“Master caught most of his own pokémon. He usually didn’t buy them from others…well he did sometimes, but not often. He usually caught young pokémon. I think he wanted to train them early. He caught pokémon all the time. He would bring them back and put them in cages for a few days, then later make them wear a collar and chain them up. He didn’t keep them in pokéballs unless he was taking them somewhere. Master had older pokémon, ones he had trained a long while, but I didn’t see them very often. I was mostly in a cage in one of the many buildings Master had to put us in, or chained up outside. I was usually around other small pokémon when I was little.
“Master had a way of training his pokémon. He caught a great many of them, and found the strongest by process of elimination. To put it simply, he put us through constant training, day after day, and those who didn’t survive, were simply just too weak. Most of them died, but Master didn’t care. He had a lot of pokémon, and only the strongest mattered to him.
“The only one who never had any training was Volco. He was the only pokémon Master was kind to, and Volco greatly adored and respected Master. I always hated Volco…despised him. He would often taunt me with food, insult me…stupid things like that. That didn’t really matter, but Volco got to punish me with fire attacks sometimes. It was never enough to seriously injure me; it was just to cause pain. The wounds usually healed fast.
“Like the others I got trained from when I was little. There was what he called the ‘usual training’, the battles, the attack practice. I got hurt a lot, but it usually wasn’t so bad. The other training was worse. Master wanted pokémon who could fight while enduring great pain. So he trained his pokémon to do that. He would well, torture us.
“I think he believed that if we got used to such pain, any pain we felt on the battlefield would be insignificant in comparison to it. He did that lots of times, just causing me pain so I could get used it, so I could have better endurance. He started out by just giving me small jolts of electricity when I was little, but it got worse as I got older. It got a lot worse.
“Before I had done enough training to be put in a real fight, I would get put in practice ones, against another of Master’s pokémon, usually one he didn’t consider very valuable, one that had survived but that didn’t handle the training well. If I fought well against that pokémon, Master would have me fight two. If I got hurt, he said it was just to make me stronger. I couldn’t stop battling because Master always had Volco around him and he would use some fire attack on me, plus Master had a device that would electrocute me if I stopped. I sometimes passed out from this, and only got punished later. I learned that it was better to just obey him. He would be able to make me do what he wanted later anyway, and I got food if I obeyed him the first time.”
At this moment, Thunder paused, but Stormblade didn’t want to interrupt her, and after a moment she went on.
“At first…” she began, and Stormblade thought he detected a hint of sadness in her voice, “I tried to make it through everything by asking for help from some of the other young pokémon there. They would give me food sometimes if I didn’t get any, and I gave them some of my food sometimes too. We were always trying to help each other, and I became close to some of them, but…the ones I befriended eventually died. They didn’t make it through the training. I had to watch some of them die. It used to horrify me whenever one of them was killed.
“As time went on I saw more pokémon die…but after I’d seen a large number of them pass away and become distraught after each one, even if I hadn’t known them, the other pokémon started telling me to just forget it and move on. And after a while…after a time of seeing more and more deaths…I started to listen. They told me there was no point; that it didn’t matter…that this was just the way things were. And in time…I stopped caring.
“I kept being trained by Master with the other pokémon, being repeatedly told these things, and I believed them. It was all I was ever told. I no longer cared if someone else was hurt or killed; all that mattered to me was surviving the day, proving myself tough enough so that I could become one of Master’s stronger pokémon, so I would not have to go through torture anymore. When I was old enough and Master was satisfied that I was strong enough, he began putting me in real fights.”
At this moment Thunder paused again, staring around the grove of trees briefly before continuing. When she did, she had regained her calm and almost emotionless voice again.
“The fighting areas he brought me to were strange. They didn’t look like the ones we practiced in. They were usually in a big building, or outside. Lots of humans always came to watch. There were others like Master, too. They would bring a strong pokémon, and me or one of Master’s other pokémon would battle them. Master and the other human would release their pokémon into an enclosed area or sometimes a deep pit, which had something like a cage over the top so we couldn’t fly or climb out. I think the humans were afraid we would attack them.
