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Look and Listen (Serebii Yuletide 2016, PG)

Discussion in 'Completed Fics' started by Mrs. Lovett, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Mrs. Lovett

    Mrs. Lovett Rolling writer

    This fic was written for Dramatic Melody for the Serebii Yuletide 2016. I got a list of several prompts having to do with Hoenn, all of which inspired me, so the idea that resulted in the end has a bit of everything in the mix. But the prompt that formed the basis, so to speak, was the one having to do with an NPC and what happened to them after a significant event in the Hoenn storyline. That NPC was the owner of the Pretty Petal Flower Shop on Route 104, and the significant event was the start of the Hoenn storyline, symbolized by all three main protagonists (May, Brendan, and Wally) passing by the shop. But there's lots of other stuff going on besides that, and the story that resulted has everything I wanted to say in a nutshell. (Albeit a rather long nutshell :p) I hope you enjoy it!

    The games don't give the flower shop owner a name, so I went with the name of the oldest sister in the anime. The anime also names the second-oldest sister Nicole, but I decided to use Daphne, which I had had earlier in my notes. I also named the youngest sister Natalie, in line with the anime again.

    There might be some confusion as to which in-game universe the story takes place in. The short answer is a hybrid of the two. I went with the R/S/E interpretation of Wally's storyline, in which he doesn't meet the player after the Mauville battle until Victory Road, but the ORAS ending when he battles the player in a field of flowers. I didn't mention Mega Evolution or Key Stones because I figured that would result in too much sidetracking. But Rita does mention Unova when she talks to Wally, so the new regions still exist.


    Look and Listen
    * * * * * * * * * * * * *



    {R}

    There’s something about planting. I don’t know what, but there’s something about putting my hands in the soil, burying the seeds, and watering them, that gives me a sense of contentment and calmness. It’s surprising to think that such a simple enjoyment could have carved out an entire life path, but I guess that’s how passions work, at the core. At any rate, there’s surprisingly little time to philosophize when I’m switching between daily store duties and taking care of my sprouts, which have varied futures – some are for our seed inventory, others for sale, others for public berry picking in the back. Then, some weeks later, when I finally see five or six flowering plants lined up on the sill of our greenhouse, I’m so warmed and delighted by them that I don’t even think of pondering it.

    That’s not to say there isn’t an intellectual side to the job. The way I try to do it, at least. There might be hundreds of flower shops and little bouquet stands in Hoenn, but from what I know, none of their owners go to seed exchange events with shop owners from Johto and Sinnoh, and none of them are simultaneously pursuing the goal of writing the best Hoenn berry encyclopedia to date (or so I hope!). Arguably, it could also be counted in our favor that we have the blessing and endorsement of His Eminence the Hoenn Berry Master (a.k.a. Grandpa), but all that involves is really him and Grandma encouraging passerby trainers to visit us and keeping some of our seed supply safe in their house in case of a bad season.

    Grandpa and I think alike in a lot of ways. He also likes planting, though it was a hobby he picked up much later in life than I did. To him, growing plants is the ultimate symbol of closeness to nature. He often tells me that a person needs only three things to be happy – a garden, close family, and tranquility. As a young girl, I never doubted it.

    Granted, he never suggested to me that I open the flower shop. But he supported my idea, and even gave me some money and plants to get me started. I bought a building that was close to home, on Route 104 south of Rustboro, and invited my younger sisters, Daphne and Natalie, to tag along. They both share the same interest in gardening as I do, though perhaps not to such a consuming extent. As our business and staff grew over the years, Daphne decided to look for a more independent job beyond the city and Natalie eventually came to demand fewer afternoon and weekend shifts so that she could spend more time ‘out and about’ on her own. So on most days it’s just me inhabiting the store, helping customers and keeping tabs on the products. On evenings, I use the silence to take inventory or work on the book. It’s been two years since I started it, and since then, I’ve noticed that I’ve started to become a bit like an encyclopedia myself, launching into detailed biological descriptions when I’m showing a plant to a customer or going into detail about growth cycles when they ask how to take care of it. Grandpa doesn’t say nearly as much when he gives a berry to a trainer. He just picks one at random, says a well-wishing phrase or two, and bids them farewell. Granted, he is pushing eighty… and he doesn’t get nearly the number of visitors in a day that I do. But wouldn’t that make a person chattier? Didn’t he ever wonder where that trainer was going, or why they had even chosen to visit him in the first place?

    I suppose he doesn’t. To him, his plants are enough, and it’s enough for him to simply be surrounded by them. Giving berries to trainers is his act of gratuity, him sharing a piece of his own serenity so that the trainer may benefit from it too.

    But for some reason, I can’t do the same.

    I look at the fully-grown flowers filling up the shelves in the greenhouse: Belue, Aspear, Oran... I may never see any of them again. They’ll be in private gardens, on people’s desks, their berries in a trainer’s pouch. The brief contentment I felt when raising them has turned into a feeling of nonfulfillment and anticipation for something else. I don’t know why.

    All I know is that I always try to tell people, especially trainers, the same thing before they leave: For each berry plant they pick, they should plant one in its place. And they should always save at least one seed for the soil, even if they’re traveling, so that someone else could find it later. Then, ideally, the flowers would be everywhere.

    Some of the trainers look bored when I tell them this. Others nod politely along, then proceed to feed all the berries to their pokémon once they’re out of the store. I sigh sadly.

    In those moments, I wonder if I overthink things.


    * * * *​


    The beginning of March marks the fifth anniversary of the day I opened the store. By now, the Pretty Petal Flower Shop fits snugly with the rest of the Route 104 landscape. It’s the only building in the upper half of the route, the rest being a wall of forest, a small grassy meadow, and a boardwalk going over a large pond.

    March is also the month that marks the beginning of spring, which for our part of Hoenn means warm, sunny weather. The Yache berries that grew in the winter are starting to wane, so soon it’ll be time to clear the space in the garden for crop rotation and make room for more springtime flowers like Durin and Bluk. The peak in customer activity usually doesn’t happen until mid-month, so I still have time to work on the encyclopedia during quiet mornings.

    The first week proceeds normally. I finish the start-of-the-month bookkeeping , answer some phone calls from gardeners to give advice, and bag the next crop of Chesto seeds. There is nothing telling me that this month – or the year, in fact – could possibly shake me out of my ordinary state.

    Then, one morning, a trainer comes to visit.

    The reason I notice her, of course, is because she’s the first of the season, and whenever there’s a first of anything, it’s bound to grab your attention. Like most trainers, she’s dressed simply and sportily, with shorts, sneakers, and a large messenger bag fastened around her waist. But she also has some quirks of her own – black-fingered gloves and a green bandanna tied around her head.

    She walks in about an hour after our busy midday period, when I’m restocking some of the front shelves with decorative pots and enjoying the rare silence of an empty lobby. I hear the bell bring and turn towards the door, but before I can even get a word out, the girl steps in and smiles. “Morning.”

    I reply with a smile and step away from the shelf. “Good morning! Anything I can help you with?”

    “I was just wondering if you guys sell berries here,” she says. “I know this is a gardening store, but I heard some trainers tell me you had a public berry garden in the back.”

    “That we do,” I say. I go back to the counter and take a pouch from the drawer. “Just go out the back door and fill this up with whichever ones you like. Then come back here and I’ll weigh them.”

    “Thanks!” The girl taps her chin. “Uh… could I get two, please? I’ll need different berries for different things.”

    “Sure.” I give her a second pouch, and the girl goes through the back door. My gaze lingers on her outfit again, and I find myself admiring the flair in her simple style, and how comfortable and prepared she looks. Then, I suddenly become keenly aware of what I’m wearing – a long summer dress with frills on the hems, and shoes that are more for strolling on a sidewalk than walking through a flowerbed. When I had put it on that morning, it had seemed as summery and refreshing as always, like bright, hand-painted pots and the shimmery wind chimes that hung by our windows. But now, as I catch my reflection in a glass surface, it seems to make me look puffy and bundled up more than anything. And definitely out of place with the plain, practical clothes that the rest of our team wears.

    My mother, I know, would have rolled her eyes at me.

    “Beauty is found, Ree. You don’t have to try to create it.”

    I lean back against the counter, a frown slowly forming over my face. What would she have said now? Would she have been happy that I had the store? Or just flatly remarked that my plants were getting more outside air than I was?

    My thoughts are broken when the back door opens and the trainer girl comes back. The two berry pouches are bulging. “All done!” she says, and hands them over to me.

    “All right. Just a moment.” I weigh the pouches on the scale and tell her the price. The girl opens up her messenger bag, shuffling through folded papers, a pair of goggles, and battle items in neatly-zipped pockets. Finally she fishes out a wallet and puts some bills onto the counter.

    After counting them and placing them into the register, I look back up at her. She’s looking out the window, but from her expression it seems like her mind is already somewhere beyond it, planning a course of action. I give a conversational smile. “So… are you a trainer?” I ask.

    The girl looks back at me and smiles. “Yeah. But I don’t do the League or anything; I’m more interested in raising. My dad’s a pokémon professor, and he’s doing fieldwork in Oldale for a few days to investigate Grass habitats. I decided to tag along with him.”

    I nod. “Ah. So what kinds of things do you do?”

    “Mostly just write stuff down and take pictures. But sometimes he lets me help hands-on, too, like build instruments and stuff. Then another time he let me take all the Torchics he was raising out for a walk. But then they started screeching and running around everywhere and started a fire near Route 101. I had to run all the way back to the lab and send out all the Mudkips to douse it!” She giggles.

    I smile. “So do you have pokémon of your own?”

