Il faut cultiver notre jardin
As the title suggests, this was my entry to TR's 2022 Mischief And Malice one-shot contest, with the theme of villainous perspectives. Minimal edits have been made for spelling and grammar; the story presented here is otherwise as it was when submitted to the contest.
The Problem Of The Pidove
“And so we’re resolved! The color scheme for our new ‘Don’t Wait – Liberate!’ posters will be white with gold trim!” Sage Gorm announced. He and four other members of the Seven Sages were gathered around a table deep within the bowels of Plasma Castle. A broken wall clock declared that the time was eternally 4:59 P.M. Loose papers were scattered everywhere, the corners of top-secret documents poking out from underneath memos breaking down the daily paperclip allotment to team members by rank.
“Excuse me, honorable Sage Gorm, but I have a question: Will the white be a sort of vanilla-white, or would it be more like a beige-white?” Sage Giallo asked.
Gorm nodded thoughtfully. “An excellent question, noble Sage Giallo! Consider the matter re-opened for discussion!”
On the opposite end of the table, Ghetsis’ head slumped another few degrees towards the horizontal. A few hours ago, Ghetsis might’ve suggested that the Sages delegate away any poster graphic design details, but he was still exhausted from his efforts convincing Gorm that he didn’t need to include a detailed description of last meeting’s minutes reading in this meeting’s minutes reading, narrowly averting an infinite regress.
“Hey, Ghetsis! Psst! Down here!” a voice whispered from below. After barely suppressing a loud sigh, Ghetsis bent down and peered beneath the table. One of the three members of the Shadow Triad was squatting underneath, twiddling a kunai in his hand. “Do you have any ninja missions for me? I’m bored!”
“Ninja missions?” Ghetsis asked.
“You know, like infiltrating secret bases, retrieving ancient scrolls, assassinating enemy officials – that sort of thing!”
“I’m afraid not. Please continue to focus on guarding the castle,” Ghetsis said in a terse whisper.
“Hey, I bet if I assassinated that boring old guy over there, this meeting would be over a lot faster!” the Shadow ninja said, a hopeful gleam in his eyes.
Ghetsis grit his teeth. “Please refrain from assassinating members of our own team.” The offer was tempting, though.
Blissfully unaware of the murderous thoughts brewing a few feet away from him, Sage Gorm cleared his throat. “Ahem! So that’s one vote for ‘vanilla white’ and one vote for ‘vanilla bean white’. Now, all in favor of eggshell white, please say ‘yay’.”
Giallo raised a hand. “Excuse me, most honored Chair-Sage, but are you referring to a Togepi-eggshell white, or a Vullaby-eggshell white?”
“Hmm! A pertinent point! If anyone wishes to bring to consideration any other eggshell shades-”
Feeling a sensation rather akin to teetering backwards on the edge of an abyss, Ghetsis suddenly mustered the energy to interject. “Excuse me, Sage Gorm-”
“Most honored Sage Gorm,” Sage Zinzolin corrected.
“-most honored Sage Gorm, but I’d like to motion we table discussion of the latest poster design so we can move on to more important matters.”
Gorm’s face drooped, like a Lillipup who just had their favorite toy taken away. “Very well. Does anyone second or reject this motion?” he asked in a dreary monotone.
After no one spoke up for a few moments, Ghetsis nudged the Shadow Triad member beneath the table. “Uh, seconded!” he called out, using crude ventriloquism to make the voice sound like it was coming from vaguely in the direction of Sage Ryoku. Despite the fact that Sage Ryoku was quite evidently soundly asleep, and had been for at least the past half-hour, no one said anything. After fruitlessly scanning the room a few more times for any hint of an objection, Sage Gorm was forced to concede.
“…the motion passes. We’ll now move on to the next item on today’s agenda: The problem of the Pidove.”
