I Am Lucario
Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon.
It's going to be a long story, but I hope you'll read and review!
I strongly recommend adjusting the line spacing via the set of options above, as some of the paragraphs tend to get long.
May 28 2009 edit: Fixed the tense.
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This story uses British English, so you'll see words spelt liked 'colour', 'analyse' and 'licence' (noun) instead of 'color', 'analyze' and 'license'.
A solitary egg stood by a hill in Silver Forest, gently resting on a small patch of grass. No one knew how it got there. Few humans ever passed by that area, so the chances of it being abandoned by a trainer were remotely slim. The Pokémon living in the area did not notice any parent Pokémon leaving their egg behind either. Thus, its origin was widely speculated, but there were hardly any plausible theories as to where the egg came from. Some would even suggest the egg appeared out of thin air.
Wherever the egg came from, no one wanted anything to do with it. And so it lay there, all alone.
An egg left out in the open without any guardian was not entirely an odd occurrence. In some cases, the parents came back for their lost offspring. Those were the fortunate ones, what with the child being reunited with its parents.
Other eggs were found by humans. If they were lucky, they would go to a home with a compassionate human partner. If not, they would be the subject of cruelty and ridicule when they finally come into the world.
Some eggs, unfortunately, never hatch at all. And then there were those eggs that hatched all on its own. The newborn Pokémon were therefore left to fend for themselves against the harshness of nature as well as any hostile predators.
Such was the fate of the Pokémon in this particular egg.
It began with a small crack on the top of the egg. There was no one around, or they might gather to witness the birth of a Pokémon. There was another crack, and this time a blue fist emerged from the front of the egg. The egg began to shake violently; the creature within struggling to get out. This in turn caused the egg to topple sideways, rolling down the hill. It only stopped after the egg bumped into a tree, the impact shattering the egg completely and freeing the creature within.
The Pokémon rubbed his head with his paws. He felt dizzy and sore all over, but that no longer mattered to him after he opened his crimson eyes for the first time. Excitement washed over him. Everything was so beautiful! The light, the trees, the grass, the ground… It felt really great to finally escape the confinements of his tiny egg.
Despite his interest in the surrounding area, the first thing he did was to examine himself. Two blue paws. A small little tail. Two black feet. No injuries, despite tumbling down the way he did. Yep, he was a happy and ordinary Riolu.
He turned around and looked at the tree that helped him attain his freedom. Unable to resist himself, he lunged forward and hugged the tree. He couldn't help it. He was just so jubilant that simply sitting still would not do. After letting go of the tree, Riolu ran around the little field, running his paws over the grass and flowers growing around while laughing to himself. He examined everything; smelling the flowers until he sneezed, diving into bushes and even digging holes in the ground.
After doing so, he plopped down on a patch of grass and stared at the sky. The world seemed like one giant playground, Riolu mused. When a few minutes had gone by, a different emotion began to fill the little Riolu. He was getting lonely.
Where was everyone? He wanted someone to pet him and to cuddle him, showering him with love. He wanted to be fussed over. Why wasn't anyone in sight? Did nobody want him?
Riolu got up and rushed back to where he hatched and examined the fragments of egg shell on the ground. It didn't take him long to deduce that he fell from the nearby hill. Filled with excitement once more, Riolu grabbed just one small blue fragment and ran up the hill. They must be waiting for me up there!
Seeing no one atop the hill, he continued to wander. Hours soon passed, and Riolu was still trekking through the forest. His cries and pleas for his loved ones went unanswered. All of his hope and enthusiasm were slowly fading away. There were a couple of Pokémon up and about, but Riolu knew it wasn't them whom he was looking for. As the sun disappeared from view and light turned to darkness, Riolu experienced yet another new emotion: fear.
Tired and hungry, Riolu sat down besides a large tree. He looked up at the moon, which—despite fascinating him—did nothing to lift his spirits. It was evident that whoever he was looking for did not wait for him. Still, tomorrow comes another day. Hope began to form in the Riolu's mind again, though the enthusiasm was no longer there. Riolu then fell asleep shortly after, all the while clutching onto his egg fragment with the hope that someone out there did care.
Chapter One: Existence (Part One)
"We'll continue hanging on to those dreams, for the simple reason that we exist."
The days passed by fairly quickly, and before Riolu knew it, he was already a few months old. The time he spent surviving on his own had toughened him up physically and mentally, and like all little Pokémon, he grew up quite fast.
He never did find his parents, but he had learned how to live on his own. In the day he would forage for food. He would then separate everything he found into small rations which he would consume whenever needed. At night, he would find a safe spot to sleep on. At the same time, he continued on his little journey with no particular destination in mind. It was a good little routine which he stuck to most of the time. He only hated when it rained. Not only was it hard to do anything when it poured; there never was a perfect shelter for him to hide in.
