhere nearby. No matter how rocky their relationship had started out as, she had really and truly grown to see him as a close friend. He had done so much to help her over the months, and she had an endless amount of things to thank him for. He had been her constant companion for the dangerous journey through the forest.

To tell the truth, Roxy didn't want him to leave her side.

"Get some sleep."

Roxy started slightly, and rolled over to look at Taka who was standing by her side.

"The last thing you want to do is oversleep and miss that boat," he said to her. He was wearing his most classic facial expression; one that was completely neutral and devoid of any emotion. She was certain he was feeling some sort of emotion underneath, but that mask of his was perfect.

"Oh. Yeah, of course…"

Taka took a seat a few metres away from her and promptly curled up into a comfortable sleeping position. Roxy hesitated for a few moments before doing the same. It was a little chilly out, but no colder than she had experienced while sleeping in trees the last couple of weeks. Either way, she couldn't wait to spend a night in her own little bed. Oh, how she missed it.

It was a clear night overhead, though, allowing Roxy to see the moon and the stars. While she had glimpsed them before, it was wonderful to see them without a blanket of trees obscuring her  vision. It was just one of the many little things that she never realized how much she had missed. Now she could see them in all their infinite splendour. A vast, endless expanse that seemed to be both frightening and beautiful, and she felt like she could see it all.

"…Taka?"

"What?"

Roxy fidgeted with her paws for a moment, unsure about whether to go ahead with her query or not. "Um…" she mumbled in a quiet voice, "What do you think…Makari would say if he was with us right now?"

When at first all she got in response was silence, Roxy visibly cringed. She feared that she had struck a sour chord and had made Taka upset. The thought didn't exactly make her smile either, but she was afraid she had crossed another line.

"He would not be able to sleep," Taka finally responded.

"Huh…?" Roxy uttered confusedly.

"…for he would not be able to stop telling you how proud he is."

Roxy actually rolled over to look at him upon hearing that response. She saw that he was curled up and facing away from her. "…Really?" she peeped.

Taka chuckled, and she thought she could hear a bit of mirth in his voice. "Does that not sound like him?"

"I…Yeah, I suppose it does…" Roxy said as a bittersweet smile graced her lips.

"There are all these marvelous wonders of the human world around us, but his eyes would stay fixed upon you. I can picture him saying something like 'Nothing these humans have built is as beautiful, or as amazing as you are.'"

Roxy blushed a little. "He was a sweet-talker…"

"I…" Taka actually trailed off for a moment, catching Roxy by surprise. When he spoke next, there was just a touch of melancholy in his tone. "He would have thanked you endlessly for saving my life…"

A brief shudder ran up her spine as she recalled the incident with the Seviper. "I-I'm sure he would've saved you much better than I could've…"

"Perhaps, but perhaps not…"

There was a fairly long pause, and Roxy returned to lying on her back and looking up at the stars.

"He was worried…" Taka's voice floated through the air once more.

Roxy turned her head to look in Taka's direction. "Huh? What d'you mean?"

"He was worried quite a lot actually…He would always hide it from you, but he shared this fact earnestly with me."

"But…Worried about what? Makari never got worried about anything!"

"He was afraid that he would fail you, Roxy," Taka replied, speaking softly, "He was worried that he would make a mistake, slip up somehow, and end up getting you hurt or worse. He had always been a confident Pokémon, but it seemed there was never confidence enough when it came to making sure you were safe and happy. Failing you was a frightening thought that rarely left him alone."

Taka's words rested in her mind for a moment, and she slowly rolled onto her back to face the stars again. She felt so incredibly touched by the thought that Makari cared about her safety that much. "Wow…" she whispered.

"He was one of a kind."

"…Hey, Taka?" Roxy spoke up after a pause, "Makari would have been really proud of you too. The journey through that forest is really difficult, but you did it three times! That's incredible, Taka, and I know that Makari would have been so proud to call you his brother. I'm sure…up there, he still is."

Taka sighed softly. "I like to think so…"

The conversation faded away for a moment, and Roxy spent a few minutes just listening to the sounds of the city that never slept. Despite how noisy it was, it all sort of blended together into a white noise and was soothing in a strange sort of way.

"I hope you know, that…" Roxy spoke up once more. She hesitated for a moment, but then continued. "I never met him," she said, "but…Izuki would have been really proud of you too. What you've done for me is so selfless, and he struck me as the kind of Pokémon who would really value that."

Taka responded with silence, and Roxy frowned. Yet again there was that fear that she had overstepped a boundary. She knew that Taka was still not completely at peace with losing Izuki, but she felt that needed to be said.

"…Thank you."

Roxy's ears perked up in surprise when she heard those two simple words leave Taka's mouth.

"Now get some sleep. You have a big day tomorrow."

She turned her head and stole one last glance at the other Pikachu. He was still curled up, and hadn't looked in her direction once during this whole conversation. Still, though, she smiled. They had both been through a lot of pain, yet were both still here today breathing. Roxy was proud of herself for getting this far, and just as proud of Taka for all that he had done. At the end of the day, they both had exciting lives that would continue forth, and would have many amazing stories to tell for years to come.

Finally, Roxy rested her head and closed her eyes. She did, after all, have a big day tomorrow. It was a day that didn't exactly look bright in her future, despite the golden dream it would eventually lead to. So, instead, Roxy chose to focus on the present.

She could sleep soundly, knowing she and Taka had made it this far and managed to survive everything life had thrown at them.







"That…is a big boat."

Roxy's neck hurt, because she had to lean it so far back just to see the entirety of the cruise ship she was about to board. It was massive, easily dwarfing the tiny little dock it was moored to. Roxy supposed it had to be this large for a voyage that would span the length between two continents. She didn't know how long a cruise from Unova to Kanto was, but her guess was that she would be on the water for about eight days.

Still, though…That was a big boat.

"That…thing floats on the water…?" Taka asked, disbelief clearly evident in his voice.

"Yeah. It's floating right now."

"You are certain that this humongous…thing is going to remain afloat as it crosses that-" Taka gestured towards the ocean and the horizon. "-and take you all the way home."

Roxy shook her head to clear away her dizziness and regarded Taka. "Yeah, no, of course it will! I'm not worried about it, Taka. I know cruise ships like this. People and Pokémon ride them all the time. It's just I've…never seen one this close before…"

"Hm…"

"Or one this big… other than the Royal Unova!"

The dock was full of activity. Tons of humans were milling about, some of them working and some of them passengers that were about to board the ship. Roxy saw a lot of families hugging each other and saying goodbye. There was a whole plethora of Pokémon too, some of them pets and some of them trained Pokémon that were simply out of their Poké Balls. It was very easy to blend in with the crowd, even with their unusual markings.

Roxy was leading Taka to the far end of the dock, where the front of the ship was pointed out to sea. She could see along the way plenty of mooring lines attached to the side of the ship, securing it to the dock.

"Are you sure climbing one of these is the best course of action?" Taka asked, "We have not had to sneak into places before because of these things on our necks."

Roxy shook her head. "This is different than something like the library. Humans and Pokémon have to sign up in advance to get on a ship like this. There's humans on the gangway over there, and they're making sure everybody, human and Pokémon, who gets on has a ticket. Obviously, I don't have one."

"I see…"

Eventually the two of them reached the very end of the dock. There were far less people at this end, since they were mostly gathered around the gangway. They made their way over to the very last moor and slipped behind it, which gave them as much privacy as they could get on such a busy dock.

"Well, uh…" Roxy murmured, "Here I am…"

Roxy and Taka now stood at the end of a mooring line that was tied around the moor next to them. The other end was attached to a point just below the bow of the ship, through a small opening just barely large enough for Roxy to squeeze through. The final challenge of her journey, getting aboard the ship undetected, was right in front of her.

"Indeed…" Taka replied.

Roxy glanced up at the mooring line for a moment, and then turned to look at Taka. He looked back at her, his expression a mask of neutrality as it usually was. "Um…" she muttered, "Gee, I guess this is it…huh?"

Taka glanced up the mooring line as well, and then gave her a short nod.

'What now??' Roxy thought, 'This is the very, very last time you're ever gonna see him, so what're you supposed to do…?' She fidgeted and rubbed the back of her neck, finding herself at a complete loss for words.

"I, uh…" she eventually said, "I guess I should…um…" After a few seconds of fumbling over her words completely, Roxy sighed in exasperation and shook her head. She then simply stepped forward and wrapped her forelimbs around Taka, giving him a friendly hug.

Taka stiffened in response, hesitated, and then hugged her back.

When she stepped back, Roxy tried to smile as she looked at him. "I'm gonna miss you so much…" she said, speaking straight from her heart, "For how awful a lot of it has been, it was really nice to meet you, and the tribe, and getting to spend time with you. I'm never gonna forget you!"

Taka hummed for a moment, and then spoke. "I suppose I would be lying if I said I would not miss you as well. You have made an impact on my life in many ways."

"I wish I could write to you, or talk to you somehow…" Roxy lamented. A feeling of hurt was brewing in the pit of her stomach. This wasn't the first time Roxy had bid farewell to someone. Quite a few of her friends from the neighbourhood had moved away and she hadn't seen them since. The difference was that the human world had video phones and quick ways to send messages to each other. It was so easy that even a Pokémon could do it.

This likely would not be the case with Taka, and it definitely wouldn't be the case for the rest of the Thunder Clan in their isolated village.

Taka shook his head. "Memories may be all that either of us have, but it will be enough. No matter what happens in the future, it cannot change what happened in the past."

Roxy sighed as she started to feel empty and depressed. It was a really weird feeling to describe. Her desire to go home was just as strong as it had ever been, if not even stronger for how close she was. Though she would miss him greatly, Roxy had no desire to stay with him or to go traveling with him.

Rather, she just didn't want to have to leave him.

When she felt something wet running down her cheek, she chuckled dryly and wiped the tear away with her paw. "I'm still a crybaby…" Roxy murmured.

"Roxy, there is no need for tears," Taka commented, "You are finally going home. You are going to see your family again…" Taka's voice trailed off for a moment as he glanced away. "I am sure your family…misses you very much."

Roxy shook her head and said, "No. I'm going home no matter what. Nothing can stop me." She then paused and hung her head a little. "I just wish it didn't have to be so hard…"

Now it was Taka's turn to dryly chuckle. "Nothing worth doing is ever easy."

"I know…"

"Sometimes it seems like things are impossible, or there is no right choice, or that whatever you do, it will leave you feeling unhappy… Times like those, you simply have to ask yourself what it is you want." Taka then looked her in the eyes once more. "You know what you want. Correct?"

Roxy blinked and then nodded. "I want to go home…"

To her surprise, a tiny smile graced the edge of his lips. "Then go home. Worry not about me, Roxy. I will be just fine."

She knew that what he'd said was meant to be uplifting, and it was meant to make her feel better about the fact that they were about to part ways. Even so, she couldn't help but sob a little louder.

"I…wouldn't be standing here right now if it wasn't for you…" she said through her sobbing, "I would have been dead on the very first day…Zangoose food…You and your brother both did so much for me, and even when he was…gone and things got strained between us, you still kept on helping me. I know it hasn't really been that long, but it feels like you're a part of my life now. That's why it hurts so much…"

"Roxy, I would not be standing here if were not for you. You still do not give yourself enough credit. You say that I am a part of your life? Well, that is fine, but is anything going to change that? Even if we are parted, I will still be in your thoughts and your memories."

Roxy sniffled. "I know…It still hurts so much though…"

"It will, for a time, but you will get past it," Taka replied, "That…is something you taught me."

She blinked at him through her tear-filled eyes, and realized that he was talking about Makari.

"And you will have someone to help you through it. You will have…your family."

"I just wish it didn't have to be like this…"

Taka simply shook his head, and then took a step forward and laid a paw on her shoulder. "You have been away long enough," he said in an eerily calm voice, "It is time to go home."  

A few quiet moments passed by between the two of them. Roxy stood there, wordlessly looking at Taka as tears continued to run down her cheeks. She knew that it hurt right now, but she also knew that it would hurt even more if she did not get on that boat and go home. As her thoughts drifted towards home, and the overjoyed face of her master once the two were finally reunited, Roxy slowly began to smile through her tears.

When she focused back on Taka, she saw that he looked contemplative. She gave him an inquiring look, so he spoke. "Perhaps one day…I will understand the kind of love you hold for…" He trailed off for a moment and glanced behind him. Roxy saw him cast a distrustful gaze at the human dockworkers behind him. "…a human."

"…Give them a chance," she said once he was facing her again, "They're not all bad."

Taka simply nodded.

Roxy paused in thought for a moment, and then spoke up again. "Taka…? Can you promise me one thing?"

"Hm?"

She gave him an earnest look. "I don't know if it will ever happen but…If you do return to the Thunder Clan someday…please tell them I made it home safely, and that I miss all of them every day and think about them constantly. Tell them there's not enough time in the world for me to thank them enough for everything they've done, and…" Roxy bit her lip. "Even though you don't really like it, can you…give Miri a hug?"

Roxy saw mixed emotions behind Taka's mask as she said this. When she was done with her request, he gave her a nod and said, "I will."

"Thank you…" She gave him a smile.

"Hey! You two!"

Both Pikachu's ears sprung up and they quickly turned towards the unexpected voice. Taka nearly dropped right into a combat position, while irrational fears started to flood Roxy's mind as if she had just been caught doing something illegal.

The Pokémon that had snuck up behind them amidst the loudness of the port was a very large Machamp. Roxy did relax just a little when she saw that he was wearing a vest with the Castelia City Harbor's logo on it and realized he was a dockworker. Taka only eased up once he saw that she did.

"If you two don't hurry, you're going to miss the boat," he said, pointing one of his four arms towards the gangway.

Roxy fully relaxed once she realized that he was just trying to be helpful and thought that they were a pair of lost passengers. "Oh, right," she said to him, "Thank you."

Unfortunately, this didn't make him leave. "Departure is in a couple of minutes. They are going to raise the gangplank soon, and once that happens you will be left behind. Have your owners bo-"

Roxy loudly cleared her throat to interrupt him. "Excuse me, I don't mean to be rude, but…" She gestured towards Taka with a raised eyebrow. "My mate and I were trying to share a 'private goodbye' before I have to leave."

She saw Taka give her an incredulous expression, but she furtively tapped him on the back with her tail to shut him up.

Her statement seemed to have the intended effect on the Machamp, as his face turned just a hint redder and he said, "Oh! I, beg your pardon. I did not mean to intrude…" Then, without another word, he turned and left.

Roxy sighed in relief once he was gone. She did need to board soon, and she didn't want any Machamp around to watch her stow away on board the ship.

"Your 'mate'?"

Taka's question caused her to flush suddenly and quickly turn to face him. "Ah, heh heh…" she chuckled awkwardly, rubbing the back of her neck, "Thank goodness I didn't have to actually kiss you to convince him…"

It took him a moment. "…Oh. So you were making it look like-"

"Yeah."

"When you were actually-"

"Yup."

Cue awkward silence.

"Yeah, so…" Roxy glanced over her shoulder at the large ship behind her for a moment. "I actually should get on board now. It's going to leave soon."

"Indeed. The time has come."

Roxy hesitated for a short moment, and then reached out her paw towards him. She wasn't crying anymore. It was as if the reality of what she was about to achieve was finally settling in. Losing Taka would hurt, but she was going home. It was finally given a chance to make her feel excited again.

Taka took her paw and shook it without pause. "Return home, brave warrior," he said to her, "Make your master proud."

She nodded. "I just…Y'know, I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for me. You, and your brother, and the whole tribe…You've been so amazing and so great…and just…I…"

"Roxy," Taka said, interrupting her with a semi-serious look, "Do you recall why there is no speaking at our tribe's funerals?"

At first she was caught off-guard by the seemingly random question. "Uh…Because the…deceased's accomplishments should be able to stand on their own without being spoken?"

Taka nodded, a small grin tugging at the corner of his mouth.

She chuckled. "You're right, Taka. I've babbled on too much already, haven't I?"

He shrugged nonchalantly. "Perhaps…"

Roxy sighed softly and gave him a smile. "Just…Thank you."

"And thank you for everything you have done as well."

His response made her glance away bashfully. Before either of them could say anything else, though, the air was suddenly filled with a nearly-deafening blaring sound. Roxy jumped in surprise before realizing it was the cruise ship's foghorn, while Taka was so startled he had dropped onto all fours and drawn his boomerang. Roxy giggled a little at his antics and wished she could explain to him what the noise was, but knew that she couldn't.

"That's my ride," she said, slightly regretfully, "I gotta go."

Taka relaxed and glanced up at the ship once, seeming to realize it had been where the sound had originated from. "Ah. Yes, you had better hurry before someone sees you."

"Goodbye, Taka."

"Farewell, Roxy. Safe journey home."

There was a split second where a pain shot through Roxy's heart, now that the moment had truly come and she had no choice but to leave his side. She wanted to rush forward and give him one last warm hug, but she knew that she truly did not have time. Her priorities straightened out in her head, she quickly turned on the spot and hopped onto the thin mooring line.

Traversing the thin rope was about as easy as balancing on a tree branch, so Roxy didn't have any trouble. She stole a quick glance to her left, and saw that pretty much all of the dockworkers were busy removing the gangplank. No-one was looking in her direction, so she took her chance before she could lose it. She dashed up the line as quick as she could.

About halfway up the line, something compelled her to pause and look over her shoulder. She saw Taka still standing there, watching her go. She held his gaze for about a second before quickly dashing up the rest of the mooring line. Once she reached the side of the ship, she quickly got to work on squeezing herself through the tiny hole that the mooring line fed into. It was tighter than she had expected, and it took some wriggling before she managed to pop herself inside.

Roxy found herself in what she described as the 'innards' of the ship. She was surrounded by piping and the internal structuring of the boat. Her only source of light was the hole she'd just climbed through, and the smell was decidedly less than pleasant. The rope she had just climbed was attached to a winch-like device, which looked like it would 'spool' the line up once it was released from the dock.

Once she was certain no-one had seen her, since no-one was shouting to go and catch her, she decided to poke her head back out of the hole. She looked down at the dock and saw Taka, but only for a brief moment. As soon as she laid eyes on him, he suddenly darted away and hid himself behind some crates stacked on the dock nearby.

The reason soon became clear, as a dockworker was making his way down the dock and releasing all of the mooring lines. She watched him untie the line next to hers, and watched as it was practically 'slurped' up by the winch inside the boat. She then ducked her head down before the worker could get to her line.

After a moment, she saw the line go slack and heard a gentle splash as the rope fell in the water. She waited a few seconds, but nothing else happened. Curious, she carefully peeked out of the hole again, and saw that the rope was dangling loosely in the water below. The dockworker had already disappeared. Roxy turned and looked at the winch behind her, but it wasn't moving. It didn't even look like anything was powering it. Perhaps this one was malfunctioning?

Her thoughts were interrupted when her eardrums nearly blew out a second later. The cruise ship had blown its foghorn again, and the sound was magnified to the extreme in her small, confined spot. She quickly clamped her forepaws over her ears and grimaced.

She immediately got a headache.

Roxy waited almost three whole minutes just sitting there with her ears covered, in case the horn would sound again. Thankfully, though, it didn't. She uncovered her ears, and then realized that she could hear the hum of the ship's engine. The cruise ship was about to depart.

Elation flooded through her. The fact that she had now successfully stowed away on board the cruise ship was becoming real to her, and she let out a quiet but triumphant cheer. Another obstacle successfully passed. The hum of the motor meant that, any moment now, she would be beginning her journey the rest of the way home.

Roxy poked her head out of the hole again, and was surprised to see that the boat was already moving. It was quite slow, but the dock was starting to drift to the right as the boat leisurely began to depart to sea. Roxy scanned the dock for Taka, and found that he had returned to standing next to the moor that her line had been tied to.

He was looking up at her, watching her go. Her joy started to melt into a bittersweet feeling as she watched him slowly drift away, even though it was actually her that was drifting away. The main area of the dock was full of families, human and Pokémon alike, all waving goodbye to passengers that were on the boat. Roxy only cared about the singular Pikachu at the end of the dock, though. Already the boat was starting to speed up, taking her away from him faster and faster.

