You decide to try and befriend Dex or at least make him feel guilty enough to let you go. You and Dex sit quietly for a minute while you think of the best way to do this. You look up at him but he looks straight ahead with a stoic face.
You tell him, "my name is Lulu, by the way."
"That's a nice name… sounds delicious."
You ignore that, "I'm trying to find a Thunder Stone. So I can become a raichu."
"You don't have to try anymore. We'll turn you into vulpix chow - much more useful than an electric rat."
You keep talking past him and try to find common ground. "Vulpix need a Fire Stone to evolve into a ninetales, right? Have you ever thought of seeking one?"
"Hell no. If half of what Lady tells us is true about her quest to find a Stone, then it is certain death. You would be an idiot to try and find an Evolution Stone. Which is probably why we caught you. Stupid prey make for easy hunting and full bellies. Your kind should thank us for removing you from the gene pool. Now, shut up, bitch. I’m not supposed to talk to you anyway."
This isn't going well and you switch up tactics. Maybe he knows the vulpix you met yesterday. "You know Xander?"
"Xander?! How do you know that loser?"
"He saved my life yesterday." He did also almost kill you and he did rape you but you don't see how telling him that would help.
"Oh yeah? Then he is dumb as he is weak. Did he tell you? He didn't get a mate this year. The little virgin is so much a puss, he didn't even have the balls to flash some teeth at the leftover vixens when they told him no. That's all it would have taken, but he was too afraid. A fluke he survived the winter. A lot better than him didn't… shame"
You're taking a bet here, but from what you know of vulpix, the younger males wind up with older females as mates, and vice versa. So you guess, Roxy is his mate, not Zoya. "Well, you didn't do much better than Xander, ending up with Roxy."
He looks flustered. “I... what… rrrrr.” He calms down by letting out a huff. “What would a pikachu know about how we choose mates? You know how I ended up with Roxy? Look at my right side there." You look back at his stomach and see a fresh pink scar. “I thought I was hot shit. I was going to go for a vixen like Zoya. Then an ancient vulpix put me in the ash and gave me that to cauterize. Once I was done licking my wound, the rut was wrapping up. There were quite a few six-tailed vixens left, ones better looking than Roxy, but I picked her. Why? Because Roxy knows what she is doing when raising kits. And she didn’t let me pick her easy. I had to be aggressive with her. Now Xander? He would have shied away from a cunt if it bent over for him. So don’t put me in his league.”
“Maybe Xander is a wuss, but at least he has a heart. He did save me. I thought maybe all vulpix were like him. But clearly, you are just senseless predators, no better than an ekans or a pidgeotto.”
He chuckles. “You’re trying to make me feel guilty so I’ll let you go? That right? Listen, I like you, Lulu. You know that? I really do. Maybe it's because you're cute or maybe it's the way you smell like the vixens during the rut. If this was late summer or fall, and I wasn’t that hungry, I might just let you go; after some… favors. If you know what I mean. It's only fair I get something out of the deal. But...” For the first time, he looks down and makes eye contact. His eyes are genuine and kind. “You’ve never had young, have you, Lulu?” You nod your head no. “I figured as much. Then you wouldn’t understand. See, when you have kits, it changes everything. I would rip my own guts out to feed it to them if that’s what it would take to get them to survive the winter. So tell me, does feeding you to them make me a senseless predator? If so, then call me a heartless monster all you want. My kits will not go hungry tonight with you in their stomachs and that is what matters to me. But if it’s heart you want, listen closely, I’m going to say something I’ve never told prey before; thank you, Lulu, for feeding me, my mate, and my kits tonight. I truly mean that.” He pulls his head back and returns to his stoic look. “Now with that out of the way, be a good prey and face your death with some humility, like all us wild Pokemon have to in the end. Pikachu might think they are above the maw, but outside your tribe, we all end up in a gut; some of us sooner than later. But Lady says there is no shame in being eaten, Lulu.”
