Pokédex Entry #31 – Nidorina: "…The female has a gentle temperament; because its horn grows slowly it prefers not to fight. It has a calm and caring nature… If it is threatened with attack, it raises the barbs that are all over its body. When Nidorina are with their friends or family, they keep their barbs tucked away to prevent hurting each other. This Pokémon appears to become nervous if separated from the others…"

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The sun had not yet reached its zenith, but already what paltry shade there was provided little respite from the midday heat; it seemed like even the Pokémon had all decided to lay low and wait for cooler weather as well. Roughly a quarter of the way up the foothill of a large mountain was a lone human – possibly the only human for miles around – who shielded his eyes against the sun and looked farther up the mountainside.

Tall for his age at 6'0" and of average build, the young teen could have passed for someone much older than he really was; puberty had been a fickle mistress, granting him a face mostly free of acne, at the cost of any real facial hair. With short black hair and brown skin tanned darker brown thanks to that sun, he might look handsome in a few years – but for now, he wasn't going to win any beauty contests. While Alex wasn't necessarily an athlete, he was no slouch at the gym either; even so, he decided it was more than time for a break despite it being barely 11:00 am according to his watch. On that thought, he opened and took a deep swig from the water bottle in his hand.

Alex had already spent five hours earlier that morning searching the paths and woodlands that covered the lower mountainsides, and as he'd predicted the early start had indeed doubled his chances of encountering wild Pokémon; unfortunately, something he HADN'T predicted was the large number of "junk" Pokémon he'd encountered: Pidgey, Rattata, Caterpie, and Weedle, to name a few, and all practically by the oil tanker-load, along with more than a few somewhat dangerous Pokémon Alex had steered well clear of.

A rustle from nearby raised Alex's alert level for only a bit; judging the sound it was probably yet another Rattata – which is to say it wasn't the prey he sought. However, it evidently was the prey an Ekans sought, if the hiss and the agonized squeak of terror that followed shortly he heard was any indication; immediately deciding that relocation to a less snake-infested area was in order, Alex tossed the half-empty bottle in his pack and shouldered it again hurriedly. Setting off on the trail again, his thoughts drifted back to what had brought him out to this forsaken rock in the first place.

With school out for the summer, there couldn't have been a better time for Alex to venture out into the world. It had been a hard year, but studying and good grades earned had also earned him his mother's blessing on this little expedition – it had been a key component of the plan since his saved allowance only got him so far.

Although Pokémon and Pokémon training were literally everywhere, and in spite of the fact that Alex's parents had met during his mom's old training days, he'd never really felt the wanderlust that many of his classmates had; unlike fully a fifth of what would eventually be his graduating class – who had already decided on a life of professional Pokémon training and taken a year-long leave of absence – the extent of his experience and interest with Pokémon was an elderly neighbor's pet Growlithe that was a fetch maniac, and the stray Meowth from up the street that it liked to chase.

However, it had taken only seeing one picture in a reference encyclopedia one day at school while writing an assignment, to instill the fledgling desire in Alex to capture and domesticate a Pokémon of his very own, and the quest to capture that Pokémon had brought him to Mt. Moon – the closest place to Alex's home that an Absol might live.

A commotion in the distance sounded; the loud flapping of wings and the harsh cry of a number of Spearow interrupted Alex's thoughts; nervously he looked to the skies. It was no secret that wild Spearow were very ornery, and could be dangerous even to Pokémon trainers with Pokémon to defend themselves with, especially when confronted by Spearow traveling a large flock.

The thought of a trained Pokémon companion suddenly reminded Alex more acutely of his own decision to remain without any Pokémon until now – haltingly, he checked the pocket where only ten empty pokéballs he'd bought for the occasion jangled; maybe all those the junk Pokémon I've been avoiding all day wouldn't have been so useless right now after all, Alex thought, with a pang of regret. The noises grew louder; the flock was moving closer quickly.

He scuttled up the trail as quickly as the terrain allowed for as long as he dared. It wound another 45 yards roughly up the incline to where the first entrance to the cave network in Mt. Moon SHOULD have been, and Alex could still probably have made it... But the path disappeared over a steep rise, and he couldn't actually see an opening yet; without taking time to unpack his flashlight, and without knowing for sure that the cave was indeed there, Alex would be taking an enormous risk – running out into the open would get him spotted for sure, and with nowhere to go, the flock of Spearow would have no trouble chasing him down. The first of them would be overhead soon; for lack of a better plan he ran and dove off the trail instead, hoping to lose them in the thick cover of the forest.