    “Just one. My dad let me choose one for my birthday a few months ago, and I got a Treecko. He likes berries, so I always like to keep some just for him. And they’re good for healing up after battles. I use the Rawst ones for burn heals and Chestos to restore his energy when he’s tired. I even keep a little garden in my dad’s lab that I pick from. It’s great, because I don’t have to spend a bunch of money on healing items.” She pauses, then gives a sigh. “Littleroot Town’s so small, though… There are hardly any other kids my age. It would be great to have someone to battle with…” She trails off, then a moment later, meets my gaze again and gives a nod. “Well, anyways, I gotta go. Have a good day!”

    I nod. “Likewise.”

    The girl waves, then turns for the door and leaves.

    I watch her through the window as she goes in the direction of Petalburg Woods. She was probably headed back to her father now, in Petalburg or Oldale, awaiting the next step in their little expedition. Meanwhile, I had three more hours in the building to go through, then a lunch break, then four more.

    By now, after five years, I know that the kids don’t listen when I tell them my little speech about spreading flowers around the world, so I’ve stopped saying it. I just stick to the slogan now, which people in a hurry appreciate. But even so, part of me still pushes me to look around when I take a walk, hoping to see a flower in an unusual place or someone stopping to tend to a plant. Though I no longer know what I would feel if I did. The shop has become so ingrained in my life that it’s erased everything else, even the original spark I had had when I opened it. But maybe that was the way things worked in life, just like they had for Grandpa, who had handed out berries for so long that it had stopped being a goal and become a lifestyle.

    Now, looking around at the empty shop, I sigh.

    Perhaps that’s all dreams really are…


    {W}

    People like bringing you flowers when you’re sick. Is it to make you feel better? I don’t know, because they never really made me feel better. Whenever I was feeling bad and couldn’t get out of bed for several days, my mother would always put a flower on the bedside table, but all it did was remind me that I was sick. But I still appreciated it in a way, because at the very least, it gave me something nice to look at, added touch to the plain, pale colors of my bedroom. (“Too bright colors would disturb him,” the doctors had said long ago. “Better to surround him in neutral tones, so as not to be too harsh on his eyes...”)

    I do like flowers, though. In and of themselves. A long time ago, I remember a stretch of good time when I was out and about a lot. I don’t remember exactly where – was it Petalburg or Verdanturf Town? (“The air’s much better in Verdanturf. Maybe a change of climate will help him…”) Anyways, it doesn’t matter – the important thing about the memory is that I was really young. I could walk, though I was still at the point where I’d stumble occasionally and needed someone to hold me up by the hand. I was in a garden of some sort, sitting in the soil while my mother and aunt tended to a flowerbed together. I watched as they pulled bulbs out of bags - large, bulbous flowers with reedy stems and globs of soil at the bottom, exposing tangles of tiny, fragile roots. I watched as they planted them, dug the soil back in, and watered them. I remember touching one of those flowers, feeling the rough stems and the fragile petals, and for the first time I really did believe it when they told me that nature was alive - those flowers were living and breathing, just like we were.

    Now, I’m much older. I’m eleven. I’m lying in my bed, looking at another flower, only this one is in a vase. The vase is a pretty glass one that my dad bought a while ago. It also seems to be my sick vase; every time something like this happens (“Oh no. Wally, dear, lie down. Lie down. That’s it. I’ll make your bed right now…”), one of them gets the vase from the shelf, and a few hours after I’m tucked in bed, slowly breathing to wait until the attack stops, my mother slowly comes in, places the vase with a bouquet down, and kisses me.

    I’m looking at that same bouquet now, which by now is three days old. I’m feeling much better than I was three days ago, and have the sudden urge to walk, to move. I can focus on the quiet discussion going on in our living room, the same discussion that’s been taking place between my parents over the days. (“So what should we do, send him to Verdanturf?” “Yes.” “And for how long?”)

    I’m feeling better, but if the flowers on my nightstand could talk, I think they’d be saying different about themselves. They used to be red, but now they’re turning purplish-brown, and some of the petals have already dropped off. Their stems are cut short, ending not in roots, but with bare, chiseled edges snapped off with scissors, resting on a bed of round, shiny pebbles colored an unnatural turquoise. The water has turned murky. They probably didn’t get many nutrients from it.

    An unpleasant fate to be bound to, I ponder, as I look at them. Pale and dry, withering in their narrow, glass-encased world. There’s no soil for them. No sun. No life.

    I’m afraid, eventually, I’ll become the same as them.


    * * * *​

    Three days later, I feel well again. I’m able to step out of my room, and when I reach the kitchen, I see my parents eating breakfast. They practically jump up in surprise.

    “Wally!”

    They hug me, offer me something to drink. Within a few hours, things return somewhat to normal. My appetite’s returned. My mother dumps the water from the vase and throws the withered flowers away. My gaze lingers on the garbage can before she closes the cabinet door to conceal it, and I feel my heart sink for some reason.

    The next day, I feel well enough to step outside. Immediately, I’m struck by the warmth. Beneath the brightness of the sun, my cream-colored house shirt looks stark white, and my skin looks slightly paler than it seemed like indoors. I know I’m skinny, and in comparison to some of the other kids I glimpse on the streets, I look smaller and younger, though we’re probably the same age. I don’t interact with other people much anymore, but I’ve had enough experiences to make comparisons.

    I keep going. As I walk out into a more open space, another breeze blows through, and I can detect the scent of the nearby sea. Before long, my breathing becomes heavy again and I have to stop to let it catch up with me. Still, I manage to make it the rest of the way to the building I usually stop by – the Petalburg Gym. It was closed down for a few months since the old Gym leader left, but just last week, a new one came in. I’ve seen him a few times around town since then. He’s sturdy and strong, and has an aura of determination around him. He’s also more hands-on than the previous Gym-leader. I’ve seen him helping the workers with putting up a new sign and hauling in lots of mats and tables through the front door. He even said hi to me once, when I stopped to watch him, and asked me if I was a trainer. I said I wasn’t.

    Now, I come to a stop and look at the building for a moment. The shutters are closed over the windows, and there’s nobody roaming around the vicinity except for a boy with a Poochyena. He’s wearing a pokéball belt with three capsules clipped onto it. He follows his pokémon around, fiddling at the same time with a device I’ve seen trainers use. I know it’s called a PokéNav, but I don’t know what it’s used for.

    I lean against a nearby tree and watch them. The Poochyena sniffs at something in the ground, in hot pursuit of a scent. The boy follows along, first kneeling down to his pokémon, then jumping up and jogging after it, covering nearly twice the ground I had in a few seconds.

    My mother jogged a lot. She went outside every other morning to go through Route 102, and always came back out of breath, red in the face, complaining aloud how terribly long a trail it was and hard it was to motivate herself to run. But twice a month, she’d rush out of the house early in the morning with two baskets in hand to be the first one at the farmer’s market in Oldale Town, then come back two hours later on foot with baskets filled with fruits and vegetables. She got exhausted after these trips too, but despite her breathless voice and her reddened face, she seemed energized. Revitalized.

    I look back at the boy, who by now had retreated far into the distance, to a point where I could never catch up with him, even if I tried. I knew trainers had to get tired too, from all the walking they did. But somehow, they kept going. Perhaps it was because they had something to walk towards.


    {R}

    Over the days, the traffic of trainers increases, to the point where I feel like there’s always kids somewhere nearby, their voices carrying loud and clear through the route. Oftentimes they stop by the store, some alone, others in groups. Most of them are newbies, so they’re eager to soak up as much information about berries and training as they can. Natalie puts up helpful signs in the back garden that tell which berries are good for what and what kinds of pokémon enjoy eating them. Not wanting to get distracted by them as I’m apt to do, I immerse myself into a routine of writing, logging, and working. But suddenly, one morning, I get another surprise visit. This time it’s from Captain Briney.

    Captain Briney is an old, retired sailor who lives in the southern part of the route, past Petalburg Woods. I met him when he stumbled upon the shop one day by chance, and over the years we became friends. The woods are thin in our area, so it’s not a long walk from his house, and he often comes to visit, telling stories or looking at what we have on sale.

    That morning, I had arrived at the store at seven o’clock to open things up. The two other morning shift workers wouldn’t come in until eight-thirty, so I have some time to myself, which I decide to spend working on the book. I’m sitting at the counter alone, just my laptop and my notebook beside me, when suddenly, the front door bursts open.

    “Rita!”

    At the sound of my name, I jump. At the door stands Captain Briney, wearing his usual simple attire, carrying a large sack. His Wingull, Peeko, trails behind.

    I rise from my chair. “Captain Briney! I don’t usually see you here this early.” I come over to the side of the counter just as he places down the sack. I notice that he’s breathing rapidly and examine his face and posture in concern. “Captain Briney, did you run all the way over here?”

    He waves it off with a scowl. “Running’s no bother for me. Especially when it’s for something important! Right, Peeko?”

    The Wingull chirps energetically.

    I frown. “What do you mean, important? Did something happen?”

    “Something got found, that’s what happened!” He chuckles. “I went sailing a few days ago. Went all the way out towards Pacifidlog, but then the current swept us away! Blasted tides… but anyways, after some steering, I came upon an island. Didn’t see it on the map anywhere, but I figured why not take a break, and Peeko was getting anxious, so I finally decided to make a stop. I followed her up a hill, and at the top, you wouldn’t believe what we found!” He opens the sack, revealing what appear to be flowers and stems in mounds of soil.

    I lift my eyebrows in surprise. “Plants?”

    “Not just any plants!” Briney says. “Plants I’ve never seen before in my life! I wouldn’t have even thought they grew in Hoenn!”

    I try to examine them, but the sack makes it difficult. “Let’s go to the back, then.”

    I help him with the sack into our workroom, and together we empty the contents onto the giant center table. The flowers are colored sandy brown, with deep-purple throats.

    “I thought they were something special,” Briney says. “I’ve never seen them before, and I thought you’d appreciate them for your book!”

    I examine the flowers and leaves, speechless. Just from looking at them, I can tell that I didn’t have them yet in my encyclopedia. I’m not even sure if I had seen them in any encyclopedia.

