"Morty said that?"
"Yeap. So I was thinking if you know anything about our ancestry on your end since it cannot be from Dad's side, just so you know… Uhm, for our own benefit?"
"I… I'm almost certain that my side of the family has been in Hoenn for as far as we could trace back, but since we are looking at more than five hundred years worth of history, I cannot really say for sure." Mum said in deep thought on the other end of the video call. I can see Dad beside her and oh, Vance is there too. What a rare appearance.
"That sounds pretty cool, ain't it? Maybe we are a family of ghost espers and I have the potential to unlock this ghostly ability too," Vance said from the other end of the line and I rolled my eyes.
"If you had it in you, I'm sure it would have manifested by now. If you really have a similar ability it must have been a dud."
"Oh come on, Vel. My starter is Macky, a ghost type! It has to mean something!"
"I'm sure Macky just bonded with you out of pity more than anything else. Right, Macky?"
I could hear Macky's cackle from the other end, telling me that he agrees with my statement.
"It does explain certain things about you, like how ghosts just seem to love you and things like that, but I still find it hard to believe that all of this is simply due to an inherited ability passed down through your mother's side of the family for more than five hundred years and the trait only manifesting in you right now," Dad added his two cents regarding the issue and honestly, I agree with him as well. Assuming that I am really a descendent of that mysterious Lady Ilex, of all people, why me? Why not Vance? If I was ever going to have another younger sibling, would he or she awaken a similar ability as well?
"But Vel, since you are going to Unova, this may be the perfect opportunity for you to find out more about your ability."
"Remember when I went there recently for a business trip and returned back with Chewy? I've heard things about Ability Holders there, just that I did not make the connection between Ability Holders and you because back then, your ability wasn't as pronounced for me to make the connection and frankly, there's no one true way to identify Ability Holders as far as I was told."
"Who told you about this? Can I meet him or her?"
"That piece of information is actually common knowledge in Unova. Unova has the highest concentration and number of Ability Holders throughout the world. In comparison, Ability Holders are very rarely found in other parts of the world, so much that hardly anybody knows about them outside Unova. However, due to Unova's… history, Ability Holders tend to conceal and blend themselves into the populace, so you could pass by an Ability Holder on the street and not know they are one. Just know that Unova is where Ability Holders are most commonly found, much more than anywhere else in the world by a very huge margin, but they are also not well-received there. Be curious, but also be careful. Don't reveal your ability carelessly, okay?"
"Xenophobia, I take it?" I made a blind guess and my father nodded, telling me all that I needed to know. "Alright, I will be careful. But on our family's side, is there no way for us to check whether Mum's side of the family...?"
"That may not necessarily be true. Tracking the origins of your mother's side of the family will be difficult, no doubt, but with our family's influence and connections we might be able to find out about certain things," Dad said while stroking his chin in thought before looking back at me. "That said, you often underestimate the kind of things our family can do, Vel. Not that I blame you, it is mainly my fault for sheltering you too much from the real inner workings of our family's social circle, but if you are to continue your work in the interpol then there is a need for you to learn more about our family as soon as possible. Be it our history, influence, wealth, connections, you can no longer be ignorant about it, not when you are now a member of the interpol. Our family's name is a powerful tool to have, Vel, and it is a waste to not utilise it properly for a job like yours. I think I have put off that part of your education for long enough, it's time for you to really learn more about what being a Vera really means."
"Griff," Mum immediately interrupted with a frown. "Vel is still-"
"Vance was already well-versed and connected with our family's closest allies at her age, and that was when he was swamped with ACE duties too. Vance and Steven started their education at an even younger age, didn't they?" Dad argued. "Granted, Vance is the appointed heir who will be the future Head of the family, but Vel is also a child of the Vera family. It's fine for her to not learn more about the family if she decides to lead an ordinary life, but now that she is a member of the interpol her every word and action not only represents her, it also speaks on the behalf of Hoenn and of our family. She is growing up, people in our social circle will no longer start to see her as an ignorant little girl but as Velda Vera, the heiress to the Vera family. It's time for her to start announcing her presence within the upper class of Hoenn and also to people around the world who we are well connected with. With such connections at her disposal, it will make her job as an interpol member easier, trust me."
"I… Well, you know I never disagreed with you when it comes to the family's affairs, but Vel is… She's already been through so much and I…"
"Mum, it's fine," I reassured her as best as I could. "Dad has a point, I am a Vera too. Can't let Vance shoulder all the responsibility, could I?"
