The life of a wild Pokémon is harsh and full of hardships.
The life of a runt of a family of rats and with an impossible dream is ten times harsher.
This is the story of that runt.
The life of a runt of a family of rats and with an impossible dream is ten times harsher.
This is the story of that runt.
Hey there! Now that the results of the Myths and Legends competition are finally out, I can finally post my entry. :D This was my first attempt at writing xenofiction and with a character with a fairly limited level of sapience, so I'm really happy that it managed to do so well. Many thanks to the judges for their great commentary. ^^
This version of the story has been amended by taking into consideration the feedback of the judges (which can be found here). Many grammar issues have been fixed and some scenes have been streamlined and expanded, especially the moments of Rattata culture. Also, the various Rattata have been fleshed out further.
As a result of the revisions, the wordcount of this story has shot up from 9.854 words to 12.196 words! Quite the jump, huh?
But enough of that! Here's my entry of the Myths and Legends competition. I hope you'll enjoy this story! ^^
Genre: Drama / Tragedy / Family
Rating: Teen for moderate animal violence, a couple of scenes with
The world started in the darkness. A warm, tight, comfortable darkness.
And then, there was a crack, an opening, and the world became light.
Something rubbed on my skin. My chest heaved rhythmically, and fresh air entered in my body. I began breathing. I was born.
It took me some time to understand what was happening, as I couldn’t see and couldn’t hear anything. Though, by how a big presence cleaned me, that lovely gesture caressing my back, there was no doubt about what that was. Or rather, who it was.
I snuggled against her much bigger body, instinctively seeking the protection that only she could offer. However, something pushed me aside. And then, something else entirely pushed me. And another something. They smelled almost like her.
Not wanting to be kept apart from Mother, I tried pushing against them. I needed that protection. I needed to feed. But they all were bigger than me. They all were stronger than me. They all were greedier than me.
Yes, I understood. I was the runt.
And I didn’t like that.
So, something new happened: I began seeing colors. Or rather, I could see blends and fuzzy shapes. My eyes were still too new. Anyway, I discovered that Mother was of a color named purple and another named cream. Her fangs were colored white and her eyes were colored in red. The den around us was made of a color named brown. Or was that gray…?
That was nice. At least I wouldn’t bump into walls anymore!
Along with colors, came sounds. I could hear the loud voices of my siblings clearly. Too clearly. Always asking Mother to give them food. Always bombarding my ears with cries, yells, shouts, squeaks, and whimpers. There were also the chirps, growls, thumps, rattles and other loud noises getting inside my head. Cries of unknown creatures roaming the world outside our den.
Every sun phase. Every moon phase.
That was less nice. Why couldn’t I close my ears, just like I could close my eyes?
Many suns and moons raced across the skies. Our new senses weren’t new anymore. They were sharper, just like us. The fog in our mind had disappeared, just like the sluggishness in our muscles. Mother had even stopped giving us milk.
A pity, her milk was the best thing ever. However, chewing on walnuts felt so very nice. Why these fangs keep growing so much, I don’t know! Though, my fangs were still smaller than my siblings’, much to my surprise.
…Probably I enjoyed trimming them a bit too much.
Under a new sun phase, Mother gave us names—a tradition of all mischiefs, the families of Rattata.
She named the biggest of us Big Eater. He always ate more than all of us and was also the strongest and fastest of the litter. Mother always groomed him first, which was unfair: why did she never groom me first for once? I know I wasn’t fast, but I ate less. And with me eating less, she could eat more! That was unfair!
The second sibling was called Long Tail, my biggest sister. Her tail was long for her size. She was slower than Big Eater, but she also could resist the warm weather much better. Ah, if only I had a longer tail to keep myself fresher, too.
The younger sister got the name Fuzzy Fluff. She was fuzzy and fluffy. It felt nice to rub against her fur during the coldest nights. Too bad she didn’t enjoy being touched much. I guess she disliked having to clean all her fur every time we snuggled together.
And then, it was my turn. Mother looked at me for a long time. Seeing that my body and fangs were the smallest of the group, she gave me the name Tiny Fang.
Yes, I think I trimmed my fangs too much.
When we learned how to walk and run without tripping, Mother introduced us to other young members of our mischief. We got to meet Bright Eyes, another Mother, known for having unique yellow eyes. Like Mother, she had pups of her own. Out of a litter of six, only two survived to see the end of the cold weather.
The tallest pup was Hard Biter. His fangs were the biggest I had ever seen. He could cut walnuts with a single bite. He could also cut through paws with a single bite, too, and made me lose some red life once, during one of our games.
He didn’t like me, so I didn’t like him. It was only fair.
The other pup was Far Searcher, a Rattata with a cream-colored tip on the tail. He got that name because he loved exploring the surrounding areas. He was always very good at finding things, like underground seeds and hidden mushrooms.
We bonded surprisingly quickly, and I got along with him better than with my own siblings. At least he didn’t mock me for being the smallest pup, maybe because we both were the smallest of our respective litters.
We often played together, and we loved grooming each other. We also got in trouble together, usually by venturing into the dens of other creatures.
One time we explored an unknown tunnel, where we found a strange yellow creature with wings and a sharp tail—a Dunsparce. Oh, he was so scared when he noticed us! Out of fear, he shook his tail and made the earth fall around us, trapping us in a tiny hole. And then, I was the scared one! I started running around and digging and biting furiously in an attempt of getting out, but my claws and fangs were too small.
I was too weak! The earth was too rough! I became more frantic!
But Far Searcher wasn’t scared. He approached me and nuzzled me, saying: «Be calm. Both fine.»
We sat close to each other and waited. We were in the darkness, but I wasn’t scared anymore. Because I wasn’t alone. I was with a friend. A best friend.
After some time, our mischief freed us from the hole. We were so hungry and thirsty when they found us, but we were also happy. We made through that adventure together.
I had learned that having friends is very nice.
Many suns and moons later, we pups all had become bigger Rattata. Well, all but not me. I was still a small Rattata, compared to the rest of the mischief. I was angry with my body—why couldn’t it grow bigger, and faster, and stronger? I had tried to eat more, but Big Eater would always steal from me, despite my protests. Whenever I tried fighting him back—or anyone else, really—I always lost. Being bigger had its advantages, unfortunately.
Good thing that Far Searcher would always keep some of his best findings for me and cheer me up when I was down. He was always so considerate and generous. But again, friends help each other.
Far Searcher was good. Very good. Even good at fighting.
I wish I was good, and not the bad of the mischief.
When we became more grown up, we had to stop just taking from our mischief and had to give back to our mischief. Searching food and scouting for dangers were our most important tasks, and we young Rattata had to learn how to bring food to our mischief and how to detect danger.
Far Searcher was very eager to explore new places, while Big Eater was more looking forward to eat as much as he could. Not surprising. Hard Biter probably just wanted to find some tough food to trim his fangs or learn how to fight to defend himself and the mischief. As of me… I was indifferent, as I didn’t have a talent in any activity.
My sisters didn’t like the idea very much, though. Long Tail hated dragging her tail for too long, and Fuzzy Fluff hated dragging her fuzzy fur around. Though, the mischief wouldn’t listen to them. It was their reason for living; they had to accept it. The alternative? Leave the mischief. Immediately.
They didn’t complain after that. Nobody wanted to leave the mischief, that’s for certain.
To make sure we were ready to face the world of the hunters, Elder Koratta—the leader of our mischief—had a few stories to tell to us young Rattata. Warnings for us about all kinds of bigger creatures that could hunt us and our family. So, we gathered at the center of our home, under the shade of some trees, together with our Mothers. Once we were ready, our leader started narrating the tales.
Of the Noctowl, big birds with red eyes who chased us during the moon phases. If we saw one, we had to hide in our tunnels. If they saw us, it was over. No question. I had to make sure to not go look for food under the moon, then.
