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Fanfiction Sheet Shrouded Heart - A Pokemon Fanfiction

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by flareon71, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. flareon71

    Legegg
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    Bit of a lil introduction before I put the chapters and all
    This story used to suck
    But then I made it not suck by changing the story completely and I feel like it's one of my better works
    That is all
    [​IMG]

    Chapter 1 - New Start, New Life

    'Please… I just want to get away from it all… I don't want to be a part of this anymore…'

    Within the depths of a densely packed forest a relative distance from civilization, the shrill sound of crying could be heard in its secluded areas. A single Mimikyu shuffled through the grass, her tears creating a faint trail behind her. Even if her tears of guilt made her want to stop and break down in peace, her objective still remained, the next bush to pass through now in her sight. It didn't matter to her where she ended up, just as long as it'd get her as far away from her morbid pit of a-

    A hindrance suddenly came to the Mimikyu. Her shuffling was pulled to a sudden stop when she found the bush's tiny twigs and leaves caught onto the head of her disguise. She froze in shock with the suspicion that the cause of her halt was a stalker of some sort that caught her. After a few seconds of silence and panicked breathing, she sighed in relief when she found out the real case of what's stopped her, only for a new reason of panic to arise when the thought of twigs scratching her disguise entered her mind.

    Hastily, she withdrew from the bush, dropping her disguise's head from its leafy binds in the process. One of her shadowy tendrils extended out from under her disguise to catch the limply drooping chunk of bed sheet. Even if the moonlight was barely visible through the forest's shade, the Mimikyu's Ghost typing allowed her to get used to seeing through the darkness, leaving her with no trouble to see that her previous panic was nothing more than another overreaction. She checked her makeshift wooden tail to make sure this was still the case.

    She sighed with relief once more as she propped the disguise's head back up, her little noise making a bit of an echo in the distant darkness. The very fact that her bed sheet of a cover was modeled after a Pikachu from head to toe constantly gave her bad memories of her origin, but it was all she had. The thought of her disguise getting ripped away, leaving the varied shadowy illusions of her true figure to potentially hurt innocent bystanders, troubled her. On the bright side, while it was a hassle to maintain sometimes, it was the most comfortable blanket she could wish for. That, and it served as a trophy of her craftsmanship for all to see and marvel at.

    Or at least, so she hoped. She still wasn't sure if the wild Pokémon residents of wherever she emerged would welcome her with open arms. The Mimikyu never went this far into the wilderness before, so how others saw her kind would be new to her.

    She shook her little head. Now wasn't the time to think. That bridge would be crossed once she encountered it. For now, she actually had to get somewhere, starting with getting through this bush.

    A bright beam of light pierced through the tree's layer of shade, signaling morning's cue. This light ends up hovered over the Mimikyu's sleeping form, causing her to stir. Her consciousness quickly came back all at once, and she rushed away towards a grassy patch where more shade resided.

    The Mimikyu quickly checked her surroundings to see the forest around her; trees, bushes, and all. She then directed her attention towards the tree she was just sleeping against and sighed. Sleep's call took her in the middle of the night and left her vulnerable to the sting of sunlight. If it weren't for the shade shield of her disguise… then…

    'No. Focus, Mimi, focus.'

    She closed her eyes to prepare a deep breath, but instead, out came a yawn. The sound of rustling leaves followed her squeak of a noise. Noticing this very detail put Mimi on edge.

    Her eyes scanned the surroundings. 'I'm… not being followed, am I?' She double checked, taking another slow spin in place. Nothing but green foliage. 'It's… probably the wind.'

    Tension relieved, Mimi turned back to face the next bush to wander through. As she shuffled ahead, the rustling sound returned.

    '... still the wind.'

    She shuffled ahead. The sound got louder and closer.

    '... maybe the wind is harsh this morning?'

    She approached the bush. The rustling sound fell silent. In its place was the feeling of someone exhaling down her back in heavy breaths. Mimi remained still, trying her best to hide her quivering.

    Her senses screamed at her to do otherwise. 'Run! Just… run!'

    "Got you." A menacing voice unfamiliar to her ears makes her tense up. This was not someone she recognized, which made the situation all the more terrifying.

    'Now that hit the spot!'

    In the middle of a clearing surrounded by bushes of berries, a Pikachu stood up, satisfied with his snacking of the several Sitrus Berries nearby. Just his typical breakfast Berry hunt.

    He took one last glance at the other bushes to see the Berries still present. Sure, they were right there and ripe for the picking and eating, but it's not like the Pikachu had anyone to pick the Berries with, so he dismissed them. He had a forest to get back to. Staying this far away from his home at this time of day was dangerous, after all.

    The sudden sound of a rustling reached his twitching ears. He turned around to see its source; a bush ahead of him, empty of Berries. Rather than standing on guard, the Pikachu curiously approached the bush despite the growing volume of the rustling. His curiosity is rewarded when a figure slightly larger than him emerged from the bush and bumped into him.

    He cried out as he stumbled onto the grass. It isn't that the impact hurt him (it was certainly softer than he expected), but the collision coupled with the figure's high-pitched cry surprised him nonetheless. The details he noticed regarding the emerged figure just got him even more intrigued about it. As he got up, he took notice of the disoriented figure in front of him; a Pikachu-like figure slowly regaining balance. An eyebrow was raised when he noticed all the unique details about it, but he quickly dismissed any suspicion for more intrigue.

    "Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry!" The figure hastily replied as it tried to reorient itself, the shrill voice indicating that of a female's. Then, once she turned to face the Pikachu, she froze in place. "A… Pikachu?" She muttered audibly.

    The Pikachu took this as an opportunity to introduce himself. He wore a friendly smile as he extended a paw forward. "You must be new around here! I'm Sitrus. If you couldn't tell, I'm named after Sitrus Berries. Not the most creative choice, but my name is my name. What's yours?"

    He noticed the "Pikachu's" stance loosen, as if she felt less tense. He noticed this in her tone as well. "I'm… Mimi." She said simply.

    What Mimi did next caught Sitrus by surprise. A dark shadowy appendage of some sort vaguely resembling a tiny hand extended from under her and hastily shook his. He noticed that it felt surprisingly soft in the time his paw was being shaken. As Mimi ceased the shaking and proceeded in withdrawing her appendage, Sitrus quickly stopped her by tightening his grip, but the Pikachu did so in a way that didn't imply hostility.

    "Hey…" A faint frown came across his face. "What's the big rush?"

    Mimi quickly pulled her appendage back, this time successfully tugging it out of Sitrus' paw and allowing it to disappear beneath her. The Mimikyu's tone grew hasty once more. "I… I'm sorry! I just… I-"

    Unfortunately for Sitrus, before he could hear Mimi's response, another figure emerged from the bush. All the Pikachu could notice was a leafy arm before it struck him and sent him reeling. The impact followed by the stumble across the grass actually hurt this time, eliciting a sharper cry from him. Mimi's own cry followed his. As Sitrus got up, Mimi following suit, they noticed the source of the attack in the form of a large plant figure glowering in front of them, taking warm heavy breaths through sharpened jaws. The Pikachu immediately recognized their attacker, a predator his species are all too familiar with.

    The Carnivine's grin grew wider as it assumed a threatening gaze. "Well, well, well, look what the Glameow dragged in. Chase one Pikachu and it ends up leading you to another. About time one of us located where you migrated! And just in time for breakfast, too!"

    Although Sitrus knew exactly what this Carnivine's intentions were while Mimi stood quivering beside him(which he considered strange since she looked much taller and there more suitable for combat than him, or so he assumed), the sudden arrival of a Carnivine excited him.

    "Oh boy, a Carnivine!" He got up on two feet and held his clenched paws up near his face. "Come on, predator! Put 'em u-"

    His irrationally eager statement turned into a choke when a leafy arm grabbed him by the neck and pinned him towards the ground. Carnivine's face inched right up to his, pupils forming a sneer. "You're an idiot, you know that? It's almost adorable. Almost. And for that, I'm going to save you the trouble of feeling eaten alive by squeezing the air out of you first."

    Carnivine's leafy grip tightened, forcing a wheeze from the pained Pikachu. All Sitrus could see as his vision grew blurry was the Carnivine's expression forming a smirk, and then…

    Air came rushing back to his lungs all at once when the grip around his neck suddenly disappeared. His eyes widened at the revelation, both with relief and surprise. Once he got his breathing and vision back to normal, he sat up to see an obscure sight. Right in front of him was a bright dust cloud of some sort, its rapid stirring indicating a commotion of some sort going on inside. Even given his curious nature, after what his last impulsive approach did, Sitrus decided to sit back and observe the scene. What he managed to see within the dust cloud left him in awe; Mimi beating the living daylights out of the Carnivine with a flurry of blows. Just seeing the mysterious Pikachu from earlier now proceeding to outmaneuver and overpower their species' predator left him even more intrigued about Mimi than anything.

    'She's scratching at him with her paws and even holding her tail as if it was a weapon and everything! I wish my paws were that sharp and my tail was that flexible!'

    Sitrus contemplated whether or not he should pick more Berries to eat while witnessing this battle spectacle, but the dust cloud cleared completely before he could reach a decision. He was greeted with the sight of Mimi standing over a covered-in-cuts Carnivine, the latter then proceeded to curse before fleeing out through a bush. Mimi turned back to approach Sitrus, taking a sigh of what was presumably relief as she did so.

    "Are you… alright?" She asked.

    Sitrus quickly got back to his feet, an excited smile still on his face. "Now that was amazing! I've never even seen other Pikachu do stuff like that!"

    Mimi cocked her head, her eyes still appearing unfazed to Sitrus despite the confused gesture. "Er… I'll take that as a yes, then. Who was that guy, anyway? He seemed to know you…"

    "Oh, nobody important…" Sitrus gave a wave with his paw. "Just a predator hunting us Pikachu down."

    His response caused Mimi to take a step back. "W-What?! Hunting you down?!"

    "Well… yeah…" Sitrus' expression shifted to a slight frown as he raised an eyebrow, still confused by the neutral look on Mimi's "face" not reflecting her tone. "... but it's not like it's a big deal or anything. We migrated recently, so it's not like any other predators are able to find us at this current moment."

    Despite the calm demeanor of Sitrus' answer, this just elicited another shrill gasp from Mimi. She sounded shocked, dumbfounded even. "But the Carnivine just now-"

    Sitrus gave her another wave. "I… don't think you know what you're talking about. You don't look like you're from here, after all. Come on, I'll take you back to where the rest of us wild Pikachu live. You do look like you need a lot of patching up."

    "I… do?"

    "I mean, not to sound mean, but look at yourself." Sitrus held a paw out as a pointing gesture. "You're pale from head to tail, your ears are all floppy, you don't even have any arms, and… have you even moved your mouth or even blinked in the past few minutes?"

    "Uh…" Mimi hesitated. "Er…"

    "See!" Sitrus' eyes widened, his attention fixated on Mimi's "face". "Mouth still not moving! You need help, and I know someone who can maybe help! Follow me! We're going this way!"

    Without giving Mimi time to protest, Sitrus already started bounding towards a bush and motioned for her to follow.

    'What is it with this Pikachu?'

    Mimi sighed to herself as the Pikachu ignored her protests. Sure, the fact that he was a Pikachu got Mimi intrigued, but his first impressions left her feeling reluctant. First off, he didn't even manage to piece together her warnings regarding the Carnivine she just Play Roughed, and secondly, he didn't even recognize-

    '... wait… he didn't recognize my disguise? He can't just think I'm another PIkachu like him… can he?'

    The very thought got some gears turning in the Mimikyu's head. She was proud of her craftsmanship, but she wouldn't admit it was that perfect. Though… the Carnivine seemed convinced she was a Pikachu of some sort, so could this actually be the case? Would the residents of this 'place' Sitrus mentioned the other Pikachu live mistake her for a PIkachu as well?

    "Mimi, come on!"

    The Mimikyu snapped out of her thoughts to see Sitrus waiting by the bush ahead, the Pikachu still motioning for her to follow. She had to consider her choices: either tag along with this Pikachu who couldn't even see through her disguise to a place where even more Pikachu might make the same mistake, or continue wandering. Her train of thought started to waver. Even if the thought of their species brought back bad memories, Mimi still had her own personal intrigue for Pikachu as a whole. The thought of coming along with Sitrus suddenly didn't seem so bad.

    'Would they… really accept me as one of them?' The possibility made her wary, but at the same time, it got her giddy at the chance she was being offered. Perhaps this would finally be the escape opportunity she desperately wanted.

    "Hey! Earth to Mimi!" Another snap out of Mimi's thoughts revealed Sitrus standing in front of her, reaching up to wave a paw right above her field of vision. "Did that mouth of yours stop moving for good or something?"

    Mimi quietly sighed to herself at the reminder of how surprisingly ignorant this PIkachu was being. Since her Mimikyu status might as well have been nailed into her head, she would have to get used to actually acting in character with this disguise of hers. Starting by playing along with the Pikachu awaiting a response.

    Once Mimi agreed to heading back to the Pikachu, which rejuvenated Sitrus' excited behaviour, she was led through a series of bushes (which she carefully tread through, making sure her disguise was kept up in the process), Sitrus babbling on about… well, Mimi was too disinterested to bother.

    That is, until she noticed that she was still shuffling to the point where she started feeling slightly exhausted under her disguise. Mimi wasn't one to brag, but given her former status, even she would admit that her stamina was not something that would deplete so easily. So why is it that she and Sitrus still haven't stopped moving?

    She looked up to peek over Sitrus' shoulder and saw that the Pikachu was still at it, going through bush after bush and leading her through clearing by clearing. Judging from how Sitrus didn't even hesitate or slow down all the while, he must've known exactly where he was going. This left Mimi with the conclusion that it'd still take some time before the two of them reached their destination.

    Mimi sighed and let her ears give in to Sitrus' small talk. She didn't exactly resent him—merely a tad annoyed at his ignorance—but she did owe him even the slightest bit for the act of kindness that is bringing her back to someone who can "help" her. He had to be given some credit for the convenience of their encounter, even if her bumping into him led her to resorting to combat against her Grass type pursuer. Besides, she might as well socialize while she could.

    Focusing her attention towards Sitrus, she managed to catch how he seemed to be rambling on about 'this trek being a breakfast routine' or something along those lines. Then, as he paused to part some bushes to allow her to walk through (which caught Mimi surprised at his sudden courteousness), Mimi took her opportunity to speak up.

    "So… Sitrus, was it? Interesting story and all… but… uh… can I ask you something?"

    Sitrus glanced back at her (or rather, over her) with a smile. "Oh, sure. Ask away."

    Mimi hesitated as she grasped for a possible topic to entertain herself with. "You… mentioned someone who could help me with… uh… my 'problems', right?" She chose her words carefully. "Mind telling me what this Pikachu's like?"

    'If this helper Pikachu he has in mind is going to "take care" of me then I might as well ask what to expect…'

    "Actually, she's not a Pikachu," Sitrus stepped through the bush to lead Mimi through another forested hallway. "She's actually a Raichu… but she's different from the other Raichu there."

    'Different?'

    Mimi raised an eyebrow. She'd never really left her former home at all, so even with her interest in the Pikachu species she still wondered what made this Raichu in particular stand out. Surprisingly enough, it isn't like any battling she did back home ever led to a Pikachu or Raichu encounter, or at least, one that ended well.

    Sitrus' voice snapped Mimi out of her thoughts. "Oh, and before you get the wrong idea, I mean different in a good way. I'll just let you see for yourself since we should be at the right clearing by now…"

    Mimi's eyes lit up at those words. At last, some rest and a potential shelter! As Sitrus parted the next bush for her to pass through, she could already see both the metaphorical and literal light of hope ahead of her.

    When Mimi emerged from the bush, she was greeted with a sight that left her silent in astonishment. Right in front of her was a large open clearing with Pichu, Pikachu, and Raichu roaming all around. Even if the layer of tree shade above seemed just as dense as before, that didn't stop the area from bearing a lively feel from the amount of individuals roaming about with their activities. Mimi slowly shuffled forward closer to the passing Pokémon, where she got a closer look at the Pichu playing tag with each other and the Raichu walking towards huts with piles of Berries in their paws.

