[NOTE: This fanfic is a short story that takes place after the end of one of my other fanfics, Immortality Relapse (which in turn was a sequel to Immortality Syndrome). While it's not 100% necessary to have read these, it helps, especially considering the setting.]

Solitary Vigil

By: Mark J. Hadley

Bubbles flew quickly across the sky, clutching a thermos to her chest, keeping it safe. She descended towards the ruined city below…buildings collapsed and broken, debris everywhere, and no sign of life, as always. As she descended towards where Townsville Park used to be, she caught sight of it again…the small, white flower that somehow managed to survive just as she did. The sight of it brought a smile to her face again.

She landed next to it and popped open the top of the thermos. She carefully knelt down next to the flower and tipped the thermos carefully, pouring water down around its base. "There ya go," she said. "A cool drink of water…'fact, I'm getting pretty thirsty too, now."

After she was done watering the flower, she stretched out on the ground and took a drink of water for herself. Wiping her mouth off, she set the thermos down and stared up at the sky. The clouds drifted slowly overhead, and she could imagine different shapes in them. She saw one shaped like a heart, another like bunny…but as she stared at the bunny-shaped cloud, with its long 'ears', the shape reminded her of someone else: Blossom, wearing her familiar hairbow that she always used to wear. She blinked her eyes a few times, to clear away the tears that started to come to them, and looked away from the sky until the cloud passed.

She could hardly believe it had only been a few days since the disaster, when that device of Mojo's design had been activated, sending out the wave of energy that killed everyone. Everyone, except for her, and this single flower in Townsville Park. All of them, gone in maybe a minute…every living thing on Earth. One moment, the planet was a world teeming with life, and in the next, it was a wasteland.

She wondered it that really was the case, though…if this one flower survived, perhaps something or someone else did, too…or maybe the device hadn't reached across the whole planet. She wanted to go look, but she didn't dare leave this flower unprotected. If anything were to happen to it, she knew that life would have no chance to prosper. At least this way, there was still hope.

It was later on that first day that that she realized she was hungry. It was a thought that had worried her, because with nothing left alive, what would she eat? When she went through some of the ruined buildings in Townsville, however, she found that there was still food. Apparently, the wave had no effect on it, since it wasn't alive. She collected as many cans of food as she could get her hands on, but didn't touch any of the perishables; they would spoil quickly anyway.

The day after, however, she noticed they weren't spoiling. She hadn't the slightest idea why, but it didn't really matter. This meant that she would have plenty more food than she expected. It wasn't just the food, though…the bodies of everyone that were still lying around the town and in buildings were still perfectly intact. She morbidly expected them to start decomposing or something. But there was no change at all, not even the buzzing of flies. Of course there wouldn't be, though, since flies were all dead, just like everything else.

Still, she didn't like looking at them anymore, and so in a task that took several hours, she went through Townsville and gathered all the bodies up that she could find, from every building in the city. Outside the city limits, she dug a huge hole and carefully buried them all. She was on the verge of tears almost the entire time, but she felt it had to be done…and besides, what else was she going to do? They were all buried together to save time, except for one…she buried Professor Utonium in a separate grave, by himself. Burying him was one of the most difficult things she ever did, and she cried for nearly an hour straight after that.

And now, here she was, almost a day later, with the task done and nothing left to do. She cast a glance at the flower next to her, the only living companion she had in the world. "If only you could talk," she sighed. "I could really use someone to talk to. Do you mind if I just talk to you anyway?"

When she asked that, a small breeze blew through the park, and for a moment, the flower bobbed like it was nodding. She giggled slightly and said, "I'll take that as a 'yes'!" She laid down on her stomach, holding up her head in her arms and kicking her legs behind her a little as she said, "So, what do I call you? You need a name if I'm gonna talk to you…"

For a moment, she considered naming the flower 'Blossom', but quickly decided not to. She didn't want to be reminded of her that way. Thinking some more, she brightened and said, "I'll call you Bulba! That's a good flower name…don't you think?"

There was no answer, of course. She really wasn't expecting one, but she still imagined that if the flower could talk, it would say that the name was lovely. "Okay, Bulba it is," she said. "I'll bet you're wondering why I'm being so nice to you…well, you're the world's last chance at life. If I can keep you safe, maybe one day you could grow and spread, and bring life back to the world again. And I will keep you safe, Bulba…I promise…"

She felt more confident now and started to talk about the way Townsville used to be. As the day wore on, she told Bulba about everything…her sisters, the professor, all the crimefighting they used to do. It felt so good just for her to talk, and Bulba was a great listener. She continued talking for some time after that, even into the night.