    After my shift ends that afternoon, I scurry to the Rustboro Library and do some research. After a few days, I’m eventually able to determine that they’re exemplars of the Ganlon plant. It’s a very rare species, one that was wiped out from most of its Hoenn habitats long ago. Whether it still lives in any other places apart from that island, I don’t know.

    Either way, if I could manage to grow it, then I could possibly catalog a vanished species.

    When I get back to the store, I carefully separate the plants from the soil and collect what seeds I can from the rotting berries. Then I plant three, and put the rest away into pouches and store them away in our back shed.

    For a long while after, I feel jittery. I tell my sisters and the rest of the team to be as careful around them as possible, and record everything about my experience with them down to the tiny details. Even when I’m not in the store, whenever I think of those three pots, it seems as if a door of some sort has opened in my mind. But as for where that door could lead, I’m at a loss. From a gardener’s perspective, they were really just another color in the clump… And from a business lady’s perspective, they probably wouldn’t lead to a huge success, even if their berries turned out to have beneficial properties.

    But then, that would just mean that I’d have to become something more.


    {W}

    The thing that happened to me that made me stuck in bed for days doesn’t happen again, but I’m noticeably weaker than before. I try to take walks, but even after a week goes by, they still leave me so exhausted that I’m unable to do much else for the rest of the day.

    My parents support my efforts to get back to normal again, but something about their expressions and tones of voices towards me seems to have changed. And after a few days, I find out why: They want to make sure these things don’t continue. They tell me they’re sending me to Verdanturf to live with my aunt and uncle. Verdanturf has good air. It will give me strength, so they say.

    In three days, they finish packing. My mother calls a taxi that will take us to Rustboro City. From there, we would wait on a train that would take me at last to Verdanturf, where my parents would leave me with my aunt and uncle.

    With only a few hours remaining before our departure, I harden my resolve and leave the house.

    I know the way to the Petalburg Gym by heart. I’ve practically memorized how the building looks from outside, but nevertheless, I’m scared stiff as I step up to the door. Slowly, I push it open, and when I get a glimpse of the spacious front room, my light, easy breathing stifles. Leader Norman is standing right there in the center, with a boy who’s a bit older than me. They both turn to look see who walked in, and my throat closes up. It’s too late to run. I consciously remind myself to take another breath, hold it for a moment, then slowly let it out.

    I approach.

    “Um… I… I’d like to get a pokémon, please…”

    Norman looks down at me, and after a moment, seems to recognize me. “Hm? You’re… Uh… Oh, right. You’re Wally, right?”

    I nod. “I’m going to stay with my relatives in Verdanturf Town. I thought I would be lonely by myself, so I wanted to take a pokémon along. But I’ve never caught a pokémon before. I don’t know how…”

    Throughout my bumbling attempt at an explanation, Norman keeps his gaze steady. “Hm. I see.” He turns to the other boy. “Brendan, you heard that, right? Go with Wally and make sure that he safely catches a pokémon.”

    My breathing accelerates and becomes shallow. Things begin to happen in rapid succession. Norman gives me a pokéball that contains his Zigzagoon, another one for the pokémon that would be my own. Within seconds, I’m falling into step with Brendan as he leads me out of the Gym and turns left towards Route 102.

    Brendan has a relaxed posture and looks around both eagerly and contently. He seems like a person who goes places, with a white hair cap covering his head, a one-shoulder backpack, and fingerless gloves. I find out that Norman is his father. As we pass into Route 102, Brendan turns to me. “So, you live around here?”

    I nod. “We have a house not too far from Route 104.”

    “Cool. My mom and I have a house in Littleroot. As of… two days ago. Heh.”

    “Oh. So… you moved here?”

    “Yeah, we originally lived in Johto. We came because Dad got the new Gym, and we wanted to be a bit closer to him.”

    He begins to tell me a bit about his old hometown as he leads me into the tall grass. It feels strange, walking, talking. By the time I get the hang of all the starts and stops in the flow of a conversation, Brendan’s attentions smoothly shifts focus and he starts to describe how to catch a pokémon. He takes out one of his own pokéballs for demonstration, showing how the center button opens the capsule and activates the capturing mechanism.

    Through his long-winded explanation, I notice a flit of white in the corner of my eye. I jump, and my eyes lock on a small, green-headed creature that has just poked its head through a bundle of grass blades. A Ralts. Brendan notices it too and points to it, and I send out the Zigzagoon. As he suggests commands, egging me on, I manage to weaken the pokémon enough to get it to teeter around in confusion. I open the new pokéball in my hands and throw it, and after a few rolls, the capsule holds still.

    Brendan claps a hand over my shoulder and begins to shake me, nearly making me fall over. I stumble after him as we make our way back to Petalburg City, my hands closed tightly around the pokéball as if it were a life raft. We go back to the Gym, where I part with him and his father, then start back on the path from which I had left my house. I’m unable to comprehend what I had just done, the fact that there is a creature inside of the little sphere which I can now call my own.

    I reach my house, where a taxi is waiting by the side of the road. Just as I approach, my mother steps out of the front door, a luggage bag in her hands. Noticing me, she hurries towards me. “Are you ready to go? Do you have your pokémon?”

    I look at the pokéball in my hands and nod.

    “Great. Your father and I have already packed everything. Hop in!”

    She opens the back door for me and gently steers me towards it. I sit down behind the driver, and once my parents have gotten in as well, he starts the engine. I get a final look at the house, where the garden is in full bloom, before we speed off.


    {R}

    Things in business always happen quickly. Products, deals, customers, all of them come and go like the wind. But in the world of soil and water, things happen slowly.

    Out of the three original Ganlon seeds that I planted, only one sprouted. After a week, it gave three blooms and three seeds, only one of which in turn began to grow. So the second generation leaves me in the same predicament I started out with. I tell Grandpa, and he says that I should keep patient, and that as soon as I get at least twelve spare seeds, to send them to him so that he could keep them safe.

    Throughout these days, I’ve found myself thinking less about new garden designs and contracts with ceramics masters and more about the Ganlon plants. I’ve written and revised paragraphs about them in my head, wondered what I could be doing wrong with growing them, and thought about what I would do if the second generation produced only one good seed like the first. I hardly noticed it as the daytime heat acquired a hint of summer. It doesn’t even occur to me that it’s almost the end of March until today, when a trainer in a white hair cap comes to the counter and sighs.

    “Man… it was never this hot so early in Johto…” he mumbles to himself, lifting the cap a little and rubbing his forehead. “Tomorrow’s April and it already feels like July!”

    I look at him and a smile traces up my face. “Yep, that’s the Hoenn summer for you… So, are you new here?”

    “Yeah. My mom and I moved to Littleroot Town a few weeks ago. Now I guess I’m gonna travel a bit on my own and see the region. I heard Rustboro is where the first Gym is.”

    “That’s right,” I say. “So you’re thinking of challenging the League here?”

    The boy nods. “Yeah. I wasn’t really keen on it before for some reason, but then I met Professor Birch and he gave me a Mudkip.” He pauses. “Well, it was more like me using Mudkip to get the professor out of a tight spot and him letting me keep him… Heh.”

    A light flashes in my mind. “Do you mean the pokémon professor who lives in Littleroot Town?”

    “Yeah. We moved there not too long ago. My dad’s actually a friend of his, so I went to his house to meet his family on my first day. He has a daughter who’s pretty cool. She showed me a few things about training, and we even had a battle. I was a bit better than she was, though. And Mudkip and I had a lot of fun, too, so I decided that if there was anyone I wanted to do the League with, it’s him.”

    My mind goes back to the trainer girl wearing the green bandanna. Now that I look at him, this boy seems a bit like her, determined and collected. Though his goal was different from hers, he must have felt a desire to compare himself, to test himself.

    Making eye contact with him again, I smile. “So what’s your name?” I ask.

    “Brendan.”

    “Brendan. That’s a nice name. Did you want to learn a bit about berries, Brendan? They can be a big help when you’re starting out training.”

    “Yeah, that would be great!”

    I tell him the basics, and he ends up buying a pouchful from the garden, along with a Wailmer Pail to water them. He asks me a bit about Rustboro City, and I tell him a bit about it, along with the rest of eastern Hoenn, the part I know best. Then he notices the time, gives a cheery wave, and hurries off.

    I leave the counter too, heading first to the break room for lunch, then to the greenhouse, where my own test and goal is in pursuit. The higher shelves are filled with Ganlon plants in various stages of growth, all standing in pots labeled ‘Do not touch’. I climb the ladder and begin to inspect my prized possessions, taking notes and pictures.

    Half an hour later, Natalie walks in. “Ree, you won’t believe it, I just saw the craziest battle! This kid in a white hair cap with a Mudkip completely swept through all the trainers on the route! It was insane! He must be a Gym leader’s son or something, because he’s got some mad skills.”

    I mumble a “Mhm,” carefully parting the leaves of one of the plants to see the growth of the stem.

    Natalie approaches, and I can practically feel the scowl forming on her face as she gets closer. “Honestly, Rita, either let us help with those things or stop putting them in everyone’s way. The bulb shipment is coming in tomorrow, and there won’t be enough room for them here!”

    “I’m sorry!” I respond. “I’m just really close to confirming a correlation between growth rate and water consumption and I need some more time to confirm it! I’ll take some more of these home tomorrow.”

    “And where are you gonna put them? The kitchen again?”

    “I’ll keep them in my room.”

    Natalie laughs. “Yeah, good one. It’s already a jungle in there. And don’t you even dare put them in the kitchen! I’m sick of leaves and dirt and junk falling all over the counter where I make my food!”

    I sigh, still inspecting the plant’s leaves. “You know, there’s usually effort involved if you want to achieve something.”