    The huts! Quaintly lined all around the clearing, they seemed to be made out of grass and various logs, with some of the modestly-sized constructions looking roomier than the others Just the variety of sizes and features of these makeshift shelters left even more of an impression on Mimi. The realization that this place would be her location of retreat made her want to squeal with joy. Now this was a retreat. A faint breeze whistled by her disguise as she took a deep breath of relief.

    "Cool place, huh?"

    Mimi snapped out of her trance to see Sitrus beside her, a proud smile on his face.

    She returned her gaze to the sight ahead. "I'm… not dreaming, am I?"

    Her senses felt a slight tug at her cloth. Mimi quickly looked around to see Sitrus' paw situated on the cheek of her disguise's head, pinching it.

    "Nope," The Pikachu said simply. His paw remained on its spot for a few more seconds, causing Sitrus' look to turn worried. "Weird… I don't feel any electricity in your cheek…"

    Mimi's expression dropped in shock. 'No… come on, my disguise can't end like thi-'

    Sitrus' eyes widened in realization. "Oh, of course! You still need to get patched up! Let's go!" He assumed a running position but paused. "Wait… can you… still walk at this point? Do you need me to carry you?"

    'C-Carry?!'

    The mere mention of it flustered Mimi. Now she really thought she was dreaming. Even if this was the ignorant Sitrus offering it (though she had to admit she was slowly warming up to him), the mere thought of a Pikachu carrying her little figure in his paws was something she could only dream of! Or would she be carried on his back? Either way, it didn't matter to her. The pure joy threatening to exert itself as a squeal prevented any time for thinking. Besides, what possible drawback could accepting this offer have?

    She leaned herself forward to make her disguise's head slowly lower in a nod. Afterwards, she found herself getting lifted up and put down to where she could see past Sitrus' shoulders. Back ride it was, then.

    "You're… surprisingly light…" She heard Sitrus say. "Are you lacking on your berries or something?"

    "Er…" Mimi hesitated. "Now that you mention it… I guess I'm hungry…"

    "Oh, right!" Sitrus responded, getting down on all fours and facing ahead. "Hang on, Mimi! You'll get your Berries soon! Sunny's place is this way!"

    Sitrus then broke into a fairly quick pace that wasn't too overwhelming to Mimi as he dashed into the main area of passing Pokémon. Mimi took the opportunity to gently cling onto the fur of Sitrus' back beneath her costume, silently squealing with glee at the warm fur in her grip.

    'It's like those Pikachu dolls… but better!'

    Mimi then looked around herself to see the groups of passing Electric species now that she was in their midst. Several of them turned their heads towards her vision, some of them even raising eyebrows. Every face passed casted strange looks towards her, but only mildly suspicious at best. Even still, their reactions caused worry to swell within the Mimikyu.

    'I-I mean… I know I'm an odd looking Pikachu… but…' She tore her gaze away and shook her head. 'No, no… I can still make myself fit in… maybe I can make some touches to my costume… and then maybe I can fix my electricity problem by getting my hands on a Thunderbolt or Thunder Wave TM or something…'

    She turned towards the still-pacing Sitrus as he continued swerving between passerbys. "Hey… Sitrus? So where's this Raichu, again?" She glanced at the several Raichu around. "Couldn't she be one of the ones walking around?"

    "Oh, those Raichu? No, no, she's not one of them," he replied. "All of those other Raichu were released from traveling Trainers and found their way here. Thunderstones aren't that easy for us wild Pokémon to find, after all. But Sunny… well, you know what, you should just see for yourself. Reactions are more fun that way."

    Mimi's attention was then caught when Sitrus' pace came to a stop. She looked ahead to see that they've stopped in front of a door. Hopping off of Sitrus' back (rather reluctantly), Mimi took a step back to get a better look. The hut they've stopped at was large enough to be deemed one of the more 'professional' looking ones by Mimi, even having a neatly placed wooden door much taller than her with a doorknob, several openings on the walls which Mimi presumed were windows, and the like. It looked so well-built to the point where it left an impression on Mimi's mind. Maybe the hut was too well-built for something that must've been made with bare paws.

    Before Mimi could wonder about it any further, Sitrus stepped forward on his hind legs and gave the door a knock. A few seconds of silence followed.

    It suddenly occurred to Mimi that this would be a Raichu she'd be meeting. And one that was apparently "different", at that. The fear of being given a suspicious look up close came to her. As soon as the doorknob started to turn, she quickly shuffled behind Sitrus. Carefully, she peeked over his shoulder as the door slowly opened and mentally readied herself. Her efforts left her greeted by…

    … nothing. The door opened wide with its opener absent.

    Feeling a mix of relief and confusion come to her, Mimi slowly shuffled out from behind Sitrus. The Pikachu chuckled. "Don't worry, Mimi. Sunny almost always does this whenever she gets a visit. Let's go in."

    'We just… head in?'

    Hesitantly, Mimi shuffles forward past the door to be greeted by the sight of a single large room. The first details that caught her eyes were the variety of colours taking up the spaces on the room's shelves. Upon closer inspection, they seemed to be assorted Berries in jars, lining each corner of the circular room. Judging from how they weren't assorted by colour when Mimi spotted blue Oran Berries and yellow Sitrus Berries on the same shelf, the Mimikyu assumed they were lined according to effect. Someone with this neat a room would arrange it in such a way, she supposed.

    The neatly lined piles of straw by the vaguely resembling little beds confirmed Mimi's neatness suspicion. If that wasn't enough, a desk, something Mimi wouldn't dare expect to find this deep in a forest, sat on the opposite end from where the beds lay. It was by this desk that Mimi spotted Sunny herself, who emerged from behind it and started heading their way.

    The very impression Sunny gave Mimi as she approached her and Sitrus left her surprised. Indeed, this Raichu was not like the others. In all the stories Mimi heard about Pikachu back home, none of them mentioned evolving into blue-eyed Raichu who levitate on their tails like Psychic types would. She would think she would've battled one of these Raichu as well, but her own surprise proved this was not the case.

    The Raichu levitated to a stop in front of the two and gave them a warm smile. "Hi, Sitrus. Back from breakfast, I see. And is this a new friend of yours?"

    Mimi felt her tension completely slip away once Sunny spoke. The Raichu's tone was just as warm and welcoming as her expression, giving off a "don't worry, you're safe" vibe. Another quick glance around the Berry-lined shelves and straw beds gave Mimi the assumption that this Raichu was a nurse or healer of some sort. The tone certainly helped.

    "Hi, Sunny!" Sitrus responded. He motioned his paws towards the Mimikyu in a 'ta-da' manner. "This is Mimi! I found her in the forest!"

    Mimi paused. '... when a Carnivine suddenly attacked? No? Not even going to add that part?'

    Sunny directed her gaze to Mimi. "Hi, Mimi."

    Mimi suddenly widened her eyes at the realization that it was her turn to talk. She had to give off a good first impression matching that of Sunny's. She couldn't afford to mess this up-

    "H-Hi, I'm Mimi. Nice to meet you, Sunny." She let her disguise head perform a polite bow.

    '... did you have to add that first part? Sitrus already introduced you…' The realization of her little slip-up left her blushing with embarrassment under her costume.

    "Likewise." Sunny giggled a bit. "It's nice to see another… fresh face around here."

    Mimi raised an eyebrow at hearing her brief trailing off. She may have met this friendly Raichu just a few seconds ago, but something about that pause seemed oddly uncharacteristic.

    "Hey, Sunny!" Sitrus' eager tone snapped her out of her thoughts. "You can help Mimi, right?"

    "Help?" Her expression gave way to a raised eyebrow. "Ah… help."

    Mimi suddenly recalled every problem with her Sitrus mentioned in the berry clearing. If this supposed nurse Raichu were to try to fix any of them, say, like trying to fix her mouth or her lack of electricity, her disguise jig would be up! She needed to get a word in, fast!

    She blurted out the most manageable problem in her head. "A-Actually, I could do with some Berries. I'm hungry."

    Sunny's eyes lit up at Mimi's voice. "Ah, hungry, are you? Don't worry, I'll get you some Oran Berries…" She levitated off to her shelves.

    'Whew… at least hunger is an issue that I could actually use some help with…'

    Mimi sighed to herself in relief, but her breathing was cut short when the next problem was presented to her in the form of Sunny holding handful of small Oran Berries her way. She had to eat these Berries somehow, right? But her disguise's head would prove no use, so…

    "Can you… uh… drop the Berries on the floor?"

    She was met with raised eyebrows from both Sitrus and Sunny, making her wish she never spoke. Shortly afterwards, the soft thumps of Berries falling against wood came to her ears, the Oran Berries now completely level with her sight. Hastily, she drew a shadowy tendril forward and grabbed as many as she can before bringing the hazy appendage back underneath her disguise.

    Relief swept her as the feeling of rejuvenation coursed through her entire figure bite after bite. As she glanced back up at the two Electric types watching her, she prayed to Arceus that their looks wouldn't get any stranger.

    Unfortunately, this was not the case. Sunny's previous look completely shifted to that of surprised concern. "That's… erm…" She feigned a cough. "... quite the interesting way to eat Berries…"

    What was even stranger about Sitrus' look was that he looked amazed rather than shocked. "I have never seen any other Pikachu do that with their hind paws… That's so cool…"

    "A-Anyways," Sunny quickly shook her head, her friendly smile returning. "Sitrus, I do believe that's all I can help Mimi with at the moment."

    "T-That's it?" Sitrus replied. "Not even going to help her with her arms or mouth or anything?"

    Sunny shrugged. "Come on, Sitrus. I may be the closest thing to a nurse this forest has, but I'm not that much of a surgeon. Besides, Mimi sounds like she's fine."

    Mimi raised an eyebrow. She wasn't a medical expert in the slightest, but she knew that the excuse of 'sounding like she's fine' doesn't fix missing arms. Either Sunny was just as daft as the PIkachu present in the room, or…

    Mimi suddenly realized something as Sunny gazed towards her. Her look still bore the same friendly vibes as it did a while ago, kind eyes staring right at Mimi. That very detail completely slipped every friendly thought Mimi had of Sunny just like that. Sunny was aiming her gaze right at Mimi's eyes; not down at the floor or even above at her disguise's head. Realizing this, Mimi tried her best not to show her newfound paranoia-induced fear through her eyes.

    At last, Sunny tore her gaze away from Mimi to face Sitrus. "So, Sitrus, while it was nice of you to visit, I'm afraid I don't have any errands for you today."

    Sitrus' ears drooped with his expression. "Oh… so does that mean I'm left with nothing else to do for the day?"

    Sunny giggled, raising an eyebrow. "Nothing else better to do? Don't you still have to show your new friend around?"

    As Sitrus' expression perked back up at that mention, Mimi herself raised an eyebrow at Sunny's statement. 'Friend? I mean, I know Sitrus carried me on his back and everything, but I don't know if I would call him a friend-'

    Sunny's gaze then drifted back to Mimi, the sudden stare enough to send a chill through the Mimikyu. "Wouldn't you like that, Mimi?"

    'Eep! Then again, I guess it'd be better to take any excuse I can to get away from this Raichu… I think I've already made myself look suspicious in her eyes…' Mimi quickly let her disguise nod for her.

    And with that, Mimi was whisked excitedly out of the door by an eager Sitrus after a goodbye wave from Sunny. While it did mean that Mimi would probably be spending the day led around by this Pikachu, at least it was better than potentially getting ratted out by Sunny. Or any other Pikachu or Raichu in particular.

    As Mimi made her way back to the clearing's grass with Sitrus, for once she felt thankful for his naive behaviour. The fact that he witnessed her Play Rough and Berry eating but still didn't show a hint of suspicion oddly comforted her.

    'Though… maybe it's all just a ruse. Maybe there's something darker behind that innocent outlook… After all, I'm one to know about that kind of stuff.' The sneaking suspicion of the possibility suddenly came to her mind.

    This was the exact case with Sunny. Her stare may have seemed innocent, as with everything else about her, but as soon as Mimi noticed that Sunny was looking directly at her, that stare suddenly went from "don't be afraid" to "I know who you are". It was a stare that wasn't like any of the confused stares she got prior the encounter. And if Sunny really did know who Mimi was…

    The thought of another encounter with the Raichu made Mimi quiver. Afterwards, she quickly steeled herself with a huff. All this thought about who she can't trust made her think of who she can trust at the moment.

    And right now, the closest Pokémon to fitting that role is the eager Pikachu waiting for her to follow.

    'I guess things could be worse. At least I'm not being forced to... to...'

    She shook the thought away.
    Chapter 2 - Star of the Night

    By the time Sitrus and Mimi made it back to the forest clearing from their Berry trek, the sun had already tucked itself into bed, as did all the other Pikachu. The sight of the once-bustling clearing now completely barren left Mimi perplexed at first. It would've made her feel as if they ended up in the wrong clearing if it weren't for the faint outlines of each hut standing out. After all, she did spend a large portion of the day getting taught by Sitrus which hut was which before they headed out for Berries. Though, Mimi did find it strange that no one even acknowledged Sitrus all the while, not even a passing "hi" or anything. But this suspicion was just all in her mind, she supposed. It could just be that her own obscure appearance proved to be a distraction.

    Whatever the case, at least the prolonged "tour" that led to this moment gave Mimi plenty of time for her next objective: socializing. If she really were to stay in this forest, suspicious Raichu lurking or not, she figured long-term goals (she giggled at the silly thought) would come to her eventually. Until then, she would have to get to actually making proper impressions to this forest's residents, starting with the Pikachu she had to spend the rest of her day with.

    While at first Sitrus gave off quite the airheaded impression, spending more time with him gave Mimi time for his personality to grow on her. Sitrus' eagerness in showing his new "friend" around eventually grew contagious to the point where even Mimi started sharing his bubbly behaviour at times. It didn't make her speech sound the most dignified, but it helped in engaging in the conversation that led them back home.

    Sitrus yawned as they both stood by the empty clearing. "Looks pretty different when it's nighttime, doesn't it?"

    The yawn spread to her. "Just looks like any other forest clearing… well, except for the huts, that is."

    A chuckle came from Sitrus. "So… speaking of huts, you feeling tired? I can lead you back to Sunny's if you'd like."

    The very idea shocked Mimi out of her drowsiness. Of course she'd have to stay with that Raichu. She was technically "disabled" in Sitrus' eyes, and Sunny was technically this clan's best source of patching up, so it didn't take her long to realize this. Mimi grimaced at the thought of spending the night in this makeshift "emergency room". Sunny was the last Pokémon she wanted to spend the night with at the moment.

    "It's not like I'm that tired," Mimi feigned, holding back an unfinished yawn. "Don't you… have… any other places you could show me?

    'Preferably someplace roomy?'

    An uncharacteristically serious frown made its way onto Sitrus' face as he facing ahead. His blank stare conveyed deep thinking. "... you know what, sure. One more place before I call it a day." He turned back to face Mimi, his smile returning. "Follow me."

    The Pikachu broke into a dash on all fours, making his way through the short grass towards the direction of a hut.

    "W-Wait up!" She hurriedly shuffled after him.

    After a bit of catching up to Sitrus' running figure, Mimi met up with him in front of one of the more shabbier looking huts. It was on the shorter side, bearing only two or three windows, with a door and roof that didn't really look like it had much headroom for a Pokémon larger than a Pikachu. She immediately recognized this one in particular.

    "Your… hut?" She asked. "But didn't you already show me what your hut looked like?"

    "This isn't the place," Sitrus replied, smile still present. He made his way to the side of the hut to a narrow passageway of tall grass. His head poked out and gave Mimi a beckoning look. "Come on, it's this way."

    Mimi raised a curious eyebrow and made her way through the spacing between Sitrus' hut and the one next to it. The taller grass proved a bit troublesome for her to traverse from how low to the ground her eye level was, but after a bit of more shuffling, she managed to find her way back to Sitrus after catching his tail enter a nearby bush.

