Chapter 7 - Enough

Morning arrived without any fanfare.

Roxy struggled to wrench open her eyes. She felt sluggish, worn out and utterly devoid of motivation to get up. Her whole body felt like it weighed twice as much as usual. She moaned quietly in aggravation. Her limbs felt too stiff to move.

The distressed little Pikachu sighed mournfully. It was another morning dawning on the hell that she was currently in. She wondered what she had to look forward to today, but none of the answers she thought of were any good. At least it sounded like it had stopped raining.

Roxy lethargically forced herself to sit up. She had no idea what time it was, but why would she? There were no digital clocks in this Arceus-forsaken place. She felt uncomfortable and brought up her paws to scratch her fur, discovering to her dismay that she was still coated in dried mud.

She sat there for a few moments like a lump on a log, trying to wake herself up. It was surprisingly difficult, despite what she could only imagine had to have been a long night's sleep. It took her a few moments to completely shake the sleepiness from her eyes.

Makari's hut was there to greet her, the morning light shining in from the doorway. Makari himself was nowhere to be seen, making her sigh wistfully once more.

Roxy couldn't remember the last time she had cried like that. It was something she didn't even want to look back upon, because it reminded her of the pain that had been in her heart. She could remember rainy nights like those, crying her eyes out. The difference was that, before, her master had always been there to cuddle her and dry her tears.

The hut's vines parted, and Roxy glanced up to see Makari entering. She gave him a small smile, her spirits lifting just a little bit upon seeing him, but mostly she still felt utterly 'defeated'. Her smile didn't have a very long lifespan.

"Good morning," Makari said in a gentle voice.

"G'morn…" Roxy mumbled back, glancing down at the floor for a moment.

"Are you feeling better?"

"Mnn…"

Roxy sighed. She was starting to feel ashamed for how she had behaved yesterday, and even a little embarrassed. She glanced around awkwardly, fiddling with her paws and unsure of what to say.

After a moment, Makari walked over and sat down right next to her. Roxy looked up at him in surprise briefly, smiled for a half-second, then glanced away. She honestly didn't know how to react. She was sorry for acting so upset before, yet she didn't feel any less upset at this point.

"Here."

Roxy glanced over in response to Makari's statement, seeing that he was offering one of his leaf pouches to her. She looked up at him for a moment before taking it in her paws. She then opened the flap and looked at what was inside.

It was a fresh bushel of Leppa Berries. Just looking at them told her that they would taste exceptionally juicy and sweet, and there were quite a few crammed into the little pouch. She stared at them for a few silent seconds, her brow knitted slightly, and then she turned to look at Makari. Still, no words escaped her.

"They are all for you," Makari said with a charming smile, "I remembered that they are your favourite."

Roxy blinked. They were her favourite fruit, bar none. She had only mentioned that to him once a few days ago. Even she almost didn't remember saying it. She gazed down at the veritable feast of her favourite snack, staring in wonder for a few moments. Makari had remembered which ones were her favourite, and had obviously gone out at the crack of dawn to forage for them specifically, just to give them all to her.

Finally, a warm smile appeared on Roxy's face. "Th…Thank you…" she whispered sincerely.

Makari simply smiled and gestured for her to eat.

Roxy placed the pouch on the ground and took out one of the berries, which she brought to her mouth and took a bite out of. The wondrous, indescribably amazing flavour spilled forth from the berry like a geyser of splendour. Leppa Berries tasted so good, but these were exceptional. Makari had not only foraged specifically for Leppas, but the best Leppas.

"Thank you…" she repeated after she had finished the amazing berry, "This is so nice of you…"

"You deserve them," Makari replied, "After a rough day, it is nice to enjoy one's favourites and indulge."

Roxy quickly but cleanly devoured another one, noting that it tasted just as amazing as the first. "These are so good…Y-you really didn't have to do this for me…"

"Of course I did," he replied simply.

Roxy sighed yet again. She felt him place one of his forelegs across her shoulder, and she briefly glanced over and locked eyes with him for a moment. Then, she picked up one more berry and ate it, which finally satisfied her stomach.

"You did not answer me."

She turned to look at him again. "Hm?"

"Are you feeling better?"