She told us about something that happened some moon phases ago, about a member of our mischief who was foolish enough to ignore Elder Koratta’s warning — as soon as he exited his den, he began wiggling in the air as he was taken away by an invisible mind magic. Finding his white remains under a tree and seeing those red eyes and that sharp beak from the Noctowl were good enough motivation to not repeat the same mistake.
By judging Big Eater’s nervous twitches of his whiskers, he surely wouldn’t have tried to sneak out of our den to look for food under the moon anymore. As if he didn’t eat enough as is.
Then, Elder Koratta told of the Growlithe, orange creatures with black stripes. They could manipulate hot magic to cover us in painful red heat. It was one of the only times that gaining red on the fur was very, very bad. Losing red, gaining red… both very bad. It looks like we had to keep the amount of red life we had since birth inside our bodies. No more and no less. Oh, and they liked biting us and shaking us until we were too weak too move. Or until we lost all our red life. Or until we gained too much red life. Whichever happened first.
Fuzzy Fluff began licking her fur furiously after hearing the tale. She, more than anyone, didn’t want any red heat or red life ruining her beautiful fur. Long Tail, however, raised her head and ears with confidence. Maybe she believed that her tail could keep her fresh and protect her from the hot magic?
Then, Elder Koratta told of the Ekans, purple creatures with no paws. Though, their snuggles were very painful. If they snuggled you, you were gone. Oh, and they had fangs with poison magic. You were gone if they bit you, too. Oh, and they loved hunting small pups. They, too, were gone if Ekans bit or snuggled them.
I recall Hard Biter and Far Searcher whimpering when Elder Koratta told the story, their whiskers and ears going back: were their siblings gone because of a pawless creature? I never got the answer to that.
Then, Elder Koratta told of the Furret, long creatures with brown stripes and sharp claws and fangs. They were our biggest enemies, as they hunted us during the sun phases—the times in which we looked for food. They were killers, who could invade our dens with ease and hunt both young and old. We lost many members of our mischief because of them. For this reason, we had to keep them away from our dens by luring them away from our home, even if that meant losing our red life. It was the only way to make sure that our mischief survived.
Everyone started hissing after hearing the Furret tale. We all hated those Furret.
However, Elder Koratta had kept one last story, the scariest of all: a myth of legendary creatures known as Mahoun—huge bipedal monsters, capable of controlling creatures with their powerful mind, hot and poison magic, and hunters of all creatures. They were hunters that could hunt hunters, stronger and more dangerous than Noctowl, Growlithe, Ekans, and Furret together. No creature could ever hope to face them, especially not Rattata. We had to avoid them at all costs—no one knew what happened to the creatures caught by those monsters. Not even their red life and white remains had ever been found. They were gone. Forever.
My siblings were so terrified after the tale! They began squealing in fear, cowering at the idea of the Mahoun, the most dangerous creatures. They were so scared that Fuzzy Fluff didn’t complain when Big Eater and Long Tail cuddled by her side. Hard Biter and Far Searcher weren’t faring much better, snuggling with each other for comfort. Mother and Bright Eyes twitched their whiskers, appearing nervous. They knew the stories about those creatures, but even they were still unnerved at the single mention of Mahoun.
However, but it was very different for me. Those Mahoun didn’t scare me, but instead fascinated me—there were creatures stronger than the strongest hunters? Hunters that could hunt hunters? That was amazing! If there was a way to befriend a Mahoun and make it our ally, it could help protect my mischief from the weaker hunters. I would no longer be the bad of the mischief! I would be good!
I approached Elder Koratta, lowering my head toward her with respect. «Elder Koratta.»
She turned to me, shaking her whiskers while her ears shifted in my direction. «Tiny Fang need?»
I lifted my head and held my tail on the floor, looking relaxed. «Yes! Elder Koratta seen Mahoun?»
«Why ask?» she wondered, leaning forward and looking inquisitively at me.
«No. Never seen.»
I stared intently at Elder Koratta, my ears flicking back and forth. How did she know so much about Mahoun without seeing them? «Why never?»
«Mahoun dangerous. Too dangerous!» she squealed, her ears folded back.
«How Elder Koratta know Mahoun?»
Elder Koratta narrowed her eyes and looked at the trees. «Creature tales. Other creatures tell. Other creatures seen.» She looked again at me, her eyes becoming tiny. «Survivors. Returned survivors.»
Oh, I understood. Few creatures survived to tell the stories about the Mahoun. Right. Well, despite the warning, I was still eager to know more about them. I didn’t know why that was—simple curiosity, maybe?
Still, no other Rattata shared my interest. Not even Far Searcher wanted to know about them! He even told me to not talk about them again, which displeased me. But he was my friend, so I stopped talking about them.
I was alone in that, and nobody would ever tell me anything about the Mahoun. Everyone was so scared of them and mocked me for being interested in them.
I was sad. Very sad.
Something new happened that warm sun phase! During my scout routine around our home—the mischief didn’t entrust me with anything more than that—I detected the scent of an unknown Rattata. By following the trace, I located the intruder hiding in the shadows. He was looking around our home and sniffing into our dens. I knew what he was doing: he was trying to steal our food! So, I ran into Elder Koratta’s den to inform her.
«Intruder! Thief!» I squealed with all my voice. «Hurry! Hurry!»
At hearing that, our leader gathered some of our strongest members and confronted the unknown Rattata. They all arched their backs and showed their fangs when they found him, while I looked at the scene from the hole of the den.
«Out! Get out!» hissed Elder Koratta, swiping her claws forward. «Thief no welcome!»
However, the strange Rattata did something unexpected: he lowered his body toward the floor and waved his tail, keeping his head close to the floor. He took a slow step back while twitching his whiskers nervously. That meant submission.
«No thief. Want join mischief,» he squeaked hesitantly, before looking at the ground. «Can join?»
Elder Koratta and the others were surprised by the request. It was very rare for a Rattata to want to join another mischief. Usually, that happened because the original mischief chased the Rattata away for being bad or some other reason.
Elder Koratta narrowed her eyes suspiciously. «Why want join?»
«Home no more,» he answered, looking at our leader with respect. «Can help. Very strong. Can walk under moon.» He waved his forepaws in front of his eyes. «See in dark.»
«…Wait. Mischief decide.»
Having said that, Elder Koratta chittered with the other most important members of our mischief, while two of our strongest fighters supervised the foreign Rattata. Without being seen, I followed Elder Koratta’s group to listen to their discussion.
From what I understood, our situation was bad: we had lost a couple of our food gatherers in the last few sun phases. A pack of pink creatures with blue collars called Snubbull had invaded our side of the forest and started hunting any unprepared creature. They were almost as bad as Growlithe! As such, it had become harder to both find food and defend our home. Having a new member in our mischief would have been beneficial for our situation.
So, they decided: the foreign Rattata could join. And getting a new member in our mischief meant one thing.
Exchanging scents to make a new member smell like us was a very important ritual among mischiefs. As no Rattata could belong to two mischiefs at the same time, we had to remove all scents of his previous mischief from his fur. And the best way to do that was by snuggling with all members of our mischief to get their scents, before snuggling with the new Rattata to make him smell like us.
I loved scent-sharing! It was one of my favorite activities—it was really nice to snuggle with everyone. Except with Hard Biter, because his snuggles were very rough. I think he snuggled rough with me on purpose. However, scent-sharing was also a good way to force Fuzzy Fluff to snuggle with us, much to her annoyance. Now she was nice to snuggle with!
I wished we would scent-share more often…
Anyway, as soon as we finished removing all traces of the original mischief from the new Rattata, it was time to make him a part of our mischief. As for tradition, any new member needed a new name as the final proof that he didn’t belong to the old mischief anymore. It was up to the leader of the mischief to choose the new name.
