Chapter 21: Zakana’s Answer

A mother needs her babies just as badly as her babies need her. If not more. The mother knows when its babies are not there, but a young newborn will only notice the absence of its mother once the connection has been made, once it knows there is a mother to have. Some young may remember but the mother can never forget.1

Did he remember mother? The boy with the auburn brown eyes, who could laugh at a moment’s notice? The boy buried somewhere underneath the cold grey earth, what would be the last thing he remembered?

Zakana wondered this as he pressed a pack of ice to his left eye. Through his right he watched Bambi’s Umbreon nurse four of her babies back to health. Of the original, now two were missing—the one stolen by the Clamp Ball in the forest, and the one Lyres had taken that night to keep watch over while the others ran. It should have been returned to Bambi but it wasn’t. She didn’t cry. Neither did Zakana. Neither did Yumin after Zakana had punched him back. No one cried. A silence as loud as the black abyss surrounding them roared.1

Did they deserve to be fighting like this? Did Zakana deserve what he got? A big fat slug, unseen and unheard directly in the eye socket—did Yumin get what he deserved right back? Zakana’s voice felt scratchy from screaming at Farore and at Yumin after he picked himself off the floor and returned the blow. Another screaming match had ensued, and still Zakana wondered. So he asked.

“Why did you punch me?”

Yumin pressed small cubes of ice to his lower lip where Zakana had connected. He kept his gaze to the ground.

A slap from his mother, a punch from his cousin. What would Kirish’s gift be?1

“Because I was tired of listening to you defend yourself,” Yumin said, completely unremorseful. “Words don’t work anymore. I saw my chance and I took it.”

For once, Zakana said nothing. He took his licks without lashing out now. His breaths were soft and shallow. It wouldn’t change Yumin’s mind anyway. They had gone from 36 Pokémon to 24 in a matter of seconds. From 7 trainers to 5. Zakana didn’t feel bad for letting them go. Isaque was a threat to his well being. They didn’t know each other he had decided. It was just a trick to try to get closer to his family. Clearly, they weren’t on his side anyway and Isaque didn’t actually care about him. That was Zakana’s answer.

He slept. Dreams came that night with a vengeance. They remained stuck in that place night after night in the darkness of Zakana’s mind. Time passed and it seemed to come true. They stayed there, unable to escape, the numbers outside growing with every rotation of the planet. Food in the refrigerator dwindled and Farore suggested that she go out and look for more. Yumin said it was impossible. He was in a sour mood ever since the punches. His lip swelled like a Qwilfish, reddened like an Octillery. He talked out of the side of his mouth.

“We don’t even have a tiny bird that can send messages!” It came out garbled and grotesque. “Braviary won’t wake even from Super Potions or Revives!” There was crazed fear in his eyes as he paced around the warehouse, thinking of ways to make his Pokémon stronger without weakening them. Zakana attempted to do the same.1

He released Slowpoke and Happiny from their Pokeballs and pit them against each other. Happiny, spunky and full of life would roll at Slowpoke, who was the complete opposite, drained and slow. Neither of them seemed to do anything special. Zakana snapped open Oodi to see what else they could do.

“Happiny’s move set: Pound, Charm, Copycat, Sweet Kiss.”

“What is Sweet Kiss?”

“It’s a move that, if successful, will confuse the opponent.”

“Translation Oodi.”

“A confused Pokémon sometimes attacks itself or injures itself or forgets where it is or what its doing.”

Zakana sighed and felt the pressure of his hanging eyelid. It felt oozy still. “That’s Slowpoke all the time.”1

“Slowpoke’s ability prevents confusion as well.”

“What do you mean ability?”

“Every Pokémon is born with a special ability. And some species of Pokémon can acquire one ability, or a second, or a third, but never more than one at a time.”

Zakana studied his two pink Pokémon and approached it like a math problem. “What is Happiny’s ability?”

“Your Happiny’s ability is called Serene Grace. That means any move that has a special effect has a double chance of occurring.”

“So, it gets lucky sometimes.”

“Precisely. Happiny and its evolved forms Chansey and Blissey are extremely lucky Pokémon.”

Luck was something Zakana never considered. Was it lucky that he’d chosen this place to walk into, lucky that they’d run into Lyres and Isaque at that exact moment in the forest. Was it lucky that . . . no . . . luck didn’t exist.

One of the Eevee trotted up to the show as Happiny laid tiny hands into Slowpoke’s round head. It seemed to be pounding on it, but nothing happened. Eevee saw this and nudged the Happiny, knocking it over.

“Hi, Zakana. Are you hungry?” Bambi stood nearby while her Umbreon and baby Eevee swirled around her ankles. She held a plate with sliced ham on it.

“I’m okay, thanks Bambi.” He softened when he looked at her. Finally things had slowed down and weren’t going 100 bazillion miles a second. He looked at her once happy face and tried to learn what she was thinking.

“Bambi,” he said, ignoring the playful banter around him. “When I last saw you before you went to Academy . . . back in Pallet.” He hesitated, trying to collect all the details of the event. Had they even met in Pallet?

Bambi nodded. “Yes, I remember.”

“Well . . . I was trying to remember, but am having trouble. What did we talk about?”

