Black Albino

Eight
Tackle

Nidoran...attack other Pokémon with poisonous barbs that protrude from their backs
Pokemon.com (old pokédex)

Kuu didn’t mention Lop to his mother, or anything she had said. Surely Mummy would have told him about his daddy if he had one. As he lopped back to Taishou’s burrow the next morning after feeding, he thought about it some more. He struggled to remember any other males in the burrow aside from Hamara and Kukka, but couldn’t. Were they his daddy? Kuu shrugged it off, and made a note to steer clear of Lop, if he ever saw her again.

Noki and three of the other Nidoran were already there, waiting patiently for the remaining three. Noki bounded over to Kuu.

“Hi!” he piped, “Taishou says we learn tackle today!” He demonstrated by promptly jumping on Kuu and knocking him to the ground, a broad grin on his face.

Kuu, forgetting completely about his daddy, grinned back and rolled over, pinning Noki to the ground. “Ha! Me win!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Noki jeered.

The pair mock fought until the group was assembled, and unknown to Kuu, Taishou had been watching his technique with awe. This youngster, despite his size, was going to be a tough little nut. He was fast and agile, and almost looked as though he knew what was coming. Where he’d learnt that from, Taishou did not know. When he’d gotten to know the kid better, he’d have to ask him who his father was. He knew the entire mob wanted to know, it was holding them all in suspense.

“Alrighty then boys,” he directed, “As you may have been told, you’re going to learn how to tackle. But first, I want to see your leers, see if you remembered anything from yesterday.”

The row of Nidoran looked as angry as they could, and within a minute, all had eerily glowing blue eyes, peering out of the darkness of the burrow. Naturally Kuu’s was the first to change colour, after about ten seconds or so. Taishou wasn’t surprised.

“Well done,” Taishou praised, “Just keep practising that and you’ll soon be able to leer without thinking about it. And now, a more offensive attack: Tackle.”

The Nidoran whispered among themselves, boasting about how they always win the mock fights they had at home. Taishou whistled them to regain their attention.

“Okay, you’re all obviously eager to attack each other. First get into your partners I organised for you yesterday.”

“But Daddy!” one Nidoran whined, “Do I have to go with Hitam? He always beats me!” Hitam was the darkest Nidoran apart from Kuu, exactly the same colour as Taishou.

“Yes, Varjo, you do,” Taishou said sternly. Hitam poked his tongue out at Varjo, who then returned the gesture. Kuu guessed the two were brothers.

“Right,” Taishou said, ignoring the two brothers, “We’ll go outside to do his one, need a bit of space.”

The group, followed by the two guards, trundled out into the browning summer grass and pleasantly warm sun, being met by dozens and dozens of other Nidos, all wanting to see the youngsters in action for the first time.

“Don’t worry about all the Nidos, they always watch,” Taishou reassured his students, “Alrighty then, tackle. This is one of the simplest attacks you can possibly do. Basically just charge and hit with your horn. Make sure to keep your ears back, or else you might get them in the way, and a horn through the ear is not a pleasant feeling.” The eight Nidoran shrunk back and drew in a sharp breath at the thought of it, instinctively lowering their ears.

“Now watch carefully as I demonstrate,” Taishou instructed, facing towards one of the guards. He lowered his long, shaggy ears, clenched his teeth and charged at him, hitting his side with full force. The guard was ready though, and was left unscathed. This happened every spring and every autumn, he was used to it now.

All the Nidoran were watching carefully, noting how he ran, how he closed his eyes when he hit, but only Kuu was taking note of not just Taishou, but the guard as well. Kuu knew that attack wasn’t the whole story, a Nidoran had to know how to defend himself against these attacks.

Taishou turned around. “Okay, now you practice and we’ll come around and help you.”

