Hello! It's been a while since I've last published a chapter for this fic (which I believe was three months ago), but I'm back with a batch of new chapters to be released over the course of the next 9 weeks or so! This is a little bit of a departure from my usual writing style, so I hope this change pays off!
I owe a lot to Mom for leading me to this path. Of course, said path was formed with my blood, sweat and tears, but if it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't have gone to GeL or had any interest in human life for that matter. She was my rock, a good friend of mine, and above all else, a great storyteller.
So in that way, why not start it off with a story she told me? She was the sort of Pokemon who could speak for hours on end and you wouldn't get bored, but it took a while for her to hit her stride. Before, she would either keep you up all night with stories of hunts gone awry, tales of bloodshed and other sob stories, or lull you to sleep with those about compassion between strangers, unexpected comforts in the wild and all that other sweet crap. The ones I remember the most had the best of both.
That's probably why I remember what she said, word for word, as she told it many times to me and my three brothers, plus my Dad if he ever bothered to pop in. We would sit around a campfire in the middle of our island under a tarp roof Dad brought from the mainland, huddled in one spot deep inside the forest, come rain or shine.
Out of respect, I guess I better give all my relatives names. For most Pokemon, names have little importance as they're abstract, not something you can smell or hunt. My family deserves more than that though. The two youngest were Twig and Stumpy (Both Riolus), the eldest was Trunks (A Lucario), and then there were my parents. Mom didn't have a name, but if any name was fitting for her, it would be Ruti, but she'll still be Mom for now. Dad though was another case, but I'll get to that later.
Okay, maybe I'm not that creative with names. Cut me a break.
Anyway, that night, she went through her usual rota of stories, either tragic or hilarious, and while some of them were fairly new and kept our tails on the ground, we tuned out whenever she went through something we heard one too many times. Except for Twig. The runt was entertained regardless of what you told him.
Before that though, none of her stories had names as a lot of them were interchangeable. Maybe she didn't feel as if they deserved them. That all changed when she announced this particular story would be called 'Wild Brides and Shifting Tides', the first to have a name. As she did so, the light of the fire reflected in both her red and green eyes, adding even more to the announcement. It brought us out of our slumber and we gave her our undivided attention. Keep in mind that some of the stuff kind of translates poorly to the human tongue, so think of this as my version. I won't take credit for it, I ain't trying to steal.
Firstly, there was a wild bride,
who bore multi-coloured eyes and an unkempt hide.
She would venture into alien territories
and listen to those smooth-skinned beings' stories,
Of those who wished to be the best and most wealthy,
those who wanted to travel and those who wished to be healthy.
She would listen for days, enthralled by their song,
and wishing deep down that she could become one.
Secondly, there was the melancholic groom
whose eyes were a dull red, but fur fine as a bundled broom.
He had lived amongst those alien creatures
who once acted as his guardians and teachers,
only to be released into the wild yonder,
and with no one to care for him, he left to aimlessly wander.
He would hunt alone with a void growing in his heart,
and wished to find someone to bond with, to make a new start.
One day, the bride met one such alien up close,
face furious and frightening, and clad in dark clothes,
he summoned a beast, one devoid of compassion,
as it clawed at the poor bride in such a ruthless fashion.
It overpowered her and left her in a state of rapture,
wracked with bruises and cuts, she was doomed for capture,
then the wanderer heard her cries,
and dashed to her as swiftly as a Wingull to the skies.
He stood between the bride and the beast,
warding it and the alien off, at last she was at peace.
When she next awoke, her body felt anew,
as if a spell had been cast on her, it ended all so soon,
the wanderer stood before her, offering his paw,
and for the rest of their days, they ventured together forevermore.
We sat there stunned. While most of us were still trying to process what we heard, Stumpy of course started sobbing, which ruined the mood a little. Trunks tried to comfort him by rubbing his back. It worked, and eventually Stumpy worked his way down to sniffling every once in a while. A minor improvement. Regardless, when Mom asked us if we enjoyed it, we all said it was the best she ever told. Even though Twig was easy to please, he had to ask what it all meant. Any Riolu with half a brain could've put two and two together and figured out who the characters of the story were.
