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For The Wild

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'Pocket monsters are said to have appeared more than a thousand years ago, taking over our daily lives, our entire world, bit by bit. Whatever creatures existed before them, they were no match for these wondrous creatures, and neither were humans. People learned to live with the danger however and utilized a mysterious plant called an apricorn to capture these beasts. A new era had begun.’

The young student could not believe that a plant of all things could be capable of shrinking and trapping a monster. An incredible story like that, stated to be fact, was sure to stay in her head forever. Or for a long time at least.

Now, after many years, she still remembered. Niké, the young student, had matured, somewhat, the story now loudly resounding in her mind as she ran through the forest with a device in hand that had formed thanks to the aforementioned apricorns. She kept her breathing stable with each leap over tree roots and ledges while trying hard to keep her eyes on the creature throwing wild zigzag leaps parallel of her.

Its brown fur zipped among the greenery separating them as it was going at full speed. Knowing that this stalemate chase wouldn’t last due to her inferior stamina, Niké threw a red and white ball between the trees in the creature’s direction. It startled the small monster but it calmed and continued its wild dash as it realised that the ball was not out to trap him.

With a loud popping and poof-ing noise, a different creature emerged with an energetic chirp clad in fiery orange feathers. By the time the girl could catch the rebounding ball, the small bird was already several leaps ahead of her, hot on their prey’s trail. His thin bird legs appeared much weaker and fragile compared to the four-legged raccoon monster and yet he was capable of keeping up, the crest on his head nearly flattened due to speed. While the creature ran in a zigzag fashion, the bird used any heightened tree-root or rock to propel himself forward with a jump. The jumps weren’t powerful or impressive but satisfactory enough considering the pokémons’ sizes.

Feeling the heat of its pursuer behind it, the zigzag racer began to panic. It refused to look behind it so as not to lose precious time to escape. Its pace became haphazard, possibly hoping to unsettle the bird or trick him into thinking it would make a turn there or there. Whether it was so, it was not working. Niké was still running along and following the path of its brown-eyed gaze. The bird trusted her unwavering movements forward and continued the chase without getting distracted.

Finally, as the brown monster approached a fat tree, the bird was able to overtake it. It knew its only safe route should be the left as the girl was on the right. Both pursuers knew the same thing. The orange bird made the hugest jump forward yet – soaring over the quadruped and cutting off its path.

It stopped immediately, shocked to see him there. Before it could gather its wits, it was charged with his beak. It tried to make a run for it but the chic pressed on, anticipating its moves. Dashing into the bushes? He was there. Retreating back from where they came? He was there. It felt trapped. The bird before him was the ball many monsters feared, a thing – a horrible, horrible thing – which will rob them of their freedom. In that moment the two stood and stared into the other’s eyes, the racoon one feeling fear. It felt the cold hand of death that losing freedom surely meant.

Completely focused on its obstacle, a red and white ball flew undisturbed. It made impact with the raggedy monster; the breathing one feeling like its breath was being cut short as it felt itself shrink to insignificance. The tinted red wall of the ball overtook its sight, dimming the world around it. The ball closed.

It was not over.

It followed the cries of its heart and body and started tackling the walls of the globe around it madly. Its round prison shook violently on the forest floor in response.

However, Niké was not going to let matters take their course either. She hadn’t expected it to be easy.

From where the ball had flown before, the girl jumped from the ledge, her long brown hair trailing behind. As she hit the ground, she grabbed the ball tightly and felt the power of the creature’s thirst for freedom in her very own palms. Niké could barely keep her hands together as the prisoner struggled to break free, her hands thrown around in the dirt.

This battle of persistence and strength continued for several minutes while the girl’s determination to work with this monster grew with each passing moment. Her hands were covered in dirt and sweat, and bruises as they held onto the ball, her bird partner watching with tension. After what felt like eternity, the mysterious binding effects of the ball finally settled in with a ding, rendering any break-out only temporary from that point on. The trapped monster was forced to admit its loss by vowing to forget its previous life.