"I'm relieved that you think this way, it means that you are more than ready to shoulder the burdens and responsibilities that comes with our family name," Dad spoke up in a serious voice, which means that he is not fooling around. "We have connections in Unova too. My previous business trip there was to meet several influential families in Unova to discuss the possibility of a joint business venture. I will have you meet them as a representative of our family and give you free reign to manage that side of our family's business."
"Dad, I know very little about running a business," I reminded him, suddenly feeling very daunted at the thought of stepping into such an unfamiliar field without any prior experience in it.
"Don't worry, I won't make you do this without any form of help. I will send my closest aides to help you with it."
I blinked my eyes in confusion as I tried to fill in the blanks myself.
"... You have aides?"
The blank look I was showing my family was returned to me by them in kind before Vance suddenly burst out laughing. I can tell that Mum was trying to hold back from laughing as well with how her shoulders were trembling while Dad simply facepalmed.
"It's my fault. I have sheltered you a little too well, I shouldn't be surprised that you have no idea on who is helping us to support the entire family business," Dad admitted before asking me a question. "Vel, you have an idea about the scale of our family business and of our history and importance to the region. Think logically, do you really think it is possible for us to support Hoenn on the scale that we are capable of with just one pokemon farm? Do you really think we could run all of our operations with just the four of us?"
"Obviously no…" I trailed off, knowing the obvious answer to the questions but I still have trouble wrapping the idea around my mind. "But I never saw anyone else helping in our family business other than the part-timers working on the farm or the trainers helping to guard it. There were practically no signs of anyone assisting us in the finance side of things. It was always just you and Mum and maybe Vance if he is at home to help."
"We do have a large team working for us to ensure the smooth running of our business, Vel," As if no longer able to hold in the truth any longer, Vance finally spoke up after he was done laughing everything out of his system. "By a large team, I mean corporations and companies, and a few of them are listed companies too. The only reason why you don't see us interacting with them is because we work remotely from home most of the time. Dad is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of these companies, the running of the daily operations of these companies are usually left to the respective CEOs he appointed and Dad usually gives them the freedom on what to do as long as they work for our interests and make profits without breaking the law. Do you understand what I am talking about so far?"
"Uh, I think so?"
"Companies like Swellow Transport, Swalot Supplies? They are all affiliated companies with our farm, they are all started up by our forefathers throughout our family's long history. We don't pin our family name on each and every of our businesses, you know? The only exception is our farm which is the representation of our family's roots. The large number of pokemon and related supplies, a lot of it is transacted within our network of businesses to ensure that it runs smoothly as a whole. The food that we use to feed the pokemon on our farm are all bought from Swalot Supplies, remember? That is one of the major affiliated companies of our farm that is also under our name."
"You are currently too young, but you will be a shareholder of each of our family's businesses too when you are of legal age, just like Vance did," Dad added. "And yes, I do need to educate you about the large group of companies our family had created over the centuries and also the important people working for our family who I frequently relied on to keep our businesses running. I skipped out on this part of your education because you weren't as healthy back then and you needed to recuperate, but since your health is getting back on track, it's time for you to be a little more involved with our family's business."
"But Dad," I cannot help but nervously ask when I remembered the task Dad gave me. "What if I fail? I mean, you are asking me to handle an overseas joint business venture with our Unova partners. I am only thirteen, I'm not exactly in a legal position to discuss business ventures, right?"
"From a legal standpoint, you are right, but you are also a Vera, that alone gives your words enough weight to affect the future of the entire business venture. As for the possibility of failure, doesn't that apply for everything else? If you fail, just take it as a learning opportunity. Our family can take the loss, no problems."
At this point, I have a feeling that I am still severely underestimating my family's wealth and influence. It's like my worldview has been restricted by the relative poverty I had experienced in my previous life and also by the humble upbringing I was raised in this life. The world of the rich is really not something that I had stepped into yet. Like Dad said, I haven't stepped into the social circle that I supposedly belong to just on the account of being a Vera. I have no idea what the truly rich really do and are capable of.
"If the business venture fails, that is going to be one hell of an expensive lesson."
"And a lesson worth paying for, in my opinion," Dad replied. "Don't stress yourself out over it, Vel, just treat it as a learning experience. It's just another business venture."
