Chapter Sixteen: Hero
"How far away is Eterna Forest?"
The group currently sat by the gorgeous lake and waterfall that served a double purpose of keeping their home's entrance hidden. The air was filled with cool mist from the falling water. The water was still sparkling and clear, smoothing out to gentle ripples by the shore they were sitting on. They had stopped so that Lily and Jet could take a quick swim, Lily to clean up and Jet for obvious reasons, and to get nice and hydrated before their journey. Lily remembered seeing the Mightyena across the lake for the first time just last night, and failed to suppress the chills from running down her spine.
Jet paddled closer to Riolu, who had asked the question. "Probably a couple days if we make a straight course. But that's not very likely." He dove back under the surface, disappearing in the water for a few moments as his species tended to do. Lily shoved her head under the water to look for him, but even with the ultra clear water, could not locate him.
"Why can't we just make a straight cut?" she asked after they had both resurfaced. Sindri laughed under his breathe, though Lily would have missed it if not for her sensitive new ears. Stepping out of the lake, she looked at him questioningly.
"Are you that dense?" the Jolteon asked. "We can't follow the same pathways that the humans use, and we can't just waltz through their towns – we'll all be in those cruel little devices they carry around before sundown if we attempt it." Lily ignored his rude, but true, reply and stopped to think for a moment. Which direction did she and Riolu go after leaving the lab? They had to have traveled on to route 202, as she knew route 201 and Verity Lake area very well, and this lake was not it. They must be some ways to the east of route 202, she finally decided.
"We need to go north then," Lily said, more to herself than to anyone. That meant traveling through Jubilife City and Floaroma Town. She wasn't too concerned about Floaroma Town, as it was a tiny little town, peaceful and quiet, with plenty of fields and trees around for cover. Jubilife was one of Sinnoh's largest cities though, with tons of trainers passing through at all times. Any trainer would jump at the chance to catch a wild Eevee, Vaporeon, or Jolteon. Sindri was right. The routes and Jubilife would have to be avoided, even if it put them behind a bit.
"You know where we are, then?" Jet asked with a surprised look.
"Kind of," she replied. "Mom and I go to Jubilife City once in a while to shop." Used to, she reminded herself bitterly. Before she was a foot tall and covered in fur.
"What is 'shop'?" The Vaporeon asked curiously, shaking like a wet dog after stepping out of the lake. Lily looked at him disbelievingly for a moment before coming to her senses and realizing she was surrounded by Pokemon that had rarely even seen a human, let alone had any way of knowing a human's vocabulary or subjects of interest.
"Erm...trading for goods, I suppose," she explained. Explaining the concept and value of money would be much more difficult than that of trading in general, so she stuck with the easy explanation. Looking around, the misfit human realized it was time to go. The group had gotten quiet, and the unspoken vote to leave was made as they all finally stood up and looked at the lake and surrounding forest. Their home. As the rest of the group started walking away, Lily stole one last glance at the falls and the sparkling lake, feeling just a little bit of sorrow. She was leaving behind everything she'd known thus far as an Eevee.
The human sighed for what had to have been the tenth or eleventh time in the past half hour. Sindri shot a glare at the girl in warning, while Jet looked over with one eyebrow – if you could call it an eyebrow – raised.
The group of six had been walking all morning, sticking to a crude path in the woods that was obviously created and maintained by other Pokemon, probably Stantler or larger game animals. The sun was at high noon, and Lily was burning up, the fur on her body making her a lot toastier than usual. The previous shade from the trees was gone until the sun moved farther along in the sky, and the brush was too thick to travel in very quickly. They had given up comfort for faster travel.
An internal struggle was happening for the seventeen year old as she fought between giving into her new body and its needs, and her human mind and its wants. She was hot, and as she had previously found out, the fastest way for most four legged creatures to cool down was to pant. Lily had an insane desire to let her tongue hang out of her mouth, somehow internally knowing that it would make her feel better, but she just couldn't allow herself to do it, despite the fact that several of her friends around her were doing just that.
She knew that she was taking a risk at overheating because of her thick, insulated fur, but she kept hoping that they would come across some sort of water source soon. If not for the quick pace and said fur, she probably would have loved the feel of the sun on her back. As it was though, she was just hot and miserable.
