Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login


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.
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.
No comments have been added yet.

Add a Comment:
 
×

:icongigabowserns: More from GigaBowserNS


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
August 30, 2018
File Size
54.8 KB
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
436 (1 today)
Favourites
0
Comments
0