Chapter 11: A Birth

Yumin watched the sun sink behind the forest’s horizon and scatter its light throughout. The sensation was diffused. When he looked across the canyon and thought about his baby sister he recognized his fear. He needed to get to Bambi before they did—before they caused any more horrible atrocities. Durridge dying, blood seeping through his teeth—it jostled Yumin’s memory. The Viterals had gone too far and now they were after his family. There was nothing more important than his family right now.

“Hey! I think there’s something wrong with him!”

Yumin spun around and noticed Isaque standing above Zakana, who lay on the ground gyrating.

Yumin hightailed it to his cousin, kneeled over him, out of breath. He had never seen this before but he knew about it. He had heard about Zakana’s episodes.

“Zak—ahhh—Zach!” Yumin called out, catching his mistake mid-sentence. He didn’t know about Lyres’ motives yet so he knew not give away any information that might hurt him later.

Lyres joined the group. “What’s wrong with him? Why’s he shaking like that?”

Yumin turned to Isaque and saw the horrified expression on his face. “What happened? What did you say to him?”

Isaque’ eyes grew wide. “I didn’t say anything! He just . . . started going crazy!”

Yumin slid his hand underneath Zakana’s head as he shook more violently. His eyes were not open, but they weren’t closed either. They were in a strange limbo of paralysis. The boy had said something to Zakana or Zakana had seen something. That always triggered it.

“Zach! Snap out of it!”

“Yumin, we should get him to a hospital,” Isaque said.

“No. He’s fine. He’ll come out of it.”

“Has it happened before?” Lyres asked.

“No . . .”

“Then how do you know he’ll snap out of it?”

The truth was that Yumin hadn’t seen it before but he knew his cousin and he knew he’d come out of it. But he couldn’t reveal all those things to these guys. He didn’t know Isaque but he remembered Lyres’ snakelike ways. He remembered the old days.

Something began gurgling from Zakana’s mouth and Yumin heard a sound in his cousin’s belly.

“He’s foaming, Yumin! Give him something!”

Yumin considered the medicines he had but they wouldn’t work on this situation. It was merely an episode, a hallucination that needed to run its course. Silently, Yumin prayed it would end soon. Now that he saw Zakana in this state, his heart softened. The sun was going down and Bambi was getting further away, but Yumin needed to be with his cousin now. Like many times before, he imagined what it had been like for Zakana to see his younger brother erased from the world.

“Come on, Zee . . .” Yumin whispered.

Before he could wonder how long it would last, Zakana’s body convoluted itself one last time and grew silent with a withering halt. His eyes limped open. He pushed his face to the ground and vomited.

“Zach!” Yumin said, relieved. “Are you all right?”

Zakana looked at Yumin as he held his head up. Slowly, there was recognition. The memories would come back. Zakana needed to connect the reasons as to why he was being called Zach. He couldn’t blow their cover.

A meaningful exchange passed between Zakana and Isaque when their eyes met, but neither of them said a word. That made it weirder. Something had definitely happened and when Yumin had Zakana alone, he would have to ask him what it was. That might help control the episodes. They would only slow them down.

Lyres studied his friend and noticed the uncanny exchange as well. “You all right, kid?”

“Just . . .” Yumin began in frustration. “Let’s . . . let him breath.”

Zakana pulled his good arm from his side and wiped his mouth. He cleared the spittle from his hand in the grass and became calm. He sat up and studied the faces before him.

“That was weird.”

Yumin, Isaque, and Lyres exchanged furtive glances.

“Are you okay, Zach?” Yumin repeated.

Putting his hand on the ground, away from his pile of vomit, Zakana tried to push himself up. Yumin pulled and hugged him into an embrace. His heartbeat was quick, staccato. Suddenly, Yumin felt bad for the way he had spoken to his cousin. Zakana was just a hurt and broken creature whose wings needed clipping. He could be changed.

Zakana nodded slowly and said, “we need to find Bambi.”

And Yumin knew that he was ready again.

The four of them walked to the edge of the canyon as the last of the day’s light slithered into the thicket beyond. Yumin withdrew one of his Pokeballs and faced Lyres.