* * * Two Weeks Later * * *

Bubbles hammered the last few nails into the contraption, then hovered back to take a look at it. It had taken her a couple of days to build, but she knew it would be worth it in the long run. The architecture was amateurish, but at least it worked. The long, trough-like duct ran into the city from a small lake in the woods nearby, supplying a steady stream of water whenever she needed it.

Wiping her forehead, Bubbles said, "Done! Whew…I'm hungry. Time for dinner…" She flew back into Townsville, heading for the park. She descended towards the section that held Bulba…an area about fifty feet in diameter had been cleared out around it, all of the dead grass and flowers removed, giving it plenty of room to grow once it needed to. Bubbles stopped near the edge of this circular area, heading over to the edge of her little aqueduct and filling the thermos with water from it.

She walked over to water the flower and said, "It's all done, Bulba! Now I don't have to leave all the time to get water." She carefully watered Bulba and said, "Yes, that will make it easier, I told ya so. I can keep an eye on you a lot better this way."

Taking a sip of the remaining water, she sat down for a moment to catch her breath from all of that work. It was still amazing to her that the whole contraption even worked. She grinned to herself…she was becoming quite the problem solver. If only the professor could see her now! She wondered if he would recognize her, though. She hadn't really changed at all, but she stopped wearing her hair in pigtails and just had it hang freely in the back. Her clothes were starting to get worn out, too, with small rips and tears, and one of her shoes were missing.

She didn't have any replacements, though. Her old house was almost completely totaled from the initial tremor, and all of her clothes inside were ripped and torn even worse than the ones she was wearing. It was funny, too…she had half-considered trying to gather some sugar, spice, and everything nice, and just creating someone else, so she wouldn't be so lonely. She couldn't, though; the professor's lab was destroyed, and a quick search found that all the beakers containing his Chemical X were smashed and lost for good.

Bubbles carefully started a small fire off to one side with her eyebeams, safely away from Bulba, and began cooking a fish over it. Only a few weeks ago, she would have been against the idea of eating another animal, having decided to be a vegetarian not too long before that. But at this point she figured, what's it going to matter? Besides, there was plenty of fish; the surface of the ocean was covered with them, floating belly-up. Just like everything else, they hadn't decomposed or spoiled.

At least she knew why, now. Without much to really do, she went to the library in Townsville to find something to read. Part of it was still intact, and she was able to look up a few things. Since microbacteria played a big part in decomposition, it was no wonder that nothing was breaking down, seeing as even single-celled life had been destroyed along with all other life. She wondered in the back of her mind if that meant the food would never spoil. She also realized that it meant she would probably never get sick, either…no viruses or germs existed anymore, besides what her own body creates.

Bubbles carried the cooked fish with her as she flew over and sat down next to the flower again. She ate silently for a few moments, then grinned and said, "You're welcome, Bulba. I knew you'd like it; why do you think I worked on it for so long? This way, I can spend more time with ya."

She paused again to take another bite of fish and added, "You do mean that much to me. I dunno what I'd do without you." Another pause, accompanied by a joyful smile, "Aww, that's sweet of you to say! I feel the same way…about…" She trailed off for a second as she saw something near the base of the flower: one of its leaves were bent a little.

Bubbles gasped and lifted the leaf up carefully, "Bulba! You didn't tell me you were hurt!" As she examined the leaf, she shook her head, "No, it's not serious, you'll be fine. You should tell me these things right away if they happen…no, I know it wasn't bad, but what if was? Don't scare me like that!"

She sighed in relief and sat back, lost in thought as she pondered over the past again. All in all, she was adapting to this new life pretty quickly, but she still missed everyone terribly. She thought, Just to see another human being again…it would be so…so…I'd give anything…

Bubbles looked over at Bulba, "Hm? Oh, I'm just thinking about them again. I told you all about my sisters already…yes, I still miss them. I wish you coulda met them, Bulba…" She closed her eyes to keep from crying, "No no, I'm fine…it's okay. Bulba, um…did you…ever have a…family?"