Besides herself, Nurul also seemed to be having a hard time. She, being a dark type, was not exactly thrilled about walking around the woods in broad daylight. The Sneasel seemed to mostly keep to herself, occasionally talking to Riolu and Patch. Lily wondered where Nurul was from, and how old she was. She seemed so...distant. Lily had never met a Pokemon that was so antisocial, even back in her human life, though she supposed all the Pokemon at the lab were trainer raised, usually with love and care. And now that she thought about it, wild Sneasels were only found in dark caves, or in high altitude places with snow and ice. How did she come to live in the woods on route 202 anyways?
"Are we almost there?" whined Riolu, either ignoring or not noticing the previous looks that Lily had gotten for her own impatience. "My feet hurt."
"Me too," Patch added in. Jet gave a small smile in sympathy, then looked over at Sindri, the Jolteon already knowing what he was going to ask.
"It wouldn't hurt to take a little break," said the Vaporeon. "They're all quite younger than us, with smaller legs." Sindri took a condescending look around at the group, as if deciding if a break was really needed or not. His answer surprised Lily.
"Fine. I'm going to find water." Sindri replied shortly. He bound off the trail without waiting for a reply, jumping over logs and ducking under bushes. Patch and Riolu both plopped down to rest instantaneously, while Nurul ducked off the trail to sit in the shade. They were all relieved to simply sit down for just a moment.
Lily looked up at Jet, confused. "Why can't we just dig a little hole and fill it with your water?"
"Well for starters, Sindri didn't want to stick around here for longer than he had to," Jet laughed. "And just because I'm a water Pokemon doesn't mean I have an endless supply of water. I might get weak or dehydrated trying to give enough water to all of us in this heat." Lily nodded in understanding. That made sense. Jet needed to keep his water supply and strength for any unwanted surprises.
The growling of Lily's stomach interrupted her thoughts about water types. Time to find food. She glanced over at Riolu to see that he and Patch had fallen asleep rather quickly. "I'm going to look around a bit," she told Jet. "Will you stay here?" she asked, glancing again at their sleeping companions.
"Of course," he replied, laying down by the two smaller creatures and wrapping his thick tail protectively around them. "Bring back some food if you find any," he added.
"I'll go with you," Nurul said, getting to her feet, probably anxious to explore the new area and get out of the direct sunlight. The two made their way off the trail and into the brush, opposite of the way Sindri had gone. For a while, nothing was said. It was a comfortable silence, only broken by the occasion forest noise or snapping of the twigs and leaves they tread over. Lily looked around in wonder, feeling comfortable and at ease with the tall trees surrounding them. A powerful, fresh scent hit her as they walked past a few pine trees. Why had she never noticed how good nature smelled? Oh yeah. Human nose.
"What was it like?" Nurul asked out of the blue, as if reading her thoughts. "Being human, I mean."
Lily was taken aback at the question, unsure of what to say. What was being a human like? Big soft beds, warm showers, three hot meals a day, television and computers. She tried to think of things that wouldn't offend the Sneasel though. It's not like being a Pokemon was all that bad either, besides the life and death situations she had encountered so far. In fact, she enjoyed her heightened senses. She could see more clearly and farther away, hear the tiniest noise with her large ears, and scents were dozens of times more potent.
"Things are more...advanced, and complex," she finally said. "We invent things that help us live, making life less of a struggle. We still have fun and work hard though. We don't compete against each other for food or territory like out here in the wild. The only competitive aspect about human life, at least in my opinion, is Pokemon training. Life isn't a matter of survival, but of enjoyment."
"Enjoyment," Nurul scoffed. "I don't understand how you humans can enjoy capturing creatures against their will and forcing them to fight. There's nothing entertaining about that."
"It's not like that," Lily defended her species quickly. Not that she herself would even know since she wasn't even a trainer. Her brother though, he loved his Pokemon, and considered them to be friends and equals. "Pokemon aren't our slaves. Humans are suppose to treat their Pokemon with kindness and love, and help them grow stronger."
"And you think they all do?" Nurul continued, getting a bit accusatory. "I've seen trainers abuse their Pokemon, force them to fight, force them to evolve with those stones, even force them to breed. And then what, after the human decides his journey is over, or they find a stronger or more rare Pokemon? They get left in their Pokeballs to rot or abandoned. You think out of all the Pokemon that have been captured in the history of this world, that all of them wanted to be taken out of their homes, away from their family, and expected to fight against other Pokemon for a trophy that means nothing to us? No." The Sneasel slashed a branch off a tree after the last bit of her rant, and Lily finally saw what was going on. Nurul was much more knowledgeable than the other Pokemon with how humans worked, knowing words like Pokeball and trophy...how could a wild Pokemon know anything like that?
