Chapter 2 - Life and Death

Roxy's little mind ran a million miles a minute. The terrified Pikachu held her head in her paws, staring wide-eyed at the strange world around her and nearly hyperventilating with how quickly she was breathing. She couldn't quite process what she was seeing. It felt like she was having a nightmare, and she even spent a few moments trying to wake herself up.

This was no dream, however. It was real. Roxy could feel the humidity in the air and hear the rushing sound of the river. Admittedly she couldn't see very far because of the trees, but it felt to her like she was miles away from civilization. She was in the middle of a forest in the wilderness, and her master was nowhere in sight.

What happened? What happened?! Her frightened mind demanded an answer, but she had none. Something had happened after her master had recalled her to her Poké Ball in the airport's baggage check, but what? What could possibly have led her to where she presently found herself?

She heard a noise in the distance, causing her to whip her head around. She immediately felt very unsafe. The most Roxy had ventured into the wilderness was perhaps a gentle trail through a national park. She knew right off the bat that she was somewhere dangerous. This was out in the wild.

This was where wild Pokémon lived…

"Master…?" she whispered in futility. A thousand emotions flooded through the poor Pikachu. She was utterly terrified, frozen on the spot and sensing danger all around her, but she was also very confused. She felt terribly alone without her master. Roxy's life hadn't been perfect and she'd faced a few bumps along the road, but her master had always been there to help her get through them.

Roxy yelped in surprise, whirling around as she thought she heard another noise. Her eyes scanned the trees, looking for movement, but she could find none. She could feel her skin crawling. It felt like a hundred eyes were staring right at her, sizing her up and seeing her as a delicious meal.

Trembling and whimpering, Roxy slowly rotated on the spot and looked for any signs of danger. She didn't find any, but something else caught her eye. It was enough to make her gasp and allow her feet to move once again. Quickly, she dashed over to the bank of the river.

There was her Poké Ball, lying in the grass just next to the river. Even from a distance, Roxy could see that it was soaking wet.

She leaned her body down to examine it. There had been a small glimmer of hope in the back of her mind, believing that she could just hide in the Poké Ball until someone rescued her, but that was immediately quashed once she saw what had happened to her ball.

It was lying opened on the ground, like a walnut cracked in half. Poké Balls weren't supposed to stay open like that, but Roxy could see why. She carefully extended her front paws and picked up the Poké Ball, wincing as a few pieces of the damaged device fell to the ground. The high-tech sphere was scratched, dented and beat up. It looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to it. The hinge was busted and the latch was cracked in two, which explained why she had been released from inside. None of the lights on the inside were illuminated. The Poké Ball was completely destroyed.

Roxy's paws shook as she held the damaged remnants of the device, looking down at it with wide, fearful eyes. She had always hated this thing, but now seeing it destroyed sent waves of fear down her spine. Not only was her one desperate chance of safety now gone, but it only raised more questions in her mind.

What had happened to her Poké Ball?

Considering that they were utilized to transport living creatures, Poké Balls of all kinds were made of some of the strongest material in existence. To see what had happened to hers, Roxy realized that it must have gone through something awful.

She trembled like a leaf. She had been inside of that thing while whatever awful thing was happening, and she'd had no idea. It was precisely the reason why she hated Poké Balls. It looked as if her ball had been run over by a huge truck, trampled by a rock slide and then smashed with a hammer. Meanwhile she had been inside, unaware of the world around her.

Roxy clenched her eyes shut and shivered, promising herself to never go inside of a Poké Ball ever again. Her master would just have to come to understand what it was like for her. Roxy's paws quivered as she tried to block out the terrifying ideas of what had happened to her while she had been inside.

There was a sound behind her. Roxy nearly jumped three feet into the air as a shiver ran up her spine. She chirped in surprise and dropped the broken Poké Ball from her paws. It fell into the river before her.

Roxy reached her paw out and almost took a step forward, but then stopped herself. Within seconds, the mighty river had taken the broken thing away from her, never to be seen again. It had seemed almost instinctual for her to leap right in after it to try and save it. She asked herself why.

The answer was simple. While she absolutely detested the thing, it represented the connection with her master. It was a symbol of the two belonging together. Her master wasn't here for her in this dangerous place, and now it felt like another small part of her master had just been taken away.