Roxy's expression turned downcast. "I…I dunno…" she muttered, "I'm sorry for-"

"Roxy, please," Makari interjected, "Do not apologize for your emotions."

She was silent for a few moments as she stared at nothing. Finally, she spoke up. "I hate the rain."

"Is that so?"

Roxy nodded. "I hate it so much. I can't stand being in it. It started to rain and I wanted to come inside, but Taka made me stay there and practice his stupid lessons."

Makari didn't reply to that.

"And then when I finally thought I was free, I go and slip in the…" Roxy trailed off.

"It seemed like everything was piling up, crushing you beneath its weight?"

Roxy cast him a curious look and then softly nodded.

"I believe we all have days like that, even the strongest of us."

The young Pikachu shuffled uncomfortably. "I mean…If you're asking if I feel better, then…I don't think I can say 'yes'."

"Hm…Even if that is so, I am sure the feeling will not last forever."

Roxy was silent.

"Right?"

Still, she said nothing.

"You will be fine," he said, giving her a comforting squeeze, "I will talk to Taka and the Wise Ones and see if you can skip training just for today."

"I still want to go home."

Out the corner of her eye, as she was looking down at the ground, she saw Makari turn and give her a look.

"I don't want to be here," she said, her voice even and almost emotionless, "I want to go home to my master."

For a few minutes, an uncomfortable silence hung over the small hut. Neither moved or said anything more for a short while, until Roxy turned to her side and handed the pouch back to Makari. "Thank you so much for the Leppa berries," she said, adopting a small smile, "I…I really appreciate it."

Makari's warm smile returned. "You are welcome, Roxy."

Roxy then closed her eyes for a moment, exhaling slowly and trying to inject a bit of energy into herself. She didn't like the way she was feeling emotionally and resolved to change it if she could. She then opened her eyes and stood up on her hind paws, stretching her limbs as she did so.

Makari stood up as well, slinging the pouch over his shoulder.

Though she tried to completely relax herself, Roxy found her success limited. She took a few steps forward, but then stopped. With every movement of her body, she could feel the filthy state of her fur. She raised up her forepaws to look at the dried mud that was still caked across much of her fur, and she felt utterly disgusted.

Makari must have heard her soft moan of distress, because he spoke up. "If you wish to clean your fur, then you can bathe in the river. Part of it cuts into our territory not far from the village."

Roxy looked up, eyes wide.

He must have deduced what she was thinking because he chuckled softly. "Not that part of the river," he clarified, "It is not far from the village. Would you like me to show you?"

"Oh…" Roxy considered this, looking down at her sullied fur once more. "Okay," she replied, "That sounds nice." She allowed a small smile to grow. Roxy felt that getting herself clean wouldn't fix any of her problems, but it would undoubtedly make her feel a lot better.

Once again, Makari wore that charming smile of his. "Sure. Come with me."

Roxy gazed after him for a moment as he walked out of the hut. The way he would always smile at her just exemplified the fact that he was probably the friendliest individual she had ever met. It was gentle and caring, no matter what the circumstances. She almost had to remind herself that he was an accomplished warrior as well.

Makari led her outside and around the back of the hut. Roxy subconsciously tried to avoid being seen in her dirty, unkempt state. If nothing else, it was embarrassing. Luckily, it wasn't long before they stepped past the last couple of huts and left most of the villagers behind.

A brief jolt ran up her spine when she suddenly became aware of the fact that they were leaving the village. For a moment, she felt like she had crossed into deadly territory where death was waiting behind every tree. However, not long afterwards, they passed by an armed Pikachu walking nearby. A minute or so later, they saw another one. Roxy was immediately calmed when she realized that they had left the village, but hadn't left the Clan's territory, and so their presence and their defences were still around.

They didn't have to travel too far from the village before Makari came to a stop. Roxy walked up next to him and looked ahead. "There, straight ahead," he proclaimed with a point of his paw.

Roxy peered through the trees until she saw the thin, slow-moving river cutting through the forest ahead. It was still at least 50 metres ahead of them, and it was the only visible feature that broke up the endless monotony of trees.

"The river is calm at this point, and our territory extends beyond the opposite side," Makari explained to her, "Many of our brethren come here to bathe, but it looks unoccupied right now."

"Oh, okay," Roxy said and flashed him a grateful smile.

