You might say it was a shocking discovery.
Pando—the plant discovered by the famous Clade family in the farthest, coldest regions of Avalonia—literally zaps anyone who picks one of its peppy green berries. But while electric fruit makes a poor snack, it makes a really nifty power source. And it pretty much revolutionized everything.
After all, it’s not like Avalonia could import coal or oil from foreign lands to keep its lights on and its hovercraft moving. As far as its residents know, there are no foreign lands. The only land they’ve ever known is, well, Avalonia—surrounded by towering mountains that no one’s ever been able to climb or cross. And the whole country had made due without lights and hovercrafts for its entire candlelit history.
Jaeger Clade would’ve been just fine if pando had never been discovered, if we’re being honest. Avalonia’s greatest explorer wasn’t looking for a mamby-pamby plant when he and his intrepid team ran across the thing. He was going to do what no Avalonian had ever done. He was going to scale its mountains and see what lay on the other side.
But Searcher Clade, Jaeger’s son, spotted the berries and argued that they should tote them back down the mountain. Why, they might well reshape Avalonia’s future, Searcher argued.
“Searcher, we’re explorers, not gardeners,” Jaeger said.
And then, Searcher had the audacity to tell Jaeger that he’s not an explorer. He never wanted to be an explorer. And this plant might impact Avalonia way more than a little climb past unclimbable mountains. And then—as if just to gall him—everyone else in Jaeger’s intrepid team agreed.
So that snowy day, father and son split: Jaeger went into the mountains and disappeared. Searcher took the plant down to Avalonia and, indeed, changed the world. Well, admittedly, the plant did the work. But still, Searcher got a nice statue out of it—right next to one of his complicated pops.
It’s 25 years later now, and Searcher’s put his exploring stuff in the closet. Instead, he works with a rake and hoe. Searcher and his family (wife Meridian and son Ethan) are farmers now—one of many growing the miracle crop.
But now, it seems there’s something wrong with pando. It’s dying—blighted by some strange disease. Avalonia’s president, Callisto Mal, says that every crop in the country might be infected within a month.
But Callisto has a plan: If they can travel down under Avalonia—where Pando’s roots flow to what is rumored to be the plant’s central heart—perhaps they can figure out what’s killing pando and figure out how to fix it.
Oh, yes: Callisto said “they.” She wants Searcher to dig out his explorer duds and come with. No one knows about Pando more than he does, after all.
Son Ethan wants to come, too. But Searcher insists it’d be just too dangerous. He still has terrible memories of scaling unscalable cliffs and fording unfordable rivers with his own father. He’s not going to make Ethan suffer like he did.
“I will not risk your life,” Searcher tells his son. “Not ever.”
But what if 16-year-old Ethan wants to risk his life? What if he’s not built to be a farmer? What if there’s a little of Jaeger lurking inside him?
And what if Ethan decided to sneak aboard Callisto’s hovercraft? Would you be … shocked?
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