Black Albino

Twenty-one
Pain

In South America, it is said that its right eye sees the future and its left eye views the past.
Pokémon Silver Pokédex entry for Xatu

The Nido pen at the Fuchsia City Zoo stayed very quiet and a sombre mood hung over the small group. Occasionally, furtive glances were cast over to the Xatu. It still remained on its perch, not moving, not even a feather out of place. Its cold, hard, unblinking gaze remained on the group, specifically the young white female.

Aurinko’s morning was filled by constant pain emanating from her war wounds. It wasn’t as intense as it had been when the Xatu’s eyes first met hers, it was more of a gentle throb, but it still hurt her to move. Being the determined Nidoran that she was, she tried not to let onto the group that the Xatu was still hurting her. She was not one to show her weaknesses.

When the gates to the zoo opened promptly at ten o’clock that day, people crowded around the Natu and Xatu cage, each trying to glimpse the rare new bird that had arrived. It had made the third page of the local newspaper and people were eager to see it. Young kids had the prime position, sitting on the ground, fingers hooked through the wires of the cage preventing anyone from taking them away. Fathers held their children up on their shoulders, allowing them to view the Xatu from even higher up. For the time being, Aurinko was safe from the Xatu’s hurtful stare.

“Thank you all for coming,” came a metallic voice from the cage. It sounded unnatural, to loud to be real. Akan explained to Aurinko that this was some trainer invention that made their voices louder. They used them a lot at the zoo to talk about the Pokémon.

“So is that one going to talk about the Xatu?” Aurinko asked.

Akan nodded, his ears turned to the Xatu cage. His hearing wasn’t quite as good as it had been, and he had to struggle to hear most things now.

“Xatu are very rare Pokémon,” continued the metallic voice, “and very few are left in the wild, so it is hard for us to know very much about them. They tend to be solitary birds, meaning they live alone except during the mating season when they pair up with a mate. Their diet consists of fruit, nuts and berries in the wild, and here we try to feed them the same.

“As you may have heard, Xatu are said to be able to see into the past and into the future, but I wouldn’t trust them with your next lottery ticket.” Murmured laughter sounded from the parents, and high pitched giggles from the little kids who were only laughing because everyone else was.

“A South American legend says they can see the past with their left eye and the future with their right. We are still not certain whether these myths are true or not, but it does leave you with some food for thought.” The zookeeper continued to talk about various other aspects of the Xatu and a bit about Natu, but none of it was very interesting to the Nidos and they soon got bored and went back to eating.

Eventually the session ended, signalled by applause and mumbling from the crowd, who then dispersed to look at the other Pokémon in the zoo. Few people stopped to look at the Nido pen; they were too common to really spark much interest.

As soon as the crowd had left, with only a couple of people left to gaze in wonder at the Xatu, Aurinko clenched her eyes again at the returning pain from the unfeeling bird.

“You okay, ‘rinko?” Talvi’s voice was concerned.

Aurinko nodded hastily and swallowed. “I’m fine,” she stated, though her voice showed it was plain she was suffering.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes! Now leave me alone!”

Talvi had known Aurinko long enough to know that something was definitely wrong, and a glance at the Xatu told her it was obvious what. Again, its black, oval eyes were held on Aurinko. She sighed heavily, frowning angrily at the bird, wishing she could do something to help Aurinko and take the pain away from her. She thought about it all day but since she didn’t even know what exactly the Xatu was doing, she ended up asking Akan, just as the last of the zoo-goers were heading home.

“Have you noticed that Aurinko’s been, well, not herself lately?” she asked.

“I have. It’s the Xatu,” Akan replied matter-of-factly, his eyes on the all-seeing bird.

“I thought it was. Do you know what it’s doing?”

Akan sighed, now watching the defenceless young Nidoran. “You remember how the zookeeper said that they can see the future and the past?” he said finally.

Talvi nodded.

“I think what it’s doing is seeing Aurinko’s past, or her future, and showing her all the pain that either has come or will come later on in her life.”

Talvi was silent, thinking this over. When she had first come to the zoo, Aurinko had said that her father had attacked her. Now that she thought about it, Talvi had a feeling it went deeper than that. After all, she was white, and like it or not, the general Nido populus loathed white Nidoran.

“Does that help you?” Akan asked.

“Yeah, thanks.” Talvi’s mind was on other things now. Why would her father attack her? Neither of Talvi’s parents had shown her anything but love when she was a kit, except of course when she did something wrong, like give a false ‘predator alarm’. What could Aurinko have done to make her father nearly kill her?

“Aurinko,” she said tentatively.

“What?” Aurinko demanded.

“Well, um, this is really hard for me to ask, but, ah, could you—”

“You want me to tell you about how my father attack me.”

“Well, yeah. I know it’s—”

“No.” Aurinko said simply.

“Oh. Well, that’s fair enough. I was just thinking that maybe—”

“No.”

“Okay, I’ll just go now.” Talvi could see she wasn’t going to get anything out of her, definitely not now. Glancing at her, she saw her visibly relax. Her face was first puzzled, then relieved.

Aurinko was free of the pain. Maybe the bird was going to sleep now. Aurinko turned to it to see its gaze had instead moved on to torture someone else. Maybe this was how the bird gained respect from other Pokémon—it put them through so much pain with so little effort that others would obey it, just to keep from being hurt again. But Aurinko wasn’t going to be fooled by its little games.

A terrible scream erupted from the back of the Nido enclosure. It was the male Nidoran that had never said a word to any of the Nidos for as long as he had been there, and he was apparently the Xatu’s next victim.

He continued to scream, tearing around the enclosure at full speed, a look of pure torture on his face. The Nidos stared in horror, dumbfounded as he began writhing on the ground in pain, until he finally he fell limp and silent, just as Aurinko had done, only he didn’t wake up.

Twenty-two