“I never tried though. I only wanted to win so Master would be happy with me. When he was happy, he treated me better. Master would starve me before these fights, not for too long, only a few days, but enough to make me want to win. If I did win, he gave me food as a reward. In most of these fights I just had to make the other pokémon faint, and it took a long time; they didn’t faint easily, and it was usually only after they had lost a lot of blood. But I was used to fighting, so most of these battles were easy enough.
“But there were some that were far worse. Not many humans made their pokémon battle in these fights. But Master did. He knew he was taking a risk by entering one of us because of all the time he spent training me and the other pokémon he used. We had won a lot of fights and he had gotten a lot of money, but he took this risk so he could get more money. In these fights though, pokémon fought to the death. Sometimes there were a lot of us in the arena at once; other times there were just two. Either way, there was only one, simple, rule. To win, you had to be the last one alive.
“I never wanted to kill my opponents, at first, but he made me do it so many times it started to feel like the natural thing to do. These battles were much fiercer-pokémon were fighting to stay alive-they were desperate, but I was trained to ignore pain and keep fighting regardless of any injuries I sustained. I almost always came out of these battles badly hurt.
“Later, Master would treat my wounds himself. Unlike the other humans, from what I knew of them, he would do it while I was conscious. Even though I was chained he knew I could still attack him, but I never did. He knew I wouldn’t. He would not give me any medicine for the pain, but he would give me some food while he did it, but only a little. I didn’t injure him, because I knew I wouldn’t get any more food if I did. And I couldn’t kill him; I would starve to death if I did because I was chained, and no one would be there to bring me food. And he knew that.
“I believe Master was looked up to by the other humans who trained battle pokémon. I think they admired the way he could always keep himself in control, and that he showed no fear of his pokémon. I once saw a human who was whipping his pokémon after a battle, and he lost control of the pokémon and it nearly killed him. Aside from him and a few others, the other humans didn’t dare try to use whips on their pokémon, but Master did.
“I think the only reason he used a whip was because he wanted to show that he could do it. To prove to other humans that he could do it and his pokémon wouldn’t turn on him. To show that he was in control.” Thunder turned away from Stormblade and focused on a single star shining in the night sky, seeming lost in thought, though she still looked calm.
“After a while,” she continued, though she seemed tired of talking, “The fights stopped. I think other humans made the fights stop. Master couldn’t go to the buildings anymore. For a while Master didn’t try to find any new places to battle other humans, though I knew it was bound to start again sooner or later. He kept training me though… I was special to him. Not ‘special’ like Volco was special, but I was an excellent fighter in his eyes…I won him a lot of money, so I was valuable. He did not torture me all that often, though he did tell a pokémon to attack me or else use the whip on me when I lost a practice battle or did something to displease him. I was used to it.
“He still often brought in new pokémon, but he did not torture them; or if he did, it was very rarely. He seemed to be satisfied with me and the others who’d gone through the torture-training, and wasn’t so harsh on the newer and younger pokémon, like Redclaw. Master usually just chained me up every day and left me, except for when he put me in a practice battle. Then there was that one night when you found me, and after you set me free I flew into the forest and wandered around for a while until I found you and the others again.” She stopped for a moment and thought of something else, “That typhlosion you battled, the one I was fighting after I left you and the rest of the group; that was Volco. The human there…that was Master.” She turned toward Stormblade again and waited for his response, wondering whether she would be angry or amused by his response.
Stormblade was hardly sure what to think. He was angry and shocked by what Thunder’s trainer had done to her, and surprised too-he had known that Thunder had been abused, but he’d never known the full story…the extent of it. He wanted to help her now, more than anything, but he wasn’t sure he knew how. He could scarcely believe what Thunder’s master had done. This human had ruined Thunder’s life, and all for the sake of money. Stormblade knew that if he himself had been put through the same thing Thunder had, he would most certainly have died. Thunder had gone through so much pain…even his own wounds seemed like nothing in comparison.
