Chapter 2 - Anhedonia
Charmander's training was proceeding excellently. He was developing the initiative to act on his own, without commend from Kakuna. The pair was trusted to forage on their own for food. They also proved capable of serving as members of a more traditional foraging party. With the structure and predictability of routine, came comfort and relaxation. At the end of the day Charmander and Kakuna laid in their den and relaxed, pleased with the day's work. Charmander began to become comfortable around his surrogate tribe mates, and began to interact with the other hive members. He ran and played with the Weedles. He worked and built with the Beedrill. His tail proved useful in assisting in drying fresh wax and honey. Slowly, Charmander became one of the Hive, and he was welcomed.
Charmander also opened up to others. Reluctantly, he requested an audience with the Queen. He told her of the incident with the butterfly, the humans, and Charmeleon. He cried and shook as he recounted the tale, explaining in detail how he had caused her capture, and how he feared her death. The Queen listened in silence, only rarely interjecting to teach him the words he was missing. The clearing was called a road It was a special kind of road called Route Two. The growling box was called a car (or perhaps a jeep, given Charmander's description of it). The long metal stick was called a gun. The small light box a cell phone. The Queen did not know the meaning of the leaf with the stars on it, but she did know one thing. The humans were a special kind of human called Poachers. They broke the human laws that protected Pokemon. They were very bad humans. This disheartened Charmander, causing him to cry again. The Queen did her best to console him. This terrible event was not his fault. It was the fault of the poachers. She doubted that they remained in Viridian Forest, but she ordered a party be deployed to search for them none the less. Charmander and the Queen agreed that once he was old enough and strong enough to fend for himself, then he would leave the Hive in search of his sister. Kakuna would accompany him, to act as a guide and as a companion. The Queen still was concerned by Charmander. He did not react as a child should. He seemed to take no joy in playing with the Weedles, even though he participated to his fullest. He ate normally and had a proper appetite for his size, but he expressed no preference for taste. He demonstrated no opinion regarding what he liked or disliked. He showed no joy or happiness in victory, nor any interest in reward or praise. The closest the Charmander showed to pleasure was his ever-present eagerness to serve. He performed any task given to him with alacrity. He ignored praise in favor of constructive criticism. He applied himself fully to his duties and always wanted more to do, as if the act of idleness was painful to him. And lastly, his dreams were troubled. Like a Kakuna close to emerging, his dreams were troubled, and his sleep was disquieted. The Queen assigned one of the alpha-females to sing to him at night, like she sung to the restless Kakuna of the Hive. This helped, but did not fully vanquish his night terrors. In time, his Kakuna took up the duty himself. He proved quite apt at singing to the Charmander. Even so. It had been months since Charmander had a full night's rest. He still woke at night crying. He still shook and squirmed. He was still afraid of butterflies.
Summer faded into Fall. And soon after Fall succumbed to Winter. Frost could be found on the ground each morning, Charmander soon was tasked with clearing it with his tail flame. It was at this time, that the Queen stated that Charmander was ready to begin his quest to find his sister. Charmander and Kakuna agreed that he had grown strong and was able to defend himself. And so, Charmander set off on his quest to find his missing sister. Passing through Viridian Forest was easy. By now he was strong enough to fend off any natural predators that would threaten him. For three days, Charmander and Kakuna traveled north. Following the road called Route Two. This lead them to Pewter City.
Pewter City laid within the embrace of a mountain range. A monument of stone rose form the earth, as if erected by ancient gods then hammered flat in the center for the sole purpose of holding the city to its bosom. Even as it was a city of stone and steel, so too was it a city of light and magic. Charmander had never seen a human Hive before. He marveled at each new wonder in turn, demanding that Kakuna tell him their names, as if the names themselves held the key to understanding their purpose and function. Painstakingly, Kakuna led the awestruck Charmander about the city, hiding in alleys and darting across streets, navigating to their destination On each of the human nests... Buildings. On each of the human buildings were all manager of symbols and iconography. Neither Charmander or Kakuna could read or speak the human language, but Charmander remembered the symbol of growing starts. Together, they spent the night searching fruitlessly for the icon of growing stars.
``OhOhoh. What is this!?'' Charmander stammered with excitement. ``A trashcan.'' Kakuna stated flatly. ``They use it to collect trash.'' Kakuna would be smiling however, if he had a mouth with which to smile. He had never seen Charmander this happy. The constant worry for his sister was gone, and for the first time since they met, he seems like a normal child.