“You can go first,” Kuu told Noki, backing up to bare the brunt of Noki’s attack. Noki nodded and pressed his ears against his back, then charged in what he hoped was the same way as Taishou had. There was a sharp thud on Kuu’s side and he was almost knocked over, but he had braced his feet on the ground and kept himself fairly low to the ground, stopping himself from being knocked to the ground, as the other three defenders were.

Noki was disappointed. “Aww. How come they all fall over, but you not? I bad attacker.” He drooped his ears and dropped his eyes to the ground.

Kuu shook his head. “No you not, you good attacker, I just good defender. They do nothing to stop falling, your tackle very good!”

“Really?” Noki asked.

“Very really.”

Noki smiled. “Okay, I do again.” He backed up and ran again at Kuu. Kuu could feel more power in his partner than before, but still managed to stay standing.

Neither noticed the whispering around the mob. All were discussing how Kuu had managed to stay standing. The older Nidorino and Nidorina could remember that even when Taishou was first being taught to fight, he had been bowled over. They were, of course, convinced it was because of his colouration. None stopped to consider the possibility that he might have just been paying more attention than the others, he was just darker, and therefore, stronger.

On Noki’s third attempt, the guard who had been tackled by Taishou watched them. He too was silently surprised at Kuu’s abilities. They weren’t perfect, but they were far better than any of the others. He was obviously born to lead. But he knew he was supposed to be correcting Noki, so spoke to him.

“You’re doing well, Noki,” he said, “but keep your neck as stiff as you can. Okay, try again.”

Noki nodded and repeated the exercise, keeping his neck stiff. Again Kuu felt his strength increase.

“That’s it. Just keep practising for a little while, then it’ll be Kuu’s turn.”

Once the four defending Nidoran were sufficiently bruised, Taishou told them to swap. Varjo was hoping he meant swap partners, but was cuffed lightly by his darker brother. Varjo was now defending, and not happy with the idea.

Kuu’s first attempt was almost perfect, and he managed to knock Noki over with ease. Noki was upset with this.

“How you stay up?” he asked Kuu.

Kuu frowned, trying to put into words what he had done. “Um, keep your legs bent and feet apart, maybe.”

Noki nodded, spreading his feet apart and bending his knees. Kuu knocked him over again.

“Dun worry,” Kuu told him, “Taishou prolly teach us soon anyway. He better teacher than me.”

Noki nodded and prepared himself for another attack. And fell. And so the morning continued for another hour. For most of the time, other Nidos were watching Kuu, stunned at how perfect his tackles were. The pair of guards and Taishou found it hard to find any fault in his technique.

When the time came to finally go back to their home burrows, well into the morning, Kuu was again approached by one of the gossips, this time the head of the group, Aanekas. She knew how to get anything from anyone, even without them realising they were telling her. She figured Kuu would be easy.

“Hey!” she called out to him, “You’re a great tackler! Where’d you learn that from? Did Daddy teach you?”

Kuu turned. What was it with this daddy creature? He shook his head. “What’s Daddy?” he asked again.

Aanekas smiled. She’d prepared for this. “He’s a boy Nidoran, or a Nidorino. Are there any Nidorino or boy Nidoran in your family?”

Kuu nodded. “Hamara and Kukka are my brothers. Are they Daddy?”

Aanekas smiled and shook her head. What other way was there to explain a Daddy? “He usually teaches you how to defend yourself against an enemy, or how to attack, before Taishou teaches you."

“But Taishou was first to teach me.”

“Taishou? Is Taishou your daddy?”

“Varjo and Hitam call him Daddy." But Aanekas was gone. She was certain Taishou was Kuu’s father. It didn’t make sense, but Kuu had said it. It came straight from his mouth. Taishou was the first to teach him any attacks, so he must be the father. What self-respecting Nidorino would leave his kit, black as an Umbreon, untaught? None. Taishou was the father.

She bounded back to her group, a broad grin on her face. She was the first, apart from Lumi, to know who Kuu’s father was.

“Taishou!” she panted to them.

“Yeah, what about him?” Lop asked.

“He’s the father!”

Nine