“I can use my Braviary to get two of us across. Can your flyer hold the other two?”

Lyres nodded. “Go! Skarmory!”

The steel bird emerged from the ball and squawked loudly.

Yumin cringed. “We have to keep it down,” he hissed. “We don’t know what’s in here—human or Pokemon.”

Lyres stepped over his Skarmory’s neck and sharp array of metal flaps for wings, mounting it. “Isaque, get on.”

“Wait,” Yumin said, noticing the necklace still in Lyres’ hand. “I’ll take Isaque with me. You take Zach.” Whatever interaction Isaque and Zakana had already had, Yumin didn’t want a repeat of it.

Lyres’ eyes narrowed. After a moment of hesitation he gave Isaque a nod of approval.

Yumin wasn’t about to lose Bambi’s necklace to Lyres. He pondered the situation he was now in, knew that Lyres didn’t have to help them. Because Yumin had no tracker with him, finding Bambi would have been near impossible without one. He patted Zakana on the back as his cousin took his seat behind Lyres.

Yumin mounted his Braviary and allowed Isaque to hang onto him from behind. If any of them got separated, Yumin had Isaque as collateral and Lyres had Zakana. Yumin was unsure about this separation but he had little choice.

Both bird Pokemon took flight, flapped hard as night ensued around them. It was not a great distance to the other side of the canyon, but only a Flyer could make the trip. Both birds landed and Yumin sighed with relief. He dismounted Braviary after Isaque did and returned Braviary to its Pokeball.

Zakana and Lyres did the same and Lyres switched out his Skarmory for his tracker, Ursaring. When it emerged, it growled and stood at its full ten-foot height. The giant bear exuded an unbreakable confidence down to its very putrid breath. Again, Lyres held out the necklace and allowed his Ursaring to reacquaint itself with Bambi’s scent.

Yumin looked at his cousin and whispered, “are you okay?”

“Who are these guys?” Zakana asked.

“I’ll explain later,” Yumin said and after he saw Zakana’s raised eyebrows added, “its not what you think.”

“Ursaring has the scent again,” Lyres announced.

In this darkness, their chances of finding Bambi were lesser. If Ursaring and Lyres found her, what would they do? Was this Lyres’ plan all along?

Before Yumin could protest, Ursaring fell down to all fours and dashed away.

“Stay close!” Yumin reminded Zakana. “Go! Tygo!”

Tyrogue came forth from his ball and looked at his trainer for a command.

Yumin pointed. “Follow Ursaring, Tygo. Don’t lose them!”

Lyres and Ursaring led the way with Isaque, Yumin, Tygo and Zakana in tow.

The longer they ran, the more worried Yumin became. He thought back to the last time he had seen Lyres, less than a year ago. Something about him now looked older but softer, like he was only helping out of the goodness of his heart. But why? Why would Lyres be helping us, if not to gain something?

Yumin ran after Lyres and Ursaring for some time before stopping in a narrow clearing. He could hear the Hoothoot and Noctowl above hooting with nocturnal hunger. In the past month or two, Yumin was afraid of the way some of the Pokemon had been acting. He admitted it—he was terrified that something as big and powerful as an Abomasnow had pursued Zakana . . . shocked that the boy on the Orange Island had been attacked mid-swim . . . and scared to death that the Dragonite and its trainer back at the Academy had actually murdered Professor Durridge in cold blood. How sick and cruel that thunder was as it riveted through the Professor’s body.

Yumin thought of Zakana’s father, his uncle, and wondered of his current state. Yumin had escaped the Viterals stronghold thanks to Uncle Durin but he was still unaware of his fate.

Presently, Lyres and his Ursaring had stopped. Lyres breathed in and out, measuredly. Yumin saw his features in the moonlight shining through the trees, saw the tricky expression written there.

“Why are you helping us?”

Lyres turned his head just slightly to stare at Yumin. “Because you need help. Now stop asking me before I change my mind.”

Can it be true? Yumin wondered. He knew Lyres had a full team on him and Isaque was probably somewhat trained in battle or else he wouldn’t be traveling with Lyres. Which meant that if it came to battle, Yumin would have to use his ragtag team to get out of a situation—his team and Zakana’s two new Pokemon, which wouldn’t make so much as a dent. A shiver ran up Yumin’s spine as he suddenly realized how vulnerable he was, his tiny Tygo standing next to him.