"I have this sudden feeling that I shouldn't be surprised if our family has one or two mansions that I'm not aware of."
"Oh, you already knew about that?" Dad gasped in surprise. "The one we have next to the Stones in Rustboro, or the one in Fortree? Or is it the one we have right in Petalburg or maybe the one at Lilycove?"
"...Dad, please. Stop pulling my leg."
"This is actually true, we do have several mansions in Hoenn under our name, not just the ones your father just mentioned," Mum interjected and I can feel my eyes widening in disbelief at the confirmation. "It's just that your grandfather never liked the mansions much and he prefers the homelier feel of our ancestral home after your grandmother passed away, so he moved in there. Your father moved in together with your grandfather so that it was easier to take care of him and it was how I eventually met him in Petalburg, got married, and had you and Vance. After your grandfather passed away, your father and I never saw a need to move back into the mansion since our family was already very small to begin with and we have no need for such a big house. And after you were born, we decided to just continue staying here because the environment in Petalburg is much more favourable in nursing your health."
"Annnnnd I was never told about this because…?"
At this point, I am getting kind of numb to the revelations my family are casually revealing to me, and also a little annoyed at why such things aren't made known to me even when I am their daughter. It's not like I am lusting after the family's riches, but it really irks me that I seem to be the only one in the dark about everything in regards to the family. I get it that I wasn't educated and trained in the same manner as Vance did as an heir due to my frail health when I was younger and hence, was let known on far lesser things than he did, but for things like this? It wouldn't be too much to ask to be let known of such information so that I would have a better understanding of our family's wealth and influence, right? I am a Vera too, right? If I had really known about the scale of our businesses and of our wealth I wouldn't appear to be so ignorant of our family, right?
Looking back, I wonder if Steven sees me as a sheltered and ignorant little girl whenever we see each other. I wouldn't be surprised if I appeared as a laughing stock to him seeing as how ignorant I am of my own family.
As if knowing the reason behind my annoyance that I am trying my best to conceal, Dad quickly spoke up.
"There wasn't really a need for us to bring this topic up, and, uh, all we wanted for you is for your health to get better back then. You were already having troubles trying to breathe properly as a child, so things like these never came up because your mother and I were more than willing to take care of you for the rest of your life if need be, you need not worry about a single thing."
My annoyance vanished as fast as they came the moment I heard Dad's reply. It's true that I am not an easy child to take care of due to my frail health, I would have died a long time ago if it wasn't for my family's wealth ensuring the continuity of my second life for as long as it is. It's true that this led to my family being overprotective of me and makes me appear to be sheltered in the eyes of other families of equal standing as my own, but I cannot deny that this all started because my family had always done things with my best interests in mind.
"Sorry, Dad, Mum."
"What are you apologising for?" Mum admonished in an all too familiar manner. "Unova's climate is a lot harsher than Hoenn or Johto, so remember to take care of yourself, okay? Especially if you stay there long enough to experience their winter season. Unova's winters can be really harsh, so make sure you wear enough to keep yourself warm."
"And eat more, you still look too skinny. Did you actually lose weight in Johto? That's not good, you are already too thin to begin with and you are at the age where your height should actually be growing like a bean sprout."
"Mum, can you stop reminding me about my height?" I groaned.
"Eh, I think Vel is fine the way she is. She's cuter that way."
"Vance, you are not helping."
"But you are really cuter at your current height! You will not be as cute if you grow any taller!"
"I like being pretty, being beautiful, being drop dead gorgeous like Mum is, but I absolutely don't want to be cute," I punctuated my words extremely clearly for my dear brother. I have long since passed the mental age of wanting to be cute.
"No buts about this."
"Vel will definitely grow into a gorgeous beauty like your Mum is by the time she grows into her height. I… I anticipate and dread that day in equal measures," Dad muttered, just loud enough for me to pick up over the video call.
"Dad, why would you not want your daughter to grow up to be as beautiful as Mum?"
"Because there will be boys chasing after you and none of us can be there to chase them off given how your work brings you all across the world," Dad stated plainly as if that is the truth of the universe and I decided that trying to argue for my case is a lost cause.
"I'm not even thinking of dating anyone right now-"
"But there was that time when you went out to meet a boy!" Vance accused.
"That time after your conference when you met with your boyfriend for lunch!"
Oh, he must have meant my meeting with Tate where he and Dad tried to stalk me only to fail.