"Feel free to go right ahead," he continued, "I will not be far away."

Roxy nodded, but then turned and gave him a confused look. "What…? Aren't…you coming with me?" A tiny tremble slipped into her voice at the end of her question. Was Makari really suggesting that she go somewhere in this forest…alone?

Makari's eyes widened just a fraction as he looked back down at her, then he chuckled and scratched the back of his neck. "No, no, Roxy," he said, "It is not proper to be in the company of a…" He glanced away and cleared his throat. "…of a female while she is bathing."

Roxy blinked, glanced over towards the river, and then back to Makari. Her cheeks turned just the slightest hint of red. "O-oh," she stammered, looking away, "Right. Yes. That makes sense."

"You have nothing to worry about," Makari said, "and if you need help, then just yell. I will be near here, and there are patrolling warriors all around. Predators will run into us before they even see you."

Upon hearing the word 'predators', Roxy gulped. However, Makari's statements actually were reassuring to her. Even if they wouldn't be right by her side, she would feel safe knowing that they were nearby guarding her. A moment later, she nodded and grinned. "Okay, Makari. Thank you for this."

Roxy then made her way over to the riverbed. Her pace started out normal, but slowed down as she went. She was walking through the woods all by herself, something she hadn't done since running from the Aggron. She knew there were Thunder Clan members nearby, but she couldn't see any of them. Turning around, she couldn't even see Makari anymore. Was he hiding behind a tree so as to avert his gaze?

Either way, she made it to the side of the river without issue. She could feel clouds of anxiety building in the back of her mind, but they were distant and she didn't let them get to her. She told herself that she wouldn't be in the river for very long anyway. One glance down at her muddy fur was all the further persuasion she needed.

Roxy carefully leaned forward and dipped one of her hind paws in. She yelped in surprise and hissed at how cold the water was. It certainly wasn't freezing or anything, but it was still rather nippy. She stuck her paw in once more and kept it there, exhaling as she adjusted to the temperature. It was autumn, so the waters were bound to be a little cold.

Slowly but surely, she lowered her whole self into the slow-moving water. The edge of the river was fairly shallow. The water came right up to her neck if she sat down. She undid her collar and removed her flower, placing both on the river bank.

"What I wouldn't give for a hot tub…" she mumbled, still getting used to the chilly water. As she glanced down, however, she could already see some of the mud washing off of her fur. This would be worth it, no matter how cold it was.

With no rags or sponges, she got to work in scrubbing the mud out with her paws. It took some doing, but soon the mud started coming off. By the time she had cleaned both of her forelimbs, she had gotten used to the water.

Roxy allowed a smile to appear as she continued to wash herself. The gentle, constant flowing of the river felt kind of nice. It wasn't strong enough to pull her forward, but it was still moving. Sitting down on the riverbed in this current felt somewhat therapeutic. It was like a gentle massage.

The young Pikachu sighed. This was actually turning out to be quite nice. Sure, it wouldn't beat bath time with her master, and it really wouldn't beat the hot tub they had back at home, but it was pleasant in its own ways. Roxy could feel herself relaxing as she scrubbed her hind legs and tail clean.

With her lower half free of the mud, Roxy took a moment to pause and unwind. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to just focus on the movement of the water. It was gentle and soothing. It was also constant and unending, a consistent stream of moving water that did not and would not stop. If she had sat there for the next 12 hours, this constant flow would not change. In this world of chaos and uncertainty that she found herself in, the stability of this river had a peculiar calming effect on her addled mind.

She then got back to work, washing off her neck and shoulders. The only thing left was her head, and that meant dunking her head underwater. This would surely be quite cold, but Roxy knew that the best way to do it was to dunk her whole head at once. So, that is just what she did.

After a quick inhale, she pitched herself forward and sunk her whole head beneath the water's surface. For a couple of seconds, it was mind-numbingly cold. Then, however, her head caught up to the rest of her body and the water felt comfortable. Roxy kept herself there for a few more seconds, holding her breath, and then opened her eyes. There wasn't much to see except the rocky bottom of the river's deep middle.

With a splash, she resurfaced and took in a breath of fresh air. Drops of water flung off the tips of her ears from the motion. She let out a breath of satisfaction and then quickly worked her paws to get those last patches of mud out of the fur on her head.