Emotions build in your chest. You know the conversation is over; there is no convincing him; you’re dead meat. You plant your face in the dirt and sob quietly. Dex does not acknowledge you anymore. You only wait two more minutes when his group returns.
Maz asks, “she wasn’t any trouble, was she?”
“No,” says Dex, “she now knows her place on the food chain.”
“A wise prey. Then let’s get going. Zoya, you take over for Dex.”
Zoya walks behind Dex and bites your tail. You don’t say ouch this time; your whole body is cold and numb. You know you aren't going to escape. Your destiny is not to turn into a raichu but to be turned into vulpix. Not the transformation you were seeking but one nevertheless. Like dex said you now know your place on the food chain.
Dex gets off of you and stands to your left. Roxy comes to your right, and Maz stands in front once more. They start marching again; next stop, a vulpix's gut.
They say nothing as you walk once more. You look down at the ground and sob quietly. Every step closer to your fate feels like a piece of your identity is lost. You give in to the dread building in you ever since the vulpix circled you; you are nothing but fox food now.
After another long thirty minutes, the grass below you changes to grey ash. You look up to see a large clearing where all the grass is burned and the ground is covered in ash. To your left is a large gathering of bones of Pokémon of every kind, your soon-to-be grave. At the edge of the clearing is a steep, rocky, treeless hill, in which are at least a hundred small cave-like burrows. The hill and the clearing are teeming with adult vulpix and vulpix kits. There must be around two hundred vulpix here and just as many kits. This is the vulpix breeding grounds; their meet-up spot every year.
The sight is horrendous; you see at least a half-dozen dead pidgey being carried around in maws, about just as many dead rattata with the same fate, a couple dead deerling that are being ravaged by a group of six mates and their kits, and even a four-foot dead ekans is being held by its midsection between two vulpix. So much prey is here that at least you don't feel alone in your fate; however, they all have the pleasure of already being dead and not feeling pain; something you still have to experience.
Vulpix in the area begin to notice your colorful fur and the fact you are still alive and start to murmur about you. Before long just about every vulpix is looking at the group with jealousy in their eyes and they lick their chops. At least you are desirable in a way.
Maz stops and turns to Dex, "go get your and my young and bring them to the grove. That's where we'll eat, got it?" Dex nods and trots off up the hill. The group continues moving.
"A pikachu? Alive?" A voice says from the left. An old seven-tailed, silver-furred vulpix steps in front of the group.
Maz tells him, "she was hunted in accordance with the treaty, Tavein. We caught her well south of the Crooked Tree, by the waterfall."
"Hmmmm…" he looks back at you with interest. "That may be so, but this is not the normal, scrawny buck that sometimes ends up our food. No, this is a young, beautiful doe. From the central tribe, no doubt." You give a nod yes.
"So? She was hunted the same way and now owes us her flesh as is in keeping with the natural order." Growls Maz
Tavein continues, "you know tensions have been high between our two species for many generations now. The pikachu blame us for the disappearance of their pichu at the watering hole. Returning such a desirable female may ease tensions between our kinds. And show the pikachu we are not just mindless killers like the ekans."
A glimmer of hope enters your despair-soaked heart. Maybe they will return you to the tribe; your quest may be over if you do but it is better than being ripped to shreds and cooked alive, right? But you wonder if the tribe will take you back in that manner. They don't take kindly to pikachu that leave. They may want to make an example out of your death by letting the vulpix have their way with you then spread the news to any other pikachu that may be foolish enough to want to leave to find a Thunder Stone. But it is the only hope you have right now.
Roxy growls, "This is our meat Tavein. We got shocked hard for it and there's not enough daylight to hunt again. I will not let my kits go hungry just because pikachu are overly sensitive to losing young."
Tavein speaks up, "do you forget the importance of the watering hole? It is the only place safe enough to train kits to swim and in drought years, is the only source of water near the breeding grounds not teeming with water predators that like to make us snacks, remember? Losing it would be devastating to vulpix. Lady tells us a time before the treaty where our numbers dwindled to just fifty in the whole forest."