"Yes, he's a boy, but he's just a friend. That doesn't equate to a boyfriend, brother dear."
"Oh, him?" Mum spoke up, finally realising who we were talking about. "I met him once when he walked Vel home that day. I like him, he's very well-mannered."
"MUM! You are supposed to be on our side! He's going after my baby sister!"
"I'd be worried if Vel doesn't go after him. I think he's a good catch, and it's good to start young for a specimen as fine as him. Vel, just ignore both of them. If you already have him on the hook, now you need to start reeling in the line. Come to me if you need advice."
"Guys, can you stop speculating about my love life, or the lack thereof?" I held in the urge to sigh as I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose. I'm only thirteen, physically, puberty has barely just kicked in and already they are worried about me having a boyfriend or not?
"I just really want to know who he is," Dad replied, which Vance vehemently agreed with furious nods of his head.
"Not telling," I shot back, not wanting to deal with this insanity for even a second longer. With my newfound understanding of the family, I have a feeling that something ridiculous would happen if they knew that it was Tate. Something like Dad and Vance would somehow use our family's influence to somehow get Tate to step down from his position as Gym Leader... Yeah, I wouldn't put it past them to be this petty if the matter in question involves me. They can be really crazy in matters where I am involved.
"See?! Look how defensive she is! She definitely has a boyfriend! What happened to not dating until you are twenty-five?!" Vance exclaimed to Dad and I cannot help but facepalm.
"I thought our agreement was fifteen? Wait, I remembered you then changed it to twenty. You keep pushing the age limit up."
"No dating until you are thirty! That's final!"
"I've recognised that you had made a decision regarding on when I should start dating, but given that it is a stupid-ass decision, I've elected to ignore it."
"Vel! No cussing!"
"Oops. Sorry, Mum."
"Vel, I'm serious! Dad, say something!"
"Maybe I should just start picking Vel's future husband starting from now and start grooming him into a perfect husband. At least this way I can be rest assured that whoever I picked will treat Vel like a queen."
"DAD! This is not even remotely funny!"
"Just a joke, just a joke!"
He definitely didn't sound like he was joking at all.
"Just need you to read through everything and then fill up here, here, and there. Remember to sign at the bottom." I instructed Skye as I helped her point out where she should fill in and sign the forms that would officially make her a member of the interpol. Looker had offered Skye the chance to join us and she had taken it up after much consideration.
"Wow, we get to earn that much?" Skye let out a low whistle when she finally read the amount of remuneration we are entitled to as members of the interpol.
"We are risking our lives to save the world. I think this much is reasonable," I deadpanned. "Although I believe that us demanding for a pay raise after the incident with Zapmolcuno might have been a factor too. Looker can be very persuasive."
"So when do we move out?" Skye asked as she swiftly signed her name at the bottom of the form the moment she was done reading through the employment contract. She had tendered in her resignation from the Rangers not too long ago in order to join us. From what she had let known to me, her immediate superior wasn't too pleased at her sudden departure.
"We will be leaving with the Unova delegation the moment we get the green light. Borders are still on lockdown, so it might take a while." I explained as I took back the forms and placed them neatly back into the folder that I had brought along. "We should be able to leave somewhere between one to two weeks from today, so just be ready before then. We will inform you of the details at a later date once we confirm the exact details."
"Unova delegation? So we will be traveling with Grimsley and Elesa?"
"Yep. Grimsley is a little anti-social though, so maybe you might want to keep your distance." I told her after some thought.
"We are going by ship. That is going to take about a month or so, minimum, and we have to deal with an anti-social Elite Four?"
"Elesa's fine," I shrugged at where we are currently seated in her living room at her home in Violet City. She has two brothers, one older and one younger but none of them are home right now. The older brother is Falkner, the younger one is somebody who goes by the name of Ciel and is probably not a "canon" character. "Besides, Shannon and Nova are there too. Oh, Akamu and Mary will be hitching a ride with us as well."
"They have reasons, and…" I trailed off, hesitating on whether to inform Skye about my suspicions but decided to in the end. "Mary brought back an orphaned baby when she was involved in the operation at Mahogany. It's a baby boy, red hair, and his name is Silver. I believe that is the reason why they are so eager to leave Indigo, even if it means owing Looker a favour."
"Silver? Red hair? Call me crazy, but wouldn't that make him the… you know…"
"Glad that I'm not the only one with the same suspicions."