Then, he raised a paw and started waving goodbye. Roxy's heart caught in her throat at the sight. With a sentimental smile, she leaned out of the hole as far as she dared and lifted her own paw to wave back to him. A couple more tears rolled down her cheeks, but her smile never faltered.

A sudden and very powerful gust of wind ruined the moment by nearly making her topple right out of the hole and into the water. Roxy yelped, caught off guard as the sudden blast of air dislodged her forepaw from the edge and gravity nearly carried her downwards. She quickly scrambled to pull herself back in.

She felt it happen before she even saw it. Lifting her head, her eyes confirmed that it was true. The little red flower, which had remained affixed behind her ear through all of her troubles in the forest, had fallen off and was being swept away by the sea breeze. Roxy only had a few seconds to watch it lazily drift through the air before another gust of wind reminded her that leaning out of this hole was not safe.

Roxy pulled her head back inside of the ship and fell back into a sitting position, her heart beating rather quickly. That had been a close call. What a pathetic end her story would have had if she had fallen overboard and drowned before the ship had even left port.

She then reached up a paw behind her ear, as if somehow the flower had magically come back, but all she felt was fur. A whine escaped her lips and she frowned. Her master had given her that flower on the day she had evolved into a Pikachu, and she had worn it ever since. It had been a gift that she treasured closely, and it hurt to see it flying away like that without anything she could do about it. Sure it was just a flower, but it meant something to her.

"Sorry, master…" she murmured. At least she still had her collar.

The Pikachu sat there for a moment with her back resting against a pipe. Her thoughts shifted to the other Pikachu she had left behind. Like it or not, it was going to take a couple of weeks for him to stop being on her mind constantly. They had grown so close, and had been on such an exciting adventure together, that before yesterday she had not even imagined going on without him.

It was so strange to be in a situation where she felt so happy and so sad at the same time. Going home on this boat meant so many wonderful, exciting things to her. It all had a price, though, and the price was leaving Taka behind. It would be worth it; there was not a single doubt in her head that it would absolutely be worth it. However, it still stung.

"Looks like I lost you both…" she whispered to no-one, and then chuckled softly. "Watch over him, okay Makari? I think you and I both want to see him smile again…"

A loud clunk interrupted her thoughts, sounding like it came from the hull somewhere below her. She glanced around in confusion. A ship this big was bound to make weird noises here and there, yet it had been somewhat loud and noticeable. Her panicky mind couldn't help but remind her that the Titanic was a thing that had happened.

"Don't be stupid, Roxy," she said to herself, "There's no icebergs in the Castelia Harbor."

Another clunk could be heard. This one was closer to where she was. It sounded like someone had thrown a rock at the side of the ship. Confused, Roxy sat up straight and looked around. The first thing she noticed did not provide her with an answer. Rather, it left her even more confused.

The mooring line was taut.

When there was a third clunk, Roxy stood up and stepped over to the hole once more. Though she made sure not to stick her head too far out and risk falling out again, she did peek out and look down at the hull of the ship below her.

What she saw made her loudly gasp.

"…Taka?!"

To her confusion and utter disbelief, Taka was hanging below on the dangling mooring line. He was soaking wet, showing that he had jumped into the water and swam to catch up to the boat. He was already more than halfway up the line, and was only a short distance below her at this point. While Roxy gawked, he lifted his head up to face her and flashed her a smirk.

Gripped securely by his teeth was her flower.

"Taka, what are you doing?!"

In a matter of seconds, he ascended the rest of the line and ended up hanging onto the hole in the hull with one of his forepaws. With the other, he grabbed the flower from his mouth and handed it towards her. "I believe you dropped this."

Roxy stared in slackjawed shock for a moment, and then her brain restarted and she grabbed onto Taka by his outstretched wrist. With her help, he was able to climb through the hole and join her in the ship's interior. "Taka, you…!" She was at a loss for words.

Glancing down, she saw that he was still offering her the flower. She took it from him and gently cradled it in her paws. "I…" She looked up into the other Pikachu's eyes, still not quite processing the fact that he was actually there. "Taka, I…appreciate it, but you didn't have to do this. What're you, nuts??"

He smirked again and shook his head. "I know how important that is to you."

Roxy glanced down at the flower in her paws once more. It wasn't even very wet. She considered how much time had passed since she had lost it, and how far the boat had already been from the dock, but the numbers didn't make sense in her head. One thing did make sense to her though, as her gaze shifted to the hole.

"Well…Taka, go! You'd better swim back before we get too far out! Go before it's too late!"

Taka's expression softened a little, and he turned around to face the hole. He poked his head out just a little, and looked back towards where the dock was. Strangely, he didn't seem to be in a rush at all. He appeared completely calm, and stood there in silence for almost thirty seconds before saying anything.

"No," he said with a quiet sigh, "It is too late already. Even I cannot swim that far."

Roxy promptly stood up and bullied her way past him so she could look back at the dock. It was far in the distance at this point, and getting further away with every second.

Stepping back, Roxy found that all she could do was look at Taka dumbly. The facts were all there, but they weren't sitting right in her head. What was happening before her right now didn't feel like it was real.

"Taka…"

He turned to face her. Roxy couldn't see an ounce of stress anywhere in his expression. He looked as calm as the waters they were currently sailing through. She couldn't tell if he was actually calm or not, though. She knew how well he wore his masks.

"Taka, I'm so sorry…" she spoke softly. This was really happening, wasn't it? Letting her flower get blown off in the wind had inadvertently caused Taka to join her on this ship with no chance to get off until it docked in Kanto, whether he liked it or not!

However, his smirk returned once more and he snickered at her. "Sorry for what?" he asked.

Roxy blanked for a moment. "Taka…If we're too far out for you to swim back, then…then you can't go back. You won't be able to go back to Castelia. There isn't going to be a chance for you to get off until…" Her frown worsened. "Taka, we're going to another continent! Your…The forest is…"

He looked back at her with a neutral expression.

"Taka…Your home…"

The larger Pikachu cast one last glance out the hole at the retreating harbor and shook his head. "Ah, well," he said, speaking remorselessly, "I wanted to see the world, did I not?" He regarded her. "Your home is part of the world, after all."

Roxy stared at him for a few quiet moments as the pieces slowly fit themselves together in her mind. "So, you…" She spoke in a careful voice, as if admitting the truth would somehow change it. "You're…coming with me…?" She gulped past a lump in her throat. "…to Kanto?"

When she looked up at him, it became all the more clear to her that there wasn't any regret to be seen on the stalwart Pikachu. If she looked closely, she could almost swear that he was smiling too. A smile of her own started to appear as she re-worded her question.

"You…want to come with me to Kanto?"

Taka chuckled softly. "It appears that way…"

Roxy proceeded to squeal loudly with joy and leap right onto Taka, gripping him in the tightest hug she had ever given him. He was soaking wet, and doing this left her with quite a lot of damp fur, but she didn't care in the slightest.

"Ah, hey…! Easy now…" Taka complained.

Roxy simply squeezed tighter, almost as if she was afraid to let him go. She couldn't believe her own fortune. She didn't have to say goodbye! Taka was going to come with her to Kanto, which meant that he was going to come with her to Vermillion City!

"Pet, come on. Stop this…"

She lifted her head to look at him, but didn't release him from her hug. She wanted to say something to him, but wasn't sure how to get the words to come out. She had just ridden an extreme example of an emotional rollercoaster, and it left her somewhat dizzied. Things were so confusing and muddled in her head that she just decided to focus on what she knew for sure.

Taka was staying.

As her hug continued on and showed no signs of stopping, Taka grumbled softly and let out an exasperated sigh. Then, after a few more moments of silence, he spoke in a quiet voice. "I cannot deny…that I would have missed you too much." He placed one of his paws across her back, as a sort of halfway attempt at hugging her back. "You…are my friend, Roxy. I feel like, perhaps it is too soon to sever that tie…"

Wow.

This was too much.

Roxy felt like she was about to just melt into a sappy little puddle of sunshine and rainbows. She sniffled, cursing the fact that she was crying yet again, and nodded her head vigorously. "I'm so happy to hear you say that, Taka! It would hurt too much to lose a friend like you. I know it might not be exactly what you'd planned, but I promise that you're going to love my home. There's so much to see and do in Kanto, and I can show it all to you!"

"Mm…" Taka mused softly, "I look forward to it…"
The Thunder Clan - 33
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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 32 - Beyond the Forest

"So, why are you so short, exactly?"

Roxy turned her head and gave Taka a look. "S'cuse me?"

Taka kept his gaze forward, but smirked as he did. "It must be because of what they feed you."

"Hey, I'm not that short!" Roxy replied somewhat indignantly, "I'm only a few inches shorter than the official Pokédex entry!"

Taka chuckled softly and shook his head, and then continued looking at their surroundings carefully.

The two were walking along the old dirt road, having successfully returned to the spot where the Seviper had attacked. The two had woken up in that tree without satchels, without food, and without either of their spears, as Roxy had dropped hers in panic once Taka had gotten poisoned. Literally the only thing they had left was Taka's boomerang. They'd had some more Pecha Berries for breakfast, despite Taka having grown sick of them after eating so many, but now they were truly on their own.

It had been a bit of a frightening journey back to the dirt road for Roxy. At first, she had spent too much time focusing on Taka's injury and watching him to see if it was worse than he said it was. True to his word, he was able to walk and even sprint, meaning they could travel at about the same pace as they had been doing for the entire journey. She did notice him wincing slightly every so often, though. Taka could travel, but she really started to worry about whether or not he would be okay if they got in another fight.

Thankfully, they had reached the dirt road okay. Taka had spied a few Zangoose off in the distance, but it had been easy to get past them undetected. As Roxy expected, the Seviper had been gone once they arrived back at the road's end. Taka had carefully surveyed the area, but found no Seviper hiding anywhere and waiting for round two.

Now, finally, they were following the dirt road and seeing where it took them. Taka and Roxy both continued to remain vigilant; the Seviper had shown them that predators still lurked even near this man-made road. However, it was clear that they were both excited to be on the final leg of their journey through the forest. Roxy could see that even Taka seemed to be in better spirits.

"How's your hip?" she asked, referring to his Seviper bite injury.

"It's fine," Taka replied. She glanced over at him and tried to get a look at the injury, but it was on the side opposite to her. He was walking fine though, as usual. The leaves she had applied were still stuck onto the wound, but Roxy hoped they could find some better bandaging once they reached the city.

Her heart fluttered. The city! They were almost there! Almost at the city! Roxy simply could not wait and her excitement started to bubble over, so she kept herself in check by paying attention to her current surroundings instead of her destination.

The further they went, the more firm and less overgrown the old road was. At no point did it ever look like it had been used any time in the last decade, but it did indicate that the forest was really starting to thin out. They were so close!!

"Not much longer, now…" Taka observed, as if reading her mind.

"I know!" Roxy replied giddily, "Gosh, it feels like I've been in this forest forever and ever!"

"I must admit, it is surprising that you have only been here about six months…It feels like much longer."

"Six months…Six whole months gone…" She frowned a little. "I wonder if they're still looking for me, or…"

"Hm? Your…humans?"

"We've spent every single day together since I was born…and now I've been gone for six whole months…" She sighed softly. "It must have torn her apart so much…I wonder if she thought I died…Aw, master…I'm so sorry."

"Don't be silly, there is nothing to be sorry for. From what you have told me, it is clear that none of this was your fault."

"Yeah, I know…" she murmured, "When I see her again, I wanna hug her and never let go until the day I die…I never want to leave her side ever again!" She paused for a moment and then sighed again. "I don't even know what I'm gonna say to her…!"

"'Say'?" Taka piped up, giving her an odd look, "What do you mean? The humans do not speak our language…"

Roxy turned and looked at him as well, and after a moment a smile managed to return to her. "My master and I can understand each other," she said in a fond tone.

"Is that so…?"

She then glanced ahead once more. The trees were still too dense for her to be able to see any of the city beyond them, but she knew that would change in a very short time. "Right now, though," she commented, "What I'm most curious about is just where the hell I am! I know there's not a forest this big anywhere close to Vermillion City, so I could be anywhere…I wonder if I somehow ended up in Johto or something…"

"If I remember correctly," Taka interjected, "I believe there is a sign just outside the entrance. Perhaps that will tell you what you need to know?"

"Yeah…" The two lapsed into silence for quite a few minutes. All the while, they simply continued to run at a brisk pace along the road. It truly must have been an old, abandoned logging road because Roxy didn't see any old signs, markings or any sign of humanity besides the road itself. She took a moment to glance around, making sure that she couldn't hear or see anything that might have been watching them. "I just can't wait to get out of here…" she mused, "I'm so tired of fearing for my life…"

"Well!" Taka spoke up next to her, "I do not think you will have to spend much more time here!"

"Huh…?" she replied, turning her head to look ahead of her. What she saw managed to stop her in place completely, leaving her wide-eyed and jaw hanging in disbelief. She brought her forelimb up to rub her eyes and make sure she wasn't just seeing things, but it was still there afterwards.

Ahead of them, just around a small bend in the road, there was an old metal gate. Beyond it was something Roxy hadn't seen for six months; no trees.

"Is…Is that…?" she whispered in disbelief.

"That it is, Roxy," Taka replied as he stepped into her field of vision, "The edge of the forest."

It was right there. It was right there! It would take her little more than a minute or two to reach it. She couldn't believe it. It had to be some weird forest-mirage. Could it really be that her home, her own world, was just beyond that old gate?

"…Well?" Taka asked, giving her a raised eyebrow, "What are you waiting for?"

That was enough for Roxy to start running. She didn't say anything, and she didn't even smile yet. She didn't dare to smile until she saw it with her own eyes. As she started to run ahead, the gate got closer to her. Even this simple, basic fact of physics was enough to get her heart racing. With every second, she started to run even faster towards the bright shining light that was streaming in from behind the gate.

"Roxy! Hold on!" Taka called from behind her, "Remain vigilant!"

She heard his words, but they didn't register. There was only one single thing on her mind right now. She could have passed the world's largest Leppa Berry and wouldn't have even slowed down. The only thing Roxy knew was that she had to keep running, because it was the only way to reach that gate.

The sun was bright that day, and so Roxy wasn't able to see very much until she reached the gate itself. She quickly leapt up on top of it, took a quick moment to catch her breath, and then looked out at what was before her.

Her heart nearly stopped right there. Tears immediately welled up in her eyes at what she saw. Spread out before her in a beautiful, brilliant vista was a large city. A human city, with houses and buildings and a few skyscrapers as well. It sat at the bottom of the fairly large hill she currently found herself at the top of, connected to where she sat by an old paved road that curved down the hill. Even from there, Roxy could see cars and busses driving along the city's streets, an airplane flying high above the city, and many types of boats arriving at the large port that bordered the sea. To the left of the city, the sparkling blue waters of the ocean spread out as far as she could see.

The glass windows of the tall buildings sparkled in the late morning sun. There were only a few clouds in the sky, allowing the sun to light up the city in a beautiful display of shapes and colours. The ocean danced and sparkled as if it were part of a professional photograph, reflecting the deep blue of the sky. Ultimately, as a city, it was nothing particularly special.

To Roxy, though, it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

The gate wavered slightly as Taka hopped up next to her. He let out a sigh of satisfaction. "At last…" he spoke softly, "We made it."

Roxy couldn't speak. It almost felt like she couldn't breathe. It had been so long since she had seen any of this, and she had never been certain that she would ever get to see any of it again. The massive, seemingly endless forest had finally ended. It was now behind her, in a place where Roxy never had to look back again. A place where Roxy had never truly managed to fit in, and she had finally made it out.

She had made it back to her world.

"Yes, this is the same city I…we made it to last time," Taka commented, "Whatever my opinion of humans may be, I will never be able to deny that the view from up here is spectacular. Would you not agree?"

When Roxy didn't answer, he looked over at her with a raised eyebrow. "Roxy?"

Then, she screamed. She clenched her paws into fists, raised her head to the heavens, and let all of her joy explode outwards at once. She squee'd like a little cub but she didn't care. It was a miracle that she managed to stay balanced on the gate. She had never felt this happy before in her whole life, and it was nearly overwhelming.

"Good heavens, Roxy. Remember to breathe…"

Roxy took a deep breath, but then went right back to screaming. "I made it!!" she shouted, "We made it!! Taka, we made it!!! I'm free!!"

"Yes…Yes, we did…"

Taka yelped in protest when Roxy suddenly darted over and wrapped him up in a tight hug. Before he could say anything, though, Roxy cut him off by planting a big kiss right on his lips. He let out a muffled sound of surprise and gave her a completely bewildered look with his eyes.

"Yayy!! Wahoo!!" she cheered afterwards, shaking Taka vigorously as she did, "I thought I'd never get out of there!! Oh my gosh, I'm so happy!! Taka, I'm so happy!!"

"I, uh…" Taka murmured.

Roxy squealed in joy once more and released Taka from the death grip that had been disguised as a hug. She couldn't wait any longer, and promptly hopped off of the gate onto the paved road below. A strange jolt ran through her from the familiar feel under her paws that she hadn't felt in six months. It didn't feel real, almost as if she'd forgotten what walking on roads felt like. She got down on all fours and reveled in the feeling for a moment, and then quickly dashed off towards the city.

Roxy's brain was positively overflowing with happiness. She couldn't tell if she was crying tears of joy again, but knew that she probably was. Her heart hammered against her ribcage, overstimulated with excitement and immense relief. She was truly out of the forest now. Her paws were on human ground now and she never had to leave it again. The dangers of the wilderness were gone. The nightmare was finally over!!

She ran as fast as she could down the old, paved road, her sights set only on the fairly large city before her. In her mind, she couldn't get to it fast enough. It wasn't Vermillion City, but it was the closest she had ever been to home by far. There were no cars on the road, as it looked like the road was very seldom used since the gate from before didn't look like it opened, allowing her to simply run free.

After a couple yards, she passed by a rather large sign next to the road that was facing away from the forest. A small part of her brain that had remained rational spoke up loudly enough to get her to stop and read it, so she skidded to a halt and hopped over to investigate it.

Taka was not far behind her, and she heard him scurry up beside her. "Roxy!!" he called as he approached her, "Roxy, wait!" When he came to a stop beside her, she saw him give her a somewhat incensed look out of the corner of her eye. "What was that?!" he demanded, "I know you're excited, but what in the world has gotten into you?"

Once again, Roxy didn't respond. She didn't even move. She just sat there, looking up at the sign.

When he didn't get a response this time, Taka followed her gaze and looked up at the sign as well. "What?" he asked, "What does it say?"

Roxy had probably re-read the sign at least 50 times already, but she still couldn't believe what it said. She could only sit there with a baffled look on her face, her jaw hanging open once more, while her brain completely short-circuited.

The sign above them read "ASPERTIA CITY PRIVATE POKÉMON RESERVE. NO ENTRY"

Taka was looking at her once more. "What??" he half-shouted.

"I…" she murmured, and then shook her head.

"What is it? What's wrong with you?"

"I'm in Unova?!" she spat out in disbelief, "How the hell did I get to Unova?!?!"







Roxy practically bounced on springs as she made her way down the winding road to the city proper, Taka following behind her the whole way. It had initially been quite shocking to discover that she had somehow ended up on an entirely different continent, and her head had spun for a couple of minutes. Then, though, the excitement of exiting the forest overtook her once again and she became a happy bouncing ball of energy.

She kept her eyes on the city the entire way down. She had worked so long to get there that she didn't want to let it out of her sight. All Roxy knew about Aspertia City came from encyclopaedias, as she had never been there and didn't know anyone who had ever been there. She knew that there was a Pokémon Gym here as well as a Trainer's School, and that Castelia City was only a boat ride away.

As she neared the bottom of the hill, she saw where the long road intersected with another one, and then continued forward into the city. A fair distance beyond the intersection, the road started to be dotted by houses. As she approached the intersection itself, she spotted three cars passing by on the perpendicular road. It was only once she was a few metres away from one of the crosswalks that she finally slowed down, and then she quickly slipped into the nearby bushes.

Taka followed her in. Seeing that she had finally stopped moving, he spoke up. "All right, Roxy," he said, "Now, are you going to-?"