By this time, Riolu had learnt how to communicate with other Pokémon. Despite all the different Pokémon having dissimilar forms of speech, it was easy to understand one another. It was almost as if everyone was using the same universal language. Not that Riolu met many different Pokémon, but so far, those he met had mostly been friendly.
Another communication skill that Riolu found handy was his ability to somehow know how others were feeling at the moment. If he concentrated really hard, he could detect faint pulses emitting from whoever he was talking to. This skill enabled him to converse with others tactfully based on their emotions. He also believed that he could send out his own emotions for others to feel, but unfortunately, there just wasn't many Pokémon for him to try it out on.
The very first Pokémon he met was a Shinx. It was just a few days after he hatched from his egg. The Shinx cautiously asked who he was, preparing to defend herself if necessary. Riolu did not answer. Instead, he ran and hid behind a bush, only poking out his head a little to stare at the stranger. It was a rather comical sight. The Shinx seemed to correctly deduce that he was a newborn. After pushing an apple towards him, the Shinx left with two words that Riolu would go on to remember for the days to come: "Good luck." He never did see that Shinx again.
After that, he had met several Cherubi, a Combee, a Buneary and even a Staraptor which Riolu did not dare approach. Perhaps the most memorable stranger was an Ariados. Despite being afraid of the Ariados initially, Riolu worked up enough courage to ask for some web so that he could wear his egg fragment instead of carrying it all the time. The Ariados was only too happy to do so, giving some web-string to the extremely grateful Riolu.
He eventually got over his shyness after each encounter, and soon began to chat happily with any Pokémon he met. The subject was usually about the other party, since there wasn't much to say about himself. However, he was satisfied just listening to others.
At times, he would ask about the world in general. He was told of cities and humans, and how Pokémon can be captured by humans using a Poké Ball. The idea horrified Riolu to no end, and he was determined to avoid any humans should he ever see one. When he voiced this out to a Loudred, the Loudred laughed loudly and advised Riolu to stay away from Ferrous City, in which many humans reside.
This only made Riolu curious. Loudred talked about buildings which reached for the sky as well as tar and rocks that covered the ground. He talked about vehicles which tore across the street, exhaling black smoke. It sounded like a dangerous place, but Riolu was amazed. He always thought the world was an endless ocean of trees and mountains.
Riolu then decided. He had to see it.
He was not going to put himself in risk of getting captured though. There was another way for him to see the city without entering it. All he had to do was find a nice vantage point, and he already had one in mind.
Silver Forest was a place with many mountains and hills, though they were mostly small. Even the tallest mountain seemed like it could be scaled in a few hours. There was a moderately tall mountain in the general direction of Ferrous City, according to Loudred. That would be the perfect spot to view the city.
Riolu thanked Loudred and scooted off. The journey to the mountain's base was tedious and time-consuming, but Riolu was still brimming with energy when he reached his destination. If there was one thing he had learned about himself, it was the fact that he did not tire from arduous journeys easily.
This particular mountain had no name. The Pokémon living in the area merely referred to it as 'the mountain overlooking the city'. It was as Loudred described; it wasn't as tall as other mountains that Riolu had seen, but it wasn't that small either. The path leading up was quite steep, however. Riolu can't imagine why anyone would want to bother climbing it if it wasn't to get a clear view of the city.
It took a good half-hour for Riolu to finally reach the summit. The peak was quite a flat area save for the many pebbles and rocks scattered around. A giant rock wall was situated at the back end of the peak, with the top marked by a sort of horn which would clearly be the absolute highest point of the mountain. Though the mountain wasn't very tall, it was surprisingly wide. In fact, Riolu had never been in such an empty, wide and open space before.
Riolu found a nice spot on the edge of the peak which formed a sort of cliff and sat on it, his legs hanging down. The view was magnificent. The world below was a huge sea of green. The trees of Silver Forest stretched out far and wide; Riolu did not even know the place was this big.
And further ahead, where the vast sea of green seemed to stop, Riolu saw Ferrous City. Tall structures protruded from the ground, all seemingly different from one another despite some similarities in structure. Unfortunately, that was all Riolu could see. If he wanted to explore more, he would have to venture once more to the outer edges of Silver Forest, though the risk of being spotted would be higher.
"I see you have come at last," a soft whimsical voice came from behind Riolu.