Elder Koratta named him Black Whiskers, the moon Rattata.
Black Whiskers was a strange Rattata. He had a much darker pelt and thicker whiskers, and was very good at traveling under the moon and at avoiding attacks from Noctowl—their mind magic didn’t work on him. Also, nobody was good at searching for food during the moon phase as him.
He would almost always walk on two paws, using his tail to support himself. The few times he went on all four was when he needed to run, which wasn’t often. Also, he used words that no other Rattata—not even Elder Koratta—knew about, like ‘electricity’ and ‘beach’. There were times I wondered if he just created those words to appear smarter.
Also, he ate as much as three members of our mischief, but he made up for that by finding good-tasting and non-poison food. Big Eater and Far Searcher had found a new rival, for two different reasons!
However, there was one thing that I found bizarre: when he slept during the sun phase, his fur would often jut out, then he would wake up with a jump and run around our home. He would keep his fur puffed as if he was sick, but he didn’t smell sick…?
He always screamed «Black! Too black! Smoke!» many times, before passing out from exhaustion.
We asked him why he behaved like that, but he wouldn’t tell. Whenever asked, he would just sit and stare. Stare at nothing, react to nothing. Nobody knew what to do about that. We just let him be whenever he acted like that.
One moon phase, I woke up with a terrible thirst. I panted softly, feeling the dryness in my mouth. I looked at my family: still sleeping. Long Tail seemed perfectly fine, while Mother and the other siblings twitched in their sleep. Maybe they were thirsty, too, but their bodies refused to wake them up.
Finding myself unable to sleep, I stood up and crawled through the tunnel of our den. I peeked outside, making sure that no Noctowl or Growlithe was lurking in the shadows. With a few sniffs, I confirmed that there was no hunter around, so I exited from the den. However, I heard a noise and grew immediately alert. Narrowed eyes and flattened ears, I dawdled toward the noise, which was coming from our pond. Did someone try to steal our water?
Cautiously, I looked toward the pond, and I saw who the intruder was.
…It was just Black Whiskers. Right. Moon Rattata.
I came out of my hiding spot and walked toward Black Whiskers. He was sitting under a tree, crushing some blueberries with his paws. I leaned curiously. You normally eat blueberries, not crush them.
Black Whiskers realized that I was there and stared at me. His ears took a deep shade of pink—happiness.
«Tiny Fang! Hello!» he chirped.
«Hello,» I responded hastily, not wanting to talk with a dry mouth. So, I headed toward the pond and drank some water. Ah, what a relief that was!
«Tiny Fang thirsty, see,» commented Black Whiskers, before redirecting his attention to the blueberries and continuing crushing them.
«Yes,» I responded, feeling much better after refreshing my mouth. «Good water.»
«Very good. Yes.»
I sat beside the pond, staring intently at Black Whiskers. As I was still feeling sleepless, I considered talking to him. This was a good chance; we never talked much due to him walking during the moon phases and me walking during the sun phases.
«Black Whiskers like mischief?»
He shook his whiskers a little, before responding with a happy chirp. «Yes. Mischief good. Best mischief seen!»
«Why Black Whiskers leave other mischief?» I asked, leaning forward with curiosity. «Other mischief bad?»
«…No.» Black Whiskers narrowed his eyes, while his ears folded. «Mischief… all gone,» he chirruped, splashing some crushed blueberries on the tree. «Searched new mischiefs. No mischief accepted. Been lonely. Many suns and many moons.»
I could feel my own ears folding on my head. «Sorry. Very sad!»
«No worry! Better now!» he replied reassuringly, running his paws on the blueberries water on the tree and giving it a mysterious shape.
I looked inquisitively at the shape, sniffing intently at it. Fruity. I turned to Black Whiskers, confused by his strange action. «What Black Whiskers do?»
I flicked my ears, not knowing what that word meant. «‘Paint’?»
«Put color on color. Brown can become blue,» he said, motioning toward the blue shape hiding the brown of the tree. I didn’t understand the purpose of that action, but the tree looked different from the other trees, at least.
«All moon Rattata paint?»
«No. Mahoun taught.»
«Mahoun?!» I leaned close to Black Whiskers, my nose almost touching his whiskers. «Black Whiskers meet Mahoun?»
«Meet many. Yes.»
I could feel my ears twitching in excitement—someone could tell me more about the Mahoun! I stepped forward. «Mahoun how look?»
«Mahoun not have one look. Mahoun shapeshifters.»
Another of Black Whiskers’ strange words. I narrowed my eyes in confusion. «‘Shapeshifters’?»
«Can change fur. Every sun, new fur.»
«New fur?» I thought a lot about that, not recalling any creature who could change their fur. Not every sun phase, at least. «Mahoun like… Eevee?»
«Mahoun like Eevee. Yes.»
«Ooh!» I chirped, very interested. That was something that nobody had ever told me. «Black Whiskers talked to Mahoun?»
«Talked but not understood.» Black Whiskers sniffed his paint, before licking some blueberries water from his paws. «Mahoun talk differently.»
Black Whiskers looked at me, his eyes gleaming under the moonlight. «Tiny Fang interested in Mahoun?»
Oh, yes, he was smart. All right. «Yes. Very interested.»
«Tiny Fang want meet Mahoun?»
I squealed so loud that I was almost afraid of attracting a Noctowl. Maybe he could lead me to the Mahoun? I didn’t hesitate with my answer. «Yes!»
«…Bad thought,» chittered Black Whiskers, looking at me with a dark stare. «Forget bad thought. Forget Mahoun.»
I stared at Black Whiskers in disbelief. Finally someone knew about the Mahoun, and he asked me to forget them?
«No! Want meet! Not forget!» I squeaked, showing angry eyes and fangs.
«Tiny Fang must not meet!» he replied, showing his own fangs, which were larger than mine. Typical. «Never meet!»
«Why!? Not understand!»
«Seen things. Very bad things,» he continued, his eyes looking at nothing. «Mahoun forbidden for reason. Kidnappers. Hunters. Poisoners.» He looked back at his paint and ran a paw upwards. It created many little shapes, with some of them looking like… «Growlithe. Moon Mahoun control Growlithe. Hot magic. Mahoun control Koffing. Poison magic. Mahoun control all bad magics! Mahoun dangerous!»
«…Mahoun interesting,» I whispered. It was a scary thought, but I really wondered how creatures who could control all kinds of magic looked like.
«Mahoun very bad,» insisted Black Whiskers, his eyes becoming thinner. «…Got called ‘pest’.»
«Mahoun bad word.»
«Oh.» Considering how stubborn Black Whiskers was being with me, he probably deserved that bad word. I didn’t back down. «Want meet Mahoun. Soon!»
Black Whiskers looked at me for a long time until he let out a chirp. A taunting chirp. «Tiny Fang stupid.»
«Not stupid!» I yelled, very furious with the mean moon Rattata. «Black Whiskers not help? Find out! Alone!»
And with this, I ran away from Black Whiskers and back into my den, leaving him alone with his paint.
So, the only Rattata who could help me find the Mahoun didn’t want to help me. Nobody wanted to help me.
Then, I would have found where the Mahoun lived and meet one by myself, no matter what!
One sun phase, my mischief decided to start a big search for food. New pups were incoming and we needed to feed the new Mothers.
Many groups volunteered, but there was one group that interested me the most: Big Eater, Hard Biter, Far Searcher, and—strangely enough—Black Whiskers. They were going to explore a den that used to belong to Mahoun many suns and moons ago, which had a lot of stored food.
I chirped in joy. That was it! My chance to see if I could meet a Mahoun! I stepped forward, immediately offering myself. «Volunteer! Volunteer!»