In doing so she ended up massaging the electric sacs in her cheeks, a therapeutic act for a Pikachu. Even doing it to herself made her relax and unwind even more. Her ears were the last thing to clean off, and once that was done she sat back in the water and sighed in relief.

Finally, she was clean once again. Her fur felt fresh and almost silky, despite the complete lack of Poké conditioner, and at last she no longer felt bogged down by the upsetting sensation of being covered in mud. Truly, she did feel refreshed.

Roxy shuffled back to the riverbank and just sat there for a few moments, her body sinking into the river's waters as if she were falling asleep in the hot tub. She could feel drops and streams of water running down the fur on her face and dripping off of her ears. Slowly, her mind began to clear. She almost felt like the current of the river was picking up all of her worries and simply carrying them away.

The world around seemed to fade away. The lulling sensation of the river's current became constant and familiar, until it almost felt like something normal to her. It eased the aches in her joints and the bruises on her limbs. The river didn't seem cold at all anymore.

Time passed.

More time passed.

A warm smile was plastered across her face as she lounged in the river, letting her cares wash away. Her fur was clean, the mud was gone, and all seemed right in the world once more. She almost started to forget where she was.

"Five muh minutes…" she mumbled softly.

Roxy's ear twitched, but she ignored it. It twitched a second time, and she forced herself to open her eyes. Another twitch, but this time she knew why. She could hear something. It had sounded like a twig or a branch breaking.

She glanced over at a bush on the other side of the river, spotting what had made the noise only half a second before it moved. Roxy barely had time to widen her eyes and open her mouth to scream before the Mightyena pounced out of the bush and clear across the river.

Instinct took over and made Roxy frantically scramble back up the riverbank and onto the shore. An instant later, there was a big splash as the predator slammed down into the shallows with its sharp claws extended. It had missed her by a hair's length.

Soaking wet and completely panicking, Roxy finally managed to scream. However, she found herself in an awkward position on her back and could only manage to shuffle backwards along the ground as the Mightyena quickly recovered from its faceplant and climbed out of the river.

"Makari! Makari!" Roxy shouted in blood-curdling desperation, trying desperately to get away from the much larger creature.

The Mightyena was glaring down at her, teeth barred, and ready to pounce. She could see drool dripping from its mouth and hunger in its eyes. Her heart skipped about ten different beats as a blinding, white panic overtook her entire body.

"Help!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, "Aaaaahh!"

Pain erupted as a claw dug its way a little bit into one of her thighs, but instantly after the air was filled with a loud, high-pitched yelp. Roxy felt blood trickle down her leg, but no longer felt the claw.

She realized that she had her eyes closed and forced herself to open them so she could see what had happened. The Mightyena was no longer in front of her. Instead, it was lying on its side to her left, a long spear partially embedded in its shoulder.

Seconds later, a warrior Pikachu landed in between her and the predator. He was in a battle ready stance, sparks flying from his cheeks. The Mightyena was already starting to get up, despite its puncture wound, but the Pikachu didn't give it much chance. With a mighty war cry, striking bolts of electricity were unleashed. They lanced through the air at blinding speed, striking the Mightyena and causing it to howl in pain.

"Roxy!"

The urgent shout was enough to divert her attention. Roxy glanced back over her shoulder, where she saw Makari standing a couple yards away and another Pikachu rushing to join the fight with the Mightyena. She quickly looked back towards the predator. It was trying to fight back against the Pikachu, but the warrior was much too fast and agile for it.

Finally, Roxy's brain clicked into action and she scrambled to her paws. She limped slightly from her injury, but nonetheless ran as fast as she could back to Makari. Her heart was thumping a thousand times a minute, pure panic written on her face.

When she reached Makari, she threw herself into his arms and clutched him as tightly as she could. She buried her face into his shoulder, quivering like a leaf and weeping in fear. Without a second's hesitation, he brought his paws around to hug her back, holding her tightly in a secure embrace to keep her away from the danger.

Makari said nothing, while Roxy simply cried and tried to hide herself away from the evil predator. Her mind was going wild. She was breathing rapidly and shivering uncontrollably. The amount of fear she was feeling had skyrocketed off of the charts, and only Makari's protective embrace was there to keep her from having a total panic attack. She heard the sounds of battle from behind her, but refused to look.

