Black Albino

Twenty-three
Confrontation

Don’t send her out against Psychic or Ground Pokémon, or you risk getting knocked out with one hit.
IGN

“I am not going to let that thing run my life any more!” Aurinko shouted, “I’m leaving!”

“Aurinko, are you sure that’s absolutely necessary?” Talvi asked feebly.

“Are you blind? Didn’t you see what it did to, er, whatever his name was? That Xatu doesn’t even have to blink an eyelid and it can cause pain you at least wouldn’t have thought imaginable!”

“What do you mean?” Talvi ventured. She wished she could find out more about Aurinko’s elusive past, but whenever she tried to ask, Aurinko just went silent, or did the complete opposite and threw a tantrum.

Aurinko sighed in frustration. She hated having those few almost fatal minutes replayed in her mind over and over again.

Finally she spoke, very softly, “You could never understand what it is like to always be hated and loathed by the entire Nido population, for nothing other than the colour of your fur.”

“Aurinko, look at me,” Talvi said sternly, looking deep into Aurinko’s sorrowful eyes. “I’m just about as pale as you are, I do know what it’s like.”

“You look at me!” Aurinko hissed, her eyes cold and hard. “I am pure white! My eyes are pink! I am an albino! It is physically impossible to be any paler than me.” She stared down at her paws, then cuffed the dust with her right one in anger. “And I’m never going to live it down.”

“Aurinko, why did your father attack you?” The question was more of a demand than a request.

“Are you ever going to stop asking me that?”

“Not until you answer.”

“What do you think? Because I’m an albino!”

“No,” Talvi said simply, “There’s more to it than that, I know there is. Come on Aurinko, you can trust me.”

Aurinko’s pale pink eyes burned with past fury. She stared coldly at Talvi’s calm face, willing her to spill the story of her past. But Aurinko wasn’t letting it out that easily. She didn’t want pity. She could live a happy life without pity. All pity would do was remind her of her first day in the sunlight, which should have been her last.

Aurinko walked up to Talvi so she was horn to horn with her. “A tip,” she said softly, her eyes narrowed, “Don’t. Ask.”

There was one slight problem with Aurinko’s plan of escape. As far as she could see, there was no way out. She tried burrowing under the clear Perspex walls of the enclosure, but the plastic kept going down further and further into the earth until it met up with a wire mesh, impossible to gnaw or dig through.

She tried to take a flying leap at the impossibly high walls, but all that resulted in was a sharp pain at the base of her horn followed by a headache. Talvi informed her that her jump had reached nowhere near the top. Trying to break the Perspex had pretty much the same effect, except she was already on the ground when she hit. Successive stabs produced little more than a spot on the Perspex where she had hit.

“Aurinko, sweety,” Mekura mused, “Give it up. There’s no way out, even I can see that.” She chuckled softly.

“Don’t care what anybody thinks, I’m not living with that anymore.” Although Mekura couldn’t see Aurinko’s head gesture, she could easily guess that Aurinko was referring to the Xatu.

Aurinko suddenly cried out in pain again, almost falling over from the force at which it hit her. Glancing through the walls of the enclosure, she could see the motionless Xatu’s eyes fixed once more on her.

She shook her head, trying to ignore the pain, and walked up to the transparent walls, glaring with pure hatred at the Xatu.

“Leave me alone!” she screeched at it, turning the heads of all the surrounding Pokémon. The Xatu didn’t even blink and Aurinko’s pain didn’t waver. “I’m not scared of you,” Aurinko continued, her voice strong, “You’re just a coward! You may have killed that other Nidoran, but you’re never going to take me! I’ve lived through worse pain than this, so just leave me alone!”

She stood her ground, ignoring the pain in her head, leg and flank, her brow lowered as far as it would go, her shoulders raised and head lowered to give herself a more formidable appearance.

Is this all you believe me to be capable of?” a voice mocked in her head. It was soft, silky, deadly, and for a moment Aurinko was puzzled as to what it was, then the realisation struck. It didn’t surprise her that the Xatu could speak into her mind; after all, it could take her memories and reproduce the pain they caused her, speaking into her mind would be easy.