    'We aren't going Berry hunting in the middle of the night, are we?'

    When she emerged from the bush, she was greeted with a sight that left her speechless. What layers forest shade lingering above gave way to the wide stretch of the dark night sky, dotted with stars as far as the eye can see. Right ahead of the Mimikyu was an outstretched land of grassy plains, the soft blades gently swaying with the passing breeze. Mimi took a deep breath and let herself take in the tranquil atmosphere. It felt magical. She saw what starry nights looked like from time to time through a window, but the feeling of actually being where the starry night was felt new to her. As she exhaled, she felt her previous worries slip away.

    'I really need to thank Sitrus for this…'

    Her thoughts suddenly shifted to the PIkachu. She mentally kicked herself for letting her short period of sightseeing leave her off track. The idea of calling out to him came to her mind, but she quickly dismissed it when she noticed a familiar figure standing by what looks to be where the plains end.

    'There!'

    Once Mimi hastily shuffled through the long stretch of plains and over to Sitrus' side, she quickly regretted her pace when she saw Sitrus was indeed standing by the plains' edge. Right past it was a steep drop where the grassy ground shifted to that of a rocky cliff, unforgiving ocean depths awaiting at the distant bottom.

    She heard Sitrus chuckle as she reoriented herself. "Hey, don't go falling now. Falling is bad. Especially here."

    "No kidding…" Mimi quickly straightened her posture and took a few steps back. "So… is this the place you wanted to show me?"

    Sitrus responded with a hum of approval. As he did so and continued staring off into the sky, Mimi noticed something different about the look in his eyes. They didn't convey the usual eager energy, but rather, they appeared more relaxed and focused on the sky above. It was a surprising transition that suddenly made him look mature in Mimi's eyes.

    The PIkachu kept his gaze focused upon the stars. "Cool place, huh?" He chuckled. "Good thing I built my little hut right next to the pathway here. Otherwise I wouldn't have this special view all to myself."

    "So… this place is secluded?" Mimi asked.

    "You could say that. I do appear to be the only one who comes here often. Only during the night, though. Without forest shade, coming here in daytime is just asking to be predator bait." A hint of his eager tone returned. "But… you know, there is another reason why I only come here during the night." He slowly turned to Mimi with a smile. "Can you guess?"

    It didn't even take Mimi a second to recall the most captivating part of this area. She let her Pikachu head fall back to make it look like as if it were gazing upwards. "It's the stars."

    Sitrus' grin grew slightly wider as he nodded. "That's right…" His expression shifted back once more. "There's just… something about seeing them all… perfectly lined up as it they were meant to be there or something…"

    Mimi looked up as well and took in the stars again. She marveled once more at how well the bright dotting stars went with the expanse of the dark blue night. The whole sky loomed endlessly over and around them like a blanket. A blanket that Mimi could only yearn to make a costume out of.

    "I know what you mean…" She commented, letting the astonished wonder show in her voice.

    "It's like it's… calling out to me, you know?" Sitrus continued. "It's like the night sky wouldn't be the same even if one star were missing… It's like they're all important. I… I wanna be like one of those stars, shining up in the sky like that."

    Now Mimi really was surprised at Sitrus' transition in tone. He went from ignorant Pikachu to surprisingly perceptive Berry collector to insightful sky gazer all in one day. Perhaps there was more to the Pikachu than he initially let on…

    "Or, well, that's what my mom told me about the stars whenever we saw the night sky, heh." He chuckled a bit before taking what was a wistful sigh.

    Mimi spoke up and raised an eyebrow. "Your… mom… do you mean Sunny?"

    He in turn raised an eyebrow as well before chuckling again. "She's… not my mom. Or my sister, cousin, aunt… or dad… did I leave anything out?"

    "Er…" Mimi decided not to press on those other choices. "So to clarify, Sunny isn't your mom, or anyone related to you for that matter?"

    A halfhearted chuckle escaped Sitrus' mouth. "She's just a close friend of mine. Always looking out for me and stuff. Better than how all the other Pikachu treat me, I always say."

    Mimi became even more curious. On something regarding Sitrus, no less. Now she had the urge to ask him even more questions, but at the same time, the option of sympathy presented itself.

    She quivered as indecisiveness washed over her. 'Er… on second thought, maybe I should give up this socialization thing… I never had to actually take the initiative to do this kind of stuff back home…'

    With a silent huff, Mimi quickly dismissed the thought. Even if she could just bail on him right now, she wasn't heartless.

    'I… I'm not heartless…' Mimi slowly looked down and let her claws peek out from her disguise. In the moonlight present, she could see the dark shadowy tips of her appendages almost glisten. Still as sharp as ever. Even if this very detail threatened to provoke chills, Mimi still found some solace in how clean her claws were.

    A memory threatened to come to her mind. She quickly shook it away. 'They're all wrong… I'm not heartless…'

    She directed her stare to Sitrus to see him still staring off into the distance, his face now left blank and unreadable. Slowly, the Mimikyu inched closer to him so that her left appendage was within his reach. Sitrus didn't even seem to stir or notice as she did so, allowing Mimi time to perform her next step. She slowly extended an appendage forward and let its 'palm' part slowly stroke Sitrus' back fur. Before Sitrus could stir, she immediately backed up her gesture with words.

    "If… it helps, I'm still listening." This time, she took the initiative to look right back up at him through her disguise. Even if it wasn't likely that Sitrus would look back at the true sympathy in her eyes('Did I really cut these eye openings to be that small?'), it was the gesture that counted. "That counts for something, right?"

    She could see a faint smile form on Sitrus' expression as the Pikachu faced her. He didn't face her real eyes, but just seeing a bit of his usual expression come back still swelled relief within her.

    "Thanks."

    Sitrus' expression then dropped when a breeze blew by. Mimi felt the cool graze over her several times before, but too much of a cool breeze isn't always a good thing. That showed in Sitrus' expression.

    Mimi could feel Sitrus tremble under her touch. "I'd say we've been standing here long enough," He said. "Being away from the forest shade to look at the sky is nice and all, it gets cold here after a while. That, and you're also left wide open to nocturnal predators."

    The sensation of shivering presented itself to Mimi as well. "You're not wrong about that cold part…" A sudden jolt of realization perked her attention. "Wait, what preda-"

    Mimi quickly cut herself off as her shriek disappeared into the night, leaving an awkward silence to follow.

    She lowered her outburst to a whisper. "Did you just say nocturnal predators?! As in, 'predators that could get the jump on us right here right now' predators?!"

    Sitrus merely chuckled and gave a dismissive wave. "Relax, not only have I never actually seen one up close, but we migrated recently so-"

    Mimi cut him off by mockingly imitating his wave with an appendage. "Yeah, yeah, 'so it's not like any other predators are able to find us at this current moment', I know." She limited her outburst to that very statement. Yelling was an option, but she couldn't just completely lash out at the Pikachu she just started feeling sorry for.

    Sitrus' smile grew with a hint of cluelessness. "Glad you understand. I was mostly kidding about that nocturnal predators part… I think. So shall we head back?"

    Just to make sure, Mimi quickly glanced around before letting her PIkachu head nod.

    With a satisfied smile on his face, Sitrus went back to running on all fours as Mimi did her best to catch up with her shuffling.

    Out of the plains and on the way back into the safe clearing of shade. Even given Mimi's Ghost typing, lurkers of the shadow like her still need to get some shut eye.

    The realization of the situation almost jolted her out of her drowsiness again. Here she was, now back at the clearing with Sitrus, yet she still hasn't worked out how not to come across the dreaded Raichu again. Stalling by asking for more sightseeing would do her no good at this point.

    "Well…" Sitrus yawned. "... here… we are."

    As she followed Sitrus through the space between his own hut and the one next to it, she suddenly remembered something as she did so. There were a whole bunch of huts around her, looking obviously crafted by their Pikachu residents! She could just build a hut of her own! After all, the crooked crayon masterpiece of her disguise is living proof of her competence in the art. If she could just find materials, perhaps she can construct a reasonable-looking shelter that wouldn't look too shabby-

    "I'll get going now… as should you…" She suddenly heard Sitrus' sleepy voice behind her, followed by a yawn. "Good night Mimi…"

    A new series of thoughts suddenly flurried in the Mimikyu's mind. Building a hut would mean she'd have to stay up even longer. Craftsmanship isn't to be taken with a sleepy mind, either. Where in this clearing would room for an extra hut be, anyway?

    The easier solution came to her mind. She let out an audible sigh and quickly turned around to see Sitrus starting to open his door.

    "Sitrus… do you mind… if I stay with you?" She tried to blurt out her nervous request as hastily as possible.

    The Pikachu merely put his door opening with a pause as he stared at Mimi with a surprised look. Fortunately for Mimi, his silent response shifted to his usual smile. "Not at Sunny's? Well… I'm flattered. It's not often I get company. Come on in."

    'Yes!' Even if the idea was awkward in its own right, it was better than sleeping with any of the Pikachu strangers who greeted her with nothing but odd looks that morning. Mimi shuffled after Sitrus through the open door.

    The Mimikyu did a quick check at the room around her. Two "windows" on each side of the dome-shaped space, and a single straw bed lying around the center area. Her attention was then caught by a large pile of straw on one end of the room, undoubtedly the same material used to make the beds. She hastily shuffled over to the pile and got to making a straw bed of her own, smoothing out the straw with her appendages to make it look as much like the ones she saw in Sunny's house.

    Once her bed appeared to be around the short height Sitrus' bed was a few meters away, she let herself topple onto it. The first thought that came to her mind was how surprisingly soft it was. The straw didn't poke at her disguise, but it instead caught her like a patch of soft grass. Combined with how her costume felt like a blanket when she lied down like this, she felt like she would melt away into dreamland the second she closed her eyes…

    "Oh. That was quick."

    The sudden sound of Sitrus' voice shocked her back to consciousness. She quickly turned onto her side to see him lying down on his own bed, smiling back at her a few meters away.

    Sitrus let out a chuckle, sounding quiet from drowsiness. "Excited, are you? Usually it takes me a few seconds to adjust to the dark surroundings before I make my bed. But don't worry, I get it. You must be really tired if you'd rather stay here than take the trouble to walk back to Sunny's place."

    Mimi quickly opened her mouth to respond but ends up cutting herself off. 'Er… well, I guess I got the work of coming up with an excuse cut out for me…'

    "Though I do still appreciate your company," He continued. "Just wanted to let you know."

    "Er… yeah… thanks for letting me stay." Mimi tried her best to return the response. She let herself sink face-first into the straw. "This bed is so soooooft…"

    "Oh, that straw is special," She heard Sitrus reply. "But don't worry, I don't mind that you just… uh… up and made a bed out of it."

    "Special, huh?" Mimi lifted her face from the straw. "Where'd you get this stuff?"

    "I… uh… heh, I don't know where they got it. I just keep it." Mimi noticed Sitrus' expression and tone waver a bit.

    Mimi raised an eyebrow. "They?"

    Sitrus quickly turned over onto his side, leaving his back turned. "I just… keep it because I know they'll come back one day… but that's a story for another time. Good night, Mimi."

    Mimi was just cut short of speaking up once again. Sitrus' figure fell asleep, just like that. With an ambiguous answer, too. Maybe she shouldn't press on any further; it's not like she was practically dying to learn everything about this PIkachu. Yet, why did a curiosity threatening to break out say otherwise? Everything she's recalled about Sitrus, from his words by the cliff plains and his stash of straw despite a rarity of guests… he can't possibly be linked to that, can he?

    The Mimikyu clenched her eyes shut as a shudder forced itself through her body. She was just taken to a clan full of the Pokémon she looked up to! She should be happy! Relieved! So why did she still feel uneasy?

    Once more, Mimi tried to shake away her thoughts. Now was the time to enjoy every bit of what she had, not to feel scared of the possible mishaps to come of it.

    "Good night, Sitrus…" She finally muttered.
    Chapter 3 - Left In Pieces

    She ran away from her former home and was taken in to a forest of Pikachu. Now that she'd found her new home, Mimi had all the time in the world to start anew. Nothing to worry about as long as she kept her cool.

    Now was the time to enjoy every bit of what she had, not to feel scared of the possible mishaps to come of it.

    So try to enjoy she did.

    Once again like the last mornings, Mimi found herself shuffling through the clearing and made her way towards one of the passing Pikachu. Looked around to be a bit taller than Sitrus, and judging from his tail ending in a bolt, he was male as well. Mimi found her next target for her daily routine.

    "Hi!"

    Her greeting caught the Pikachu by surprise, almost making him jump as he turned around to face the head of her disguise. "Uh… hiya… oh. Y-You're that Pikachu, aren't you? The… uh… armless one?"

    "That's me!" Mimi proclaimed, almost proudly. "I'm Mimi! Do you have a name too, or are you one of the others who like their species name more than the name they were given at birth?"

    "I'm… going to have to say the latter." The Pikachu hesitated. "I… don't really know how to talk to girls… So do we… shake paws? Wait, no, sorry… um… spark tails?"

    "Neither will do, it's alright if you're nervous!" Mimi's cheerful tone remained as a chuckle escaped her mouth. "So tell me about yourself!"

    The Pikachu's nervous frown remained as he scratched the back of his head. "I… don't really have much to talk about… Unlike you, I'm… not that interesting."

    "So you've heard about me?" Mimi raised an eyebrow.

    "Overheard from the others, yes… For the past week, they've been catching glances of you running up to random Pikachu every morning and introducing yourself out of nowhere before running away… and now here you are…" The Pikachu nervously glanced around. "I'm not… the next victim of some haunted conspiracy, am I?"

    "Don't be silly!" Mimi let her disguise head cock to the side to imply friendliness. "I'm not some pesky Ghost type or anything!"

    The Pikachu looked as if he wanted to back away. "Y-You sure? You don't even have arms! Shouldn't you be sleeping in Sunny's emergency room or something?"

    Mimi almost shuddered at the mention of the Raichu, but she fortunately managed to hide the urge. "I'm fine sleeping on my own! I'm even proud of the little hut I made and everything!"

    The Pikachu leaned to the side, presumably to look over Mimi's shoulder, before he raised an eyebrow. "Oh… I was wondering who that small hut of leaves belonged to…" He slowly turned back to face the Mimi still intently staring at him. "So… er… Mimi… I'll just… go Berry hunting for breakfast now… alone, preferably…"

    "No way!" Mimi exclaimed with amazement. "I was just thinking the same thing! Except that alone part! Well, bye, new friend!"

    "Er… bye…"

    Satisfied with herself, Mimi circled in place and started shuffling away. She took a deep breath, and when she exhaled, her expression completely dropped.

    'Arceus, glad I finally got that over with…'

    She made her way through the crowds of passing Pikachu and ended up by a waiting Sitrus.

    "So how'd it go?" He chuckled. "He looked scared."

    "This socialization thing is harder than I imagined it to be…" Mimi said with a sigh, letting the whine in her voice show. "At least now I can strike 'exaggerated cheerfulness' from the personality list… and put it in the 'do not ever use' list where 'flirtatious' is…"

    Sitrus smiled at her. "Flirtatious. I vividly remember watching that daily routine. Was that… two days? Three days ago? Well, judging from how amused that Raichu looked, I don't think it was that embarrassing of a performance." He raised an eyebrow. "Though… I also do remember not seeing you heading back to your hut that night… Did you go sleep somewhere else overnight or something?"

    The intricate details resurfaced. 'Thank goodness it was really dark that night… wait, wait, wait, what am I thinking?!'

    The memory got Mimi flustered and almost warranted another shudder. Now was not the time to bring that up. "Er, nowhere important! Anyways! Sitrus! Berry hunting?"

    The Pikachu nodded. "Ready as always."

    Mimi followed after Sitrus as he led her through the usual path they've been taking for breakfast Berry hunting. This was another part of the daily routine she became used to. Start off by experimenting with her socialization plan, then proceed by going Berry hunting with her very first Pikachu friend, Sitrus. The establishment of this routine was a bit awkward for the two of them to get used to, but with enough small talk, Mimi felt herself getting used to him.