Riolu was terrified. The shock almost made him fall forward, but he stopped himself in time. He turned around and saw a tall bird-like Pokémon staring at him intently. It had white wings which were held in front of its green body. Riolu could see strange markings on the stranger's body, which seemed to form a terrifying face.
Riolu dashed past the bird Pokémon and hid behind a giant boulder, which obscured him completely. He then stuck his head out from the side and stared at the stranger. Though he was not very shy anymore, the shock of seeing another Pokémon up here made him revert back to his cowardly mentality.
Xatu turned towards the vista which Riolu was looking at earlier. The sun was starting to set, bathing the vicinity with a bright orange hue. "You needn't be afraid of me. I am but a humble Xatu."
Sensing nothing hostile about Xatu, Riolu slowly got out from his hiding place. Xatu was still staring straight ahead, away from Riolu. A quick attempt at reading Xatu's emotions revealed nothing, much to Riolu's surprise. It was the first time his ability had failed him. Perhaps Xatu's mind was empty at the moment.
Riolu sidled over and sat next to where Xatu was standing. Whereas Xatu was gazing into the distance, Riolu's eyes remained fixed on the stranger. Both stayed that way for some time, with Xatu seemingly not knowing that the blue Pokémon was seating next to him.
"Where do you plan to go after this?" Xatu suddenly asked, startling Riolu once more.
Riolu regained composure and thought for a moment, taking his eyes away from Xatu. "I… do not know…"
Xatu nodded as if he understood perfectly. "Perhaps we were never meant to know about certain things."
Riolu did not understand, but kept quiet.
"Though I wouldn't advise climbing down this mountain now, since it's getting late. It would be more prudent to spend the night up here, don't you think?" The Xatu turned to look at Riolu. The little Emanation Pokémon couldn't help but feel that Xatu was the one reading Riolu's mind and emotions.
"Maybe," Riolu answered. "What about you? Where will you be going?"
"I live here, and thus I will stay here tonight as well. Just like every other day."
"You live here?" Riolu asked incredulously. As far as he could tell, there wasn't anyone else up on the mountain. Riolu couldn't imagine why anyone would want to stay all alone at a desolate place.
"I have built a home here. Follow me."
Xatu walked slowly towards the huge rock wall at the other end of the summit. Riolu followed closely behind, trying to spot where Xatu's home was. The summit was quite barren.
Riolu watched keenly as Xatu stopped short in front of the rock wall. A weird aura began to envelope Xatu, who started to spread his wings. Riolu stared in amazement as a small portion of the rock wall began to separate smoothly and silently. Before long, a large opening had formed. The path ahead was dark, but Riolu could see that it spiraled downwards.
"Secret Power," Xatu explained, "can be used to reveal or conceal my home."
Once inside, the Xatu used Secret Power again to close the opening. Oddly enough, there was still light in the cave. Riolu could see that this was because of several openings of varying sizes on the walls. Light from the outside poured in through these holes, illuminating the cave with the evening's orange glow. Riolu ran up to one of these holes and peered outside.
"Amazing, isn't it? From the outside, it would be hard to spot these openings. They do provide good lighting in the day though. Plus, it lets fresh air in."
Riolu ran back to keep up with Xatu. "You live inside here?"
"A little further down. This cave is very extensive, even reaching the core of this mountain. My little room isn't that far in though."
Sure enough, the little path soon widened into a large open space. The room was significantly brighter than the path leading towards it due to bigger holes filling up one whole section of the wall.
Many strange-looking objects were placed all over the room. Having never seen any of them before, Riolu ran forward to take a closer look. He marveled at a lit candle, amazed at how a small stick can contain a baby flame on top of its head. He stared amusedly at a little bonsai plant, which Xatu revealed was only a replica. He joyously squished and hugged a little bolster that was propped against the wall.
"It's a really nice place you got here," Riolu commented, still hugging the bolster. "Just like a small little haven; a perfect little sanctuary… and the décor's great too!"
"I'm glad you like it. You are free to stay here as long as you like."
"What are all these stuff anyway?"
"They are but mere treasures I have collected over the years. Many of them are items from humans."
Xatu walked over to where the openings on the walls were and motioned to two big stacks of hay. "These haystacks serve as makeshift beds. You may sleep here if you want."
Riolu placed the bolster where he found it and ran over to a haystack. He plopped down onto it and was awed by how comfortable it felt. The hay was incredibly soft and surprisingly cooling. Since the haystack was situated near the holes on the wall, Riolu could feel the outside wind blowing in. It was the first time he ever had a proper place to sleep. He turned to Xatu.
"Xatu? Why are you being so kind to me?"
Xatu looked at Riolu and remained quiet for a while. "… Because I care."