    “This isn’t effort, Ree, you’re obsessed!” Natalie responds. “Just relax! You have over five seed bags of ten already; why don’t you just send them to Grandpa and he’ll help you?”

    “Because I’m almost done with this, Natalie. I’ll send them to Grandpa once I have twelve bags.”

    “Why don’t you just give them out to the trainers and have them plant them around Rustboro for you?”

    I sigh. “The trainers aren’t trying to write an encyclopedia.” I get down from the ladder. “And anyway, it’s too risky. They might not take care of them properly, or not water them enough, or… or…”

    Natalie shakes her head. “Whatever.” She checks her wristwatch. “Oh! It’s twelve-thirty. I’m gonna go on my lunch break, okay?”

    “Okay, Natalie.”

    “See you!” She waves and skips off, heading back across the backyard towards the shop building.

    I sigh and step down from the ladder. Right then, I hear a rustle, and see a flick of white in the corner of my eye. I turn, and with a jolt of surprise, see that a small Ralts had wandered into the greenhouse. Its small, white body seems to glow in the daylight. I gently approach it, holding out my arms. “Where did you come from, little guy? Did you get lost?”

    The Ralts stops and looks at me, but for a wild pokémon, it seems strangely calm. Then, moments later, a boy walks in. He’s dressed in a white collared shirt and pants. Upon seeing the Ralts, his eyes widen in surprise.

    “Oh no! I’m sorry, Miss… my Ralts just got curious…”

    “Oh. That’s okay.” I stand up and smile. “That’s an adorable little guy you have there. I don’t see many trainers with them.”

    The boy bites his lip. “Well, I’m not really a… I mean… I’m not really a trainer, I’m just...” He pauses, looking down.

    I wait for him to finish the sentence, but he doesn’t. He simply looks up at me, and I suppose that words aren’t always enough to express thoughts. “That’s perfectly fine,” I respond. “You don’t have to be a trainer to like pokémon.”

    A smile glimmers on his face ever so slightly.

    “What’s your name?” I ask.

    “Wally.” He pauses. “What’s yours?”

    “Rita.” I smile. “You have a nice name, Wally.”

    “Thank you. I think your name is nice too.” Wally pauses again, though now he seems a bit more relaxed, and looks around. “I wanted to ask if… if the berries you have in the garden here are okay to pick. I saw other kids getting berries from them and taking them to the store in little pouches.”

    “Absolutely. The back garden’s for public picking – you just have to get a pouch from the counter, then you can fill it with whatever berries you want. Would you like one?”

    Wally nods. “Yes, please.”

    “All right, then. Follow me!”

    I take him inside, where I give him a berry pouch, then lead him back to the garden. The Ralts wanders after him as he walks around the rows of berry plants, labeled by Natalie’s small signs standing in the soil. Once the pouch is filled, he comes back to me.

    “Will I be able to grow more of these berries myself?”

    “Of course!”

    “I’d like to do that…” he said. “The thing is, I’m moving to Verdantuf soon, and I heard berries are good for pokémon, so I thought I’d be able to grow them for Ralts...”

    “No problem,” I say. “All you have to do is find some soil and water them regularly.” I pause. “And Verdanturf is a great place for gardening. It has good ecology.”

    Wally nods. “It has clean air, too. My parents want me to live there so I can get better.” He sighs. “But I see everyone else having so much fun, and I want to be that way too. I don’t want to have to stay in bed all day.”

    I frown. He does look a bit thin and pale, but I wouldn’t have brought it up. “Well, I’m sure you’ll start feeling better when you get to Verdanturf. And listen – just because some kids are out there having fun now doesn’t mean you never will. Some plants, they grow best in the summer, others grow best in winter. People are like that too. You just have to find your right time.” I pause. “And between you and me… I’ve always wondered what it would be like to raise pokémon and travel the world with them. But… I guess I never had the courage to go out of my way and actually do it. And now I have the business here to care for, so I can’t be away most of the time. But you’re young. So… see it as an opportunity.”

    The boy takes this in with a steady gaze, then nods. “Thank you. I’ll try.”

    I look towards the storage shed, which stands beside the greenhouse. “Here. If you’d like, can give you some seeds from the stock. That way you can start growing some of them right away.”

    Wally nods. “That would be great. Thank you!”

    I take him inside the shed and fill a new pouch with the basics trainers usually get – Cheri, Oran, Rawst, and Aspear. Wally thanks me, then goes back to looking at the shelves, which he had been observing in wonder.

    “How many kinds of plants do you have here?”

    I put my hands on my hips and smile. “Over a hundred. And we also have ones from other regions, like Sinnoh and Unova. You have to be more careful with those, though – not all of them are good for growing in the climate here, so you have to take a bit of care as to where you plant it and at what time of year.”

    Wally lifts his eyebrows. “Wow. Did you go to all those regions to get them?”

    “Well, not for all of them. There are these exchange events that we do every year, where plant growers from Hoenn, Johto, and Sinnoh all come together to show each other what they have. Each year a different shop hosts the event, and this year’s our turn. Last time we went to Floaroma Town in Sinnoh. It’s like paradise there... There are so many flowers growing naturally in the grass that it’s like people don’t even have to make an effort to maintain them.” I pause, then chuckle. “The shop owner jokes sometimes that it’s because of Shaymin. It’s a pokémon that resides in Sinnoh and brings life and beauty wherever it travels.”

    “Does Hoenn have a pokémon like that too?”

    “I’m not quite sure… I’m not too familiar with Hoenn legends. But I think the same rules apply for everywhere. Because nature brings life on its own, really. It doesn’t need human involvement to be beautiful. But people can certainly play a part in maintaining it, and bring its beauty into new places.”

    Wally thinks this over, frowning. Finally, he looks back up at me. “What are those brown flowers called? The ones you were taking care of?”

    “Those are Ganlons. They’re very rare; no one’s sure where their original habitat was, because they were wiped out from most places in Hoenn long ago. I even had to do a bit of research to confirm it was really them.“

    “How did you get them?” asked Wally.

    “A friend of mine found them. He’s a retired captain, but he has his own ship and still goes out sailing every so often. And a few weeks ago, he came across an island and brought these back.”

    Wally’s eyebrows climb. “Could I see them again?”

    “Sure!”

    I take him back to the greenhouse, where I take down one of the few bountiful Ganlon plants I’ve managed to grow. It has eight or nine full blooms, all with smooth, sand-colored petals and deep, dark throats. Wally takes the pot into his hands and turns it around.

    “It doesn’t seem like they give that many berries,” he says.

    I nod sadly. “Yes, that’s the one drawback… But I guess you have to do some things bit by bit.”

    He nods and hands the pot back to me. I think of just letting him go, but something makes me pause. What use would all those seeds be to me, trapped all the time in the shed? They took ages to grow, anyway, and from what I could tell, they were hardy…

    “Would you… like to have it?” I venture. “You can plant the berries and see how many of them sprout. Then you can grow even more.”

    Wally pauses for a moment, then nods. “Thank you. I’d be… I’d be honored to take care of your Ganlon plant.”

    I smile. We part a short while after, and I watch him go back to the store.

    When I go out near the front of the store a few hours later, I notice two new Oran sprouts stemming from the soil.


    {M}

    The peak of Mt. Chimney is shrouded in a gray haze, which fills the already-thin air with soot and smoke. A group of red-uniformed Magma grunts trails up the slope, looking identical in their hoods and respirators. Not everybody on the team had been up to the walk – the climb is long and steep, and due to the volcano’s recent peak in activity, the air is filled with smoke. So the group this time is small, but the task is also small, so the team was well-suited for it. The more we ascend, the hotter and hazier it grows, until finally it seems like we’re wading through a dense fog. Many of the grunts nervously tighten their ventilators around their faces, as if to check whether the devices would still continue to work. They would. They’d be able to tell otherwise – anybody who tried to breathe here with their own lungs would be poisoned within minutes. The grunts know this as well, but especially in the case of the new ones, they’re scared.

    What concerns me, I’ve been doing this a long time.

    At last, the summit comes into view. The rim of the volcano opens up to reveal a pool of bubbling magma below. I distance myself from the rest of the group and step over to the very edge of the ledge, where I can peer down and see the red molten liquid.

    The rest of the team disperses and begins to go about their tasks without need for any further commands. Their red uniforms almost blend with the dry, reddish rock of the mountain. The land is utterly bare here. There are no plants, not even grass. To a regular person’s eyes, it would seem lifeless.

    But no…

    I look back down at the pool of magma and feel a sense of might and heat emanating from it. In a sudden strange moment, I forget that the respirator is there, and imagine myself as one with the molten liquid, made of the same minerals and heat. I take a breath, seeing the wisps of smoke sift into the ventilator then disperse outwards, clearing a bit of the view of the magma pool.

    This was life. This was the real world, the one beneath the orderly mask of nature and civilization, the raw materials that had given birth to everything humanity had ever known. And while the realm above rested in blissful ignorance, the original materials were still there, ever-churning beneath the surface, ready to burst forth at any moment. Their energy was the true source of energy for the entire world, the raw energy that could raise mountains and create continents. And that energy was embodied by a single being…

    Right then, one of the uniformed men approaches. “Leader Maxie, the readings are in line with the pattern. The volcano’s activity will peak in ten days.”

    I smile. Now, if we could just obtain that Meteorite…


    * * * * *​


    It takes my grunts only a few days to get a hold of the stone, cornering a scientist in Meteor Falls. Unfortunately, they run into some trouble along the way – namely, Archie and his own team. I begin to harbor the slight worry that we might face some interference when we ascend to the peak again, but I decide that stationing a few dozen more grunts as security will be enough to neutralize any threat from Team Aqua.

    At any rate, they’re not the thing on my mind at the moment, as I sit in my office with a folder of files in front of me. I’m already thinking ahead to the second step of the plan once we’re done with Mt. Chimney, namely obtaining the Blue Orb, which will be necessary to control the pokémon of the mountain. I sift through maps of the area south of Lilycove, copies of old articles and photographs, and notes that I’ve compiled over the months.