Finally, after a definitive thump of something falling to the ground, the sounds of fighting ceased. From what it sounded like, the Mightyena had been knocked out. Roxy's behaviour, however, didn't change. She clutched onto Makari so tightly as if she were hanging off of a cliff. She cried like a terrified little cub, soaking his fur with her tears. The whole time, Makari simply stood there silent and unmoving. He was like a statue of security that she could hang onto.

Roxy was shaken right to her core. She had never been more afraid in her whole life, not even when the Zangoose had been attacking her. The Mightyena had taken her completely by surprise and had attacked during a moment of vulnerability. She had been relaxing and not paying attention to her surroundings, and had come within inches of paying for it with her life.

Even as she held her eyes shut, she kept seeing the menacing visage of the vicious predator. She could feel its claw digging into her flesh, and she felt phantom pains as if it had done worse.

"…Roxy?"

Makari's voice was soft and soothing, whispered quietly in her ear. Still, Roxy had not managed to slow her breathing or the pumping of her heart. Liquid fear had replaced the blood in her veins and she could not rid herself of it.

"Hnh…?" she squeaked out in response.

"It is gone."

Makari started to slowly, gently rub her back with his paw.

"You are safe now."

All Roxy could do was shake her head and continue trying to hide herself away from the frightening outside world.

"Roxy…"

The two remained like that for as long as it took for Roxy's nerves to finally calm down, though Roxy had no idea how long that had been. It seemed like an endless onslaught of frightening images and memories were playing out in her mind, and her body was locked in a state of agitation. The whole time, Makari remained by her side and gently stroked her back.

When her body finally decided it had panicked for long enough, she found herself taking deep breaths and ever so slowly feeling her heartrate return to normal. Eventually, she found the courage to raise her head so that she was looking over Makari's shoulder. She remained there for a few minutes, just breathing and staring off at nothing.

Rational thought started to return to her, reminding her that she had been standing there for goodness knows how long and nothing had tried to kill her. Makari was right. She was safe now. She took in one more deep breath and let it out slowly.

A quiet groan of exhaustion slipped from her throat. She was still shivering a little, and the memory of what had happened still made her feel quite distressed.

"Roxy?"

Her ears perked up at the sound of Makari's voice. Though she had been hugging Makari for the entire time, it was at that time she truly became aware that she was hugging him. His coarse fur was brushing up against hers. She could feel it with every little movement either of them made. The Static dancing on his fur made her feel the slightest bit tingly. His forelegs were wrapped around her back and she could just feel how strong they were. They truly did make her feel like she was in a secure place.

"I…" she spoke in a hoarse voice, blushing slightly at her ostentatious disregard of personal space. She then glanced down at her own paws that were wrapped around his back. Her eyes shot open wide as she saw how tightly her paws were clenching at his fur.

"Oh gosh!" she exclaimed, releasing her grip, "I…I'm sorry. I'm really sorry."

Makari chuckled dismissively, but she was sure she could hear a hint of relief in his voice. "You need not worry about it, Roxy."

"I hope I didn't hurt you," she said, moving away from the embrace so she could look him in the eye.

"Me?" he asked, incredulous, "It is you that I should be concerned about." His gaze shifted down to her thigh, now tainted with streaks of dried blood. "Are you badly hurt?"

She glanced down at it as well, feeling her anxiety spike as the sight of the wound dug up memories of the event. "I…N-no, not really…"

"Miri will tend to your injury."

Roxy nodded, and then glanced away. Makari was no longer hugging her, but she was still frightened to her very core. She already missed that sensation of security.

"Here," he said in a compassionate tone, "Let me bring you back to my hut. You can rest there."

Roxy remained wordless for a moment, but then nodded as he moved to help her walk. "Okay…Th-thanks…"

They both remained in relative silence as Makari moved her back to the hut. Moving through the woods back towards the village made her quiver in fear even more. If Makari hadn't been helping her walk, she probably would have been rooted to the spot from pure terror. She had stopped panicking, but it also felt like panic was right on the horizon again anyways.