"Nurul," she started, after allowing a few moments for the dark type to calm down. "Have you been captured before?" Nurul snapped her eyes over to meet Lily's own eyes, holding the gaze for what felt like eternity. Finally, she slid down the tree she was leaning against and into a sitting position, her eyes shut tight. Lily cautiously made her way to the Sneasel, sitting down to lean up against her in a way she hoped would comfort the other creature.
"My owner," Nurul started, "He was great at first. We trained all the way through Johto. We won badges and even made it pretty far in the league. I was became good friends with him and his other Pokemon. At first I was a little sad to be captured, having to leave my own pack behind. But then I realized that my team, they were my new family, and we grew strong because of each other." She paused, preparing herself for the part of the story that hurt. "Then he started changing, once we got here, in Sinnoh. He started catching new Pokemon that he had never seen before, replacing us one by one. When he caught a Poochyena, of all things, it was my turn to go." She shook her head in a disgusted manner. Lily knew that Nurul must have been here on route 202 since that day, and that the Poochyena was likely from Keir's own pack. What a horrible thing to do.
"I'm sorry," Lily said after her story. "That you had to go through that. If it makes you feel better, I'm not even a trainer." Nurul looked over, and to Lily's surprise, had a small smile on her face.
"It's been about a year. Time to move on. He's not coming back, and there's no reason for me to put up with that pack of mutt's while I wait around. I'm free now, from him and from Keir." Lily nodded in agreement. She now felt naïve for thinking that all trainers were good. There were trainers out there who didn't deserve the opportunity they had been given, not to mention crime organizations that used Pokemon for evil, like Team Rocket or Team Plasma. She made a silent promise to become more involved in preventing such abuse once she was human again, and making sure Nurul found a good home. In fact, Riolu would be a lot happier if she 'adopted' Patch and Nurul once she became human again. Yet again, she was reminded to discuss these matters with Riolu himself later on. For now though, it was probably about time they get going.
"We should get back soon. Let's hurry and find some lunch," she said finally. Nurul agreed. They continued their trek through the woods, finally finding an apple tree. Nurul, having the ability to walk on two feet and have her hands free, grabbed as many as she could hold. Lily found a large leaf and carried three apples as well, using her teeth to carry the makeshift bag around. They quickly made their way back to the trail, where everyone was waiting for them.
"You found apples!" Patch exclaimed happily. He ran over and claimed one for himself, immediately chowing down. Riolu was right behind him. Everyone got their fill of the sweet fruit, making due with the lack of water, since Sindri had returned with no sign of water nearby. Lily felt refreshed enough though, and imagined the others were fine as well. They continued on the trail, everyone in a better mood. Lily kept her eyes peeled for signs of the actual route nearby, or even signs of Jubilife. They had decided to go around the city instead, but needed to find it first, so she knew they were on the right track at least. They had to be getting close.
The hours continued to pass with no sign of civilization. At least not human civilization. To Lily's enjoyment, they passed several Pokemon along the trail, mostly bug and plant types, with the occasional flying type. When a mother Breloom passed them on the trail, the seventeen year old couldn't help but smile as the five little Shroomish cutely followed behind her in a single file line. As time wore on, and the sun was finishing up its last few hours in the sky for the day, the signs were becoming clear that Jubilife City was fairly close.
The first and most obvious sign was surprisingly the aroma. The air slowly started losing the natural earthy smell, turning into something much more complex. The smell itself was hard to describe, as it wasn't so much a single scent, but a symphony of scents, some pleasant and some not so pleasant. It was the smell of a city. Lily could identify a few scents right away – gasoline, vehicles, smoke. As they closed in on the city, she smelled more, like food from the nearby restaurants and the sweet smell of pollen from the decorative flowers scattered throughout the town. The smells, sounds, and sights increased until they were staring at the city gates, right on the edge of the woods.
"What's the plan, then?" Nurul asked no one in particular. The six of them had taken to sitting just behind the tree line, watching Jubilife through the gates that surrounded the entire city. The gates were something Lily had forgotten. They stretched extremely far from east to west, the city being wider than it was length wise, forming somewhat of a rectangle. She wondered why the fencing was there to begin with. Maybe wild Pokemon had been a bother to the city in the past. Or maybe they just looked nice. She wasn't sure.