    But then, about an hour into my work, the telephone rings.

    I pick it up, and almost immediately, an all-too-familiar voice blares into my ear.

    “Maxie!”

    I take a pause, lifting an eyebrow. “Archie? I don’t believe it. Did you really go out of your way to tap into our phone line?”

    “Knock it off,” Archie says. “I know you’re trying to make the volcano erupt. You really think that destroying thousands of miles of human and pokémon habitats is worth it for a few inches of new land? Or did you give up trying to find Groudon already and decide to take things into your own hands?”

    “As usual, you show that you don’t have the slightest amount of knowledge about our team or our plans,” I respond. “Why don’t you go back to your little submarine and poke around some more underwater caves? Maybe you’ll recover a sunken ship and contribute something useful for once to society.”

    Archie growls. “If you and your thugs set even a single foot on Mt. Chimney, we’ll give you the beating of a lifetime! We’ll knock you out so hard that you’ll be the one sleeping for a thousand years!”

    I laugh loudly. “Perhaps it really would be fair if I took Groudon’s place in slumber after I awaken it. But we’ll have to see, because with me rests the power of controlling it as well. I don’t think you’d want Groudon to rampage and scorch the entire planet due to my absence, would you? I would rather use its powers in a controlled and constructive way.”

    “Yeah, right. I’ve seen what your idea of ‘controlled’ and ‘constructive’ looks like. I’m warning you a final time, Maxie – one move and you’re done for!”

    Rage flares inside of me. “And you can consider it my warning to you that if I catch even a single Aqua grunt trying to meddle in our plans again, we’ll hunt down and exterminate your entire team!”

    “We’ll see who’ll be doing the extermination when we have Kyogre! I’ll tell it to save you and your team a special piece of land in the middle of the new world ocean!”

    I freeze. Had that been a gloating edge in Archie’s voice just now, or was I imagining it?

    I’m silent for a brief while, then finally I narrow my eyes and set my jaw. “By the time you find Kyogre’s cave, there’ll be no water in that part of the world anymore!” I hang up.

    I go back to my notes, my mind still spinning with anger and uncertainty. Was it just Archie’s usual inflated ego talking up his meager achievements, or was Team Aqua closer to awakening Kyogre than I had thought? During my time researching Hoenn legends and the Blue Orb, it hadn’t escaped my attention that there was a Red Orb as well, capable of controlling Kyogre. Perhaps I would take that one from Mt. Pyre as well, just as a precaution…
     
  2. Mrs. Lovett

    Mrs. Lovett Rolling writer

    {W}

    I place the Ganlon plant on the windowpane of my new bedroom, where the flowers would get a lot of sun and a fresh breeze every now and then. The rest of my things follow them into the room soon after, and by the end of the day, my surroundings are back to the way they were before. The air in Verdanturf is cleaner like my parents had promised, though the atmosphere is much like it had been in Petalburg, quiet and subdued.

    Over the course of the week, I notice that I do feel stronger than usual and am less prone to coughing. But although I can breathe better, another part of me feels like it had just been stifled. Every time I look at the Ganlon plant, I think of what Rita had told me: different plants grew best in different climates. Technically, I had known this before; my mother could never grow tomatoes that well, but my aunt in Verdanturf could. But could people possibly be the same way?

    During occasional walks to Mauville with my uncle, I would see the Gym, which buzzed with more sound and activity than I had experienced in a long time. Once again, I’d feel the same old pang of longing, which seemed to grow stronger each time I left. Finally, two weeks after I had settled into my new home, I asked my uncle if he would let me challenge the Gym with Ralts. I even ran into Brendan and tried to battle him to prove to Uncle that I was good enough.

    But I lost. Ralts, tough though he was, couldn’t stand a chance against Brendan’s team.

    Initially, it had crushed me. I had gone home feeling defeated, as if life and joy had rejected me and sent me back to stagnation, where I really belonged, and where I would stay for the rest of my life. But Ralts hadn’t felt the same. He told me that he wanted to try again. The battle had stirred something within him, a desire to be as good as the pokémon he had met in the battle.

    He lifted my spirits, and on my last day, he stood beside me as I knelt in my aunt and uncle’s garden, planting some Rawst berries I had gotten from the Pretty Petal Flower Shop. I had decided against writing a note; I hadn’t known how to explain everything to them, and was afraid that if I deliberated too much, some part of me would finally decide against it. So I hoped that the flowers would serve as a sufficient apology.

    Once I finished planting, Ralts brushed his hand across the petals, then nodded. His thoughts emanated to me in a wordless essence. Smiling in agreement, I picked him up, and we both took a final look at the house before heading off.

    That was the day I met Roselia. He had lived in Route 117 for all his life, before Ralts and I came along, quickening our pace towards Mauville. I had gone to pick some berries that had been growing by the path, and Ralts warned me suddenly that something was coming. Roselia had appeared, jumping out at us in fear. Remembering what Brendan had showed me, I engaged him in a battle, threw a spare pokéball, and captured him. He hadn’t been too pleased at first, but after walking the rest of the way to Mauville with us, he realized he didn’t want to go back to the route either.

    Later, I realized that it could also be the case that someone had been placed into so many environments and situations, repotted like a plant, that they no longer knew where their real home was. That was what Skitty made me think of, when I saw her chewing on plants near Rusturf Tunnel. She had found the berries I had planted before reentering the city, and when I approached her, she had just finished tearing off the last of my Cheri and Pecha. But despite her franticness, she was fragile, as if she hadn’t had a proper meal in a long time. Instead of challenging her, I had fed her more, and she became friendly.

    The four of us kept going, and the more places we visited together, the more we absorbed from them, both in material items and in knowledge. By the end of my first month on my own, I had planted nearly every kind of berry I had received from the flower shop, and picked a dozen kinds more. It’s only when I make my way through Jagged Pass to Lavaridge Town that I remember the only berries I haven’t yet touched – the Ganlons.

    I had picked them from the plant not long before leaving Verdanturf, and had let them rest at the bottom of my messenger bag as a memento. For most of my journey, I hadn’t thought about them, but the thing that suddenly reminds me is the Jagged Pass. It happens as I step down from the northern exit, entering the ledged slope bordered by trees, and look around to find myself surrounded by ragged red rock. I descend halfway to the bottom, where there’s more soil, and bunches of thin, green grass growing among the rocks. Looking at it, I remember the earthy color of the flower petals and what the berry lady, Rita, had told me: “It’s the berry infused with the power of the land.” Perhaps, then, it could find a home here.

    I search for a fitting spot, and finally, I notice a tall boulder with a ring of soil surrounding it. I kneel down beside it and dig out some space for the seeds. Then I take out the pouch with the Ganlon berries and plant a few.

    Right then, I hear the sound of footsteps.

    “… and once we’ve dug deep enough, we should be able to reach its lair…”

    I look up, just in time to notice two men come around from the other side of the boulder. They’re both wearing red uniforms with hoods. Seeing me, they stop in their tracks, eyes widening in surprise.

    “Who are you?” one of them asks.

    “I’m a trainer,” I reply.

    “Well, the Gym’s the other way,” he says. “Get going!”

    I lean back down to the soil. “No. I’m going to plant these flowers first.”

    The man scowls. “What’re you planting flowers here for?”

    “These are Ganlon plants; it’s where they belong. Their power comes from the land, and in return they give the land beauty.”

    The second man steps forward. “We’re expanding the land! That means more room for flowers! So scram and go find somewhere else to put them!”

    I widen my eyes in alarm. “Expanding the land? How could you do that?”

    “By controlling the forces of nature!” the man exclaims. “We’ll harness the power of the land and end the tyranny of water!”

    I frown. “What do you mean? Land depends on water. If all the lakes and rivers go dry, then there won’t be enough rain, and all the plants will die. Then humans won’t have enough food either.”

    “So you’d rather have a giant wave wash over everything like Team Aqua wants?”

    “No. I don’t think anything should change. Hoenn’s fine the way it is!”

    “Well, not for us!”

    “Then move someplace else!”

    The grunt clenches his fist. “Get out, kid!”

    But just as he steps forward at me to threaten me away, the other one pulls him back. “No! Remember that trainer kid on Mt. Chimney? Leader Maxie said not to underestimate children anymore! We should eliminate the threat right here and now!”

    “Right.”

    The two grunts step forward together. “We’re taking you on!”

    My breath catches in my throat, but I swallow, and manage to rise to my feet. I reach into my messenger bag and find Ralts’s pokéball. “Bring it on!”

    The Magma grunts send out two Poochyenas. I send out Ralts, then remembering the rules for double battles, I send out Roselia. We do what we always do – we listen to each other, work off of each other. And within minutes, the grunts’ Poochyenas faint, and Roselia and Ralts are still standing beside me.

    The two men stare at me in shock, and I step back with my pokémon, puffing out my chest. “Tell your Leader Maxie that his plan is stupid and dangerous!” I say. “And if I ever meet him, you can bet I’ll try to stop him myself!” I take a few steps back with my pokémon, shake a finger at the grunts in a threatening way, then run off towards Lavaridge.


    {M}

    The next few months present no lasting obstacles. I take a small team of grunts and move out from the hideout as planned. We take an underground passageway to Mauville City, then cross the tiny slip of sea to Route 123, which will lead us to Mt. Pyre.

    We march through Route 123. Finally, we reach the end trail that will take us to the coastline to Route 122. We pass by a house, where an old lady is tending to a garden. She looks askance at us as we pass by, her expression marked with surprise.

    Finally we reach the coastline, where in the distance, I can see the peak of Mt. Pyre looming from a solitary island. I send a message to the underwater crew to pick us up and ferry us over. As I stand by the coastline awaiting their arrival, an old man appears from the bushes. He has a walking stick and a basket of flowers in his hands, the same ones that the old lady had been planting.

