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EVERYONE: Big Dragon Week (One-shot Contest 2023)

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Feb 15, 2021
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Pronouns
  1. He/Him
  2. They/Them
A conversation (mostly) on holidays between uncle and niece.

A short lil' fella. Maybe too short, but oh well.

Special thanks to @Spiteful Murkrow and @ShieldDoesPixels for beta-reading this oneshot.

Mentions and minor discussions of assimilation and xenophobia/persecution



I don’t know why grownups think waking up early is so great. Why can’t they do stuff later in the day? Why do they have to get up and be so tired, just so they can do things they could have done when they weren’t tired? Maybe I’ll understand when I’m a grownup.

But now Uncle Wall is making me wake up early, even on a day off from school! It’s Rayquaza Feast Week, which is a super duper big deal in Sootopolis City. It’s like our New Year’s or something. Even though we don’t live in Sootopolis City anymore, Mamá, Táta, Uncle Wall, Auntie Win, and Uncle Steve are making a big deal about it. You’re supposed to fast for the whole day and make big, fancy meals and burn the special incense that you can only burn at this time of year.

Uncle Wall says that since neither me nor him can fast, we’re going to do charity work for Rayquaza Feast Week—but do we really have to wake up so early for charity work? It’s not a big emergency or anything! Mamá spent weeks begging the school to let me have a week off for the holiday, and I still have to get up early?! It’s so unfair!!!

Oh well. At least Ali is excited. He must be a morning bird.

It’s cold outside, according to Mamá, so she makes the three of us bundle up in coats and scarves (or just a hat, for my Swablu Ali). Uncle Wall’s brought along that round guitar-thing with a name I forgot. Duncan, his Spheal, is rolling behind him, and Ali sits on my head like a hat.

We’re walking down the sidewalk from our home to the bigger parts of Lilycove City—the urban centre, or whatever Uncle Wall called it once. Uncle Wall is rambling on about Rayquaza in Hinodego, but he uses the Sootopolitan word for Rayquaza—Reikkoúza. He’s talking about how Rayquaza rests in the cosmos so they can help the world when it most needs it. And now he’s talking about how Rayquaza is a peacekeeper, able to calm down even volcanoes and tsunamis. Then why can’t they stop arguments, like the ones Mamá and Uncle Wall get into? Can’t it also wake up to stop arguments?

But anyway, Rayquaza is apparently super wise and powerful and awesome (okay, Uncle Wall never says awesome), and at the end of every (Sootopolitan) year (it’s in October for us, but everyone else celebrates in January or February), they create this big, green meteor shower to start a new one. It’s supposed to remind us to look back on our past mistakes and make up for them in the present so we can learn for the future and blah blah blah…

I stop thinking about what Uncle Wall is saying, and instead I look at all of the houses we pass by. In Sootopolis City, all of the houses are probably decorated with green tapestries decorated with gold patterns of the dragon. There are probably all sorts of carvings of it, small ones inside, big ones in the city streets to win prizes. There are probably candles in the windows and lights on the walls.

But in Lilycove, there are pumpkins in the windows of the houses. Spooky decorations of all kinds climb up the walls of every home… every home but mine. My house has the green tapestries and small carvings and candles. It’s so… different.

Is Uncle Wall doing this to make fun of me? I’m the only kid in the whole city who doesn’t celebrate Halloween! I’m the only kid who celebrates Rayquaza Feast Week! Maybe in the whole world!

All of the other kids at school are gonna get to stay out late and dress up as the Alola Idols and Hoenn Rangers… and I have to get up early and do stupid things that don’t involve candy or dress-up. Like going to the old people place. What do you even do at the old people place, talk to old people?

Uncle Wall must’ve noticed something’s wrong, because he asks, “What’s on your mind, pourinkípisa mou?”

Mamá doesn’t understand Halloween, and I doubt Uncle Wall would, either. I should probably lie to him. Mamá says it’s bad to lie, but adults lie all the time.

“Where did you get your guitar?”

“It’s a bouzouki,” Uncle Wall explains, patting me on the head. “It’s closer to a lute than a guitar. You can tell from the way it has a rounded body as opposed to a flatter one.”

Okay, fine, whatever, “bouzouki”, not guitar. Though that still doesn’t answer where he—

“...It has a lot of history for us Sootopolitans. It got the soldiers through the draft and became the voice of the Revolution…”

Oh no, now he’s going on and on about the… the bouzouki? The Revolution? I don’t know, adults are weird. Well, at least he looks happy. Adults should be happier more.

I pretend to listen, but I just want to know where Uncle Wall got the bouzouki.

After a while, Uncle Wall finally gets to the point: “…My master, Juan, gave it to me when I turned eighteen. He said it was a reminder that I’m capable of making great things…” He smiled. “And so are you, Lisia.”

He seems inspired or motivated or something, but I’m not. I’m just confused. “What kind of great things?”

“Well, you make everyone around you happy, including me. And I think when you grow up, you’ll do something that will make a lot of people—”

“CONTEST HALL!!!!”

I run off from Uncle Wall and over to the big, big building. It’s like a castle of dreams! This is where Coordinators perform alongside their Pokémon! Uncle Wall and Mamá were Coordinators, and their performances on tape are super duper cool!!! Oh, if only I—

“Lisia! You can’t run off like that!”

I turn at the sound of Uncle Wall’s voice. He’s running to me, calling out to me, scolding me.

“But Uncle Wall!” I plead as he stops in front of me. “You were a Coordinator too!”