After a pause, she smiled and said, "You did?" She stared intently at Bulba, her full attention on the flower. Her smile gradually faded, and she looked sad again, "Ohhh, I'm so sorry…they were the other ones in the flowerbed, weren't they?…Okay, we can talk about something else…"

As she nibbled on what was left of her cooked fish and continued her talk with Bulba, she couldn't help but wonder…What would I be doing right this moment if that device had never been turned on? Probably sitting around the dinner table…it's Saturday, that would have been casserole night. She was happy for these memories. Even though she had been off the usual routine for a few weeks, she still remembered it fondly, and she knew that it was one of many memories that she would carry with her for the rest of her life…

* * * One Month Later * * *

Bubbles loaded the thermos into a bag of supplies, the thermos she had found so long ago and had with her almost since her lifestyle change. Inside the bag was a stockpile of food, enough to last her quite a while, plus a few other odds and ends she had managed to scrounge up: a flashlight, some batteries, a sleeping bag, and some wood in case she needed to start a fire.

She looked over herself to make sure everything was set. After her old clothes had worn themselves out, she went through some other clothes in a few buildings until she finally found a fair amount of clothing that fit her. Where she didn't care much for her appearance in the past, only a few weeks before she decided that it would probably be a good idea to stay clean, at the very least. She still had to explain to Bulba several times why she insisted on 'wasting water' by using it to clean.

She also rotated her new wardrobe, and washed them to keep them clean as well. Currently, she was wearing a light blue t-shirt with a heart on the front, dark jeans and sneakers, and a blue baseball cap. She closed up her bag of supplies and slung it over her shoulder, turning to the flower next to her and staring at it for a few moments silently.

"No, I'm not changing my mind, Bulba" she told it. "There could me more life out there, and I need to look for it. Trust me, you'll be fine…yes, the water supplier still works; we've been testing it for the past week, haven't we? I'll be back in a couple of days, that's all…no, just a couple of days! I promise."

Bubbles started to fly into the air and hesitated, looking down at the vulnerable-looking flower below. She frowned sadly and said, "No, please don't cry…I'm coming back. Don't worry, you have my promise, remember?" Before she could start flying away again, she stopped and spoke a little more sternly, "No, I said you can't come with me! I'm not gonna risk digging you up…I'll be back, and I'll bring you some crisp, cool water from the mountains or something, okay?"

Before saying another word, she started off into the sky, waving and shouting, "G'bye! Seeya in a few days!" Then she was amongst the clouds…she couldn't see Bulba anymore, and for a moment, she cringed and almost turned around to fly back. No, she thought, we need to look for other people. They could still be out there. Bulba will be okay. She had been convincing herself for a while now that this was the right thing to do. The idea of leaving Bulba behind, unprotected, was a difficult decision, but she knew she had to make it sometime. She had gotten far too curious about the possibility of other survivors…

* * * One Week Later * * *

Bubbles desperately finished the last touches on a brace for Bulba: a stake sticking up from the ground with small ties around it to make sure the flower stood straight. "I'm sorry…I'm sorry…I'm sorry…" she repeated, over and over. She looked over the flower now that it was standing straight. The stem had, thankfully, not broken, but a few of the leaves were bent and out of shape, and one of the petals were missing. That was how she found it--lying on its side--when she got back from her trip.

The trip was pretty fruitless anyway. It took longer than she expected to go across various parts of the world quickly, looking for signs of life. There were obviously none. Cities were in ruins, much the same as Townsville was. Bodies still lined the streets, and still hadn't decomposed at all. Even crossing to the far side of the globe, she still couldn't find a thing. All her little trip seemed to do was confirm the truth. She and Bulba were alone.

Bubbles realized she would be back later than she said, but she didn't think it would matter. However, when she saw the condition Bulba was in, her heart nearly stopped in dread. It had to be because of a rainstorm or something. Bulba was still alive, but needed care badly. She went through her large collection of books as fast as she could, until she found one that gave her advice on how to deal with this situation. As she set it up, she prayed it would work.

Bulba seemed all right, but she'd really only know in the coming days. "Please, get better," Bubbles whispered. "If you do, I swear I won't ever leave you again…" In any case, she realized that Bulba needed protection…better protection, if she hoped to survive the elements. Going through her collected supplies, she lifted out one of the notebooks she found, plus a pen.

