Black Albino

Twenty-six
Umbreon

Male Nidoran stiffen their ears when they sense danger
Old Pokémon World Pokédex

True to the Chansey's word, Kuu was feeling much better when he woke up the following morning. He stretched in his blankets, now covered in his own black fur. Having had the Chansey fuss over him the day before made him realise how lonely and homesick he really was. Nidoran are very social animals and rarely stray very far from their warren.

He wished he had brought Hamara with him, but he wouldn't leave Jaa by herself with Taishou the head of the mob. It was too dangerous. He'd seen first hand what Taishou was capable of, and there was no reason why he shouldn't do the same to his sister. A new wave of grief washed over him when the image of his mother, her side smeared with her own blood, haunted his memories. He hoped Hamara and Jaa were safe.

Kuu ached to see Nidoran again. He hadn't seen any of his own species since he had hugged Hamara when he left the warren. But he wouldn't give up. He would keep his promise to his brother and sister and return home with their father. It just occurred to him that the Chansey had probably seen hundreds of different kinds of Pokémon, so she may be able to identify his father. A new lease of life was unleashed inside him at this thought, and he anxiously awaited the Chansey's return.

"Morning!" the Chansey piped in her singsong voice as she entered with a bowl of brown pellets for Kuu's breakfast.

Kuu grinned broadly and wondered how he should ask the Chansey about his father. "Um, can I ask you a question?" he asked finally.

"Go for it." The Chansey rested her stubby arms on the side of Kuu's bed.

"I'm trying to find my father, and my mum told me that he's not a Nidorino, he's long and elegant with a long tail, and he's black with silver patterns. He's a shiny Pokémon," Kuu finished. He felt awkward saying this, but looked up hopefully at the Chansey.

The Chansey was frowning in thought, then she opened her mouth to speak. "He could be an Umbreon. They're black. Normally with gold rings on their body, but the shiny ones have silver, or so I'm told. I've never seen a shiny one myself. You're very lucky to have one as your father."

Kuu was ecstatic. He jumped up and licked the Chansey on the cheek.

"Thank you!" he cried, hugging the Chansey tightly, then he dropped back into the bed.

The Chansey was giggling. "I could show you a picture of one if you want," she offered, and left to go fetch one.

Kuu's heart was beating fast with excitement. He had no idea what a picture was, but at least he now knew what he was asking about when he asked any Pokémon if they had ever seen his father.

"Umbreon," he whispered, enjoying the way the word roll off his tongue.

The Chansey returned, holding a hard, flat thing in her stumpy pink hands. She flipped through square, white leaves as she walked over to Kuu. She placed the thing in front of him and pointed.

"That's an Umbreon," she told him.

A black creature, its ears long like a Nidorino's, but not half as scruffy, was printed on the page. Each ear was ringed with gold. The small, elegant head held two garnet eyes and a gold ring circle outlined where a horn would grow, was the animal a Nido. Tapering down from its head ran a lithe, black body, ending with a tail much like the ears, only slightly bigger. The Pokémon's graceful legs were each topped with a gold ring, shining out dramatically from the black fur.

"Umbreon," Kuu breathed again. This amazing creature was his father?

"That's an Umbreon," the Chansey explained unnecessarily, "but the shiny ones, like you said, would have silver rings." Her voice sounded as though an Umbreon was just another Pokémon, but to Kuu, it was amazing.

"Do you know where they live?" Kuu asked, still staring at the beautiful animal on the page in front of him.

"Can't say I do. There are very few in the wild at all, most are owned by trainers who first caught them as Eevee. That's what they evolve from." She flipped back a few pages to show Kuu a cute brown Pokémon that was vaguely similar to the magnificent Umbreon, but still paled in comparison.

"They're solitary," the Chansey continued, "so they don't live in easily defined groups anyway. They're dark types too, so they're nocturnal, making them even harder to find."

Kuu was hanging on every word, learning something new with everything she said. If they were hard to find, it would at least be easy to distinguish between his father and any other Umbreon, should he even find any other Umbreon.

"Thank you," he said again, looking up at the Chansey with shining eyes.

The Chansey picked up and closed the book. "You're welcome," she replied, and left to let Kuu think about his father.

He lay with his eyes closed, imagining the beautiful creature bounding through the long grass, its black coat shimmering in the moonlight, silver rings shining out against the night. Kuu sighed happily in the knowledge that he was closer to finding his father than ever. Eventually he dozed off, still with the Umbreon image loping in his mind.

The Chansey woke him again early in the afternoon and told him he was going to be released back into the wild later in the afternoon, with a group of Nidos. Kuu's ears perked up at the word. He hoped it wouldn't be his own mob, then his efforts would have all been in vain. Though he half hoped it would be so he could see his family again. Either way, he'd be happy to just see his own species again.

Sure enough, a man wearing a blue shirt and jeans walked into the room carrying a cage lined with blankets, which he coaxed Kuu into. Kuu was tentative at first, but knowing it was his only way out of the Pokécentre, he hopped in and let the man close the metal cage, then carry him out of the room.

He was taken down a corridor past three other doors which he imagined would open into rooms much like the one he had been in. The corridor ended in a set of double doors that opened into a room about the size of Kuu's recovery room, but with different décor. He couldn't take much of it in as the man holding his cage strode across the white tiled floor in just a few steps and left the Pokémon Centre lobby behind.

Kuu was being taken towards a large, red shining structure with glass panels and black rubber rings at its base. The man opened the side of the red box and swung Kuu inside it to rest on a cushioned tan seat, then closed it and climbed in himself on the opposite side. He began clicking around with something out of Kuu's view, and the shiny red box was brought to life, shaking and making a loud revving sound that made Kuu's ears and muscles stiffen.

He stared around with worried eyes and noticed in horror that the trees outside the box were sliding backwards. He jerked from the sudden movement of the vehicle and started whimpering, not liking the feeling of moving without moving. He buried his head in the blankets, but still he could feel the movement. Why had he agreed to this? What was going on?

"It's okay, little guy," the man reassured him, noticing Kuu's obvious fear of his preferred mode of transportation, "We'll be there in an hour or so, nothing to worry about."

But Kuu wasn't convinced. For the full hour he shuffled around in the blankets, worrying about what was happening to him. His heart thumped faster than he could remember. The feeling of moving without moving terrified him. He couldn't help but relieve himself in his fear.

Eventually the car stopped and the engine died. The man stepped out and took Kuu from the other side, placing his cage on the ground. As soon as the latch was off and the door lifted, Kuu was off like a rocket. His journey hadn't helped to change his opinion on humans in the slightest.

The man chuckled to himself as the black behind bounced off into the dry undergrowth and shooed a fly away before climbing back into the land rover and making his way back to Mahogany.

Kuu stood in the light of the setting sun, worried about the foreign lands he now stood in. The grass and earth smelt strongly of Nidos, but not like his home warren. As the car thundered off in a cloud of dust, the Nidos started to move out of their burrows, sniffing the air and waving their ears to make sure the coast was clear.

Every pair of eyes fixed on Kuu, making the black Nidoran suddenly feel very small. He hoped they wouldn't attack him at all, knowing full well the main purpose of the head male in the mob. Him being black they could very well think he was after their leader so he could take over the warren.

The silence that first welcomed his arrival soon moved on to amazed whisperings and murmurings about the newcomer. He couldn't pick up many words, but one young Nidoran's observation rang out loud and clear:

"Wow Mummy! A black Nidoran!"

Well, at least they weren't attacking him.

Twenty-seven