Black Albino

Ten
Predator

It is small, but its horn is filled with poison. It charges then stabs with the horn to inject the poison.
Pokémon Gold Pokédex Entry

By the evening feeding time, the entire mob, except Lumi, Taishou and Taishou’s mate, was told the news. Taishou! But he’d always loathed pale Nidos! It must have just been a facade, no Nidorino, let alone the darkest of the mob, would want to be known to have mating with the lightest. And how else could Kuu have ended up so dark? And so it was decided, Taishou was Kuu’s father.

During that feeding session, Kuu’s brothers and sisters all bounded up to him with eager looks in their eyes. Aamu nudged Kukka, and he stepped forward. “Kuu,” he asked timidly, “Can you teach us to fight?” Four pairs of pleading eyes looked into Kuu’s own.

He grinned and nodded. “Of course!” he spluttered through a mouthful of grass, “When?”

“Now,” Aamu said mischievously.

Kuu swallowed the grass. “Okay, Jaa, you tell Mummy we go battle.”

Jaa grinned broadly and bounded off to their mother while her four siblings made their way to an area free of Nidos so they would not be interrupted, then she followed after them.

Kuu frowned, trying to remember exactly what Taishou had said about Leer. “Okay,” he said carefully, “First I teach you leer. It look like this.” He thought again of his whole family being taken away from him, and how angry he would be. He found that the cool blue glow came to his eyes even easier than it had at their last training session.

His siblings were genuinely scared. They slowly backed away, instinctively thinking Kuu was going to do something to them. Kuu giggled and allowed his eyes to return to their normal state. His four students looked at each other and grinned.

“You mean we can do that?” Aamu asked, awed.

Kuu nodded. “Just imagine that someone has taken Mummy away and won’t give her back. Think about how angry it would make you.”

They all glared hard at the imaginary thing that was taking Mummy. “You have to be really really angry,” Kuu prompted, “The someone is hurting Mummy, scratching and biting her!”

Eventually, Hamara’s eyes glowed a faint blue, slowly intensifying. Kukka’s followed, but Aamu and Jaa had no luck. Nothing would come.

“Kuu,” Aamu whined, exasperated, “Why it no work?”

Kuu shook his head, “I don’t know. It should.” He was bewildered. How come his sisters couldn’t perform Leer? “Keep trying. Really hard, you get it sooner or later.” But still nothing happened, not even a blue spark.

Jaa gave up and flopped down on the grass. “I ask Mummy. It no work,” she sighed. Aamu flopped down next to her, thoroughly exhausted. Their eyes hurt from trying, but not a single thing happened.

“Kuu,” Aamu asked, “Can we learn to attack? I no like Leer, dunnae work.”

“Okay,” Kuu replied, “But we rest first.”

The three brothers lay down next to their sisters in the dry brown grass and all five of them dozed off in the pleasantly warm spring sunshine.

A sudden ear-splitting scream split the day apart, abruptly waking the happily dozing Nidoran. They were horrified to see that the scream came from Aamu, who now hung limp in the strong jaws of a massive orange, black and cream Pokémon, like a huge Nidorino with small ears, long legs and fluff around its muzzle. The fluff was now stained red from their sister. The Pokémon crunched down on Aamu’s tiny blue body, then swallowed her, with a satisfied gulp.

The remaining four siblings stared in pure terror at the heartless Pokémon, unable to move for their fear. The Pokémon licked its jaws and clamped them around Kukka’s pale pink body. He squealed the same blood-curdling screech Aamu had given in her last moments of life before he too suffered her fate.

Kuu was not about to let this happen to his last two siblings, and threw his best leer at the Pokémon, not realising that this was ironically the situation Taishou had put before him just over a day ago. The Growlithe stared down at him and flinched slightly, then showed him its own leer.

Kuu was unfazed. He lowered his horn and charged at the Growlithe’s face, hitting it hard in the side of its muzzle. He felt some strange liquid squeeze through the end of his horn, but thought nothing of it for the time.

The Growlithe closed its eyes tight and yelped, pawing at its face where Kuu had hit it. He ran at it again, this time jabbing it in between its eyes. Again the liquid cursed through his horn. He subconsciously wondered what the liquid was, but thought again of what this creature had done to his family, then scratched madly at its face.