Although most of my siblings didn't question the meaning of the story as far as I knew, I was curious about the aliens she talked about in her story. I could tell she meant the alien wasn't a Pokemon, but if that was the case, what was it? The sort of things she talked about like the smooth skin and the clothes were new to me, so I wanted to find out about it.
When it was time to sleep, me and my siblings settled down for the night, and I closed my eyes. Yet, I couldn't sleep. That was a first. No matter what I did to try and lull myself back to sleep, repeating one of the other stories Mom told me about a Skitty who ate that rare berry once and had the best dream in its short lifespan afterwards (not a very interesting story to be honest), her story kept coming back to me. Damn her. If the lines didn't have so much rhythm and flow, I probably wouldn't have obsessed over it so much. I tossed and turned for what must've been an hour before I decided I had enough.
I opened my eyes again, staring at the swaying leaves that blocked the sky, then I stood up, slinking past my sleeping siblings and taking care not to trip over their tails. I went looking for Mom. I needed answers.
At night, my parents usually did whatever they felt like doing while we slept. During the day, they would look after us, teach us how to sustain ourselves on the island when they eventually passed away, played with us on the treetops or by the sea, or helped us fish for food for the day.
Just to digress a bit, there weren't a lot of food choices on the island. Nothing inhabited it beside us, so there was little to hunt. I remember when Dad tried to teach all of us a bit about farming after he planted some seeds he gathered from the mainland and told us to wait for it to grow while remembering to give it water from the lake from time to time. No matter how much he tried, nothing grew, so he ruled it out as the land not being fertile enough for any crops. I didn't really understand what he meant at the time so I just went along with it.
I could end the story here and say my family starved to death and I survived by eating them, but thankfully, there was always Magikarp around for us to gather.
They swam close to the shoreline and because of that, we didn't have to hold our breaths to catch them. We would grab them with our paws and bite down on their necks so they wouldn't flail around. Nice and easy. After that, my parents would take our findings and debone them. It was extra effort as we could've just as easily eaten them raw, but my parents preferred to make dishes out of them, particularly skewers and steaks, which they cooked over the fire. If we were particularly lucky, we would find an Octillery, gang up on it and make a meal out of that. Those tasted even better. Now I mention it, I could murder an Octillery right now.
Crap, I'm getting a bit sidetracked, aren't I?
In any case, I searched for my parents on the outer rim, which didn't take very long. Even though I couldn't quite read thoughts yet, the aura still connected me with everyone on the island as we shared a link together. We were never too far away as the island wasn't particularly big; you could decide to go on a hike around its perimeter in the morning and there would still be plenty of sun after you were finished. I ran towards their wavelengths then crept behind a tree as the two rough-housed in a patch of grass. This was how they usually de-stressed after a day looking after our own scrawny asses. It wasn't something they liked to have interrupted. I couldn't wait, though. I rushed into the fray, climbing on top of Dad's head as he was charging up an aura sphere.
"Hey, hey, hey!" he shouted, grasping at his head to catch me. He picked me up by the skin of my neck like some ragdoll. "What are you doing here so late?"
"Well," I said, "Ya looked like you were having fun, so I thought I'd join ya!"
Dad shook his head and smiled, turning me over to meet my mother's gaze.
"How should we punish her then?"
Mom, always the one to come up with stuff on the fly, flashed that toothy grin of hers.
"Throw her in the ocean and have her sleep with the fishes?"
"No please!" I pleaded in mock horror, "Anythin' but that!"
Dad let me go without warning and I fell on my ass. While I nursed my tail, the two stood before me, arms crossed.
"Seriously, pup," he said, "Your kind should be sleeping by now. Why are you here?"
"Well, I can't stop thinkin' about the story Mama told me."
"That's it? If I knew it would give you nightmares, I wouldn't have asked her to tell it."