Ghetsis suppressed a groan. Oh great dragons, not this again…
“As we’ve established, Pidove pose a fundamental problem to our goal of separating humans from Pokemon: They’re absolutely everywhere in every human city! Even if we completely ended all Pokemon training today, there would still be thousands, or perhaps even millions of Pidove fluttering around our parks and streets, pecking at crumbs and becoming more and more corrupted by human influence every day. In our previous discussions of this dilemma, we were unable to come to an agreement on how to approach this dire issue. The floor is now open for proposals of new solutions.”
Zinzolin was the first to speak up. “This problem has been on my mind since our last discussion, and I believe I’ve thought of a satisfactory solution: We’ll simply divide each city into two halves. The Pidove will be given the top half, while the humans take the bottom half. According to my research, the vast majority of all human garbage produced ends up at ground-level, so this should adequately insulate them from human pollution.”
“Excuse me, wise Sage Zinzolin, but what will the Pidove eat in this plan? If I’m not mistaken, I do believe that the majority of all food is at ground level, too,” Giallo said.
Sage Ryoku woke up with a start. “Eh? Are you lot talking about Pidoves again? Nasty buggers! They keep me up with their incessant chirping, and they poop all over everything!”
“Ah, yes, I believe esteemed Sage Ryoku brings up another point: Segregating the cities vertically could have certain… sanitary consequences… for the people living underneath the Pidove flocks.”
This caused Zinzolin to frown and rub his chin. “Mmm, then what if we gave the Pidove the bottom half and the humans the top half? They could build bridges between the tops of buildings, and have supplies dropped off by airlift.”
“Would it really be practical to supply a city of a million population with solely aircraft, though? I admit I’m not well-researched in this area, but I believe trucks are generally less expensive than helicopters,” Giallo asked.
“Very well, then. We’ll have to start researching the creation of inexpensive flying air frigates immediately,” Zinzolin announced.
Gorm gave an approving nod. “A prudent idea! All in favor of allocating funds for airship research on our next yearly budget, say aye!”
Ghetsis sat up, alarmed. “Hold on, where is this money going to come from? I’d imagine such a research project would be quite expensive, assuming it’s even possible to create cheap ‘air frigates’.”
“Hmm… what if we re-direct the funds going to that old ‘Genesect’ project? To be honest, I never really understood what applicability creating a cybernetic super-soldier has to the project of peaceful Pokemon liberation.”
“Yes, I’m afraid I never understood the point of that whole thing, either,” Giallo admitted.
“It isn’t a ‘super-soldier’ project!” Ghetsis snapped. “The giant laser death cannon planned to be mounted on Genesect’s back is intended entirely for peaceful uses, such as clearing away debris and intimid- I mean, entertaining the populace with brilliant light shows.”
“Air frigates could also carry away debris and put on exciting aerial exhibitions,” Zinzolin said. “And I’m afraid there’s simply nothing else we could cut from the budget; the poster-printing costs have been absolutely brutal this past year.”
“Yes, quite right! All in favor of defunding the Genesect project to fund airship research, say aye!”
‘Aye!’ Zinzolin said.
‘Aye!’ Giallo said.
‘Aye!’ Gorm said.
‘Nay!’ Ghestsis practically shouted.
‘Zzz...’ Ryoku snored.
‘Uh, aye!’ The Shadow Triad member said after a nudge from Ghetsis. Ghetsis kicked him. “Wait, uh, nay, I guess?”
“The aye’s have it! Now, who will have the task of re-doing the entire yearly budget to account for this?” Gorm asked. Shudders went down spines as the Sages recalled the nightmarish accountancy maelstrom involved with any kind of budget modification.
Giallo quickly looked around to see who wasn’t there. “Er, I believe learned Sage Bronius has a keen mind for figures,” he suggested.
“Yes, he’s clearly the best Sage for the task,” Zinzolin agreed.
“Very well, I’ll ask Sage Bronius the next time I see him,” Gorm said. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. As boring as they were, there were reasons it was wise to show up at official Seven Sages meetings. “But in the meantime, perhaps it’d be wise to consider an alternative plan for the Pidoves in case the airship project doesn’t pan out.”
“Hmm… what if we divided the cities into eastern and western halves instead of top and bottom ones?” Giallo suggested.