She stood there for a moment, staring down the river and reflecting on the loss of the Poké Ball. Her paws unconsciously moved up to her neck where she grasped the collar that was still around her neck. She also knew that her master's flower was behind her ear. Not everything was gone.

There was another sound from somewhere behind her, and Roxy suddenly remembered where she was. She whimpered in fear and whirled around so that her back was to the river. She stood there, frozen with fear, clutching her paws together as she eyed the forest. Still, she couldn't see any movement. Whatever was making sounds, she couldn't see it.

Roxy tried to imagine what may have been out there, but the list was endless. There were more than 700 known species of Pokémon, and many of them could live out there. It could just be a little Pachirisu climbing in the trees and making a branch fall to the ground.

Or, it could be a huge Tyranitar ready to swallow her whole.

Roxy clutched her tail to her chest, almost violently shaking from fear at this point. Tears streamed from her eyes as she struggled to keep herself relatively calm. She was breathing so heavily that she was afraid she would pass out. Her eyes continued their nonstop scan for danger.

Where am I? Where am I? Where am I? Her mind repeatedly screamed the question at her. How did I get here?! Where's master? What's out there? Is it safe to move? What do I do? What do I do?!

Roxy started sobbing, completely overcome with fear. She honestly couldn't handle this much at once. A typical day for the Pikachu involved leisurely strolling through the gardens and cuddling with her master. This wasn't just outside of her comfort zone, it was about three postal codes away!

She fell back on her rump as she broke down in tears, hugging her own tail like a stuffed animal. There was nothing around her in all directions but untouched nature. The only familiar thing, her Poké Ball, was gone now. It was just her, and she was completely alone. At this point she started seeing things that weren't there. It seemed every time she looked behind a tree, there was a phantom or shadow waiting there, making her believe that some predator had found her and was about to devour her.

"M-m-master…" she whimpered quietly, "Wh-where are y-you…?"

Roxy was getting overwhelmed. There was a crippling sense of fear coursing through her body, rooting her to the spot. She could feel a tightness in her chest and a pain in her stomach. This was right up there as one of the most terrifying things she could have imagined happening to her.

"What do I do…?" she whispered to herself, her eyes still darting around wildly, "Do I go? Do I stay? Where would I go? M-maybe I should try to find my way out of the forest…?" She whined. "It's dangerous out there…" Then, she gulped. "But…then again, I'm a sitting Psyduck right now anyway…"

Nervously, she glanced up at the partly cloudy sky visible above the trees. "But what if master is looking for me…? If I go, then maybe…maybe she won't be able to find me…"

Roxy just wished that she had a better idea of where she was. The only thing she could guess, and this wasn't even something she knew for sure, was that her Poké Ball had floated down the river. Anything further back from that was completely unknown. She realized that it might be helpful to climb a tree and look from the top.

Fear, however, kept her chained to the spot.

Roxy wasn't sure how long she had sat there, quivering in a cesspool of her own terror. A horrible sensation of indecision clouded her mind. At this point she was truly panicking. No single option seemed safe to her.

In her mind, she was fighting against the notion of giving up. Things already seemed completely hopeless to her. If there were wild Pokémon out there, which she was certain there were, how would she ever get past them safely? Pikachu were not predators; they were prey. Most wild Pikachu had to fight for their survival. Roxy knew she had no hope of doing that. She knew a barely-useful Thunder Jolt and Grass Knot, a move that was not only extremely hard and taxing to pull off, but she had only ever used it before to just show off.

Furthermore, if she was super-deep in the wilderness, then what? If she stayed, she would have to figure out how to survive and live with the fact that she would never see her home again. If she left, then she would have to travel through harsh terrain filled with dangerous creatures on a journey in which she had no idea which direction to go.

Truthfully, she felt like she was doomed.

Roxy's ear twitched and her body froze up as she heard a sound from behind her. She had been hearing phantom sounds the whole time she had been there, but this one was loud enough to be distinct. It was the sound of something rustling about in a bush, and it was coming from right behind her. Right across the river.

Quivering like a leaf and trying to keep herself from completely freaking out, Roxy slowly turned and glanced over her shoulder. When she turned back far enough to see across to the other side of the river, her blood immediately ran cold. There were predators out here, all right. She was looking right at one.