"And Akamu never said anything about it to you guys?" Skye asked in disbelief.
"The chance never came up." I explained simply. "Furthermore, I do trust him. If it is something so important that it will affect us, I don't think he's the type to keep mum about it. I think he is aware that people like us had already guessed Silver's identity, although that begs the question of how he got involved with Giovanni of all people in the first place. Looker told me that Mary's father was Alice's mentor, so that might be the connection we are missing."
"Executive Ariana, Giovanni's wife."
"Oh," Skye replied before asking another question. "So it may be Alice asking Mary to help take care of Silver and that's how the antagonist of the games ended up sailing with us to Unova?"
"Perhaps." I shrugged my shoulders once again to convey my confusion as well. "We will only know when Akamu decides to come clean with us."
"Cool, that makes it six of us sailing to Unova now. Wait a minute, is Volkner…"
"Nope, he's not coming along. He's staying behind to help take care of Jasmine. There's been… complications." I finished lamely after being unable to find a suitable word to explain the situation to Skye. "If he decided to come along it wouldn't be anytime soon, not until he finishes what he has to do before that."
"Word has been going around that Jasmine may be forced to relinquish her Gym Leader position after what has happened. Something like she is no longer in a state to continue to carry out her duties or some shit like that. It's worrying."
"She did lose quite a number of her pokemon. That would be a devastating blow to any trainer, be it in terms of firepower or their state of mind. Not to be rude, but I'm surprised that she made it out alive in the first place. It was Zapmolcuno."
"That thing's batshit insane," Skye muttered darkly. "And the seventh that we had been finding the entire time? It's really that guy? The one that nearly killed me twice?"
"Unfortunately for you, yes. Unfortunately for us, he made a successful prison break just two days ago and we have absolutely no clues on where he might have disappeared to. Mewtwo isn't uttering a single word about it too no matter how nicely we tried to ask. We may never get to see him ever again."
"I don't mind that. Just meeting him once can give you nightmares for months." Skye shuddered at the mention of Jayce. "Can't believe I was squaring off with one of us in a deathmatch the entire time. He outclasses me so much that it wasn't even funny."
"I get what you mean. I was there to witness his pokemon at work back on Five Island, they are deadly enough even without him to command them. Part of me is actually curious as to how he would fare against someone like Akamu or Volkner. He did go against Giovanni for a while after all, and according to Professor Oak it wasn't a one-sided massacre. The professor did say that with the exception of a steelix, the rest of Giovanni's pokemon all suffered some serious wounds and I think Jayce managed to kill two or three before he went down."
"Jayce? Is that his name?"
"The closest we could get to pinning a name down for him. He wasn't given a name at all ever since he was born, all he had were numbers and codenames. Jayce is what he prefers people knowing him as."
"I don't want to work with him at all."
"Understandable," I nodded in understanding. Jayce had nearly killed Skye on two separate occasions, if the same were to happen to me I would have the same reservations too.
"Alright, let's stop talking about him and all the gloomy stuff." Skye cleared the dour atmosphere in an instant as she reverted back to her upbeat self. "This is your first time coming to Violet, right? If you are free I can show you around the place. We were not hit as bad as the other cities during the war, so you can still do some sightseeing here before we set off."
"That would be nice."
The Sprout Tower is easily recognisable. It is located right at the northern end of the city, a large pagoda that is over 100 feet in height and held together by a giant flexible pillar that shakes from side to side. According to the monks here, the flexibility is needed to protect the tall tower from the occasional earthquakes and also symbolises the battles that are occurring on the upper floors. The flexible pillar technology is known as jukozo in the oriental tongue, a construction technique designed and proposed by the then leader and elder monk of the Sprout Tower monks, Sage Chigusa Banri.
"Sage Chigusa Banri?" I cannot help but ask when I heard that title being mentioned by the monk that was helpful enough to give us a tour of the place. Unfortunately, due to recent events the tower is not open to any challenges from the public at the moment, but visitors are still welcomed to the tower to either pray or to sightsee.
"Ah, Sage is a title given to our elder monks. As our leader during the warring era, Sage Chigusa naturally possesses that same title as well. He is the one who promotes the beliefs that all living beings coexist through cooperation. Not everybody wanted to participate in the war between Champion Ishikawa and the Wataru faction, and so Sage Chigusa made the Sprout Tower a sanctuary for refugees who wanted to escape from the war. It was said that Sage Chigusa was so powerful that even Champion Ishikawa would not cross him carelessly, and the only reason why Champion Ishikawa could pass through Violet City to continue with his conquest was because of a truce made between both of them."