Every single member of the mischief looked at me, in particular Black Whiskers. He had already understood why I wanted to go with them and looked at me with thin eyes. I didn’t care. He was just mean to me.
The mischief squeaked and squealed among themselves, surprised by my volunteering. The bad of the mischief wanted to join the most dangerous search? Elder Koratta had to squeak louder to stop everyone, before looking at me.
«Tiny Fang.» She approached me, looking directly in my eyes. «Search important and dangerous. Many hunters.» She narrowed her eyes. «Tiny Fang too small. Tiny Fang too frail. Tiny Fang too weak.»
«Careful! Be very careful!» I squeaked, mildly displeased that everyone thought I was not good for important searches. That would have been a good chance to prove my worth, too. «Can help! Yes!»
«No! Tiny Fang cannot go!» she squealed. «Very dangerous!»
«Want! Volunteer! Want!» I screamed.
«Tiny Fang cannot!» she hollered, starting to become furious.
«Elder Koratta cannot stop!» I hissed, arching my back and showing my fangs. «Will go!»
Then, I felt pain on my face and squeaked in shock. I moved a paw on my nose and saw some red life dropping on the ground. I looked at Elder Koratta, who just stared at me with disapproval and showed her red claws.
That was the final response. The way she said that she meant that if I tried to talk back again, worse things would happen to me. I narrowed my eyes and folded my ears, sad and angry with her, before turning around and leaving the area. Everyone stared at me as I walked past them, shocked that I dared to talk back to Elder Koratta. Yes, I was the bad of the mischief, but I didn’t care about their gazes.
However, I wouldn’t give up. If I couldn’t join with the mischief knowing, I would join without the mischief knowing.
I hid in a nearby hole and waited. Waited for the search to start.
When the sun was above the woods, the search started. I followed the group from a distance, not wanting to alert them. They were going into an unknown area, which Black Whiskers seemed to know very well. Probably he was the one who suggested going in the den of the Mahoun to search for food.
I was very disappointed that nobody allowed me to explore this area. It was so much different from the rest of the forest. So many colors, like yellow and orange. So many new scents, like ‘gold berry’ and ‘mint berry’. So many creatures I had never seen, like white singing balls and living rocks with paws.
After a short journey, the group stopped walking and chittered among themselves. I couldn’t hear what they were saying from where I was, but they soon split up and walked in different directions. I saw Far Searcher going toward something big that resembled a… square cave made of trees or something, and I followed him.
I saw him standing on his hind paws and sniffing the air, trying to detect some food scent. I immediately hid into a tree hole, not wanting him to find me. Once I didn’t hear his sniffs anymore, I walked out of my hiding spot. To my surprise, he was nowhere to be seen.
Confused by his sudden disappearance, I walked in the direction where he was standing. Then, something attacked me, and I let out a loud squeal and started struggling. A hunter, a hunter!
I stopped squealing and looked at my aggressor. It was Far Searcher, who was pinning me to the ground.
«Oh! Hello Far Searcher!»
Far Searcher let go of me, before lowering his head toward me with an inquisitive and admonishing stare. «Tiny Fang! Why here?»
«Want see Mahoun den!» I responded immediately.
Far Searcher narrowed his eyes. «Tiny Fang, go back.»
«No! Not back! Only see, yes?» I leaned forward, narrowing my own eyes. «Far Searcher. Let join! Be back after see.» I wagged my tail, showing a pleading look. «Friends, yes? Friends help!»
Far Searcher stared at me for a long time. He seemed conflicted. However, he soon lowered his tail and showed a resigned expression. «…Tiny Fang can join.» He narrowed his eyes again, meaning that he was very serious. «Tiny Fang must stay close! Know quick blur. Can protect.»
«Yes! Very close! Yes! Thanks!» I responded. I wouldn’t disappoint him.
Reassured by my promise, Far Searcher and I walked toward the wood cave, in search of food.
The inside of the wood cave was immense. There was enough space for many mischiefs and their pups. I sniffed around the area, detecting the smell of wet trees and the scent of crawling plants. Far Searcher was staring at me, apparently puzzled by my curiosity.
«Why Tiny Fang interested in Mahoun?» he asked, breaking the silence.
I turned to him, surprised that he was asking me about that. After all, he told me to never talk about them again. «Like Mahoun. Very powerful. Wish be powerful.»
«Mahoun dangerous,» he warned me.
«Be careful!» I responded quickly. «Want see. No more.» I looked again at a strange thing made of wood. «Far Searcher look many places. Ever seen Mahoun?»
«No. Never searched.»
I looked again at him. «Far Searcher. Help search?»
«Cannot,» he replied firmly. «Feed mischief, reason for living. Help mischief, reason for living. Find Mahoun, not reason for living.»
I stared at him for a long time. Then, I lowered my head as my ears folded back. «Help mischief… not reason for living,» I whispered, displeased with myself and with me being the bad of the mischief. «Too weak. Mischief not trust.»
Far Searcher said nothing for a while, as he looked at me with a sad expression. He leaned forward, nuzzling me gently. «Tiny Fang. Find Mahoun be reason for living?»
I looked quizzically at him. I had never thought about that. «…Yes, maybe.»
«Find Mahoun… important for Tiny Fang?» he asked, lifting his ears.
I paused once more, before narrowing my eyes. «Yes. Very important.»
«Understand,» Far Searcher looked away for a while, apparently thinking about something, before looking at me. His ears had taken a bright pink shade. «Will help find Mahoun!»
«Yes!?» I replied, my eyes becoming wide.
«Yes! Friends help! Tiny Fang good friend! Tiny Fang will see Mahoun!» he said, appearing convinced and confident. «Feed mischief first. Then will help.»
«Thanks Far Searcher!» I squealed in joy, rubbing my nose with Far Searcher’s in gratitude. «Will help find food! Yes! Yes!»
Far Searcher snuggled with me, apparently happy about cheering me up. There was absolutely no doubt. He was my most best friend.
Determined to help Far Searcher, I put a lot of effort into searching for some good food. I waddled on top of a long ground made of wood, making sure to not stray too far from Far Searcher, until I found a big dark hole. By looking downward, I saw long flat pieces of wood, one above the other. Were those the roots of the wood cave?
I sniffed and shook my whiskers. Then, my eyes widened. There was a very appealing scent coming from the darkness. Food!
I descended in the dark hole by jumping on the roots of the wood cave, until I reached an area that was full of square things. Some of them were made of wood, but others were made of a gray mysterious element. It was cold, smooth, and hard. What was that?
However, I didn’t focus much on that as I tried to follow the scent. I needed to find food. Soon, I found out that the scent was coming from a nearby square, which had a tiny hole. By squeezing through the gap, I noticed many pieces of corn lying on the ground. Ooh! I loved corn!
I crawled into the place and grabbed one piece in my jaws, before exiting through the hole and waddling toward the roots. I felt proud of myself as I dragged the prized meal.
However, my nose soon detected a bad scent, and I turned around quickly.
Creaks. Noises of something approaching. Something big.
I took a few steps backward, feeling my ears folding back, and ran toward the roots. But then, something jumped in front of me, showing sinister eyes and sharp fangs. The sight terrified me.
A giant Furret was looming over me, standing on its hind paws and showing its sharp claws. It swiped at me, forcing me to drop my piece of corn and run out of the way. I heard the Furret growling angrily, while I ran around its body and hurried toward the roots.
Out! I needed to get out!
Heavy steps followed me, and by looking behind, I noticed the Furret climbing the roots. It was chasing me!
The Furret lowered its body on a root and sprung toward me, trying to crush me with its huge paws. Luckily I was nimble, so I wiggled out of the way. It crashed into one of the roots with all its weight and hissed angrily. Its claws were stuck into the wood.