It was a huge Aggron. The din of the rushing river had drowned out its footsteps, but Roxy had heard it once it started feeding off of the berry bush.

Roxy felt her heart jump right into her throat. Right across the river, only ten or so metres away, was a creature nearly seven times her size. There was no trainer nearby, but Roxy didn't need the absence of one to see that this Pokémon was wild. She could see it in its eyes and the way it acted. This was a creature that, by nature's design, could and would devour her.

And all it would take was a turn of its head for it to see her.

A moment later, that is exactly what happened. A painful chill ran through Roxy's tiny body as the Aggron turned its head just slightly and regarded her with one menacing eye. It stared at her for a moment as she remained frozen on the spot, unmoving except for the heaving of her chest. There was an air of chilly superiority in the Aggron's gaze. It wore a small frown and looked at her almost as if it were disinterested. It, however, was still scowling at her.

Roxy couldn't breathe. Aggron may be large, but they were quite speedy. She had no doubt that it could turn on the spot, deftly leap over the river, and catch hold of her before her frightened little paws could take her anywhere. Either this thing, this predator, would leave her alone, or she would be killed in the next couple of seconds.

Time stood still for a moment as the two stared at one another. Roxy's blood felt like ice in her veins.

The Aggron turned its body and took one hulking step towards her, and the next thing Roxy knew she was running through the forest as fast as she could. From the very moment the large creature had given a sign of movement, it was like a spring had been released underneath her. She had gone from zero to top speed in the blink of an eye, dashing blindly into the forest to escape the danger.

Now she was running on pure adrenaline, keeping her eyes focused only on the maze of trees she was running through in order to avoid them. She thanked the stars for her natural Pikachu nimbleness and was able to deftly zip through the forest without crashing into anything.

All of her other senses were dulled. She was barely aware of where she was running. All she could sense were the alarm bells ringing in her head, warning her of the bloodthirsty Aggron that was probably just a few steps behind her. Tears streamed from her eyes as she subconsciously pushed her body to go even faster. The words 'I don't wanna die!' repeated endlessly in her head.

Roxy had no idea how long she had run for. She had simply been running for her life with no concept of time or distance.

She only came to a stop once her heart started crying out in pain from the exertion, after which her legs started to give up on her. She slowed down and came to a stop, collapsing onto her forepaws and sucking down deep breaths of air. Her limbs felt like they were on fire, and every breath was like thorns down her trachea. Roxy had never run so far and so fast in her whole life, and the resulting consequences hurt.

Unable to hold herself up, she collapsed onto her side and continued to take deep breaths. For a few minutes, her whole body was on fire. It seemed like she was never going to catch her breath. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Roxy felt her heartrate slow and her breathing return to normal. The air grew quiet around her as she lay on the ground, totally exhausted.

It took a moment, but she realized that she was still in one piece after lying on the ground for so long. She must have outrun the Aggron.

She let out a relieved sigh, shivering as she felt the fear leave her body. "Oh goodness…" she murmured, "I'm alive…I'm alive…!"

Roxy lay there for a while, letting the relief wash over her body. She had gotten away from the wild, carnivorous Aggron, though she didn't know how long it had been chasing her. She had just about given up and resigned her fate to being an after-dinner snack, but in the end she had triumphed. Roxy had escaped the danger. There was no pride to be felt, only relief and gratefulness to still be breathing.

She wanted to laugh. Roxy wanted to laugh and shout with joy. Instead, though, she only found herself crying some more. She huddled herself up into a pathetic little ball on the ground and wept. Her body and mind were completely overwhelmed. She had only been in this forest for less than half an hour, and look what had happened already.

She shivered, cried and moaned as the emotional turmoil tore through her body. In a single moment, her entire life had been flipped upside down. If she had refused her master's offer to go to Kalos, she would be sitting back in the comfort of her home under the care of a Pokésitter. Instead, she was lost Arceus knew where in the middle of a forest with dangerous, wild Pokémon.

Roxy just wanted the nightmare to end. She wanted to wake up in the warmness of her master's embrace. She wanted to smile and sit down to read a book with her master. At the very least, she did not want to be here.

