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Pokémon In Vino Veritas

In Vino Veritas

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
A wedding present from her husband may be Lusamine's last grip on reality​

You had gotten the wine on your honeymoon. The hills of Kalos were only a memory, but your husband had said that he wasn't looking at them anyway. Why would he, he said, if you were there?

He built a shelf just for it. Those silly gestures were one of the things that made you fall in love with him, and when he presented you with a self-contained cabinet with all the gizmos and gadgets from the lab that kept the bottle in the best of conditions, you laughed out loud. He waited until you were done before kissing you.

He popped it open a year and a half later, when you brought your son home for the first time. You only had a sip before falling asleep on the couch, and when you woke up, he was showing your son around. The boy couldn't even focus his eyes yet and he was already going on a tour, your husband's enthusiastic voice audible down the hall.

Your next sip was after your daughter was born. This time your husband brought it directly into the recovery room and you drank it from a paper cup. Your son, only a few years old, was given grape juice and your husband explained why it was basically the same thing. You laughed, and you swear your daughter laughed too.

Your fifth anniversary was almost forgotten, in the rush of the labs and business meetings. Logically you knew it was there, but neither you nor he had made any plans. He called you to his office to check on some urgent papers, and he was waiting with the wine and plane tickets to Alola. During that trip, you both decided to build a branch there.

By the time your tenth anniversary came around, you were alone. Your husband had vanished far too long ago. You weren't sure exactly when any more and at the same time you knew down to the minute. Your son asked why you were crying. You weren't aware you had been. He asked why you were sitting in the dark. You weren't aware you had been. You took a drink, of something else this time, before you answered, but your answer didn't explain anything.

It was a hallucination, a dream, a nightmare, a fantasy. You felt drunker than you ever had when you thought about the creatures that took him. Did they love him as much as you did? Did he make them laugh? Did he build funny contraptions for them? Maybe they made him laugh. Maybe they built things for him. But he could never love them as much as he did you. That never even crossed your mind.

You had so much love in you, and it was going nowhere. Your children, you would make sure they would go nowhere. They would wait for their father to get back. You would keep them the same so he would recognize them. You would make sure they were on their best behavior. They wouldn't grow up or grow distant or ever leave, and once he got back you would all be the same happy family you had always been.

Your pokémon were the same. His treasured team had to remain the same and that was much easier. Your lab had already developed the necessary preservation techniques, and they could keep for as long as possible. They wouldn't change at all. They wouldn't age. They wouldn't get sick or die. And when he came back, they could be restored. You had other ideas, but people would ask questions if your children suddenly vanished. Everything had to be ideal. There couldn't be questions. There couldn't be anything to disrupt it.

The god killer was too much trouble. The beast that was supposed to help you get your husband back would be of no use. It had to be something flawless, something that would never cause problems, something that would do as it was told and never resist. But your son had other ideas.

And he was gone too, gone with the very creature that was supposed to save his father. You were doing what was best. The creature had failed and your son still saved it. He didn't want his father back, you decided. He was ungrateful, you decided. He put this creature over his own father. Over his own mother.

Your daughter would be the same. She would be perfect. She would be the ideal child. She would do as she was told. She would never cause problems. She would never resist. Those creatures would dote on your husband, so you dressed your daughter like one of them. The beautiful jellyfish, so dainty but so powerful. Just like she would be. She would be the perfect daughter, the perfect doll, the perfect pokémon, the perfect plaything, the perfect Nihilego.

You dreamt of them, floating all around you. He was somewhere in the distance; you knew it, even though you couldn't see him or hear him or sense him, but he was there. Every time you had the dream, he got farther and farther away. You would hold your daughter close in the hopes that she would share your dreams. Maybe she would understand. Maybe she would agree with you. Maybe she would know he was there too.

Over time, you realized that you no longer thought of that runaway as your son. He had rejected your love, and no son would ever do that. Your daughter mentioned him once, and had to be punished. She wasn't being perfect, but she would learn. She would have to.

You saw a boy that looked like another of your beasts. He was a petty thug, a nobody, but you had to have him. He was desperate for approval, and had power worthy of respect. He understood. He agreed. He wasn't perfect, but he could be.

You looked like another of the beasts, one your husband had called beautiful. You grew your hair to resemble its tendrils, did your makeup to resemble its markings, dressed to accent your similar bodies. Your husband would find a familiar sight when he returned, you were sure of it.

The child of the stars came to you. It was beautiful, so small and cute, so much like your own child. No, better than your child. It could help you, and you couldn't wait to show your husband.

But your daughter was a problem. She kept expressing the want to dress in something other than what you had selected. She found it horrid that you would put the child of the stars at risk for your own purposes, not comprehending the idea of a greater destiny. Such pettiness and ingratitude couldn't be permitted, not from a perfect child, so you locked her up. She couldn't get away, until she did.

