Chapter 4: Family Matters

Zakana woke up in a sweat, knowing that his shoulder and back needed immediate attention. They felt broken and shattered beyond recognition. He couldn’t move. An intense heat burned him all over. There were way too many clothes dressing him, way too many blankets covering him for the current temperature in the room. Where was he anyway?

A shooting pain ripped through his shoulder, seared his flesh, and continued to cook him like a flopping Magikarp. Something had happened to his shoulder, but he couldn’t remember what. As his eyes blinked open, everything came flashing into focus, coinciding with the high-pitched shrill somewhere nearby.

“There’s no way he’s staying here with me!” Kirish shouted, much louder than was probably necessary. For Kirish, speaking above the normal range was commonplace, and even more so if the things being said were bad things about Zakana. For him, being around Kirish always translated to an insurmountable feeling of doom and unrelenting migraines.

“What am I supposed to do with him? He has no idea what he’s doing out there. Those Abomasnow would have killed him if I hadn’t shown up. Plus, he shouldn’t be moved with the way his shoulder is.”

“This island isn’t any safer!” Again, Kirish’s voice rose above Yumin’s. “Things are about to go down here, and its better to keep our family separated in case they find us.” Kirish slammed something wooden onto a table on the other side of the wall, then said, “Besides, he’s only dislocated his shoulder. He’ll be fine in a day, maybe two.”

“You expect me to wait around here for that? What about Bambi!”

For the first time since Zakana’s mother slapped him across the face, Zakana again felt jarred. Judging by Yumin’s feverish tone and his urgency, it meant that his younger sister was in trouble.

Zakana liked Bambi. No . . . he loved her. Of all his family members, he felt a certain attachment to his ten-year old cousin. Even though she adored Pokémon, Zakana and her always found a common ground. He imagined her cinnamon colored cheeks, auburn red braid, and rusty, torn stockings as she laughed about a news reporter losing his hat on television. Zakana jolted, turned his head to face the wall where the voices came from. All at once he realized that the Viterals weren’t just tracking him, Kirish, their parents and Yumin and his parents. They were tracking the whole damn family . . . even Bambi.

Kirish’s voice dropped an octave. She said, “What’s happened to her?”

“I don’t know. But I need to get to her. I haven’t heard anything from my parents, and I know they’re gonna go for Bambi next.”

Zakana’s stomach clenched up. He felt the urge to vomit, closed his eyes. With all the energy he could muster, he called out his sister’s name.

The noise and commotion from the other room immediately died down, and through a door that Zakana could not see, Kirish came stomping into the room. She moved to Zakana’s side, peered down at him.

“Hey Zakana. How are you feeling?” Zakana studied Kirish. She looked different, more weathered, strands of her light brown hair were now blonde from the sun or white from stress. Zakana couldn’t tell which. For a brief moment, he thought there might be peace between them.

Yumin appeared next to her. His mousy hair sloped down at angles identical to those of his collar on his letterman jacket. He grinned, and his eyes shifted to Zakana’s right shoulder.

“You okay, champ?”

Zakana swallowed, tasted his own dry, foggy mouth. “What happened to me? Why does it feel like I was drawn and quartered?”

“You dislocated your shoulder,” Yumin said. “Those Abomasnow did a number on you. One of your disks was out of line, too.”

Upon hearing the news about his disk, Zakana immediately wanted to sit up, jump into action. There was nothing more important than his back and his alignment when it came to his training. He needed to be in tip-top shape above all else. Now, he felt like his Slowpoke could beat him in a race.

On the other side of the bed a pink egg shaped Pokémon sidled up to Zakana.

“Those snowmen Pokémon . . . why were they attacking me?”

“I guess you don’t remember the ride over here.”

Zakana shook his head. No, he didn’t. The last he remembered was calling back his Slowpoke, somewhere, somehow.

“I put your shoulder back into place,” Yumin said. “We talked about what happened but I guess you were already passing out by then. You probably wouldn’t have made it much longer in the cold. Braviary got here as quick as she could.”

