Alyssa’s heart pounded in her chest as the glass doors of the Vientown Ranger Base slid open. It was time for her to start her new, exciting life of helping people and Pokémon. Zigzagoon, who she had decided to call Ziggy, happily trotted after her as she walked inside.
She had only been inside the Ranger Base one other time in her life— on a field trip a few years after she had joined the Ranger School. She had been about eight, and had looked around at the lobby with wonder.
She felt the same way now as she did back then.
The lobby spread out before her. The floor was green and grassy, and she stood on a glass walkway that bridged over a watery moat. She felt Ziggy push himself against her leg as he stared warily down at the water beneath his feet. The only places that weren’t covered in smooth green grass were the large computer in the corner on her left and the Operator’s office area in the corner to her right. The water, she knew, was to help keep the part of the tree on top of the building alive. Every Ranger Base had a bit of the tree on top, and the large Tree of Life (or whatever it was called) was growing out of the roof of the Ranger Union.
A few Rangers stood in the grass; one of them was a fat, dark-skinned man with a tuft of dark brown hair sprouting out of the top of his head. He turned as the door opened; he had been talking to Ian.
Ian smiled. “And there she is!”
“Right on time,” the fat Ranger said in a deep, booming voice. “I’m Barlow. I run things here at the Vientown Ranger Base. What’s that?” He pointed.
“Oh, this is Ziggy.” Alyssa scooped Zigzagoon up and walked forward a few paces. “I was hoping to make him my Partner Pokémon.”
“All right, done,” Barlow replied, waving his hand dismissively. “So, we usually make the rookie deliver the local newspaper. You up to that?”
The other two Rangers in the base and the Operator were now eyeing her with interest. Alyssa felt a rush of adrenaline. “You mean…like a mission?”
“Uh…sure, whatever. I’ll have somebody go with you. Any volunteers? Crawford? Luanne?”
The other two Rangers, a boy with a brown bowl cut and a raven-haired girl, shrugged noncommittally.
“I’ll do it,” Ian piped up.
“All right then. The papers are over there.” Barlow gestured towards the large computer behind him, where Alyssa now noticed were two stacks of newspapers tied with twine. “Actually, Ian, don’t you have a younger brother?”
Ian’s face darkened. “I helped him get stationed in Pueltown.”
Alyssa started heading over towards the papers, setting Ziggy down on the ground. He followed after her.
Ian picked up one stack of newspapers, and Alyssa scooped up the other. They left the base side-by-side.
“I made sure of it that Greg got stationed in Pueltown,” Ian remarked as he yanked at the twine. “They’re a bigger base, so he’ll get paid a little more.” He frowned. “That’s what he cares about. And I won’t have to deal with him here.”
“I’m glad I got stationed here,” Alyssa said. She yanked a newspaper off the top of the stack and tossed it into someone’s yard as they passed. When she looked at Ian, he appeared to be blushing.
“Well…I may have…done a little persuading…”
“What?” Alyssa asked. Ian didn’t reply; he pulled a newspaper off his stack and threw it onto a porch.
“Barlow doesn’t like trainees,” he said finally. They continued their routine of throwing. “He thinks it’s too much work to train one. You notice how you’re the only new Ranger that showed up today?”
Alyssa didn’t say anything. She was a bit surprised. Sure, Barlow seemed less than friendly, but…
“That crap about how we usually make the rookie deliver the paper…well, that’s when we get a rookie. I was his first rookie in seven years.” He grinned down at her. “But he took a liking to me; I did my job really well. So he listens when I recommend things, and…I recommended you.”
“Why, though?” Alyssa asked.
Ian’s ears turned red. “Well…you’re…nice. I kind of liked the idea of…getting to know you better. Working with you.”
Alyssa smiled and looked down at the paper, not even taking in the headline. By now, they only had a few newspapers left to deliver. “Well, I’m glad you did a little persuading. I like the idea of getting to know you better, too.”
Ian’s whole face turned beet red, and when he threw his last newspaper, it went wrong and smacked into the mailbox of the next-door neighbor to the house at which he was aiming, forcing him to go retrieve it.
Alyssa smiled. It felt good to fluster someone.
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
AWESOME!!! SUPER!!! I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!
It’s so cool that you won your first contest! I’m so happy for you! XD You have to email me the video!!! I DEMAND COVERAGE!!! How high do you have to go before it’s televised?
Well, I am so excited for you. And now you need to be excited for me. It turns out that I’m only stationed in Vientown because…get this…
IAN WANTED ME TO BE THERE!!!
Barlow never takes rookies, and Ian convinced him to!!! w00t! Do you think Ian has a crush on me??
…God I hope so.
AAAHH!! XD I am so happy!!
Well, I’ve gotta go…I need to get to bed. I had quite a busy day of waiting around and watching Bowl-Cut Crawford and Vain Luanne get quests.
…do I sound bitter?
Love your un-busy friend,