Niké hesitated to relax her hold or to get up. Could she trust the ball? Can she believe she won? Was that the sound of victory or just the end of “round 1”? The celebratory chirp of her feathered comrade woke her up. She looked at him, finally relaxing, and smiled with a heavy sigh.

“We did it, Tohr!” she stated with what was meant to be a happy shout but her fatigue was finally showing, the strength of her voice interrupted by needing to breathe. Chasing a wild beast, albeit small, takes a heavy toll on a young girl’s body. She got up to sit and rested her back against the fat tree that had aided the capture.

Tohr, the fire bird, ran up to her chirping cheerily to look at the fruit of their labour. Niké now held the monster ball in an open palm and looked down at the disheartened creature. “You’re an amazing zigzagoon. I can tell. We’ll go places for sure!” she spoke to him. However, it did not react to her voice. She frowned a bit but then lifted the ball to her eye-level and offered it a grin. “Hey, be proud! You fought a great fight!” she said and tried to sound as bright and friendly as possible. The zigzagoon stared at her curiously.

“You tried so hard that—“

—that one could think you really want to stay here.

Niké went quiet, her eyes fixed on the zigzagoon’s. “You know I… I don’t need you to stay with me forever,” she spoke softly. “Um, there are things you want to do, I bet… Just, it’d be nice if they could wait and…” She squirmed as she tried to figure out what she wanted to say. “I—I want your help! And then, after we’ve achieved our goal… I’ll bring you back here!” with eyes sparkling in pure sincerity, she announced this.

The zigzagoon stared for a while. And cocked its head.

“Aaaaahh….” she sighed and slouched in disappointment. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could understand each other just like that...? You have no idea what I’m saying at all, do you, Zig’?”

The zigzagoon stared for a while. And cocked its head to the other side.

Niké could only stare back with tired, narrowed eyes. “This is gonna be as tough as the teacher said it would be, isn’t it?”

Tohr chirped at her with a heightened note at the end, indicating a question. Niké smiled at him and rubbed his cheek, receiving a satisfied “chrrr” in return. “Of course, it’s not like you know what I’m saying either. In the end, I’m talking to myself!” she stressed her last words to a shout, a shout that no one in the vicinity would understand.

Tohr jumped a little, startled by this sudden outburst, fearing he may have done something to offend her. She was quick to realize this and caressed his head gently. Her green eyes looked upon him lovingly. If there was anyone who knew her, it was definitely this little one. The torchic who had been with her since she was 5. Her parents decided to humour their daughter’s sudden interest in these pocket monsters and got one for her birthday. In other words, he was her childhood friend.

“Sorry, Tohr. I know I can tell you anything.” Niké chuckled and perked up as the image of seeing the bright orange pokémon appear from its ball for the first time surfaced in her mind. “It’s just been a while in this forest. I've never been out of Rustboro on my own this long...” She slid down a bit against the tree, her clothes and hair getting pulled up slightly. Usually, after playing with Tohr in the woods, she would run home to eat and sleep. Her mother spent so many evenings worried sick, waiting for her to come back. Mother never stopped her, only said “Come back before dark, okay?” and then told Tohr to take care of her daughter.

Niké hid her face behind her knees. This time she told her she’s not coming back. Mother was silent but the look on her face seemed like she was holding back her tears.

Tohr cuddled up to his trainer, his beady eyes peeking at her face. Noticing this, she sat back up properly. “There was no helping it,” she reassured herself. The girl looked at the zigzagoon who was inspecting its surroundings from within the confines of the ball, including the torchic and human. As words were never very effective, she had to turn to a more reliable language. Thinking so, she let the pokémon out of its ball.

“Guuuu…” it growled deeply as it stood its ground, eyes darting from one captor to the other.

“Ummm…” Niké’s eyebrows drooped as she was stuck before this disgruntled, little monster not knowing what to do. There was no simple way to get across her complicated message decisively – she could barely do it with words. “First thing’s first…” she mumbled and reached for her waist-bag. Zigzagoon tensed up, glaring at her hand.