    "So that Pikachu from before…" Sitrus spoke up as he led her through a familiarly traversed series of bushes. "… did he mention Sunny this time?"

    "Just like all the others…" Mimi replied with a tone of disappointment. "You don't think I'll actually have to go back to see her again, right?"

    "Well… you probably have to at some point, you know? I know I haven't even seen you bleed once, but… still! You could just fall over and suddenly stop moving! Okay, I guess finally building your house and making sure it has the 'right touches' is important, but so is your life!" Sitrus pulled to a stop on the grassy pathway they've been walking on, facing Mimi with a stern look.

    Mimi caught herself in a continuous loop of speaking up and not speak up. Sitrus just named her very excuse not to visit Sunny while he looked for errands but still put her on the spot. "I've been fine up to this point, alright? I'm sure there's no need for a checkup."

    Sitrus' concerned look stirred for a bit he finally gave up with a sigh and continued moving forward. "If you say so, then. I guess we shouldn't really be arguing at a time like this. I'm sorry."

    A feeling of guilt swelled up within Mimi as she continued following Sitrus. His suggestion to bring her to Sunny was for her own good (in his eyes at least), yet she still replied with a hint of malice despite his good intentions. She wasn't that type of Pokémon at heart.

    'Well, being part Ghost, I'm not sure I actually have a heart, but I'm not going to cut myself open to find out… Wait, can I even cut myself open?' She shook her head.

    One thing's for certain, she wasn't heartless in attitude. At this point, Sitrus was the only Pokémon she could safely say she had the most trust for, or even her closest friend, even if he was still unaware of her true identity. He was the only Pikachu that actually stuck around after a dose of Mimi's experimental first impressions, after all.

    She drew out an appendage and let it tap his shoulder while he was picking some Berries. "Hey… Sitrus?"

    In response, the Pikachu turned around with a handful of Oran Berries, his usual smile plastered on his face. "Oh, you want first dibs? Here, I was planning on giving you the bigger ones, anyway."

    Mimi shook her disguise head. "Actually, no, that's not what I want to talk about…"

    "Oh!" Sitrus' grin grew wider. "So are you saying I can take the bigger Berries?"

    The urge to deadpan right then and there came to Mimi. "Well… okay, go ahead, take the Berries, but just hear me out."

    Sitrus already got to plopping the Berries into his mouth. "Go on…" He said between chews. "I'm listening."

    "Alright…" Mimi stopped to take a deep breath. She mustn't speak about her next statements carelessly. The secret of her identity is at risk if she mentions her reasons for not wanting to encounter Sunny. She must tread carefully with her words. "Sitrus, I'm scared of Sunny."

    'Okay, maybe not in that way, but-'

    Sitrus' expression froze as if his mouth would've dropped open if it weren't for the Berries inside it. He slowly raised an eyebrow. "You're… scared? Of… Sunny?"

    Mimi slowly let her head nod. 'Oh, if only you knew…'

    Sitrus gulped down his mouthful of Berries as eyes slightly widened with astonishment. "Guess… Sunny will have to hear about this… She has been talking to me about you-"

    "Wait, she what?!" Mimi squealed, her eyes widening as well. How could she have not realized this before?!

    'Oh, of course! Sitrus spends every day heading to Sunny to check for errands so of course she would have talked to him about me!' She mentally kicked herself for not factoring this in sooner.

    Mimi took a deep breath to calm herself down. As she exhaled, she found Sitrus staring right at her disguise head with a confused expression.

    "Look… Sitrus…" Mimi recollected her words. "How long has Sunny been doing this? And… what has she been talking about, if you don't mind?"

    Sitrus' nervous stare still remained, reflecting in his tone as well. "She's… been talking about you every time I visit her… but don't worry! She's only been asking curious little questions and all that stuff! And I still didn't tell her on how the Leppa Berries are your favorite!"

    Mimi raised an eyebrow. Surely there must've been more to this story. "Are… you sure?"

    Sitrus crossed his arms, a frown forming on his face. "You know… I just noticed how pushy you're being about this. Why are you scared of Sunny, again?"

    The Mimikyu found herself at a loss for words. She couldn't believe that her digging for answers would be halted when the drill itself decided to retaliate. Sitrus was her friend, sure, but she was the one asking the important questions here. She could just give up her line of questioning and let Sitrus off the hook, but…

    'No!' she thought. Mimi needed to be the bigger Pokémon here. Right now was the time to exert authority for her own sake. For her own sake.

    Mimi took a deep breath. 'Authority… for my own sake. Authority… for my own sake!' The very words echoed in her head. Bad memories were on the verge of tormenting her again, but at the same time, a wave of newfound resolve found itself coming to Mimi. She would speak up for herself, despite whatever fears she had in the coming response.

    "Sitrus, I asked first." She let the sternness in her voice show. An appendage drew out from her disguise, curled into a fist-like shape, and forcefully slammed itself down on the grass. "Answer."

    For a second, Mimi's sudden tone drew out a deep raspiness in her voice, which was presumably the winning factor in earning Sitrus' now-terrified expression, even going as far as making him tremble.

    "O-Okay, okay, I'll talk!" He slowly took a step back, waving his paws defensively. "She wasn't asking any super personal questions or anything, I swear! She just sounded like she was genuinely curious about you as an individual!"

    Mimi's tone calmed down as she mustered a neutral tone. "That's… it? Nothing like… warnings?"

    "Warnings?" Sitrus' expression loosened as he raised an eyebrow. "I know you might look a bit weird to the others, considering you don't have any arms or a moving mouth, but I don't think you're that hideous. I'm sure Sunny thinks so too. Besides, what's on the inside is what really defines what's hideous and what's not."

    Another moment of surprise in less than an hour. Even in the week that she took to know Sitrus, she still wasn't used to him breaking character to say something insightful.

    'What's on the inside…' Mimi shuddered at the thought. Both metaphorically and literally, there was nothing but darkness on her part, and she hated it.

    She spoke up in an attempt to keep the topic going. "Let me guess. Was it your mother who told you that?"

    Sitrus straightened his posture and expression, putting his hands to his sides in a proud pose. "Nope! It was my dad! I don't blame you, though. The two of them really did share similar thoughts. They were also good at giving advice that cheers others up, too."

    Again with the mention of Sitrus' parents. Almost every insightful remark Sitrus made in the time Mimi knew him was just him quoting his mother or father. The Mimikyu didn't mind. She actually found herself becoming genuinely interested in meeting them.

    'Okay, I guess now would be a good time to let the Sunny topic go…' A wave of relief washed over Mimi.

    "Where are your parents, anyway?" she asked.

    "Heheh… I was wondering when you'd question that," A sheepish smile formed on Sitrus' face. "I have no idea where they went."

    Mimi blinked, taking a second to process what Sitrus just said. "Wait, did they… head out somewhere or something?"

    'This better not be what I think it is…'

    "That's right. It was just the two of them, too."

    Sitrus' response struck Mimi like a Shadow Claw to her disguise's chest. 'O-Okay, I guess that explains the living alone part… but… it can't be, right?'

    Even with her brief moment of shock, Mimi still decided to press onward for clarification.

    "Did they… ever come back?"

    "They never did…" Sitrus let out a weak chuckle. "... but I'm still waiting for them. I still have their straw beds for when they finally come back from… wherever they headed out to."

    'No… no, no, no, no, no!' The very response struck Mimi even harder. Glimpses of the very memories she tried to keep away washed all over her tainted conscience. Now she was the one quivering with fear as she desperately tried to shake her thoughts away.

    "Mimi!" The Mimikyu opened her clenched eyes to see Sitrus giving her shaking figure a concerned stare. "Mimi, what's wrong?"

    Slowly, she took a deep breath and attempted to exhale the fear-induced chills enveloping her. Her quivering calmed for the most part, but a slight shiver still remained. 'One… more… question…'

    The puzzle pieces already formed themselves enough to the point where the final result was clear enough, yet the full picture was missing one part. It was a longshot, but Mimi hoped that her last question wasn't the correct fragment that completed the terrifying image.

    Mimi cleared her throat, composing her calmest tone. "Sitrus, how… long ago… did your parents head out?"

    Sitrus put a paw to his chin as his gaze trailed off. "I remember it being a few days before we migrated… so it was around a little more than a week ago… A few days before you stumbled into me, actually."

    There it was. Mimi's luck just so happened to be unlucky enough to complete this puzzle. A puzzle bearing a picture Mimi never wanted to recall here of all places.

    Right next to him of all Pokémon.

    The memory came back in full force. The images. The voices. The orders. The screams. The blood. The guilt. Within her disguise, Mimi clutched her face with her claws, trying her best to hold back a scream. The hollow sounds of her memories echoed all around the cramped area within her disguise, each echo growing in volume to the point where-

    "Mimi?! Mimi!"

    A familiar voice past the depths of Mimi's mind called out to her, possessing a volume barely louder than the other voices. Mimi snapped out of her panic-induced trance to catch her hastened breathing and Sitrus' worried stare.

    "Mimi? What was that all about?" The Pikachu asked. "Is everything okay?"

    Judging from how Sitrus didn't immediately lean on an excuse for the cause of her panic, Mimi assumed he didn't have the foggiest idea what Mimi's line of questioning actually meant. Rightfully so, Mimi supposed. Such a truth would crush him, after all. But would telling him the truth be the right thing to do?

    Mimi slowly let her breathing slow down and let what noise it took up give way to the sounds of the area's rustling. "Sitrus… I…"

    'Wait… rustling?'

    The sound cue was enough to signal Mimi of the imminent danger. She quickly took notice the stirring Berry bush behind Sitrus and yanked the Pikachu away from it with an appendage. They both stumbled in the process, but just in time to avoid a pair of green jaws that lunged from the bush.

    "Urgh!" A familiar voice came from the jaws, the rest of its leafy figure coming into view. "Why you…!"

    The two hastily got up to come face to face with the levitating predator. Mimi shuffled forward.

    "Sitrus, stay back." What fear she had before now dissolved into battle-ready confidence. "I'll handle this."

    "Heh!" Carnivine sneered as he loomed over them. "Don't think this will end just like last time! I won't let myself get caught off gua-"

    All of a sudden, Sitrus jumped up and struck his paws on opposite sides of Carnivine's face, the swift clapping motion cutting the predator's statement off.

    Carnivine stood stunned for a second, confused by the purpose of the weak Fake Out blow. "Wha-"

    Mimi decided to take advantage of Carnivine's flinching and rammed headfirst into him. As she did so, she whipped out her claws and kicked up a Play Rough dust cloud. She got to work on letting loose with everything she had, her claws grazing across the plant-like surface of Carnivine's skin and her wooden tail being used as a bludgeon.

    With a decisive lunge, Mimi swung forward with her tail with all her might, only for her attack to stop midway. The Mimikyu widened her eyes in horror when her Play Rough cloud cleared to reveal Carnivine grabbing onto her tail with a glowing leafy arm. Before Mimi could mentally curse for having her tail be super glued to the back of her disguise, she was thrown across the small clearing and ended up colliding with a tree's trunk. She yelped in pain, and as she did so, it seemed to signal the voice of another.

    "Hey! Leave her alone!"

    Once she fell to the ground, Mimi quickly recollected her bearings to see Carnivine focusing his attention on another target. Back and forth Sitrus dashed, dodging incoming Power Whip arm lunges by side stepping at every last second. Then, Carnivine overshot one lunge and ended up allowing Sitrus a free hit from behind. Just seeing Sitrus dash out of the way and start charging electricity in his cheeks got Mimi excited. The thought of actually seeing a Pikachu in action was on the top of her bucket list.

    A quick crackle of electricity formed in Sitrus' cheeks, and he immediately unleashed it at Carnivine. As ineffective as Electric attacks were against Grass types, what Mimi noticed felt underwhelming and left her raising a baffled eyebrow. There was no bolt or beam or any of the sort; what confused Mimi was that the electricity was still unleashed as a crackle.

    'Wait… no Thunderbolt? Don't tell me… he knows Thundershock?!'

    The weak jolt merely bounced off Carnivine, appearing to do even less than Sitrus' previous Fake Out, only serving to agitate Carnivine further. As Carnivine turned around, Mimi quickly took action and rushed in, drawing out her appendages.

    Her clawed tendrils started glowing a shadowy purple as she drew closer. "Over here! I'm the one you're looking for!"

    She brought her Shadow Claws down on Carnivine's back, eliciting a sharp cry as her claws drew what looked like blood. Immediately afterwards, Mimi noticed a jolt of electricity course through Carnivine, leaving the predator to grunt in pain once more. Mimi rushed over to Sitrus' side to see a triumphant smile on his face.

    "There we go," He said, looking at Carnivine's paralyzed figure. "That's what I meant to use."

    Still bearing his smile, Sitrus turned to Mimi. Before the Mimikyu could question anything, he pressed his tail against hers and motioned towards Carnivine's vulnerable stance.

    He gave her a nod. "Ready when you are."

    Mimi was already confused by Sitrus' gesture ('was it that 'tail sparking' thing?'), but what questions she could've formed were immediately answered when she felt newfound power coursing through her.

    She nodded back. "Cover your ears."

    Sitrus did as instructed. With the Pikachu in tow, Mimi lunged forward, taking a deep breath as she did so. As she came face to face with Carnivine, her exhale came out in the form of a high pitched scream. The Helping Hand-powered Astonish delivered enough force to send Carnivine flying, this time putting the predator on the receiving end of a head-on collision with a tree.

    Once Mimi landed from her little lunge, she found herself staggering a bit from the energy she just used up. She glanced behind herself to see that Sitrus wasn't doing so well either.

    The Pikachu groggily stumbled about before falling onto his rear. "Wooooow… I've never seen a Pikachu do thaaaat befooooore eitheeer…"

    Normally she would've found such behaviour from Sitrus amusing, but right now was the last time for antics. Mimi sighed, mainly at herself. Either she underestimated her Astonish's volume or overestimated Sitrus' sound tolerance, but whatever the case, her attack left her Pikachu companion vulnerable.

    To make matters worse, a certain predator broke out of his vulnerable state and started heading their way, leaving Mimi with little time to react.

    He scoffed. "You should've picked those Cheri Berries first! Now I'm going to make sure you bleed painfully before being eaten alive!"

    Instinct immediately took Mimi as Carnivine swung an arm forward. She dashed out of the way of the incoming blow, but raised an eyebrow when she realized that she just dodged a flurry of green powder particles instead of a Power Whip strike. However, panic immediately rose within her when she realized what Carnivine spread was a large Sleep Powder cloud. As if Sitrus wasn't vulnerable enough.

    Mimi quickly changed the direction of her pursuit, but was left to watch in horror when a furred yellow figure was sent flying. The sound of hard impact indicating collision against a tree was what really made Mimi snap. Instead of focusing on where Sitrus landed, she directed her gaze towards the dissolving Sleep Powder cloud and its source. In response, Carnivine merely gazed her way and gestured provokingly with an arm.

    The Mimikyu drew her claws and shuffled through the grass at an increased pace, ready for the next blow. As she did so, she noticed the peculiar smirk from Carnivine's slightly opened jaws. She already knew what was coming.

    Right as Carnivine was within the reach of Mimi's claws, the Mimikyu quickly sidestepped away instead of attacking. This proved to be a good call when she noticed Carnivine immediately lunge forward with glowing fangs, missing her right at the last second. Mimi quickly focused on the now-vulnerable Carnivine's stance, glowing fangs and all.

    'Alright, I can use this!'

    After a brief second of quick concentration, Mimi quickly brought her disguise's head down on Carnivine, the result latching Carnivine's head to the disguise's now-fanged mouth. With a Carnivine screaming in pain now left to Mimi's nonexistent mercy, Mimi let her disguise's head Crunch down harder before tossing the predator aside from the MImicked move.

    The sound of Carnivine grunting in pain from reeling across the ground reached Mimi's ears. She could notice from his twitching and bleeding figure that he had no strength left to get up.

    Mimi's screech of a voice returned. "I have had it up to here with you! You shall go back to wherever you came from and leave us alone! If you have anything to say about that, then so do my claws!"