The tumble through the foliage, brush, and undergrowth was hardly elegant or well executed, and the cuts, scratches, and bruises began to mount; narrowly missing a fairly large a thorn bush and a patch of poison ivy, Alex came to a stop partially entangled in a bramble. Missing the poison ivy in particular was a huge stroke of good luck Alex thought, getting to his hands and knees – however, looking up from the brambles, and coming nose to stubby blue nose with a large and even more poisonous Nidorina was NOT.

Except for her spines, which began to rise defensively, the two of them froze in an instant, staring eye to eye: Of all the places in the world that I could have landed, I ended up HERE at the mouth of a Nidorina burrow! Alex thought helplessly, seeing the den-like pocket hollowed out in the brambles where she'd been sleeping. The Nidorina let out the beginning of a very vocal disapproval at his sudden appearance, but fell silent almost immediately: The squawking cry of the flock of Spearow was about to reach a crescendo. She glanced up, instantly recognizing their peril – and wisely kept her mouth shut. Petrified, Alex did not move, only rolling his eyes skyward.

The Nidorina tensed, her spines rising even higher; Alex fought the reflex to jump back and yell, as the points of several of them caught him on the tip of his nose; although the thick coverage of trees above might conceal them from the view of the murderous birds, the Spearow would hear him for sure if he shouted out loud; the first of them passed overhead then, oblivious to the human and Nidorina frozen below; eyes watering from the pain beginning to radiate outward from his nose, Alex dared a sigh of relief – which turned to a sigh of exasperation as one by one, the Spearow apparently decided to use the upper canopies of the trees above them for a roost.

You've got to be kidding me! He thought, enraged; like puberty, Lady Luck seemed to be an equally fickle lass. Even the Nidorina cautiously edged back into the bramble-den she'd made for herself, as if to say, thanks for the warning, but you're on your own! Even this blue Pokémon had weathered enough winters to recognize the danger unpleasant winged beasts posed. The screeching of the Spearow was deafening, but Alex hardly heard it, so focused was he on the throbbing pain in his nose. The Nidorina watched him intently from within the relative safety of her burrow – she'd fended off enough unfriendly Pokémon in her lifetime to recognize the effects of a good poison stinging, even if the strange human wasn't making any of the usual noises accompanying such a painful experience.

The human watched like a hawk the canopy above as he quietly shifted back; to the Nidorina's relief, he did so without betraying their location to the winged pests. A sudden explosion of flapping startled both Alex and the Nidorina; she cautiously edged only her head out enough to look skyward a moment later – they had begun to depart. The grimacing human by this time had covered his mouth tightly with a hand, his other clutched tightly in a fist in his lap, as the last of the Spearow departed. Silence... And not a moment too soon. "Yeeeow! Argh! Oh man, that hurts so bad!" Alex cried out as loudly as he dared; it felt like… Like there was some kind of poison in his nose!

Cautiously, the Nidorina moved forward again as before, grunting once – Well, that was fun and all, but, they're gone now, and you're in my territory. Go away, two-legs. She took a step forward intending to nose-push the Spearow attracting human further away back toward the trail, when it raised the clenched fist from its lap suddenly. The odd whine of a device she'd seen only once before as a young Nidoran made the blue freeze instantly, as the spherical object tripled in size in the human's hand – she had no time to react.

With light tap, the human pressed the button on the front of the Pokéball against the same place on her snout she'd unintentionally stabbed it, and then suddenly the world was a blur: Literally. Being transformed into a red, amorphous ball of energy was a sensation that defied description, and was unlike any experience she could think of, short of the far more traumatic first time it happened. In this state, physical sensation ceased to have meaning, becoming instead a vague afterthought attached to the Nidorina's consciousness; she perceived a sudden sensation of complete confinement, and that confinement brought on a profound sense of claustrophobia: instinctively, the blue rebelled against it, and the fight was on.

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Struggling against the bond that held her was another experience that could never adequately be related to one who had not already experienced it themselves; it was as if she felt an unseen force drawing her in, away from the comfort and safety of her burrow... But to where? Immediately she registered a consciousness separate to her own, that she realized had been there during the experience all along – almost like breathing, only not remembering one was breathing at all until they consciously remembered and then controlled the working of their lungs.

In this state, the two consciousnesses mixed and melded; it was like inhaling air thick with a cloud of different smells, and only through hard concentration and sheer force of will could the Nidorina keep her mind focused on her own "scent": Relax. There is nothing to fear. You are home. The intrusion of thoughts blew into and seized the Nidorina's mind, momentarily ruining the focus on keeping herself indistinct, as a powerful compulsion invaded her consciousness.