Niké stretched out her arms slowly towards the puzzled ‘goon. In her palms were a few colourful blocks, a popular snack for pokémon in Hoenn. Her eyes locked onto the pokémon before timidly sliding down to the food. Though not fully trusting either of them, Zigzagoon let his curiosity push his nose towards the girl’s palms. He sniffed the small pile of snacks and quickly snapped his little jaws at them, grabbing a few blocks and biting at the hands holding them as well.

The teenager jerked back and pulled her hand close, holding in a yell of pain, instead stomping her feet and swinging her torso to and fro. Tohr ran up to her and voiced his worries, then quickly returned to the offender and offered some choice chirps. Zigzagoon ignored their actions, though he still watched them from under his brows as he chewed the snacks. He didn’t feel the taste.

Still clenching her hand, Niké wiped the small tears that had formed in the corners of her eyes. “You should be more careful,” she said, unsure if it was addressed to herself or to the zigzagoon glaring at her.  

That phrase “be careful” resounded extremely often in Trainer School. You can never tell what a pokémon is thinking, especially a wild one who doesn’t know humans at all. They can have various temperaments from calm and easy-going to crafty and mean. Worst of all, the pokémon doesn’t know what the human is thinking either and depending on its nature may assume the worst no matter what. As such, gaining a pokémon’s trust was the first step.

This zigzagoon didn’t trust her at all. And why would he?

“I get it. You hate me,” Niké said with a voice clear of bitterness or sadness. It was an understandable fact. She would hate herself too in this situation.

There was one guardian standing at the door whenever she wanted to go outside to play. He wasn’t always literally standing there but he was always insistent on keeping her where he can reach. That’s why, when she said that for her Trainer School wasn’t just for learning to take care of Tohr better, he had her drop out immediately. It’s a father’s duty to protect his child and it’s a child’s right to hate him for it.

Torn between parental feelings and Niké’s wishes, her mother simply watched her go, a girl of 15, out into the wilderness to escape her father’s grasp and chase her ambitions.

Niké bit her lip. It’ll be hard if Zigzagoon hates her. She raised his pokéball and as a surprise to no one the pokémon started growling and shoot death stares at the ball and the person holding it. She then smiled and hid the object behind her. The zigzagoon ceased growling and instead looked wide-eyed. The girl’s hands then returned empty and rested in her lap.

The ball is gone – the connection can be made. The human appeared… happy. This is a good thing. “I want to be free,” the strong feeling coursed through the zigzagoon’s body and his reading of her gestures was such: “You are free”.

Freedom.

Not wanting to see it any other way, his decision was made in a split second. It made a full 180° turn and darted into the bushes.

“Aaaaaah!!!” Niké jumped to her feet and grabbed her head. “This is bad!” What she wanted to show was something more akin to assuring him that she doesn’t want to trap him but for him to just escape— perhaps the message got across too strongly.

Her torchic squeeled alarmed and that drove her into action. That’s right, they have to chase him. He might not take all too favourably to being caught by them a second time, but she has to try. So they ran to where he disappeared, Tohr lagging a bit behind, and guessed a direction based on how messed up a bush or path of dirt was, or where they could see faint movement between the trees.

Niké’s heart was beating at a high pace as her eyes hoped to catch a glimpse of the escapee. The two ran for a stretch before stopping to pick a route and then running again, remaining unsure of whether they were gaining any ground or not. From time to time, there was a false alarm as some other startled pokémon ran off to get out of their way. Small ones like worms and some grey and brown quadrupeds that didn’t reach her knees in height.

Up higher, at about eye-level, a worm got stuck in a sticky mess made by a cocoon resting between branches in peace. It wriggled desperately with a “kiiiii” cry emanating from its body. Niké looked at it with not a bone in her body intent on harming it but meeting eyes only seemed to stress it further as the wriggling intensified. Her brows knit as she observed.