"Okay, first things first," Roxy said, cutting him off, "We're out of the woods…Heh, literally…but we still have to be careful." She faced Taka and put on a determined expression, though her smile still tried to break through at times. "I know that last time you were here you managed to avoid getting captured, but I'd rather not take any chances."

Taka didn't answer. He simply blinked once.

"We have to get into the city itself, so I'll rely on you and your sneaking skills to lead us there. Once we're past the residential areas, then our first mission will be to get you a collar."

It looked as if Taka had just been slapped across the face. "I beg your pardon?!" he shouted indignantly, "What kind of nonsense are you talking about? Absolutely not! What would make you think I would want to wear human branding??"

"Because," Roxy replied calmly, "You're a wild Pokémon. If Pokémon Trainers see you, then they're going to try to capture you. I know you're good in battle, but as we just saw yesterday you're not perfect. And Poké Balls are getting more powerful every day. They won't even have to knock you out to successfully capture you, and then that'll be it!"

Roxy could see Taka's fur bristle. "Remind me again why you want to go back to these creatures…?" he asked in a dark tone.

"But here's the thing," Roxy continued, and then lifted up her own collar with her paw to emphasize her point. "Once you're caught, you can't be caught again. You're registered with the Poké Ball, whether you're a trained Pokémon or a pet. Even if I walk out there all alone in the middle of a group of excitable Pokémon Trainers, none of them are going to try to fight or capture me." She tapped the tag with her name on it. "They see this collar and they know that I'm somebody's pet, so they'd just be wasting their time. In fact, some cities even have laws against fighting already-owned Pokémon unless it's a Trainer battle."

Taka still looked quite incensed, but Roxy could see recognition filling his gaze. "So, you're saying…"

Roxy gave him a wink and a grin. "If you wear a collar, they'll think you're a pet too and no-one's gonna try to capture you!"

The glower on Taka's face could have turned the brightest summer day into a dreary rainstorm. "I think I will take my chances…" he said flatly.

"Hey!" Roxy said in a serious tone, holding up her forepaw for emphasis, "I spent the last six months listening to your every word and following all of your instructions. I did that because the forest was your home. It was your world; the place you were intimately familiar with. No matter what, I trusted what you said because I knew that if I didn't, then I might end up dead."

She then gave him another grin. "But we're in my world now, Taka. It's your turn to listen to me."

For a while Taka just stared at her, blinking intermittently. "Huh…" he remarked after a fair bit of silence, "I must admit…It is surprising to see you so…" He paused as he searched for the right word. "…assertive."

Roxy chuckled. "Heh, really? Is that what I sound like? I don't really feel assertive. There's still a hundred things than can go wrong before I actually get home and I'm still nervous… It's just that there's less 'unknown' out here for me."

Taka crossed his forelimbs. "I'm not wearing a collar."

"You're wearing a collar," Roxy retorted, waving her paw dismissively, "It's not going to hurt you."

"Tell that to my pride."

"Oh come on, Taka, no-one knows you out here, and it's not gonna change how much of a butt-kicking warrior I think you are."

Taka still didn't look convinced, but Roxy just gave him her best confident look. He turned his head a moment later and looked through the branches towards the city in the distance. Then, after a minute or so, turned back to look at her once more.

"Trust me, Taka," she said, "Can you do that?"

He took in a deep breath and let it out as a slow sigh. Then, finally, he put his forelimbs on his hips and said, "Fine…"

Roxy beamed. "Great! Don't worry, Taka. This is something I've seen other wild Pokémon do. This is the best way to keep you safe from Pokémon Trainers. I'm already owned so Poké Balls wouldn't work on me anyway, but this'll be a big help for you."

Taka's expression then became quizzical. "Are you certain about that?"

She tilted her head. "What d'you mean? I'm an 'owned' Pokémon since birth. I'm registered with my Poké Ball, so other Poké Balls detect that and they don't work."

"But I thought you said your Poké Ball was destroyed."

Roxy opened her mouth to reply, but then shut it as she realized she didn't have an answer. "…Oh," she said after a moment, a concerned look slowly developing on her face.

"If your Poké Ball is gone, are you still…'owned'?"

"That's…a good question. I actually have no idea…" A little hint of fear started to creep over her. Poké Balls were tied to the Pokémon they housed, forming a registration that prevents other Poké Balls from functioning on them. If her Poké Ball was broken, did that mean she was technically a wild Pokémon now, as if she had been Released? Or was her registration saved in cloud storage somewhere or something? She honestly didn't know, but the thought that she might be able to be captured by someone else was a terrifying notion.

"W-well…" she spoke, "It's a good thing I still have my collar, then…"

The two of them then moved to the edge of the bush and looked at the road intersection once more. There was a single car stopped at the stop sign, and Roxy could see a middle-aged human woman sitting in the driver's seat. She briefly felt a rush of excitement simply upon seeing her. Roxy hadn't seen a human being in the last six months.

"Okay," Roxy said, "We gotta get down that street and keep going until we're in the city, and then find a pet store." She turned to regard Taka and said, "Can you do that?"

Taka paused for a moment, but then smirked at her.

She nodded. "Right… Just pretend the humans are predators."

"Sure…'pretend'."

They waited for the coast to be clear, and then Taka quickly took off with Roxy in pursuit. They crossed the street and started their journey down the residential road. Taka led her from bush to bush, tree to tree, always keeping the two of them out of sight from curious eyes.

It was hard for Roxy to focus as she watched her surroundings passing by. It was a real live human neighbourhood on the edge of a human city. All of the little things that she had once taken for granted felt amazing to see once more. The manicured lawns, the little decorations on front porches, the bright flashing televisions that she could see through some open windows. Her heart swelled with every step forward. Every minute, every second, that she was out of that forest was an amazing experience.

At one point, they passed by a human washing his car with a garden hose, and Roxy spent a moment just watching the sudsy water as it ran down the curb and poured into a roadside drain. Ridiculous as the notion was, it was the one of the most wonderful things she had ever laid eyes on.

They passed about five blocks without being seen, and Roxy once again found herself thankful for Taka's amazing skills. Even when it seemed like there was no hiding place on a particular house's front lawn, Taka would somehow find one. Roxy knew it wouldn't be the worst thing if someone saw them. She had her collar on, and not a lot of actual Pokémon Trainers spent their time in homely neighbourhoods like this. Still, though, there were Pokémon-Control officers whose job it was to keep wild Pokémon from causing a nuisance, and she didn't want to risk them catching sight of Taka.

After quickly darting across a street that had been much busier than previous ones, the two found themselves in a tiny little green area at the corner of an intersection. It was only a few metres squared, but it featured two benches, a small decorative statue with a dedication plaque on it, and a thin but tall tree. Taka pointed at the tree and then swiftly leapt up into its branches. Roxy followed suit.

When the two of them were sitting on a high branch, it gave them a better view of what was ahead. Roxy saw that they were leaving the residential area behind, and before them was a few blocks dedicated to small businesses. Roxy saw a few familiar fast food chains, which only brought on another wave of warm nostalgia. She could see plenty of humans ambling about, but also no shortage of Pokémon. There were plenty of people with Pokémon such as Eevee, Emolga or Pidove sitting on their shoulders, and others were walking with Lillipup and Herdier. From the looks of their owners alone, Roxy knew that many of them were Trainers.

Feeling curious, Roxy glanced over her shoulder at the way they had come. She saw the long winding road that led up the hill, but at the top of it she could only see a few trees before the topography of the land prevented her from seeing any further. That massive forest that had taken her so long to get out of, and now she could barely even see it anymore.

She couldn't help but let out another happy sigh.







"Okay, watch my back. I'm goin' in!"

Taka nodded and then ducked behind the small fence, where he could get a covert lookout of the street and sidewalk. After a short search, the pair had found a store that sold Pokémon supplies. It looked like it was run by a 'mom and pop', as it were, and seemed to be geared more towards Pokémon pets. Fortunately, this meant that they sold collars, and a display rack full of collars was sitting just outside of the front door, presumably as a way to attract window shoppers.

Roxy's plan was to dart over, grab a collar as quickly as she could, and then return to hiding before anyone noticed her. She did feel guilty about the fact that she was going to steal something, and promised herself repeatedly that she would apologize to her master for this behaviour, but Roxy felt like she had to do it. It was just one collar, after all. It's not like she was robbing a bank.

She eyed the display stand as she sat hidden in the shadows beneath the fence. It wasn't a particularly busy street, and most of the traffic was in cars as opposed to pedestrians. Anyone driving by wouldn't see her long enough to really see what she was doing, so Roxy reasoned she just had to wait for this young couple to pass her by and she could make her move. Roxy had certainly been in this position before, hiding from predators. It felt really odd to be doing it because of humans.

The pair of humans passed her, too engrossed in their own conversation to notice her, and in the blink of an eye she was gone. She zipped over to the stand and grabbed the collar that was closest to her. She yanked on it but it didn't budge, and she was momentarily afraid that it was tied down or attached somehow. After giving it a stronger pull, though, it popped loose revealing that the buckle had merely gotten caught. This, unfortunately, caused a loud rattling noise as the collar was pulled loose from the stand. Roxy didn't even think and simply darted back to where Taka was hiding before anyone could see her.

Once she was behind the fence, she pressed herself up against it and held a paw to her chest as she heaved. A huge rush of endorphins filled her from head to tail. That had been really nerve-wracking, but it also filled her with an odd sense of excitement, which only grew once she realized that she had pulled it off without a hitch.

When Roxy could breathe again, she gave Taka a look and laughed softly. "Whoa! Whew…That went well!"

Taka didn't answer. He was busy eyeing the prize Roxy had just absconded with. She lifted it up with her paw and gave it a look as well. It was a garishly bright shade of purple, like the skin of a Nidorino if it were infused with radiation. It attached with a simple buckle, like one might find on a backpack, instead of the nice-looking metal hooks that hers attached with. While hers was made of imitation leather, this one looked to be made out of polyester or nylon or something.

"Light the pyre for my dignity…" Taka grumbled.

"Oh come on. It'll look great on you! Here, you want me to help you put it on?"

"I changed my mind. I will take my chances."

"Ah, shaddup and c'mere."  

After struggling with Taka like he was a disobedient cub, including lots of fiddling, griping, pulling and complaining, she eventually managed to get the collar around his neck. She grinned once the deed was done and took a step back to admire her handiwork.

Taka stood there, a scowl on his face, using one of his forepaws to fiddle with the loop of fabric. It was a very odd look, to be sure. The human-made collar completely clashed with the tribal markings he wore and the boomerang still strapped to his back. Roxy belatedly realized that her collar probably clashed with her own markings as well.

"Well? How's it feel?" she asked him.

"Like an Ekans is trying to choke me."

"Oh don't be dramatic, I didn't make it that tight."

Taka let out a frustrated sigh and shook his head in resignation. "All right," he spoke slowly, "Now that that is out of the way, what do you plan to do?"

Roxy stood there for a moment and gave it some thought. Taka looked at her expectantly with a cocked eyebrow. Slowly, her expression changed into a warm smile, and then she held out her paw towards him. Taka eyed it in confusion.

"Let me show you my world," she said.

For a while, Taka just stood there and blinked. He seemed confused by her proposition, even perplexed. He then turned his head and glanced out at what he could see beyond the fence. All that was visible was the sidewalk, the road, and the storefront on the other side, but when he turned back to her his expression had softened a little.

Then, he reached out his own paw towards hers and let her grasp it. "Sure…"

Roxy grinned and nodded somewhat excitedly. Then, she dropped down on all fours, told him to follow her, and darted out onto the sidewalk. Only her ears told her that Taka was following.

It was a wonderfully liberating moment. Roxy had spent so much of her time in the past months hiding and sneaking everywhere. Now that Taka had a collar, the two of them could waltz out into broad daylight and not care who saw them. For the first time in what felt like forever, she was in a place where she didn't feel like she had to be afraid.

So she ran. She ran like the wind with a smile on her face two miles wide. She dashed along the sidewalks while dodging between humans' legs, darted across the crosswalks, and ran along the many paths of the city. It was a place she had never been to before, but it still felt like home. It felt like she knew every inch of this city, in some strange mystical way.

It felt good. It felt so amazing.

Roxy was finally free.







"…and that, over there, that's the Pokémon Center."

"I saw that large building when I was here, but I could never figure out its purpose."

Roxy giggled and nodded. "There's one in almost every city in the whole world. The Pokémon Center is like a hospital for Pokémon!"

Taka gave her a look that said she hadn't done a very good job explaining.

"It's a place for injured and sick Pokémon to get better. They have vets and nurses there to treat Pokémon, cure their wounds, or even perform life-saving surgery. And, for smaller injuries, they've even invented this machine that interacts with Poké Balls and heals Pokémon while they're inside!"

"Truly? So…like what Miri does?"

"Yeah, except it's a machine that does all the small stuff."

"Hm…"

Roxy and Taka had spent the whole day exploring the city, with Roxy talking almost nonstop. Taka had seen most of this before, but Roxy now had an opportunity to explain to him what most of it was. She had told him what traffic lights were and what they meant. They had visited the Pokémon Gym and she had explained the rules of challenging the leader. They had passed by the PokéMart and Roxy had spent almost an hour just talking about products and consumables that humans made. It had taken her more than 10 minutes just to describe all the different kinds of Poké Balls! They had even spent some time in a city park, where they watched humans going about their daily lives and Roxy told Taka about just what went on in a human's daily life.

Every time she saw another human, which was almost every second, it brought a smile to her face. These were her 'people', so to speak, and she had missed them so much. A few friendly humans had passed by them in the park and had given her a friendly pat on the head. Taka, of course, had bristled at their mere approach.

Furthermore, her plan was working. Everyone who saw them barely gave them a second glance because of the collars they wore. Well, they did give them a second look because of their markings and Taka's weapon, but that was all. Even some young punk-looking Pokémon Trainers who specifically looked like they were on the hunt for new Pokémon passed them by without any hesitation.

The highlight of the day, though, had been when they passed by a concession stand selling Poké Puffs. The lovely woman running the stand had immediately gushed at how cute the two of them looked, and had even picked up Roxy to give her a quick hug. Then, to Roxy's disbelief, she gave the both of them a free Poké Puff. The moment Roxy had taken her first bite into the delectable pastry, it was like she was tasting it for the first time. After months and months of berries and not much else, it was one of the best things she had ever eaten. Her taste buds had practically burst with joy.

Taka had disliked it, but Roxy had expected that.

The two were presently standing on the roof of a two-storey building, looking over at the somewhat imposing structure of the Pokémon Center. Roxy was trying to explain the intricacies of what went on inside of it, but Taka looked like all of her words were going in one ear and right out the other.

Instead, she turned her head to the side, looking for something else to show off. "Ah!" she said once she had found it, "Look over there, Taka! That's the Pokémon Trainers' School."

Taka turned his head to look at where she was pointing.

"That's where young humans who just have just started out as Pokémon Trainers go to learn the ropes! From what I hear, they're supposed to be really fun! I dunno, though, I've only ever seen them on TV."

She turned to regard Taka, but he didn't answer. There was a muted expression on his face as he gazed out into the distance.

"Taka?" she spoke up, but still he didn't respond. It took her a moment to realize that he wasn't actually looking in the direction of the school, but off to the east somewhere.

"That's it…" he said in a low voice.

"Huh? What's it?" she asked, trying to follow the direction of his gaze.

Taka helped her out by holding up a paw and pointing. "That building," he spoke, "The large white and grey one with only a few windows."

Roxy scanned the city streets for a moment before she saw what he was indicating. "Oh! That warehouse over there?" It was a fairly large, nondescript building off towards the edge of the city. It was surrounded by others that looked somewhat similar, indicating that it was simply a warehouse for some industrial business.

"Yes."

"What about it?"

Taka turned to her and gave her a hard look. "That is where they killed Izuki."

Roxy felt her blood run cold. "Wh…What…?"

Turning his gaze back in the direction of the warehouse, Taka didn't say anything else. Roxy remembered the story Taka had told about the gang who had killed his mate. It had been a horrifying, chilling story, but now Roxy was being reminded that it took place in this very city. Now, Taka was saying the building where it all happened was right over there, only a few short blocks away?

She was then startled by Taka suddenly darting to the edge of the roof and hopping down to an awning below. "Taka!" she shouted, but he was already gone.

Roxy had no other option but to give chase, and so she quickly hopped off of the roof as well. She was just barely able to catch a glimpse of Taka's tail disappearing around the corner of a building. Luckily, Roxy had a pretty good idea of where he was headed so she simply made her way there as quickly as she could.

Soon enough, Roxy rounded the corner and saw the warehouse standing tall on the next city block. It sat at the top of a small hill, but was otherwise remarkably plain. The only other thing Roxy noticed now that she was closer, was that the building was very old and was starting to fall into disrepair.

Taka was running right up to the building at a determined pace. A jolt of fear ran up Roxy's spine as she quickly followed after him, afraid of what he might do. Rather, she was afraid of who or what might still be inside of the building.

Thankfully, Taka still seemed to have a clear head even in this agitated state, as he ran towards a window instead of the front doors. He quickly clambered up onto the windowsill and looked through the glass at what lied within.

A few seconds later, Roxy joined him on the windowsill. She was panting heavily as she turned to him and said, "What're you doing…?" When Taka didn't answer, she turned and looked inside of the building as well.

The interior of the warehouse was dim and unlit, with only the light of the sun enabling her to see anything at all. There wasn't much inside besides a wide open cement floor that was almost totally barren. There seemed to be a few odd pieces of furniture like tables and chairs, but they were all strewn haphazardly against the walls, covered in dust and in a state of decay. There were a few small piles of rubble in places, as if a wall or two had been torn down.

All in all, it looked like the warehouse hadn't been visited by a single soul in a long time.

Roxy slowly turned her gaze towards Taka, and she was stunned by what she saw. Taka was leaning against the glass with his forepaws, resting his forehead against the thick panes. There was a strange, unsettling look in his eyes. They somehow looked both shaken and empty at the same time. He looked emotionally beaten down, something Roxy had never seen him look like ever before. She wasn't sure, but she swore that she could see a few small tears gathering at the corner of his eye.

"…Taka?" she spoke in a soft, comforting voice, "Are you sure this…is the right building?"

She wasn't sure if he was going to reply, but he did lift his head slightly and nod softly.

Roxy frowned and glanced away. She couldn't imagine what was going through her friend's mind. She herself had gone through the death of a loved one, but it hadn't been nearly as traumatic as what had happened in this very building. Taka's entire personality had been changed by events that took place here.

As she continued to glance around, she saw that the grounds near the warehouse were unkempt and overgrown. There were thorny bushes everywhere and the pavement was all cracked. The main entrance, just off to their right, looked almost like it was completely rusted shut. There was some old, tattered yellow tape with human writing on it hanging from the doors and outer walls.

She turned to look at Taka once more, only to find that he was now hanging his head in defeat. She didn't know what he hoped to accomplish by returning to this building, but it was clear that it was impossible at this point.

"Taka…?" she spoke softly, "Taka, are you all right?"

He didn't reply.

Roxy fidgeted with her paws for a moment, and then spoke up once more. "Taka… There's one more thing I want to show you."

Taka slowly rotated his head so that he could look at her with one eye, and the glower that he gave her said that he was in no mood for any more sightseeing.

"Please?" she asked him imploringly.

At first, Taka turned back to look inside the window once more and didn't answer. After a few full minutes of silence, he heaved a deep sigh and stood back up straight. He then turned to regard her, his expression stony, and jerked his head to the side as if to say, 'Fine. Show me.'

Roxy nodded and hopped off the windowsill. "It's this way…"







It didn't take long for the two of them to reach the spot where Roxy wanted to go. She led Taka up onto the roof of an adjoining building, which gave them a good view of the somewhat large structure before them.

Roxy glanced over at Taka to make sure he was present and listening, and then gestured towards the building with her paw. "Taka…This is a police station."

He regarded her for a moment but didn't reply.

"This is where human policemen and women work. The human world lives by a set of laws, or rules that everybody must follow. It's a structured set of rules set up by the leaders of the human world so that everybody can live a peaceful and happy life. Like any society, though, there are those who will break the rules."