The frightened young Pikachu sniffled and sat up, feeling her tears start to die down. She nervously glanced all around her, realizing that her crying could have easily attracted another predator. "Stop it…" she whispered to herself, "Stop crying…Y-you have to…figure something out…"

Roxy glanced to the left, and her eyes wandered upwards along the trunk of a tree. "Climb the tree," she said decidedly, and got to her paws. After taking one more glance around to see if there were any danger nearby, she started moving amongst the trees.

She stood at the base of each and glanced up, until she quickly found one that was much taller than the rest. She studied it for a moment, not seeing any Pokémon residing up in the branches, and then began to ascend it. Her little paws gripped the bark and the branches masterfully as she quickly scaled higher and higher. This was definitely not the first tree she had ever climbed. Tree climbing was something that came naturally to her.

A few moments later, she reached the slightly precarious top branches of the tree, which poked just high enough above the canopy to allow her to see over the tops of the trees. She settled into a safe, comfortable spot and then took a look at the land that surrounded her.

Roxy's heart fell and her eyes widened at what she saw. Far as she could see, all the way to the horizon, was nothing but trees and nature. There were mountains in the distance, forming a very large valley in the middle. In every direction that she was able to look, Roxy couldn't spy a single man-made structure. The truth hit her hard that she truly was in the middle of nowhere.

A whimper escaped her lips. She stared, as if in a trance, at the hell that surrounded her. Truthfully, the hills and the tree cover meant that she couldn't see as far as she might have hoped from such a vantage point, but it was still a very bad sign. At the very least if she had seen something made by humans, such as a cabin in the woods or a weather tower, then she would have at least had a goal. Instead, she had nothing. Humans and her home were out there somewhere, but Roxy had no idea where.

Roxy sat there at the top of the tree for a few minutes, and then carefully made her way back down to the forest floor. The last thing she needed was a broken neck from falling out of the tree. When her paws hit the soil, she hugged herself with her front paws and sat down at the base of the tree. She let out a heavy sigh.

"What do I do…?" she asked herself for the umpteenth time. She tried to run through all of the options in her head, but this only made her feel anxious and sick to her stomach. "Master…" she said wistfully, "Master, I'm lost…I'm in trouble…I-I need you…" Roxy moaned and wiped the tears from her eyes.

She knew that, at the simplest level, she had two options. If she decided to try to find her way back home, then she would just have to pick a direction at random which could end up leading her even deeper into the wilderness, not to mention into the jaws of numerous predators. If she decided to stay put on the other hand, a thought that felt like a stab through the heart because it would mean leaving her whole world behind, then she would have to find shelter and food somewhere. Both options seemed equally dismal and hopeless. Roxy doubted she would have the strength to travel on foot so far in the uncertain hope that she would find humans, but she also had absolutely no experience in foraging or keeping herself safe from danger. Roxy had never even been camping before. Not even in the back yard!

"I'm dead…" she whispered pessimistically, "If not now then eventually…I'm dead."

Roxy sat there for an indeterminate amount of time. All she did was hug herself, shiver, and let her eyes dart left and right frantically. She was seeing danger everywhere. To her, every tree was hiding another Aggron, or even something worse.

She spent some time thinking about her situation, though most of her thoughts were negative. She tried to cheer herself up by remembering the happier times in her life back home, but this ended up having the opposite effect. She also tried to pretend that she was brave and asked herself what plan of action she would take if she were the bravest Pikachu in the land.

Occasionally, she would hear the crow of a bird Pokémon or the rustling of leaves, but for all the time she sat there Roxy didn't see another living soul. It would appear to the naked eye that the forest was uninhabited, but Roxy knew this was far from the truth.

Finally, after the air started getting just a little chillier, she stood up. She gulped and steeled herself against her own fears, telling herself that she wasn't going to get anything done by just sitting there. She realized that staying in one place was certain death, but going somewhere else at least gave her a small chance.

"Eenie, meenie, miny, moe…" she murmured, recalling something her master used to do to make a decision. She picked a direction at random, and started walking. Roxy walked along on her hind legs, keeping her front paws clasped in front of her as she nervously looked around. She went at a slow pace, taking care to keep her eyes and ears open for danger.