Noticing that his trainer wasn’t following, Tohr let out a loud call causing Niké to stir. “Y-yeah, be right there!” she answered awakened from the pause and ran after him. As she closed in, it began to get brighter as the sky was no longer blocked by the canopy. Tohr had headed out ahead into the small clearing that appeared before Niké’s eyes, and she stopped.

Up in a tree sat a zigzagoon. Tohr trotted up to the tree and began trying to reason with him, or so it appeared. “Grrruuuuuoo!” Zigzagoon growled at him full of hatred.

“I guess he doesn’t like you, Tohr.” The torchic reacted to his name and stared at his trainer, waiting for some sort of instruction. Niké went up to him and kneeled down. “I’ll handle this, Tohr. You should step back, all right?” He wasn’t sure why or where or what exactly, but he did as he was told and watched them from a few bounds away.

Niké looked up at Zigzagoon. He wasn’t growling anymore but it was plain to see by the creases on his snout that he wasn’t any happier to see her than he was the torchic. It would be weirder if he wasn’t this way and so Niké was sure it was the same one she had captured.

As she watched him, the pokémon didn’t do anything. He neither attacked nor tried to escape but he also didn’t let his gaze leave her form. She made one step back, causing him to twitch. From there, Niké flopped down on her back in the soft, luscious grass, adorned by the sun’s rays squeezing through the leaves of the tree above her. She closed her eyes and entrusted the next few minutes to fate.

The zigzagoon was left to stare at her again, wondering what she was up to. Either she had changed her mind about releasing him or she never did. Regardless, he wanted her to leave. Freedom tasted great. The wind carried familiar scents and the ground under his paws he knew as well as you can after treading it all your life. He had no reason to leave and all the reasons to stay.

Despite his wishes, the human girl was still there, unmoving. Would she get up and grab him if he got down to check on her? What would it take to get her to move? But the questions didn’t matter. All in all, he was curious about her existence as a whole – a strange existence different from his norm. Why does she do what she does? What is she capable of doing? He could see how a pathetic torchic like him could follow a human around, but why should he?

Zigzagoon dug his claws into the tree’s bark as he made his way down, flattened against the trunk. He hopped down once low enough and hesitated. He scoped the immediate surroundings and made sure the torchic was far enough. One paw followed the other slowly as they carried the sharp-furred body closer to the girl.

Niké could hear these steps brushing against the grass, along with her hastening heart-beat. What should she do? In school, there were various methods taught based on what pokémon you’re dealing with but those were not what Niké was thinking about. She had simply lied down before him to get a message of peace of some sort across. That she was also a common, ordinary being just trying to get on with her life. Whether this was taught to her, she had no idea. What she could remember though was the constant reminding to be cautious and avoid a pokémon you don’t know or can’t deal with.

At this point, he could very well use her behaviour as a sign of giving up and attack her or simply leave since she was no longer posing any sort of threat. It was no concern of hers, she merely wondered about what he might do. But the warmth got closer. Niké could see in her mind how the pokémon moved cautiously with every sound she picked up. She could only conclude that he was a brave sort, that he might actually see humans as something other than an enemy.

Perhaps that was why she had singled him out among all the zigzagoon she had encountered throughout her life. They were a silly sort and a common pet of choice. Honestly, she could never take them seriously. But this time… While making her way through the underbrush, she met him— or rather startled him. She had managed to step right next to him with not a centimetre between them. This zigzagoon looked up at her, right at her eyes, and stood still. It was as though he was ready for anything. In this case, he figured out quickly her intent and ran off.

Zigzagoon sat down next to the human’s face and sniffed it. Niké held in a chuckle and slowly opened one eye to look at him. He noticed but stayed still. He could feel that the ball with her still had influence over him. So his freedom was fleeting. At the very least, the human didn’t seem harmful. He lifted his hind leg to scratch himself and yawned. His eyes were half-closed as he stared off somewhere – at the world that he would be taken away from forever.

