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As Above, So Below by Rhema

Feature As Above, So Below by Rhema

*cough* *taps mic* Hello? Testing? We good? Okay, cool.


Hey there, Nuzforums! It's time once again for another feature!

(That's the line, right? This is my first gig, so I assume--no? What do you mean overused? Ah, whatever.)

Yes! It's true, this is my first time writing a feature since I've been appointed to the team. The opportunity was really exciting, and I pondered long and hard over a gallon of hot chocolate which storylocke to spotlight. I made lists. I checked them twice. I traveled across the land, searching far a wide, and I found...

This Alpha Sapphire Wonderlocke follows Lilian, a young woman who's had it with the celebrity life her mother has groomed her for, and so sets out on a journey where things are on her terms. Or... at least, they should be. In a meet-cute gone awry, a newly-hatched Ralts imprints herself on Lilian, meaning she's stuck with the little 'mon and its beleaguered owner, Wally. Neither he nor Lilian are thrilled about the situation, but circumstances denote they become traveling companions, making their way through Hoenn while fending off both the paparazzi and each other's attitudes. But who knows? Perhaps a budding friendship will form along the way, or maybe even something... more?

What immediately struck me as a strength of the run is its main character. Lilian is a touch older than your average Nuzlocke protagonist, and from the get-go, we are greeted with a clear image of exactly the sort of person she is:

Rhema said:
In retrospect, I probably took it a smidge too far slapping that guy.

Did he deserve it? Absolutely. Guys like him deserve to be called out. But that slap wasn’t meant for him. I mean it was, but it was bigger than just one cocky pervert. No, that slap was for all of them. All of those assholes that think it’s okay.

No pretense, no scene setting--we're dropped straight into Lilian's thoughts. Right away, we understand her position and her plight as a media personality. She's bitter and snippy, but it's clear why. She wins us over before anyone has uttered a single word of dialogue, and once we do get into the falling-out with her family, we're already on her side. This single moment makes all her subsequent actions and decisions, salty or no, motivated. It's a brilliant opener.

Lilian's "cheerful" disposition meets its match in Wally. He's your "rough outer shell, squishy center" kind of guy, even if Lillian hasn't reached that center quite yet:

Rhema said:
“I asked if you’re going to name Ralts,” Wally voices again, breaking my train of thought.

“Uh yeah, I guess,” I respond, sneaking a sideways glance at him. He looks like a regular man to me, healthy and broad-shouldered, with at least half a foot on me height-wise. Annoyingly good posture, too. Nothing like the boy in the photo.

“Well, what’s it gonna be? Please don’t choose something stupid.” Wally pleads in a low voice, leaving the kitchen with two steaming plates in his hand.

I scowl at him, even though his back is facing me. “It won’t be stupid.”

“I’ll believe it when I hear it.”

This is a grown-up, post-illness Wally who's a seasoned trainer, world-traveler, and is, as the kids say, "so done." It's a very interesting take on the person canon Wally might have grown into. Everything, from his behavior to his manner of speech, suggests he's been around the block a few times and is ready to just take it easy. Well fleshed-out and grounded, he's a wonderful foil to Lilian. Both have a solid knowledge base of their respective backgrounds while retaining little to nothing of the other person's field. Whether Lilian is laughing at Wally's ignorance of celebrity life or Wally is incredulous of Lilian's lack of trainer skills, reading their interactions is a delightful time.

Aside from the shift in character ages, there's a bought of creative license Rhema takes with the ORAS storyline I found quite intriguing. It begins with this simple alteration: the events of the game have already happened.

*checks note card*

Sort of.

Rhema said:
I breathe a gigantic sigh of relief as Brendan gets up off the ground. “Come on Wally, every new Trainer needs a rival!” he cries out, hands flying to his hips. “Or did you forget that we used to be rivals?”

To my amusement, Wally blushes and looks away. “That’s not the point,” he remarks, scuffing the heel of his white sneakers against the floor. “You being her rival doesn’t even make sense. You’re a Professor now. You beat the league, for Arceus sake!”

This storylocke takes place sixteen years after Team Aqua's attempt to flood the planet, and Rhema alludes that Brendan and Wally had essentially played the roles they would have in the game. I won't spoil all the details of how she alters Hoenn for her time shift, but it makes for an unusual take on a Nuzlocke. Our protagonist is dropped into a world where all the major players are veterans to the plot, but she's only just learned of it. Normally, as readers, we have the foresight of being familiar with the in-game story. Here, that plot has already occurred. So now it becomes a mystery: Will Aqua return? If so, what dastardly eco-terrorism will they be up to? It leaves things so up in the air, and I'm endlessly curious to see the direction Rhema steers everything in.

As Above, So Below is a fresh take on a familiar Hoenn, with complex characters who each have their own history and agency. If you're in the market for a run with a wonderful cast and a unique examination of ORAS, this might be the hidden gem you're looking for.

Thanks for reading my first feature, guys! Is there a run out there you think deserves the spotlight? Feel free to shoot a message to someone on the Feature Team. We love getting recommendations! If you'd like to try your own hand at writing a feature, we encourage you to head on down to the Feature a Fan Run thread and type your little heart out. It'll really make someone's day!

That's all from me. Glance out!

*trips on mic stand*
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