Riolu woke up, feeling completely revitalised. The cave was basked in the morning light now, greatly illuminating the place. Xatu was already up and about, staring out into the morning scenery. Riolu couldn't help but wonder if Xatu spent the whole night awake.
"Good morning!" Riolu greeted cheerfully.
Xatu did not stir; his eyes still transfixed on the vista in front of him.
Xatu turned to look at Riolu. "… Oh, you're awake. Good morning."
"I had the best night's sleep ever! Thank you!"
"You are most welcome. Like I said, you may continue living here indefinitely if you wish to."
"Oh, no, sir… I don't want to trouble you. I will be leaving today. However, I am very grateful to you, and if I could ever do anything to repay your kindness…" Riolu said with his head bowed, "I would do my best."
Xatu waved off Riolu's offer. "You needn't worry about it. You are no trouble at all. In fact, I appreciate the company."
Riolu grinned. "You're very kind, sir. But I wish to explore the area more. Maybe someday, when I'm stronger and braver, I will even head out to Ferrous City and find out what humans are. I'm sure I'll come and visit you again though."
Xatu nodded. He then motioned to a large crate with the tip of his wing. "At the very least, you should have something to eat before you set off. The box contains food from the forest as well as from the city."
"From the city? Food?" Riolu exclaimed excitedly, running over to the crate. The crate was brimming with various odd items. Riolu grabbed a packet of biscuits and stared at the packaging.
"It feels funny," Riolu commented, squishing the plastic wrapping. "It makes a funny sound too. Are you sure this is edible?"
"You have to open it first." Xatu took the packet and ripped it open, handing back the package to Riolu.
The blue Pokémon stared at the exposed biscuits. "This is the edible part?"
"Yes. Try it. It's called a biscuit. There are many variations of it."
Everything about the biscuit was strange, yet intriguing at the same time. Riolu was used to eating soft berries when he was in the forest, but the biscuit was surprisingly hard for something so small. Chewing it seemed to produce some sort of sound, and for a minute, Riolu was munching on the biscuit just to hear the crunching noises.
The taste was something else as well. The cream filling was sweet, though not as sweet as some of the berries he had eaten before. Still, it was a very pleasant taste.
"Do humans eat this all the time?"
"Some do, though they eat all sorts of other things as well. You like it?"
Riolu nodded, examining the uneaten bit of his biscuit. He couldn't help but wonder what other foodstuffs the humans had created.
"Well, there are plenty more items here," Xatu said, rummaging through the crate once more. "You can bring them with you in case you get hungry."
"Ah… I don't think that's necessary, sir! Really, I'm fine. It's yours anyhow, and I won't be able to carry it all with me anyway."
"If you insist then…" Xatu stopped searching in the crate and stared at Riolu instead.
Riolu took another biscuit and began eating it. After a while though, he realised Xatu was still gazing at him. Although he was used to Xatu's habit of staring into space, having Xatu watch him like that made him uneasy. "Um… Xatu, sir?"
Xatu did not response.
"… You'll be fine," Xatu said in a low whisper. "Yes, you will do all right."
Riolu was perplexed. Xatu must have seen the confusion on Riolu's face, for he quickly added, "I mean, you will be fine out there, alone… surviving."
Xatu sighed as Riolu continued staring at him blankly. "Riolu… there are many roads in our lives, and it is up to us which road we should take. Even if we end up in the same general area, our precise location will still be different. Thus, we never know what exactly lies in the future. There are many possible outcomes, but which is the true one?"
If anything, all this talk only made Riolu feel more bewildered.
"I believe that no matter what road you should choose, you will be fine for the next few months."
"The next… next few months?" Only for the next few months?
"I would advise you not to think about it too much. I've been spouting nonsense again. You're still young," Xatu said, patting Riolu with a wing. "Go out there and enjoy your life."
True to Xatu's words, Riolu faced no major problems in the following months. Life went on as it always did; exploring and foraging being a part of Riolu's daily routine. He had many more pleasant encounters with Pokémon, and some not-so-nice ones as well.
He even had his first taste of how terrifying a battle could be. The little spite was caused by a little moment of carelessness. Trudging down a path filled with leaves and twigs, Riolu stepped and tripped on what he thought was a fallen tree branch. Unfortunately, the 'branch' turned out to be a Seviper's tail, and it did not appreciate being trodden on.
Despite his pleas, Seviper attacked. Riolu managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises which he got from being slashed by his opponent's bladed tail. Although he only suffered from minor physical injuries, Riolu was emotionally scarred. He vowed to toughen up, which led to him adding a new training regimen to his daily routine.