The forest truly didn't offer much in the form of landmarks. Even after walking for quite a while, all she had seen were the same trees and bushes. A pang of worry struck her heart when she wondered if she was walking in circles.

At one point she stopped suddenly, quickly whipping her head around to look behind her. She could have sworn she had heard something in the bushes. Roxy remained there for a couple of minutes and stared, but saw nothing. Suppressing another bout of shivering, she turned forward once more and continued.

A silver lining was found when she realized that she was not, in fact, going in circles. Roxy discovered this when she came upon a small, babbling brook which she had never seen before. It cut its way through the forest, running perpendicular to the direction she had been traveling in. In contrast to the river where she had emerged from her Poké Ball, this creek's waters were slow and calm.

Roxy smiled for the first time in a long while, albeit a small smile, as she walked over to the bank of the creek. The serene sound of the running water was quite soothing, and she took a moment to let it wash away some of her nerves. Then, Roxy got down on all fours and leaned forward to take a drink. She hadn't realized how thirsty running for her life had made her until she had started walking. The clear water of the creek was a welcome treat.

"Okay…" she murmured to herself, "I should…try to remember where this is." A brief shiver ran up her spine before she continued. "This…might have to be where I get my water from now on…"

With this somber thought in mind, she made her way to a narrow, shallow part of the creek and swiftly leapt across. She landed on the other side without getting a single paw wet. Her spirits felt lifted a little bit, a tiny smile still out on display, as she padded through the grass and further into the woods.

Splish.

Roxy froze, one paw left hanging in the air. Her ears perked up and her eyes opened wide. A splash. A splash in the water is what she had heard. Not the natural sound of the running water, but an actual deliberate splash. As if someone had stepped in the creek.

She quickly turned around and looked back at the creek. Her blood ran cold at what she saw. Standing only a few metres behind her, with one hind paw in the creek and one very sharp claw in the air, was a Zangoose. A big Zangoose. It was looking right at her, its body hunched down as if it were a stalking Skitty. Its expression seemed surprised for a brief moment, but then quickly morphed into a haughty smirk.

"Well, well, well…" it spoke in a distinctly male voice, "What have we here?"

Roxy stood completely still. She dared not even breathe. Her eyes quickly took in every feature of her guest, but mostly they were focused on the pair of front paws with the long, sharp claws.

The Zangoose chuckled. "You caught me. I slipped while crossing the creek," he said, tilting his head towards the hind paw that was in the water. "Good job, young one. Even those with long ears scarcely hear my kind approaching."

Still, Roxy remained as still as a statue. Her heart was pumping so hard that she was afraid it would burst right through her chest. She was experiencing all of the emotions and fear she had felt upon seeing the Aggron, only ten times worse. This time there wasn't a difficult-to-cross river between her and the predator.

The Zangoose took a slow, deliberate step forward, just enough to bring his hind paw out of the water. Roxy tensed up, but still did not move. "You seem lost…" he commented, "Are you lost, little Pikachu?"

Roxy blinked. Some illogical part of her mind figured that she was lost and she did need help, but a predator was not the kind of help she wanted. Still, for some reason, it gave her the small amount of courage needed to speak. "Um…y-yes?" she squeaked.

"Awww…" the Zangoose purred, "This is a dangerous place to get lost. There are creatures out here, little Pikachu. Bad creatures. Hungry creatures…"

"Y-yes…I'm…trying to g-get out…" Roxy said. She gulped, shivering from head to tail as she stared in fear at this large creature. She remembered the 'Zangoose' entry in the encyclopedia. This guy was a fair bit larger than what was listed under 'average height'.

It was then she realized that the Zangoose had been slowly approaching her. She jumped slightly in fear and took a few hasty steps backwards.

The Zangoose stopped. "Now, now…What is wrong? Do you not trust me?" He followed this up by leaning down a little more, looking like he was getting ready to pounce, and flashing her a dark, predatory grin.

Roxy felt a few tears run down her cheeks. "P-please…" she whimpered, "I…I just wanna go home…" She continued to back up as the Zangoose continued to approach.

"Of course, of course…" the Zangoose continued in a voice that sent shivers down her spine, "You want to get home…to see your kin…to eat your dinner. I can empathize with that."