Hamara and Jaa looked on, stunned. Their brother was brave. Jaa’s instincts kicked in, and she turned her tail and tore off, back to the burrow where Mummy was. Hamara’s instincts made an appearance too, and he ran up beside Kuu, slashing at the merciless predator.

The Growlithe yelped again, then leapt up and streaked off in a flash of orange and black, away from the ruthless young Nidoran who it thought would be an easy feed.

As they watched it leave, Kuu and Hamara were struck with grief. Kukka and Aamu were gone forever, nothing was going to bring them back. They both hugged each other, remembering their happy faces, not the faces of agony from minutes earlier. Tears streamed down their cheeks. Both brothers were convinced it was their fault that Kukka and Aamu had been eaten. If only they had attacked, if only they had been awake and known the creature was there, if only they had managed to get them out of the way before it attacked, if only

Lumi pelted up the hill to them, closely followed by Jaa. Her eyes were red from the idea that she had lost two of her children who she had looked after so well. If only she had taught them to fight, if only she had come with them, if only

“Hamara, Kuu, are you okay,” she panted.

“Mummy!” they cried.

“A big orange Pokémon came while we were asleep,” Kuu sobbed.

“Kuu was teaching us to fight really well,” Hamara wept.

“And it ate Kukka and Aamu!” Kuu cried.

“And then Kuu ran and attacked it!” Hamara blubbered.

“And then Hamara attacked it too!”

“And then it ran away!”

“Shh, shh,” Lumi interrupted, hugging her sons, “You’re safe now, you’re safe, everything’s going to be all right,” but she knew it wouldn’t.

“But Mummy,” Kuu sniffed into her icy blue fur, “It’s my fault!”

“No it’s not, you were very brave to attack that big orange Pokémon, and you both did it, all on your own. I’m proud of you.”

Hamara and Kuu looked up at their mother with red, tear-stained eyes. “Really?” Hamara mumbled.

“Really.”

On their way through the mob back to the burrow, the Nidos all stared at the mournful family minus two. Aanekas approached Kuu and asked him what had happened. Kuu just sniffed and shot a half-hearted leer at her, then hopped slowly into the burrow.

Aanekas stopped and blinked after him in shock. Why had he leered her? What did she do? She shrugged and went back to her gossip group and told them. After discussing it for a while, they came to the conclusion that it must have something to do with Taishou being his father and with Aanekas spreading the word about it.

Aanekas wasn’t convinced. Why would Kuu not want everyone knowing his dad was the head of the mob? They decided to give it up for the evening and made their ways to their own burrows. They’d find out somehow.

Lumi’s burrow was very silent that night. The only sounds were the occasional sniff when one of the Nidoran remembered the scene, or when Lumi thought of her children.

Kuu’s training the next morning seemed to just drift by him. His mind was not on tackling, defending or leering, he just kept wishing he had done something different, anything to save his brother and sister.

Taishou noticed and carefully took him aside during tackling practice, telling Noki to wait where he was.

“You don’t seem to be yourself lately,” he said, with a concerned tone, “Anything wrong?”

Kuu looked at the ground and sniffed, not replying.

“Kuu?” Taishou asked again.

Kuu looked up with doleful eyes. “A big orange Pokémon ate Kukka and Aamu and it’s all my fault,” he whispered, turning his eyes again to the ground.

Taishou didn’t really know what to say to this. “I’m sure it’s not your fault.”

“How you know? You weren’t there.” Kuu’s voice was almost scornful.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” Taishou said soothingly. By this time the seven other young Nidoran had joined them, and all of them, including the guards, were shocked at the tale Kuu told. Taishou in particular was amazed that he and his brother were able to scare the Growlithe away. There was silence when Kuu had finished. Tears ran freely down his cheeks again. Then Taishou spoke.

“Kuu, that was a very brave thing you did. No Nidoran as young as you has ever faced up to a Growlithe before, let alone won. You say you lost two of your siblings, but you must remember that in doing so, you managed to save the other two.”

Kuu looked up into his warm, friendly eyes and forced a smile. When he put it that way, it didn’t hurt quite so much, but he still felt responsible.

“Ready to practice tackling again?” Taishou asked.

Kuu nodded. “Okay,” he whispered.

Kuu was thankful that Noki didn’t ask any questions about the horrible creature he now knew was called a Growlithe. He hoped he would some day forget the incident, but somehow knew that wouldn’t happen. That was one memory that would stay with him for the rest of his life.

Eleven