Relax? I can't! I won't! The blue female's mind screamed, conjuring up memories of her burrow, of her favorite drinking spot by the river, of the berry bushes in bloom each season – Home is my burrow. This is NOT my burrow! These thoughts gave her mind something to anchor to; she felt her resolve harden. Relax... Your burrow was only a crude shelter against the elements; it could never offer the luxury your new home offers, if you'd only look. Here, there is safety. Security. Comfort.

The consciousness focused itself around these thoughts, trying to meet her fear and emotion with logic; in this shared existence, she could see its enthusiasm as it sought to impart it unto her: it was like she'd found an entire grove filled with bushes of ripe berries year round, and water cool and clean even in the summer than she could ever remember it having been. Your material concerns are legitimate, but the most important gain you will make, will be lifelong companionship, and the chance to become strong. Stronger than you already are, stronger than perhaps the strongest Pokémon you've ever met.

The allure of such promises was powerful; visions of a new life clouded her mind – but only just barely so. No! Humans are dangerous; I'm being tricked! The renewed awareness of the Nidorina's predicament sent a bolt of instinctive resistance through her. Put your fears to rest: the human you just saw will love and care for you – it is a burrow-mate, an ally. Together you can become close friends, if you would only give him the opportunity. The longer the ball held her mind in its grip, the more her instinct to fight and resist wore away; insidious was its clever insinuations, wearing away at her fears.

The promises seemed too good to be true... But perhaps the ball was telling the truth, at least in Nidorina thought back to the first time she experienced this same tribulation as a little Nidoran; the human then, a smaller one, had ordered its Beedrill to attack her, which was a painful and highly traumatic experience to say the least – to make matters worse, she had been a young pup still. The human had attempted to capture her once its pet had thoroughly beaten her – and then, when she escaped… The Nidorina's mind pushed away the unpleasant memories, unable to afford being distracted by then now, of all times.

In contrast, this human hadn't tried to fight with or attack her like the last one had, even though she had accidentally prodded it with her venomous spines. If he had, we'd both been discovered and mobbed by that flock of Spearow, Nidorina thought, ironically. As the tense seconds dragged on, the blue female began to truly questioned the wisdom of a life of continued solitude; life on the mountainside was no picnic, and could be lonely at times – irritatingly, the more impulsive side of the Nidorina's mind allowed itself to be inundated with the possibilities the ball promised: What if this human really does hold the power to bring me a better life after all…? But…

The thought of a Pokémon rushing to attack the its hapless victim-opponent flashed in the Nidorina's mind, only this time it was her attacking some other tiny and helpless Pokémon at this human's behest. I'd rather DIE than be forced to attack other young and defenseless Pokémon as that human made the Beedrill did to me! The conviction in that statement banished the mounting influence the ball exerted on the Nidorina's will immediately; the ball had no practical answer to this, and that was the final nail in the coffin of the pestilent thing's insidious attempts at indoctrination.

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Reality – physical reality – exploded into being again, swirling around the blue's senses again as she swirled back into corporeal form again; the ball burst open with enough force that it split in two, and the triumphant Nidorina's form solidified in an instant as she leaped free, immediately squaring off with the sneaky human, this time ready to attack, or at least defend herself. The human clearly seemed surprised or disappointed that its ploy to capture her failed; he sank back against a tree, and enraged, the Nidorina stamped a foot and prepared to charge – except, the human didn't move.

Alex could hardly believe his luck – or again, a lack thereof. The ball had shuddered vigorously in his hand for nearly a full minute, building him up to an almost unbearable level of anxiety; no less than three times had the ball's red indicator dimmed, than it suddenly began shining again barely a heartbeat later, struggling in vain to contain the Nidorina. Evidently her final burst of rebellious refusal to submit had been the last straw; the ball leaped from his hand and exploded. Materializing into a very real and very upset corporeal form, the blue snorted, clearly ready to attack.

Run! The silent thought screamed in Alex's hazy mind – however, a very disconcerting dizziness began to sweep his head up; it seemed as though someone else were moving his limbs, and he were only watching with odd detachment. The prick on his nose was either worse than he thought, or he was allergic to the venom, because it had taken what little strength he'd had just to hold the ball in his hand moments previously; again the Nidorina snarled a challenge that he hardly heard, as his head drooped.

I feel so wiped out all of a sudden Alex thought. No… The poison…! This is bad; I'll never be able to fend her off or throw another ball… I don't know if I'll even be able to stay– Alex thought; brief flashes of his family back home and the life he'd left behind flitted through Alex's mind for as long as his scrambled brain could continue to function – the memories turned to dreams and then faded away to black nothingness as the poisoned human blacked out.