When there was nothing else to do, Riolu would head to the outskirts of Ferrous City and hide among the bushes and trees. Human-gazing became a hobby of his. Funny creatures the humans were; they seemingly come in all shapes and sizes, each one of them scurrying around in their everyday activities. Many Pokémon live in the city as well, though Riolu never came into contact with any of them. He never dared to set foot into the city itself. Instead, he contented himself by gazing silently as the humans rush by.
When night fell, Riolu would scamper off and find a place to sleep. Night was perhaps his most hated time of the day. It was dark, and he could not do much. Few people were up and about at night, making human-gazing a boring activity. Even the Pokémon in Silver Forest tend to settle down when the sun sets. Those who were active at night, however, mostly seemed cold and unapproachable.
Night also brought about feelings of loneliness in Riolu. He noticed that many Pokémon lived together, whether they are part of a pack or a family. They would do everything as a group in the morning, and then turn in together at night. In contrast, Riolu did everything alone.
He always pondered where his parents were, or who they were, for that matter. He had seen many young Pokémon living happily with their parents; being fussed about and pampered, being utterly cared for. He always ended up feeling jealous, wishing that he had been as lucky as them to be loved.
Perhaps his parents were looking for him, Riolu thought happily. Perhaps they were searching frantically all over the place. He wondered if his parents knew about him hatching. What if they were still searching for an egg? What if they found the remains of the eggshell out there in the hill where he hatched? At least he still had something that connected him to that egg…
With these thoughts in mind, Riolu frequently ended up sleeping while clutching onto the eggshell fragment that was hanging around his neck, hoping that one day, he would be able to use it in order to prove his existence to his parents.
The turning point in Riolu's life took place when he stumbled into a group of fighting-type rogues consisting of a Machoke, a Primeape and a Medicham. Hearing some sort of commotion coming from a clearing ahead, Riolu's curiosity led him to investigate. It turned out that a poor, defenseless Bidoof was being beaten up by the three Pokémon. Riolu made the critical mistake of letting out a gasp, alerting everyone to his presence.
All eyes turned to him, including Bidoof's. The rogues were clearly surprised by the intrusion, and Bidoof seized the opportunity to escape. The Machoke yelled out in anger as Bidoof scampered away, but made no attempt at chasing his prey. Instead, he glowered at Riolu.
It took all of Riolu's courage just to remain standing.
"You just lost us our victim, little buddy!" the Primeape growled. The three Pokémon advanced towards Riolu, who was too frightened to move. "How do you plan to make up for that?"
Riolu did not answer; or rather, he couldn't. Before he knew it, his body was shaking involuntarily.
"The little guy's quivering!" Machoke chortled. The other two joined in the laughter, but Machoke held up a hand to silence them. He walked up to Riolu and bent down so he was at Riolu's height. "Listen up, kid. This is our territory now. Passers-by will have to pay a mandatory fee just to walk by."
"I… I think I'll just go the other way then," stammered Riolu. He hated how soft his voice came out. It was a clear sign of weakness which Machoke seemed to take advantage of immediately.
"It's too late for that. You helped that Bidoof escape. You intruded on our turf. For that, you pay the price. So, what have you got there?" Machoke's eyes narrowed down to the necklace Riolu was wearing.
Seeing this, Riolu instinctively clutched the eggshell fragment, obscuring it from his adversaries' view. "It's nothing important."
"If it's nothing important, why are you holding onto it, boy?" the Medicham voiced out.
"It's not something you would want!" Riolu said loudly, his voice rising to a rather high-pitched tone. "It's just an eggshell!"
"Hmm… an eggshell… attached to some webbing from an Ariados? That's good handiwork." Machoke rose to his full height again and folded his massive arms. "All right, it's decided then. You give us the necklace; we give you your freedom."
"N-no! It's my eggshell!" Riolu pleaded, clutching onto the eggshell a little harder. "I need it! Without it, my parents… my parents wouldn't know…"
"Aw, look, he's starting to cry," Primeape commented as Riolu wiped away the tears that were starting to form.
Machoke frowned. "Tears aren't going to help, kid. Make a decision now!"
Riolu looked up at the Machoke, then at the other two standing behind him. Without hesitation, he turned heel and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He didn't get far; a Focus Blast from Medicham hit him from the back, sending him flying forward and crashing facedown onto the ground.
His adversaries ran up to him and began attacking, just as they did to Bidoof a while ago. Throughout the beating, Riolu held onto the eggshell fragment, still determined not to let anyone take it from him. Just when he was slipping away from consciousness, the beating stopped. Puzzled by the sudden display of mercy, Riolu slowly opened his eyes only to discover that there was someone else with them.