    Upon seeing us, he stops. I inadvertently lock eyes with him, and for a moment we look at each other. His expression is a mixture of shock and contemplation. Part of me expects him to say something, perhaps to scold us, while another part suspects he’s waiting for me to say something, to explain myself.

    The submarine appears, and my grunts approach to board. I turn away to leave as well, but when I step up to the submarine to close the hatch, I get another glimpse of him, not shifted from his spot, looking at the giant steel submarine with the same unreadable expression.

    They will see, I think to myself. I close the hatch and descend inside.

    Before long, I am standing at the top of Mt. Pyre, looking at another old couple. Between them are two stone cradles, where the blue and red shine of the two orbs stares out at me through the mist.

    They make no move to stop me, simply follow me with their gaze as I take the Blue Orb. I look down at it, and see my own reflection staring back. I smile.

    “You’re not helping the world,” the old lady murmurs suddenly. “Nature’s wisdom is far beyond anything you’ll ever be able to comprehend. Much less control.”

    I lift an eyebrow, looking up at her. “Life has been manipulating and changing itself for as long as it has existed. Humans have harvested raw materials and reshaped them into cities and machines. We’ve managed the natural growth cycles of countless plant species to grow food and cultivate landscapes. In all cases, we’ve simply used the natural resources at hand to induce other natural phenomena. What Team Magma is doing is no different.”

    I turn away from the couple, pocketing the Blue Orb. I decide to leave the red one alone. Let Archie have a field day, I decide. He wouldn’t get to use it anyway.


    {R}

    The Oran plants that Wally had planted in front of the store soon begin to flower, adding a touch of blue to our plain outside wall. But I decide to leave them alone, letting passerby Wingull and Poochyena pick at their berries. Even after their blooming phase ends, and the last petals drop off to leave the stems bare, I still stop to look at them when I pass by, my thoughts wandering back to the curious, skinny boy I had met all those weeks ago. I remember his hesitant voice, then the overwhelming curiosity that had filled his eyes when I had started telling him about the legends I didn’t know and the regions I hadn’t explored. In that moment, it had seemed that even if his body couldn’t take him there, his mind would, and that he wouldn’t rest until all those swirling dreams in his head became a reality. Even now, I still don’t know why I keep thinking about him. The other trainers that come in always remind me of Brendan and his friend, the rookies and the experts. But strangely, none of them remind me of Wally.

    The month crawls by, then towards the beginning of May, Captain Briney comes to the store again. He seems both relieved and angry. I sit him down for some tea, and he tells me the story of how a strange character with a blue bandanna had captured Peeko and run off into Rusturf Tunnel. But luckily, a trainer from Littleroot Town had been there to rescue her. Peeko had emerged from the ordeal healthy and chipper, but Briney had felt something more ominous stirring beneath the surface.

    “Those scoundrels are up to something,” he says. “Talking about expanding the sea, before some other team of goons expanded the land!”

    I lift my eyebrows. “Expanding the land? How is that even possible?”

    Briney shakes his head. “I don’t know, but I don’t like it. There’s something fishy about them. And it’s got nothing to do with them being called Team Aqua!”

    I sink into thought. Through the back window, I can see the berry garden, empty for the time being of visitors. I couldn’t deny that there had been an increase in criminal activity lately, all of which seemed to show an unsettling pattern. First the Devon Corporation had been robbed, then the shipyard in Slateport, followed by dozens of other little incidents in the past few weeks, all of which had involved suspects from one of two mysterious clans. Then, just two days ago, I had gotten a phone call from Grandpa, who said he had seen a team of red-uniformed people walking past his house towards the water route to Mt. Pyre. He had watched them leave in a submarine, then turn back up at the shore of the island, where just half an hour later, a team of blue-uniformed people appeared in pursuit. The fact that they had gotten so close to him and Grandma had given me chills.

    In the middle of my tea with Captain Briney, the phone rings. When I answer, it’s the cheerful voice of Sophie, the shop owner from Floaroma, that greets me.

    “Hi, Rita! How’s it going?”

    “Great,” I say, feigning an upbeat voice.

    “So, any updates? You said you needed a little more time to think about the logistics of the seed exchange… Do you think Slateport will let you host it this year again?”

    I purse my lips, and after breathing a sigh, I speak the words I’ve been dreading to say to her for days. “Actually, Sophie… I think I’ll have to cancel this year. There’s just been so much happening here that I don’t think hosting a seed exchange in Slateport is a good idea right now. Why don’t you guys host it again this year?”

    Sophie pauses. “Well, if you’re sure… But why don’t you think Slateport will be a good idea? Did the city policy change or something?”

    “There’s just been a lot of crime and vandalism lately,” I reply. “Both in Slateport and in Rustboro. I think it’s best if my sisters and I stay here this year and focus on keeping things safe in the store.”

    “Oh.” Sophie pauses. “Well, okay. I guess I can understand. I’ll let you know how things work out on our side, then.”

    “Thanks.”

    We hang up.

    I walk away from the phone and sigh. Missing out on the seed exchange would mean that I wouldn’t get to see anything, and wouldn’t get to have the annual reminder, however small, that I was doing something worthwhile. But after a minute, I push the thought aside. I did have something to be happy about – I had just managed to sprout four more Ganlon plants, and bagged over twenty seeds, which were now sitting cozily in my shed. Why should I worry about what the other shop owners thought, or what they were doing, when I had everything I needed underway here? Instead of rushing to assemble the same old plant assortment I brought every year, straining both myself and my sisters, I’d take just a little more time and prepare something extraordinary.

    I let a small smile tug at the corners of my lips.

    I think of how I would arrive at the seed exchange next year, with a wagon of Ganlon plants and all the knowledge of how to grow, care for, and use them. I wouldn’t sit away my days in the store and wilt – I would take a year off, maybe two, and go out into the field, questing not for pokémon, but for berries, and perhaps uncovering even more rare species. I would write the most comprehensive berry encyclopedia in Hoenn to date, providing a thorough coverage of all the known berry species, but also breaking ground with new ones of my own finding. I’d be an academic authority. At the same time, I’d be perfectly accessible in the shop, providing expert knowledge to everyday people. A Berry Master in my own right. Maybe even a Berry Professor.

    After Captain Briney leaves, I go back to the greenhouse, where my Ganlon plants are all growing, their blooms creating a cloud of brown and purple. As long as I have them, I figure, everything will be all right.


    {M}

    It’s time.

    I don’t need anybody to tell me. I don’t need my admins or the grunts or the energy readings to confirm it. I simply feel it. I’ve reached my goal. It’s the thing I’ve been striving towards for years, the single thing I had focused all my attention and effort towards. And now the world would see that my work had not been in vain.

    I stare at the stone-like figure of the legendary continent pokémon, which towers several meters above me, its head bowed and eyes closed, standing stoically in the pool of magma that forms the bottom-most pit of our hideout.

    “Groudon…” I say. “Nothing could awaken you from your sleep bathed in magma… But I’ve brought you the Blue Orb. Let its shine awaken you! Show me the full extent of your power!”

    I hold up the Blue Orb in my hand. It pulses, flashes, then lights up and fills the entire cave with a bright blue glow. The rock beneath my feet trembles, and Groudon opens its eyes. Even though the haze of color, I can see them – tiny, yellow, and sharp.

    I step back, smiling, feeling my heart hammer in ecstatic excitement.

    Moments later, the Orb’s glow fades. Several rocks break off from the wall of the cave and splash down into the boiling-hot magma. Groudon’s pupils focus on me for a moment, then suddenly, the pokémon dives into the pool of magma and vanishes without a single splash.

    Silence settles in. I look down at the magma, but after several moments, Groudon does not reappear.

    I ascend to the higher levels of the hideout, where my crew confirms that the energy readings have receded back to normal. That meant that Groudon had fled the cave.

    My mind does a series of somersaults. What had I done wrong? Had there been some sort of procedure for using the Orb, which the elderly guardians at Mt. Pyre had purposely neglected to inform me of?

    I ascend to the hideout’s exit and emerge onto Jagged Pass, but find there is no change in weather or temperature. For a day on which the creator of land had awoken for a millennium-long slumber, things were awfully calm and nondescript.

    My frustration mounts, and my thoughts spin into a frantic storm. There had to be a reason why Groudon had gone. Perhaps it needed an additional stimulator, something that would enable it to draw upon all its energy, and the mountain simply hadn’t been the right location.

    After some deliberation, I set my sights on the Mossdeep Space Center. If I could jettison the entire load of rocket fuel into Mt. Chimney to cause an eruption, then perhaps Groudon would recognize it and put its own hand into the process.

    I storm the Space Center to steal the rocket fuel, but my plans are thwarted. I’m beaten in a battle again, by that same trainer in the white hair cap, who had chased me down at my hideout, and who had originally stopped my plan at Mt. Chimney. He had also crossed paths with Archie’s team a few times, but for some reason it had always seemed like his most valiant resistance was directed against us, as if fate itself was trying to stand in our way.

    I leave the Space Center with my admin and the other grunts and head for the coast of Mossdeep, where our own submarine is waiting. I pass the Mossdeep Gym, and right then, I notice some berry flowers growing in a clump near the building. I stop to look at them.

    Immediately, I’m taken back to my early years studying geology. Back when I had been interested in the whole of nature, not just the land. How Archie and I used to agree in the core values of our philosophies, before the minor details had torn us apart.

    For someone who worked so hard to expand the land, I realize that I was losing touch with how it actually worked. My thoughts had become so obsessed with Groudon that I had started to see everything through a Groudon-focused lens. And yet, what did a plant care about the being that had created the soil? Whether Groudon woke or slept, the flower kept growing on its own, existing in its own separate life cycle. The land participated just as much in the exchange of water as the sea did, and water was one of the things that helped shape the land, carving valleys out of plains.