The Nidorina even bared her teeth threateningly... But the human still made no move. The blue paused at the as the human slackened; a moment later he slumped limply to the ground at the base of the tree, and she realized the human had fainted altogether. Ha! It was only a small prick if anything, weakling! I've jabbed other Pokémon far harder than that! The Nidorina scoffed haughtily, cautiously expecting it to be another trick. The blue advanced, intending to trample the conniving trickster into the dirt – and a crack and a tinkle drew her attention back to the foot she'd just stepped forward with.

The red hemisphere of the pokéball, now crushed underfoot and partially blackened, stared back at her. Try and capture me, will you? Oh yeah, the spines it is! She thought angrily, as she remembered the human's attempt to capture her; another crack, as she stepped forward again – the white half of the ball. Still, the human did not react; it lay already defeated before her, now that her toxins were already doing her work for her – in spite of its attempt to capture her previously, the Nidorina checked her temper and studied the creature for a moment.

Unconscious, it was utterly at her mercy: You earned your freedom declaring that you would never harm another so weak and defenseless as you had once been, and yet here you are. This human is no less helpless now, is it not? The unexpected intrusion of the ball's voice, already faint and growing even more distant, seemed to echo in Nidorina's mind – at least, she thought it was the ball.

The blue female growled, willing the annoying presence into permanent banishment from her mind, and looked back to the human. It would take no more than one good jab with the largest of my spines… The Nidorina thought to herself, then tossed her head wildly about in frustration – her conscience spoke up then, supplying the second half of the sentence as it always did: ...To make you no better in actions or in spirit than the little human and its Beedrill.

The Nidorina rumbled in acute frustration, but sighed in disgust, already feeling her habitually short-lived temper beginning to leave her, as it always did. Ugh! ...Fine... You will be spared – but only because you did not send something to attack me first. Be gone by the time I return, or you'll really regret it for sure this time! She thought, stubbornly; however, a cursory inspection of the human bit onto some unknown curiosity in the Nidorina's mind – she moved closer for a look at her would-be conqueror. This incident presented a unique and possibly valuable opportunity to inspect one of the two-legged beasts up closely, with little fear of reprisal.

The human smelled funny, like nothing she could remember smelling recently… But then again, humans had an odd tendency to never stray from set paths in this part of the world; there was no telling what the world smelled like where it was from. Though it took some conscious effort to relax sufficiently give the circumstances, the Nidorina finally succeeded in lowering all her spines, ensuring they would not mistakenly prick the biped again for this next part of the inspection – she began by nosing around, first inspecting the creature's odd, spindly legs, and she recoiled mightily in shock as part of the human's foot seemed to fall off.

Pidgey feathers! That was an accident! She thought nervously – no wonder humans sought Pokémon; they were so physically pitiful as to fall apart on their own! Even though the Nidorina probably should have stopped while she was still ahead, a nagging curiosity still tugged at her. There was little of interest in the empty creature's spindly paws, but its hump, trapped beneath its body, seemed to exude a mix of somewhat intriguing scents – some good, some bad, others indeterminate. There was no way to investigate further with the creature laying upon it, so for the moment it would have to be forgotten.

"Mmmhhh….. Mm-mm?" The human croaked; instantly, Nidorina backed off – but if the human was waking, it did not move very strongly; Not awake, just stirring. She realized, moving in closer, even though her better judgment all but screamed at her to leave; the human's paws clenched shifted weakly. "Mhm-mha?" It groaned. "Mmmoma?" It asked, calling something out again; "Momma?" It spoke, somewhat clearer – evidently, this one was called a "Momma", if humans called like Pokémon did, the Nidorina decided.

She approached what was undoubtedly the creature's furred head hesitantly; it was clear that even though the human's eyes half-opened, they saw little, if anything – they were unfocused, uncoordinated, unevenly dilated, and its eyelids droop; a clammy sweat began to form on its nearly spineless brown skin, and its breathing – once normal and robust – now began to grow shallow at an increasing rate.

A cold, gripping realization hit the blue then, and a pang of regret jabbed her more acutely than any emotion she'd felt thus far, and unlike her anger, the regret was here to stay. Hey now, I didn't mean to kill this human…! She thought, beginning to feel remorse – she'd never truly meant to kill anything in her life before. The human fixed on the Nidorina, staring into her scarlet eyes – but again, there was an odd detachment there as the creature looked up at her. "Momma?" The human slurred in a weak mumble, reaching weakly for her face.

Sadly aware that the human was past any ability to do her harm, the Nidorina waited to see what the evidently morally wounded human would do next. "Momm-hmma". It slurred weakly, placing a clammy hand on Nidorina's cheek, caressing it gently – weakly, tenderly, as if seeking comfort from her in its final moments. Nidorina's heart crushed; even on its deathbed, the human did not seem to hold a grudge against her, even for poisoning it. Perhaps there was a chance these were merely the ramblings of a creature delirious from the effects of her neurotoxic venom; even if they were, the notion that she'd caused them stirred the Nidorina's utter shame even more.