Skye nodded along in understanding, obviously having grown up here hearing the local tales of Sage Chigusa Banri. I, however, am more interested in the origins of how he earned the Sage title.
"If Sage Chigusa was so powerful that Champion Ishikawa would not carelessly offend him, just what is he capable of?"
"He is a prodigy in the field of construction, for one." The monk guiding us throughout our tour in the swaying tower replied without delay. "Like I mentioned earlier, he was the inventor of the jukuzo technology which is still being applied in the construction of many modern day high-rise buildings. Violet City flourished under his protection even during the chaotic days of the warring era. The Sprout Tower is a sanctuary not only for humans, but also for pokemon who were fleeing from the war. Maybe it was because he was a Grass Specialist, but most of the pokemon who flocked to the tower were grass types. His victreebel and meganium were his most notable companions, although he was able to bring out the full potential of any other grass types under his command."
"Is he an Ability Holder?" I asked curiously, remembering the conversation I had with Morty regarding this topic.
"I hadn't heard that phrase in a long time, but to answer your question, he could be," The monk nodded. "But it's been so long that nobody could say for sure. The records we kept about Sage Chigusa mostly document his academic achievements as a scholar rather than his prowess as a trainer."
We soon reached an altar where several members of the public were gathering and kneeling in prayer. Since we are already here, it would be rude to not follow the local customs and pray as well. I'm not a religious person so I have no idea what I should be praying for, so I ended up praying for the continued health and safety of my family and pokemon.
The monk that was serving as our guide had excused himself when Skye and I were doing our prayers. Skye showed me around the place since this isn't her first time here and we soon found a room that contains the long list of names and portraits of the previous leaders of the Sprout Tower Monks ever since its founding. I spotted Sage Chigusa's portrait soon enough, with the name Chigusa Banri carved right beneath his portrait.
"Not sure if Hoenn follows the same custom, but in Johto, before we were unified there was the difference between naming conventions of the oriental tongue and the common tongue. People using the oriental tongue will put their family or clan name first, followed by their given name. It's the opposite for those using the common tongue. It's the same logic behind Japanese and English names in our… you know."
"It's the same for Hoenn too. Our founding Champion used the oriential tongue before he standardised the region's naming conventions to those of the common tongue as per the standardisation of the PWL. People born after the unification have to use the new naming conventions set by the Champion, but people born before it had the choice to stick to the old ones if they wished for it."
"Guess things are similar for both our regions. When I was young I kept thinking that Ishikawa was the given name of our Champion until Falkner corrected me and said that it was his family name. Nobody realised the misconception I had until I nearly failed my history paper in primary school. Most embarrassing moment of my life."
"You went to school here? I was home-schooled."
"Sadly, and let me tell you, it was hell having to share the same room with an entire class of seven year olds. Your parents taught you themselves or hired a teacher to teach you?"
"It was mainly my mum doing most of the teaching, not that she needed to teach me much. I had a harder time pretending not to know as much as I should. Learning about pokemon from dad was a lot more fun, although I did not have many lessons about pokemon when I was younger because I was a lot sicker then. Because of that, I did not learn as much as Vance did when he was at my age."
"Your older brother?"
"Uh huh. A little overprotective and a total goof, but he's still my brother anyway."
"I can relate with the overprotective part. Have I told you that when I tried telling my brother that I decided to join the interpol he thought that I was trying to come clean to him that I have a boyfriend? And that he thought that my boyfriend was Looker? Nearly strangled him back there."
I tried and failed in holding back my laughter when I heard the unexpected news. Skye and… Looker? That's quite a… unique pairing.
"Yes, laugh all you want. I admit that it's kinda funny in retrospect."
"Looker's at least twice our age, why would Falkner think that you and him are dating?"
"Precisely." Skye deadpanned. "No offense to Looker, but I have better taste in men. Going after men twice my age is not my cup of tea."
"You can grab yourself a hot Unovan boyfriend and kidnap him back home when we finally start work, just saying."
"Nah, not interested in dating at the moment. Feels kinda weird cos it makes me feel like a cougar, and dating men around my physical age right now is off putting too because most of them are still immature boys, but dating men far older than me in physical age right now would be weird too. So I don't think I would date until I am a few years older and boys my age finally grew enough to be slightly more mature that they wouldn't irritate the hell out of me." Skye elaborated before asking me. "What about you?"