Roxy pointed down towards a window on the front of the building, where a pair of humans in blue uniforms could be seen inside. "The police force exists to uphold these rules and punish those who break them. These are humans who dedicate everything to making sure that everyone lives fairly and follows the rules…even if it costs them their own life. When someone breaks the rules, they're called a 'criminal', and the police do everything they can to stop them."

She then directed his attention to a larger but shorter building situated behind the police station. "Back there, Taka…That's a prison. I know you can't see much from the outside, but the prison is where humans who break the rules are kept. When the police capture criminals, they lock them in sealed rooms inside of the prison, so that they won't be able to break the rules again. If the criminals are dangerous or violent, and especially if they've taken the innocent life of someone else, then they go to a bigger prison with harsher punishment and more humans watching them to make sure they learn their lesson."

Roxy turned to look at Taka, and he in turn looked at her as well. He seemed interested in what she was saying, but his expression also showed that he was wondering where she was going with all of this.

"Taka, I saw police tape on that warehouse. It was old, so that meant it was put up a long while ago." At his raised eyebrow, she elaborated. "When police find criminals, or a place where criminals have been, they put that tape up so regular people stay away while they do their police work, and to keep everyone safe.

"So…Taka, I think that the gang that was using that building to do…whatever…They were probably caught, Taka. The police probably found them and shut down that horrible experiment they were doing, and they were all thrown in jail."

She gave him a reassuring smile. She wasn't telling the entire truth to him, as she didn't know if the police raided the building while they were using it, or found the base of operations after the gang had already left it behind. It didn't matter at the moment, though, because she just wanted to cheer Taka up.

Taka glanced over his shoulder at the prison.

"If I remember correctly," Roxy added, "'Cruelty to Pokémon' is a five-year sentence, and whoever was in charge of the whole thing probably spent even more time in prison."

Taka turned so he was fully facing away from her, and he stood there in silence for a few minutes. He simply stared in the general direction of the police station and the prison.

Finally, she heard him heave another big sigh. "It matters not…" he said in a low tone, though he didn't sound particularly upset.

"Taka?"

"No matter what I do, no matter what happens to those humans, it is not going to bring him back…"

Roxy hesitated for a moment, but then said, "That's true…"

"I could have hunted through the whole forest, dedicating my entire life to finding the predator that took my brother away from me…but that would not have brought him back either."

Upon hearing the mention of Makari, Roxy bit her lip and frowned.

Then, Taka finally turned back around and faced her once more. He was not smiling, but he didn't look troubled anymore. His expression had returned to his classic 'neutral' state. "Thank you for showing me this," he said to her.

"You're welcome, Taka…" She glanced off to the side and sighed softly. "I was so excited to finally get back to the human world, that…Well, I forgot what happened to you in this city. I'm sorry for that…"

Taka shook his head. "I knew we would be returning to this city. In fact, I was leading you here. It is not your fault."

"I'm just happy to see that it's not still happening in there, y'know?"

"Absolutely. No Pokémon deserves to go through that…"

Roxy nodded, and then the two spent a moment in silence. Roxy couldn't deny that her mood had been soured. She hadn't even met Izuki, but it was still a thorn in her heart when she thought about what had happened to him. Roxy had never considered it before, but she and her human family were very lucky to have never been the target of any gang attacks.

"Well," Taka spoke up, "Speaking of you returning to the human world…"

Roxy turned to look at him once more. He still wasn't smiling, but had put on a determined look.

"What is your plan now?" he asked, "I know this is not the city where you live, so how do you plan to get back home?"

She gazed at him for a moment, still concerned about his mental state, but smiled softly when it looked like he had gotten things back under control. "Ah, well…" she said, "There's a couple of options."

Taka nodded. "Okay?"

"First things first, though," she said, and gazed off at a particular building in the distance, "I wanna get a map."







It had been a big relief to find out that the Aspertia City Public Library allowed Pokémon inside, so long as they were with a trainer. By casually walking inside with their collars on, they had been able to fool the attendants into thinking that their 'owners' were inside already.

Roxy smiled at Taka's wide-eyed look, and she reasoned that he had probably never been inside of a human building before, except for that particular one.

"This is the library," she whispered to him. She was amused to see his ears twitch, after which he gave her a quick and serious look. Taka had been conditioned for most of his life to associate whispering with the need to hide from something dangerous. "It's rude to talk loudly inside of one," she clarified for him.

"Oh…" he replied, and Roxy was thankful that he was whispering as well.

"The library has tons and tons of books inside of it, and humans are allowed to borrow them for free as long as they bring them back." Roxy paused. "Do you know what a book is?"

"I think so…" he answered, "They hold…stories, right?"

"For the most part, yes, but some of them hold information about the world around us instead. That's what I'm looking for today."

Roxy led him down the aisles of bookshelves, looking up at the signs to see where the atlases would be stored. Taka stayed close behind her, and the two moved at a slow, respectful pace. They were both still getting some odd looks because of their body paint, but no-one was bothering them.

"Ah! Over here."

She had spotted the 'geography' section of the library and happily made her way over. After scanning the shelves for a short time, she found a world atlas and had Taka help her pull it off of the shelf since it was very thick. She then opened it and flipped forward a few pages, and was greeted by a full map of the world spread out over two pages.

"What is this…?" Taka whispered.

Roxy flashed him a grin. "This is the whole world," she said, "Our entire planet."

Taka didn't reply to that, but she was sure she'd caught a moment of pure awe in his expression.

"Now, let's see…" she said, finding Unova on the map and locating Aspertia City. "Okay! This is where we are right now," she said, pointing at the little dot that represented the city.

"Okay…"

"Now, this…" she continued, moving her paw down to a large solid green shape located to the south of the city, "This green here? This is the forest we just came from. This is…Well, your home, I guess."

"Is that so?" he said, a touch of interest seeping into his tone.

"Aaaaand…" she said, drawing out the word until she found what she was looking for. "Ah! This, right here…This is my home." She lifted her paw and brought it all the way over to Kanto, and pointed at Vermillion City.

Out of the corner of her eye, Roxy saw Taka's own eyes nearly bulge out of his head. Taka's home forest was just a green blob on the rather large landmass that made up Unova, and Vermillion was on another landmass separated by a huge empty ocean. It was thousands of times further than they had traveled to get to Aspertia from the Thunder Clan.

"Ah…" he murmured, having started to say something but then ended up trailing off.

Roxy giggled softly. "That's a lot farther than you've ever gone in your entire life, huh?"

"In…deed…"

He then turned and gave her a perplexed look. "So…How in the world are you going to get there?" he asked, "It took us weeks just to get out of the forest. You will be a few years from death by the time you get there…"

Roxy stood up from the book, crossed her forelimbs, and gave Taka a rather condescending look. "Taka…" she gently berated, "Now how do you think I got here in the first place?"

Taka opened his mouth to reply, but then closed it and furrowed his brow in thought. "Point."

"Humans have tons of ways to travel long distances. I dunno which one brought me here, but I gotta take one to get back."

Before Taka could say anything else, she darted off and turned around the corner into another aisle. After a couple minutes of searching, she returned to Taka and the opened atlas with a new book in her paws. This one was called 'Pocket Guide to Transportation'. She had mostly grabbed it as a visual aid for Taka.

"Now," she said as she opened the book and flipped through a few of the pages, "Basically I gotta pretend I'm a human tourist who wants to visit Vermillion."

"…Huh?"

"Nothing." She stopped on a page depicting a large commercial airplane. "This is what my Poké Ball was on before…whatever happened to me and I woke up in the forest. It's a big thing that flies through the air and carries people really far in a really short time."

Taka was studying the image with a perplexed look.

"Taking one back would be the obvious choice, but…Well, airport security has gotten stupid strict in the last few years. If I successfully snuck on board one of those, I'd probably end up on the news, so I probably shouldn't."

She flipped forward a few more pages. Taka looked like he hadn't gotten a single word of what she'd said.

"There's a train. That would work, if it wasn't for the ocean. See the tracks? It only runs on land."

"Ah…?"

Once again, she started flipping through more pages.

"Roxy…" Taka interjected, "I…admit to not knowing how things work around here, but have you considered…asking for help?"

Roxy stopped and turned to look at him. "You're suggesting I ask humans for help? But you don't trust humans!"

"I know, but you do. Could you ask a…flying-machine-driver to take you back home? Or what about that Pokémon Center thing? I thought you said it's where Pokémon go when they need help?"

Roxy sighed and replied, "I've thought about it Taka. On paper, it does sound like a good idea. But I keep thinking about what you said…About my Poké Ball being destroyed. I might show up in databases or whatever as a wild Pokémon. Communicating with unfamiliar humans is difficult enough, but if they think I'm a wild Pokémon they're either gonna toss me out or, worse, try to catch me. It might be easier, sure, but…I think I need to rely on myself in this case."

She turned and gave him a smile and added, "And you, of course."

"Makes sense, I suppose…"

"It's too bad my home address isn't listed on my tag. I guess my master never really thought I'd need it, since I always stayed so close to her all the time…"

Taka gave her another perplexed look.

"So!" Roxy said as she flipped a few more pages, and then smiled when she found the right one. "I've got an ocean to cross and I can't take an airplane, so that's what I need." She pointed her paw towards the large picture of a passenger boat on the pages.

While Taka studied it for a moment, Roxy returned her attention to the atlas.

"There's a port here, but I think it's just for shipping," she murmured, mostly to herself, "But…This bad boy is right next door practically. There's sure to be a ship to Vermillion there somewhere!"

When Taka glanced back over in her direction, Roxy pointed at a nearby spot on the map. "What is that?" he asked.

Roxy grinned and replied, "Castelia City! The largest human city in all of Unova, and one of the largest in the whole world!"

She could almost see a few gears shift inside of his head. "Larger…than this?"

"Oh, waaaaay larger."

Taka blinked. "…Way larger…?"







It was raining. Not a very heavy downpour, but rather a light springtime shower. Half a year ago, Roxy would have been freaking out and looking for shelter. Now, she barely noticed it. It actually felt kind of nice to feel the gentle streams of water run down her fur as she sat on top of the bus stop. The sun had risen about an hour ago, dawning a new day on Aspertia City.

"I'm glad you decided to come with me to Castelia, Taka," she said to her companion sitting beside her, "I think you're gonna like it!"

Taka shrugged. "I want to explore, and this is not terribly far away from the forest's edge. If nothing else, I just want to get away from this particular place."

Roxy nodded sympathetically. "Yeah. Bad memories here…"

"So…Remind me again what we are waiting for?"

"It's called a bus," Roxy explained, "It's a vehicle they use to transport a bunch of humans at a time who are all going to the same place. They're big and box-shaped so it'll be easy to hitch a ride on the roof."

"And this will take us to…the larger city?"

"If we get on the right one. Don't worry, Taka. I know what I'm doing."

For a few tranquil moments, there was silence but for the sound of the falling rain. Like always, even in her old life, Roxy did enjoy listening to the rain. Inside or outside, the sound was very soothing and mesmerizing. It made things seem better than they may have been, like she didn't have a care in the world.

"So," Taka spoke up, "Are you going to explain why you randomly kissed me back there?"

Roxy turned and gave him a glance, then faced forward again and said, "…Oh."

When she didn't answer right away, he prodded her to speak. "Well?"

"I dunno" she said with a shrug, "I got excited. I was so happy to finally be out of the forest I just sorta did things without thinking." She glanced at him again and gave him a little smirk. "What, you didn't enjoy it?" she said, and then stuck out her tongue.

Taka gave her a vexed look in return. "Because…Well, I am sure you know good and well that I-"

"Oh, don't give me the whole song and dance," Roxy interrupted with a wave of her paw, "Miri already told me you go both ways."

At first he was confused, but then when he realized what she had meant he started to look flustered. "Th-that is not what I was going to say!"

Roxy actually ended up bursting out in laughter from that response. At first, Taka was taken aback by this. Then, he grumbled and crossed his forelimbs, giving Roxy a cold stare until she stopped laughing.

"Are you done?" he asked her in a flat voice.

"Heh heh…"

"Can I have the serious answer, now?"

Roxy then sighed and shook her head. "I already gave it to you. I was so overjoyed I just acted without thinking, and I didn't even realize I'd done it until a couple minutes later. I'm sorry if it upset you or anything, Taka. I didn't mean to cross any boundaries."

Taka rolled his eyes. "Fine then…If it is something you did that you now regret, I will not bring it up again."

The pair then sat in silence for a few moments as the rain continued to gently fall around them.

"Well…" Roxy spoke up once more, "I didn't say that…"

Taka turned and gave her a confused look. "Pardon?"

"I didn't mean to do it and I wasn't thinking about it, but…I don't really think I regret doing it." She punctuated her explanation with a shrug.

Taka stared at her. Once again, she could see the gears turning in his head. "What…? Are you saying you are attracted to me?"

"No, no…" Roxy replied with a wave of her paw, "Or, well…Not 'no' exactly, but…I mean…y'know…"

Crossing his forelimbs once more, Taka gave her a hard stare as anger started creeping into his expression. "Then tell me what you mean," he half-shouted.

Roxy then sighed and closed her eyes as she gathered her thoughts for a moment. The sound of the rain helped her to see her own thoughts in a little more clarity.

She then turned to look at Taka fully and smiled comfortingly. "I like you, Taka. We've come a long way since we first met, and I really do think of you as a good friend now. You're always looking out for me…Keeping me safe. Even on the very, very first day you met me, you saved me from that Zangoose."

Though his gaze had softened quite a bit, Taka still did not say anything and simply continued to look at her.

"I guess the point is…" Roxy said slowly, "I'm not saying 'yes', but…I'm also not saying 'no'."

Taka blinked once, but otherwise his expression did not betray his reaction to what she had said.

Roxy's gaze then fell and she frowned. "A part of me wishes we didn't have to go our separate ways, so we could…see?" She sighed in frustration. "I dunno…I'm jumping, like, way ahead here. I'm not even close to that sort of point in my life, if that's the way I want it to go in the first place, even."

"I see…" Taka said slowly, "…What about Makari?"

Her head lifted up to look at him, but she answered in a calm and collected voice. "I love Makari. I love him so deeply with all of my heart, and I always will. Even though he's…gone now…I will still always love him." Her face screwed up in emotional pain for a moment, but she got past it. "No matter what happens, I will always love Makari," she then said, "but…Well…" Roxy sighed, shook her head, and put on a bittersweet smile. "I think there's room in my heart for another…"

Taka just sat there after she had finished, an unreadable expression on his face.

Roxy chuckled softly. "Above everything else, Makari always wanted me to be happy…" she said in a melancholy tone, "He's watching me now, silently urging me towards the things that will make me happier… If I find another Pokémon to love, so long as they understand that I will also love Makari, I think it will work."

"Hm…"

With that, the conversation died out and was replaced with a very uncomfortable silence. While it was true that Roxy had started to feel better and better about the idea of looking for love again, that was all in the future once she was back home. She hadn't actively considered Taka, or anyone she knew for that matter, but her mind wandered sometimes and all she knew was that she wasn't opposed to the idea.

Either way, Roxy wanted to talk about something else. "So, tell me about your plans? What're you gonna do once I set sail for Kanto?"

Taka took a few moments to reply. "I think I will stay within a few days travel of the forest for quite some time. There is a lot of this world to explore, and no need to reach the ends of the earth right at the start. I have absolutely no inclinations to return home, but I cannot see the future. I feel like it is in my best interest to not cut ties so quickly."

Roxy smiled and nodded. "That's smart thinking."

"Do not worry, though, I will still help you sneak aboard the water…thing, if necessary."

"It's called a boat," Roxy replied, giggling, "Are you gonna keep wearing the collar?"

"Absolutely not."

She snickered. "Well, it was nice knowin' ya."

"If this city we are going to is as big as you say…Well, I spent weeks exploring just this city and never got bored."

"Oh, there's tons to see in Castelia. I've never been there, but it's such a famous place. If you can figure out a way to get one, then get a Casteliacone."

Taka gave her an odd look. "A what?"

"It's food. They sell them from little carts on the streets. Trust me, eat one."

"…All right, I suppose…I tried human food once. I am surprised Izuki still wanted me after how sick I got."

Roxy laughed. "Oh my gosh, what did you have?"

"You expect me to remember? With what it did to me, I hope to never think of it again…"

She then glanced at him for a moment in thought. "Taka?" she said. When he looked at her, she gave him an encouraging smile. "I hope…you might think of Izuki in the same way. I never met him, obviously, but…I know he wants you to be happy too."

Taka's gaze softened, then hardened into a frown, and softened once more. He shut his eyes and looked away from her, but then eventually let out a cleansing sigh. "If I can…" he said quietly.

"Don't worry, Taka… I know you can." Roxy reached over and gave him a comforting pat on the back.

Roxy then took a moment to glance over her shoulder. It still gave her a thrill to see buildings and skyscrapers back there instead of an endless sea of trees. It felt like she would never stop being amazed at the fact that she had made it. The fact that she was no longer in that forest.

She smiled to herself as hope and excitement welled up in her.

The fact that she was on her way home.
The Thunder Clan - 32
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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 31 - So Close

Roxy was super giddy.

There was almost a spring in her step as she moved through the forest. She was on cloud nine and felt like even if the whole forest erupted in flames it wouldn't damper her good mood. Her excitement level was at an all time high, which made it all the more difficult for her to focus on the fact that she was still in dangerous territory.

Getting to sleep last night had been difficult. After traveling as far as they could the previous day, they had once again found a tree to sleep in. She found she just couldn't relax, knowing that they had already covered at least half of the remaining distance home. That meant that when the sun rose, it would be the last sunrise she ever experienced in this damn forest.

Today was the day she finally escaped.

It had been an exhaustingly long journey. Roxy had lost count of the number of times they had encountered a predator. Either by sneaking past it, running away from it, or fighting it off, they had managed to survive them all. Although, Roxy felt confident in saying at least 50% of their days had involved danger of some sort. It was a long way to go on only four hours of sleep a night as well. Her tail was mangled and she figured it would be a long time before she stopped jumping at every little sound. Roxy was positively exhausted.

One wouldn't be able to tell from looking at her, though, with her endless bouncy excitement. Roxy didn't care if she looked like a fool, for she felt as giddy as one.

Taka was ahead of her, as he usually was, and she followed behind trying her best to stay vigil. It was still dangerous all around her, so she kept reminding herself that she hadn't won yet. Even though, just past a relatively low number of trees, was humanity. It was there waiting for her, calling to her.

"Roxy."

It felt like a hatchet lodged itself into her brain with how quickly she shifted gears. She reached for her spear and quickly got into a battle stance. Although, however quick the shift had been, it wasn't all that graceful, as Roxy ended up stumbling on her hind paws and nearly falling over. "Ah! What?" she said, hoping to quickly get information about whatever danger Taka had seen.

She glanced over and saw him giving her a look with one eyebrow raised. He pointed off to the side. "Berries," he stated.

Roxy followed where he was pointing and saw some small bushes grouped around the bottom of a tree, each bearing fresh fruit. "…Oh," she said, her heart calming down, "Oh…"

Taka rolled his eyes. "Focus more, or you will be caught off guard."

"Yeah, I know. I'm trying, but it's hard…"

The two approached the group of bushes. "Well, this is fortunate," Roxy commented, "We were just about to run out." Their leaf satchel was nearly empty, and although they were close to their goal Roxy knew that it never hurt to have more food just in case. The fruit on these bushes looked particularly fresh and juicy, and there was a huge variety of all sorts of berries.

Taka stepped towards one of the bushes and took the satchel off of his shoulder. "Fill it up with the Cheris," he said, "They're smaller so we can fit more in."

"Sounds like a plan!"

The two picked the berries in silence for a moment, and then Roxy spoke up again. "Taka, uh…Have you…thought about what you're gonna do once we leave the forest?"

Taka shrugged. "I will go where my wayward paws take me."

Roxy put her paw to her chin in thought. "Well, if you want me to, I can tell you some really neat places to visit. Like, for example, there's this really cool city in Hoenn that's built inside of, like, a huge extinct volcano, and…"

"Roxy, please," Taka said, holding up one of his paws, "I appreciate the attempt at conversation, but how many times must I remind you to keep vigil?!"