Roxy squeaked in surprise, realizing that she had just backed herself up against a tree. Her heart was pounding almost painfully now. Her mind was overwhelmed with fear. She was literally staring death right in its eyes.

"After all," the Zangoose whispered, having gotten ever so slightly closer to her, "I'm about to have dinner too."

A split second later, he pounced.

Roxy's body reacted before her brain did. She darted to the left, feeling the air rush past her fur as the Zangoose landed and swung his claws. They left a huge, deep gash in the tree she had just been standing in front of moments ago. Roxy screamed.

The Zangoose didn't slow down in the slightest. It quickly corrected its course and dove for her once more. Roxy screamed again and leapt away. She darted into the trees, sprinting as fast as she possibly could. Tears streamed from her eyes as she desperately pushed herself to escape the danger.

She knew that she couldn't outrun the Zangoose. She could be nimble and evade his attacks, but the moment it turned into a chase she would lose. Branches snapped and the horrible sounds of torn tree trunks reached her ears. Roxy, instead of trying to run away, began circling and weaving around the trees. It was the only thing she could think of in her frantic state. She figured that maybe the Zangoose's large body size would make it more difficult for him to follow her.

This act managed to keep her alive, for the moment at least. As she skittered around the trees, she caught many glimpses of the furious, almost feral expression on the Zangoose's face. The Zangoose was hungry for blood. Her blood. Roxy was so scared that it felt like she was running on autopilot at this point.

Roxy screamed as the Zangoose's razor-sharp claws carved right through a tree trunk that was a paw's length away from her. Her plan wasn't working. He was still dangerously close to hitting her, and she couldn't run around like this forever. She was still exhausted from running from the Aggron, and already she was starting to pant heavily.

The terrified Pikachu made a split-second decision. Roxy didn't know if Zangoose could climb trees, but she figured she was about to find out. If so, then maybe she could leap from tree to tree. It seemed like her only hope. After circling around another tree and avoiding a claw swipe, Roxy quickly leapt up and started climbing the tree.

She cried out in both surprise and pain as she felt something yank down painfully on her tail. She tried to pull herself up further with her paws, but the grip on her tail was strong. Roxy craned her neck and looked back down, horror washing over her as she saw the Zangoose was grabbing her tail with one of his claws. He was giving her a vicious smirk and trying to pull her down.

Roxy wept in terror as she held onto the bark of the tree for dear life. "Please!" she wailed, "Please let me go! I just wanna go home!" She cried out in pain as she felt his claws dig into her tail. "I- I'm so small and thin! I probably taste really horrible!" She could feel her paws slipping. The strength in her forelegs was giving out. She had to think of something and fast, or in a few seconds she would fall right into the hungry maw of the Zangoose.

She was so terrified and upset. In the span of less than an hour, she had been thrust directly into a painful life and death situation. Roxy had never imagined herself being in any kind of situation that even came close to one like this. She was in pain from exhaustion, more pain from the strain in her forepaws, and excruciating pain from the Zangoose's claws digging into her tail as they pulled. Terror gripped her mind so badly that it was hard to think of anything, much less a plan. She just wanted to close her eyes and wake up back at home.

Roxy let out a blood-curdling scream and used her hind paws to push herself off of the tree. She arced backwards through the air, hoping desperately that this crazy plan would work, and fell down towards the Zangoose below.

Fortune smiled upon her, as her hind paws landed square on the top of the Zangoose's head. This gave her enough of a platform to leap away from the predator, simultaneously inflicting pain that caused him to release his grip on her tail. She landed on the ground a few paces behind him, and wasted no time in quickly dashing away.

She heard him grumble in pain for a brief moment before the sounds of him giving chase once more reached her ears. The chase was on once again. Roxy did her best to weave through the trees and keep the predator at bay, but her fatigue was catching up with her. Her breath came in painful heaves as she pushed herself to keep going.

She moved a little deeper into the forest, away from the creek, and found a small but open clearing in the trees. She didn't pay it much mind and headed right through it. Right before she delved back into the trees, however, was when her hind leg suddenly gave out. She yelped in pain and unceremoniously tumbled to the ground. The Pikachu rolled along the grass a few times before she felt her back slam into the trunk of a tree.