"It's a pretty far walk around these gates," Jet answered, "But we'll have to go around, or risk getting the attention of any trainers around. The sun is starting to set, so we should be fine starting whenever you guys are ready, right Sindri?"
"The sooner the better," was the Jolteon's reply as he stood up and started walking. The others stood up and followed, everyone making sure to stay close enough so that they could see past the gates and into the city, but still in the trees enough to not blow their cover in the case that someone look their way. Lily was surprised at how close the woods were to the gates, only a yard or two of clearance between the two.
The wind picked up, blowing a stray piece of paper towards the group. It smacked into Patch, who immediately freaked out from the sudden offender, being so high strung. Jet, Lily, and Riolu watched with amusement while Sindri and Nurul rolled their eyes at the Pachirisu's sad attempts to defeat a flier. He finally wrestled the paper off of his body with Riolu's help, pinning it down to the ground.
"Lily," Riolu said, his laughter stopping immediately. His eyes held an odd, worried expression, uncharacteristic for the little fighting type. He was intently staring at the paper on the ground.
"What's wrong?" Lily asked, concerned. Everyone else was waiting to find out what the hold up was, too. Riolu simply pointed at the paper under Patch's feet. Lily walked closer, squinting her eyes to make out what was on the white sheet. She gasped as she realized what it was.
The group quickly gathered around, looking at the picture of Lily's human self. Lily recognized the picture instantly. It had been taken months ago, on her seventeenth birthday. Her grandpa and brother had been cropped out of the picture, she noticed, but in her arms was a small, oval object – Riolu's egg. At the top of the page, Lily recognized the word 'Missing' in bold red letters. She didn't bother reading the rest of the print, a sense of loss coming over her. She was missing. Her family was looking for her, and had probably been in Jubilife handing these fliers out.
Lily turned and looked over at Jubilife at the thought of her family being there recently, but was even more shocked at what she saw. Near the fence was a smallish pavilion area with a simple, circular fountain sitting in the center. Stone benches surrounded the fountain. Sitting on one of said benches was none other than her brother, Lucas, head resting in his hands, a pile of papers sitting next to him. Without a moment of hesitation or thought, Lily started sprinting towards him.
"Lucas!" she called out, right against the fence at this point. "Lucas, it's me!"
"What is she doing!" Sindri hissed. "She's going to get us all in trouble!"
"I'll get her," Riolu said before darting after her. Patch followed right behind him to help. They caught up with her at the fence, where she was already halfway squirming her way beneath it.
"Lily stop!" Patch cried, grabbing one of her hind legs and pulling. "You can't go in there!" Lily struggled to crawl forward, not caring about their protests. Lucas had of course noticed the commotion at this point. He looked up to see quite a sight – an Eevee stuck beneath the fence, with a Riolu and a Pachirisu attempting to get it unstuck. He couldn't help but smirk at the odd Pokemon, despite his own situation. He walked over to help the little fox out.
"Lily, please! We have to go!" Riolu begged. Lily continued to fight though, not listening.
"Hey there, little guy," Lucas said softly, trying to calm the creature. "You're quite a rare sight. Need some help?" He reached out with both hands, easily tugging Lily the rest of the way. She didn't fight as he held her in his arms. He looked for a collar or some sign of ownership. "You sure are calm for a wild Pokemon," he murmured. The trainer thought of his own Eevee, which reminded him again of his sister and the accident. He just had to find her soon. She was out there somewhere, he could just feel it.
"We have to do something," Jet growled under his breathe. He, Sindri, and Nurul watched helplessly from the tree line. There wasn't much any of them could do at this point. None of them could have fit under the fence, and even if they could, it would likely cost them their freedom. Lily had made a bad choice, and would have to get out of it herself if it turned dangerous. Patch and Riolu continued to stand by the fence, begging Lily to run back over to them.
"My sister likes Eevee quite a lot," Lucas told the creature in his arms, not really caring if it could understand or not.
"I am your sister!" she replied desperately, but in vain. Lucas could not understand her, that much was apparent. Her eyes teared up as she realized there was nothing she could do to comfort her brother or the rest of her family.