That immediately shut her up. She realized that even just talking to Taka about her home was enough to lower her guard so that a predator could jump her from behind. "Sorry…"

"Just pick the berries."

Roxy frowned and got back to work. However, now that she had started talking about home, it was a train of thought that her brain simply couldn't get off of. She started thinking about all the things she was going to do when she got home. She thought about a nice, warm bath, and a delicious, expensive meal. She thought about hugging her master, playing games with her, reading books or just watching TV. Roxy silently gasped to herself as she realized just how much TV she had missed over the months!

"That's it. The bag is full."

Roxy's ears perked once Taka spoke, and she looked down to see that the satchel was quite full of the little red berries. "Okay, can we go now?" she asked, a little too excitedly.

Taka shook his head softly, and then jerked his head over his shoulder to indicate that they were indeed heading off once again. Roxy's heart did a backflip in joy and she was all too eager to follow.







The hours of the day had passed by in a flash. The sun had continued its constant journey across the sky and was now nearing the distant horizon, slowly turning the sky a faint hint of orange. Roxy and Taka kept up their pace the whole time, and were quite lucky in that they only encountered a few predators. Even more fortunate was the fact that none of them had detected the two as they passed.

Roxy had considered climbing up a tree to see how much closer they had gotten. In the end, though, she reasoned that doing so would only make their journey longer, and she wanted to reach the exit as soon as possible. She trusted that Taka could continue to lead her in the right direction.

Perhaps it was just her imagination, but it seemed like the trees were becoming sparser.

"This is starting to look familiar…" Taka said quietly.

"Really?" Roxy replied excitedly, trying her best to keep her voice quiet.

"I think we arrived at this same spot…It is where the trees thin out, and eventually there is a short path leading to a human-made entrance."

Roxy gasped, realizing that Taka was referring to himself and Izuki on his previous journey. "So we're close??"

"If you see a dirt path, where the humans cleared away the trees entirely, that is a sign that we are only ten or twenty minutes away."

"Ohmigosh, ohmigosh…"

"Control yourself…" Taka said flatly.

"Sorry…I just can't believe it's real…"

"It's not real yet."

"I know…I know…" The two had been traveling all day. It would be evening within the hour. Roxy  did not consider herself much of a geographer but, given what she had seen from the top of that tree earlier, she figured that they had to almost be there. The trees were still thick enough that she couldn't see any city past them. She was just excitedly waiting on the edge of her seat for that first sign of humanity to make itself visible. With every tree they passed, she thought that it would be the one to reveal a glimpse of a building behind it in the distance.

They came across a large and hollow fallen log. Taka was about to go around it, but he slowed down and stopped. "Wait…" he murmured, "Hold on…"

Roxy watched as he approached the log, paused, and then sniffed the air a few times. He looked focused for about a minute, but didn't say or do anything. "What?" she finally asked, "What is it?"

"This way," Taka announced, and then headed off directly to the left. Roxy quickly followed after him.

"But I thought we were going north," she said.

Taka didn't reply, but he didn't have to. After only a few short minutes of moving through the trees, Roxy saw that they started to thin out slightly just up ahead. The pair pushed past a large group of bushes that had grown and entangled some of the trees, and when they were on the other side they stopped.

It was a road, or a trail. By and large it was not much, simply a long stretch of land that had been cleared of trees, only a few metres wide, that ended rather unceremoniously on the spot where they now stood. It couldn't even be called a dirt path, as the area was still covered in grasses, bushes and small sprouts of trees trying to reclaim the land. One thing was obvious, though, as evidenced by the barely visible tread marks on the ground.

This was man-made.

Roxy felt numb. She spent quite a while just looking at this old, forgotten trail in the woods, just to make sure it was real. It looked like not a soul had used it in years, and would perhaps be gone entirely in just a couple more. There were definitely tire tracks, however. They were almost invisible, practically forcing her to get down on all fours just to discern them, but there was clear evidence that human vehicles had once used this road.

A goofy, bubbly smile spread across her face. Roxy wanted to jump and cheer. She felt like she could kiss the ground. It was not much; in fact, it was hardly anything at all. But it was still something man-made. It was the first man-made thing she had seen up close, aside from her collar, since she had left her broken Poké Ball behind.

"This is it…" Taka said, a hint of reverie even in his voice, "The same road we reached last time."

"S-So…" Roxy breathed, "Y-you said that…th-that…"

"This road leads straight to the edge of the forest. Follow it for a short while, and there you'll find the human city."

"Oh…heavens…Arceus above…"

"Roxy, control yourself…" Taka warned, "This is still the forest. Predators still lurk around even the very edges."

Her paws jittered a little as she tried to contain her excitement. "Th-then can we go…?" she whispered, "Let's go! What're we waiting for?!"

Taka raised an eyebrow and was silent for a moment, but then a small smirk appeared. "Come on then," he said, and started to walk down the path. Roxy was only too eager to follow.

She didn't quite know what to make of this. Her best guess was that it was a road originally intended for logging, but then plans to log the forest were cancelled early on. Perhaps the humans used to use it for recreational purposes, or for park rangers to check things out, but now no-one used it anymore. There were some forest parks with trails back in Vermillion, but nothing this dense.

She couldn't believe it was finally happening. If what Taka said was true, then she would only spend a maximum of twenty more minutes in this damned forest. Not even an hour remained! She was so close to the human world, she could taste it.

"Taka," she said, stepping forward until she was walking beside him, "What's at the end of this trail? Is it like a gate, or does it turn into a road?"

"You expect me to remember something like that?" Taka retorted. Roxy could hear the edge in his voice, as she knew he did not want her to be distracted by conversation while predators were about.

"It's kinda important," she said with a little shrug, "I wanna know what to expect on the other side."

Taka stopped walking, causing her to stop as well, and turned to look at her. Instead of replying, he just stood there silently for a few moments. At first Roxy was confused and tilted her head. A moment later, though, she realized that he wasn't actually looking at her. He was looking up at the branches of a nearby tree. The colour drained from her face.

A moment later, Taka suddenly dove right into her and tackled her to the ground like a football player. The attacking Pokémon whizzed right by them, missing them by millimetres. Roxy felt it graze her fur as it sailed past.

Taka got off of her and to his paws in the span of a second, and she scrambled to stand up as quickly as she could. Taka had drawn his spear and was holding it out defensively in front of the both of them. Sitting only a few short metres away, staring at them with a hungry glare, was a Seviper.

Roxy's stomach did a flip as she drew her own spear. It was about eight times as long as she was tall. Though it was not particularly big when it came to Seviper as a species, it was still very much larger than she was. It sat there coiled up on the ground, looking ready to strike at them at a moment's notice. Its forked tongue flicked out occasionally, making Roxy shiver just looking at it.

What she couldn't take her eyes off of, though, were the Seviper's massive fangs and even more massive blade on its tail. Both were tinted red, and both were ever so subtly leaking a distinctly purple-coloured liquid. Roxy gulped. Poison-type Pokémon were dangerous enough, but Seviper venom was known for being particularly potent.

Taka was hunched down in a battle stance, staring down the massive predator. Its jaw was big enough to swallow him whole easily, but he didn't seem the least bit afraid. "Let us pass," he commanded, "We only want to leave the forest."

The Seviper just gave him a derisive smirk, which looked even creepier on its serpentine face. A moment later, it lashed out.

Roxy and Taka both jumped in opposite directions to avoid the Seviper's sudden strike. It moved fast considering its size! Roxy could feel the air rush past her as the massive predator missed her by inches yet again. Roxy took a step back to stabilize herself, only for the Seviper's bladed tail to swing by and barely miss nicking her in the nose. A shiver ran up her spine, as she was painfully reminded that this particular Pokémon was sharp at both ends.

Taka was already on the defensive, holding his spear out and jabbing it whenever the Seviper got too close. Though it acted aggressively, it was wary of the sharp end of his spear. A couple of times it tried to lunge towards him, only for Taka to hop to the side and avoid it.

Roxy quickly took stock of the situation. Yet another predator was attacking them, even though they were so close to the exit. The big problem was that the large Seviper was situated between them and the dirt road, so they couldn't just run to the exit. Roxy doubted they would be able to anyway, considering how fast it moved.

She forced herself to focus and switch over to 'battle mode', and then decided to step forward so she could strike the Seviper's body with her spear. She did so, holding up her spear to strike, but then quickly had to stumble backwards as the bladed tail once again swung in her direction.

Taka continued to fight with the head of the beast while Roxy regrouped and realized that she needed to try a different tactic. She quickly took a big step back, sheathed her spear, and considered her options. The Seviper was a Poison-type, so her Grass Knot was not going to do very much. That really left only one solution.

It took a few painful seconds, but soon enough a bolt of electricity arced through the air and struck the Seviper. It let out a yelp of surprise and flinched, and then turned around to glare at Roxy. It did not look injured in the slightest, though it did seem like it was very, very angry at her.

That diversion in its attention was what she had been aiming for, though. A moment later, Taka had leapt into the air and smacked the Seviper hard in the side of its head with his tail. While it was reeling from the impact, Taka quickly jammed his spear into its long body. He was not able to penetrate very deep, but blood had been spilled.

The battle continued like this for a short while. Roxy continually tried to distract the Seviper with her Thunder Jolt whenever she saw an opportunity, meanwhile waiting for Taka to come up with a more concrete plan of action. They couldn't escape up a tree; it could easily follow them up. Roxy had seen that Arbok in The Jungle Book.

Taka was doing his best to appear intimidating. Roxy guessed that he was trying to make the Seviper think it wasn't worth it to attack them because of how resilient they were. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to be working. The Seviper wasn't letting up at all, and continued to block their way no matter which way they turned. It started to look like the only way to end this was to knock the Seviper unconscious, or worse.

If her life wasn't in danger, Roxy would have been marveling at the display of skill Taka was putting on. Just like every other time she had seen him in battle, Taka was flawless. He moved so fluidly from strikes to dodges as if he was made of water, and never once took more than a tiny scratch in damage. At times, he even leapt up and used part of the Seviper's body as a platform so he could better attack its head.

The Seviper took plenty of pot-shots, but it was too swift to receive any major damage, and it had tough skin that prevented Taka's spear from going very deep. This wasn't working, and Roxy knew that one of them had to think of something else. After letting loose another Thunder Jolt, the lightbulb suddenly turned on. She realized that it didn't matter if Grass Knot wouldn't do any damage, because she didn't need it to.

About fifteen seconds of focusing was all it took, and then Roxy spread her forepaws and summoned an array of powerful grass blades from the ground below. Before the Seviper could even notice what she was doing, she directed two of them directly towards its neck. The Seviper tried to dodge, but Roxy managed to wrap both blades of grass around its neck and hold them tight. She then pulled back, forcing the Seviper off balance and leaving it open to attack.

Taka immediately took the hint and went in for a jump strike. The Seviper was strong, however, and managed to tear the blades of grass apart so it could dodge. A minor setback, but Roxy knew she just needed to use more blades next time. The Seviper had turned its attention on her, seeing that she was more of a threat now, but Taka quickly stepped in the way to recapture its focus. Roxy dispelled the grass, but kept the Move going as she stepped over to another position.

She knew she had to act quickly, so that's exactly what she did. She only summoned as many grass blades as she thought she would need, which ended up being six, and quickly directed them towards the distracted Seviper. All six of them managed to securely wrap around its neck, and Roxy even intertwined a few of them for a bit of added strength. Roxy then attempted to pull the Seviper's head down forcefully to the ground. The Seviper fought back, making Roxy sweat and groan from the stress. She pushed as much energy into the Move as she could, pulling the grass blades back and downward slowly but surely. The Seviper let out a loud hiss of protest, but a moment later its head was thrown roughly to the ground, where Roxy pulled the blades of grass taut so it would stay there.

The Seviper struggled against its bonds, causing immense strain on Roxy. She held the grass tightly, though, securing the large beast in place as best she could. It hissed angrily at her once more. Now that his foe was disabled, Taka slowly stepped towards its head while holding his spear up. He still moved with caution, looking like he would be ready to dodge a surprise strike at any moment.

Roxy watched him approach the Seviper's head, and a chill ran down her spine. She started to panic for a brief moment. "Taka!" she called out to him, "What are you going to do?"

Taka turned his head and shot her an irritated look. He could tell that she was actually asking if he was going to kill it or not, and from his expression it looked like he was fed up. "Seriously?" he called back.

Everything changed in an instant.

Roxy didn't see the Seviper's tail moving until it was too late. She didn't even have time to make a sound before she watched it plunge deep into Taka's side.

She screamed in horror, her paws darting up to cover her mouth. Taka let out a pained, guttural sound, and then he started screaming. He screamed so loudly in pain. It was so unlike anything Roxy had ever heard coming out of Taka's throat. It was a horrible, impossible sound.

Taka's spear clattered uselessly to the ground, the Seviper yanked its tail back out, and Taka stopped screaming. With Roxy unable to hold the focus on her Move any longer, the Seviper easily broke out of its bonds and slithered off to the side. Taka's face was frozen in shock for a moment as he took in a single, strained breath. Then, as if all strength had simply vanished from his body, Taka crumpled to the ground.

Time seemed to freeze for a moment as Roxy stared in horror at what had just happened. She didn't want to believe it had actually taken place. She refused to believe it, but she could see the results lying on the ground in front of her. Shock gave way to fear, which quickly blossomed into panic. "Taka!!!" she screamed.

The Seviper, however, didn't allow her to focus on Taka any longer. Out the corner of her eye, she saw that it had now set its sights on her and it did not look happy. Roxy turned to face it, her whole body feeling stiff and useless, and stared directly into its glaring eyes.

When it darted at her a moment later, that gave her brain the kick start it needed. All worries, fears and outside thoughts were shoved to the side as she slipped fully into battle mode. She nimbly dodged to the side, just like she had practiced so many times, and allowed the Seviper to sail right past her. She then took a step back and began to really focus her energy. Roxy knew that this had gone from bad to worse and then even further, and she needed to end this now!

The Seviper quickly turned itself around and darted at her once more. Roxy again dodged to the side, but as it was passing by she unleashed another Grass Knot. With quickness and precision that she had never done before, she wrapped a whole plethora of grass blades around the Seviper's long body. It stumbled slightly when it tried to turn around again, which just gave Roxy the opportunity to send more grass at it. Then, she sent even more. Pushing herself to the absolute limit, and gathering more energy from the earth than she had ever done before, Roxy continued to wrap the Seviper in grass more and more. It let out a startled hiss and tried to break free. Though some of the grass blades did rupture, there were more to pick up the slack.

With one final shout of exertion, Roxy had managed to nearly mummify the Seviper in grass. Its whole body, except its head and tail, were now wrapped up in a tangled mess of grass blades and held to the ground. It struggled there as strongly as it could, letting out more angry hisses, with its head lying on the ground on its side. When Roxy quickly dashed up towards its head, it glared up at her and barred its fangs. Roxy lifted her spear up, a scowl on her face.

She then brought the butt end of her spear down hard, striking the Seviper in the side of the head. It let out a loud hiss of pain, but Roxy just followed up with another strike. Then another, and another, and another. Blood began to fly. Roxy shut her eyes so she didn't have to look at what she was doing, but continued to do it.

Finally, with one last hit, Roxy let out the breath she had been holding and started to pant. She glanced down at the Seviper, trying to avoid looking at the spattered blood. It lay there unmoving, its eyes shut tight and its tongue hanging out limply. Roxy let out a sigh of relief. It was completely unconscious.

Her spear then clattered to the ground as she turned around and dashed over to where Taka was laying. Her Grass Knot was dispelled, but she didn't care since the Seviper was knocked out. "Taka!!" she shouted, dashing on all fours until she reached his side. "Taka!"

When she reached him and knelt down next to him, she immediately grimaced and nearly threw up on the spot. On his back, right below the bottom-most brown stripe of fur, was a small but gruesome wound. The Seviper's tail had punctured deep, leaving a ghastly hole and a spattering of blood all across Taka's fur. More blood was slowly oozing out, but what really revolted her was the sight of small purple globs both around and inside of his wound. They looked viscous, like blood, but their colouration told her exactly what the substance was.

"Taka! Taka, get up!" she shouted in a panicked voice, "Oh heavens…Heavens above…"

The other Pikachu wasn't moving. He was lying face-down in the dirt with his eyes closed.

"Taka, please!" She was already crying. "Taka, get up!"

To her immense relief, she heard Taka let out a very low moan. She almost missed it for how quiet it was, but she had definitely heard it. Taka was still alive, at least for the moment.

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh…" Roxy fretted, her panic levels rising, "Taka…! Taka, what do I do?!"

He didn't reply. Roxy tried to think but her brain was freezing up. Too much was happening at once for her to handle. She looked at Taka and thought about lifting him up into a sitting position, but then worried that she would only hurt him more. She glanced back at the wound, winced, and quickly averted her eyes. What was she supposed to do about an injury this serious?

By happenstance, her gaze had fallen on the satchel that Taka was still wearing. Roxy gasped as an idea suddenly hit her, though she immediately started to second-guess herself. Taka had used the leaves the satchel was made of when her tail had been mangled. He'd said they had healing properties and could stop bleeding and close the wound. Would they work in this case? Taka's wound was a lot deeper and a lot more grievous.

When Taka moaned softly again, she realized she didn't have time to dawdle. Something had to be done now or Taka was going to bleed out and die. She grasped the satchel and roughly yanked it off of Taka, tearing the strap apart in the process. She grabbed some of the leaves and quickly ripped them out. All of the fruit inside tumbled to the ground at her paws but she paid it no mind.

Roxy quickly took the leaves she had grabbed and placed them gingerly on Taka's wound. She bit her lip, worries clouding her mind. She had no idea what she was doing. She didn't have anyone to ask for help, though, so she just had to try her best. When she ran out of leaves, she went to the tattered remains of the satchel to grab more. At first they didn't stick, but then Roxy remembered that Taka had been licking them. She brought one up and dragged her tongue across it, then immediately retched. They tasted awful! Regardless, she kept on doing it. It was hard to see what she was doing with tears of fear in her eyes, but she persevered.

It took what felt like hours to dress his wound, though it probably only took about two minutes. When the wound was completely covered in leaves, which were all starting to gain a red tint, Roxy was as satisfied as she could be. She just hoped this would work.

"Taka!" she moved back over to his front half. "Taka, c'mon! You gotta sit up! Come on!" When all he did was groan again, Roxy took the initiative and rolled him over so he was lying on his back.

Taka did not look well. From head to toe, the colour looked as if it had drained from his fur, leaving him looking pale all over. While Roxy could see that his chest was moving as he breathed, it did not look like he was getting full breaths. "Taka, c'mon! Wake up!" she prodded him. When he blearily opened his eyes a moment later, they were unfocused and his pupils were dilated. It looked like it was a huge struggle just to keep his eyes open.

"Oh dear heavens…!" Roxy muttered, breathing deeply as her panic continued to rise. "Taka! Taka, can you hear me?"

He let out a long, low groan. He sounded extremely nauseated.

"Taka!" Roxy leaned forward and grasped his shoulders, "Taka, you gotta sit up! You gotta stay awake! You're gonna be fine, okay? You're gonna be fine!"

She tried to lift him up by the shoulders, but quickly figured out that Taka would not be able to support himself at all. She gently lowered him back to the ground. "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh…" she fretted, nibbling on her paw anxiously. What was she supposed to do? This wasn't just a regular injury, Taka was poisoned! How did Pokémon in the wild deal with being poisoned?

"R…." Taka's voice was so quiet it was almost impossible to hear. "….R…Roxy…?"

"Taka, I'm here," she replied, "I can hear you. I'm fine, and you're fine too."

"Urrghhhh…" he moaned in pain.

Roxy bit her lip. "Okay, you're not fine. I lied. But you're going to be fine. You've just…got a bit of poison…Taka, do you know what to do? Tell me whatever it is and I'll do it!" She lifted her head up and looked around frantically, as if magical instructions were written on a tree somewhere.