"mmmh…." It said; Nidorina answered once, softly – but, the human's hand fell from her face into the leaves, and did not move again. "Dung. Rotten Spearow dung! It was an accident!" The blue female protested out loud, moving away from the fallen human, her thick tail hanging low and a mounting tidal wave of guilt beginning to consume her every thought. The human said nothing to this, because it had ceased moving altogether; though its breathing had not yet fully entered the realm of weak, raspy gasps that usually preceded the bitter end, it was growing weaker.

If ever a wild Pokémon had mourned the loss of a human, she'd never heard of it until now, and she would have never imagine herself as being that Pokémon either; even so, tears began to form in Nidorina's eyes – tears that fell to the forest floor, insignificant and impotent before the human's plight. There was nothing that could be done now, nor anything that could be said; a wave of desperation set in: the Nidorina wanted to be far from here, from what she'd done… But she also felt she had a duty to at least see this human through until the bitter end; the blue's legs faltered, and she collapsed onto her rump. Be at peace as you leave this world, human; may your spirit at least join Arceus in the afterlife, The Nidorina thought; the weak eulogy was the only thing that her ailing mind could think of saying.

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The sound a faint noise raised Nidorina's head, and she looked through the thick undergrowth of the forest – the noise had been so faint that she couldn't be sure she'd actually heard it in the first place; after looking around and sensing nothing out of the ordinary, she instead looked to the sky. With the sun no longer directly overhead, it was now late afternoon, and hours since she'd woken to find a human tumbling down the mountainside, to land practically at her feet... The same human still tenaciously clinging to life right beside her, in spite of the Nidorina's silent pleas to cease torturing itself, and finally give up the struggle.

Your resilience is admirable, but the longer you fight, the more you prolong the suffering. Go in peace already… For both of our sakes! She silently implored, sick to her stomach now with shame; as a poisonous Pokémon, she'd poison stung many things in her life; all of them had been other Pokémon, which were more resilient to her toxins than evidently humans were … But even so, she'd only ever poisoned out of self-defense, and until now, she'd never intentionally killed anything or anyone. Another noise, loud enough this time that there was no mistaking she'd heard it, disturbed her thoughts; as it grew, she realized it was not a noise at all – it was a chant.

"Cle-fairy~! Cle~fairy! Cle~Fairy~! Clefairy~!" A light pink Pokémon Nidorina had only ever even seen three times before in her life, seemed to materialize out of the late afternoon shadows cast by the forest canopy. It was clutching something in its hands and seemed to wear something suspended around its neck, on a tiny line. It chanted its melodic chant as it moon-bounced along, neither making a noise nor disturbing any of the leaves and grasses on the ground with its passing – had the creature not been chanting its sing-song chant, Nidorina doubted that she would have heard this very strange Pokémon at all, even if the thing had passed right behind her.

The gentle lope only slowed when the Clefairy spotted them. Nidoran, not wanting to spook the thing off, did not get to her feet; the Clefairy was far enough away that it could probably dance off into the forest again by the time Nidorina took 2 steps – she knew from experience, as that had been the usual result the three times she'd attempted to converse with one before. Nidorina rested her head on her paws utterly morosely again, only staring at the odd creature; all Pokémon knew on some level that these incredibly mysterious beings inhabited the deepest, most unexplored and inaccessible regions of the mountain, venturing out only exceptionally rarely for… Well, spirits knew what.

In all the winters that Nidorina had lived on the mountain, no encounter with the mysterious pink creatures had ever lasted as long as this one already had. The Clefairy stopped its chant, falling totally silent and coming to a gentle, graceful stop, almost as if it was walking on the moon itself and not merely a mountain named after the moon. It paused seemingly analyzing the situation. Nidoran raised her head again, looking at the human, so pale and sweaty now, his breathing finally having reached the ragged rasping of one on the cusp of death. Nidoran only replied with a low, wordless moan; each rattling breath piled on fresh heaps of bitter regret upon the blue. Not setting down the object it carried, the Clefairy approached gracefully, evidently no longer uncomfortable with or afraid of Nidorina's presence.

The Clefairy muttered something quietly to itself, and Nidorina saw an old look cross its face, as it approached the human. "It w-was an accident... When I awoke from a nap, it was here before me; he'd been chased by Spearow. This human bumped into my spines on accident, and now its dying. I didn't mean to do it on purpose!" The Nidorina gushed, relating the incident to the Clefairy, who said nothing. The pink creature set down the object it had been carrying – Nidorina could not imagine what it was or what it was for – and seemed to center herself.