It was Xatu, clutching onto something. He couldn't see what was going on; his vision was still bleary. From what he could tell though, Xatu seemed to have engaged the rogues in a conversation.
"… on a helpless Pokémon; have you no shame?" Riolu heard Xatu say in his usual soft voice, though there were traces of anger in it.
"Well, give us something in exchange for the life of this runt, then!" said Machoke, eyeing the object that Xatu was holding. Riolu strained his eyes harder and saw that it was an item from Xatu's collection, though exactly what it was he didn't know.
"That's what I'm here for." Xatu tossed the object into Machoke's face and walked over to Riolu. Machoke grunted and turned the item around in his hand, probably evaluating its worth. Riolu finally got a clear view of the object: a large golden bangle.
"Hey, hey, I believe this is a sort of jewelry! It's a valuable item for humans," Primeape commented.
Machoke looked impressed. He held up the bangle and motioned to Xatu, "Not bad. We accept. Just remember though, the payment's good for today only. If we see that kid again, he'd better get ready something else for us."
Xatu, who was tending to Riolu, turned back and faced the trio in anger. "You'd better not lay another finger on him!"
"Oh, really?" Machoke chuckled. "Who is he to you anyway?"
"He's my son, and I'm not going to let him suffer under the likes of you!"
Xatu's response was met with bursts of laughter. Riolu looked up at Xatu in surprise. The psychic Pokémon was still glaring at the three rogues, a steely glint in his eye. For the first time, he could read Xatu's emotions: a little twinge of regret mixed with the strengthened resolve a parent would have when protecting their child. The feelings emitting from Xatu were very faint, but strong enough to be picked up. However, Xatu's emotions did not concern him as much as what he just heard Xatu say.
"Your son?" Machoke guffawed, looking from Riolu to Xatu. "I can totally see the resemblance! Well, kid, you better be thankful your 'pop' is around to save your hide. We will leave you together for some… er, family time. May we meet again!"
The three rogues turned and walked away, still laughing their heads off. Xatu stared after them, even though they had disappeared into the distance.
"It wasn't supposed to be this way," Xatu said, sighing softly. His eyes were still fixed onto the distant trees. "I did not anticipate this."
"Xatu, sir…" Riolu said, trying to get up on his feet. He groaned as his legs gave way and he fell onto the ground again. The fall broke Xatu out of his trance, and Riolu felt himself being supported by Xatu's wings.
"You need rest. Can you walk?"
Riolu nodded, attempting to stand again with Xatu's help. After a few seconds of wobbling around, he managed to stand up straight. With the support of Xatu, Riolu took a few small steps to gauge the extent of his injury. Despite the sharp pain he felt in his legs, they were strong enough to support him as he continued walking at a slow pace with Xatu.
After he was convinced that his legs were not going to give way anymore, Riolu looked up at Xatu and asked the question that had plagued him ever since Xatu's outburst. "You are not really my father, are you?"
Xatu continued to look ahead, avoiding Riolu's eyes. "No. I am not."
Riolu was unfazed. The answer did not really surprise him. Instead, he asked the next question with higher hopes: "Then do you know my parents?"
"… No. I do not."
"So… what you said to that Machoke…" Riolu began, but he was unable to finish the sentence. He could hear the disappointment in his own voice. Riolu looked down sadly at his own feet. It was understandable if Xatu had fibbed to save him, but at that time, Machoke was already willing to let him off. Why tell the unnecessary lie then?
"Do you believe in predictions, Riolu?" Xatu asked, his eyes still set on the road in front.
"No," Riolu answered despite not fully understanding what Xatu meant. "But I don't see why it matters what I believe anyway."
"Perhaps a fighting Pokémon like you place no faith in predictions, but it is very different for a psychic Pokémon," Xatu said. "I have been living by myself all these years, but I was never really alone. Often, I find myself living in my visions."
"Of the past; and the future. I frequent the future more often though. No use dwelling in the past."
Riolu shook his head. "I'm really sorry, but I do not understand."
"I can see into the future and the past."
The little blue Pokémon paused in his tracks, unsure of what he just heard. "Really?"
"The details are often sketchy, and my visions of the future don't always come to pass, but yes. I knew you before I even met you, because in every future vision of me that I saw, you were there."
"I'm with you? In the future?" Riolu asked quizzically. He began walking again; they were nearing the mountain in which Xatu resided.
"Yes. As I said, my visions are never fully accurate. However, I find myself living in those fantasies everyday."
"Wait… if you can see the past…" Riolu said, his ears perking up in excitement.
Xatu shook his head. "The only thing I can see in your past was the day you hatched." Noting the saddened look in Riolu's face, he added, "I'm sorry."