Taka made a few more sick sounds, recapturing her attention. Roxy saw now that he was quivering softly, as if he was cold.

"Taka? Taka, talk to me! Tell me what I need to do!" Her voice was growing higher in pitch with every passing second as she grew more and more frantic. "Taka? Taka, please!!"

"I…" Taka started to say, but was interrupted as he let out a few disgusting-sounding coughs. "Urgh…So…This…is it…"

Roxy's ears drooped. "Huh??"

"This is how it ends…? I can honestly…say that I am surprised…"

It felt like she had just gotten punched right in the gut. "What? Taka, no! Nothing's ending, you're gonna be fine! You're gonna be okay, Taka! I'm gonna help you! We're gonna fix this!!"

To her dismay, Taka slowly shook his head. "Sorry…Roxy…I can feel it. There is…a lot of poison…in my blood…already…" He coughed again. "I am dead already…No way to stop this…"

"No!! Don't say that!!" Roxy shouted, more tears streaming from her eyes as she shook her head. Her heartbeat rose to a feverish pace as panic gripped her mind like a vice, squeezing down harder than she could bear. This couldn't really be happening. She had to be having a nightmare!

"Such…a shame…" Taka mused softly as he gazed off at nothing, "I…let my guard down…I always thought my life would end as I was struck down in a glorious fight…To die from poison feels…so unsatisfying."

"Taka, shut up!" Roxy blurted out, "You're not dying, so stop it!!"

He simply sighed and shook his head, a sad smile on his face. "I'm sorry, Roxy…"

In an instant, it suddenly felt like the entire world was collapsing around her. The situation became real and, more frighteningly, became undeniable. Her breath caught in her throat and she felt the claw-like grip of panic squeezing her tired little head. Tears had been forming in her eyes before, but now she really started to cry. "No…" she whimpered softly.

She wanted so badly to deny it, to dispute it, to do anything to make this not real, but she couldn't. Taka was lying on the ground before her, and he was dying.

"No…No, no, please…!"

Taka moaned again, almost sounding like he was simply hungover. "It…doesn't hurt…" he murmured, "That's…nice…"

Roxy shook her head vehemently, tears flying in all directions. Her heart hitched up into her throat as she collapsed forward, half hugging and half clutching onto Taka as if she could somehow hold him here in this world. "No!!" she shouted, her emotions finally getting to her, "No, you can't!! You have to beat this, Taka! You just have to!!"

"Roxy, please…" Taka whispered, "Do not trouble yourself with me. In a very short time I will be gone…" He grinned softly and chuckled to himself. "I…am glad that I was able to lead you…home…"

"Taka, stop it!!" Roxy cried, leaning up and staring him right in the eyes.

"I am pleased that we made it…You can go home now, Roxy…! Just follow the road…The human world awaits you, Roxy…So go to it…"

Roxy collapsed onto him once more and hugged him tightly. "Please…" she wailed, "Please stay! I…I can't…"

"You can, Roxy," he reassured her, "I may have…fallen in battle, but…" He sighed in contentment. "I am happy that I was…able to keep my promise…"

"Taka…You're my friend…I…Y-you can't…!"

"Roxy…" he said, and then waited for her to raise her head and look at him. "Did I…keep you safe?" he asked, "Did I…keep you…happy?"

Roxy's lip quivered as she looked into the dull, faded eyes of the dying Pikachu. She couldn't form the words that she wanted to, so instead she nodded.

Taka smiled and let his head roll lazily to the side. "That is good…"

"Taka…"

"Makari…? Brother…? Are you there?"

"Taka, I can't…!"

There was a content smile on Taka's face, the likes of which Roxy had never seen before. "I will see you soon…"

"No, Taka!!" Roxy suddenly burst out, "I can't…I can't…!" She quieted down as a few sobs escaped her throat. "I can't lose you too…"

A few moments passed, but Taka did not reply. Roxy's head shot up in a panic.

"Taka?" She looked and saw that his eyes were closed. A surge of extreme panic shot through her, but she noticed his chest was still moving as he breathed. He had fallen asleep. While a bit of a relief, Roxy knew that this was not a good sign.

"Taka! Taka!! Wake up, Taka!! Come on, wake up! We gotta…We…We gotta…!" She tried desperately to find the words, as if it would somehow shine a light on what she needed to do to save his life, but none came to her. She had no idea what to do, and she knew that if she didn't do something then Taka was just going to die.

But what?? They were miles away from the Thunder Clan and the only healer in the forest that Roxy knew of. While they were on a human road, they were still somewhat far from the forest's edge, and Roxy didn't know how far the city was from the edge itself. For all intents and purposes, they were still in the wilderness. It wasn't like she was back home where she could just quickly find a Pokémon Center, or a mart that sold Antidotes.

Her ears perked up and she gasped. Antidote!!

Roxy left Taka's side and quickly dashed a few feet to the side where the tattered remains of Taka's leaf satchel were. She practically dove into the small pile of berries that had accumulated after they had all fallen out and she started to frantically search.

Her search didn't last very long, though, especially since most of the berries were little Cheris. There were no Pecha Berries in the pile. Not a single one. Roxy whined in distress and glanced back at Taka. She remembered what had happened only about an hour earlier. Amongst all of those berry bushes, there had been a bush full of Pecha Berries and they hadn't picked a single one.

Roxy bit her lip. She didn't know what to do. Taka was lying there dying, the last precious moments of his life fading away, and she wasn't doing a thing about it. She wracked her brain so hard that she gave herself a headache. There had to be a solution!

She turned her head and glanced back into the forest, away from the road. She knew for a fact that there was big bush with plenty of Pecha Berries, and it wasn't that far away. It would mean venturing back into the forest where danger still lay, though. Furthermore, she would have to carry Taka on her back; she couldn't leave him here in case the Seviper woke up.

She then turned and gazed down the long road. It led to the human world, where modern medicine existed. But how far away was the nearest Pokémon Centre? It could take her far more than an hour to find one. The human world wasn't exactly safe either, especially for a wild Pokémon like him. In his vulnerable state, he would be easy pickings for any Pokémon Trainer. She couldn't really run away from any humans that spotted her if Taka was on her back. All it would take was a single Poké Ball and Taka would be gone. Furthermore, unless the trainer happened to have Antidotes, Taka probably wouldn't survive in the Ball long enough to be saved at a Pokémon Center.

Finally, she looked at Taka once more. He was lying there limply on the ground, pale in colour, and looking like he had already passed on. Her heart leapt into her throat once again and her panic reignited itself. Time was ticking away and she couldn't afford to take risks. She had to go for the sure thing.

"Sorry, Taka…" she said as she returned to his side and started to lift him onto her back, "Sorry, Makari…" She let out a groan of discomfort from the weight on her back, but soon enough got him secured enough so she could run. Then, without wasting a second, she turned away from the road and dashed into the woods.

"You two can't see each other just yet…"







Roxy felt like a complete wreck.

With every heaving breath she took, her chest burned. All four of her limbs, and even her tail for some reason, felt like jelly that was about to just fall off. Despite the cool springtime air, she was sweating like crazy and panting like a Rockruff. In spite of it all, though, she continued to push forward.

More than an hour had passed by, and Roxy hadn't stopped for a single second. After turning around and running back into the woods with Taka on her back, she had tried her best to retrace their steps. She had never been very good at tracking scents, but she had been able to just barely detect their trail and follow it back.

It was by no means an easy journey. Taka was bigger than she was, and that meant he was heavy. Each step felt like she was wearing cement shoes on all four of her paws, and with his weight on her back she couldn't get a proper full breath. It was quite possibly the most physically exhausting thing she had ever done in her life.

She never stopped, though. No matter how much it hurt or how badly her body wanted to rest, she kept going. Roxy knew that the poison was seeping through Taka's veins. Every so often she turned her ears back to see if he was still breathing, but she knew that Taka was running out of time. If she stopped, even for a minute, that could have been the difference between Taka living and dying.

It had been difficult to keep to the shadows so that she could avoid detection, while still trying to move as fast as she could. At one point, she had been forced to stop and wait for a predator to move out of her way. Each lost second in that moment had been agony.

By this point, though, she wasn't even able to move stealthily. She was on her very last few drops of energy, and the only way she could breathe was through loud, haggard panting. If a predator found them now it would be game over, and Roxy knew this all too well. She didn't even have the strength to run away, even without Taka on her back.

Still, she kept moving. She didn't stop. Taka's limp, heavy body was cold to the touch. Thankfully, she could still barely hear him breathing. Taka was resilient, if nothing else.

Roxy stepped over the roots of a tree and let out a loud, strained exhale. It felt like she was about to reach her limit; the point where no amount of determination would be enough to keep her tired muscles moving any further. The thought made her heart drop. She had a mission to complete, and Taka was counting on her. She didn't know what she would do with herself if, after all this work, she still failed.

With a ferocious growl, Roxy pushed herself further and circled around the tree. This would not be the end. She would keep going, no matter what. When she opened her eyes to see what lay before her, though, she realized that she had indeed met the end.

The biggest grin of relief spread across her face and she let out an exhausted but happy panting noise. She'd found it. The big group of bushes, including the one with all of the Pecha Berries, was just a few feet in front of her. She dashed over to it as quickly as she could and nearly collapsed before it. Elation flooded through her, and she would have outwardly expressed it if she'd had any energy left at all.

She didn't celebrate for long, though. Roxy stepped over to the tree next to the bush with the Pechas and unceremoniously dumped Taka off of her back. She winced a little at the rough treatment but she couldn't help it. She didn't have the strength left to be delicate. She then grasped him by the shoulders and sat him upright against the tree's trunk.

She then reached over and pulled one of the Pecha Berries off of its branch. "Taka!" she said, shaking his shoulder, "Taka wake up! I found you Pecha Berries. You have to eat them!" She was still panting heavily as she stood there, waiting for his response.

Taka, however, was still out cold. He was frightfully pale and was barely breathing at all. It became abundantly clear that Taka wasn't about to wake up any time soon.

If he wasn't going to be able to eat the berries, then that just meant Roxy would have to get a bit more creative. She grabbed Taka by the shoulders again and this time laid him down face-up on the ground. She opened his mouth with her paw, and held the Pecha Berry directly above him.

Then, she squeezed the berry as hard as she could. Immediately, a trickle of juices squirted out of the abused fruit and dribbled down into Taka's open mouth. She continued to squeeze the berry, juicing it as best she could, until Taka had a small mouthful. She worried about choking him, but she didn't have very many options left at this point. Finally, she closed his mouth and started to gently rub his throat with her paw. Her master's father liked to watch medical dramas on TV, and this was something they sometimes did to get a human patient to swallow something. Roxy only hoped the same thing applied to Pokémon.

Things were really tense for a moment, but then Roxy felt Taka's muscles move as he reflexively swallowed. Roxy breathed out a sigh of relief. She then opened up Taka's mouth and repeated the whole process. After three mouthfuls, the berry would give no more juice and so she tossed the used husk to the side and picked another one.

By the time she was on her third berry, nothing had happened yet and Roxy was starting to get worried. Pecha juice was supposed to be such a powerful poison antidote that its effects could be seen immediately.

"Come on, Taka…" Roxy whined softly as she rubbed his throat yet again, "Please wake up, Taka…Please…"

She felt him swallow again, but still he didn't stir. Her ears drooped as she began to lose hope. Maybe she was too late, or maybe there was just too much poison in his blood for the Pechas to help. Fresh tears began to run down her face, but she ignored them and reached for another berry. Again, she squeezed the juice into his mouth and rubbed his throat.

"Mnn…"

Roxy's ears perked up, unsure if she had heard something or just imagined it.

"Unghh…"

Miraculously, Taka began to stir. He knitted his brow and rolled his head to the side softly, putting on a grimacing expression. It was hard to tell, but it looked like a touch of colour had returned to his fur. After a few tense seconds, Taka sluggishly wrenched an eye open.

"Taka…?" Roxy spoke in a quiet voice. Inside she was leaping for joy, but she remained calm on the outside. "Taka, can you hear me?"

He opened his other eye, and then squinted both of them against the light of the outside world. It took him a few moments, but his pupils did eventually shift to the side and focus on her.

"Taka, are you there? Can you hear me?"

"R…" He closed his eyes and grimaced for a moment before opening them again. "R…Ro…x…"

Roxy shook her head. "Don't try to talk," she instructed him. Then, she used her forepaws to carefully lift Taka up into a sitting position and leaned him against the tree trunk once more. His head wobbled about, but he managed to keep his balance and sit there. He still looked drained of energy and his breathing still sounded laboured, but at least he was conscious now.

"…Roxy…?"

"Shh," Roxy replied, shoving a berry into his paws, "Don't talk. Just eat."

Taka's paws fumbled on the berry for a moment, but soon enough he was able to get a grip on it. Slowly, very lethargically, he lifted it to his mouth and took a bite. Roxy smiled in satisfaction and watched carefully just in case he needed help. Every movement looked like it was agony for Taka, but he kept his hold on the berry and continued to take small bites.

It took forever for him to finish the berry, but Roxy didn't wait even a second to replace it with another one. Taka gave her a drunken sort of look, but she just instructed him to eat once more and then went to pick the rest of the berries.

He finished this berry a little quicker, and by the end of it he was moaning and groaning in pain. Roxy couldn't help but smile inwardly at this, because it meant he had the energy to moan and groan. That was still an improvement. Relief and elation slowly washed over her as Taka ate Pecha Berry after Pecha Berry. With every fruit he consumed, his outward appearance looked just a little bit better. Colour returned to his fur, his eyes opened wider, his movements became less sluggish and, best of all, his moans and groans eventually faded away.

Roxy just kept picking berries and feeding them to him until he finally held up his paws and shook his head. "No more…" he mumbled, "Or I will burst…"

She nodded and dropped the berry she was holding. Then, for a few moments, she just looked down at Taka. He looked so much better. The colour in his fur was as vibrant as before and, aside from looking a little worn out, he looked to have all of his strength back. It was almost too good to be true.

Taka realized she was looking at him and lifted his head to meet her gaze. "…Roxy."

"Hey…"

Silence reigned for a moment, and then Taka lifted up his paw and looked at it. "This is real?" he murmured, "This is…not a dream?"

"Nope," Roxy replied, "How do you feel?"

Taka sighed. "Full."

"Heh…N-no, seriously. Are you…better?"

"Urgh…" Taka held a paw up to his forehead and grumbled, but he did nod. "After that many Pecha Berries…I had better be…"

Roxy smiled as relief began to wash over her. The reality of what had just happened slowly became real for her, and all of her built up emotions came flooding out at once. As tears of joy welled up in her eyes, she suddenly darted forward and engulfed Taka in a hug.

"Gah…Roxy?"

She squeezed him tightly. "Don't scare me like that…" she whispered.

Taka let out a long, slow breath of air. "I…" he spoke in a distant tone, "I…live…"

Roxy nodded as she continued hugging him. "I almost lost you…Thank heavens everything worked out…"

She could feel Taka's head move as he slowly glanced around. "Where…are we?" he asked, still sounding a bit weak and lethargic.

"The group of bushes we passed," she answered, "Y'know, the one where we picked all those Cheri Berries?"

Taka was silent for almost a full minute. "You…" he whispered, "You…carried me…all the way back here?"

Roxy nodded vigorously.

There was another moment of silence, and then Roxy gasped as she felt Taka slowly move his limbs so that he could hug her back. She smiled happily as Taka gave her an embrace just as warm as the one she was giving him.

"Roxy…" he spoke, "You saved my life…"

"Thank heavens I did…"

"This is twice now…Twice you have saved my life…"

Roxy sniffled, still weeping a little bit. "Of course!"

Taka then let out a yelp of pain. Concerned, Roxy quickly moved back from the embrace and tried to figure out what was wrong. She saw, though, that the way Taka was sitting indicated that his wound was hurting. Even if the poison was gone, that deep wound on his lower back was still there.

"You okay?" she asked him concernedly.

"I will live…" He let out a sigh and then lifted his head to look at her once more.

Roxy was surprised by the way he looked at her. It was an expression she had never seen on him before. Taka usually carried with him a touch of rigidity and toughness everywhere he went, but she couldn't see any of that now. His eyes were wide and his mouth hung open slightly, the former glowing with the light of the early sunset. What emotion was he expressing? Was it…reverence?

"But…I do not understand…" Taka said.

Roxy tilted her head. "Huh?"

His gaze drifted to the side. "You…" He spoke in an airy tone, as if he had just seen something unbelievable. "You turned back…" He then met her gaze once more and said, "You turned back…for me…"

At first she didn't understand what he meant, but when she did it made her smile and nod.

"You were there, Roxy…You were a short hop away from the edge…from your home. You have been trying to get out of this forest for months, and you…turned back."

"Of course I did!"

"I was dead, Roxy!" Taka responded, his voice rising a bit, "I was as good as dead. I knew that, and I'm sure you knew that… You…Roxy, you could have lost everything you've worked so hard for! You were so close to freedom, and you could have been mauled by a predator doing this…"

"Taka, c'mon…" Roxy said with a bittersweet chuckle, "I know I was there, but…I couldn't just leave you behind."

"…You should have."

Roxy shook her head. "Absolutely not. We've been through too much already. I knew there was a chance that I could save you, and so I had to do it. There was no question about it!" She sighed and added, "I'm just so thankful that it worked…"

"But…why?" Taka asked, dumbfounded, "Why would you put everything, including your own life, in jeopardy just for a slim chance of saving me?"

"Because we're friends, you big dummy!" Roxy replied with a quiet giggle, "I couldn't just let my friend die like that…"

"We…" Taka's voice died away, and he slowly turned his head to gaze off into the distance. He was silent for quite a while after that, just sitting and staring. Roxy watched him closely, looking for any signs that he was still suffering from poison, but didn't prod him to talk any further until he was ready. The two of them had been through a lot, but he had just come within nanometres of death. Even for someone like Taka, that had to be a terrifying experience.

As the sun set and the light started to disappear, Roxy started to wonder if Taka was going to talk again or if he would just fall asleep sitting up like that. But then, she noticed that a smile had graced his lips.

"I see it now…" he said softly.

"Huh? See what?"

He turned to look at her, still smiling. Roxy was stuck by how weird it was to see Taka smiling, and such a genuine smile too. It looked so out of place on him.

"I can see now what my brother saw in you," he said.

Roxy stood there blinking, struck silent by the unexpected sentiment. She remembered a long while ago, two Pikachu sitting on a tree branch, both mourning the loss of another. One Pikachu had snapped at the other, demanding to know why their departed companion liked her so much.

When she didn't reply, Taka kept talking instead. "You have a kindness that overfills your heart. You have more compassion in you than perhaps our entire tribe. Even though so much has happened to you over these trying months, you still keep others in your thoughts. Even when the opportunity to achieve everything you have hoped for presents itself, you were not selfish. It is the same as when you stood up to Tazoka and the Earth Tribe. Though you are often frightened, even the threat of death cannot come between you and…your friends."

"Oh my gosh, Taka…" Roxy said as she put a paw over her heart, "That's so sweet of you to say…"

"It is the truth, though it has taken me far too long to see I am afraid…"

"It's alright, Taka. I'm just glad you're okay now."

Taka nodded gratefully, and then the two shared a moment of reflection. The sun continued its journey towards the horizon. There was no way they were going to make it back to that old road today. They would have to spend the night in a tree and leave it until tomorrow. Roxy didn't really mind, though. It was just one extra day, and the reason she had done it was well worth the sacrifice.

"You realize," Taka said in a bit of a wry tone, "that this puts me eternally in your debt?"

Roxy blew a Razz Berry at that remark. "Are you kidding me? I save your life twice, and you've saved mine…how many times now?"

Taka chuckled. "True, but you do realize the risks you took, right? You had your own personal victory sitting before you, ready to be taken, and by turning back there are a thousand things that could have taken that victory away from you forever."

"It doesn't matter," Roxy said, shaking her head, "I used to always get too worried thinking about what ifs and what could-have-beens. What happened is what happened, and I am so glad that I made the choice I did. Even if I had gotten home okay, the knowledge that I had just left you behind for dead would have haunted me for the rest of my life."