    It seems so trivial. And yet, as I continue to think about it, I realize something.

    Immediately I tell the crew to change our planned course.

    “Find Team Aqua,” I say. “Search for their submarines. The nearest one, wherever it may be. We have little time!”

    We manage to track down where Archie and his team are located. But by the time I descend to the sea cavern, I am too late. The horrified face of Brendan, the trainer who had arrived to stop him, tells me. Archie had already awakened Kyogre.

    Minutes later, I hear a loud, distant boom. Our entire group hurries to the water’s surface, and once we step out into a patch of land, we are met with the unthinkable. The sky had gone from a summer blue to an apocalyptic black, spurting cold, heavy rain droplets that fall so thickly that they create a silver haze. Seconds later, the churning clouds shrivel and part, a burst of sunlight forces itself through, hitting us with a wave of unimaginable heat, turning the rain into steam. The process repeats, the sun and rain battling each other for control of the skies.

    The next few hours are a blur of panic and confusion. Brendan leaves with the Hoenn League Champion, while Archie and I head for Sootopolis City, where Groudon and Kyogre are battling in the city’s enormous lagoon.

    The members of our teams huddle together with the rest of the townspeople, forgetting the differences in uniforms, staring at the pokémon in awe and panic. I stand in front of the Sootopolis Gym beside Archie, watching the pokémon, waving the Blue Orb uselessly in front of me. The rain is falling so rapidly that the drops hit my face like needles.

    “Groudon!” I call out. ”Please stop! If you continue, the entire world will be destroyed!”

    But the pokémon does not listen.

    No, nature does not listen to humans.


    {W}

    It’s a few minutes after lunch when I hear a clap of thunder coming from somewhere east of Slateport City. I leave the market in a hurry and head over to the harbor, where I see a clump of thick, black clouds moving in from the vicinity of Pacifidlog. The longer I stay there, the more I feel the wind picking up, carrying the smell of rain and salt. But I don’t want to go inside just jet. My mind has been buzzing with lots of things lately – moves, type combinations, items – but right then, as I stare into the collection of clouds, something prompts me to stop and watch them.

    I walk for a few minutes along the coastline, looking at the giant ships docked in the distance, watching people tie small fishing boats to piers. Finally, I reach the lighthouse. A lone sailor stands beside it, behind him a small flower garden. I figure it would be a good idea to plant a berry – that way, the rain would water them, and I could have enough for my next Gym battle in case I ran out of healing items.

    I choose the spot and kneel down, opening up my berry pouch. Thunder rolls again, and as I’m choosing the berries I need, I hear the first drops of rain patter on the pavement. I feel their chill as they fall onto my face and hands, but I bite my lip and hurry to plant them.

    Right then, the sailor notices me working and approaches.

    “What are you doing planting those berries, kid? Go home! Can’t you see what’s going on out there?”

    “I’m almost done,” I say. “I’m going to need these for the Gym in Sootopolis. And the storm will give them water for me!”

    “This ain’t a regular storm kid! It’s the end of the world! Pacifidlog Town’s barely hanging on against the current and the storm surge has already reached Petalburg from the south! We’re next!”

    I rise to my feet, looking out at the blackened horizon. The sailor and I stand together as the wind picks up, and the trembling waves in the harbor slowly get stronger and taller. The storm clouds rush to cover us, then moments later, they part for a hot beam of light, as if someone had accidentally pushed the sun a bit too close to the sky.

    The sailor reaches up to hold onto his cap, biting his lip. “Oh no… Public transport’s probably shut down by now... How am I gonna get home?”

    I ponder for a moment, then get an idea. I reach into my messenger bag for a pokéball. “Go, Gardevoir!”

    I open the capsule, and Gardevoir emerges in full height, his two long arms spread out at the sides of his long white cloak. He towers well above my head now, but even as he looks down at me with his mystical red eye, I feel the same rapport and unity with him that had been there since we met.

    “Gardevoir, see if you can make a force field!” I say. “Just like you did when we battled Liza and Tate. That way we’ll be protected from the rain!”

    Gardevoir presses his hands together, and moments later, a pink bubble appears around him, spreading out to encompass all three of us. The wind vanishes. The raindrops fall against the barrier and slip down, leaving us dry.

    Beyond our bubble, the storm intensifies. The waves surge in height and lap at the edges of the harbor. Each time a bit of water spills over, the sailor and I take a step back, then go back to our original place. Through Gardevoir’s force field is protecting us, the man is still looking up at the flashing, churning sky in horror. “Oh no… oh no… here it comes… Oh man… It’s over... it’s all over… Mom, I’m sorry for everything! Dad, I’m sorry!”

    I check my PokéNav for a weather report, but the signal is gone. There’s no trace of blue sky anywhere – the storm had covered Slateport completely, and by the looks of it, was now moving westward.

    It seems to go on forever. But then, as suddenly as it had begun, the storm clears. Momentarily I see something green shoot up into the sky, then the sun comes out, not blisteringly hot like it used to be, but normal and warm.

    As the sky settles back to a mellow blue, and I turn to the sailor and smile. “See? It wasn’t the end of the world!”

    The man huffs a breath and rubs his forehead. “On second thought, I think I could go for a walk too…” He snaps a single berry off the plant and hobbles in the direction of town.

    Still smiling, I turn the other way and quicken my pace towards where I was heading before.


    {M}

    Cold fog shrouds the silent peak of Mt. Pyre. The air here is breathable, but it’s misty and thick, sinking in with each breath like a heavy weight. There is also grass here, growing thinly around old, gray rock. Mountains, I surmise, had no interest for what lay beneath the surface of the earth. Their birth had been a long time ago; now they simply lived out eternity, existing in stillness. Theirs was one world, and the molten underworld the other. Just like land and sea themselves. And also, above them, sky…

    I take a final look at the two colored orbs, lying side-by-side in their respective cradles, before finally stepping back from the pyre. I descend the steps and meet Archie, who is waiting for me, a bit further from the watchful gaze of the elderly couple.

    Mine and Archie’s exchange with them had been completely silent. We had simply emerged from the fog, myself holding the Blue Orb and Archie holding the Red, stepped up to the pyre, and placed them back where we had taken them. The couple had not said a word. They had simply bowed their heads in acknowledgment, before their gazes went impassive again, plunging inwards into some deep meditation.

    Now, Archie and I walk together down the steps the way we had come. We had played plenty of the blame-game after the weather crisis had concluded, but in the end, as always, it just made the both of us irritated and solved nothing. So now we are silent, walking side-by-side until we reach the staircase that would lead us down from the summit, where the living world awaited.

    At that point Archie stops, and after a moment, he turns to look at me. “Think you’ll be going back to the Jagged Pass now?”

    I look askance. “No. I don’t think staying at that location would be good anymore, for us or for the people of Lavaridge.” I lower my gaze. “Who would want such a treacherous, dangerous clan in their backyard…”

    Archie rubs his chin. “Well, you’ve got a point.”

    I grumble. One could always count on him to put things bluntly. And yet… he was right.

    Archie lets the silence hang for a little while, then shrugs it off. “But I say there’s no point moping around. We did the right thing, didn’t we? We put the Orbs back, no one can take them again, and we know we’re not going to do anything stupid like that anymore.”

    “But the people don’t,” I say.

    Archie shrugs again. “There’s a point where you have to draw the line. We can change, but we can’t change what other people think about us.”

    I sigh. “At any rate, we can’t go back to the cave. Groudon destroyed some parts of it after fleeing, and I’m afraid the inside won’t be completely stable anymore.”

    “If you want, your team could share the base with mine. We’ve got plenty of room. And I’m sure lots of people will want to quit after what happened, so that’ll clear up some space...”

    “But what will we do now, even if some people stay?” I ask.

    “Don’t know.” Archie gives a chuckle. “I guess we could just focus on preserving things as they are. For all that happened, we still ended up uncovering an old legend that not many people knew about. So maybe now we should focus on putting its lessons into action.”

    “But certainly not through forceful intervention like last time.”

    “Well, of course.”

    We descend to the base, where some Aqua and Magma grunts are waiting for us. We pass a few people still standing at the headstones of their pokémon, not looking at us, lost in their own thoughts. One lady approaches a spot with flowers in her hands, kneeling down and placing them in front of the headstone. She leaves, and I look at them for a moment, two blooms of bright pink in the dreary mist.

    Now, I know. The way to renew the world hadn’t been to expand the seas. Nor was expanding the land the way to give it new life. Because the world renewed itself. It infused itself with the life it already had.

    And the more I think about it, the more it seems that the regular people of Hoenn had been aware of this all along.


    {W}

    It’s a long ride to Ever Grande City, but finally, I make it. I ascend the enormous waterfall on the back of my Wailmer and step onto dry land. The fabled city of the Elite Four is astonishingly small – it has just one Pokémon Center standing before an enormous rock formation, which could only be Victory Road.

    I had gotten all eight badges. Together with my team, we had defeated all the Gym leaders. Even Norman, Brendan’s father, who had given me my first pokémon. When I had finished battling him all those weeks ago in Petalburg, he had looked at me in a strange way, then smiled. He said that I had grown. I had thanked him, though I had already known it on my own.

    Now, as I step closer to the cave’s entrance, I feel my heart begin to pound, my chest fill up as I take a breath. Now would be my chance. As I had progressed on my journey across Hoenn, I had grown increasingly aware that this was the thing that I had been running towards all along – the Hoenn Elite Four.

    I plunge into the cave, and after a few hours of twists and turns, battles and puzzles, I step out from the exit and emerge into the sunlight of the other side. Up ahead, in the distance, is the Pokémon League Building.

    I stand there for a moment, looking up at it, taking in the sight.

    Then, I hear a beat of footsteps behind me. I turn to see who it is, and right as I recognize him, the name slips from my tongue.