"No, don't be."
"Incidentally, you were almost discovered by a trainer that day. If you had lingered around in that area a little longer, you could have been caught."
Riolu did not reply. Instead, he continued looking forlornly at the ground.
"Would you prefer to live with a human, Riolu? You might find happiness. Your human partner could train you up to be big and strong; raise you with care and love."
"I don't know. I have not studied them long enough to come to a conclusion about their species."
"If you think you would be happy with a human, you should go try and find a nice one. Many would be glad to take you in, I'm sure. Your kind is very rare. A good person, however, will not judge you based on what you are."
"But if I stay with a human, I won't be with you, as you predicted," Riolu said pointedly.
"Riolu," Xatu said, half-exasperatedly, "you are not at all obliged to live your life according to my visions! What matters now is your happiness! I've told you before; the roads we choose will lead us to different places. Don't let anyone else choose for you the path to take."
"I don't know… I just don't know…" Riolu said, frustration growing within him. He felt like he was trapped in a little box without any chance of escaping its confinements. Already upset that he had no home or family, he was content to find solace by living his own little life the way he wanted to. Yet, despite minding his own business, he was ganged up on by three complete strangers. The world suddenly seemed like a brutal, unfriendly place.
"I'm sorry if I have upset you with my ramblings," Xatu said in his soothing voice once more. His words made Riolu wonder if he, Riolu, had accidentally broadcasted his feelings to Xatu. "Please don't think about what I've said anymore. You need rest."
"Xatu… I hope you don't mind me asking, but… why did you say that I'm your son?"
For the second time that day, Riolu managed to detect Xatu's emotions. This time, it was uneasiness.
"Oh, look. We're here at the base of the mountain," Xatu said calmly. "Do you think you're strong enough to climb up?"
Riolu shook his head, slightly annoyed at having his question ignored. "It's okay, I can just rest here for the day."
"That won't do." Xatu looked up at the mountain and thought for a moment. "I should be able to get you up there… but my wings aren't as strong as they used to be… hmm…"
"You're going to carry me?"
"No. I'm going to fly you up there."
"What?" Riolu gasped, alarmed. "Fly? Oh no, Xatu sir, I don't think—"
Before Riolu could protest, he was hoisted up onto Xatu's back. After making sure that Riolu was completely secured, Xatu lifted off from the ground with surprising swiftness. Riolu screamed in fright as the both of them soared higher into the atmosphere.
Within minutes, they had flown halfway up the mountain. Riolu wrapped his arms around Xatu's neck, mortally afraid of falling. He couldn't help but look down, even though doing so elevated his fears. As the ground grew further away, Riolu's imagination went to overdrive: he pictured himself falling and crashing into the ground in various ways; all of them fatal.
After a while, when they were nearing the summit, Xatu began to pant heavily. Fatigue had started to set in, and Xatu began dropping a little in altitude. Noticing this, Riolu hurriedly called out to Xatu.
"It's okay, I can walk from here. You can put me down now," he suggested, partly wanting to get his feet on solid ground again.
"Really? We're almost there. I can make it."
"So can I, if I walk. I've rested enough on your back anyway."
"… If you say so…" Xatu glided over to the rocky path and landed. Riolu got off his back eagerly. In contrast, Xatu looked reluctant to cut short his flight despite being exhausted.
The two began their slow hike up the rest of the mountain with Xatu supporting Riolu once more.
"Once again, I'm indebted to you," Riolu said. "You saved me from a thrashing, giving up one of your prized possessions in the process. You helped me protect my treasure," he pointed at the eggshell, "and now you're letting me impose on you by staying at your home again."
"Nonsense. You're not imposing on me at all. As for that bangle, it was a fake, but those three need not know that. It's practically worthless."
"But it's still yours! You needn't waste your items on me…" Riolu said, getting frustrated again. Even though he was grateful to Xatu, he did not know why a stranger would be willing to give so much and shake it all off as if it were nothing. Then he remembered about Xatu's visions, as well as the unanswered question he had asked earlier.
"Xatu, why did you claim that I am your son?"
"We're here," Xatu said, pointing at the summit with the tip of his wing. Riolu looked ahead. They were still quite a distance away from the summit, and Riolu knew that Xatu only wanted to change the subject again. Annoyance began welling up inside Riolu, but he kept quiet.
Upon reaching the rock wall, Xatu slowly withdrew his wings from Riolu's shoulder. Like the last time, the rocks slid away swiftly as Xatu used Secret Power. Though he had seen Xatu using the move before, Riolu was once again impressed.