Niké opened both her eyes and turned her head sideways. “Zig… Will you work with me?”

The zigzagoon reacted to the sound but remained still to observe. Niké lifted the hand within his sight slowly and watched his reactions to it. He merely stared alertly. The hand approached his head. Zigzagoon stiffened. The hand he had accidentally bitten before rested on his head and stroked it.

He felt his fur pulling with each stroke and thus massaging his head. He tilted forward a little to aid the action and relaxed. Niké allowed herself to sit up and scratched his neck and rubbed his back. His bristly, sharp coat left scratches on her hands but the petting didn’t stop. It felt different from anything he knew and it wasn’t bad at all.

It was rather pleasant.


 

The light was beginning to dim and the ambient sounds changed with it. It got quieter but the forest was breathing. The air still held onto the day’s warmth as it stirred within the confines of the trees. The sky still had a strong tint of sunlight left so Niké could see her two pokémon companions clearly.

Zigzagoon no longer tried to escape but he was also unwilling to listen or acknowledge them. Especially Tohr had ended up on his bad side and was ignored completely most of the time. As long as Niké simply played with him and fed him a pokéblock now and again for good behaviour, it looked like they were on friendly terms. Indeed, a tail wag or two were not uncommon. However, attempting to teach it to obey any commands was met with obstinacy.

Niké knew how to take care of pokémon as it was the curriculum she managed to learn before she was forcibly dropped out. However, she was a year short of starting to learn about training wild pokémon. Up to that point “they’re dangerous” was as much as she knew. Tohr came to her from a breeder so he was already trained. As such, taking on the task of working with Zigzagoon was reckless. If he turns on her, she can merely rely on her fire-spewing companion to protect her.

“Shake!” Niké’s outstretched hand merely made Zigzagoon wonder why there was no food in her palm.

“Stay!” She stepped a few paces away from him but he had no intention of following her in the first place.

“Follow?” The ‘goon lied down since the human was busy entertaining herself without him.

Only Tohr followed all of the instructions chirping happily.

Niké’s shoulders slouched and she dropped a pokéblock for her loyal friend lazily. Tohr expressed his gratitude and leaned in to find it within the grass. Suddenly, blades of grass flew up around him. The coloured block disappeared into a jagged maw, glistening brown eyes passing the chic’s vision.

“Guoo!” Zig announced triumphantly – what, Niké didn’t know but it appeared that he intended on monopolizing every pokéblock she had, or at least on keeping them away from Tohr.

“That was for Tohr, Zig,” she said in a low, stern voice. “You didn’t do anything to earn that!” Her scolding fell on deaf ears as the racoon pokémon simply pranced back to the spot where he was lying before. “You little…!” Niké clenched her fist. “Tohr, are you gonna let him get away with that?” Tohr shook his head, picking up on the meaning from all that had transpired.

“Chhrrrr keeeh!!” the torchic squawked at the offender angrily. Zig raised his head and responded with a growl of his own. But the bird wasn’t going to give up and his beak let loose more angry cries. Niké watched this contest of words she had no idea how to judge but she liked to think that Tohr was winning as the other devolved to simply snarling and bristling his fur.

Whatever was said, Zig was mad and no longer intended on leaving this up to verbal attacks. His paws were planted firmly on the ground and his body was leaning slightly forward. Tohr stepped towards him, meeting his challenge.

“Eh? Eh?” The situation was taking a turn somewhere and Niké hoped the destination was somewhere nice.

Zig kicked the ground and dashed towards Tohr. Tohr stood his ground confidently, unperturbed by the zigzag leaps of the attacker. The brown monster was sure he was going to tackle him good. His body’s length away from the torchic, he launched himself with extra force. Looking indifferent, Tohr simply jumped upwards as high as he could, leaving the wide-eyed ‘goon to stare at air. Not for long, as the bird’s frail-looking foot stomped his head into the ground on its way down.