Finally they reached Makari's hut, and Makari helped her to lay down on one of the beds. Because of the attack, Makari needed to go do some things which included talking to the Wise Ones. At Roxy's insistence, a strong Pikachu was left to guard the door while he was gone.

Roxy sighed mournfully and squeezed her tail as she lay down in the hut. She was no longer panicking and felt a lot safer within the walls of Makari's hut, but she was still very much upset. She felt jumpy and filled with anxiety. Try as she might, she could not get her mind off of the terrifying event that had just befallen her.

Her heart still beat like mad every time she imagined the sight of the Mightyena leaping across the river, coming within inches of ending her life. Any small sense of safety or security that she had gained was gone now.

When Makari returned, she wasted no time in scurrying over and hugging him. She no longer felt embarrassed about it. She was simply too frightened and didn't want to be alone.

"I am happy that you are safe," Makari spoke softly.

"M-Makari…"

The taller Pikachu sighed. "I have been told that one of our brethren that was on patrol had gotten distracted. This created a hole in our defence that, unfortunately, led straight to you."

Roxy glanced up at him.

"I am sorry."

She shook her head. "I…I'm just glad you were there to…to…"

Shivers overcame her as she fell silent. Makari's words only reminded her of the dangers that dwelled within this forest. The vicious creatures lurking outside who wanted her for a meal, and who were keeping her from finding a way home.

"Here," he continued, "I retrieved your accessories."

She glanced down briefly to see that he was holding her collar and her flower, bringing her a small sense of relief.

"Roxy, you can be calm now," Makari said in a reassuring voice as he dropped the items to the floor, "The danger is over."

Yet, Roxy knew that it wasn't. Again she shook her head. "I…I thought I was…" She gulped and quivered.

"Hm?" Makari said, "Thought you were what?"

"…safe."

The hut fell silent. Roxy felt herself dwell on that notion, making the world around her seem to grow dark and ominous. It was true that she had considered the Thunder Clan's village a safe haven, and Makari's reassuring words to her had extended the boundaries of that safe haven to at least include the river. Having been attacked like this, so close to the village and with Pikachu warriors so close by, it changed everything.

Even the village itself didn't feel safe anymore.

"I am sorry," Makari repeated, "I told you something that was not true."

"No, no…I don't blame you, Makari…" she spoke in a whisper, "No, I…I owe you my life twice now…"

"I…" Makari sighed and glanced away. She could hear in his voice that he was troubled about something. "I wish that I could tell you this was a rare, isolated incident."

Roxy's ears fell flat and she silently whined in fear.

"It is dangerous in the forest, Roxy," he continued, "I am afraid that there is no changing that."

"I'm scared, Makari…"

"I know…" He gently stroked her back.

"I…I don't know if I…I…"

"Roxy, I will do my best to protect you," Makari spoke, "…but…"

She just kept staring off at nothing.

"…Roxy?"

Still, she said nothing.

"Please, Roxy…Tell me what is on your mind."

Roxy considered this question for a couple of minutes, trying to decide what her answer would be. After time had passed in silence, however, she simply found herself slowly shaking her head. "I…I don't know…" she whispered, "I just don't know anymore…"

She moved back from the hug a little and looked into Makari's eyes.

"This…This isn't who I am, Makari…"

Makari sighed. "I know, Roxy. Unfortunately, life is never kind."

"I just…" She glanced away. "Sometimes I feel like I'm already dead…Like I'm going to die no matter which path I choose, and it's just a waiting game…"

"Well," Makari replied, "you should not think like that. Survival is a challenge, but it is not a fantasy."

"Maybe it is for me…"

"Roxy…"

The two fell into silence once more. Honestly, Roxy was starting to feel too depressed to talk. There were so many things swirling around inside of her frantic little mind that it was sapping away all of her strength. Few words were said for the remainder of the day, and dinner was eaten in relative silence. Makari tried his best to offer encouragement, but Roxy was just too troubled.

Eventually the night arrived, and Roxy unceremoniously laid down in her bed and tried to go to sleep. Unsurprisingly, sleep did not come to her. Thoughts rattled around in her brain nonstop, and eventually she had to sit up. She glanced over at Makari, hearing his quiet snoring that indicated he was fast asleep.

Roxy got up and walked over to the hut's doorway, parting the veil of leaves slightly and sitting in front of the opening. With worried eyes, she glanced up at the moon shining brightly through the trees.

