Black Albino

Sixteen
Beginning

It raises its big ears to check its surroundings. It will strike if it senses any danger.
Pokémon Yellow Pokédex Entry

The pale morning sunlight crept slowly through the cave’s opening and woke the quietly sleeping form of Kuu. As he stretched and yawned himself awake, his ears pricked up, fanning around and gathering a sound picture of the cave. He froze, hearing slow, methodical rumbles echoing around the cavern. They were faint, coming from far within the cave. He wondered absently how far back the cave went, then crept cautiously around the rock he had been sleeping behind, his ears and nose twitching.

The plodding steps grew louder, more distinct, then the creature emerged from a passageway on the opposite side from where Kuu was hidden. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped down. Kuu didn’t know such a massive creature existed. Well, apart from the Nidoking and Queen, but even they seemed overshadowed by this heaving bulk. Its thundering green mass towered above him, topped with two beady eyes, too small for its body. Down its back ran a row of jagged spines that rivalled Taishou’s own.

It turned its small head, which was still at least the same size as Kuu, surveying its surrounds. Kuu crouched low, wishing he could just sink into the ground, but the creature’s gaze flitted over him, as though he was merely a rock. Kuu sighed inwardly, thankful for the first time in his life that he was black. Any pink Nidoran would have been spotted instantly.

The creature’s eyes fixed on something far to Kuu’s left, and its mouth opened wide, revealing a huge gaping maw, larger, it seemed, than its head. A bellowing roar escaped its throat, rattling the very earth on which Kuu stood. A clod of dirt dropped from the ceiling and landed on Kuu’s back. It was all he could do to stop himself from sneezing. He came to the conclusion that this was why the Long Claws wouldn’t enter the cave the previous night.

As the massive green bulk thundered to whatever it was that it had spotted, Kuu decided he would make his getaway. He counted silently to himself, one, two, three, and pelted out from behind his rock, streaking over the fifteen or twenty meters to the outside world. He heard the creature roar again, but didn’t once turn around, not until he was out of sight of the cave.

He hopped under a tree, totally exhausted. Why were black Nidoran so highly thought of? All he’d done since he left the warren was run from everything. Not that he would have had a hope of standing up to a whole herd of Long Claws, or the great lumbering green thing with hide as solid as rock.

“Where are you, Mummy?” he whispered, his eyes glistening again with tears. He had already begun to regret his expedition. At least at the warren he was safe. No-one would dare to try and hurt the black Nidoran.

He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down, thinking about why he had left in the first place. Taishou had broken his trust. There was no way he would be able to trust him again. But he could feel inside him that wasn’t really the reason he had left.

It was his dad. Some elusive shiny Pokémon, pitch black as himself, but scattered with shimmering silver patterns, glowing like the moon and the stars at night. Some long and elegant Pokémon, with a warm touch, someone Kuu could really feel safe with. He curled up quietly under the tree, his mind conjuring up all kinds of amazing black and silver Pokémon, long, elegant, powerful, but most of all, he was someone Kuu could finally call Daddy.

He wasn’t asleep for long, just long enough to recover from his encounter. Before the sun had reached its highest point, he was off again, through the dry, brown summer grass up the hills. As the midday-heat of early summer beat down on his small midnight back, he tried again to imagine his father. Who was he? What was he like? What was he? There were so many questions he wished he could ask his mother about.

He paused a while on the hillside to gather his thoughts. Turning around to face the way he had come, he was suddenly astounded at the size of, well, everything. The hills rolled away to his left and to his right, rippling like water with brown, sunbaked grass. Behind him they struck upwards, rising higher and higher above the plateau below. There was no sign of the warren.

He was surprised to find how far he had travelled already. But there was still much more ground to cover. Way too much for a small Nidoran such as himself. Where on earth could he start? He shook his head and decided to carry on up the hill. Maybe when he reached the top he might be able to see the whole world.

The air was hot and dry. There was barely any moisture anywhere, and the only sounds were the crisp hushing of the hot north wind through the grass and the static chirp of the cicadas, rasping their legs together and creating the distinct atmosphere of summer. Soon enough, the intense heat, made harsher by the direct sun, and the lack of water became too much for the young Nidoran. His head rushed and he began to feel dizzy. He stood still for a moment, breathing in deep gulps of air, but the inevitable blackness washed over him, and he fell in a small black heap, fainted in the long, swaying grass.

Kuu recovered in the early evening. His limbs were shaking and he was feeling cold and clammy all over. He tried to stand up, but his hearing was replaced with a harsh ringing in his ears, and his sight by a swirling mix of greens, oranges and blacks. He lay back down again, breathing heavily, and waiting for the rushing in his ears to die down.

“I’m never travelling by daylight again,” he resolved.

When he felt he had fully revived himself, he slowly stood up, ate his fill of the brown, dry grass and continued on up the hill. As he reached its peak, the sun was just dipping down behind the mountains beyond, casting its beautiful golden light over the swaying brown grass.

He could see everything around him, except whatever lay beyond the mountains. There were the brown grasslands below him, and the towering mountains climbing up above him. Kuu could see a forest of pine trees scattering the faces of the mountains, a rich dark green mass, tipped at the top with gold. In the valley below lay a small lake, rimmed with dried mud. Its surface was glassy flat, and it shone out from the darkness of the valley, as if part of the sky was trapped there.

He looked back over the grasslands, the shadow of the mountains well and truly darkening them. This was really it, there was no going back now. He took a deep but shaky breath, and quietly said goodbye to his home, promising his only family that he would return, not necessarily soon, with their father.

Hastily he turned and bounded down to the lake in the valley below. Keeping his ears and eyes up, he lapped gratefully at the cool water, sending tiny ripples of water out across its shimmering film.

A silent shape glided on smooth wings overhead, circling around the lake, its sharp eyes picking up every tiny movement, every blade of grass. It spilled the air from under its pale brown feathers and dove stealthily, like a ghost, down to the small black creature lapping at the water’s edge.

Kuu heard it at the last second, his long ears pricked up and fanned behind him. He abandoned his drinking and leaped to his left. He was hit hard by one of the predator’s wings as it swooped over him, then heard it clip the surface of the water as it attempted to right itself.

Kuu could see it clearly now, a bird with feathers much the same colour as a Pidgey’s, but its thick, strong brown claws and small but lethal beak weren’t crafted for picking berries. This bird was a killer, and Kuu wasn’t hanging around for it to kill him. These must be the Noctowl his mother had told him about, the Fearow of the night that made living at any time a very risky affair for a Nidoran.

As the bird arched noiselessly around, Kuu struck off through the grass, cursing himself for again running from his enemy. He would never learn if he kept running, he had to face it some time. He could hear the bird’s eerie call from a short distance behind him. He halted and turned swiftly around to come eye to eye with his predator, then quickly looked away.

“Never look at their eyes,” Lumi had told him.

His eyes flashing blue, he glared at it hard, determined not to let it hypnotise him. He could see its confidence suddenly waver, and it hesitated just slightly before attacking him. Kuu pulled his ears back and jabbed his horn forwards, catching it in its wing as it veered around him. He felt that same strange liquid dripping off the tip of his horn, and realisation suddenly dawned on him that this must be his poison.

Seeing the Noctowl flap not so silently off into the approaching night made Kuu feel very cnfident. He didn’t need Taishou to teach him to fight, he could learn it all by himself.

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