    Carnivine's limp figure merely scoffed. "Go to he-"

    The very tone was enough to warrant an instinctive draw of Mimi's clawed appendage. As quick as she took it out, Mimi focused all her energy on this Shadow Claw swipe and slashed forward. What followed weren't the sounds of grazing. What followed were the sounds of claws digging deep, flesh wounds bleeding out, and something being ripped open.

    Then there was slience.

    Silence from Carnivine's mangled figure and from Mimi's state. The Mimikyu was left to stare at her blood-tipped claws with widened eyes. The dripping red liquid of what was once alive, just the sight and smell of it made Mimi want to faint right then and there.

    'I… I… I didn't mean it! I… come on, this has to be a nightmare, right?!' Back and forth Mimi paced as her breathing hastened with panic. There was no waking up. Just reality. 'Come on, this can't be happening! It can't!'

    There was no denying it. The dripping blood on her claws and what used to be Carnivine's head was no illusion. To be in the scene of murder was the last thing she wanted to experience again. And as the catalyst of death, no less! Mimi's panic only rose. Even if this forest where she felt safe, where she felt safe with proper shelter and a friend in the form of Sitrus-

    'Sitrus!' The very thought of the Pikachu reminded her of the real concerns at hand. Mimi quickly looked around and located Sitrus' collapsed figure lying nearby. Suspicions came to her as she approached his still body. Is he unconscious? Could the impact of slamming against the conveniently inconviently placed tree have snapped something? Whatever the damage, Mimi found herself sighing in relief when she noticed the rise and fall of Sitrus' breathing chest. Even if his unconscious look indicated nothing but pain from a bad stomach bruise, at least he was still alive.

    Mimi looked around at the Berry bushes nearby. She could head out and scavenge for useful Berries, but she couldn't exactly leave Sitrus here. Unfortunately, there were no more Oran or Sitrus Berries nearby, which meant a method of healing would have to come from somewhere else.

    Mimi sighed. The most reliable situation immediately came to her head, but it was not something she wanted to do. For her sake, no. But for Sitrus' sake…

    The Mimikyu hastily looked around the area for a familiar looking bush. Once she did so, she turned back to face Sitrus' figure and gently picked him up with her two appendages. While the Pikachu felt a bit too heavy for something Mimi's back could support, coupled with the fact that her bloodied claws might stain Sitrus' fur, it was the best she could do.

    She hastily sped away from the murder scene, clutching Sitrus cautiously and leaving the mangled pieces of a certain Grass type behind. The corpse may have been left behind to rot, but the very image continued to remain fresh in Mimi's mind.
    Chapter 4 - Stained

    'This is all just a dream… come on… this is all just a dream… I'll wake up back in the bed of my little hut… and everything will be back to normal…'

    Several thoughts continued plaguing Mimi as she continuously paced around the grassy-like area. She already lost count on how many circles she's paced, or how long she's been pacing for that matter. Right now Sitrus was undergoing treatment, so all she could do in the meantime was wait. However, her thoughts and recurring memories didn't make this waiting easy. This was no dream.

    She almost jumped back in shock when she noticed the grassy area around her slowly glow white and start to waver in appearance. Every part of green around her slowly faded away to reveal the inner surroundings of Sunny's hut. Her attention was immediately focused on the Psychic Raichu getting to work on applying some blue Oran ointment on an unconscious Pikachu lying on a straw bed.

    The sudden shift in surroundings seemed to catch Sunny's attention too, making her face away from Sitrus. "Oh! Looks like I'll have to open a new one." She slowly levitated towards an empty glass bottle on the floor and telekinetically picked it up. As she did so, she faced Mimi with her usual smile. "I could use another Grassy Terrain bottle to assist with the healing, but I can't help but notice that you seem to be hyperventilating again. Would you prefer a Misty Terrain for now?"

    Sunny's words suddenly made Mimi aware of her hastily-paced breathing, which the Mimikyu immediately got to calming down. "N-No, no, I'm fine. Another Grassy Terrain is fine with me."

    The Raichu gave a short nod, her smile growing warm. "Understood."

    Mimi glanced at Sunny as she levitated over to a shelf of similar looking bottles, then exchanging the empty one with one filled to the brim with ethereal-looking green particles. The bottle was placed in the center of the room, and as soon as Sunny removed its cork, the room went back to being surrounded by the illusion of a grass-filled area.

    Even while the influence of the Grassy Terrain had an oddly soothing effect, Mimi still felt uneasy about the whole situation. She just committed murder, the only real friend she's actually made is injured, and the only 'nurse' she could rely on was the very Pokémon she feared the most upon her first day in this forest. It was nothing but worry for her.

    Mimi couldn't just give in to the despair, could she? Perhaps it wasn't all bad. There was still the Grassy Terrain around her that she could admire. She had heard about these terrain effects but had yet to actually experience being in one. The peculiar air she felt made her feel as if her worries were slowly starting to slip away, but at the same time, she felt energized and ready for anything.

    "Now I'm curious as to how you got these terrains in bottles…" she commented aloud.

    She commented aloud. Mimi widened her eyes in shock at the realization of her comment. Now that she'd spoken, the possibility of this very remark turning into a conversation with Sunny loomed in the not-so-distant horizon.

    Then again, would it be that bad? Sunny's first impression may have come off as intimidatingly insightful in all the wrong ways, but Mimi's fears of the Raichu leaking her identity to everyone never actually came true. Not even in the week's worth of afternoons that Sitrus spent with Sunny did she spill the beans, which surprised Mimi now that she thought about it. Everyone thought of her as a fellow Pikachu, and odd-looking one at that, but still a Pikachu. Why didn't the Raichu just perform the deed?

    "Oh, in case you're wondering, I just plant the special seeds that some Pokémon use in the respective terrain," Sunny eventually responded, her attention focused on Sitrus. "They grow a special kind of Berry that can get crushed into a powder rather than juice. I have bottles of the other three terrains, too. I'm really good with items, aren't I? Really helps with whatever needs treatment."

    Mimi decided not to stay silent. Perhaps she could trust Sunny with a proper conversation. "And… speaking of treatment, how's Sitrus?"

    Sunny moved her gaze to face Mimi with a neutral look. "He still needs some time to rest, but his bruises are fine for the most part. Care to tell me what happened that caused this?"

    Mimi reluctantly recalled the events, hesitating before responding. "We were attacked by a Carnivine in the middle of Berry hunting."

    Sunny's look grew shocked. She hastily levitated Mimi's way. "What?! A Carnivine?! This close to the clearing?!"

    Mimi drew out her claws and held them defensively. "I-It's fine! I… uh… killed the Carnivine. Play Roughed him a bit, used Mimic to Crunch him, I think I used Astonish at one point, and Shadow Claw to… well…"

    Sunny raised an eyebrow and focused her intrigued stare on Mimi's right appendage. "Guess that explains the dried blood. Some of it got on your disguise, too. Do you need that cleaned up? Or some healing treatment for that matter?"

    "I'm fine, really…" Hastily, Mimi drew her appendages back under her disguise. "Well… I'm fine physically at least…"

    Sunny slowly nodded, presumably catching on. "I… can't say I completely know the feeling, but I guess death can do a lot to your psyche. At least the death was only on someone who deserved it."

    "Y-Yeah…" Mimi grimaced under her costume. Sunny was only partially right. "Sunny… can I ask you something?"

    Sunny halted her levitation to sit down on the Grassy Terrain floor and face Mimi, her smile returning. "We do have the time. Go ahead."

    Mimi took a deep breath. Here she was again, face to face with this calmly smiling blue-eyed Raichu. Even with the possibility that Sunny could be trusted, Mimi still felt she was treading on thin ice. She absentmindedly swiped at a passing green particle as she spoke. "Let's just cut to the chase. You know who I am, right?"

    "Of course." Sunny's gentle smile remained. "You're Mimi the Mimikyu. In case you're wondering, I realized this long you told me what moves you knew."

    "Okay…" Mimi paused to sigh the tension away. "... so you do know. So… why haven't you told anyone else who I really am? Why haven't you even told Sitrus?"

    Sunny's gaze trailed off for a second. "I don't really see any problem with you, Mimi. I can obviously see why you'd want to keep your identity hidden from everyone else, and I respect that."

    Mimi raised an eyebrow. "So… you actually trust me?"

    Sunny giggled. "In the time you've spent with him, Sitrus hasn't died. I'm sure that's enough of a sign that I can trust you."

    'Sitrus hasn't died… that's an oddly specific example… Is she associating this example with any Pokémon she comes across… or just my species in particular?'

    Mimi put the pieces together. "So… you know why I'd want to keep my identity hidden… You know what happened, don't you?"

    Sunny sighed, her expression fading to a solemn one. "About your species? That I do. I was one of the few who actually knew Mimikyu existed or where they lived. I was actually informed through the only other two who knew, those being Sitrus' parents. They probably felt I was dependable enough to be the closest thing to their only son's big sister. Good thing they told me before their departure…" Sunny directed her now-worried stare to Mimi. "You know what I'm talking about, right?"

    Mimi nodded. "They went to the abandoned Thrifty Megamart… didn't they?"

    "That they did. Do you know what they went there for?"

    She could never forget their words. Mimi nodded.

    Sunny sighed. "You must've seen what happened then. Something bad happened to them, right? Which is why they still haven't returned?"

    Mimi nodded again, this time with a wistful look in her eyes. "I… I just feel so sorry for Sitrus now… and he's still waiting for them to come back, too… He's an unaware orphan waiting for his parents to come back!"

    In response, Sunny mustered a weak smile and put a paw on Mimi's shoulder. "On the bright side, at least he has a new friend. It's not like you could've done anything, right?"

    'Could I have done anything? Of course I could've done at least something! But… I didn't!' The guilt of her memories came back. Even with the comforting touch of Sunny's paw, Mimi couldn't help but tremble slightly.

    Mimi focused her attention on Sunny's stare. The very blue-eyed gaze she once felt paranoid of was now giving her a soft and genuinely concerned look. The very confirmation that Sunny intended to be friendly the whole time, coupled with her gesture and words, was enough to slowly calm Mimi down.

    The Mimikyu let out an audible sigh, letting herself give in to the gentle stare of Sunny's eyes. "I… I guess I need some time to rest… and breathe…"

    Sunny lifted her paw and slowly nodded. "I understand." An oddly comforting meek expression formed on her face. "All this stuff must be hard on your mind. Would you like some Berries? Or perhaps you could stay here awhile since I already have spare straw beds fixed up."

    Mimi let a weak chuckle escape her mouth. She couldn't help but smile underneath her disguise. "I appreciate your hospitality, really, but I think I could use some time alone. Like… in my hut."

    Sunny's smile shifted slightly to give off the impression of looking sympathetic. "Ah. Well, either way…" Sunny quickly got up and levitated to her desk, coming back with a small jar in her paws. "... here. This should be enough to last you the rest of the day."

    Mimi widened her eyes at Sunny's gesture, accepting the jar with her appendages. She eyed its curious contents through the glass, her eyes darting with wonder at the bite-sized red and yellow Berries with little leaves. Leppa Berries. "Thanks…" She looked up at Sunny's warm smile. "So… did you know I liked these Berries, or…"

    Sunny responded with faint giggle. "You should know who told me."

    Mimi giggled slightly in return and glanced at the resting figure in the room. 'You had one job…'

    The Mimikyu tugged the Leppa Berry jar beneath her disguise and shuffled her way to the door, or at least, what shape of it she could make in the Grassy Terrain around her. As she did so, she turned around and waved at Sunny with her clean appendage. "Bye, Sunny."

    The Raichu responded with an equally warm gesture. "Bye, Mimi. Feel free to come back anytime, alright? I'm your friend too."

    Mimi smiled at the very mention of the word. "I will. Thanks again."

    Now Mimi wished she stayed back at Sunny's home where the Grassy Terrain was. Or she could have at least asked for a bottle of Misty Terrain to keep for herself. Mimi would prefer any other terrain than where she was right now.

    'Did I actually say I needed some time alone? It's worrying having no one to talk to…'

    All the Mimikyu could do was continue eating Leppa Berry after Leppa Berry as she started at her blank wall of leaves. She took the jar and turned to another side of her only room. More leaves, except in a differently assembled pattern. She worked on her only form of shelter for a bit more than a week now and yet she didn't even bother trying to get logs.

    Even if there was no window to admire the sky out from, it wasn't all bad for Mimi. Her bored and lifeless wall-staring was accompanied by the taste of the many Leppa Berries she had all to herself. The tiny size of the Berries themselves allowed Mimi to plop them whole into her mouth one by one, where they would be forced to release their juices to her chewing. The mere thought of how nutritious each bite felt was something Mimi found solace in. It was certainly better than dwelling on the other thoughts lingering in her mind.

    All of a sudden, Mimi's grabbing appendage found itself clawing at nothing but the surface of glass. In a brief moment of shock, Mimi looked to her left to see her appendage sticking into a now-empty jar. She sighed.

    'I knew swallowing quickly was a bad idea.'

    With Sitrus temporarily out of the picture, Mimi had the rest of this day all to herself. She could go hunt for Berries, work on her hut some more, or maybe fill in for Sitrus in running errands for Sunny, but she didn't do anything of the sort, nor did she even feel like it now.

    With the thoughts of Leppa Berries gone, Mimi's conversation with Sunny remained fresh in her mind. Even if she felt mildly satisfied that she didn't have to hide the secret of her species with the Raichu anymore, the fact that Mimi still hasn't shared her secret continued eating at her. There was no dust settled. If anything, the dust that was cleaned off left only one dark stain to remain. A stain so pitch black that Mimi yearned to just forget about it, but the fact that it still existed continued to plague her.

    Mimi recalled the dried blood Sunny mentioned. Not only did the hazy composition of her appendages bear the accursed substance, but she remembered the Raichu mentioning her disguise fell victim to its exposure too.

    The Mimikyu looked around herself. Nothing but leafy walls and a poorly made excuse for a door. She was perfectly secluded.

    Reluctantly, Mimi drew her appendages out and let them tug on the ears of her disguise's head, taking the disguise off from over her. As she suddenly heard the noise of several items dropping to the ground, she shivered slightly at the sudden sensation of being completely exposed. She got her little figure to cease its quivering when she remembered her isolated position. Her sudden surprise was merely caused by the various coloured crayons and sheets of paper that fell to the ground.

    'Whew… I almost forgot I keep those in my disguise…'

    She stared at the limp piece of cloth in her grip. It always felt awkward whenever she had to strip herself down just to check on it. Just seeing her disguise in full view made her feel like she was staring at a mirror's reflection of herself, which was certainly better than using the broken mirrors back home. While her craftsmanship was admirable for the most part, her eyes always caught the little imperfections caused by only having a crayon to draw with.

    However, this time she was left to stare at more than just faded crayon strokes. Other than minor wrinkles caused by a previous scuffle('Thank Arceus I only suffered brute force blows instead of anything sharp…'), there were the little brownish dots and smudges near the base of her disguise. Some of the marks were right below the holes where her eyes peek out.

    Mimi grimaced, not because she'd have to find the nearby lake to wash this stuff off, but because the very reminder of Carnivine's life would have to stay stuck to her image for the time being. Okay, maybe the issue of having to get it washed partially caused that thought.

    The Mimikyu quickly shook her head. She couldn't let the issue of looking like this murderous monster get to her again. Her disguise had other touches that needed some fixing, after all. With her free appendage, Mimi scrambled for the nearest crayon lying on the floor. She pulled one towards her to see her familiar black crayon, its tip as short and worn out as she remembered from her time of trying to fix the eyes of her disguise's head. Crayon tightly gripped, Mimi proceeded to fill in the little gaps of the her disguise's eyes and mouth. Her strokes were just as crooked as usual, leading to the inevitable colouring-outside-the-lines on several occasions. Regardless, she found herself satisfied with the little activity.

    Afterwards, she set the crayon aside and did the same with her orange crayon once she found it near some fallen sheets of paper. She always found it odd that all the other Mimikyu seemed to be fine with using blood as a substitute for a red crayon to colour the cheeks with. If only they actually shared her outlook.