"Honestly? I don't mind dating when I'm a few years older just for the fun of it, although I don't think I will marry anybody. I am planning to stay single for the rest of my life."
"Ooh, so you want to be a playboy- no, wait, a playgirl? Is that a word?"
"I'm not," I stressed. "Besides, I'm pretty sure that there are guys out there who don't mind dating but have no wish to get married too. If the feeling's mutual I don't see a big deal about it."
"What makes you want to stay single though? Fear of commitment?"
"In a way." I conceded. "According to the doctors I wasn't supposed to live past fifteen in the first place, although I believe I can prove them wrong soon. Still, that does not guarantee that my condition will not suddenly worsen and I don't want to commit to a relationship and then suddenly die from another of my episodes. I just feel that that will be very cruel to whoever is unlucky enough to date me, especially if they do so with marriage in mind."
"Aww, you are such a considerate girl!" Skye cooed and messed with my hair by ruffling it with her hand, prompting me to scowl at her.
"Hey, your hair's really smooth." Skye commented as she looked at her hand, then back at me. "What kind of conditioner do you use?"
"I'm not too picky about conditioners, I just ask my mum to give me some of whatever she uses. I think she packed those for me cos I never cared much about this kind of thing."
"And what brand does she use? Surely you know that?"
"Uhh, I think it's… Jynx's Kisses? Something like that? The weird brand logo with a Jynx showing off its long golden hair?"
Skye's jaws dropped.
"Vel, that brand is a luxury brand. One bottle of it is freaking expensive, like my entire month Ranger pay kind of expensive and I was from the First Regiment where we draw a much higher salary for the kind of shit we have to go through, and even I find it expensive."
I blinked. I really had no idea because my mum is usually the one fussing over my hair and skin and stuff like that. While I do care about my own personal hygiene and beauty, it's never to the extent like mum did. The most I did was to apply and use face masks when I have the time and mood for it. That is about all I did because I really don't see a need to obsess about beauty at my current age.
"I really have no idea."
"I can tell." Skye drawled with a flat look on her face. "Then again, I shouldn't be surprised since your family is quite literally swimming with money."
"I can let you use my conditioner?" I offered.
"Just once will do." Skye quickly added. "I'm just curious whether it's really as good as people made it out to be."
"I'm not too sure myself," I cannot help but run my hand through my hair and suddenly I cannot help but realise that yes, my hair is really smooth and nice to the touch. Why didn't I realise it sooner?
"But now that you said it, my hair is really smooth. I might ask mum where she bought this brand from or if she knows if Unova sells any of those."
"I'm sure that it is a Hoenn product, although they have been trying to expand their business to Johto with moderate success in the past two or three months. It was how I came to know about it. I'm not too sure if they are trying to do the same in Unova though."
"Huh, I thought businesses tend to keep to their own regions? Globalisation isn't really a thing in this world."
"There have been some trade agreements between some of the regions since around… last year September? Or was it October? Anyway, governments around the world are starting to try and establish a workable system for their region's corporations to establish an international presence, open up trades, those kinds of things. That brand of conditioner that you are using is one of those businesses."
Last year September or October? That was around the time I was made aware of the prophecy and shared my solutions with Wallace, wasn't it? So governments around the world were already trying to establish concrete connections with each other since then? It's something good to know. At least, some progress has been made to try and promote international relations.
"Want to climb another floor upwards?" Skye suggested as she steered the topic of discussion back to the Sprout Tower. "The higher levels are not open to the public right now but the view from the floor above us is still really great. You should totally take a picture here, you cannot claim to have visited Violet City without coming here at least once and taking a picture at the Sprout Tower."
"Do they really have a 100 foot tall bellsprout here?" I asked Skye after remembering about the rumours about the Sprout Tower that I had heard about in passing before coming here.
"If they do, they never show it to the public, and it's hard to hide a bellsprout that tall. Nah, maybe it existed at a point in time, but definitely not now."
"I'm just wondering if it will remain a 100 foot tall weepinbell or victreebel after it evolved."
"A 100 foot tall victreebel? Sounds like a catastrophe to me. Thanks but not thanks."