"Cle-fairy… Cle-fairy… Cle-fairy, Cle-fairy, Cle-fairy, Cle-fairy, Cle-fairy!"

It began to sing, its fingers beginning to swing back and forth rhythmically; the motion seemed to spread to the entire, wondrous Pokémon's stubby pink form, which swayed slightly in time with its hands... And then the glowing began. The Nidorina blinked, backing off a little, unsure of what she was witnessing – it wasn't an evolution, and it didn't appear to be an attack…Thus, the blue could only watch silently, as the mysterious pink being chanted a little longer, and then finally touched its fingertips together, and touched them to the human.

The moment the Clefairy's hands made contact, the human gasped sharply and raggedly, tensing as if its whole body were racked with pain. "Stop! You're hurting it!" Nidorina protested, standing to intervene, until the light hit her as well, filling the blue's whole body with a comforting warmth, like sunbathing on a cool day after a big meal; a sense of calmness and serenity washed away the terrible feelings of guilt.

"What's happening?" The Nidorina demanded, but the Clefairy paid her no heed; the light of its otherworldly spell focused on the human's body, and the blue couldn't help but wonder what it must have felt like to receive the full brunt of the mysterious being's spell, rather than the glow that she had. The human's body finally eased, all traces of strain and tension slowly leaving it, and the ragged rasp of its breathing slowly beginning to return to a stronger and more even rhythm. Even the pale, sallow pall that bleached it tree-bark colored skin returned to a far healthier looking shade of brown reminiscent of what it had been when she'd first seen the human; the sunken flesh around its face drew less pallid again, and he exhaled deeply – a sigh of relief, and not a moan of pain.

Nidorina blinked; already, the human hardly resembled the withering husk of a creature moments from death she'd just seen only seconds ago. "What–?" Nidorina turned to ask, looking at the Clefairy – except there was no Clefairy there anymore. Aside from the human, the blue was alone again; even the object the pink Pokémon carried had been silently retrieved, and not even an impression in the vegetation of the forest floor remained to suggest either of them had ever been there. The Nidorina looked around the immediate area, everywhere, tossing her head about looking for any trace of the Pokémon, and seeing, hearing, or even smelling none – not even the chant that had originally preceded it.

Nidorina paced around, unsettled at such a surreal experience, but a cough from the human reclaimed her attention. Compared to before, the human now appeared to be resting somewhat comfortably – or at least as comfortably as one could, laying on the odd misshapen thing attached to its back. The biped made another noise – one of discomfort, not pain – and shifted weakly. Nidorina backed off slightly, unsure of what to do now; it was alive still, and looked like it was going to stay that way – thanks to that mysterious Clefairy.

"Ohh, my back..." Alex groaned. Everything hurt, especially his nose, which felt like it was going to catch fire and fall off at the same time, and his aching back – even his toes, finger-tips, and hair seemed to hurt. However, the discomfort of lying on his backpack was at least one thing he could help; rolling over onto his side, and then his belly, he lay for a moment, hissing at the relief in pain, which seemingly brought on more pain that hurt in a different way. A noise to his side interrupted his languishing – and his eyes popped open. The Nidorina! He thought fearfully, as a massive blue foot stepped right in front of his face.

Oh… "–Crud!" The Nidorina looked down intently at him, as he squirmed weakly on his side, still exhausted from the experience of being poisoned, and drained from the effects it had on his body. "Easy girl…" He said, at a loss for actions – the remaining 9 empty Pokéballs he carried were in the pocket he was laying on, and therefore out of easy reach... But, something seemed distinctively different about the Nidorina's demeanor than he remembered it. She sat down nearby, calling once softly. What the…? He wondered, blinking the tears of pain from his eyes as his noise protested an errant wiping of sweat from his face. Jeez, that still hurts like crazy. What the hell did you inject me with?! Cyanide? Acid!? He wondered, as the pain in his nose reminded him what had happened.

The Nidorina watched as the human expressed acute discomfort with its nose still – the Clefairy's spell on its body notwithstanding, evidently some things like the human's nose where it had been stung were still going to take time to heal. "Well, you're alive. Now what happens?" She wondered aloud, half-rhetorically; when it became apparent that she wouldn't attempt to gore it with her spines, the human propped itself up against the base of the tree it had collapsed under, breaking out in a sweat again from that exertion.