    With her disguise's aesthetic looking almost good as new, Mimi pulled it back on over her head and turned around to face the remaining crayons and paper littered around her. Black and orange weren't the only tools she had to express her creative liberty, after all. She pulled the remaining crayons beneath her disguise and picked up the first piece of art within her reach. As soon as she saw the crude crayon strokes and the paper's age wrinkles, she immediately remembered the circumstances of the drawing. Every Mimikyu needed to learn to draw a Pikachu's face before making a disguise, after all.

    A faint smile came to the Mimikyu's face as the tucked the paper beneath her disguise and set it aside. She proceeded to pick up the rest of her mess, looking over each one with a glance. These remaining drawings mainly consisted of Mimi recalling her day. Drawings of battles she won, battles she lost, just looking at them gave the Mimikyu weirdly fond memories despite the location they all took place.

    However, as soon as Mimi pulled up another one of the untouched white sheets of paper, her reminiscing stopped there. She sighed in defeat as guilt returned to her once more. The pure emptiness of the paper served as a brutal reminder that she had more reluctant memories than good ones. The blood-stained appendage gripping the sheet only added to that effect. Like this paper, clean as white, she ran away to clear her slate and begin anew. However, due to the bloodied appendage creating a faint trace on the sheet, her influence would now remain on this paper, unable to be cleaned off.

    '... is there really nothing I could've done?'

    Mimi looked down at the dried blood on her claws and back at the faint traces on the paper. She could wash this paper, right? As ludicrous as the idea sounded since the paper would have to go through a lot, in the end, it'd be cleaned, right? The paper might not be the same as it was before, but the nagging bloodstain would be gone, at least, Mimi supposed.

    The Mimikyu abruptly shook her head. 'Okay, okay, okay, maybe I'm taking this analogy a bit too far…'

    Indeed, the paper would be too weak to survive something of the sort. There was the possibility that it would survive the washing ordeal, but if Mimi were to play it safe, the least she could do would be to make sure no more further stains get to this little sheet. But would it be that easy?

    Mimi's eyes slowly moved back to her claws. As long as these claws were dirtied, there wouldn't be anything she could do to keep this paper unstained. No clean slate. Nothing but the inevitable blood traces.

    A sigh escaped Mimi's mouth. The weight of the situation suddenly dawned on her. If she really wanted to keep the paper's slate—no, her slate—clean, she'd have to clean herself. Both on the inside and out. The guilt caused by her physical and metaphorical stains would continue to pursue her unless she dealt with them herself. Running away from them was not the right decision.

    Even if Sitrus' parents were killed, the least she could do to make up for the situation was finish what they tried to start. Of course, such a deed wouldn't bring them back to life, but it would be better than leaving the site of the incident and trying to forget all about them.

    It would be the right thing to do. While the idea of leaving this place she called 'home' for a while swelled up a barrage of emotions inside her, she kept in mind that this would be the morally correct decision for her. For her, Sitrus' parents, and everyone else she left back at Thrifty Megamart.

    Mimi sighed. It would be a lot for her to go through, but if doing this would help deal with the dreaded stain deep in her conscience, then so be it. This was her problem that only she could fix. She wanted to waste no time in leaving, but at the same time, she didn't want her leave to seem malicious from its abruptness.

    An idea flew to her head. She held the clean sheet of paper with an appendage and drew out her black crayon with another.

    She took a deep breath, exhaling her doubts as a wave of newfound confidence swept over her. 'Looks like I'm heading back home.'
    Chapter 5 - Left Behind

    The return of Sitrus' consciousness was accompanied by a gasp. The first thing he realized upon jerking up to see the expansive indoors of a hut around him was that he very much not in his hut. Sitrus vividly remembered his windows not being this good at pouring sunlight through. Regardless of his sudden change in location, he let himself take the time to stretch and adjust himself.

    Good morning, world…

    With a yawn now out of his system, Sitrus took note of his now-scruffy fur. No big deal, he supposed. He got on all fours and shook it off like he did every morning. Didn't make his fur the neatest, but it was just right for him. However, this time his shaking routine was interrupted by a by a wave of pain that came from his stomach area. He let out a sharper gasp as he fell onto his side.

    This time, his voice was met with a response, this response coming in the form of a Raichu levitating his way and telekinetically helping him back to his feet.

    Sunny flashed him a smile. "Make sure to call out to me the next time you wake up, okay?"

    "Oh, hi Sunny," Sitrus replied, smiling back. He chuckled as he put a paw to the back of his head. "Did something happen to me yesterday or did I just have a really good nap at your place?"

    "You were attacked by a Carnivine, remember?" Sunny cocked her head. "Or at least, that's what Mimi told me. Did you perhaps get knocked out halfway through the battle?"

    The details slowly resurfaced in the Pikachu's mind as drowsiness started to take its leave. The sensation of realization widened his eyes. "That's right! We were attacked by a Carnivine! But then I fell asleep, got hit by something hard, and then got hit by something hard again. The second hard something felt different, though!"

    "And you… fell unconscious?"

    Sitrus nodded eagerly. "I guess so! That must be why my stomach hurt! I thought I was hungry!" His expression then shifted to appear horrified. "Wait! If it already hurts now, I don't even want to know how much more it'll hurt when I actually get hungry!" The thought of going Berry hunting made him realize something, forcing his tone to calm down with worry. "Did… anything happen to Mimi?"

    "Don't worry, she made it out just fine. You don't have to worry about the Carnivine, either. Let's just say that he won't be coming back anytime soon." Sitrus could swear he heard a vaguely sheepish chuckle from Sunny.

    The Pikachu's expression perked up. "So that means I can go Berry hunting with her today, right?"

    Sunny paused for a moment, then levitated to her desk and back with a jar. "While it is still morning, I really don't recommend heading out to the forest in your condition. This jar of Sitrus Berries should do for now."

    Rather than accepting the jar of Berries, Sitrus crossed his arms, a frown coming to his face. "But what about Mimi? She usually waits for me to come with her for Berry hunting."

    Sunny's gaze trailed off for a second as she let out an audible hum. "You know… I would've expected her to visit at this time. Maybe you should go check on her."

    "Yes!" Sitrus immediately started to walk towards the door, only to stop himself in the process when the pain around his stomach area returned.

    He glanced behind him to see Sunny levitating his way. "Just don't strain yourself. If you can't find her around the outside clearing, then let me know. She might have already gone Berry hunting on her own."

    The Pikachu nodded excitedly before walking off to the door. "Got it!"

    Alright, now that I finally rearranged them, it's breakfast time.

    Sunny sighed quietly to herself as she stared at the numerous jars lined up on her shelves. Perfectly assorted with warm coloured Berries waiting in line behind the lighter cool coloured Berries, each jar bearing its unique shape and size. All her jars were in place right where she wanted them, the whole display appearing like how she imagined those 'museum' places looked.

    The Raichu's eyes scanned each jar. Now what Berries am I in the mood for today?

    Her eyes darted right past a jar of Cheri Berries to see an empty space on the wooden beam, right where a certain small jar should've been placed. The absence of a certain red and yellow Berry species from her collection immediately reached Sunny's mind.

    She turned her head to face her closed door. I would've expected Sitrus to be back with Mimi by now. I wonder what's taking so lo-

    "Sunny! Sunny! Sunny!" All of a sudden, a Pikachu burst through the door, bearing a familiar urgent tone the Raichu recognized.

    The spontaneous yelling surprised Sunny to the point where she yelped in surprise, losing her footing on her tail in the process. She gripped the edge of her tail with her front paws, her hind ones scrambling for ground as she pulled herself back up. Once she regained her balance, she turned around to look at the troubled Pikachu and asked, "Sitrus, what's wrong?"

    "I didn't find Mimi anywhere in the clearing! But when I went to her hut, I found this!" Sitrus approached the Raichu, holding up a sheet of paper in his paws. "I think it's written in that human language! You understand that stuff, right?"

    Sunny's attention was piqued by the very mention of the tongue. As with all the other Raichu in the clearing, she once had a Trainer, so she knew of the dialect. If this paper really was written by Mimi, which Sunny immediately assumed from the crooked penmanship similar to a Mimikyu's crayon strokes, then how did she know how to write in the language?

    I thought she was just a wild Pokémon from Thrifty Megamart. Did she use to have a Trainer? It's not often you see a released Mimikyu, though.

    The Raichu quickly directed her focus to the current concern. With a paw, she accepted the sheet from Sitrus.

    She read it aloud. "I'm going to finish what they started. I'm going to change the minds of all the other Mimikyu. All of them. If they don't listen, then I'll make them listen. It won't clean my conscience, but it's the most I can do to forgive myself." The Raichu paused, raising an eyebrow as her eyes reached the bottom of the paper.

    Sitrus crossed his arms, an equally confused look coming to his face. "I don't get it… What's all this stuff about 'they'? This is from Mimi, right? So is she talking about this 'Mimikyu' thing?"

    "Perhaps," Sunny replied before pausing again. "But now I'm wondering about this 'changing their minds' part."

    And more importantly, why she even left this letter in the first place.

    Sunny quickly assessed her information.

    Judging from how she mentioned changing the minds of Mimikyu, it's safe to say that she headed back to Thrifty Megamart. She must have headed there last night. In that case, why would she head back there? She did mention 'changing minds', but on what? A decision?

    "You know…" Sitrus spoke up. "... I have a feeling this might be really bad… or maybe that's just my opinion."

    Wait, opinion? Could Mimi be trying to change minds about an opinion or outlook of some sort? Something clicked in Sunny's head as she brought up the possibility, making the Raichu widen her eyes in realization. "That's it!"

    Her triumphant smile was met with Sitrus' still-confused expression. "That's… what?"

    So if she wanted to 'change their minds' and 'finish what they started', then that means-

    Sunny cut herself off as the triumph slipped off her face. She can't be trying to go against all the Mimikyu! It's a whole place of them against one!

    "I just realized why Mimi went back to Thrifty Megamart." Her look grew serious. "She could be in trouble. I'm going to get her."

    Sunny immediately turned around to face her shelves. She focused on a select few items and concentrated. As she did so, she waved her paws, levitating all the items towards her, one of which was a worn-out brown satchel. The Raichu then proceeded to carefully levitate each of the jars into the bag one by one, but at a hastened pace. She closed the satchel's strap after adding the sheet of paper to the bag's contents.

    "Wait!" She turned around to the sound of Sitrus' voice to see him with a determined look on his face. "I'm coming to this Thrifty Whatever place too!"

    Sunny gave him a slight frown. "Sitrus, you're not coming. You can't go in your condition. Stay here."

    She slung the satchel's strap over her shoulder and proceeded to levitate towards the door, only to be stopped when Sitrus hurriedly stepped in front of her, bearing a look of pain as he did so.

    The Pikachu quickly shifted his look of pain to that of defiance. "Mimi is my friend. Anything she's involved with is my business too."

    A realization came to the Raichu as she reluctantly sighed in defeat. I know this Pikachu well enough to know that I can't just stop him here. As much as I could easily just levitate him aside and head off, I'm sure that wouldn't stop him from wandering in the forest alone despite his condition.

    "Okay Sitrus, you win." Sunny took a step back on her tail, allowing some room at the tail's base.

    "Yay!" The Pikachu's cheery smile returned as he grabbed ahold of Sunny's tail, scrambling onto it.

    The sudden shift of weight on her tail made Sunny flinch for a second. She needed to exercise caution on her tail's imminent flight course now that she had an extra passenger to watch over. Worst case scenario, both Sitrus and Mimi end up badly injured and have to get dragged back to safety.

    Looks like I better hurry.

    With Sitrus now latching himself to Sunny's tail via clutching onto it with all paws for dear life, Sunny quickly sped out her door and levitated through the clearing's shade of a ceiling. The impact against the thick layer of leaves was followed by the sensation of a passing breeze as the wide expanse of forest presented itself to Sunny.

    She felt Sitrus quiver over her tail. "We're… pretty high up, aren't we?"

    Rather than replying, Sunny's eyes scanned her surroundings, looking for whatever familiar path she could make out from the outstretched field of trees.

    Her eyes caught something. "If I remember correctly, Thrifty Megamart should be this way! Brace yourself!"

    What sensation of gentle breeze Sunny felt shifted to a rushing current as her pace rocketed. The two made their way continued their way over the ocean of green, wind blowing through their fur as they passed by several surprised Pelipper and Trumbeak.

    Alright, time to pick up the pace.

    As Sunny glanced down to lift her bag's satchel open, she noticed Sitrus slowly turning onto his back to face up at her with a stiff expression. "S-So… um… what exactly happened to Mimi, again?" Sitrus asked, his voice wavering with the rushing wind. "You… mentioned a Thrifty Something from the paper, right? What was that all about?"

    Sunny paused as she swerved to the right of a passing flock. Now that he's here, I might as well tell him about the deal with his parents and Thrifty Megamart, don't I? She sighed. He's bound to learn about it sooner or later. Perhaps it'd be better to prepare him for the truth.

    "I'll tell you on the way. I just need to do something." She replied.

    Looking down on her opened satchel, Sunny focused her attention on a jar with crackling yellow particles inside it. She telekinetically removed its cork and let the yellow particles flow out and around her, causing her to gain another burst of speed.

    Mimi squealed in pain as she felt another cutting blow strike her disguise's stomach, narrowly missing her eyes. The pain of additional cuts that ached her face was accompanied by the swift strike of something wooden, smashing right into the vulnerable spot between Mimi's eyes.

    She was sent tumbling across the stone-cold floor, scrambling to halt her momentum with her claws. Her reeling screeched to a stop when her claws ended up grating against the concrete, eliciting another sharp cry.

    Mimi quickly propped herself up and broke into a fit of pained coughs, some dark aura seeping through what little cuts on her disguise she could peek through. Her adversary slowly emerged from the shadows of the room, creeping towards her.

    "Hee… hee… Quite the resilient one, aren't you? As to be expected. I have heard a lot about you, Mimi. It should only be natural to assume that your disguise is better at taking hits than all the other Mimikyu."

    Mimi was greeted by the looming figure of what appeared to be herself, right down to being female and unusually tall for a Mimikyu, only much better at the scary-looking department in terms of tone. She gulped at the the sight of her adversary and tried to steel her confidence.

    The other Mimikyu glowered over Mimi with a sinister glare, speaking in a screechy tone with just as much hostility. "Give it up, Mimi. You've outlasted your usefulness. Hee hee! The hole in the sky was kind enough to give this place the management it needed: me!"

    In response, Mimi slowly shuffled forward, mustering whatever defiance she could. She let her voice take on a tone of maliciousness similar to her enemy. "You can't, Mikyu! Being a Totem is more than just being strong, you know! You're not cut out to be one!"

    "And why not, Mimi?" Mikyu shuffled closer in response, letting her disguise's head meet head-on with Mimi's. "I'm just like you, but better. Bigger, stronger, and most importantly, more cruel." A hushed cackle escaped Mikyu's disguise. "Emphasis on more. Hee… hee… Don't think I haven't heard about your previous deeds, Mimi."

    Mimi widened her eyes and shuffled backwards, only to find nothing but a concrete wall behind her. She was cornered by this fiend who struck at her physically and emotionally, stuck within the confines of the back room battlefield she once remembered from Thrifty Megamart. It wasn't hard to realize why she was losing against someone with a noticeable size advantage. Would she end up biting the dust just like-

    No! I can't let myself be ended here!

    Her eyes blazing with defiance, Mimi swung her other appendage forward, claws-first. However, her strike was halted when her appendage was grabbed by a similar but much larger looking one, the sudden grip shifting Mimi's look to that of horror.

    Oh…. no…

    Mikyu shook her head, her appendage tightly squeezing Mimi's. "Mimi, Mimi, Mimi. Even when I've tried my hardest to show how inferior you are now, you still dare to struggle. You have no right to tell me what to do. You have no right to tell all the other Mimikyu hiding here what to do. You can't even beat me in a one-on-one fight. I might have found some use for you, but mercy isn't something I'm quite fond of. Hee… hee…"

    Wait… did she just say one-on-one fi-

    Mimi winced as she felt claws dig into her already-sore appendage. Mikyu scoffed. "You are nothing but a mere wild Mimikyu now. Got that? An insignificant status for a now-insignificant Pokémon like you. The only thing I can give you is death."