I stood up, waving my paws in the air.
"No, no! It wasn't scary or anythin', I loved it! I can't stop thinkin' about the lines and I can't rest cause of that, and it won't let up til I find out what they're about and—"
"Okay," my mother stopped me, "I see what you mean. What did you want to ask?"
"The aliens and such. I know the rest actually happened to you two, but it hurts my head to think about what they're supposed to be."
At that moment, I picked up a sharp change of emotions emanating from Dad's aura. It was an awful mix of fear and sadness, although his face didn't change. What he was actually thinking about, I had no idea. I have a hunch now though, but that's for another time.
Mom picked me up and stroked my ears.
"Honey, I'd like to talk with her alone for a bit."
He gestured a paw for her to come closer to him, and he whispered in her ears. I tried to lean in to listen, but they pulled away before anything could reach me. Then, Mom came towards me and carried me over towards the sea away from Dad, sitting on a rocky area. She looked at me with a caring aura.
"How much do you know about both our pasts?"
"Well, not a lot, you never chatted to me about it, but there's a lot about 'em in the stories. I know there's more out there, with all kindsa Pokemon with different looks from ours, not just on this rock. Them Magikarps had to come from somewhere."
"Well spotted, dear." She turned to face the ocean, waves illuminated by the moonlight. "We're in a series of islands known as, well, it's not easily explained." She meant an archipelago. "Even bigger than that, we're in the region known as Sinnoh, a large cluster of land. That's where the aliens live." She turned to face me again. "Well, that's a little bit of a lie."
"Aw c'mon," I said, eyeing her with scorn. "Why'd you lie?"
She sighed, giving me a pat on the back.
"It's mostly to do with Dad. He has some memories he doesn't want to dig up. But let's say aliens aren't the correct word for them. Rather, they're humans."
I won't go through every detail of what she said as it's common sense to any Pokemon who hasn't been living under a rock, let alone a human, but she went on to explain what they were like. Smooth skinned, wore clothes, grew facial hair, could mostly walk on two legs and bla bla bla. Then she went on to explain how the world worked and what Pokemon were to them.
"Why do they want to capture us?" I said.
"So they can train us and take us along with them on their quest to be the best, whatever that's supposed to mean."
"Doesn't sound fun."
To that, Mom laughed, pulling me closer to her.
"I never thought it would be much fun either, and I'm glad I was never captured. Your father, however, didn't really have much choice."
At that point, a light switch went off in my head. I thought back to the story and the info she gave me on the true nature of those aliens, or rather, humans. Mom must've read my thoughts since she squeezed me tightly, even closer to her.
"So I shouldn't trust them?"
"It's complicated. Maybe if things were different, but let's just say that you should avoid them for now. They shouldn't come anywhere close to this island, and if they do, your father will chase them off, you hear?"
I hummed in reply and rubbed my head. It was a lot to take in. Then, Mom pulled me away from her and put both paws on my shoulders, locking me in her gaze.
"I can see you're confused so I'll leave it there for now. If you're curious to find out more, let me know and we can talk some more at night, or even with your eldest brother if you wanted as he's had his share of experience. But," she moved her paws up to hold my head, "Please don't talk about this with anyone else, especially not your father. The others don't need to know yet and he doesn't want to relive those memories. Keep thinking back to that story and what I told you if you have trouble understanding. Am I clear?"
I was speechless. My gut still told me to ask more, but I could take a hint, so I nodded, if it gave me any excuse for her to stop leering at me.
"Good," she said, "Now, go get some sleep."
Before I went, she pulled me in again and craned her head to lick me on the face, then let me go for me to make my own way back to our den. Thankfully, no one else was awake to ask me what I was doing up so late, so I curled up back into my spot and rehearsed the story again in my head. After a few repeats, a pang of anger welled inside me. Was that really what life was like outside that island? What would happen if one of those humans came down to our island? Or worse, what would happen if they met me? Over time, I got more tired as the questions faded into the background, and I went to sleep not long after.