"In fact," Lucas continued, "She would love to have you once I find her. You would make a perfect gift, since you already seem to be comfortable with people." He smiled at the thought of presenting Lily with such a rare, beautiful creature. Maybe it would make up for all the times he couldn't be there for her as an older brother. With the thought of seeing her again, he made his decision to capture the Eevee. A quick reach into his pocket produced an empty Pokeball.
Lily's expression quickly turned to fear at the sight of the device. "Lucas, don't. What are you doing with that?" she asked him, knowing he couldn't understand her anyways. She couldn't be captured! There was no way she would ever get her life back if she did. Lucas would continue to look for his sister, and Lily herself would continue to wait for a day that would never come while stuck inside a Pokeball with no way to communicate with any of them. Lily started squirming in his arms, suddenly realizing that she should have listened.
"Shh, it's okay!" he told her. Bringing the Pokeball closer and closer. She fought him even more and finally broke free, falling to the ground in a hurry. Before she could get up again though, Lucas had already thrown the ball towards her. With a burst of red, the Pokeball opened up, sucking in the energy from the Pokemon it hit, binding it to the ball. With three shakes and a soft 'click' sound, the Pokemon was captured.
But it wasn't Lily.
Riolu's breathing had stopped as he watched the ball race towards Lily, sealing her fate – or so he thought. At the last minute, Patch had scurried under the fence, much easier than Lily had due to his smaller size, and dove in front of the Eevee.
"Patch!" Riolu called with teary eyes, but it was too late.
Lily herself had stared in horror as Patch was caught. Guilt immediately overwhelmed her, along with hurt for her brother unknowingly betraying her and her friends. That was suppose to be for her. She should be in that Pokeball, not the poor little Pachirisu she had come to know and care for. Her train of thought quickly changed into fear again as Lucas frowned and reached for another Pokeball. Lily stood up and and ran, forcing her way under the fence faster than she had thought possible, the metal likely bruising her back from the abuse. She and Riolu quickly ran back to the safety of the trees, hearts pounding and tears in their eyes.
Sindri immediately started yelling at her. "Are you stupid? What do you think you're doing, running out there like–"
"Just shut up, Sindri. I know what I did. I don't need you to tell me," Lily snapped back. She felt guilty enough without his help. Patch was gone. It was her fault, and her fault only. Looking over at Riolu, her guilt only intensified. Tears stained the fur on his face.
"Riolu, I...I'm so sorry," she whispered. He had been closer friends with Patch than any of them, if only just. "I'll get him back, I swear," she promised. Riolu looked at her, a doubtful expression on his face.
"How?" he asked.
"When I'm human again," she explained. "I'll make Lucas give him to me. Lucas is good to his Pokemon, Patch will be fine." Riolu nodded, wiping away his tears. He was hopeful again at the prospect of seeing Patch again. Nurul walked over to put one paw each of Lily and Patch's shoulders, giving them a gentle squeeze.
"It will work out. Patch made his own choice. Just don't let his heroism go to waste," the Sneasel spoke wisely, giving Lily a meaningful glance.
"Let's go," Jet said finally. "I want to get away from this city quickly, before anything else happens."
Everyone agreed, and the group started walking away. Lily turned to take one last look at her brother, who was dejectedly gathering his things from the bench, probably upset about not having a gift for his sister now. Lily knew that the Pachirisu he had just captured would be the best thing he could possibly give her, once she returned home. She continued on, Riolu at her side, praying that the Pachirisu's sacrifice was not made in vain.
Woot! Chapter 16! So it's a couple days later than I planned, but still an update! And 8 reviews! I'm so happy.
In other news, I've spent my entire weekend editing EVERY LAST SENTENCE of One Wish thus far, correcting my horrible grammar/spelling/typing/plot mistakes, and even changing a little bit of the story here and there. In case you didn't notice in the reading, I have decided to up Lily's age to seventeen. I feel like she is a little mature for fifteen. It's not going to change the story any, so don't freak out. If you're an old reader, you don't have to reread anything if you don't want, it's nothing drastic. I'm just hoping to improve my earlier work, and get a few new readers.
Oh. I also changed all the previous chapter titles. They're all song titles from my all time favorite band, Skillet. Look them up if you're bored, and tell me what you think in your review. (:
Hoping to hear from you soon!
Nurul – Sneasel
Patch – Pachirisu
Jet - Vaporeon
Sindri - Jolteon
Akila - Espeon
Yalon - Umbreon