That was my chance! I climbed up the roots as fast as I could and exited the dark hole. I needed to get out of the wood cave!
But the Furret freed itself quickly and reached me before I could escape or hide. One claw struck my side, making me squeal in pain.
I began losing a lot of red life. It was the most horrible sensation, and it was more painful for me to move around. The Furret knew that and pounced at me. I barely managed to get out of the way.
I was becoming desperate! I wouldn’t have been able to avoid its attacks for long.
And then, I tripped and laid on the ground, paralyzed by pain and fear. I could see the Furret raising a paw, ready to run its claws across my body. I started shaking! It was going to kill me!
But then, I heard it yowl in surprise and fall on its side, knocked aside by something.
It was Far Searcher! He had used one of his quick blurs to strike the Furret.
He looked at me, his eyes showing urgency and terror. «Tiny Fang run!»
With some effort, I got back to my feet and began running. Far Searcher ran behind, standing between me and the Furret. I could hear the Furret growling darkly, before charging at us with renewed fury. It soon reached us, but before the Furret could strike, Far Searcher turned around and assaulted the killer with another quick blur. He rammed into one of its front paws and sank his fangs deep.
The Furret roared with fury, shaking the bitten paw around, while Far Searcher kept gnawing at it. But then, the Furret slammed Far Searcher to the ground with its hurt paw. A crack, the wood creaked and Far Searcher let out a sharp squeak.
«Far Searcher!» I squealed in horror, having seen some red under the Furret’s paw and on the floor.
I felt anger going into my body, my fear completely gone, and I rushed toward the Furret. I jumped and bit its muzzle, making it cry out in shock. It took some steps backward, freeing Far Searcher. Then, I let go of its nose and slammed the Furret on its chest while it was still stunned, making it crash into a square made of wood. The sharp wood pieces dug into the Furret, who shrieked in pain and wiggled its body, desperately trying to free itself from the broken square.
I heard a whimper and turned around to see Far Searcher standing up. His back had a strange red shape, and it looked like it was going inside its body rather than outside. I ran toward him, looking all over in concern.
Far Searcher hissed, before dropping some red life from his mouth. He was very hurt! He was losing too much red life!
«Far Searcher! Red!» I squeaked in alarm, pushing him to get him to move. «Run away! Now!»
«Tiny… Fang…» he whispered, staring at me with sad eyes. «Hard… Biter… find… quick… forest…»
No! I didn’t want to leave him alone. Not with that killer around. I looked at the Furret—it managed to free one of its paws from the wood square, and was glaring at us with hateful fury. I looked again at Far Searcher, seeing that his ears had become more pink—happy? How could he be happy?
«Far Searcher…?» I asked in confusion.
«Go… friend… help…» he continued, touching my face with his nose and pushing me away. «Can… fight… Tiny… Fang… be… fine…»
I took a step back and looked at the Furret. Crack, another paw was free. It was moaning in pain, but it wouldn’t be long before it freed itself from the wood. I looked again at Far Searcher, who was looking at me with a resolute expression, and he pushed me again.
I took some harsh breaths and twitched nervously, reluctant to leave him alone, but I turned around and ran out of the wood house to look for Hard Biter. He was very strong, he could help!
I squealed with all the voice I had in my body. Squealed for the others to come. Squealed for help. And soon enough, I heard a squeal back.
«Tiny Fang?!» yelled Hard Biter, surprised to see me and shocked by my frenzy.
«Far Searcher need help!» I screamed. «Quick! Follow!»
Having gotten Hard Biter’s attention, I ran back to the wood cave. Soon, Big Eater and Black Whiskers found us and joined us. We were many, we could fight the Furret. We could save my most best friend!
Soon, we reached the area.
The Furret was no longer in the wood square. There was a lot of red on the ground. Red that was no paint. Red life.
…Far Searcher was gone.
Losing Far Searcher was a tragedy for the whole mischief. Not only was he loved by everyone, but he was also the best at finding food, the best good of the mischief. Now that he was gone and there were new pups, feeding the mischief had become a more difficult task.
I wept and whimpered inside a tiny hole, regretting joining the search. If I hadn’t followed them, he wouldn’t have gone back for me. He wouldn’t have taken the hit from Furret for me. He wouldn’t have lost all his red life for me.
All because I wanted to find the Mahoun. I was truly the worst bad of the mischief.
I couldn’t grieve his goneness with anyone. Everyone resented me. Bright Eyes, in particular, arched her back and showed her fangs whenever I came close to her. Same with Hard Biter, who hissed at me and even bit me once. Very hard.
I limped away from them. I understood. They needed space to grieve. To grieve the goneness of another son and another sibling. Gone because of me.
Elder Koratta and Mother weren’t much better. They barely acknowledged me, and my siblings did the same. I could see the anger in their eyes, the nervous twitches in their whiskers and the rigidness in their tails. They wouldn’t even let me enter our den. Big Eater stood in front of the entrance and forced me to leave. After trying to enter a couple of times, I gave up. He was way too strong for me.
As I needed some shelter from hunters and nobody wanted to accept me in their den, I went to the tunnel where Far Searcher and I encountered the Dunsparce. Nobody lived there anymore, so I used it as my den.
Last time we were together. Now I was alone.
All I had for food were scraps and leftovers. No member of the mischief would leave any portion for me. The pups had the priority. Pups who wouldn’t be a disappointment for their Mothers. Pups who wouldn’t be bad.
I had become an outcast, an intruder, a traitor. If they didn’t want me anymore, then I had to go somewhere else. But where?
As I sat by the pond of our home and looked at the moon, something creaked in the bushes. I perked up my ears and looked behind me.
Black Whiskers was there. He was holding in his paws a piece of apple. He walked forward and looked straight at me. «Eat.»
I stared at Black Whiskers, sniffing the apple: did he just bring some of his food for me? Out of everyone, I wouldn’t have expected him to do that. I wasn’t one to refuse a gift, and I was very hungry, so I ate that piece of apple in a single go.
Black Whiskers wiggled his whiskers, before eying me with sharp eyes. «Tiny Fang want leave?»
He was always so smart.
«Yes. Not wanted,» I chittered.
«Tiny Fang be back?»
I paused for a long time and felt my ears folding back. «…No. Not back. Never back.»
Black Whiskers seemed genuinely sad for me. He knew what it meant not being able to see your old mischief anymore.
«Leave. Soon,» I reaffirmed.
Black Whiskers shook his whiskers once more. His eyes shone, he was thinking about something. «Tiny Fang still want meet Mahoun?»
I looked at him in surprise. With all things happening those past sun phases and moon phases, I had pushed aside my desire to meet them.
«Mahoun?» I asked, narrowing my eyes. Then, I looked at the water. «Yes. Still want. But Black Whiskers right. Bad thought.» I began shaking. «Bad thought killed Far Searcher. Killed best friend.»
Black Whiskers sat beside me. «No. Not bad thought. Understand now.» He looked at me. «Tiny Fang dream.»
I looked back at him. «‘Dream’?»
«Yes. Dream. Dreams good. Dreams show happiness,» he chittered, before looking at the floor. «Forgot good dreams. Only bad dreams. Dreams of previous mischief.» He began shaking with sadness. «…Miss it.»
«Not be. Happened moons ago. Not go back.»
We looked at the moon, thinking about our respective pains. His past pain, my recent pain. Then, he broke the silence.
«…Fault. Part fault for Far Searcher gone,» he told me. «Ignored Tiny Fang. Ignored dream. Should not ignore.» He shook his whiskers and narrowed his eyes. He seemed regretful. «If not ignored… if helped Tiny Fang with Mahoun… Tiny Fang not unhappy… Far Searcher not gone.»
It seemed almost like he was taking part of the blame for Far Searcher’s goneness, or maybe he was trying to cheer me up. I didn’t know, I wasn’t feeling much better, anyway. No matter who was to blame, my most best friend was gone.