Nidorina stayed where she sat, watching the odd human in revulsion as it removed the hump on its back and began digging around inside; the Nidorina grew tense, watched and expecting another Pokéball – then blinked in bewilderment as it withdrew something half-filled with looked like water, and emptied it in one chug. Then, the human held its tiny nose – fair amount of blood had seeped forth from the wound, covering the creature's face, neck, and chest where it had dripped. Tensing, the biped pinched something – and let out a yell that startled her as it tore out the some of the Nidorina's spines that had apparently lodged in the fleshy tip of its nose when she'd first pricked it.

The blue couldn't understand whatever it was the human was saying, but she imagined it was most definitely an expression of pain or displeasure; sheepishly, she wondered if perhaps she had been too critical of the human earlier – it still had made no move to attack or try to capture her again, which was an immense relief to the docile Nidorina. The human said something likely addressed to the Nidorina, but its words were lost on her; it threw the spines away, pausing as its stomach made rumbled loudly enough that the Nidorina heard it very easily it with her large, radar dish-like ears – the blue's own stomach rumbled in answer, as she realized the entirety of the day's commotion had occurred right as she woke up from her afternoon nap – right before she usually set out to forage.

The human said something out loud probably to itself, and then reached in the bag again, withdrawing something that made a lot of crackling noise like dry leaves on the forest floor as he handled it; she caught a whiff of the smell, and realized it had been one of the more tantalizing smells coming from the bag her keen nose had detected earlier. The human bit a piece and chewed it hungrily, taking a few bites, noticing she watched it all the while. After a moment, the human pinched off a corner, and tossed it at her feet; it smelled like nothing the Nidorina had ever smelled before – not even the berries she liked to eat smelled as sweet as the muddy brown object. Sniffing it once more, she ate it cautiously… And marveled at how its sugary sweetness easily rivaled that of berries, but somehow without the fruity tang. It tastes delicious! The Nidorina thought, as she licked her muzzle.

Alex watched the Nidorina investigate the piece of chocolate with some amusement and a fair amount of trepidation; if he could earn her trust, then perhaps she would not attack, although he could honestly see no reason as to why she had stuck around at all. He touched his sensitive nose, which already seemed to feel just a tiny bit better without the scale-spine lodged and possibly still injecting poison in it; How in the world am I alive still? Alex wondered; after all, he had fainted dead away earlier from the jab before he could have done anything to help himself.

"Were you watching over me?" He asked the Nidorina rhetorically, knowing she couldn't answer. He broke off another small tidbit of chocolate and offered it to her, wondering if she would accept it from his hand. She only watched him for a long while, only finally approaching after he'd tossed the piece to her, a short distance away. The next piece Alex offered was bigger than either of the previous two, but, this time he didn't set it down, and for a while, she sat, staring at him with her odd, piercing red eyes. "Ah ah – if you want it, you're gonna have to take it from me this time." He said, encouragingly; briefly, the absurdity of the situation struck Alex acutely – evidently, though the poison must have still been working its way out of his system, it was still affecting his judgment… Why else would he insisting on hand-feeding a wild Nidorina that had already poisoned him once?

If the brown sweet-food was the prelude to another trap, then it was certainly a very tempting one… And yet the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth treat tasted so GOOD! The Nidorina hesitated, her better judgment being dragged away by her impulsiveness for the third time that day; when nothing materialized from the human's hand other than another really delicious piece of the food, the Nidorina licked it clean and nosed around for more – this time making sure her scaly spines were well flat, to prevent accidentally stabbing it again.

The human fed her another piece: If this insane creature had any sense at all, it would be terrified of my teeth – they're bigger than its spindly little paw-toes. Maybe we're both crazy; maybe I'm just getting soft. The Nidorina thought, as the human fed her a piece big enough that it took her a moment to chew it; hesitantly the biped took the incredible risk of placing a paw on the blue's forehead, petting her softly. Maybe the ball was right – aside from the whole attempting to capture me thing, this human doesn't seem so bad after all. And… How untrustworthy could a creature really be if it can make things this tasty? The Nidorina wondered, as the human proffered her most of the rest of the food-thing.

(-o-) (-o-) (-o-) (-o-) (-o-) (-o-)

It was with a tinge of regret the next morning that Alex woke up from a fitful and restless sleep, that he saw the Nidorina had gone in the night. The body aches had lowered to a more manageable level, but he'd blown almost half a day lying around thanks to the incident with the blue creature – time was wasting, and he'd already botched capturing the Nidorina even though a Nidorina wasn't anywhere near the Pokémon he was actually after.

The memory of the amusing blue female stirred up a number of mixed emotions – She was dangerous of course, but Alex was alive, and that fact plagued his thoughts without end as he sat below the tree for almost an hour after waking up to the sun rising somewhere above the forest. The poisoning I got was pretty bad... Alex thought, as he remembered the last few moments before he'd blacked out. What in the world happened to me while I was unconscious? He wondered fruitlessly for the second time; he still felt a full-body discomfort as if his veins were on fire, but the pain was already gradually beginning to subside – he'd live somehow, but he didn't know how. Alex checked his watch; more time was wasting. The Nidorina had not yet returned, and might never return, Alex concluded, after waiting a while longer; she WAS wild, after all.