Kirish leaned down so close that Zakana could smell the shampoo in her hair. It was definitely Poketene-Pro-V. That hadn’t changed about her. The whites in her eyes streaked red and Zakana guessed that she hadn’t been sleeping much. She scrunched up her eyebrows in a concerned way, then said, “Zakana. Yumin told me what happened. I just want to say I’m really proud of you.”

If Zakana weren’t in a half-comatose state he would have thrown his fingers in his ears. Every speech that started with praise always ended with backhanded compliments and insults shot in tiny little lightning bolts. Zakana froze, waited for what was coming.

“I’m proud of you for finally breaking through your hardships and catching a Pokémon. I know it probably wasn’t easy for you, and Slowpokes can make really great companions!”

There it was—the hint of condescension. First, it was disguised underneath all the how-do-you-dos and get-well-soons. Then, it came in avalanches of hell. Why couldn’t Zakana have caught a good Pokémon? Why did it have to merely be a great companion? He tried not to read through her words as much as he thought he was.

“Yumin was just as surprised as I was. When he told me you held out a Pokeball and returned the thing, I nearly lost it. It’s never too late for you, Pokémon Master.” Kirish said this last thing as though it were the most impossible thing in the world.

Zakana opened his mouth to speak, but Yumin cut in.

“Anyway, Zakana we gotta talk business. Now that you’re up, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be a part of this conversation.

“Save it. Neither of you want me in your presence. I already heard you talking.”

Kirish and Yumin exchanged a sheepish glance, returned their gaze to Zakana.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Yumin said. “We want you around, we’re just a little unsure about what you can handle right now. You’re really new to this and things are getting . . . kinda crazy right now.”

Turned completely upside down, flipped backward, and spun inside out was more like it. Zakana looked to his left, saw the sun, in its own world of yellow dust haze, setting beyond the window. He wanted to get back to his home in Pallet. He wanted to get back to his workouts, have his old life back.

Something moved between his legs, jerked him back to the present moment. When he looked down at his motionless body, he noticed an egg the size of his head, nestled neatly in the crevice between his left and right leg. He couldn’t move them because the blankets had been tucked into the bed tighter than was necessary. The egg, situated on top of this arrangement, squirmed again as Zakana laid his eyes to rest. He sighed, then said, “why is there an egg resting in my crotch?”

Kirish disappeared from the bedside and rustled through papers elsewhere. She turned her head from her current project, and said. “Oh, it was the warmest place in the room, so I decided to put it there. It’s not that close to hatching don’t worry.”

“Chansey!” announced the pink Pokémon still standing by the bed. The announcement of its name was so loud and chipper, like it had been waiting for weeks to deliver this grand revelation.

Yumin shrugged and mouthed something that Zakana didn’t have the energy or attention span to catch. Zakana felt himself dozing off. Medicines and drugs had definitely been administered in the relocation of his shoulder.

“What did you give me?”

After what seemed like a minute with no answer, he wondered if he had asked the question at all. Shadows swirled and looped around the room, catching the light at different angles, and casting the final effect into a kaleidoscope of colors. He fought the pull, thought about the things he wanted to know.

“Why did those Pokémon attack me? And what is so important about dad’s papers? Why!”

“I know its probably frustrating and confusing,” Kirish reassured him, her tone falsely angelic, “but let’s start from the beginning where things make sense. It’s still a little new to Yumin and I as well.”

“The Pokémon were sent to destroy you and whoever else was home,” Yumin said. “Your mother was likely their number one target. Uncle Durin and I were kidnapped by the Viterals and held ransom. I got separated from your dad and managed to escape on my own. I came south as quickly as I could, went home, didn’t find my parents, kept flying south until I came to your house. I thought you and Aunt Audria were dead . . . then I followed the trail of destruction and found you.”

“Though I don’t think they really wanted to kill you,” Kirish added. “They wanted you alive as ransom too—the Viterals want our family, that’s for sure. They want dad’s papers and whatever other knowledge he has. I think they are starting to find out where I’ve gone. I can feel a strange presence here on the island lately.”