What you are feeling at the present time are merely the pains of your past,” the Xatu told her, still standing absolutely still on its branch, “If you rest here a while longer, I would take great pleasure in presenting you with the pains of your future.

Aurinko took a step forward and grinned harshly at the all-seeing eyes of the ancient creature. “No,” she told it, “I can live through anything you try to dish out at me, whether you believe it or not.” The pain intensified, but, true to her word, Aurinko just grit her teeth and bared it, defying the Xatu’s painful gaze.

You are indeed a strong willed young Nidoran,” came the Xatu’s mysterious voice, “But make your choices wisely.” Slowly but surely, the pain subsided, until it was just a mere throb. Throughout the entire confrontation, the Xatu had remained motionless.

Talvi bounded up to her friend. “Aurinko, are you okay?”

“I’m fine!” she snapped back. “Now help me find a way out of here.”

“I told you, it’s impossible,” Talvi argued. “You can’t dig under, you can’t jump over and you can’t burst through. What more proof do you need that you can’t get out?”

Aurinko was silent for a short while, her mind turning over any other possible routes of escape. She made her way over to the tree in the far corner of the enclosure and made an attempt at climbing it, but her blunt claws were made for burrowing underground, not climbing trees to get above it. She sat at the base of the tree, blocking out the sound of Talvi trying to tell her she wouldn’t be able to get out, no matter what she tried.

Her ears suddenly pricked up as a solution she knew would work made its way into her mind. She explained it briefly to Talvi to get her opinion, not that it would make any difference.

“I dunno,” Talvi responded, obviously not convinced, “Even if you do get out, where will you go? There are other ways to deal with this Aurinko.”

“Like?” Aurinko’s eyebrows were raised in question. She knew there was no other way. She had to get out, and now that she knew how, there was no stopping her.

Talvi sighed. “I don’t know, but there must be a better solution than breaking out. I mean, who knows what could be out there?”

“I don’t care what’s out there, but I do know what’s in here, and I’m not wasting my time to get hurt by it again. Will you help me or not?”

Talvi sighed again. “If I must. But if it doesn’t work, I’m blaming it on you.”

“Fine by me,” Aurinko retorted.

Just as the sun had hit the top of the Natu and Xatu cage, the metallic voice rang out over the zoo as it did every day at exactly the same time. “Ladies and gentlemen, the zoo will be closing in five minutes. Please begin to make your way to the entrance before the gates close. Thank you.”

Once everyone had left, Aurinko’s escape plan was called into action. Mekura and Akan stood side by side next to the Perspex barrier, and a Nidorina with a slight limp stood on the outside. The three orphaned Nidoran climbed carefully onto their backs, and two more Nidoran, one with half her ear missing, the other with broken body thorns, made their way up onto their backs. Last of all was Talvi, the smallest but not youngest of the ‘mob’, scrambled up to the very top.

Aurinko hopped up the stair of Nidos, then paused on Talvi’s back, concentrating hard on the top of the Perspex. She took a flying leap, thrusting herself upwards with all the force her back legs had. She felt the Nidos under her buckle slightly under the force, and it threw her off balance, causing her to fall to the ground.

Not being one to give up, she climbed the Nidos and tried again, this time ready for the buckling of her support group. This time she managed to hook her front paws over the top of the Perspex, and she scrabbled with her back feet on the smooth surface, failing to get a grip.

But they did eventually come in contact with something—the hard, furry scalp of Talvi. Aurinko got her hind feet into the right position and thrust herself upwards again, this time managing to get all four feet on the thin edge of the barrier. With little room to stand, she promptly fell forward and landed on the dusty earth outside the enclosure. Ungraceful though it was, she had made it out of the enclosure, and was free.

“Wait!” Talvi’s voice called out, “I’m coming with you!”

Aurinko impatiently turned around, shaking the dust out of her pristine white fur.

Talvi was struggling to make it up over the wall, but because she didn’t have the extra step to stand on that Aurinko had used, she was failing miserably.

The Nidoran on the lowest ‘step’ understood her position, and climbed up to help her, giving her the same boost Talvi had given to Aurinko. Both Nidoran were now free.

Twenty-four