«…But not like Mahoun. Not trust Mahoun. Meet only bad Mahoun. Bad Mahoun with black fur and red shape,» he chirruped, before jutting out his fur. «Bad Mahoun used poison magic on mischief. Kidnapped mischief. Took mischief far from beach! Hurt mischief with needles!» He started hissing while his eyes narrowed. «Gone! All gone! Only survivor!»
I didn’t dare ask what ‘needles’ were, he was way too upset. But I understood that needles were bad, and I finally knew why Black Whiskers didn’t like the Mahoun—he met kidnappers. They had taken away his family and friends and hurt them. That saddened me.
I considered snuggling him for comfort, but I didn’t like the way he hissed at the water. I feared he would bite me out of frustration or something. So, I just looked at the ground, feeling terrible for being interested in the creatures that had hurt another Rattata so much.
«Thought all Mahoun bad! Never wanted forgive!» Then, he stopped hissing and looked again at me. «…But thought wrong.»
I glanced at him quizzically. That change of mood surprised me. «Wrong?»
«Not all Mahoun bad. Found good Mahoun.» He turned to the sky. «Seen Mahoun and creatures friends. No bad magic. No hurt. But family.»
«Mahoun and creatures… friends?»
«Yes. Talked to creatures. Learned way. Way to good Mahoun.» He looked again at me. «Tiny Fang interested in Mahoun. Can teach way.»
«Way to befriend. Weak creatures find Mahoun. Mahoun accept weak creatures. Weak creatures become strong.» He waved his forepaws over his eyes. «Seen many times. Creatures befriend Mahoun. Good Mahoun.»
«Can befriend Mahoun…?» I wondered. That seemed too good to be true.
«Tiny Fang can!» Black Whiskers looked very confident of his claim and almost offended by my doubt. «Tiny Fang weak. Tiny Fang can become strong. Mahoun can help.» He paused, probably to let the information sink in. «If Tiny Fang want… Can teach way. Take to good Mahoun.»
There was a long silence. I looked again at the moon, thinking hard about that possibility. Black Whiskers had finally agreed to lead me to the Mahoun, but… did I want to do it, now that I had the chance? It was my persistent desire to meet the Mahoun that got my most best friend killed, which made me the worst bad Rattata.
However, I would have never gotten another chance like this. I had to leave, anyway, and even without Far Searcher going, I would have left the mischief on my own soon enough. The Mahoun… I really wanted to meet them. And, deep inside, I still believe my wish is partly why Far Searcher gave up his red life for me. He fulfilled his reason for living until his goneness… by helping a friend. By making me escape so I could live and see the Mahoun.
I had to honor my most best friend by fulfilling my reason for living—finding Mahoun.
«Black Whiskers.» I stood to my feet and stared at him. «Mahoun where?»
As I found out, the Mahoun were much closer than I had ever imagined. There was a home full of Mahoun at the end of the forest, in an area surrounded by trees covered in pink flowers. They all lived in very big caves built with their powers, by raising them from the ground. Those caves looked much stronger than the wood cave found in the forest. I was amazed.
Black Whiskers motioned toward some tall grass. It was time to teach me how to meet and befriend a Mahoun.
«Tiny Fang hide. When Mahoun enter and look, Tiny Fang approach.» He looked at me. «Mahoun choose. Accept, Tiny Fang obey. No accept, Tiny Fang wait more.»
«Tiny Fang must obey Mahoun. Always. Not obey, Mahoun abandon.»
Black Whiskers looked intently at me, his ears folded behind. «…Tiny Fang not scared?»
«No…» I stopped, before feeling my ears going back. «…Little nervous.»
«Tiny Fang be fine.» Black Whiskers gave me a reassuring rub on my face. «Tiny Fang very brave.»
I looked at him in astonishment. «Brave…?»
«Yes! Tiny Fang do what others do not! Mahoun befriend brave!» he squeaked, showing that he truly believed in me. «Tiny Fang can! Tiny Fang be fine! Confident! Yes!»
I looked intently at Black Whiskers, my ears twitching back and forth. I had gained newfound respect for that moon Rattata. He was putting aside his dislike toward the Mahoun just to give me a chance. The chance to find a new home. My home.
I narrowed my eyes and held my ears high, confident once more.
«Nervous no more. Will do!» I chittered.
«…Good.» Black Whiskers looked uneasily at the trees, seeing that the moon was very low. There was no more time left. «Must go now.»
«Thanks for help.» I approached him, snuggling into his fur. That was the last time I would have snuggled with a member of my mischief. «Farewell Black Whiskers.»
Black Whiskers snuggled back, making some sad chirps. «Farewell Tiny Fang.»
And just like that, he ran into the forest and back to the mischief, just as the sun began racing in the sky. I waited there, in the tall grass. Waited for a Mahoun to accept me.
Panting. I was panting as I moved back and forth in the tall grass. I noticed some Caterpie crawling inside the grass, but I paid them no attention. I saw some Weedle, too. I had to pay attention to them, to avoid their poison needles.
And then, the grass creaked. I spun to the noise, seeing what entered into the tall grass.
Huge creature, two eyes, standing on two legs, strange fur… Ah, yes! No doubt, a Mahoun had appeared!
I walked closer, wanting to see it better. It was very big, almost as big as a Machoke. It was looking into the tall grass, searching for something.
That was the signal! I rushed forward, appearing in front of the Mahoun. Its scent smelled very strong, almost pungent: a male, most likely. My whiskers and ears were twitching a lot. Fear? Excitement? Happiness? I couldn’t say.
The Mahoun stared at me for a long time. Deciding if he wanted to accept me or not. However, he shook his head and walked in another direction, away from the tall grass.
Oh. He didn’t accept me. I felt very dejected, but decided to try again.
I hid once more, waiting for another Mahoun. Soon enough, another one entered the tall grass. Without hesitation, I stepped forward and walked in front of the Mahoun. This one had longer fur on its back, and its scent was more delicate—a female, maybe?
She looked down at me and released a loud shrill. That greatly startled me. What did it mean? Was it yes? Or no?
She dropped a red and white ball to the ground, and a pink creature with blue collar and black eyes appeared in front of me.
Pink body and blue collar… Oh, was that a Snubbull? So that was another show of Mahoun’s great magic: they could create creatures! Could they create Rattata, too?
I tried to talk to the Mahoun. I was very curious! However, the Snubbull showed her fangs and barked at me, before chasing me. I squeaked in fear and ran back into the tall grass, leaving her alone with the Mahoun.
Female Mahoun had decided. It was no. That made me very sad.
By the time the sun raced above me, I was losing hope and strength. No Mahoun had accepted me: they ignored me, or scared me with other creatures, or even attacked me with other creatures!
My mischief didn’t want me, the Mahoun didn’t want me… Who wanted me? Why did no one want me? Was I the worst bad Rattata in the world? …Maybe I truly was. I started whimpering in distress.
Another rustle, another Mahoun. I didn’t even get up, too sad and weak to get another refusal. The Mahoun stepped in my direction, looking directly at the tall grass. And then, it found me.
“Ah! A wild Rattata!”
I looked up, seeing that the Mahoun had walked in front of me, unlike the others. From up close, I could smell it better—another male. He was smaller than the other Mahoun I had seen, but still much bigger than me. He lowered himself to his four paws and tilted his head, while his eyes shone brightly.
“Hello! What are you doing here?”
I narrowed my eyes. How could I understand his language, despite never hearing it before? Was it because of the Mahoun’s mind power? …Yes, probably that was it.
«Looking for Mahoun. Accept?» I asked.
The Mahoun just blinked in confusion. Oh. He didn’t understand me. Black Whiskers said that they couldn’t understand us. Probably that was a power they lacked, strangely enough.