Bambi seemed shocked by this question or at least concerned as she scooped up her Umbreon and held it close to her. Zakana could hear the purring from where he stood. “All sorts of things.”

“Like what?”

“We talked about your upcoming space program and the cool things you’ll get to do.”


“We talked about all the planets you might find, and the food you’d have to eat.” Bambi giggled and even in this circumstance she looked happy.

“Anything else?”

“That was pretty much it. I’m sorry Zakana, what’s gonna happen to your program? Are you finished all the courses? I still don’t really understand what’s going on.”

Zakana flushed. He looked away, ashamed. They had only talked about him. Why hadn’t he asked Bambi anything about her life? Why didn’t he care? He bit tears back and faced his cousin. “I’m so sorry, Bambi. I’m sorry I never asked you anything about you.”

“It’s okay,” she said quickly, as though she expected this response, and wanted it but never got it till now. “I know how you feel about Pokémon. We don’t need to talk about them.”

“But . . . but you love them!”

“Yeah, but I think you hate them.”

Zakana coughed in defense, tried to hold back tears of frustration. For some reason he was especially emotional today. “That shouldn’t be an excuse!”

Bambi merely shrugged and smiled. She had come to ask about food not talk about Zakana’s sins. She turned to go.

“Bambi, wait! I’m trying,” he said, and suddenly he felt like if she walked away she would be walking away forever. She would choose Yumin over him, choose Pokémon over him. Now, more than ever he saw how much he needed her love and approval.

“What’s going to happen to your classes?” Zakana blurt out.

“No one knows.” She tilted her head to one side and peered at Zakana through unknowing eyes as though it was not really her cousin. “No one seems to know anything about this crisis. I have to go, Zakana. I’ll be back later. Your Happiny is super cute by the way.”

Zakana continued to train them. Harder than ever. Which considering his Pokémon career wasn’t saying much at all. But at least he was trying. For the first 30 minutes, Happiny seemed to dominate, its tiny fists kneading into all parts of Slowpoke.

When Happiny was spent, Slowpoke gained energy, from this kind display of friendship and began moving Happiny around with its telekinetic powers.

“It’s confusion,” Oodi said. “Usually it will take the form of telekinesis but sometimes it will cause the opponent to become confused. And that seemed to be exactly what happened. Happiny spun in circles from confusion and became dizzy, only to fall over and get up again, like an hyperactive newborn baby. The baby Eevee Zakana had taken under his wing did not leave his side much, except to nurse from its mother and play with its siblings.

This is likely what happened with the Eevee Lyres had taken that night. It barely even saw its mother before hell broke loose and probably grew so attached to Lyres that even after returning to find a larger, black version of itself, didn’t know what it was looking at.

Nights passed more slowly as they stayed in that place. Mornings arrived poignantly, with the constant fear of imminent attack. Zakana did not fear the Pokémon. He would be ready. And these were trained Pokémon. They wouldn’t attack humans in that way, right?

Yumin wanted to barrel through the ranks.

“No,” Farore said. “They’ll absolutely destroy us.”

“They’ll do the same thing in here.”

“That hasn’t happened yet.”

Neither would budge. Even after Yumin could talk like a normal guy again, Farore would not relinquish her plan. They were both intelligent about this Pokémon stuff it seemed but who was more qualified to make a game plan? Zakana wondered as Bambi battled in the aisles and Makua studied things from books he had with him. He would often stand up (he read with his entire body laid out on the metal tile) and read a line like it was the most important thing in the entire universe. Quotes from Pokémon (apparently some Pokémon can talk), Professor’s speeches and findings, and ways to make certain potions and grow berries.

It would have all be very useful had they been in game show or owned a patch of land to grow things or a laboratory to concoct colorful liquids.

People are born to see their mother and sometimes father and as they age, they think, I’m safe in this world. I’m protected. While siting in that warehouse, Zakana knew protection was as far away as outer space.

Life can be ripped away suddenly and without warning in the cruelest of ways. There are no second chances, no take backs. One minute you’re fine, walking back to your house and the next minute you can’t breath, can’t think, can’t act. Your numbers go from 2 to 1 and you’re left wondering if it its some sick joke. A dream that you’ll wake up from. It’s not and the only thing you’re left with is a hole in your heart and a daily reminder that you could have done things differently. You could have taken a different path home. You could have run. You could have hit the thing with sticks or stones. Or even . . . taken the attacks yourself. But you can’t think of any of these things when they matter.1

Was it the same now? Had Zakana taken a wrong turn into a dead end? Could he sway the tides of battle? Or at least get Yumin and Farore to agree on something? She was sturdy and Yumin was stubborn. One minute she was kissing Zakana and the next she was screaming at him as though he had just dumped coffee all over her new dress. One second Yumin was hugging him the next minute he was slugging him.1

Zakana had seen it himself, the beast from the netherworlds. It claimed what it wanted and left no exceptions. That is why he spent all his time at home, or studying or planning to go to space (though the safeties of that were debatable).1

He had more questions than answers. Though one always seemed to rise to the top. He knew it better than anything as a new world order unfolded before him. As winds howled, men cried battle cries and lightning cracked outside.

There is no escape: death comes for everyone and everything.

And it would. It would come for them too.