Disoriented, she quickly struggled to right herself. She got herself up to a sitting position, with her back to the tree, but that's as far as she got before her whole body was paralyzed with fear. In front of her, she beheld the sight of the Zangoose suddenly landing on the ground, his stance spread to cut off her escape. Time seemed to slow down as he grinned victoriously and reared back with his claw outstretched, ready to strike.

Roxy couldn't get away in time. She knew it was true. A bolt of panic unlike any she had ever felt before shook her to the very core. It was so strong that it felt like a physical pain. Roxy was about to die and there was no escape. She grit her teeth and did the only thing she could think of.

"Nggggh…!" she grunted before the electricity danced from her cheeks and arced through the air towards her attacker. The Zangoose stopped and then closed his eyes and grimaced as the electricity struck his body. Sparkling yellow bolts danced around his entire form for a brief moment before disappearing.

The Zangoose blinked a few times and then shook his head. He gave Roxy a look and then started laughing. "Is that the best you can do?!" he asked incredulously, "Utterly pathetic."

Roxy's ears fell as a look of despair washed over her. Just great. Her Thunder Jolt hadn't done anything more than perhaps tickle her foe.

"Just stay still," the Zangoose spoke, bringing his claw up once again, "I'll make it quick."

Now, Roxy was completely out of options. The Zangoose was close enough that he would catch her if she tried to dart away. Besides, her body had decided that it couldn't run anymore. She ached from head to tail and felt like she couldn't move. With the closest thing she had to an attack doing nothing, there wasn't anything left to try.

Tears streamed down her cheeks. Roxy wanted to close her eyes but she found herself unable to tear them away from her oncoming doom. Still, she braced herself for the worst and waited for the inevitable end to come.

"Gah!" the Zangoose exclaimed as he was knocked to the ground.

Roxy blinked. What she had seen was so incredulous that her brain wasn't processing it properly. The Zangoose had just been hit squarely in the side of the head by…a flying wooden thing?

When she realized that she wasn't dead and also wasn't in danger anymore, her mind quickly became clear. She scrambled to her feet and turned to look at the Zangoose. He was lying on the ground nearby, still far too close for comfort, and already getting back onto his paws. He was growling and looked furious.

However, he wasn't focused on her.

Roxy watched in shock as something else came flying at the Zangoose from the direction he was looking. It moved almost too fast to see, and clocked the Zangoose in the forehead faster than he could react. This knocked him back onto his rump and left him holding his claws to the tender spots on his head.

"Stand down, Kazaka."

Roxy's ears perked up, and so did the Zangoose's. She turned her head towards the source of the commanding voice. She searched unsuccessfully for a moment, but then her eyes fell upon them. Her jaw fell and she gasped in astonishment.

Standing on an outstretched branch on a tree at the edge of the small clearing were two male Pikachu. They were both of average size, meaning they were bigger than she was, but they were unlike any Pikachu she had ever seen in her life. Their bodies were covered with green markings, mostly consisting of sharp lines and clusters of dots. One of them had two green lines under each of his cheek pouches, resembling equals signs, and the other had markings surrounding his eyes. More markings covered their arms, legs, torsos and even their tails, and while plentiful they did not cover up too much of the original yellow fur.

The one on the left was an inch taller than his companion. He carried over his shoulder a sling that looked to be constructed out of vines. It looked like a shoulder-strap backpack, only without the backpack. There was a feather attached behind one of his ears, coloured brown and white. Most striking to Roxy, however, was the fact that he was holding a weapon. Held in one of his paws at his side was a long, wooden spear with a sharpened rock at the tip. He was staring down at the Zangoose with a look of even contempt.

The one on the right, though, was utterly glaring at the Zangoose. He was bent down in a fighting stance, one paw holding onto the branch below him with the fur on his back and his tail standing straight up. He was the one with the 'equals' under his eyes, but he wore no garments. Roxy noticed that both of his ears were damaged, looking as if the top of each of them had been ripped off some time in the past.

"Grrr! Do you have a death wish, Taka?!" the Zangoose shouted, no longer paying attention to Roxy, "Do not interrupt me while I am feeding!"

"I said…" the one without the spear spoke in a low tone, "…stand down."