“Are you hungry?”
Hungry…? Actually, I was hungry. I had been waiting for a Mahoun to accept me throughout all sun phase. I twitched my whiskers. «Yes.»
The Mahoun kept looking at me while his eyes narrowed. He moved one hand inside the fur of his leg and took out a brown round thing. I sniffed at it curiously.
“I have a cookie. Do you want it?”
A ‘cookie’… what was that? It smelled good, so I bit a piece off of it. It tasted even better. I had realized then that I was starving, so I ate the ‘cookie’ in a few bites.
The Mahoun kept looking at me, before curling the corners of his mouth upwards. I didn’t understand that sign. Was that a threat, or…?
“You seem a good Rattata. Would you like to be my Pokémon?”
Oh, that didn’t seem like a threat. It was nice that he considered me a good Rattata, but what was a ‘Pokémon’? I had never heard that name before. Maybe it meant ‘accepted’, as in ‘my accepted’? I nuzzled his hand, tapping it many times with my nose. Yes, I wanted to be his ‘accepted’.
The Mahoun looked over me, before wincing. That reaction startled me, I didn’t attack him! Though, I realized that he was staring at the red on my paw. Oh… yes. The result of an assault from a Growlithe created by a Mahoun. The red heat had become brown, but it still felt very hot.
“Oh, no! You’re hurt…” he said with a whimpering tone, moving his hand into his leg fur again. From it, came out a magic ball—just like the ones used by other Mahoun to attack me. I squeaked in fear and felt my ears folding, afraid of the creature hiding inside of it. However, the Mahoun placed a hand on my head and rubbed me slowly. He started talking, his voice very gentle, “Don’t worry. I’ll take you to the Pokémon Center to get you healed. You’ll be fine. Really.”
I didn’t understand some of those words, but ‘don’t worry’ and ‘fine’ stood out for me.
Fine… Fine… I would be fine.
I lowered myself to the ground, tucking my paws under my body. I did my best to appear relaxed, to let him know that I wasn’t afraid. Somehow, I knew I could trust that Mahoun.
The Mahoun did that action again: curling the corners of his mouth upwards, even if his eyes seemed to say something else—concern, maybe. Then, he pressed the magic ball on my head.
What happened next is something I couldn’t describe. I felt like something invisible had grabbed me and pulled me toward the magic ball. This invisible power forced me to curl up, as the magic ball closed and trapped me inside.
There was darkness. A warm, tight, comfortable darkness, and I passed out.
Light. An intense light was shining over me, both inside and outside my body.
A strange fog had invaded my mind. I heard the cries of my mischief, screaming at me I was the worst bad. I saw Far Searcher and Black Whiskers, both telling me I would be fine. I saw the face of the small Mahoun, who reached out for me with his hand. I heard distant sounds that I couldn’t recognize, beeps that pierced my ears.
And I passed out once more.
“Okay, you can come out!”
I felt the invisible force grabbing me, before dragging me outside of the magic ball. This magic dropped me on some smooth white ground, and I shook my ears and whiskers as I slowly regained my senses.
That sensation felt so strange… was I born again? It felt like I was reborn thanks to some kind of magic, but by looking at myself, I saw I wasn’t a newborn.
Also, I was feeling… fine. No, better than fine. The fatigue of the past sun phases and moon phases had disappeared. The pain and wounds of the creatures who attacked me were gone, too. Also, I noticed that the hot brown on my paw had disappeared. Did the magic ball do this to me? Mahoun’s powers were truly amazing!
Then, I felt something wrap around my chest and lift very high. I squeaked in shock—an Ekans, an Ekans!
…No, that was not it. I detected a familiar scent, not poison, and looked behind me.
It was the small Mahoun, holding me in his hands while showing a curled-up mouth. “Mom! Look what I’ve caught with my birthday Poké Ball!” he squealed, holding me higher. “A Rattata!”
In front of us, there was a much taller Mahoun, who was looking at the creature holding me. I sniffed at it—female, maybe an elder. So she was Mom.
She stared at me and hummed. I could feel myself being much smaller under that stare, and the sensation became much stronger when she placed a hand on my head—was she going to crush me!? …No, she didn’t. She patted my head, and I dared open my eyes.
The corners of her mouth rose slightly. If only I knew what that meant! It was a positive sign, however, this much I had understood.
“Ah, a Rattata?” she asked, looking intently at me. “Well, a Rattata is a good choice for a starting Trainer. They are easy to raise and train.”
“Yeah!” he exclaimed, before looking at me with a sad expression. “This little guy was attacked by other Pokémon. He had a bad burn and some scratches all over his body. So, I caught him and took him to the Pokémon Center. I couldn’t just leave him in the tall grass all by himself…”
“I see. That was nice of you, darling,” she responded with pride in her voice, before putting her hand under my chin and lifting my head. This action startled me, but I didn’t react out of fear of making her angry. I remembered what happened when I fought Elder Koratta, and I didn’t want a repeat. “Hmm… by judging his overall body size and the length of his fangs, I think this is a Zeta Rattata.”
The smaller Mahoun tilted his head. “Zeta Rattata?”
“A Zeta Rattata is the lowest member of the hierarchy, the runt of the nest. They rarely live long, due to being subject to great amounts of stress from the alphas and betas. I can say that because this Rattata looks smaller than average and shows signs of undernourishment. My theory is that other Pokémon attacked him after he was abandoned by his family. However, that’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a rich diet and some adequate supplements and vitamins.”
…I didn’t understand most of what Mom just said, so I wasn’t sure whether her words were good or bad. However, the smaller Mahoun seemed to have understood and tilted his head up and down.
“Oh, okay. The nurse said something like that, too.” He looked at me, and I could see compassion in his eyes. “You had a very tough life, huh?”
If only he knew. If only I could tell him.
“Well, you’re part of my family now!” He opened his mouth and showed his teeth. Normally, that would be a threatening expression, but from his eyes and the tone of his voice, I understood that it was a friendly gesture. Mahoun were strange creatures. “And I’ll take good care of you. I won’t mistreat and abandon you like your family! I promise!” He lowered his paws and wrapped them around me, keeping me pressed on his chest. “I will be your friend.”
Ah, scent-sharing! Instinctively, I shook my whiskers and snuggled onto him, exchanging our respective scents. He reacted to that by making something similar to happy chirps and rubbing my head with his fingers.
Finally, I had found a mischief who accepted me. I had fulfilled my reason for living. I had found the Mahoun.
I wheeked with uncontrollable joy. I was so much happy.
I was home.
“Ah, right! I didn’t introduce myself! I’m Gorō!” said the small Mahoun, while carrying me to a new place named ‘bedroom’.
Gorō… what a bizarre name.
There was something I had learned from his scent: he was young and healthy, just like me. However, he didn’t seem to have other siblings, unlike me. His scent had the traces of Mom’s scent and the strong scent of another big Mahoun. I didn’t detect the scent of any other Mahoun. He was very lucky.
We reached the ‘bedroom’, and Gorō introduced me to a soft resting spot named ‘bed’ and a flat and long wood rectangle with four legs named ‘desk’. On top of it was a strange gray square with a black square named ‘kompyutah’. I stared at the black square in confusion: was there another Rattata with another Mahoun? I waved my paw and the other Rattata waved at me. Well, at least it seemed nice.
Gorō took me away from the ‘kompyutah’ and showed me a tiny thing named ‘toy’. It was a pink round item, like the magic ball he used to ‘catch’ me. He put me back to the ground and in front of the ‘toy’, before sitting beside me. I sniffed the ‘toy’ curiously and bit into it. It released a loud squeak.
Was it another Rattata? A pink Rattata? I opened my jaws in shock and looked at Gorō. He was curling the corners again, so that was positive…?