Roxy snaps back, "she was alone. No pikachu will think it was a vulpix anyway. Probably an ekans will be blamed. So let us eat her in peace."
"How about we let Lady decide," says Maz. "She may let you keep her or not. But you can not deny Lady an audience, can you?"
Maz groans, "fine, Tavein. We will talk to Lady first, but I'm sure she'll let us keep her; she likes keeping kits full.”
“And you may very well be right, but she also has a duty to maintain the balance in the forest. So I am only being cautious. Follow me then.”
They begin marching you again, this time with Tavein leading. They’re taking you to Lady? The Lady? But that has to be it. The Lady of the Forest, or just Lady, is a pseudo-legendary ninetales. Even pikachu, and all Pokemon of the wild, know of her. She is the only one of her kind in the forest. It is said she is as old as the forest itself but still appears youthful. She is the keeper of the wilderness and strives to keep equilibrium in the ecosystem. If half the rumors are true, she is extremely powerful. You're not sure this is going to turn out well for you.
After a short parade and some envious remarks from passersby, you exit the clearing into a wooded area. Laying at the base of a large tree is her, Lady. Thirty or so vulpix kits play around her. The adorable kits have reddish-brown, puffy newborn fur and one singular tail. They are only a month old but already, they are about the same size as you.
It appears Lady is telling the kits a story. Some listen intently while others play nearby or on her, but Lady doesn’t seem to mind. Her golden-white fur coat glints in the sun. Her nine tails drape over the ground in a relaxed state, tipped with reddish fur, while a few kits play in them like it was a pack of freshly fallen snow. Her eyes are bright red but looks down on the pups with kindness as she tells her story. The hair on her head flutters in the light wind. Her presence alone inspires awe.
“Lady,” Tavein bows his head and so does the other; you join in as well; might as well try and butter her up if she’s the one deciding, on your life.
Lady stops talking to the kits and looks up. “Tavein? A pikachu? What is she doing here?”
“I’m sorry Lady, can we talk without the presence of the kits?”
“Of course… Kits, time to go back to your dens.”
They all let out a collective, “awwww…” One says, “can you tell the story about the huge venusaur first?”
Lady gets to her paws. With her standing, you can see just how big she is. While her body is slender, her tails and height make her appear a giant. “No, sorry sweety, the adults have to talk now. Now go.” The kits walk off. Some that are moving too slowly for Lady’s liking are hurried by the brushing of her tails and a, “shoo.”
One of the kits looks at you and exclaimed, “Wow! She looks tasty!” Then keeps on moving.
Once the area is cleared of young she approaches your group. She says in a commanding voice, “why have you brought this pikachu here? Is there something wrong?”
“No, Lady.” Says Tavein. “She was hunted in accordance with the treaty. But I thought maybe we could return her to the tribe as an act of good faith and to ease tension between our kinds.”
Roxy butts in, “and we want to use her for what she was made for; to be food for us and our kits.”
“Hmmmm…” ponders Lady. She looks at you directly. Her red eyes feel like they are probing your soul. She then looks at Zoya, “you can release her tail, Zoya. I can easily outrun her if she tries to bolt.” Definitely a true statement. Zoya does release your tail. “And what is your story, pikachu? How did you end up in possession of my children?”
“I…” What you say next may determine if you walk out of here alive, or in the gurgling guts of your predators. You will need to choose your words carefully. If you tell her the truth about why you were out in the wild, she’ll realize the tribe has already written you off as dead and no one will miss you if you ended up dinner. If you lie, they might send an envoy to the tribe to negotiate your return. You may become free but you are sure the tribe will want something of you in return - probably a guarantee of mate with some buck. That is if the tribe doesn’t just wish to make an example of you. Whatever you decide you’ll have to do it now.