She flipped through it quickly, searching for a blank page. Most of the first section of the notebook were filled with doodles and drawings…many of them were of the professor, or her sisters, or other people she knew. She had also considered writing a little account once of everything that happened to her, but she figured…why bother? Who's going to read it? She finally came to a blank page and ripped it out, then started drawing up plans…

* * * One Week Later * * *

Autumn was already here, even though it was impossible to tell just by looking. Normally, Bubbles would have expected to see leaves on the ground, in vivid orange, yellow, and brown colors. The trees looked just the same as always, though. Still, it wasn't the fact that it was autumn that really concerned her; there was something far more important to celebrate.

She had set aside the plans she was working on for the past week and spent the entire day relaxing with Bulba. "Know what today is?" she asked. "Today's my birthday. I'm seven years old now." She mentally corrected herself: I'm only two years old. I was born at the age of five…oh well…two, seven, what did it matter? I was created two years ago today, that's what's important.

Bubbles nodded to Bulba, "Yes…you're right. It's my sisters' birthday too. I…I almost forgot about that…" She felt sad about it…besides their original creation, they had only celebrated a birthday together once. She remembered the huge stack of gifts…she remembered that they never really got a chance to open hardly any of them, thanks to Mojo, Princess, and a few others. But what she did remember was that it was one of the happiest times for the three of them.

She decided to celebrate a little, and broke out a box containing some candy. It wasn't like it was rare, since she could pretty much find it anywhere now, but she had been restraining herself from eating it too often. She remembered her previous candy addiction that she and her sisters developed and knew that the last the she wanted was to lose control like that again. It wasn't much her own safety she was concerned with, but Bulba's; if she became too neglectful, Bulba would suffer.

Still, Bubbles allowed a small luxury now and then, and her birthday definitely gave her cause. She popped a few of the small pieces of candy into her mouth and leaned back, sighing contentedly and savoring the flavor. There may not be much of it left, she thought, but life is good…

She looked over at Bulba and giggled, "You think so? You've grown too, I think…" After a few more moments of listening, she broke into peals of laughter, "Hehehehaha! That's funny! You're good at jokes, Bulba…tell another, tell another!" She listened, and then laughed again. This is how she wanted her birthday to be: full of happiness and enjoyment…

* * * Two Months Later * * *

The weather grew colder. Bulba still stood strong, having thankfully gotten over its near-death encounter from so long ago. There were many rains after that, and Bubbles had to shield Bulba with whatever she could find; she didn't want to risk the delicate flower being destroyed by the downpour. The rainy weather would be over soon, though, and it would be time for snow instead…a death sentence for the flower if she didn't find it some kind of protection.

She had plans for that, however, and it was almost fully constructed. Getting the materials for it was the hard part…she had to go from building to building and look for just the right sizes of steel and unbroken glass. That alone took over a month and a half, and finally she could start assembling it.

The frame went up first. It didn't need to be very large, but she made it large enough to hold all of her supplies also. She used her eyebeams to weld parts together where necessary and worked to create a sound structure that wouldn't shake down or be blown over. It was coming along nicely, but it was also getting colder by the day. She worked hard, hoping to finish it in time, and her hard work finally paid off. Now, it was time for the final touches…she placed the panels of glass across the frame, making sure they were secured.

She threw a scarf around herself to protect against the cold and flew back to admire her handiwork. It was rather simple, but it had to be. The greenhouse would be just the thing to keep Bulba safe from the winter, as well as all of her supplies. It was time for a final test…she took a deep breath and blew a strong jet of air at the structure, simulating a heavy wind. It creaked a little, but stood firm; no rattling, nothing came loose…it was perfect.

She giggled and flew down, sliding open the little door to the greenhouse and going inside. She had built it right around Bulba, who was in the center of the greenhouse, looking comfortable. Bubbles held her arms out like she was showing off the place and said happily "Well, what do you think? It's all for you, Bulba!"

After a moment, she clapped her hands and said, "I'm glad you like it! Hey, why don't we play a game?…Sure, we can do that one again, you're good at that one…" She sat down in front of the flower and said, "I'm thinking of a number from one to a hundred…no, higher…higher…lower…"

* * * One Month Later * * *

The snow was piled up high outside the greenhouse, yet it remained nice and warm within. Bubbles' idea had worked perfectly; she ran several metal bars along the inside of the greenhouse's frame, and when she needed to, she gave one spot a strong blast with her eyebeams. The metal would heat up and spread throughout this extra, inside frame, and would glow with a soft orange glow, radiating heat. The sunlight also provided even more heat during the day.