"I thought there were legends about giant pokemon? Like torterras who are centuries old and are big enough to become a walking island or an entire continent by itself, super old onixs or steelixs that are at least ten times the average lengths of their species, cases like those. Come to think about it, Volkner's gyarados is a giant pokemon too. Is it already fully grown? Because if it hasn't, imagine if it ever grew into its full length-"
"Imma gonna stop you right there cos the Ranger in me does not want to imagine the nightmares that come from dealing with problems stirred up by giant pokemon."
"I'm just curious about the amount of food they have to eat each day." I clarified. "But have you dealt with giant pokemon before?"
"Only once because those are rarer than you think." Skye grimaced. "To make things worse, it was a giant snorlax. If you think a normal snorlax is a glutton, you have no idea how terrifying a giant snorlax is. That big guy alone nearly devastated the ecosystem of the forest to the north of Ecruteak. Hell, it tried to eat my entire team because it was that hungry."
"How did the Rangers solve that snorlax problem?"
"We have no choice but to feed it ourselves for a short while. The only other option was to allow the forest to provide food for it naturally but the snorlax's appetite was too big to be sated. Nobody wants to capture and tame the snorlax too because they are always angry unless they are fed. Trying to raise one on your team is a logistical and financial nightmare for any trainer, and that snorlax is a giant pokemon. In the end, some research team decided to recruit some Elite trainers to help capture it for their study, so that's the end of it for our side."
"Must have been one hell of a fight." I spoke, remembering about the one and only battle I had with a snorlax in my final battle against Tucker. Snorlax may not be quick on their feet, but their near impenetrable defense and overwhelming strength is more than enough to make them true terrors on the battlefield.
"It was, but I'm just glad that the snorlax was gone. Never saw or heard about it ever again."
It was then that we reached the floor Skye had suggested we climbed up to. Like she said, the view here is picturesque. Would have been better if the city hadn't been embroiled with the war with Team Rocket but I'm not going to complain.
My visit to the Sprout Tower with Skye reminded me of something. Maybe it's because things had been so hectic lately that I had forgotten about it, but my goal is to travel the world and I do have some time left before we have to head out for Unova.
I really should get some sightseeing done before then.
AN: Decided to post a chapter cos, why not?
I had already started writing on the Unova arc, especially for RE since that was the first story which I started the arc and last I checked I had already written 32 chapters for RE and it's only like 70% or 80% done, assuming that I would not be making any major changes to the plot. The Unova arc is going to be a nightmare to complete, I swear. It's going to take a long, long while before I can start posting chapters for the Unova arc for real.
For now, I guess I can post a chapter or two to "transition" into the Unova arc. I agree with several reviews that the Indigo arc for IJWTTTW had sort of derailed from the theme of "travel" and I want to try and bring it back. However, I also want to bring across the idea that Vel's plans often got foiled for reasons outside her control as mentioned in the story summary, this is the whole reason why she's in the interpol in the first place. Also, realistically, she's growing up (physically) and will need to start taking on responsibilities as expected of a Vera. I want to bring that across in the story as well. This story is a story about pokemon, but it cannot be just about pokemon because in reality, life is so much more than just that.
In any case, let me know what you guys think. I think I'm currently suffering a burnout from churning 30 plus chapters for RE in like two weeks, so maybe I might take a break from writing for a while. I kind of enjoyed writing RE and am satisfied with how it turned out. The story is going to be different, but I think it should be in a good way. I am also trying to make each story more unique without losing the cohesion between all seven, especially so in trying to make it seem less repetitive for several important events where one or more protagonists are involved if you guys actually read all seven or several of them. It's really a huge test of my writing skills, but I will see if it can be better than what was done for the Indigo arc.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed the chapter.
Character and pokemon list:
Velda Vera, Age: 13, Female, Pokemon Trainer, Member of the International Police
Pokemon on hand:
1) Rapidash (Flamel), male
2) Swampert (Bigblue), male
3) Banette (Dolly), female
4) Flygon (Snap), male
5) Absol (Kelsa), female
6) Charizard (Toothless), male
7) Cradily (Lily), female
8) Espeon (Rena), female
9) Pachirisu (Fuzzy), male
10) Tyranitar (Kratos), male
11) Cleffa (Joy), female
12) Nidoqueen (Ness), female
13) Pangoro (Hulk), male
14) Porygon-Z (Jarvis), genderless
15) Scizor (Archer), male
16) Lapras (Chill), female
17) Gengar (Wacky), male