"Well…" Taka hesitated, sounding as if he were fumbling over his words. "…To be honest, I am glad that you made that choice as well." He then shifted his position slightly, and ended up wincing sharply.

Roxy glanced down worriedly at where his wound was. "Are you gonna be okay with…that?" she asked, "Is there something I can do? No offense or anything, but we're not gonna make it out of the forest or through the city if you're…well, crippled."

"I notice you applied some of the leaves to it," Taka remarked, and then he paused. "…I presume that means the second satchel has met its end?"

Roxy gave him an apologetic half-smile and nodded once.

"Troublesome…But, oh well…No, I will be able to walk and even run, I think. I will just not be at full strength."

"Are you sure? It looked…" She shivered at the memory. "…really bad."

Taka shook his head and said, "The leaves will help. They have already helped some, and by morning it should be much better. By that point, at the very least, exerting myself will not make it any worse, even if it has not healed all the way. I will simply have to endure the pain if we encounter trouble."

"Taka…"

He turned and gave her a smug look with a raised eyebrow and a wry grin. "After all this time, you still underestimate me?"

Roxy quickly shook her head. "No! Never!" She chuckled awkwardly and rubbed the back of her neck. "No, even when I first saw you…Way back with that Zangoose…I thought you were invincible."

"Pff…" Taka scoffed at that. "No-one is invincible. Not even myself."

"I know that, but you…You're pretty close."

Taka chuckled dryly. He then shifted his position again and reached down with his paws to feel the leaves that were on his wound, since it was in a place he couldn't easily see. After a bit of prodding and wincing, he seemed satisfied that Roxy had done a good enough job dressing the wound.

"Well," he said afterwards, "It is getting dark. Let's climb this tree and get some sleep."

"Yeah, okay. Can you climb oka- Ah, y'know, never mind…"

He flashed her a soft grin and then carefully stood up. He moved slow, but didn't show any signs of wincing in pain. "We have a big day ahead of us," he commented as he turned around to face the trunk.

As she watched him scale the tree, rather quickly given his injured state, she couldn't help but smile as well. What a hectic and harrowing day it had been. Roxy couldn't deny that she was utterly exhausted by this point, and silently wished she could get more than just four hours of sleep.

Her heart was still pounding a bit fast, though. The excitement of this little adventure was taking its time to wear off. Now she found herself in that moment where she started to ask herself questions like 'What were you thinking? Did you really just do that?! You could've been killed!!' She still felt occasional shivers thinking about how things could have gone wrong. She had very nearly lost Taka and, in trying to rescue him, had nearly lost herself.

She was still smiling as she glanced up at Taka situating himself on one of the tree's branches. She was happy things had worked out and felt so relieved that she had made the right choice.

Tomorrow was another day. Hopefully this time, it would actually be the day she made her way back home.
The Thunder Clan - 31
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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 30 - Old Wounds

Roxy entered the den with a huff, still shaking her head over how ridiculous Taka was acting.

While the entrance had been rather small, the inside of the den had been dug out quite expansively. For a hole in the side of a hill, it was surprisingly roomy. The 'ceiling' was high enough that Roxy didn't need to duck her head.

"Lover's spat?"

Roxy turned to look in the direction of the voice, and saw Vi sitting near one of the far walls with a smirk on her face. In front of her was a small collection of twigs that was burning softly, providing just a touch of light to the dark cave. "Something like that…" Roxy murmured.

Vi snickered in a teasing way, and then motioned with her paw for Roxy to sit down. The Pikachu obliged, and sat staring at the fire for a couple of seconds. "Most of us can see in the dark," Vi said, "so we do not usually require this. Wake me up if the whole den catches fire, okay?"

"Mm…" Roxy muttered as she continued to gaze at the fire.

"Hey. Come on now, cutie. Upset is not a good look for you."

Roxy glanced over at the Vulpix. She wanted to cheer up, truly she did, but she just felt too annoyed at Taka to do so.

Vi had been giving her a little smirk, but then her expression softened a bit and she started to talk in a more calm, serious tone. "There is no need to be mad, Roxy. I understand his hesitations. If I had a traveling companion that I was close to, I would want to keep them safe too. It is obvious that he cares about you, and wants to guide you to wherever you are going safely."

Roxy sighed. "I just wish I could talk to him, but he makes it so hard. When he makes a decision, it's impossible to change his mind."

"Now who would want to ignore a voice like yours?"

"Heh…" Roxy chuckled half-heartedly, "I do hate being the voice of reason, sometimes."

Vi snickered for some reason.

"If he would just look you in the eyes, he would know," Roxy lamented.

"I was very impressed when you asked me to do that," Vi commented, "It truly is a great way to see if someone is lying or not. I am glad I was able to convince you, though. It brings me great satisfaction to repay my debt with you, and also I like you, and it makes me happy to help you get closer to your goal."

Finally, Roxy managed to smile. "Thanks, Vi," she said, "Your tribe really is wonderful. The world would be a better place if more people and more Pokémon were like you…" She continued to gaze at the fire, transfixed by the subtle way it danced and jumped on the small pile of twigs. "If only Taka could see it, he might be able to relax."

"Oh, forget him," Vi said dismissively, "If he wants to stand out there and pout, let him. I wanted to be hospitable but, truthfully, it would be crowded in here with three."

"I guess that's true."

"Some Pokémon like him are just stuck in their ways. They do not want to let themselves be happy, and so they just sit in their own misery. No need to let his mood cloud the good time we could be having."

"He has been through an awful lot…" Roxy said, thinking of what had happened on Taka's last journey.

"The night will be over before you know it, and it will not take long in the morning to reach the other side of our territory. Though I wish you and I could spend a lot more time together, it will at least make him happy. Forget about him for now, though. Right now it is just the two of us, snuggled up cozy together in my den."

Roxy lifted her head and furrowed her brow. Something in the back of her mind had been bugging her since meeting Vi, and now it was becoming more prominent. "Vi, are you-?"

As she turned her head to regard the Vulpix, her train of thought came to a screeching halt when she saw just how close Vi had gotten to her. She hadn't noticed Vi apparently sidling up until she was sitting right next to her, and the Vulpix was now looking into her eyes with a half-lidded gaze and a suave-looking grin. It was almost…a predatory sort of look. Before Roxy could say or do anything else, Vi suddenly darted forward…

…and kissed her right on the lips.

Roxy's eyes shot open so wide she thought her eyes would pop right out. Her whole body stiffened up as the Vulpix pressed forward eagerly, even lifting up a paw to lightly press against Roxy's chest. Roxy tried to figure out just what in the world was going on, but it was hard to do that with her brain short-circuiting so much.

When Vi broke the kiss and moved back, she continued to give Roxy a smile that the Pikachu could now identify as 'sultry'. Roxy was left stunned, wobbling slightly like a drunken Wobbuffet with a bewildered expression on her face. Her jaw hung open slightly and her head was swimming.

Vi continued to look at her with that provocative look on her face, waggling her eyebrows a little. Her eyes were narrowed like a predator's, but in a different sort of 'predatory' way. Behind her, a few of her six tails were twitching eagerly, but she sat there and patiently waited.

At first, all Roxy could do was blink her eyes every so often as her brain rebooted. It took her a few moments to piece together what had just happened, a few more moments to analyze it, and even more time just to kick her motor skills back into gear. She must have sat there for a good couple of minutes before she finally had the ability to reply.

Instead of words, Roxy started to sob and cry.

Vi's expression changed in an instant. Her suave, confident grin was replaced by a shocked and concerned frown. All traces of seduction disappeared as if they had never been there. She stared at Roxy in confusion for a few moments while Roxy simply let out stifled sobs.

"Goodness…" Vi spoke in a quiet voice, "There were quite a number of ways I thought this would turn out…This was not one of them…"

Roxy wiped her eyes with her forepaw and turned to regard Vi through her tear-filled eyes. She wanted to reply, but all that came out was another sob.

"Oh, sweetie…Come here…" Vi shuffled back over, but this time all she did was wrap her forepaws around Roxy in a warm, comforting hug. "Please accept my apology. I did not mean to upset you."

Roxy returned the hug earnestly, finding Vi's body to be very warm to the touch. That was to be expected, considering she was a Fire-Type.

"I am so sorry," Vi repeated, "I should not have…I thought you were cute and I figured I would just take a chance and see what happened. I did not think I would upset you this much, but I should have-"

"No," Roxy interrupted, shaking her head. She moved back, ending her embrace with the Vulpix, and sat up straight. She wiped her eyes once more and took a calming breath before speaking again. "No, I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get all weepy. It's not your fault."

Vi frowned and tilted her head. "Of course it is my fault. I clearly overstepped a boundary…"

Roxy shook her head again. "It's fine…It surprised me, but really it's…" Roxy paused, and then let out a heavy sigh. "It just…reminded me of the one I love…"

Vi gave her a surprised look. "What?" she asked, confused, "I thought you told me you and Taka were not mates."

"No, no…We're not," Roxy replied, "It's…his brother."

"Oh," Vi said, nodding her head in understanding, "I see. I am sorry, I assumed some things that were not true. I did not realize that you had a mate who was elsewhere."

Roxy lowered her head and stared at the ground. "He's dead."

The silence that followed was heavy. "…Oh…" Vi finally muttered, "Oh dear…Truly?"

Roxy nodded. "He was killed…"

Vi didn't say anything at that, and Roxy found out why a moment later as she was swept up in another comforting hug. The two remained like that for quite some time, just silently embracing. Roxy didn't really cry any more, but she did feel as heavy as a rock. She didn't so much hug back, as she did simply lay there for Vi to hold up.

Finally, after heavens knew how long, Vi propped Roxy back up into a sitting position and sat down in front of her. She offered a kind, consoling smile and said, "Talk to me."

Roxy's lip quivered, and at first it felt like more tears were going to come the minute she started talking. But, after she took a few minutes to calm herself, she started to tell the rest of her story to Vi. She talked about growing closer to Makari, her budding feelings for him, falling in love, and then ultimately losing him. It didn't take her as long as she had thought it would, which was a rather bitter thought.

"He sounds wonderful," Vi said once Roxy had reached the end of her tale.

"He was so wonderful…"

"I am…very sorry for your loss…" Vi bit her lip and glanced off to the side a little. "Did…they ever find out what caused his…passing?"

Roxy shook her head. "Not exactly."

"Oh, I see…"

There was a moment of slightly awkward silence.

Roxy then sighed. "It's taken me so long just to get over the fact that I lost him…So long to stop feeling like nothing would ever make me happy again. But, it's just…Well, since I lost him, I haven't had another Pokémon to sleep next to, haven't had another kiss…I haven't had a lot of things, really…Since I lost him, I didn't think I would ever have them again."

Vi turned back towards her.

"So when you…It just…"

The Vulpix nodded in understanding. "Even though I am not him, I reminded you in a…very direct way of what you had lost."

Roxy sighed yet again. "Yeah, that…"

"Well, again, I am very sorry. I did not mean to dredge up such sad feelings."

"It's not your fault," Roxy repeated.

"I am supposed to be repaying my debt to you, not creating more…"

"Oh, don't worry about it. Really."

Another moment of silence passed, but this one was distinctly less awkward. Roxy was already starting to feel better. The sad moment had passed by, having done its damage.

"If…you do not mind me asking…" Vi said, breaking the silence.

"Hm?"

Vi gave her a coy grin. "Was he a good kisser?"

Roxy immediately blushed. "I, er- Uh…"

"Ah, you look so adorable when you blush! Please! My heart!"

This only served to make Roxy blush even more. "I dunno, I…" She glanced to the side, fidgeting with her forepaws, before looking back at Vi again. The Vulpix looked like she was patiently waiting for an answer, even if it wasn't a serious one. She worried that talking about kissing and Makari was just going to make her cry all over again, but she started to think about the subject and found that wasn't happening.

"I- Sure. Sure, he was," Roxy answered, speaking quickly.

"Better than me?"

Roxy gave Vi a flustered look, while Vi just gave her a cheeky smile in return. Roxy grumbled a little and glanced away, and the den fell silent for a minute or two. Then, Roxy spoke up once more. "You know…? Sorry, but yeah. He was."

"Oooooh~"

"Oh, don't 'ooo' me…"

Vi smiled and shook her head. "No, I understand completely. It is different."

"Heh, yeah…Sort of." A small but genuine smile graced Roxy's lips. Talking about it like this, now Roxy was starting to remember Makari fondly instead of sorrowfully. It was strange to her that her mood had turned around so quickly, but she wasn't about to question it. Just talking about Makari and the way he kissed her was more like reminiscing, which was a lot easier on her damaged heart.

Roxy glanced over at Vi again. "Did, uh…" she started.

Vi tilted her head.  "Hm? Did I what?"

Roxy was blushing again. "Did you really think…I was…cute?"

A big, warm smile accompanied her answer. "Of course, cutie. From the first moment I saw you, even though I was down in that hole and you were drenched with rain. I do not think I have ever seen a Pikachu as good-looking as you."

"Erm…" Roxy was flustered for a moment before she spoke again. "So, you're actually…like, attracted to me?"

Vi nodded and said, "I cannot tell a lie to you."

Then, Roxy frowned. "But, what about that Flareon? I thought you…Weren't you…" Roxy fumbled a little over the next word. "…flirting with her?"

"Who, Fina?" Vi replied, "Oh yes, of course. She is a gorgeous piece of tail." Vi closed her eyes and looked blissful for a second. "That tail is so warm and fluffy…"

Roxy's frazzled, blushing look returned. "So, why're you…y'know, kissing me? Aren't you and Fina, like, y'know…mates or something?"

Vi actually snickered at that. "No," she said flatly. She let out an airy laugh before adding, "If I think someone is cute, I want to pursue them. See where the night leads?" She laid down on the ground and stretched her forepaws out, letting out a satisfied sigh before she relaxed and rested her head on top of her paws. "Having a mate is not something I am interested in pursuing. I am too wild for that."

Roxy simply looked at her, not quite knowing what to say.

"Stop blushing like that," Vi said in a mock scolding tone, "You are too adorable for me."

Frowning, Roxy glanced away and tried to hide the burning glow in her cheeks.

More silence passed before Vi spoke up once more. "Can I be serious for a moment?" she asked, without a hint of her previous sass, "Can I ask you a question?"

Roxy glanced at her and then shrugged. "I guess."

"You shared a wonderful love with an amazing Pokémon…" she spoke in a slow, gentle voice, "but, sadly, life took him away from you. It is taking you some time to get over the shock of this, and I can understand that." Vi paused for a moment. "But…Well, how can I say this…? I guess, to put it simply…Are you ever going to kiss another?"

"What…?" Roxy asked, frowning. She was both saddened and perplexed by Vi's question.

"It is obvious that Makari made you very happy, but are you going to deny yourself that kind of happiness for the rest of your life?"

"I…" Roxy trailed off, stumbling over her words. She was confused as to what had suddenly brought this up. "I…I don't know…I mean, I loved him…"

"Of course," Vi said, "I do not think anything will ever change that, right?"

Roxy nodded demurely.

"But, well…Life is short, even if you do make it to old age…"

"What're you saying?" Roxy said as she frowned and started to feel flustered, "If you're just tryin' to kiss me again, stop it. I loved Makari and only him, but he's gone now, so I-"

"Shhh, shhhh…" Vi soothed, holding up a paw until Roxy quieted down, "There is no need to get upset. I was not trying to suggest anything." She lowered her paw and gave Roxy a sad smile. "I just hate to see you like this, missing out on things in life simply because fate was cruel."

Roxy crossed her forepaws and turned her head away from Vi, pouting and frowning.

"I am not suggesting you 'forget' Makari, or 'move past' him or anything like that. I apologize if that is what came across, though I did not intend it. I can see that you still love him. You will always love him, right up until the day when your time comes as well."

"Mmmn…" Roxy's frown shrank a little.

"Just…try to keep an open mind, okay?" Vi said, "Something does not always have to mean something else."

Roxy could only sigh in response. She didn't want to be mad at Vi. The Vulpix had been nothing but pleasant and kind to her, even aside from that sudden, awkward kiss.

"Okay, cutie?"

"Yeah…Okay…" Roxy said, turning to face Vi once more. She couldn't quite bring herself to smile, but she didn't feel as upset anymore.

Vi smiled instead, and patted a spot near the fire that was closer to her. "Come over here," she said in a soft, inviting tone.

Roxy nodded and shuffled a little closer. The fire seemed warmer in this new spot.

"Just relax, okay?"







Morning arrived and Roxy greeted the day with a stretch and a smile. She felt totally refreshed, and the rays of sunlight filtering down through the trees were a welcome sight that made her feel energized. After a nice, relaxing sleep, she felt like she was ready to run all the way home without stopping.

She had already shared a small breakfast of berries with Vi. The Vulpix had been gone when Roxy had first awoken, but arrived moments later as if on cue and carrying a small bushel of Orans. It was a nice meal and the two enjoyed each other's company. Now, Roxy was stepping up to the mouth of the den with Vi following behind.

It was like a fresh explosion of sunlight when she exited the tunnel. Like a flower blooming in the springtime, she burst out from under the ground with a radiant smile. Roxy couldn't remember the last time she had felt this good, or this optimistic, about her future.

Some of the other Fire-Types in nearby dens were waking up as well, and most of them gave her and Vi a friendly wave. Roxy smiled and waved back to each of them, barely even thinking about the fact that they were all predators. For now, it was just a close-knit tribe of friendly Pokémon.

Vi stepped up beside her and giggled. "Your fur is all messy," she said.

Roxy glanced at her, then busily tried to brush down the fur on her head. "It's just bedhead. It's not like I have a brush out here."

The Vulpix giggled at her again. "Come on," she said as she stepped past, "We should get going soon. Get that cute butt moving."

Roxy's cheeks flushed with colour, and she knew Vi was silently chuckling to herself as she walked down the hill away from the den. She shook her head good-naturedly at Vi's antics. Like the Gaia Tribe before, she was going to miss this group of Pokémon once they moved on. That said, she still wanted to get going as soon as possible. Home was getting closer and closer.

First, though, she needed to find her traveling companion. He wasn't standing at the mouth of the cave, like she had expected, so she started looking in all directions for him.

"Up here."

Roxy nearly jumped out of her skin and spun around on the spot. Taka was sitting down on the hill above the den's entrance. She and Vi had passed right under him without even noticing. "Oh," she said once her heart slowed down, "There you are. C'mon, let's get going."

Taka swiftly hopped down and stood beside her. "Best news I have heard in a while."

Roxy gave him a disapproving look and was about to yet again reprimand his bad attitude. Her words died on her tongue however, and her frown was replaced with a concerned look.

He saw that she was looking at him, and turned his gaze at her. "What?"

"Taka…Did you stay up all night??"

She knew what the answer was even before he said 'yes'. There were noticeable dark circles under his eyes, and his ears and tail were drooping just slightly. He was doing his best not to let it show, but anyone could see just from a single glance that Taka was utterly exhausted.

"…Taka, what the hell?" Roxy blurted out, "Why did you do that?"

"To keep watch," he said simply.

"Keep watch for what? Bad dreams?"

Taka gave her what she could only describe as an exasperated look.

"Oh dear Arceus, seriously…?" Roxy said, "I wasn't serious when I suggested you just stand out there and stay on guard. Why didn't you just come and sleep in the den? Or you could have just slept in a tree or something."

"I was keeping you safe."

Roxy's eye twitched. "I was safe. In the den. With Vi."

"Thank heavens for good fortune, then."

She opened her mouth to respond again, but found she just couldn't. Everything she had to say on the matter, she had already said it all twice. She just couldn't fight against Taka's stubbornness. He still believed that they were in danger, even after everything that had happened with this tribe.

True, the thought had briefly occurred to her that she would be more vulnerable while she slept in the den. After all, she would have been trapped in there with nowhere to run should the impossible happen and the tribe were to turn on her. That was obviously why Taka had felt the need to stand guard. Even so, if he had felt that strongly about it, he could have asked her to take the second shift like they usually did. She would have been annoyed, but she would have done it.

Hell, Roxy had complete faith that Taka would be able to stand guard while he was asleep. She had seen him wake up at the tiniest sound, quieter than a pin dropping, before. There was no good reason for him to have starved himself of sleep like this.