    Mimi found herself being flung across the room, this time unable to stop her momentum as she reeled across the floor and collided with the concrete wall on the other side.

    Argh!

    She barely had time to get up before she felt Mikyu's breathing behind her. Before she could turn around, a thick shadowy appendage wrapped itself around her disguise's neck.

    Mikyu slowly swayed her claws in front of Mimi's face. "I have yet to actually perform my first kill, Mimi. Hee… hee… And to think that my first kill would be you of all Pokémon. A fitting way to truly proclaim my position here, don't you think?"

    Mimi gulped as Mikyu's claws stopped, hanging there like a still predator getting ready to lunge at its helpless prey.

    All of a sudden, she noticed the figure of a much smaller Mimikyu emerging from the shadows of one of the room's corners. "Her Totemness! I have news!"

    Mikyu let out a disgruntled sigh. MImi quickly squirmed once she felt Mikyu's grip on her loosen, but all she received in return was a pair of fangs piercing through her disguise and into her back.

    Before she could even let out a scream, Mimi felt all all her energy draining away from where the fangs struck, leaving her to wheeze breathlessly when the fangs left her back and her side made contact with the floor.

    "We'll settle this later," She heard Mikyu say, presumably to her. "I want your death to be on my claws alone. Emphasis on alone. Hee… hee…"

    As she heard Mikyu shuffle away, Mimi was left on the chilling cold floor, her stamina sucked away and her disguise sustaining a few cuts from Mikyu's onslaught.

    Urgh… She weakly tried to prop herself with an appendage, only for her tendril to quiver before she fell face-first against the floor. Come on… I can't let it end like this… not when I came back all this way…

    "Hee hee! Oh, Mimi!" She heard Mikyu's high-pitched cheerful tone as she heard the bigger Mimikyu shuffling towards her. Mikyu looked Mimi right in the eyes with a pleased look. "It looks like quite the special opportunity has presented itself! Looks like you have a chance to prove your usefulness after all!"

    While Mikyu's sudden change in tone couldn't help but send a chill down Mimi's spine, the slightly shorter Mimikyu raised an eyebrow when Mikyu grabbed her disguise's neck with an appendage and held her up. That was when Mimi noticed the cause of Mikyu's tone: right next to the Mimikyu that just emerged entered a Klefki using the pink aura of its Fairy Lock to keep two struggling figures bound. Mimi's look of horror returned when she noticed the struggling figures belonging to a familiar looking Raichu and Pikachu.

    "Caught these two wildies attemptin' to lurk the building," the Klefki said with a scoff "No Trainers nearby or nothin'. Thought you might wanna take a look at 'em, Her Totemness."

    Mimi noticed Sitrus' look of pain shift to that of hope as his eyes immediately darted to her figure. "Mimi! There you are! You never told me you were part of a clan of armless PIkachu, too! Can you… uh… get this key thing to let go of us?"

    Sunny merely lowered her head, her look of shame only conveying despair.

    Mikyu giggled. "Hee hee! These two seem to know you! Which should make my next order for you extra special since I heard you always seem to look up to those vermin instead of resenting them!" Mikyu shook Mimi's figure at every emphasis.

    Mimi felt herself being gently lowered onto the ground and nudged closer to her friends' vulnerable figures. Then came the sensation of Mikyu right behind her.

    The larger Mimikyu's forceful tone returned. "Kill them."

    The very words echoed in Mimi's head as she stood stiff. She did not come here to draw blood. Especially not the blood of her friends. She kept her claws withdrawn.

    "Hee… hee… hesitant, are we?" Mikyu whispered directly into Mimi's ears, her breath still as chill-inducing. "There's no escaping this, Mimi. You can't keep the darkness in your heart shrouded beneath your disguise sheet forever. Let it loose. Kill them. I'll let you be my go-to ally if you do."

    Mimi tried to speak up, but all she could muster was a rasp. "No…"

    "Hee… hee… have it your way," Mimi felt something grip at her disguise once again, this time by the head. "You know, you're the only Mimikyu who ever actually tried to stand up to me. I might still find some use for someone as gutsy as you. Hee… hee… I could easily kill these two myself, but I want you to prove that you can actually follow orders. So if you won't kill these two… well… you know how dishonourable it is to cause death via disguise removal, right? It'd be the perfect humiliation before I finish you off."

    Mikyu immediately pieced Mikyu's words together as she felt the head of her disguise being tugged on. To cause death via the revealing of one's cursed figure was considered a symbol of shame among Mimikyu. The battle prowess the species possessed was meant to show that they could win fights fairly, not kill with looks. It'd be cheating. Killing via disguise removal would be the worst kind of shame a Mimikyu would have, no matter the victim.

    Mimi didn't come here to feel ashamed about herself. She looked up at Mikyu with her own malicious gaze. "You… wouldn't… dare…"

    Mimi felt her disguise being tugged on again, this time forcing her to draw out her own appendages to keep her disguise from being pulled away. She could already sense Mikyu grinning under her own disguise as the fiend let out another hushed cackle. "Care to try me? Don't worry… hee… hee… if either you or these two vermin won't cooperate, then I'll just slaughter the three of you. Just like what I heard happened to the last two Pikachu who dared come here."

    The sound of crackling electricity grabbed Mimi's attention, making her turn to see Sunny with her cheeks flaring and her teeth gritted, gaze aimed at Mikyu. "So it was you who killed them!"

    "Hee… hee… I heard that those two Pikachu used to be the parents of a lone child going by the name of Sitrus…" Mimi could already see Sitrus' expression drop as Mikyu continued talking to Sunny. "I see that look of vengeance in your eyes, Raichu. Do you wish to avenge the deceased? Here's the funny part. While they have been killed by a former Totem Pokémon, I'm not the Totem you're looking for. She is."

    Mimi felt herself being shoved to the floor once more. Now she really was being put on the spot. She mustered an apologetic tone with what voice she had left. " It's true… I'm… sorry… I was… forced to…"

    Mimi clenched her eyes shut. She didn't even need to see Sitrus and Sunny's shocked looks to sense their surprise. Their quiet gasps were enough. Now they found out the real truth about her.

    The sound of crackling electricity was followed by Sunny's voice. "Let Mimi go."

    The sudden sound of the command surprised Mimi. She must be hearing things, right? Even when she's murdered two Pikachu, Sunny's tone of defiance was unmistakably aimed towards Mikyu and not her. Did Sunny still find some worth in her? Did she still trust her? And why?

    "Hee… hee… even when I've given you a viable motive to consider this Mimikyu your enemy, am I still the bad guy here?" Before Mimi could look up to face Sunny, she felt herself being grabbed by Mikyu and being pulled close to her. "Go on. Zap me. To a crisp, preferably. Hee… hee… if you do, you'll be frying your little Mimi friend, too."

    Mimi felt herself being shaken as Mikyu's glare centered on her once more. "So what'll it be? Will you kill them? Or will you let them kill you? Or will you still resist and let me have the pleasure of adding three heads to my kill count?"

    Mimi remained still. There would be no more blood spilled by her. She couldn't bring herself to do it. She'd rather just perish than cause more to perish.

    cause… more to perish…

    The very thought sparked up a wave of defiance within her. There would be no more death. She needed to be alive to make sure this was the case. She needed to take back her spot as a Totem Pokémon. She needed to be the bigger Pokémon in this case.

    "Mimi!" The sudden sound of Sunny's exclamation made the Mimikyu look up to see the Raichu looking right at her.

    The Raichu then proceeded to form a blue barrier around her, only for it to immediately dissipate.

    The Klefki scoffed as he gave Sunny a nudge with his keys. "Nice try, toots. Not even the toughest Protect barrier can bypass my Fairy lock. Then again, it's not like I can expect a wildie foolish enough to come here to know better."

    Mimi couldn't help but notice that Sunny's gaze remained on her. Even when her 'escape' plan failed, Sunny's look still remained on Mimi with an air of defiance. Not one conveying any sort of maliciousness, but one that showed an odd look of trust. Why so?

    Wait… what even was the point of using that move? Even I know that wouldn't break her out of a Fairy Lock… Now that I think about it, she called my name, right? Did she want me to see her Protect? But…

    Mimi didn't need to ask herself why. The pieces already put themselves together. She looked at Sunny, noticing a faint crackle of electricity going through her cheeks, and nodded.

    She heard Mikyu make what appeared to be a buzzer impression. "Time's up!" Claws gripped on Mimi's disguise. "Execution via disguise removal it is, then!"

    Mimi immediately concentrated. "Now, Sunny!"

    The sound of a burst of electricity was heard as Mimi wasted no second putting up her own Protect barrier. She quietly sighed to herself; she managed to Mimic Sunny's move at the last second. As a wave of Discharge electricity bounced off her shield and spread to the rest of the room, the sounds of several harsh cries also reached Mimi's ears as she felt the grip on her disguise disappear.

    "Over here, Mimi!"

    Mimi let her Protect barrier dissipate to see a now-free Sunny and Sitrus motioning for her. The Mimikyu slowly shuffled towards them with what strength she had left. She then noticed a Sitrus Berry being levitated her way, which she didn't hesitate to drag beneath her disguise and munch on.

    Mimi quickly shuffled towards the source of the levitation to see Sunny motioning to get onto her tail, Sitrus giving her his own look of anticipation as he waited for her to sit beside him.

    The Mimikyu hesitated. "You… guys still want me back? Even after you know what I did?"

    Sitrus gave her a sympathetic frown. "You said you're sorry… and that you were forced. It'll take some time… but… I'll get used to it. You're still my friend."

    Mimi raised an eyebrow. Is he… that quick to forgive?

    She glanced behind her. Thrifty Megamart's back room held a lot of memories to her, even if Mikyu's slowly-stirring figure now lay there from Sunny's previous attack. Even if the old Pikachu pictures she used to spend hours staying at were wearing out from age and the dimly lit light bulb overhead was barely hanging by a wire, she still found some solace being back. Perhaps the aesthetic just appealed to her Ghost type status. Either way, she would not be leaving this place. She had an objective to fulfill.

    "I'm not going," Mimi replied, letting the defiance show in her voice. "I'm going to finish what they started. And to do that, I need to reclaim my status as Totem Pokémon. Starting with showing Mikyu who wears the authority around here."

    Before Sitrus could protest again, Sunny levitated him back to his feet and flashed Mimi a confident smile. "Then I'll help."

    Mimi seemed to notice Sitrus stammer for a second. "Wait, so who's this 'them'- wait, who are we fighting- er, I mean, sure! I'll join in too in whatever way I can! Which probably isn't a lot since I'm pretty certain I'm not in the best fighting condition!"

    A triumphant smile formed beneath Mimi's disguise. Help was exactly what she needed.

    "Do you… still dare defy me?" Mimi turned around to see Mikyu weakly propping herself up. "That Discharge may have knocked out my Klefki and Mimikyu lackey… but I don't need them."

    "You don't need help?" Mimi responded, gazing at Mikyu with a confident glint in her eyes. "Clearly, you're doing something wrong. Especially as a Totem."

    "No…" Mikyu dragged herself forward with an appendage, claws grating against the concrete. "The hole in the sky must've brought me here for a reason!"

    Mimi slowly shuffled Mikyu's way, Sunny and Sitrus following. "Perhaps the reason isn't what you think. Maybe you were brought here to bow to me."

    Mikyu's panicked look darted from Mimi to the two other figures. "No… it can't be! You're siding with them now?! The very existence of their species is what's keeping us from being redeemable! Why must you still look up to them unlike everyone else?!"

    "That's because jealousy is a choice, Mikyu. It's not their fault our appearances are unfavourable. Besides, it's not like every Pikachu in existence is out making sure we're overshadowed! The two Pikachu who came here were proof of that!" Mimi's voice started to rise, assuming its forceful tone once more. "All they wanted to do was reach out to us and put our secret hatred of them aside! They wanted to help us feel belonged! I… may have fallen victim to the overwhelming commands of everyone else back then, but now is different! I'm going to finish what they started and put this Pikachu hatred aside for every Mimikyu in this building!"

    Mikyu drew her claws. "And… why should I listen to you, vermin?! Why should I listen to someone calling for help instead of fighting alone?!"

    Mimi took a deep breath. With help at her side, she was the one with an advantage. Authority was now ripe for the picking. As she exhaled, she felt her energy flare to life in the form of an orange aura. "Mikyu, Mikyu, Mikyu. I don't know what knowledge you were born with when the hole in the sky brought you in this world like me. But… if there's anything you should know about wild Pokémon, or Totem Pokémon for that matter, it's that calling for help is a must. Perhaps a demonstration will show you what I mean."

    Mimi felt something press against her tail and turned to see Sitrus with a confident smile. She nodded at him. As she readied her attack, she glanced at Sunny to see her levitating a bottle with pinkish-purplish particles inside. They both nodded at each other.

    Before Mikyu could swipe at them, Mimi lunged forward with Sitrus, her aura and his Helping Hand delivering extra force to the former's Shadow Claw swing. The resulting impact of her claws against the stomach of Mikyu's disguise left a satisfied smile on Mimi's face as the larger Mimikyu was sent flying towards the room's wall. Mimi's satisfaction only grew when Sunny pitched in with glowing Psyshock particles as the purplish surroundings of the Psychic Terrain settled in.

    Once the barrage of projectiles ceased its barrage, Mimi slowly shuffled towards Mikyu, taking note of how Mikyu's disguise took on a damaged form similar to hers. The very sight of seeing this beaten but conscious Mimikyu sprawled across the floor reminded her of what she just went through just a few minutes prior. However, unlike Mikyu, Mimi wasn't in it for the killing.

    She grabbed Mikyu by her disguise's neck and made sure to stare her right in the eyes. "From now on, I'm the one in charge here. No more running, no more tyranny, no more murder." She poked a claw right between Mikyu's eyes. "And you are going to follow my every order just like all the other Pokémon here. I am your Totem. Do I make myself clear?"

    Mikyu let out an audible gulp as her tone shifted to reflect the nervous stare in her eyes. "Y-Yes, Mi-"

    Mimi's look grew more hostile. "Ahem."

    In response, Mikyu let out a high pitched shriek before stopping herself halfway. "Y-Yes, Her Totemness!"

    "Good." Mimi let the neck of Mikyu's disguise go. "You can start by rounding all the other Mimikyu up here. Same goes for all the Klefki, Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar, too."

    Mikyu hesitated. "E-Even the Shuppet and Banette?"

    Mimi raised an eyebrow at the mention of the species. Last time she remembered, those two species weren't lurking around before. Did they perhaps enter the building while she was gone? DId they multiply already? Would they consult her to assist in multiplying? Regardless of the questions, she let the concern slide. "Go ahead. Everyone here needs to know who's in charge now." Mimi moved her claw in a sweeping motion. "You don't want to keep me waiting now, do you?!"

    The forceful tone in Mimi's voice was enough to send Mikyu into a hasty shuffle out of her sight and into the shadows. Mimi sighed as she felt her aura from before fade away, her adrenaline lifting as well.

    It feels good to be in power again.

    She turned around to see Sitrus and Sunny facing her, the former appearing confused as usual while the latter gave her a proud smile.

    Sitrus stepped forward. "Er… as awesome as that was, I don't know what all that Totem stuff was about… so can we go home now? Was it always this chilly in here?"

    Mimi hesitated a bit before sighing. I guess I should've expected as much… "Sitrus, I can't leave. I have to watch over all the wild Pokémon here and make sure they… well, don't misbehave."

    Sitrus' expression jumped back with shock right as he did. "Wait! I thought that other armless Pikachu was the leader or something! Why do you have to stay?"

    The Pikachu's persistence perplexed Mimi for a second. Even after she confessed her murderous deeds, she was still being invited to head back with this Pikachu as if nothing ever happened. Judging from Sunny's lack of intervention, she probably felt the same way about bringing Mimi back, too. But with Sunny, the one who was undoubtedly the smarter of the two, at least the truth was partially revealed the previous day before the rest of it was unloaded. With Sitrus, the one who she'd expect to be the most affected by her confession, it was all thrust upon him without any warning whatsoever.