“You’re still with Team Rocket then,” Yumin said. It wasn’t a question.

“What’s it to you anyway? There’s no more need for collaboration between our Team and yours.”

Yumin considered this and thought to disagree, but he held his tongue. Zakana and Isaque were still somewhere behind but he couldn’t have Zakana hearing about Team Rocket now. He needed time to explain to him what they actually meant and not in front of Lyres and Isaque.

“The path of the scent has changed,” Lyres said. “That means your sister is near.” A smile crept across his face and Yumin wasn’t sure why. “She’s running around this place somewhere.” Lyres stopped breathing audibly and listened. “Can’t you hear it? The sounds of the forest . . . this place is crawling with uncaught Pokemon.”

Yumin felt it too, the restless yet pounding energy around him. Again, Ursaring took off.

“Yumin!” Zakana yelled, approaching the clearing.

Isaque jogged up and ran past Yumin without a word.

“Hurry up, Zach!”

“Yumin, wait!” Zakana stopped dramatically, tried to catch his breath. “I heard Bambi.” Zakana huffed.


“I don’t know where but I heard her voice, I know it.”

“Yeah. That’s why we’re following a Tracker. Lyres is sure Bambi is near.” Yumin nodded. “Keep playing along and we’ll be out of this before you know it.”

Somewhere to Yumin’s right he heard a girl scream.

“Bambi!” Yumin called, recognizing his sister’s fiery voice. He took off into the direction of the scream, forgetting about the path once ahead of him. A Pokémon’s shrill bark came seconds later. Leaves and Pokemon began to scatter.

“Bambi!” He called again.

Zakana was right behind him. “Bambi! Bambi, where are you?”

And finally, the response came. “I’m right here! Yumin, help me!”

Yumin became terrified that something happened to her and his senses became more aware. He dashed under more branches, became in tune with the forest sounds as Tygo faithfully followed. He would not lose his sister to anything around him.

When Yumin saw Bambi she stood between wispy trees, her hair falling in a mess at her shoulders. She stood stock still, tears streaming down her face.

“Bambi!” Yumin cried. Why was she alone and how did she get to this place?

They threw their arms around each other and Yumin squeezed her, feeling her tiny rib bones against his stomach. Seconds later, he felt Zakana wrap his own arm around both of them. Bambi removed herself from the hug and took a step back. “Who’s there?”

“Bambi, it’s me . . . Zakana.”

“Zakana?” A gasp of utter disbelief fell from her lips. “What are you doing here . . . why are you with Yumin?”

Yumin grabbed Bambi by the shoulders. “We can talk about all that later. Let’s get out of here.”

Yumin stood up and suddenly wondered about Lyres. He had helped them, unconditionally and now Yumin was thinking of running off with his family. Was it right?

Bambi continued to cry. “We can’t just stand here! We have to find my Kappa!”

“What’s happened to it?” Yumin asked. He remembered Bambi’s second Pokemon well, how much she loved it when he had come for a visit.

“She’s run off, Yumin! I only let her out for a second and she just took off—in this darkness too. She’s been sick for weeks. I don’t know what’s wrong with her!” Bambi cried again and Yumin could see her desperation. “I’ve lost the others too—my friends—we have to keep looking!” Without waiting for an answer, Bambi sprinted off, disappeared behind the trees.

“Bambi, no!” Yumin wasted no time running after his impulsive younger sister.

“What does her Pokemon look like?” Zakana called ahead.

Breathing deeply, Yumin tried to let his cousin’s slowness pass. If he had paid attention to anything about Pokemon, especially his family’s, he wouldn’t have to ask. Any other time, Yumin would have explained, but now was not the time. He continued to speed forward, keeping sight of Bambi’s reddish hair, glinting in the moonlight, and her careful footsteps crunching in the underbrush.

“Bambi! Wait!”

Yumin heard barking again and he tried to place what kind of Pokemon could make the sound.Which Pokemon live in this forest? he wondered. Then he remembered his sister writing home about a third Pokemon she had caught—a Houndour which she named Hower.