"Master…?" she whispered, as if the moon could somehow take her words all the way to Vermillion City for her master to hear. Roxy waited for a response, but obviously none came.

Her ears fell and she frowned. "What would you do…?" she whispered, "What would you tell me to do?" She could feel tears burning in her eyes and tried to blink them away. "I hope you're okay…"

Roxy felt utterly hopeless. Everything was going poorly and the chances of her continued survival seemed to be shrinking. She was starting to give up hope that she would ever see her home again, considering how difficult it was staying put in this forest much less moving through it. It seemed as if the village of the Thunder Clan was to be her new home.

The thought brought forth tears. There was nothing wrong with the Thunder Clan or its village. The majority of the Pokémon here were really friendly, and the village was somewhat comfortable to live in.

But, it wasn't home to her. Her master wasn't here with her. Above all else, though, it was dangerous.

She shook her head. It wasn't dangerous, it was deadly.

Her mind kept going back to the Mightyena. Still, she felt shaken right to her core. It was as if some important rule had been broken, and now nothing made sense.

"There's danger…everywhere…"

Roxy stared down at the ground beneath her, a troubled look on her face. Makari had told her before that the village was the safest place for her. Yet, he had never claimed it to be perfectly safe. The reason predators stayed away was because of the patrol, and the patrol was run by Pokémon. No Pokémon is perfect. Mistakes were bound to happen.

"Master isn't here…Master can't protect me…This is the real world…"

The reason that these Pikachu and other Electric-types survived was because they were fighters, trained from cubhood, and that was a quality that simply didn't apply to her. Makari and the others could do their best, but sooner or later this handicap was going to cost her dearly.

Roxy wanted nothing more than to just go home. She wanted to get up and march right through the forest until she found humanity. She couldn't do that, though. It was impossible for her. Without the protection of the Thunder Clan, she would be killed within a day. Their skills and training were all that were keeping her alive right now. That was a thought that truly made her shiver.

She wanted to go home. She wanted to leave this place.

"I…I need to get out of here…"

Slowly, Roxy curled up on the ground in front of the door. It was uncomfortable, but she was too troubled to find the energy to return to her bed. Her situation was bad and it had only grown worse. Hope was dwindling that she would ever see her home again, and she knew she had to fight and hold onto that hope.

Roxy's eyes only drifted closed after she came to a decision. It was not an easy one to make, and she was sure that it would lead to many hardships, but it was something that she had to do. In the end, she realized that there was just no other option.

Sleep, at that moment, was a welcome gift.


Roxy awoke at the crack of dawn. In fact, she had opened her eyes a few minutes before the sun had breached the horizon. She yawned and stretched, feeling refreshed but not feeling like she'd had a proper night's sleep. She glanced over towards the middle of the hut, seeing that Makari was still sleeping.

She took a moment for herself, taking a deep breath and trying to calm her nerves. This was going to be difficult, it wasn't going to be fun, and she could very well get hurt in the process. After a moment, though, she got to her paws. This was her only option.

Roxy strolled through the village, cast in the shadows of the early morning. A few Pokémon were already up, while some of them looked like they had been up for hours. Roxy surmised that they were part of the night patrol or something.

She couldn't help herself from feeling like a tight, bundle of nerves. Every instinct in her body was telling her to turn around, go back to Makari's hut, and hide in the corner. However, she merely shook her head and cast those thoughts aside.

If she wanted to get home, this was something that she had to do.

She tried to walk with a confident stride, but it was not easy to force herself to be determined. A small but very frightened part of her brain told her that what she was doing would eventually end up killing her. She ignored this and pushed herself forward until she reached her destination.

Roxy gazed around the corner. She saw that Taka was there, as she had expected him to be. Taka immediately glanced up upon her intrusion. He looked at her with a mix of question and contempt, though he certainly did not bother to stand up.

"Taka?"

He merely raised an eyebrow.

Roxy took a quick, calming breath and let it out slowly. She then stepped forward, entering the training area with Taka watching her every move. After a moment of silence, she bent down and picked up one of the blunt, wooden training spears. She then stood up, gripped it as she thought she was meant to, and turned to look at Taka with a hard gaze.

"Train me."