``You can also find food in them...'' An airy voice came from above. Hanging from the roof of a building was a Zubat. Charmander's eyes lit up for the nth time that day, and his tail wagged. ``Hello!'' He called happily, even as Kakuna tried to shush him. The Zubat flapped its wings and soon hovered before Charmander. The fire lizard found this delightful and made to grab at the small blue bat. Zubat, seeming not to mind being played with in this manner, darted about and made himself hard to grab. ``A Kakuna stuck on the back of a Charmander? How did this happen?'' He asks as he flits about. ``We are looking for my sister!'' Charmander says happily. ``She is a Charmeleon.'' He continued. The Zubat floated out of the Charmander's range and was suddenly somber. ``Your sister, the Charmeleon, Does she have golden scales?'' He asked. Charmander stopped jumping and looked up at the bat. ``Yes... How did you know?'' ``I saw her, and the humans that took her. They said they were going to Saffron City.'' He said solemnly. ``Saffron City!?'' The Charmander exclaimed. He turned and ran with sudden purpose down the street, despite Kakuna's protests. After he had covered close to half a block, he skidded to a stop and turned around. Casually, the Charmander walked back to the bewildered looking Zubat. ``Where is Saffron City?'' He asked.
``They call it Mt. Moon.'' Zubat explained. ``It separates Route Three and Four. After you get out of the pass, keep heading east. That will take you to Cerulean City. That is as far as I know, so you will have to find your own way from there.''
The pass through mount moon was dark and damp. Charmander's tail afforded him a degree of light, but its position behind him did much to spoil its effectiveness. Kakuna, on the other hand, had excellent night vision. The present of the tail flame directly in front of him thwarted his vision just as effectively as Charmander's shadow. After a period of awkward stumbling, Charmander began to hold his tail in front of him. Once proper progress could be made, the two descended into the underworld that was beneath Mount Moon.
``It's not that I don't want to find her.'' Kakuna was saying. ``It's that we have to be cautious.''
``Why would he lie to us? And how could he know what she looks like?'' Charmander countered. ``I am not saying that he lied. But we can't just run to Saffron City and ask everyone where these humans went. We need to be careful.'' Kakuna cautioned.
``I am careful...'' Charmander stated frankly, even as he tripped on a stone. ``Clearly...'' Kakuna said dryly. A thought popped into the insect's head. Or rather the gooy mass off jelly that was inside his outer shell. It was a small detail that had sat into the back of his mind, only now to come forward and announce its importance. ``Be quite'' Kakuna said, with sudden urgency. Th realization was upon him. There was no sound. The cave had been full of dripping and rocks shifting and plenty of other sounds that all echoed and bounced around the smooth walls. But now there was nothing. Kakuna looked about. Foolish! He thought. In the excitement of their progress he had forgotten a very important detail.
Suddenly, where there was no sound, there was a loud screech. It pierced deep into Kakuna, painfully vibrating across his carapace. Charmander grabbed his ear holes and shook, He hid his tail. ``Move!'' Kakuna called out, Charmander stumbled forward, just as the overpressure hit them. A line of pure sound erupted behind them, carving a trail out of the floor of the cave right where Charmander had been standing. ``Run!'' Kakuna yelled, but his words were drowned by the ever present screeching. A second blast gouged a second like of rock in front of them. Charmander froze. He curled up and hid his tail, shaking with fear. A light came from the origin of the sound. It was a purple, baleful light. The outline of a fanged maw was illuminated by it. Two menacing yellow eyes overshadowed by a red crest. Two huge black ears with green centers. A tuft of white fur about the neck. Kakuna had never seen such a creature before. ``Run... Move'' He said, even through he new it was futile. Kakuna was a hive born Pokemon. He had the collective knowledge of his hive readily available, passed on to him while he slept, through the songs of the Queen and alpha females. He know the name, call, and appearance of all one hundred and forty nine species of Pokemon in the Kanto region. However, he had no idea what this thing was. A beam of purple energy shot forth, traveling up the channel of rock towards them. Kakuna tried once more to urge Charmander to move, knowing he would not. Kakuna willed his shell to harden, to weather the incoming blow. The beam struck. Neither fire nor electricity, it ha properties of both. Charmander's muscles spasmed briefly, and Kakuna could feel the intense heat of open flame, yet the energy was directed, pointed. It was concentrated and wielded as an arrow by a bow, rather than as a fisher's net. Dragon. The word came to Kakuna. This move was called Dragon Pulse. Charmander fainted. He collapsed forward and was still. Kakuna's shell, responding to its owner's will, had become as iron. Even so, if told that he had been mortally stricken, Kakuna would believe it. The creature stepped into the light of Charmander's tail flame. He was a bat. A bat unlike any Kakuna had ever seen before. A dragon bat... as Kakuna steadily lost consciousness, the sense of peril faded from him, leaving only a vague apathetic curiosity. Another creature stepped forward. He was human. The human wore a white coat, and glasses. He pulled a sphere from his pocket. With the touch of a button, the sphere swelled till it filled his hand. The human smiled and threw it.