The path narrowed to a slit so tight that Yumin had to turn sideways between some trees in order to pass. Ahead, he could see a wide opening that led into a grassy clearing. He returned Tygo to his ball.

“Bambi! Be careful!”

Yumin worried for his younger sister. She was different than Zakana because sometimes she didn’t think. As much as Yumin hated to admit it, Zakana thought about things—he chose to ignore some important things but he definitely still thought about them. Bambi was more rash and impulsive and quick to battle. He grinned, remembering how similar he’d been at age ten.

Yumin slowed as he reached the clearing and studied the wide-open space. The moon shone down in beams, lighting up the puffy grass carpeting the floor. Above, the leaves rustled quietly, as though a storm brewed somewhere else. Bambi had found her Houndour and she knelt down, scratching it behind the ears. She crawled on her knees over to the spot where her Kappa lay.

“Good boy, Hower!” Bambi said. “Kappa. Why did you run off like that?”

At that moment, another body flew into the clearing, and Yumin jumped. It was not Lyres or Isaque but seemed to be a girl—woman—a woman that looked the same age as Yumin.

She laughed a little too comfortably and said, “Bambi. You have to tell me when you’re gonna take off like that.”

“Who are you?” Yumin realized suddenly that he didn’t understand the situation.

The girl turned on her heel and gave a half-hearted smile. “Who are you?” Her blonde hair was wild and disheveled and her shirt collar hung over her shoulder.

“I’m Bambi’s older brother, Yumin.”

“I’m the girl that saved your sister’s life, Farore.”

Zakana jogged into the clearing out of breath.

“Bambi,” Farore said, turning again. “I tried to tell you we can give your Kappa some medicine. I can make some natural remedies from the plants in this forest. I just need a few hours to find them.”

“What if we don’t have a few hours, Farore!” Bambi said, sniffling.

Yumin and Zakana moved closer and saw the puffy, brown and white ball of a Pokemon, curled up, a pink slip of tongue hanging out over its sharp teeth. Zakana snapped open his Pokedex.

“Eevee. The evolution Pokemon. Because of Eevee’s unstable genetic makeup, this Pokemon can evolve into many different forms.”

Yumin studied the way Bambi’s Kappa panted, as though about to vomit. He remembered how difficult it was for his father to acquire such a rare Pokemon. He had spent a tail and a tentacle getting it.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with it!” Bambi repeated. “We tried everything back at the Academy but they said to let it rest inside its ball and let the natural healing technologies slowly nurse it back to health. Does this look like health!” Bambi pointed down at her Eevee while her Hower stood by with watchful eyes.

“It’s not sick,” said a voice, and Lyres stepped into the clearing with two others—Isaque and a young boy Yumin recognized from Bambi’s Academy, although he forgot his name.

Lyres and Isaque moved up toward Eevee casually and Lyres said, “Look at the way it’s panting.” He looked around to see if anyone was catching on, and of all people, Zakana said it. “It’s pregnant.”

“Pregnant? That can’t be!” Bambi squealed. “Kappa is a boy!”

“Apparently not,” Lyres said.

Yumin and the others moved in closer to form a perimeter around Eevee.

The boy whose name Yumin did not know, moved next to Bambi, leaned down over the Eevee. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it. Get me a cold rag!” This young boy moved with an immediacy that surprised Yumin. He was young and fragile looking but he seemed to know how to handle a Pokemon birth.

The Eevee looked skyward toward the bright, tofu-colored moon above. Kappa squealed and bayed, squirmed in place as Hower moved closer. He began licking Kappa’s face with a wet tongue as the boy pressed a cold rag onto Kappa’s forehead.

And then, Yumin saw it . . . the shimmer—a reflection of the moon in Kappa’s weary eyes. He had seen it many times and this was no different. It was the moment of change. Yumin stepped forward to study this pain-ridden Eevee more carefully and when he was sure, he stepped back to see nature work its wonders.

“Your Eevee isn’t just giving birth, Bambi,” he said, unable to control his own breathlessness. “It’s evolving too!”