Zinzolin frowned. “How would the Pidove know to stick to their half, though? Telling apart east from west isn’t as easy as high from low, if you’re a Pidove.”
“Maybe we could paint a very large red line across the center of the city.”
“Would Pidove really care about the line if they saw bread crumbs on the other side of it, though?”
“Ah, indeed… perhaps we can hang a very large curtain above the line, to cut off their view of the crumbs.”
“What would the curtain be made out of, though? It couldn’t be cotton, since we’re liberating all the Cottonee. It couldn’t be silk, since we’re liberating all the Bug Pokemon. It couldn’t be wool, since we’re liberating all the Wooloo.”
“I… ah… does anyone recall where leather comes from?” Giallo asked. “Perhaps we could use that.”
“Say, I rather like that idea! A nice upholstered leather curtain with a fine finish could add some much-needed class to our inner cities,” Gorm said.
“Leather, eh?” Ryoku said, awakening. “Yes, that’s the ticket! Hide those Pidove! Hide and tan ‘em, I say!”
“Oh, an excellent point, esteemed Sage Ryoku! The curtain would also quite effectively hide the Pidove from the human populace, removing any temptation to catch them. And distributing tan paint to the Pidove would allow their feathers match the curtain better! ...Ghetsis, you seem to be clutching your forehead a lot recently. Are you sure you’re not coming down with a headache?”
“I’m fine,” Ghetsis growled.
Beneath the table, the Shadow Triad member tugged on his ankle. “Hey, psst! I have an idea!” he whispered.
Ghetsis peered under the table. “What.”
“What if I trained the Pidove in the ninja art of invisibility? That way, they could stay in the shadows of human society, sharing the same space without ever interacting with them!”
“How is one ninja supposed to be able to train a million Pidove?” Ghetsis asked.
“Oh, that’s easy! I’ll just do that one ninjutsu technique that creates a bunch of clones of yourself. I think I might’ve accidentally used it already, since I keep seeing these two other ninjas who look like me hanging out around here.”
“I’m fairly certain those are separate individuals and not clones of you.”
“Are you sure? We seem pretty indistinguishable. Do you even know if they have different names than me?”
“Of course they do! Their names are...” Ghetsis paused. “...their names are ninja secrets which I can’t give away, but rest assured that you did not accidentally duplicate yourself.”
“Aw man, really? Maybe I need to work on my hand signs some more.” The Shadow Triad member started making broad jerking motions with his hands, one of which was still holding his sharpened kunai.
“Stop! You’re going to cut my-”
WHAM! The door to the meeting room flew open. Behind it stood Sage Rood, who was awkwardly balancing on a Segway with the foot he didn’t just kick a door open with. A fidget spinner hung from a golden chain around his neck, and a pair of Google Glasses adorned his face. “Sage Rude, in the house, yo!” he announced, then wobblingly segwayed over to a chair.
“Er, that’s the quite the new look you have there,” Gorm said.
“I’ve decided to update my image to better appeal to the youths of today’s society! I mean, to the youthzzzzz!” Sage Rood said. “I’m afraid that a bunch of old men in robes simply aren’t inspiring enough to muster the number of young activists we need to liberate Pokemon! So Sage Rude is here to add some pizazzzzz, yo!”
Ghetsis grit his teeth. “Sage Rood, is this truly necessary?”
Zinzolin shuffled through some papers. “Actually, my research shows that a lack of approval among the age ten to twelve demographic has been a key cause of failure for past organizations with ‘Team’ in their name.”
“Virtuous Sage Rood – er, Rude, is there any chance you’ve come up with any bold new solutions to the Pidove problem in addition to your new image?” Giallo asked.
“Oh, the Pidove problem? I’m sure there must be some way to solve the problem with NFTs! They’re all the rage!”
“How. Tell me how NFTs are going to be of any help here,” Ghetsis said. “Do you even know what the term ‘NFT’ stands for?”
Rood blinked. “Um, of course! It stands for, um… nice… fatherly… Tranquills!”