“Thunder…” he began, and the other scyther looked at him, unsure if he really believed her or if he actually thought he could help her by knowing about Master. “I’m sorry…” Stormblade whispered quietly, seeming unsure of what else to say, “I’m sorry for everything you had to go through.”
thought Thunder, ‘You didn’t do it…’
She then realized that Stormblade had said a lot of other confusing things already, and didn’t bother to question him.
“I hate Master…” she growled before Stormblade could say anything more, “If I ever find him again, I’ll kill him!” She spoke with a ferocity that surprised Stormblade, and there was a deadly gleam in her eyes. She wasn’t looking at Stormblade; in fact, she almost seemed to have forgotten that he was there.
“I…I think I understand now…” Stormblade said quietly, attracting Thunder’s attention once again. His voice shook, but he continued, “I mean…I still probably don’t, but I understand better now. I’m sorry…I should have tried to help you more before. I wanted to…I was just never sure how. I’m not even sure what I can do now… But at least it’s over now…you don’t have to worry about Master or Volco or any of them anymore.”
Thunder just stared at him, not knowing what to think. She wasn’t sure whether to make an angry reply or to just leave. It felt better to have talked about Master; she was calmer now-why was Stormblade acting as if everything was worse? She felt like telling him she was fine, that she didn’t need his help and that she could manage on her own. She felt like telling him to leave so she could go back to sleep, and worry about all this later. But she didn’t.
“It’s not over,” she replied quietly, causing Stormblade to look up at her in surprise. She hadn’t wanted to confess any weakness to anyone, but somehow telling him this now seemed like the right thing to do. “Back when I fought the vespiquen…and Volco…I lost control…I was ready to kill both of them…I would
have killed both of them. When I left Master, I thought the same thing you did…that I could start over and forget about it, but I can’t…it isn’t over…and it won’t ever be…” She stared silently at the ground, and didn’t even move when Stormblade limped closer to her.
“Don’t worry,” he told her softly, touching the tip of his blade lightly to her shoulder. Thunder stiffened at the touch but this time she didn’t move away. “Back then, when you were Master’s pokémon…” Stormblade said quietly, “No one was ever really able to help you. But you’re not in this alone anymore. I’ll find a way to help you somehow.”
Until then Thunder had still been staring at the ground, but now she looked up at Stormblade. She could not understand what compelled him to want to help her so much; her problems had nothing to do with him, and he had enough of his own. She thought it was silly of him, but at the same time, she had to admit to herself…she didn’t want to be alone. She had never wanted to be.
“I have to stay around Redclaw for a while anyways,” Thunder said softly, “I don’t know how to hunt. I’m not used to being wild.”
“I’m sure Redclaw would like to teach you,” Stormblade said, smiling a little, “I know he cares about you. I’m sure he’ll be a good teacher.”
“Can he hunt like a scyther?” Thunder asked, looking doubtful.
“No,” Stormblade replied, “But he can show you the basics. I can help teach you how, but I won’t be able to show you. You can fight well, though; I’m sure hunting will come easy for you.”
“Is it hard at first?” questioned Thunder, giving Stormblade another curious look.
“A little,” Stormblade answered, “But it gets easier. Once you see how it’s done, you should get the idea.”
For a while the two of them talked, sitting beside the trees listening to the soft calm winds and breathing in the cool night air. Thunder didn’t see any real importance in their conversation, but it had been a long while since she had been able to talk to a pokémon-about anything-without getting angry or upset. For the first time in a long while, she felt somewhat at peace... Somewhat.