I bit the ‘toy’ again. No red life… I quickly realized that it wasn’t alive. I kept chewing it, feeling my bite becoming stronger and going further, and my fangs being trimmed. It felt like chewing a walnut, but nicer.
“So, do you like it?” asked Gorō, looking intently at me. I looked back at him, wheeking to let him know that yes, I liked that!
However, a black creature entered in the ‘bedroom’, barking incessantly. It had an orange muzzle, with dangling tongue and a full set of sharp fangs. A hunter!
I dropped the ‘toy’ and hid behind Gorō, terrified by the unknown creature. Gorō looked at me, showing gentle eyes. “Don’t be afraid, Rattata,” he said reassuringly, patting me on my head. “That’s Wildfire, our Houndour. She’s friendly, she won’t hurt you.”
Wildfire noticed me and took a quick sniff. She yapped and bent herself to the ground, looking at me with interest. «New!! New pup!!» she barked, wagging her tail. «Wanna play?! Please, play!!»
I stared at Wildfire, very confused by her behavior. No hunter had ever acted like that with a Rattata. At least, no hunter had ever bothered to talk to a Rattata. I wondered if other hunters could talk, too.
«Not hunt…?» I asked uneasily.
«Hunt?! Noo!!» she replied incredulously, tilting her head. «Rattata pup is family!! Don’t hunt!!»
I looked at Gorō, who tilted his head up and down. Another positive signal. Hesitantly, I walked toward Wildfire, keeping my ears folded. She leaned toward me and gave me a quick lick on my face.
Now that was something I understood. She truly meant no harm. I felt my ears standing up, and I became much more relaxed.
“Ah, see? Told you! She’s a good pup!” said Gorō, patting Wildfire with joy in his eyes and showing his curled-up mouth.
«Why Gorō curl mouth?» I asked Wildfire.
«Smile!!» she responded, trying to imitate the action herself. That only made her look scarier to me, but Gorō seemed amused. «Smile is good!! Smile means happy!! Human is happy!!»
«Human?» I narrowed my eyes, very confused. «No Mahoun…?»
«Human is Mahoun!! Same creature!!» she explained. «Wild pups say Mahoun!! Pokémon say Humans!!»
Mahoun and Humans… same creature…
I glanced at Gorō, noticing how he did that action while looking at us—‘smile’. So he was happy with us. Nice.
“Why don’t you play with each other?” asked Gorō, before looking intently at Wildfire. “But don’t be rough with him, Wildfire. He is much smaller than you.”
«I won’t!!» she yapped at Gorō, before looking at me. «Play chase!! I grab ball; you steal!!»
With this said, she grabbed the ‘toy’ in her jaws and began running around the ‘bedroom’. Still confused by the situation, I chased her and stole the ball from her jaws. Then, she chased me and stole the ball from me. And we continued doing that, many times, while Gorō ‘smiled’ at us. That was so much fun!
Like that, I became friends with a hunter.
A mischief of Mahoun—or rather, of Humans—didn’t seem that terrifying, once you knew them better. They lacked real fur mostly, except their heads, and they hid their skins with things called ‘clothes’. Funny name.
Gorō, in particular, had brown fur on his head and always hid his skin with a yellow ‘cloth’ on his chest and a blue ‘cloth’ on his legs. I wondered why they did that. Maybe ‘clothes’ are the source of their powers?
The moon phase after my ‘catch’, Gorō gave me some small crunchy balls called ‘Pokémon food’. He said those were for small Pokémon like me. I still don’t understand what ‘Pokémon’ means. He used that word with all other creatures living with Humans, so maybe it means ‘creature friend’?
He wanted to be my friend… Well, I surely considered him a friend! And all other creatures of the mischief considered Humans friends, too, and it was nice to see how we were a family where no one was bad. Only good.
The ‘Pokémon food’ was delicious. Dry, yes, but it was much richer than what I used to eat in the woods. And it was all for me! Big Eater wouldn’t be able to steal my food anymore!
I missed my old mischief… until I recalled how everyone, excluding Far Searcher and Black Whiskers, treated me.
And then, I looked at my new mischief. At Wildfire eating Pokémon food with a Houndoom, a bigger Houndour with horns. At Gorō, Mom and someone named Dad, eating together and sharing big ‘smiles’. Everyone looked so… happy. I was happy.
I didn’t miss my old mischief anymore.
Something I learned about creatures living with Humans is that they often fight against other creatures. Though, it never ends with one of the two losing all their red life. It was more like those games you play with your siblings—you end up hurt, but you grow stronger with each battle.
So, I had to fight another creature. It was a Sentret, probably a cub of some Furret. She didn’t look too confident—surely she was fearing Gorō, or me accompanying Gorō. That was very satisfying, seeing a tiny killer looking at me in fear.
I remembered the goneness of Far Searcher, my most best friend… Well, I was more determined to fight.
Gorō told me to use ‘tail whip’. Sure, I had a tail, but what was a ‘whip’? Tail… Tail… Oh, there was something I could do with my tail! I turned around and began shaking it, sending white magic toward the Sentret. She growled, not appreciating the weakening effect of my power.
Gorō smiled and cheered. So I did well? That was what he asked me? That was a ‘tail whip’? I had to remember that.
However, the Sentret rushed toward me while I was distracted and ran her claws on my side. I winced, that hurt a bit. I saw Gorō wincing as well, looking concerned. However, he showed resolute eyes and told me to ‘tackle’.
I hissed at the Sentret and rammed into her. By judging her expression, I had hurt her a lot more.
“Yes! Keep doing that!” cried out Gorō, showing a big smile. I looked back at him and wheeked in response. I would have given it all!
The Sentret scratched me once more, and I ‘tackle’ once more. She shrieked and fell to the ground with a thud. She began panting and twitching, too exhausted to keep fighting, while Gorō squealed happily.
“Wohoo! Way to go!”
I shook in excitement. Did I really win, for once…? And against a killer? So it was true! Humans could make creatures stronger! Humans could make creatures winners! I was strong! Strong!
That felt… good. Very good!
The Sentret fled toward the woods, while Gorō approached me. He showed a big smile and patted me on my head. That felt so nice.
“Good job! I knew you could do it!”
That made me feel so happy, so appreciated. I snuggled onto Gorō, who chirped happily in response.
“You are a good Rattata!”
Yes… finally, I was a good Rattata.
The Pidgey lies on the floor, cooing weakly and tiredly. It vanishes in a bright light, trapped again into its magic ball. Akira, the other Human, looks at Gorō with a surprised expression.
“Wow, your Rattata is so tough! How did he become so strong?” he asks Gorō, his eyes showing curiosity. There is some sadness in his voice, probably because he lost this time. That was despite sending two creatures against me.
Gorō laughs, showing one of his ‘toothy’ smiles. “Well, I have trained a lot with some good training buddies!”
Yes, I will say that battling with Wildfire and the Human with blue hair and eyes has helped a lot.
“Ah, I see. Well, can we battle again someday?” said Akira, before showing a smile, too. “I won’t lose next time!”
“Sure! I’d love to!”
Akira and Gorō shake each other’s hands—a greeting among Humans—and say goodbye to each other.
When Akira leaves, Gorō lowers himself to my level and pats me on my head. “You did great! I’m so glad you are my Pokémon!” he says happily. I am glad to be his Pokémon, too. “You know, I think we could become champions, one day.” He shakes his head, before his eyes shine with pure determination. “No, better than that! We will become legendary!”
Become legendary… Yes, I like that much. This will be my new reason for living. With Gorō, my most best Human friend, I will show to the world what I am capable of. That even bad Rattata can be good Rattata.
As for tradition, since I am a member of a new mischief, I needed a new name. Gorō picked one for me.
My new name is Top Percentage.
…And I love that.