Yumin threw the hair away from his eyes with a dramatic flick of his head. “We need to move fast, either way. I have to get to Celadon to check on Bambi.”

“Celadon? Why is Bambi in Celadon?”

“She entered Celadon’s Master Academy for Boys and Girls six months ago. I thought your mom would have told you.”

“I’m sure she did,” Kirish said. “Zakana doesn’t like to listen to things about Pokémon, remember Yumin?”

Of course Yumin remembered. Zakana didn’t need to be patronized like a kindergartener. He sighed, tried to focus his energy on the topic at hand. Recalling what he had learned from therapy, he attempted to think about something positive. But Kirish struck again.

“We have to be patient with Zakana. It’s not going to happen overnight. He doesn’t want to know anything about this world. Baby steps.”

“I’m right here, Kirish. You can talk to me like an adult. I’m not a baby. Where’s my Slowpoke anyway?”

“I know little brother. Anyway, you’re going with Yumin as soon as possible. We can’t be together here. Our family matters way too much right now for any of that.”

“Yumin is family too.”

“Right . . . well, it’s better that you go with him. And you’re taking the papers too. I’m a much bigger target than you. They probably don’t know about you.”

A volcanic surge erupted somewhere deep inside Zakana. Immediately, he knew his therapy had failed him. There was no going back. The shift in his tectonic plates had occurred and eruption was imminent. He took a deep breath, attempted to control his voice.

“You know my reasons for staying out of the Pokémon world, Kirish. You don’t need to talk to me like you used to. I thought we were past that.”

Zakana couldn’t put a finger on why he was so hot toward Kirish, but it was getting easier to pinpoint with every passing second.

“I may know them but I’ve never agreed with them,” she said. “I’ll talk to you like an adult when you show me that you can act like one. At eighteen years old I have yet to see it. You don’t get to hate Pokémon with all your heart your whole life and then change one day and expect me to welcome you with open arms. No way!”

Kirish’s face went crimson red, her eyes flickered with liquid fire. “You may be hurt by what they did, but you hurt me too. I was hurt too you know. We all were!”

Yumin’s voice carried through the room. “Let’s not do this now, guys. Calm down everybody.”

Zakana was already down but definitely not calm. This was the doom moment he’d been feeling. When Kirish visited home, their mom was always around to mediate. They were never left alone together because it always ended in disaster. Now, under extreme circumstances there was no choice.

Zakana bent at the waist without a second thought, felt the acute pain in his shoulder as he sat up. Facing Kirish he said, “Well I hurt in a different way. I’m not expecting open arms. I’m not that stupid. I just want you to stop telling me what to do!”

“Here’s one for you that mom and dad never said!” Kirish’s voice reached an all-time high, its volume and intensity bubbled like thunderheads. “Get over yourself! We were all affected by what happened you idiot! You’ve been playing the victim for 8 years! It’s time to pull your head out of whatever hole it’s been in!”

Kirish took a step forward, suddenly grew giant, sized herself up for the finishing blow. In a true moment of vulnerability, she burst into tears.

Zakana watched in horror as she broached the topic.


“You weren’t there! You don’t know what it was like to see that! To fail and watch as your brother . . .” Zakana let out an aspirated puff of air, choked back words that ceased to form. He couldn’t hear the word brother . . . he couldn’t say it.

Yumin stepped between them with catlike reflex. Kirish collapsed into his embrace and sobbed. Zakana wiped the tears from his eyes, tried to control his entire body from shaking. He had failed again. He lost his temper. He could feel the episodes coming on.

The door burst open and a blonde haired girl of about twenty spoke at once, with complete and utter disregard to the scene she’d just come upon.

“There’s trouble in the south seas! Kirish! We need you!”

Kirish lifted her head, and said calmly behind waterlogged eyes, “What is it?”

The girl caught her breath. “All of your predictions were right on. The Wailmer Wars have begun.”

Kirish’s eyes drooped slowly. She shrugged herself out of Yumin’s grasp, took a deep breath and followed the girl out the door.