    “Brendan?”

    He seems surprised to see me too. I can tell he’s grown up a bit; he seems firmer and more resolved. But so was I.

    A few moments pass, and after he understands my intention, I send out my team one by one – Gardevoir, Roselia, Delcatty, Altaria, and Magneton. They battle as brilliantly as always, their thoughts one with mine, their moves like an extension of my own energy being released into the battle.

    But it isn’t enough.

    One by one, I watch them faint, as Brendan’s pokémon emerge more powerful than mine.

    Finally, as I watch my fainted Gardevoir fade away into the capsule, I feel something empty inside of me.

    I lost.

    The knowledge of this fills me with a wave of frustration and despair. After working so hard, after going through so much with my pokémon, it still wasn’t enough? It still wasn’t enough to beat the boy I had tried so hard to catch up with?

    I look up, and see Brendan still standing there, having recalled his own first pokémon as well. It was Swampert, the one who had been at his side the whole time, just like Gardevoir had been for me. But our bond had come up short. Maybe I really had been doing something wrong this whole time…

    But right then a breeze blows through. It carries a sweet scent, and for the first time, I notice my surroundings. The meadow we’re standing in is quite a pretty one, and it’s filled with red flowers that sway with the wind. Suddenly, I’m reminded of the berries I used to plant, taking little stops here and there on my journey through the towns. I had stopped for some reason after beating Flannery’s Gym, after I had gotten caught up in excitement of the thought that I just might stand a chance against the Elite Four. But I remember how, at the start, I had just wanted to give each berry a home, to plant each one in a place where it could flourish. And in the process, I had found mine.

    I look at Brendan’s face again, which just moments ago had made me think of failure, of a goal I would never quite reach.

    But the flowers.

    The flowers tell me differently.


    {R}

    Groudon and Kyogre. That’s who lived in Hoenn. Along with Rayquaza. Terrifying, legendary beasts, the forces of nature themselves. And there I was, trying to be Hoenn’s Shaymin, telling people to go out of their way and plant flowers to help nature give itself beauty. But nature, it turned out, had a different face. Who would have thought that under its tame, pretty mask, that life was a force to be reckoned with?

    Now I know why a lot of people keep flowers around. They’re a distraction. They’re pretty to look at, a hobby to occupy oneself with to get away from the harshness of reality. But one could only trap themselves in their own minds for so long. Sooner or later, they’d have to wake up.

    I feel grim as I step into Route 104, looking out at what remained from the storm.

    The coastline to the east had surged, so lots of routes around Petalburg and Rustboro had flooded, including this one. Many trees that had once bordered our neat path are now lying like leafy logs on the ground. Dirt and leaves are scattered all over the unpaved walkway. Our garden in the back resembles a swamp with leafless stems sticking out from the mud. Thankfully the main shop building is still in one piece, though some windows are broken and the walls are dirty. But the worst comes when I venture past the garden and see the greenhouse. A tree had fallen over it, shattering the glass and sending dozens of plants falling into an unintelligible heap on the tiles. The tree had also hit the storage shed, which now resembles a child’s unfinished treehouse project. I wade through the mud and swing aside the broken door, glimpsing what’s left of the interior. All of the seed bags had fallen to the floor. The mud from outside had seeped in, soaking and mixing them with the fertilizer and chemicals from the greenhouse. That included the Ganlons.

    I dig them out and collect them all into a single box. I try to wash them, to revive them, but weeks pass and not a single one sprouts. In the meantime, Daphne and Natalie insist on dividing the labor to restore the shop. I’m to go to Grandma and Grandpa on Route 123 to help them with cleanup as well, and possibly collect any other seeds they still had from us.

    Fortunately, both of them are okay. Their route is a bit flooded and many trees have fallen, but workers have cleaned up a good deal and made the path walkable again. Their garden is ruined, but their house had survived the winds and rain. After staying with them for a couple of days, I take a ferry to Lilycove. Unfortunately the ferry service to Slateport is closed, so I have to take the long route – first a tram to Fortree, then one to Lavaridge. From there, I’d go to Mauville, Verdanturf, and finally Rustboro.

    Fortree had escaped flooding due to its high elevation, though a few houses had been damaged by the wind. Lavaridge had also been spared the worst, getting off with just slightly soggier sand and a temporary cool-off of its hot springs. By the time I get there, they’re back in operation, as a banner hanging from the roof of the Pokémon Center announces in big, bright letters. Beside the building, a couple of old ladies are chatting and laughing, as if nothing had ever happened.

    Still in a grim mood, I decide to take a brief walk around the town before my tram to Mauville. I wander around the eastern edge of the town for a moment, before an upward slope catches my eye and I walk towards it.

    I find myself in a narrow thicket of trees, which widens and reveals a steep, staggered ledge, made entirely out of red rock. The ledges above are variously sized, and are covered in grass, rocks, and trees. Transfixed by the sight, I find a footpath leading upwards and follow it.

    Despite the relatively vast expanse, the surroundings are dead quiet. But as I continue to ascend, I begin to hear distant voices rise up from the silence. I search a bit for the source, and finally, when I step onto the largest ledge yet, I see two people. They’re facing a rather large boulder, one that towers nearly three times their height. One of them is dressed like a pirate, a blue bandanna tied around his head. The other one is kneeling, and is wearing a magma-red uniform, his head covered by a large hood with black horns. He appears to be doing something beside the base of the boulder, and as I draw closer, I realize he’s planting flowers.

    “See? Like that!” he says.

    His pirate companion watches curiously, leaning over his shoulder.

    “They grow so well that you can make a garden anywhere!” the magma-man continues. “So you can go berry-picking! But you gotta plant a berry every time you pick one.”

    “Why?”

    “Because it leaves the pretty there! You can’t be the only one to just enjoy the pretty in the world and take it all for yourself and not leave anything for the next person. That’s called greed.”

    The pirate man scratches his chin. “Hm. That makes sense… Come to think of it, it’s not so different from what we were doing, wanting to take the power of nature for ourselves.”

    The magma-man nods. “Yeah, but we’re not gonna do that anymore. Leader Maxie said it’s time for a change. We’re going to start working to help protect the world as it is, and use our discoveries and research for the good of everyone. And to prove it, he made one of our first tasks to protect the plant and berry species of Hoenn and preserve their habitats.”

    The pirate seems confused. “Berries? Where’d he get that idea from?”

    “His admin who talked to a grunt who talked to some other grunts. Said they saw a trainer kid planting flowers, and he started talking all this philosophy about beauty and interconnectedness. Then they found his plants again when we came to clear out the old hideout, and we thought that we might as well leave a little something to make this place prettier than it was before. These take a while, but if you get the soil combination right, they give lots of berries.”

    “Huh. Not every day you meet a kid like that...”

    My heart begins to pound. I hide behind a tree before they can notice me, and once they’re gone, I approach their makeshift garden. And there they are, my Ganlon plants, looking just as they did when I gave them to Wally.

    My sadness lifts, and I feel a wave of warmth rush over me. I kneel down to the flowers, gazing at their deep-green leaves and purple throats, at the silvery berries branching out from the stems like buds.

    The boy had made it out of Verdanturf after all. He had made it all the way to Jagged Pass, and possibly beyond.

    I look at the flowers, my thoughts tearing back and forth for a moment from him to them.

    And suddenly, I realize something.

    Planting was triggering life and growth for something that couldn’t have done it on its own, the mixing of vastly different ingredients – air, water, land – to create something that sustained itself with all three. It was the process of giving life, but it was also something more – it was a process of expressing and sharing the beauty one saw in it. And flowers weren’t the only source of that beauty. Beauty could be found in many other things, just like life consisted of many other facets. And I could still discover them, any moment I wanted.

    I pick some of the berries and put them in my pouch, just the right amount to get a steady supply going in the store again. Then I head down the slope, feeling uplifted at the knowledge that I had just a bit more now than when I started.
     
  3. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    I thought this is a nice take on Wally's story along with some perspectives from Rita and Maxie's. The theme of planting/flowers is nice too given the Hoenn games center around nature. Yay Wally going around the world, planting berries and kicking butt in battles heh. I think my favorite line is Maxie's "But the pokemon does not listen. No, nature does not listen to humans," kinda chilling.


    I think my only minor complaint is I feel you left out the description of the battles. I can understand this story is already as long as it is and this story is more about planting/flowers, but I think it would be nice to get Wally's thoughts during the heat of the battle, or at least when Brandon's pokemon vs. Gardevoir. Otherwise, this been a very enjoyable read!
     
  4. Mrs. Lovett

    Mrs. Lovett Rolling writer

    I'm glad that line stuck out to you; it was one of my favorites. Aside from being Maxie's moment of change, it's something that's crossed my own mind a few times in the past. And it was a perfect fit for the weather crisis, too. :p

    I understand where you're coming from with regards to the battle descriptions, and you're right that I decided to keep those short for the sake of sticking to the main idea. The battle between Wally and the grunts was meant to be short in principle, more like a subtle suggestion of how Wally's battle skills were actually improving, while staying in the narrative perspective of Wally, who views his own progress differently than someone from the outside might view it. So I probably won't make any changes to that one. But I debated a little as to whether or not to describe Wally's face-off with Brendan in detail, and in the end decided to leave it short, because I figured that a detailed battle scene would shift the focus too much on Wally's techniques, and away from the battle's symbolic meaning, which was more important. I decided to compensate for that a little by including an interaction with Gardevoir during the weather crisis, which would show how much closer and more confident he's become with his pokemon and his identity as a trainer. (Plus I was worried that the story would end up unbearably long :p)

    For now, I'll probably let the battle scenes be, but later I'll go back and see if I can add some more detail to the Brendan-Wally one. I did want it to be a climax moment for Wally's character, so this might help it stand out more.

    Thanks for the review, and Happy New Year!
     

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