The zigzagoon was lying on the ground, defeated, as the torchic cooed triumphantly atop him with his chest puffed. “Guuu~” Zig grunted and threw his head upwards. Tohr used the force to somersault in the air and land safely on his feet next to Niké.

“That was beautiful!” Niké laughed holding her stomach and slapping her knee. Zig shot her a glare, growling within his throat, but she paid him no mind. Tohr watched her laugh and joined her with a sing-song chirp. “You got served, Zig! Big time!” She kept laying it on and fell on her legs, still laughing.

The zigzagoon snorted and challenged Tohr again. However the chic was experienced and used to dealing with this species – no zigzag confusion tactic worked and remaining on defence was enough to subdue him.

“All he’s doing is Tackle, huh,” Niké said to herself, finally having calmed down. There was no doubt that Tohr’s 10 years of experience proved to create a large gap between him and the wild zigzagoon who likely didn’t know any other way to fight.

“Zig, use Sand-Attack!” she shouted in vain as the target had no idea what her words meant. He only understood that it was directed at him.

Tohr recognised her words though. As he was being close to being tackled again, he dug deep into the ground and threw up a pile of earth as he side-stepped, leaving it to scatter in his wake. Zig ran straight through it crying in irritation as the bits of earth bit into his eyes. “Chrr…” Tohr said—something. But his tone implied absolute confidence and superiority over his opponent.

Niké stared in awe. Tohr had never used that move before and what’s more it looked like he was teaching it to Zigzagoon. Zig looked shocked too, though unlike her his tense, guarded body implied he wasn’t too thrilled with the events. He tried getting his eyes clear but it proved fruitless. Before he could ready himself, Tohr started pecking him incessantly. Zig tried to get some distance between them but the bird stuck close though the attacking let up.

This wasn’t looking good. Her zigzagoon was getting thoroughly bullied by her stronger, older partner. Hesitantly, she raised her hands to the sides of her mouth. “…Zig, do it now! Sand-Attack!” Zigzagoon’s ears perked as the message became clear. The dots in his head connected and Tohr could see that. The torchic stopped following him and narrowed his eyes.

“Tackle!”

Tohr’s eyes shot open at this sudden order, unsure of whom it was meant for and why. He realized the answer when Zig’s attack finally connected, hitting him and knocking him off his feet. The torchic was sent rolling through the grass and, upon stopping at Niké’s feet, stayed down, staring at the dark sky in utter confusion. Zig roared with burning energy and joy as at last he was the one standing. Tohr simply blinked and looked at Niké who appeared somewhat lost and caught in some anticipating stance.

“He listened…” she murmured. At the moment she saw Tohr prepare for Zig’s attack, she understood its futility but also saw an opportunity. When she gave a new order, she didn’t think about whether Zig would understand or not. She just did it. Whether he had been planning on doing the same thing or somehow perceived what she wanted, she had no way of knowing. All she knew was that it happened naturally with perfect timing as though he reacted to her voice. Maybe instead of understanding it, it simply brought Tohr’s lowered defence to his attention?

Zig turned his eyes at the chic pokémon and let out what seemed like a superior sounding “hmph”. Tohr responded with a sharp stare. Niké was unable to pin-point the moment they started going at each other again – they were butting heads and kicking and growling in their own ways in a flash.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” She made what she believed to be the best solution in the given situation and returned them to their balls. “Aaaah… Are they ever going to settle it..?” She whined. “You better learn to get along!” she said, with barely a threat in her tone, while holding the two monster balls up to her face evenly. The inhabitants only stared at each other through the red veil for a bit and turned their backs sharply on one another simultaneously, noses in the air.

Niké sighed and attached the two to the strap of her waist-bag. It was a problem – she could even feel their negativity towards one another from her waist. Still, in a way, it might be a good thing if they end up surprising her like this. Or...

Huh?

A growl that was unlike Ziggy's and piercing glares came from behind her, making her body tense up. She turned slowly and awkwardly – a creak of an old door would have made the motion complete. Before her stood three meter-high pokémon showing off their fangs and bristled dark coats. It was bound to happen. At one point or another she had to step into someone's territory. It had already gotten dark, making their striking eyes and teeth pop out against their black fur. Was it this cold before? Unnoticed until now, the air had gotten chilly but it might be her blood freezing.