She was no longer your daughter. She had rejected your love, and no daughter would ever do that.

But you had your pokémon. You had your collection. Somewhere you had heard that a collector's gallery was their holy place, and that was how it seemed.

Something was missing. Something far away, that you still knew was there. But it didn't get any closer.

You shared that wine with your new associate, that dirty boy with so much potential, but it felt wrong. Not least of all that he gulped the whole glass down at once and wiped his mouth with his sleeve, but that was something that could be worked on. There was something fundamentally unsettling about sharing it with anyone other than one person.

Your dreams were still those magical creatures, floating around gracefully as far as you could see, as far as you could feel. You floated with them, drifting in the air, and you felt like that presence was drifting alongside you. It was soothing in a way you could never find when you were awake. Sometimes you felt like you could stay there forever.

That dirty boy was to find the child of the stars. You didn't tell him that it was your former daughter that took it. He was still imperfect and may have acted softly towards her if he knew. She wasn't important. She was nobody.

He mentioned somebody with your former son's name, and you didn't ask further. Not knowing was best, but you weren't sure if it was for his benefit or yours.

You told yourself you didn't care, but if you didn't, then you wouldn't have been so angry. What sort of a world would your husband come back to? You had tried your hardest to keep everything perfect for him, but it had all fallen apart. You could save his pokémon but those children were no longer yours. He wouldn't understand, and neither could you. You did nothing but love them and they betrayed your love.

When you had him back, you wouldn't let him go either. He could never leave again, come Hell itself.

When one day, one of the beasts, the Nihilego, came to see you, it was the most beautiful, perfect thing you had ever seen, and you vowed to both worlds that you would love it greater than anything else. It deserved your love. It would know. It would understand. It would never leave you.

Everything would be perfect, just perfect and eternal and lovely.

That night, you drifted off with the empty bottle next to you, and dreamed of a perfect world full of creatures that deserved your love. But this time, that presence wasn't there, and you didn't notice.


Up To No Good
*teleports behind you*
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
Hello! Here for catnip.

Lusamine is one of the canon's most interesting villains, and yet I haven't seen anyone do a deep dive of her backstory and thoughts before. You really manage to bring out the insanity that took hold of her between the time her husband disappeared and the events of the game. She doesn't just arbitrarily snap at some point and go nuts, she slowly atrophies into it - hanging by that thread of having everything perfect and slowly losing sight of why she wants everything to be perfect until it's all she can think about. It's definitely freaky watching her degrade over the years, you can see things slipping away in real time. I especially liked how you accentuated that in the narration - as she got more and more unhinged, the narration grew more and more like a door swinging. It felt like every sentence was either very choppy or bordering on a rant, oscillating wildly between long and short. By the end of the story, someone who seemed perfectly happy and sane devolved entirely into the near cartoonish insanity we see in the game, and it felt real.

Mechanically, I thought this was well told too. There's a niche second person inhabits that I can't really define, but it's really good at both ingraining the reader into a perspective and forcing them to read it through something slightly dissonant to what they're used to. Whatever it is, it does a really good job of grounding the reader in the shoes of perspective, which worked out really well for a story that's about someone suffering from a degrading state of mind. I really liked the mechanism of the wine bottle as a way to skip time and ground the moments where it appears - the first time we see it, it's an anniversary gift. Then it celebrates two births, then an anniversary nearly forgotten about, and then one spent alone. The last time we see it, it's shared with the "dirty boy" who is presumably Guzma - as a symbol of her marriage, emphasized in how she feels wrong sharing it with anyone outside of the person who gave it to her, it helps emphasize how broken things have become.

It's not clear exactly how many years she had to go this nuts, but I'm assuming at least a decade, maybe more, counting the two or three years she probably spent alone between the opening of the Aether Foundation and her fifth anniversary. One drawback of the oneshot being so short is that it does make the passing of time a bit hazy, even if the details help ground certain snippets in certain moments. It definitely did sell that a lot of time had passed, though, I think noting all the specific events that needed to take time and effort to accomplish helped ground that this wasn't all happening at once. The growth of the children, too, helped here, especially Gladion at his different stages of life (under Lusamine, running away, Team Skull).

Overall, I was really surprised by this one! The narration and prose quality blew me away, and you definitely succeeded on selling Lusamine's loss of grip on reality and that she would turn out the way she did in the games. A very striking piece of writing, keep it up!


Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
Thank you so much!

As far as time frame, it's assumed that in the games, Gladion is around 13 and Lillie is around 11, but then I guess I'm unclear as to how long it had been since Mohn disappeared before the tenth anniversary, only "far too long ago".

We do see the wine bottle after Guzma--it's in the second to last line.

I'm really glad to see people like this so much. It's a bit of a departure from my usual fics, which is funny because writing about villains is my usual wheelhouse, but second person, no dialogue, etc are unusual for me.
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