Thus, the human stiffly forced himself to his feet; Even for a Pokémon, the Nidorina seemed intelligent and independent: Like the story goes – a caged bird would never truly sing its most beautiful songs as it would when free. Perhaps it's best she stayed out on her own, the human thought. However, that notion could also just as easily apply to the Absol he wished to catch: Would it really be fair to attempt to capture that Absol either, assuming I even did find one out here? Alex wondered, already beginning to feel his desire to catch a Pokémon begin to waiver.

The Nidorina had nearly eaten all of the chocolate bar the day before, leaving Alex with almost nothing sweet to at least snack on and curb the sharp hunger he was beginning to feel; getting to his feet slowly to avoid swooning, he gathered his things, and shouldered his pack – the den the Nidorina had made for herself lay only a yard or two away, and, carefully placing the last remaining tidbit of the chocolate bar he had inside for her to find, he stood and began working his way back up to the trail up the mountainside, without looking back. It was this piece of chocolate the Nidorina discovered when returning home later that afternoon, having spent the morning foraging for enough food to make up for the previous day's shortfall.

She blinked, noticing the human had gone; all around she smell relatively recent signs of its passing, including the entrance to her den. There the lone piece of chocolate lay, which she chewed slowly, pondering – the human had to have left it for her specifically. Either I'm getting even softer than I thought, or… Briefly, the Nidorina wondered how bad life with a human could really be on her own terms now, rather than with the ball trying to dominate her will. For starters, the food had already proven to be good so far, even though indulging in food wasn't a vice to the Nidorina. Perhaps most importantly, the human had begun to demonstrated some of the qualities most important to her: the kindness the ball had promised.

It could still be a trick… Or a lie. The Nidorina thought; even the small human had first attempted to catch her, before it sent its Beedrill to attack and finish her off. Rumbling in annoyance at the complex dilemma, she moodily took to her den, which now somehow seemed a tiny bit emptier than it had before. Absentmindedly, she licked the ground where the chocolate had been left, tasting the last traces of it lingering there – aside from the capturing incident, her experience with this human hadn't altogether been totally unpleasant.

In fact, the more she thought about it, the harder it was for her to remember a time when she'd spent so much time in the company of something that was friendly – or at least not annoying – other than an old Noctowl whose friendship with the Nidorina cherished. However, the Noctowl was but one creature whose nocturnal lifestyle meant she rarely had the opportunity to visit; and, in all her life, the Nidorina had never seen another of her species of Pokémon anywhere on the mountain – according to the Noctowl, her kind rare or almost unheard of this far from their normal habitats; in fact, the old bird had said that the Nidorina's currently evolved form – earned after winters of butting heads with the many indigent Pokémon to Mt. Moon – were even rarer than her younger Nidoran form on the mountain.

I'm not lonely! ...I'm just a little bored with my surroundings... Is all. The blue thought silently to herself, trying to convince herself that she wasn't being defensive; however, that reasoning seemed flat and lame anyway as she truly thought about it. The blue exhaled deeply, tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable; eventually in frustration she abandoned the den, and paced around restlessly, coming to a stop where the scent of the human's body still lingered on the grass.

Damn it. Perhaps I should have stung it after all. The sarcastic thought did little to keep the blue from grinding her teeth together subconsciously; she hesitated, ready to pace restlessly again, when an idea visited her mind. The human's scent trail…. I could follow its scent trail…! Again, the realization was tempered with significant doubts: ….Why would I want to? If the human changes its mind, it could try to attack or capture me – I may never see my burrow again! The Nidorina was worldly enough to realize that fact.

...Then again, if this human is as nice as it seems to be, I won't have to anything to fear from it; I can see what it is the creature wants up here on the mountain, and when it leaves, I can just come back home! She decided, standing; the hope that the human didn't seem as interested in capturing her was the only hope the companionship-starved Nidorina had. Hesitating a moment longer, the blue cast one long and hard look back at the den – back to a large part of essentially the only life she had ever known.

You're making a big mistake… The thought came from her more cautious instincts, and the Nidorina almost considered banishing all thought of the human from her mind right then and there… But, the memory of the human's hand rubbing her cheek gently in forgiveness even as the unfortunate biped slid into the realm of death fought its way to the forefront of the Nidorina's mind. Maybe I can follow the human – just for a day or two! – and see what it's up to?