The middle bulkier one made a step forward. It was all it took for Niké's senses to wake up. The next several steps were hers; rather, the next several leaps were, as she set off at record speed. The band of hyenas were right behind her, growling and barking, and howling.

“Mrrghooo!”

Niké's heart was racing as if trying to run ahead of her, away from the three sets of sharp teeth aching to dig into her body. She couldn't think about what would happen if she were to stop or glance behind her. Morbid curiosity wanted to know how close she was to getting chomped to bits, however the will to live won out and as soon as she reached trees, and more specifically a low-hanging branch, she grabbed on and pulled herself up to safety, leaving three jaws to bite at air a second after.

Her pursuers came to a sudden stop and stared up at her threateningly. They weren't going to let her off easy and Niké climbed further up. She hugged the tree trunk for dear-life, lest she get blown off by a gust of wind or clumsy slip.

The mightyenas barked and growled and stood up, placing their front paws on the trunk. Niké pulled her legs closer reflexively. This was the real part. This is why she wasn’t supposed to be out here; not yet. She had 3 more years of Trainer School that she had essentially decided to have out here in the wild as "independent study".

Niké rubbed her forehead against the tree-bark in quiet frustration, her skin protected by the green ribbon wrapping her brown hair. She was outnumbered and weak. Tohr had no hope of taking all three of them on safely. Not without a good idea. And Zigzagoon was unpredictable at this point. Whether the neighbouring trees’ branches were strong enough for her to jump on, she couldn’t know, nor was she certain she could make the jump. In short, she was scared and her body wasn’t listening, so all small odds automatically dropped to nil.

What a legend this would be: “Young girl throws a fit and runs away into the woods. Her fate? Stuck up a tree with Cerberus waiting to gobble her up.”

Time calmed her though. This Cerberus was but three territorial bite pokémon who saw her as a threat. Maybe they'd stop chasing her if she could reach the boundaries of their turf, though she couldn't know if they hadn't chased her beyond them already. Regardless, up in the safety of the highest strong branch, she could look down at them calmly. She had never seen one of these guys in the wild. Their coat was obviously never brushed or washed, though they weren’t without their own grooming habits. The difference was still there and Niké caught herself observing without regard for her life.

“Oops, this isn’t the time for that,” she derided herself, free of the gripping fear from before. She sat freely on her branch and reached into her bag. “Phew, I still have some left,” she smiled to herself.

Niké shot up to her feet and stared down defiantly. “You won’t stop me here, poochies!” She pointed at them with her free hand. “I’m a trainer and encounters with wild pokémon are second nature to me! You can’t scare me!” The mightyenas quieted down to a low growl as they waited for whatever the human was preparing to do.

“After all, you’re not monsters,” she smirked. She held out her hand over their heads and dropped a few colourful items. The mightyena trio jerked back, startled.

As the pleasantly-scented blocks landed between them, their attention was captivated and Niké boldly jumped down as far off from them as she could and immediately darted. They raised their heads to see her disappearing figure but must have no longer seen any point to pursue her further because the girl felt no hot breaths against her back. She had made a smooth escape.

After she was, what she felt, a safe distance away, she slowed her pace to a walk and tried to catch her breath. Tripping over roots and having to find routes between the trees wasn’t as smooth but it was also reassuring that no one else could move freely here deeper into the woods either.

“What a day,” she muttered under her uneven breath as she made her way through the forest. Niké had spent a few nights in the wood already but for the first time she felt a serious concern for her own safety. She could very well intrude in another pokémon’s territory and she can’t be giving away all her pokéblocks to keep them at bay. And so, the girl decided it might be time to head into town. Before the stressful event left her mind, a fleeting thought passed through, “Were there ever any mightyenas in Petalburg Woods..?”