After a few moments of flustered stammering, Roxy finally threw up her forepaws in defeat and let out a frustrated sigh. "Just…come on, you big idiot…" she said before promptly marching off in the direction Vi had gone. Taka wordlessly followed behind her.

They caught up to Vi not long afterwards. After she attempted and failed to say a pleasant 'good morning' to Taka, she instructed them to climb onto her back again and they did. A few moments later, Ignis approached them.

"Good morning Vi, and to you two as well," he greeted them, "I see that you are off to fulfill your promise, young one."

Vi nodded respectfully. "I shall be back before the moon rises."

"Very well. Take care not to get into trouble this time."

"I will," Vi replied, getting a bit of a bashful expression.

Ignis then lowered his head down, so that he was closer to eye level with the two Pikachu. "I hope that your stay here was pleasant. I wish the two of you good luck on the rest of your journey, and may the heavens watch over you."

Roxy smiled. "Thank you, sir. This was really nice, and we really appreciate everything Vi is doing for us."

Ignis chuckled and smiled sagely. "We appreciate you giving Vi a chance to keep her word," he said, "Our tribe shall benefit from her selfless actions. Honour is always rewarded somehow."

"Really?" Roxy asked, "So, like, you think this'll give you good karma?"

Both Ignis and Vi blinked and gave her perplexed looks. Clearly, they were not familiar with that word.

"Uhh…" Roxy rubbed the back of her neck as she thought about how to explain this. "Karma is, like, balance in the universe. If you do something nice for someone, that's good karma and it means that something nice will happen to you. But if you do something mean to someone, then you have bad karma and…Well, that's not good."

"Ah. Interesting," Ignis commented, "I suppose that is somewhat similar to our beliefs. Is this a concept that your own tribe has devised?"

Roxy chuckled inwardly and glanced off to the side. "You could say that…"

Ignis nodded. "Well, I will not hold you any longer. Good luck, once again, and…" The corners of his lips turned upwards. "…good karma?"

Roxy and Vi both shared a laugh at that, and then the Ninetales bid them farewell and walked off towards the centre of the Den. Roxy found herself smiling, her earlier frustrations forgotten. The experience she'd had in this tribe was nothing short of pleasant. That was something she had never expected from a group of wild predators.

"Well, we should get going," Vi announced, "I promised I would be back before night. It should only take a few hours to reach the northern edge of our territory."

"Cool!" Roxy replied as she settled herself securely on the Vulpix's back, "Lead on!"

Vi set off at a sprint which quickly turned into a run. Roxy held on tightly as the hills and dens passed by on either side of them. Before long, they had passed the last one and the Den was left behind. Vi didn't slow down at all, dashing off into the wilderness like an intrepid explorer.







"Well, this is it!"

Roxy's ears perked up. "Huh? Wha? Already?"

Vi snickered. "Yes, cutie. I did say a couple of hours."

"Whoa…" Roxy marvelled. Traveling through the forest without the constant fear of danger and the need to keep an eye out for predators meant that time traveled a lot faster. She glanced around at their surroundings, but obviously there was no physical marker denoting where the Burning Paws territory ended. It just looked like any other part of the forest.

"So, we've made it all the way across your whole territory."

Vi nodded. "Yes. I am not quite sure who lives in this territory…We border so many tribes that I lose track of them all. But yes, this is where the domain of the Burning Paws ends."

"Wow! This is great! We've saved so much time!"

The Vulpix took a few more steps forward and the paused next to a tree. She gave it a few sniffs and then nodded in affirmation.

"Well, I suppose this is it then…" Roxy said in a bittersweet tone.

"Indeed, this is where we must sadly part ways." Vi laughed softly. "If I did not have ties back home, I would consider journeying with you. I sense that adventure is drawn to the two of you."

Roxy leaned forward and hugged the back of Vi's neck. "Well, thank you so much. You have no idea how helpful this has been to us! You-"

"This is your territory's edge?" Taka suddenly spoke up, again breaking a silence that he'd held for the past couple of hours. He deftly hopped off of Vi's back and then stood on the ground giving her an expectant look.

"Erm…" Vi faltered momentarily, "Yes. This is as far north as our territory goes. We do not often hunt past here."

"Good," Taka said tersely, and then addressed Roxy and said, "Let's go."

Roxy gave him a surprised look. "But Taka-"

"Now!"

Both Roxy and Vi were taken aback by his sudden outburst, and gave each other a look of disbelief. Roxy glanced back over at Taka, only to see that he was already walking away.

Her fur bristled. Roxy had felt a lot of wild, turbulent emotions while on this whole escapade; she had been happier than ever before, sad beyond belief, and more terrified than she ever thought possible. This was the first time she had felt like this, however. She could feel, bubbling inside of her like furious lava ready to explode out the top of her head, a sense of growing, unchecked anger.

"Taka!!" she shouted loudly while also hopping off of Vi's back, "What is wrong with you?!"

The Pikachu paused and turned back to her, but didn't say anything. He merely crossed his forelimbs again.

"No, seriously!!" Roxy continued to shout, sounding like a very upset teacher, "What's gotten into you?! Why are you being such a huge tool?? Vi and her tribe have been amazing to us! They have treated us with kindness, respect and hospitality, far beyond what they needed to do. Vi has done us a huge favour by running us this far, keeping us safe from being hunted, and cutting out a huge chunk of our already-super-long journey!

"Yet for some stupid reason, you continue to act like a prick! I know you didn't trust her at first, and I get it! It makes sense! This is your home and you're more experienced. But after everything she has done for us…! You're really still going to just spit in her face and walk away?! You're kind of a jerk, but this is not like you! What is your Arceus-damned problem?!?!"

Bird Pokémon could be heard flying away. Roxy had gotten loud.

For a moment, Taka just continued to stare at her. He hadn't even flinched. Even Vi, standing nearby, looked a little shaken by Roxy's explosive outburst, but Taka acted like nothing had happened. He just stood there with a cross look on his face, breathing evenly through his nose. As the seconds ticked by Roxy's anger began to subside, but as he continued to stand there without replying she could feel it starting to come back. She was about to yell at him some more when he finally opened his mouth and replied.

"Fine," he said in a relenting sort of tone.

Roxy just arched an eyebrow and waited for him to continue.

He didn't speak right away, though. First he took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, as if he was trying to calm himself. When he looked at her again there was less anger in his expression, but he still looked hardened and serious.

"Do you remember what I told you," he said, "about when I met Izuki?"

Roxy's ears perked up in surprise. She hadn't expected to hear the name of Taka's lost love in this explanation.

"Do you remember how we met?"

"Uhh…" Roxy faltered, trying to remember exactly what she'd been told.

"When I found him, he was under attack. Predators were surrounding him, and I rescued him. Then, I had to nurse him back to health."

"Right…" Roxy said with a nod. She did recall now that he had told her this. She didn't get why Taka was bringing it up, though.

Taka then turned his gaze towards Vi, who was watching the two with an awkward expression on her face. He glared at her, causing her to frown. "It was them," Taka said, holding out his forelimb and pointing at the Vulpix.

"What?" Roxy and Vi both said at the same time.

"The predators that were attacking my Izuki…was them. The Burning Paws."

Roxy's eyes widened and she gasped softly. There it was. That was the last piece of the puzzle she had been looking for. "Oh…" was all she could think of saying.

Vi turned to look at her with a perplexed look. "Roxy? What is he talking about?"

Taka didn't exactly look like he wanted to talk to her, so Roxy decided to explain. "Izuki was a Pokémon he fell in love with," she said to Vi, "Taka was on a journey when he found Izuki being attacked by predators. He rescued him, the two fell in love, and…"

Roxy and Vi both slowly turned to look at Taka. He was still just standing there, fixing Vi with a very distrustful gaze.

"So, when you first met your love," Vi said to him, "it was by rescuing him from members of my clan who were…hunting him?"

Taka nodded curtly.

"Oh, I see…"

Suddenly, things made a whole lot more sense. It wasn't just Taka's natural aversion to predators that was making him act like this. He had a history with this tribe, however brief it may have been, and it was a sore spot in his memory. Taka had never gone into detail about how bad Izuki's injuries had been, but she did know that Taka had to stay with him while he healed for multiple days.

She started to feel bad. Without knowing it, she had dragged Taka right into the heart of his own personal enemies. They were the ones who could have prevented him from falling in love with Izuki at all. If Roxy had to be taken to a formal dinner with some rich human who had tried to hit her master, even if they behaved themselves, she probably wouldn't have felt very good about the situation either.

"Taka, why didn't you tell me?" Roxy asked, "You could've said something right at the beginning, or after we got her out of the hole, or…"

Taka simply glanced off to the side, causing Roxy to sigh. She didn't really know what to say, and so she looked over at Vi, hoping she might have some insight.

"Well…" Vi said somewhat awkwardly, and then cleared her throat. "I suppose that is not an impossible scenario. It is quite a fascinating coincidence, though? Right?" Vi glanced at both Pikachu with a strained smile on her face. When no-one smiled back, she sighed and frowned.

"Okay," she said, "I can see why you are upset. I would be upset too. I was not a part of that hunting group so I do not know exactly what happened, but it sounds like a couple of Burning Paws came across your mate and attacked." She skewed her lips. "We live by honour and value our word whenever it is necessary, but that does not mean we extend this humility to every Pokémon. There is still a natural order to things. We still must eat to survive."

Taka started giving her a furious glare, so she quickly backpedaled. "Well, either way…It does not matter, Taka. Right? If I understand you correctly, you and your love managed to escape from our hunters, right? Though they tried to, they did not kill Izuki. Right?"

Taka hesitated for a few moments, but then nodded curtly.

"Well then, it all works out. You and your love escaped from us and got to share your happiness with one another, and now I have kept you safe from our hunters as my gratitude to you. At the end of the day, there is no spilled blood between us."

"Y-yeah, Taka," Roxy said, though she cursed herself for being unable to keep a small stutter out of her voice, "It's fine. Vi is not the one who tried to attack Izuki. It probably wasn't Ignis either, right? And, like Vi said, those other Burning Paws were not being cruel or evil…they were just trying to survive, right? It's not like Kazaka or Tazoka…"

Taka stared at her in silence, then glanced over at Vi. After about a minute of very tense silence, he turned his head to address her once more. "Come," he said tersely, "Let's go."

Roxy slumped and frowned. "Taka…"

"When I look at her," he said, "all I can think about is losing Izuki. They are not the ones who took him from this world, but they could have been. They just as easily could have been the ones to take me from this world…or you." He turned and faced away from them, but stood still for a moment. After a short pause, he hung his head slightly. "I promised him, Roxy…" Then, he started to walk off into the trees again.

"Taka!" Roxy called after him, "Taka, stop!" He kept walking and didn't even turn around. "At least say 'thank you'!" she called, but it was no use. An empty sigh slipped past her lips.

Vi took a few slow steps towards her. "You…did not tell me his love was…"

"Humans killed him," Roxy explained.

"Oh heavens…" she said with a grimace, looking as if she immediately regretted some of the things she had said.

"I'm sorry, Vi. You don't deserve any of that. You've been wonderful, and all I want to do is thank you for all you've done."

Vi let out a quiet sigh, but then shook her head. "There is no need to concern yourself. I am touched by your gratitude and thankful that I was able to repay you for rescuing me. Helping him was just part of the deal, so I am glad I could complete it nonetheless."

"I…know you're a predator…" Roxy spoke softly, "and that we're….y'know…natural enemies…but you're more than just a hungry set of sharp teeth." She turned to look Vi in the eyes and gave her a small smile. "I'm happy I met you. Thank you for being who you are."

"Aww…" Vi leaned in and gave Roxy a hug with one of her paws, "I am glad to have met you as well. I wish our story together could have lasted a little longer, but sadly we are simply from two different worlds."

"Yeah…"

After the hug ended, Vi gave her another confused look. "What did he mean by 'I promised him'?"

"Oh, uh…" Roxy fumbled her paws little. "His brother…when he died, the last words he said…'Keep her safe, keep her happy'. So…he's always sort of been looking out for me since then. At first he just felt obligated, but I think we've become friends since then. Today was just a rainy day for him…"

"Truly?" Vi replied, eyes wide, "That is so romantic! Roxy, you are not good for my heart!"

Roxy blushed a little and looked off to the side.

Vi then cleared her throat. "Well, in any case, I can definitely see just how much he cares for you. Even though his intentions may have been misguided, he felt adamant about keeping you safe from myself and my tribe. I think the only reason he was having trouble was because he could not keep you safe and happy at the same time in this case."

"You think so?"

Vi giggled softly. "Even now he continues to watch you, just to make sure I do not try anything at the last moment."

"What?" Roxy said, her ears perking up. She turned around and tried to look in the direction Vi was glancing, but she couldn't see anything.

"He thinks he is hiding from me," Vi said with a chuckle, "How cute."

Roxy searched the trees for a few more seconds, but still could not see where Taka was apparently hiding. She had thought he had wandered off, but if Vi was right then he was still staying close by in spite of his emotions. That did manage to bring a little smile back to her.

"I should go," she said bittersweetly, "I don't wanna keep him waiting, and we still have such a long way to go."

Vi nodded in understanding. "Farewell then, cutie," she said with a wink, "May Arceus smile down upon you."

"Goodbye, Vi…Thanks again for everything."

The two Pokémon remained standing there for a moment, simply looking at one another. It was hard to say goodbye this time, Roxy was finding. Vi had been so nice and friendly, and her tribe so welcoming and accommodating. Eventually, though, her drive to move forward won over and she turned away.

"Actually, before you go…"

Roxy stopped in mid step and looked back over her shoulder. "Huh?"

Vi stepped over to her, sat down beside her, and leaned in to whisper into her ear. "Let me give you one more gift for your journey," she said, "About 100 paces ahead, there is a tree that is taller than those around it. The view from the top will make you smile."

Roxy turned her head to look at the Vulpix, but she was already gone. Roxy had to glance over her shoulder again to see her. Vi was walking away, her tails swaying about in an upbeat, playful manner. After she was a somewhat fair distance away, she paused and looked back as well. She winked at Roxy once more, and lifted a forepaw to wave goodbye. Roxy happily waved back.

Then she turned around and forced herself to march forward, leaving Vi behind for good this time. She had delayed enough, and she knew that it was time to keep moving ahead.

"You can come out now," she said flatly after walking a few yards. There was a muted impact sound next to her, and when she turned to her left she saw Taka was walking next to her now.

"I don't trust her," he said.

"I'm aware…"

"Do not let your guard down until-"

'Just…shut up, Taka…"

Though she saw him give her an irritated look out the corner of her eye, Taka respected her request and stopped talking. They walked for a few moments in silence, but then he spoke up again.

"For what it is worth…" he said, his tone much calmer, "I am relieved that your instincts were correct."

Roxy stopped walking and looked at him.

"I trust you are well aware of how bad this could have gone," he said to her, the sternness returning for a moment before disappearing again, "but if you are unharmed, then I suppose there is nothing to be angry about."

"Well…" Roxy gave him a wistful look, "I now understand what was going through your head at the time, so I sort of get it. I still wish you'd just told me in the first place, though."

"Looking back, perhaps that would have indeed been the better option."

The two started walking once more. "It's just another chapter, right?" she asked him, "Time to move on and see what else is in store?"

Taka simply nodded.

They continued for a bit longer, but then Roxy started to slow down and glance upwards. Vi's parting words were fresh in her mind, and she was about 100 paces away by this point. After a short while searching, she spotted a rather thick tree that seemed to be impressively tall. This had to be the one Vi had been talking about.

She sprinted over to it. "Taka, let's climb this tree and get a look ahead!"

He gave her an odd look. "Why?"

Roxy almost told him that Vi had recommended it, but she held her tongue for fear that Taka would just think it was another trick. "I wanna see if we've gotten any closer," she said, settling for a simple answer.

Taka half-rolled his eyes and shrugged. "I doubt we have come far enough to see anything but more trees."

"I know," Roxy replied, "but maybe we'll see something." She then scaled the trunk and reached the lowest branches, and then started quickly bounding up towards the top. She could hear the branches shake as Taka followed close behind her. Roxy allowed a compliment to herself, for she was still very adept and skillful at climbing trees.

It wasn't long before she reached the tallest branch that was sturdy enough to hold her. While the tree was indeed tall, it wasn't quite the tallest. That didn't matter, though, because this one still offered her an amazing view. Assuming the direction they had been traveling in was north, Roxy gazed out to the horizon.

The branch wobbled as Taka landed next to her. "You know," he said, "we would be getting to this destination that you are in such a hurry to get to much faster without little interruptions like these all the time."

Roxy didn't answer. She was just staring.

"…What?" Taka said, "What is it?"

She was shaking, enough that the branch started to quiver. Her jaw hung open in a perfect 'O' shape. She couldn't speak, even if she wanted to. The shock had frozen her solid, leaving her wondering if what she was seeing was real or not.

"What?" Taka said again, before standing next to her and looking in the same direction. It only took him a few seconds to see the same thing that she saw on the horizon.

Skyscrapers.

It was so very far away, just barely peeking over the horizon, but Roxy could see tall man-made buildings. Ninety percent of what she saw was still just trees, but there was a single, solitary speck in the distance that stood out. She felt like if she blinked she would lose sight of them, but they were there.

It was a city. A human city. It was finally within sight.

"Good heavens…" Taka murmured, "That predator took us farther north than I realized…"

Like a balloon being popped, Roxy suddenly exploded with an ear-piercing squeal. She would have jumped for joy had she not been perched on a tall branch. Instead she opted for the next best thing and quickly glomped Taka into a hug. She continued to scream and squeal like a baby Eevee.

"Okay, all right…" Taka said begrudgingly, "You are excited, so I will let this pass. Please try not to deafen me, though."

"Aaaaaaaaa!!" Roxy screamed, "It's there!! It's there, I can see it! I can see it, Taka! I can SEE it!! We made it!! It's the humans! It's the city! It's…Aaaaah!!" She continued to ramble on nonsensically, her emotions bubbling up so much that they simply had to come out.

Taka sighed in irritation from the hug, but he did pat her on the back a few times. "Indeed we did, little pet. The goal is within sight."

Roxy was starting to cry. She couldn't help it, she was just too happy. After months and months of seeing nothing but trees, wilderness and wild Pokémon, Roxy could finally see something from her own world; something made by humans. She had been dreaming of this moment for a very long time, and it felt so surreal now that it was finally here. She hoped and prayed desperately that she wouldn't wake up this time.

It seemed so close. Given the dense forest and her and Taka's small size, it would still probably take at least a day to reach the city, perhaps even two. That didn't matter to her, though. The city was something she could see now. It was right there. It made her goals feel all the more real, and all the more attainable.

"Come on now, pet. Stop it…" Taka grumbled.

Roxy was staring at the city, afraid to blink and have it just disappear. "I'm almost there…" she whispered as tears of joy ran down her cheeks.

"I'm coming home, master…!"
The Thunder Clan - 30
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.
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deviantID

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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:icongeomonlover:
GeomonLover Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
omg im so happy I found your stuff again!

I love reading TAM MK season 5, Henry and Orville are like my favorite characters and its amazing how you interpreted them! its so cute! ^//W//^


im actually sketching out a comic of my favorite moments with them! its been so long since I drew them as ghosts and 5 year olds! my versions of them are different XP

either way, is it alright if I do comics of my favorite moments of them in the story? ill tag you in it if you would like! >w<
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:icongigabowserns:
GigaBowserNS Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, of course. So excited to read this comment! Thank you for reading! ^_^
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:icongeomonlover:
GeomonLover Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Im so happy your excited! I finished the sketch for one scene, would you like to see it? ;w;
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:icongigabowserns:
GigaBowserNS Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Sure!
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(1 Reply)
:icontetrisman64:
tetrisman64 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2018
Reply
:iconlasagnathetrashcan:
LasagnaTheTrashcan Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthday! :cake:
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:icondraginkyle44:
DraginKYle44 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2018
Hey There I love your Top 11 best Amazing race teams 
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:iconmangarrow:
mangarrow Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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  Hobbyist Digital Artist
nahhh you had rights to
still a nice picture tho 
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