“Nice fatherly Tranquills,” Ghetsis said drly.
“Yes! It’s obvious that what the Pidove is need is strong male role-models to teach them how to live apart from humans. We simply need to find some Tranquill tutors and construct some little Pidove-sized re-education schools.”
“Hold on, will the schools be in the human’s half of the cities or the Pidove’s half? Because if it’s the latter, the humans will have to spend a lot of time in Pidove territory constructing the schools, but if it’s the former, than the Pidove will have to fly through corrupting human territory to get to class!” Giallo inquired.
“I don’t know if this is really a workable idea, Virtuous Sage Rude,” Zinzolin said. “We might not have room in the budget for training Tranquill to train Pidove after accounting for the airship research and giant leather curtains.”
Sage Ryoku woke up again. “Bah, Tranquill are even worse than Pidove! They’re twice as loud and they don’t fly away when you shake your cane at them!”
“Oh, er, it was just an idea...” Sage Rood mumbled, nervously twisting his fidget spinner.
Ghetsis was about to join in on the denunciation, but then a thought passed his mind. He smiled. “Actually, I think it’s an excellent idea,” he said. “The best I’ve heard so far.”
Everyone turned to him, surprised to hear any kind of praise coming from Ghetsis. “Wait, really?” Gorm asked.
“Yes, it’s a perfectly workable idea. I think we should just make one little change – we should use Braviary to teach the Pidove instead of Tranquill. If their own evolved members were capable of setting any sort of good example for the Pidove, they would’ve done so already. No, what they need is an outlook from a different family of Pokemon entirely, one noted for their strength, bravery, and independent living.”
“Hey, you’re right!” Rood said, relieved that someone was supporting his plan. “Using Braviary sounds totally basic! ...that’s how the kids say something is ‘hip’ these days.”
“Yes, but how will this be paid for? I’ve already mentioned our financial concerns,” Zinzolin said.
“As for the budget, it can come from the airship research. The money they’ll save us helping fly up parts to our in-progress aircraft rather than using helicopters will make up for it.”
Gorm rubbed his chin. “Hmm… You know, I think that just might work! Of course, we’ll be releasing all the Braviary back to the wild once we’re done, right?”
Ghetsis flinched. “Ah… I was thinking it’d be wiser to keep them around for a bit. In case we need them to educate other Pokemon later, you see.”
“How are we going to convince the Pidove to go along with this, though? Won’t they be scared of big predatory birds like Braviary?” Giallo asked.
“As for that- I think my son will be able to help us out there...”
A pair of Team Plasma members stood at a street corner in Castelia City, tossing out handfuls of bread crumbs. Soon enough, a number of Pidove gathered around them. One of them took out a Pokeball and released a Braviary. Alarmed, the Pidove scattered, but the second Plasma member set down a tape recorder and hit the play button. N’s soothing voice emitted from it, explaining how the Braviary was just a friend who wanted to teach them valuable life skills. Gradually, the Pidove got over their suspicion and started to fly back. Several minutes later, the Braviary took off for ‘school’, a large group of Pidove following behind him.
“Boy, it’s so good to finally be able to do something to help out these Pidove!” the first Plasma member remarked.
“Yeah, it really reassures me that we have wise and intelligent leaders who are capable of coming up with pragmatic solutions to difficult problems!” the other said. “By the way, have you seen those computer glasses Sage Rude’s been wearing? They’re totally sick! I’m gonna have to get a pair of those!”
The other Plasma member squinted as she watched the Braviary recede into the distance. “Say, is it just me, or is Bravo starting to look a bit plump recently? And have you ever noticed how no-one’s ever seen the Pidove who’ve been re-educated anywhere in nature?”
“I heard that the Shadow Triad’s been training the Pidove in ninja invisibility as well. Explains why they can’t be seen.”
“Ah yeah, that’s probably it.”
“Yeah, if anything bad was going on, I’m sure Sage Ryoku wouldn’t be so cheerful lately, either. There’s nothing to worry about – the Pidove Problem has finally been solved!”