Roxy's eyes danced back and forth between the two parties. She was still terrified of the Zangoose, of course, but these new arrivals were beyond belief. Were they wild? Roxy had never encountered nor researched wild Pikachu. Even so, however, they had weapons and garments. Could they really be wild?

What's more, her mind realized, were they just as much of a danger to her as the Aggron and Zangoose?

"You are trespassing on our clan's territory, Kazaka" the one with the spear spoke in a louder, more authoritative voice, "Leave, and we will not harm you."

The Zangoose, apparently named 'Kazaka', fumed. "I do not take orders from weak, fuzzy herbivores! I was moments away from my dinner. I caught it myself!" He thrust out a claw and pointed it threateningly at the two Pikachu. "Perhaps you should crawl back home!"

The Pikachu without the spear quickly pulled back his arm and then threw something. As it sailed through the air, Roxy recognized it as the thing that had hit Kazaka in the head twice before. It swung down towards the ground, curving through the air towards Kazaka's pointing claw. The Zangoose yelped and pulled his arm back before it could get hit. Roxy then watched in astonishment as the wooden thing continued spinning and sailing through the air, reversing direction and ascending back up to the treetops. Her eyes followed it until the Pikachu caught it cleanly in his paw.

Now that it had stopped moving, Roxy could observe it more closely. A slim, bent piece of wood roughly in the shape of an 'L'. A…boomerang?

The two Pikachu then leapt out of the tree and landed effortlessly on the ground below. "Leave," the one with the boomerang said simply.

"I will not hesitate to fight you, Taka," Kazaka replied.

"You are trespassing on our territory. Our clans are at peace. Do you risk sullying this relationship?"

"She was on our territory when I found her!"

"You know as well as we both do," the one with the spear retorted, "That means nothing."

Roxy's heart was thumping in her chest, leaving her with a breathless feeling. What little stamina she had in her body had long since run out. She was completely exhausted, but the situation had not gotten any less critical. The Zangoose was still close enough that it could turn on her and kill her in moments. Opposite him, those two Pikachu and their dangerous weapons were standing close by. Roxy didn't know a thing about them. Nothing they had said or done had positively indicated that they meant her no harm, after all.

A moment of very tense silence passed between the three parties. Kazaka glared at Taka and his companion, who both glared right back. Taka was gripping his boomerang tightly, while the other held his spear up aggressively. Roxy gasped as she watched Kazaka's eyes glance over at her a few times. It looked as if the Zangoose were silently deciding something.

A moment later, Kazaka made his move. He quickly turned to his side, towards Roxy, and pounced. His sharp teeth and claws were barred, all pointed directly at her. Roxy's life briefly flashed before her eyes before she cowered and screamed in terror.

A yellow blur smacked into Kazaka's side, intercepting him in midair and sending him tumbling to the ground nearby. A panicked but exhausted Roxy struggled to keep from hyperventilating while she looked over towards the predator. He and Taka were rolling around in a vicious close-quarters skirmish. They both made angry, animalistic sounds as they brawled one another.

It was difficult to see what was happening with the two moving so fast, and Roxy was starting to find it hard to focus anyway, but it seemed like Taka had the advantage. He was agile on his paws, dodging blows from Kazaka and swinging his boomerang like a blunt weapon. After a few tense seconds of fighting, Taka performed a quick backflip and hit Kazaka square in the jaw with his tail. Kazaka was knocked onto his back.

Taka wasted no time in leaping directly on top of Kazaka's chest. He growled, and a few sparks danced from his cheeks. Then, before Roxy's astonished eyes, a powerful, blinding explosion of electricity was released. A massive Thunderbolt, channeled directly into the Zangoose. Kazaka cried out in intense pain for a few seconds, and then the flashing lights cleared. The Zangoose's fur was left charred and smoking, while Kazaka himself appeared dazed. His limbs twitched slightly, revealing that he had been paralyzed.

Roxy heard movement to her left. In a panicked moment, she quickly swung her head around to see who it was. The action left her feeling very dizzy and weak. She saw the other Pikachu, with an unreadable expression on his face, stalking towards her with spear in paw. Her eyes went directly to the extremely sharp point of the spear, and her mind quickly got to work imagining the thousands of ways it could kill her.

A small whimper escaped Roxy's throat, and then her eyes closed and her head slumped forward. The world fell into darkness as she passed out.