After navigating the winding path within the cave, they finally reached the cozy confinements' of Xatu's room. The mere sight of it placated Riolu's annoyance with Xatu. The place was unchanged from the last time he was here, but Riolu thought it was perfect. He can't help but feel calm and secure as he felt that familiar breeze blowing against him. It was then that he realised just how much he missed this place.
Xatu helped Riolu over to the bed of hay – the same one he slept on the last time. Riolu sat down and peered out through the holes on the wall while Xatu strolled over to the corner to get something.
Xatu came back soon after with some Oran berries. "Eat these. It should help regain some of your energy."
Riolu took one and began chewing it, remembering that he had not eaten for some time now. As he swallowed a portion of the fruit, he asked another question that he just thought of. "Xatu, sir, how did you know I was in danger? I mean, you showed up out of nowhere, and you even brought along the bangle which you gave to Machoke."
"Visions, remember? I was watching into the future, and I saw you getting beaten up. It was incredibly vivid, so I knew it would probably come true – and soon, too," Xatu said. "So I quickly grabbed an item and scoured the forest for you. It took me ages to find you, and I was really glad when I did."
"Wouldn't you know where I was if you saw me in your vision?"
"My visions are not always precise. What I saw was a small clearing. It could have been anywhere."
Xatu's black eyes met the red ones of Riolu, and Riolu knew it was the perfect time to attack Xatu with the unanswered question once more. There was no way Xatu could brush it off again. "Then… why did you say that I'm your son?"
Xatu turned his head away hurriedly, his eyes now transfixed on the scenery outside the cave.
"Xatu, sir, please…" Riolu pleaded, "I really want to know…"
Xatu shifted uncomfortably. "… It's a little embarrassing, actually."
True to his words, Riolu was detecting traces of shame emitting from Xatu.
Xatu continued, "But I guess you'll never rest until I tell you. The truth is… in the visions I see of you…" Xatu halted his speech. The embarrassment radiating from him was becoming more and more intense.
"Go on," Riolu encouraged.
"Well… you always referred to me... as—" at this point, Riolu could have sworn that Xatu's face was becoming red "—well, your father, actually. It would seem that your future self sees me as a father figure or something."
"Oh," Riolu said weakly. He did not know what to think. For some reason, he felt his own face growing hot. He looked down at his feet and began massaging them for the sake of doing something; his unfinished Oran berry lying besides him, completely forgotten.
Xatu began shifting nervously again. "I don't think you're supposed to know about that now. It's only the second time we've met. I was afraid a premature revelation would make you think I'm a just strange, crazy old Pokémon. That was why I avoided the question earlier." Xatu turned to face Riolu. "I'm sorry."
Riolu managed a small smile. "No, it's okay. I don't think of you as strange at all." He continued pounding on his feet, trying to think of something to say. "You have been very kind to me, after all. It's not surprising that I would think of you as a father."
Xatu seemed astonished. "Really?"
Xatu peered at Riolu's eyes once again. "I'm touched, Riolu." His gaze pierced Riolu, as though Xatu was staring deep into the little fighting Pokémon's soul. It was a few minutes before he spoke again, his tone soft and melancholic. "You have really changed a lot since the last time I saw you."
It was Riolu's turn to be surprised. "Is that so?"
Xatu sighed. "You have matured… perhaps too fast for your age. The first time I saw you, you were energetic and curious. Now, you seem very sombre and dismal."
Riolu gave a small chuckle. "I was just beaten up, remember?"
Xatu shook his head. "No, I can tell that you no longer live for fun. Instead, you live for survival. You seem to have lost that bright perspective of yours. What happened?"
Riolu blinked in surprise. He did not expect the question. "I guess… there's nothing to be happy about anymore? I dunno. I never really noticed any changes in me."
"Perhaps you need new horizons," Xatu began, "If you find a good human partner, he or she could bring you to new places; introduce you to new things. That might bring back some cheer into your life."
Riolu held out a paw to protest. "But I don't intend to live my life with a human."
Xatu looked bewildered.
The blue Pokémon stopped massaging his feet and stared straight into Xatu's dark eyes. "I mean, I would much prefer to stay here with you."
With that, Riolu could have sworn he saw Xatu's eyes becoming moist.
This first chapter was supposed to be longer, but it got too long for my liking. Therefore, I split this chapter into two. Part two will be posted some time around next week – it's already written.
The first letter of 'Pokémon' and species names is capitalized; sorry about that for those of who you prefer it in small letters. Rest assured I'll do my best to prevent confusion.
The story takes place somewhere in Sinnoh, by the way. Silver Forest and Ferrous City are places created by me for this story – they don't really exist in Sinnoh.