I… I was,” he pants, “but that doesn’t mean you can run off! You could get hurt!”

I roll my eyes. Adults worry too much! It’s just the Contest Hall!

“Why did you stop doing them, Uncle Wall?”

He doesn’t speak for a bit. He just… stares at me, without much expression in his face.

“One day, Lisia,” he says. “One day I’ll be back. I really want to go back to the stage…”

Oh right, the stage! I smile at the thought of being a Coordinator: dressing up in a fancy dress, getting to dance and perform with Ali, getting shiny ribbons and presents and money to buy more presents…

“Can I be on the stage with you, Uncle Wall?”

He smiles again. “Of course, pourinkípisa mou. We’ll be the best Coordinators Lilycove has ever seen.”

He takes my hand and starts leading me away from the Contest Hall—Wait, no!

“Now come on. We have charity work to do.”

I groan. Why can’t we stay at the Contest Hall? Why do we have to do “charity”—it’s really just talking to old people. Can’t they talk to each other?

“Do we have to?” I whine.

“Of course we do!” Uncle Wall sighs. “Rekkoúza Feast Week is a time to reflect on our past and promise to make a better future!”

We could do that later, or after Hallow—oh no!

“But tomorrow’s Halloween! I wanna get ready for Halloween!”

“But we have to—”

I pull my hand out of Uncle Wall's and stomp away from him. Adults are so unfair!

“Uncle Wall, do we have to celebrate Rayquaza Feast Week? Why can’t we celebrate Halloween like everyone else?”

“Why would you ever say that?!”

I flinch at Uncle Wall’s voice. It’s loud and angry, and Uncle Wall’s voice is almost never loud and angry when he’s talking to me. His face is angry, too, with a scowl as cold as the teeth of a Glalie.

“Of course we have to celebrate it!” he scolds. “Do you know how many wars were fought, how many people were killed and how many suffered so we could be here now, celebrating our traditions without fear of persecution?!”

I look down at my feet, which are turned inwards. I feel so small, so alone. I know all of that’s important, but…

“I’m the only one in my class who doesn’t celebrate Halloween.”

I look back up. Uncle Wall is frozen in place, but then his anger melts away.

He kneels in front of me. He doesn’t seem so tall or scary anymore.

“Loukia,” Uncle Wall begins, with my Hinodego name, “we… we need to celebrate these holidays. We need to keep our culture alive. We can’t let ourselves be sucked into larger society and let them replace our traditions with the ones they accept. We can’t let our culture die.” He sighed. “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

Grownups say that a lot: “you’ll understand when you’re older”. I wish I could understand now. The world seems too big, with all these things I don’t know.

“But why can’t we celebrate both holidays?”

Uncle Wall’s face scrunches up a little. “Well… Well your mom wouldn’t… we have…”

He sighs. “Tell you what. You wake up early so we can do charity work together and I can teach you about Reikkoúza, and in return, I’ll help you find the perfect costume… and I’ll take you trick or treating.”

I can almost feel my eyes sparkle. “Really?! You’ll really do that?!?!”

He smiles. “Of course I would. Anything for my favourite niece.”

pourinkípisa mou - Sootopolitan, "my princess", from the Chrysosian (Greek) prinkípissa mou
Hinodego - TorchicPokéworld!Japanese
Sootopolitan (language) - short for Sootopolitan Creole, a Hinodego-based creole with Chrysosian influence
Mamá - Sootpolitan, "mom"
Táta - Sootopolitan, "dad"
 
Hiya Torchic! Leaving a review here for you to come back to...!

So!! THOUGHTS! Overall, I thought this one was very cute — out of all of the fics I read for the contest, yours was one out of a few that stuck out to me in particular. Among other things, the biggest reason was for your great usage of theme! In all honesty, I'm not super surprised when it comes to your writing LOL, you clearly have a really great talent for character dynamics, and I'm pleased that you tied for the public vote's Best Usage of Theme award!

I knew a veeeerrrrryy small amount of the base plot before going into resting this for real because I frequent the areas you talk about writing in, after all, but luckily for me I still got a decent amount of surprises in with this! How could I not enjoy a fic of yours with my namesake LOL...

Getting down to specifics: I think you did really well in conveying the experience of being young and Just Not Understanding something important-seeming — and you did it pretty tactfully I think as well! Loukia is cutely written LOL, she's so spirited and I can tell that she's just a master at going to the beat of her own drum... having her be the narrator here was really fun!

I think first-person narration was the correct choice here in that it really allowed you to get more of a detailed look into how Loukia really felt about it all, much more than third person would have allowed — her being a bit of an unreliable (?) narrator only added to the charm here. Being young usually means one has a lot to learn, and you captured the struggle Wallace had with trying to placate Loukia's desire to understand in a lifelike way, even though they had a tough time trying to figure out how to do so!

I know that your worldbuilding is deep, I'd call it maybe your biggest strength in writing, but the depth and care you put into it continues to impress me! Obviously Runekyō and Hinode etc have been around for you for a while, but the expansion of it all just fic-by-fic is super neat — and even in this installation, it doesn't alienate readers who're new to your AUs, which I think for a one-shot is pretty important, especially because you still were able to fit in the overarching theme of an unusual Halloween-type celebration/event into this.

I think out of anything, I would have liked to see the two of them continue on with the story! Wallace and Loukia are a very cute combo, and I wish I could have seen Loukia pull Wallace around to every house in the city LOL.

Great work, Torchic! This did not disappoint. Thanks for entering and congrats on the Best Usage of Theme award!
 
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