Stormblade was taken by surprise when Thunder suddenly stood up, a look that was almost anger in her eyes. “This is pointless!” she snapped, though it seemed to him as if it almost pained her to say this, “All we’re doing is wasting time. I don’t see how I honestly thought you could help me. Are you a healer? No. Can you
hunt? No. I don’t see why you insist on sitting here, wasting time, when we should
be resting! And all you’re trying to do is falsely make me believe that you’re going to help me. You’re pathetic
She narrowed her eyes, then turned and stalked away. Casting a glance over her shoulder, she sneered, “Better get some rest…we’re going to travel tomorrow. And I don’t want you slowing us down-if you do, I’ll make Redclaw drag
you the whole way. But then again, that would be interesting to see…”
Before Stormblade could call out to stop her, Thunder had dashed off, leaving him behind and heading back to the tree that she had been sleeping in before. Stormblade lay down miserably on the ground, feeling confused and helpless. Why had she suddenly reacted that way when before she had been calm enough around him? What she said hadn’t even made sense, considering that she had been talking to him peacefully before. What had he done to make her act that way? Why was she so upset with him?
Stormblade felt too weak to walk back to the nest Redclaw had made for him, so instead he curled up on the ground beside the tree he and Thunder had been sitting by before. He’d wanted to help Thunder, show her she wasn’t alone-and for a while, it had seemed like it had worked. But now, he couldn’t help but feel…as if he had just made everything worse.
Thunder feebly slashed away a branch that hung in her way, as she slowly walked back toward the tree near where Redclaw was sleeping. Truthfully, she had wanted to be friends…she really had. Yet she knew she couldn’t; it would only hurt her in the end, and she wasn’t sure she could face that sort of pain again.
When she had been small, she had always looked to other pokémon for support and even friendship in order to help make it through all of Master’s tests. But after she had to watch each of them, one by one, fail those tests and die, she had made a point of not getting to know the other pokémon too well. In the long run, making friends had never helped. Only caused her pain she didn’t need. She wished she had never tried to help that young scyther in the forest; never grown close to him. It would have been better.
Thunder stopped herself, quickly reminding herself that all that was in the past. She had made mistakes, but she would learn from her mistakes. She wouldn’t talk to Stormblade anymore. She wouldn’t let him try to get close to her. She would make him leave her alone, make him hate her if she had to, but she had to get him to realize that they were not friends. They couldn’t be.
Thunder’s thoughts wandered back to Snowcrystal and the others she had traveled with. She had tried to help them sometimes, even when she wasn’t sure why herself. And where had it brought her? Briefly, Thunder remembered trying to help free Rosie, and glanced at the bullet wounds in her side and shoulder. It had gotten her nowhere.
And out of all the pokémon she could possibly trust, Stormblade was the last one she should try to befriend. He was injured, and by a cursed attack that gave him wounds that would never heal; wounds that would just get infected worse and worse and never get better. There was no way he would survive that…
And when she had to watch him die, she didn’t want to care.
As the moon glistened silently overhead, the wreckage of Team Rocket’s secret base lay forlorn and silent. Wind echoed sadly through the area, moving small bits of rubbish across the sandy ground.
Suddenly a bluish glow surrounded a large chunk of debris and lifted it into the air before tossing it away into the rubble. From a pile of twisted metal and splintered wood, Solus painfully hauled himself onto firm ground; picking his way over the wreckage before collapsing in the dust near the ruined building.
He had been abandoned…forgotten… The Rockets who had the chance had teleported away using their abra at the sound of the explosions, but Solus hadn’t been around them, and no one had come looking. Dust and traces of blood stained the espeon’s fur, and he gave it a few quick licks, smoothing it out and cleaning some of the small cuts he’d received. The wounds the scyther had inflicted still stung, but he left them alone.
Still feeling outraged, Solus stood up and limped away, hardly giving the Rocket’s building a second glance. He had no way of locating his trainer; he was a wild pokémon now. Surprisingly, he didn’t feel intimidated by the thought of having to live a life fending for himself. He had been a high-ranking Rocket pokémon for a reason; his psychic powers were legendary among Team Rocket’s pokémon.
Though he was secretly still seething with rage about being forgotten, he pushed the feeling to the back of his mind. He would have no problem surviving in the wild; the only ones who had to worry now were the ones who got in his way.
To be continued...
Okay, LONG. Once again, sorry for the long-ness!
Also I’d like to hear any theories anyone has about this. ^-^
The Path of Destiny Chapter 28: The Forgotten City coming soon
! (It’ll have more action than this one!)