    Yet, why would Sitrus, after all Mimi did, still bother to try convincing her to come back?

    Perhaps she just had to nail the fact into his head one more time. She mustered the most serious look she could. "Sitrus. I killed your parents."

    The Pikachu merely paused with a raised eyebrow as if he expected more. "And you said sorry." He paused again. "Are you saying I should be mad, or…"

    What are you talking about- of course you should be mad!

    Mimi suddenly came across the urge to slap an appendage across her face. Or perhaps slap Sitrus' face. This Pikachu can't be that dense, right?

    "Sitrus. I killed your parents. I turned you into an orphan." Mimi winced as she tried to continue. If she was just flinching at the thought of trying to crush Sitrus' opinion of her, then why did the Pikachu still show no reaction? "Sitrus. You remember all of those days you waited for your parents, right? You wasted your time. All because of me. Because I killed your parents. With my bare claws and everything."

    All Mimi received in response was a prolonged stare from Sitrus, raised eyebrow and all. The lack of something verbal made her want to sigh once more.

    Do I actually have to Wood Hammer this into his head or something?! Mimi's claws twitched at the instinct to grab at her tail.

    Before she could do so, Sitrus finally spoke up, voice wavering. "W-Wait… Mimi, you're being really pushy again, aren't you… do you actually not wanna come back?"

    Well of course I… wait… 'wanna come back'? The wording of Sitrus' statement made Mimi raise an eyebrow. I… I know I can't go back… but do I want to come back?

    The mere thought caused a torrent to flow in Mimi's mind. Even after all that she did, was the restriction to head back still there? She could head back to the forest where she could continue trying to be herself or stay at the Megamart and fix her-

    She abruptly shook her head. I have to stay. As much as I want to just let everything go and enjoy myself… I have to do my best to make up for what I did and while I can. Mimi paused. But… to actually say goodbye…

    The mere idea caused an unfamiliar rush of emotions to swell within Mimi. In what life she lived all she did as her Totem status was fight incoming trainers, help with managing the wild Pokémon economy every now and then, and get genuine visits from that nice human girl every now and then. She didn't put much thought into leaving Sitrus and Sunny the first time, but now that they were actually here seeing her eye-to-eye, the thought of having to muster a proper farewell left a bitter taste in the Mimikyu's mouth.

    Mimi carefully worded her thoughts, her lips quivering beneath her disguise. "Sitrus… it's not that I don't want to come back… it's just that I can't. I have to stay here and keep watch. I know there's a whole group of wild Pokémon I can go back to, but I have my own wild Pokémon to keep watch over. It's… how do I explain this… it's like a responsibility thing, like… parents."

    Still bearing a frown, Sitrus raised an eyebrow. "So… all these other armless Pikachu are like your children or something?"

    Er… I guess it's more than just the other Mimikyu, but if we're talking about who brought them into this world- Mimi cut herself off and blushed beneath her disguise at the thought. Now was not the time to bring these memories up. "In some cases, yes, but the point is that no matter how much I wanted to, I can't leave. I have responsibilities to attend to. I have mistakes to make up for."

    Even in his wavering tone, a bit of hope sparked up in Sitrus' voice. "Then… can't we stay? You won't mind taking care of two more Pokémon, right?"

    Mimi heard Sunny giggle, and she didn't blame her. To mere idea of thinking of her friends as her children was laughable at best. Oddly comforting to her, but still laughable.

    I'm not sure I could consider myself a mother to these two… like at allthough I can understand why Sitrus would enjoy that, especially considering-

    The sudden realization made Mimi bite her lip. She was so caught up in explaining her status at Thrifty Megamart to recall that she still held the status of murderer of Sitrus' parents. Yet, the Mimikyu still stood trying to get the very orphan himself to leave her be. It's a wonder he didn't straight up yell in anger for how much trouble she's caused…

    … so why didn't he?

    Mimi raised an eyebrow. Granted, she didn't know what it was like to have parents, but she expected them to be the type of people to die for. She even expected Sitrus, the one undoubtedly most affected by the killing, to lash out at her and want her gone as soon as possible. However, he ended up doing the exact opposite.

    He must still be missing something.

    The Mimikyu brought herself to utter the point once again. "Sitrus… why do you still insist I come back? You should hate me! I might kill someone else back at the forest, too! I… might even kill you!"

    In response, Sitrus' frown lifted into a faint smile. He let out a slow chuckle. "Mimi… I know you're not a killer. You said you were forced. You said sorry. You feel bad about it. Don't worry. In my eyes, you've done nothing wrong. I don't think you're a killer. You're Mimi, and that's what matters to me. I accept your apology."

    Sitrus…

    Mimi found herself at a loss of words again, but this time, in the good sense. Did she actually mean this much to Sitrus to have her apology accepted just like that? Did their friendship mean that much? Judging from Sitrus' comforting words and a smile equally as warm, his consoling had to be authentic.

    Her eyes darted to the slowly approaching Raichu. Sunny was giving her a reassuring smile as well, leaving Mimi perplexed once again.

    They… both still don't hate me? Do I really mean that much?

    A burden was slowly lifted from Mimi's shoulders when she realized it. Even when they had every right to be mad at her, Sitrus and Sunny still let it slide. They pushed aside any form of anger to make way for understanding. The very thought of a Pikachu, let alone a Raichu, showing any form of understanding towards her situation was one of the main aspirations she had upon looking up to the species. And to think a Pikachu and a Raichu were doing just that at the current moment…

    With burden's departure came the arrival of tears. The last time Mimi ended up sobbing like this, tears trailing down her disguise and all, it was because of sadness and guilt. In an oddly comforting twist, her current tears were caused by the overwhelming feeling of relief warming her troubled heart.

    Mimi quickly wiped her blurred vision away and shuffled closer to Sitrus and Sunny, letting her disguise head bow. "You two… thank you…"

    Rather than receiving verbal response, Mimi found herself being pulled into a warm group embrace. The pure delight of feeling the contact of several warm paws around her just elicited more tears as she tried her best to hug them back.

    Mimi clenched her eyes shut and let her tears continue flowing. "I'll never forget you guys… I swear…"

    Shortly afterwards, the two Electric types withdrew. Sitrus gave Mimi a concerned look. "Do we… still stay?"

    The Mimikyu sighed. Right now was not the time to go on a complete tangent of her role as Totem Pokémon and reiterate her permanent stay. Fortunately, her explanation shortcut came in the form of the Raichu speaking up.

    Sunny looked down at Sitrus with a warmly sympathetic smile. "Sitrus, we can't stay. There aren't any Berry clearings we can hunt for or huts we can make here. And this place is for Ghost types, so we wouldn't be able to fit in as much as Mimi does."

    Mimi quietly sighed to herself. Whew… thanks for filling in… though there are Klefki here too…

    Sitrus raised an eyebrow and directed his gaze to Mimi. "So… are you and all the other armless Pikachu Ghost types too?"

    "Er…" Mimi hesitated. "Let's… just say I'm a special Pikachu like how Sunny is a special Raichu. I don't think I'd hold up much better in a forest."

    The Pikachu's expression drooped. "So… you're still not coming back?"

    Mimi let her head nod. "It's my duty to stay here, Sitrus."

    Sitrus' ears drooped. "And… we'll never see each other again?"

    "Maybe… maybe one day," she replied. "But until then, don't worry about me. I'll be fine, and you'll be fine too. Sunny's still there to look out for you, remember?"

    The Pikachu's ears slowly raised back up, his smiling doing so as well. A faint sniffle can be heard amidst his wavering voice. "I… guess so. Well… bye Mimi."

    As Sitrus walked over to Sunny and climbed onto her tail, the Raichu turned to wave goodbye to Mimi as well, her smile still present. "Farewell for now, Mimi. I'm looking forward to when the day of our reunion comes upon us."

    Mimi waved back with an appendage as the two levitated away. She made sure to keep her eyes on them while she could before they turned away from her. Sunny's bittersweet gaze met hers, and so did Sitrus' tear-welled but smiling stare.

    Soon, the two were out of sight past the doors. Silence came back once more to the lone Mimikyu, but she still remained smiling.

    Looks like they're gone… but… I don't have anything to worry about anymore. Everything is going to be okay.

    She let herself take a deep breath. As she did so, she felt the silence around her grow peaceful. All of her worries about murder were now figments of the past. There was no more darkness in the heart she tried her best to keep shrouded beneath her blanket sheet.

    What remained was a determined resolve to change for the better.
    Epilogue - The Secrets We Keep

    'Now… how do I do this?'

    With a large glass jar almost the size of his tail clasped in his paws, Sitrus brought himself to attempt running through the forest pathways with just his hind paws.

    It didn't go so well.

    The struggle of not being used to his lower body strength caught Sitrus' legs off guard once more, making him trip. As he fell face-first onto the grass, his paws lost grip of the glass jar, allowing it to roll away during his plummet.

    Sitrus sighed into the grass.

    He got up with a jerk, instantly landing on his feet with a displeased look on his face. "I know you're hiding somewhere in the bushes, Sunny!" He cupped his paws near his mouth and continued yelling. "Come on, stop it with the Grass Knots already!"

    The Pikachu was met by a response, but only by the wind. A response that was a mere passing breeze. No rustling whatsoever.

    He chuckled to himself. "Silly me. Sunny wouldn't be out here trying to trip me up. She was the one who sent me out here to help refill her jars."

    It was true that the Raichu wouldn't dare try to play such a trick on her loyal little errand runner. For the past few days, Sitrus tried his very hardest to help Sunny with whatever requests she had for him. Granted, this was already his usual routine for quite a while, but this situation was different. The Pikachu couldn't waste time wondering if his Raichu friend really was playing around with him.

    Sitrus quickly scrambled to where he dropped the jar and picked it back up, attempting to press it against his chest.

    'Okay… let's try taking it easy…'

    He continued heading forward through the forest path, waddling with the glass jar one slow step at a time.

    With a thump, Sitrus carefully placed the large water-filled jar he was just carrying onto the grass. He wiped his brow and sighed. "Okay… I got the lake water like you asked… Boy, carrying that got me tired…"

    Sunny merely stood in front of the jar with a confused expression on her face. "Sitrus, it took you this long to come back and yet you only brought it back half full?"

    Sitrus merely chuckled as he brought himself to sit down onto the grass. "Weird… it was full when I carried it. Well, at least it's better than being half empty, right?"

    Rather than receiving a chuckle in return like Sitrus expected, Sunny merely sighed. "Remind me to make sure I refill it when we get to the next the clearing."

    With a sigh of relaxation, Sitrus slowly leaned back to let his back press against the grass, but before he could do so, he found himself being levitated back to his feet.

    Sunny gave him an accusatory glare. "Come on now Sitrus, we don't want to be left behind, now do we?"

    The Pikachu raised an eyebrow. "Did everyone else leave already?"

    In response, Sunny levitated Sitrus so that he faced the rest of the clearing. The whole site appeared barren as if it were nighttime, except that the faint sunlight shining through the leafy ceiling indicated otherwise. It was probably just because everyone took down their huts to mere leafy piles, making the clearing look much less crowded, the Pikachu supposed.

    After Sitrus' brief moment of staring, he was promptly levitated back to meet with Sunny's expectant stare, a gentle tone in the Raichu's voice. "Aren't you going to bring anything?"

    The Pikachu shrugged, a sheepish smile on his face. "I don't really have any stuff to bring. I'll just get the straw for my bed from my hut on the way out."

    Sunny paused for a second. "Okay. Just making sure nothing gets left behind." She proceeded to levitate Sitrus back onto the ground. "I'll just continue packing up my own stuff. Give me a second."

    "Alright! I'll be waiting!"

    As Sunny levitated back towards her still-standing hut, Sitrus decided to use this time to continue taking in the view of the calm clearing around him. His time on the cliff by the plains made him quite the one to indulge in the scenery.

    '... the cliff…'

    Sitrus' eyes darted to a familiar-looking pile of leaves some distance away, a pile of straw sitting right on top of it. Past the pile atop pile was the grassy pathway to the very place he just thought of.

    'If only I spent more time there…' He chuckled. 'Well, what can I do? At least I can smile that I actually have memories at that place.'

    For a brief moment, Sitrus sat and stared at that very pathway, finding himself indulged in a moment of reminiscing. The sights there were mostly what dotted his memories, but he vividly remembered spending most of them by himself.

    Except for those few nights.

    The Pikachu's attention then swept over the rest of the clearing, his gaze scanning over all the other piles of what were once huts. Then, standing rather modestly in between some dismantled piles of logs and leaves stood the very hut Sitrus' attention focused on.

    'Mimi…'

    The very thought of the name left Sitrus staring longingly at the untouched hut. Memories of someone who was once his friend started flooding his mind. Yet, as bittersweet as those memories felt to him, Sitrus' couldn't bring himself to frown while thinking of her. As far away as Mimi was now, she was still one of his closest friends. Regardless of what flaws she had in her background, it was their friendship that mattered.

    "You know Sitrus, I almost forgot her hut was still there."

    Sunny's voice made Sitrus turn around to see her with her satchel slung over her shoulder, piles of leaves and logs levitating behind her.

    He almost held his mouth open at the sight. "That's… a lot of logs."

    Sitrus' reaction elicited a giggle from the Raichu. "What? I really liked how my hut turned out here. The logs were surprisingly good around this part of the forest. It'd be a shame if I just left resources like these destroyed here." Her gaze lifted from Sitrus to look past his shoulder. "And speaking of leaving resources here, what do you think we should do with Mimi's hut?"

    "Hmm…" Sitrus quickly turned around once again to stare at the lone hut once more. "Can we leave it as is? You never know… maybe some other wild Pokémon in need of a shelter might find it. Now that I think about it… maybe I should leave something as a sign of Mimi so that anyone who comes across it knows who to thank…"

    A giggle came from Sunny. "Even when she's not around, you still can't bear any animosity towards her, can you?"

    "Of course!" Sitrus quickly turned on his heel to face Sunny with a determined smile. "She's my friend! We went Berry hunting together… talked about some stuff together… did I mention that I know her favorite Berry?"

    Sunny smiled back, her grin appearing warm. "Don't worry. I vividly remember you telling me that." Her smile slowly drooped. "But… you still don't mind that she kept a lot of secrets from you?"

    "Secret keeping?" Sitrus paused for a second to think. His ears drooped with his expression. "Oh. About… my parents, right?"

    "Actually…" Sunny hesitated. "... you do know that she's not actually a Pikachu, right?"

    "Wait… are you saying she's not an armless Pikachu? Is she just… a really tall armless Pichu then?"

    Sunny paused again, but this time with a look of disbelief on her face. "The point is… she kept a lot of dark secrets from you. I understand that she is forgivable to some extent, especially since it wasn't my parents that were murdered. But… didn't you hate her even a little for keeping this kind of important stuff from you?"

    "Oh…" Sitrus took a second to let Sunny's words sink in. He quickly shook it off with a chuckle as his ears slowly raised. "Well, like I said, I still understand her situation completely."

    Sunny raised an eyebrow. "Wait… what do you mean by that?"

    Sitrus' chuckle continued, his tone slowly breaking into one of forced enthusiasm. "Mimi wanted to keep her dark secrets… well, secret. Obviously if anyone found out about it she'd be in at least some sort of trouble."

    Once the Pikachu's chuckling stopped, he couldn't help but notice Sunny's confused look as the Raichu slowly backed away. He didn't blame her.

    He still continued, his tone completely drained of his usual cheerfulness. "All that stuff about keeping those dark secrets hidden in fear of others finding out… I perfectly understand that." To emphasize his point, Sitrus narrowed his eyes, his sneer aimed right at Sunny as a devilish smile came across his face.

    Sitrus stepped closer to the now-quivering Raichu. "After all, I should know."

    Sheet Shrouded Heart - A Pokémon Story

    End.
    and that is all
     
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