It was night at the moment, however. Bubbles was laying on her sleeping bag next to Bulba, staring up through the glass roof at the stars. "Want to know my favorite star, Bulba?" she asked, pointing. "I like that one, right there…it's really bright and beautiful. Hehehe, you're right, just like you!" Putting her arm back down, she sighed happily and said, "So which one is your favorite?"

Bubbles listened and studied the sky some more silently. She said, "You're right about that one…it's lovely, isn't it? That one's…" She lost her gaze in the sky and just sat for a while. Besides the slight howl of the wind outside, everything was perfectly quiet.

Snapping back to her senses, Bubbles said, "What? Oh…I'm just thinking about them again…yes, again. Buttercup and I used to go up on the roof to watch the stars sometimes. I remember one time when Blossom came looking for us, and when she found us, she just plunked right down on the roof and watched the stars along with us. Buttercup liked that big bright star over there…" She pointed, but then shifted back to another star, "…but that one…your favorite…was Blossom's favorite, too. She loved that star. It's just funny…you reminded me about it, all over again…"

She sighed…there was nothing to do. She had already read all the books she collected, some of them two or three times, though she didn't have the patience to read any of the fictions. The problems that the characters faced in those stories seemed so…miniscule compared to her own. Plus, the more she read about people, the more lonesome she got. She mostly stuck with books that could teach her useful skills, or occasionally a historical book, because even though she realized history was meaningless with no one to teach it to, at least she still had something left to remember everyone by.

But that didn't leave her with much to do right now. "Bulba, what do you feel like doing?" she asked. "…No, I don't know. I don't…okay, that was kind of a stupid idea, I admit it." She sat up, looking at the flower, "All right…all right, I said I was sorry about that, do you have to keep bringing it up? I promised I wouldn't leave again, and I'm not…I know, I know, but I won't this time!" Her voice raised, "I said, I WON'T!"

The pitch of her voice caused the glass enclosure to tremble momentarily, and she clamped her hands over her mouth…a little louder, and it might have shattered. She quickly said in a softer voice, "I'm sorry, I-I didn't mean to yell…" She waited, and added, "No, it's all right…it's all right, I forgive you too…"

Bubbles picked up a small blanket, wrapping it carefully around the very bottom of the flower for warmth, and said, "G'night, Bulba…" She laid back on her sleeping bag and slowly closed her eyes. I'll be glad when the winter's over with, she thought…I really want spring to come…

* * * Four Months Later * * *

It had been a rough winter, but the greenhouse still stood. Springtime weather had come, although Bubbles thought it felt really odd without seeing any green leaves, or birds flying in the air…it was just as still as any other time. At least it wasn't snowing anymore; she wasn't sure how long she could stand being cooped up inside.

But now that it was spring, she knew it was the best time to get seeds from Bulba. Only, there were no bees to pollinate it. A while before, Bubbles flipped through one of her books, looking up exactly what she needed to do. Armed with this knowledge, she did the job herself…she carefully removed pollen from some of its stamens, ensuring Bulba that everything was all right and she wasn't going to hurt them in any way. From there, she was able to move the pollen onto its pistil, making sure that everything was just the way it should be. Her task was completed; Bulba would do the rest.

That was some time before, and now that spring had fully arrived, Bubbles was ecstatic to see that seeds had come in. "Bulba, you're going to be a mommy!" she exclaimed. "Congratulations!…hehehe, you're welcome!" She blushed a little and added, "Well, yeah, I guess I did help a little. Hey, is it all right if I take the seeds so I can plant 'em?…Yes, I promise I'll be careful."

Bubbles removed the seeds from Bulba and gave a glance around the greenhouse. There was more than enough space for her to plant them all. She carefully poked a hole in the ground, just deep enough, and planted a seed into each one, covering them up and packing the dirt around them. I can't believe it, she thought…if these seeds come up, everything we've worked for will all start to come together. More life…and if all of them give seeds, we could have life returning to this area in no time…

The job was done, and Bubbles carefully sprinkled some water over the spots where she had planted the seeds. She was excited; it would take some time before they sprouted, but she had already waited about nine months since the beginning of the whole ordeal, and she was prepared to wait longer.

Some chimes went off outside the greenhouse. Bubbles said, "I'll be right back!" and flew out to check on them. On a pole outside were some carefully-balanced wind chimes that she had set up…it acted as a nice advance warning for heavy weather patterns. Off in the far distance, she could see storm clouds approaching slowly. Looks like I'll be staying inside tonight, she thought. I'd better go see how big this storm is.

She poked her head back into the greenhouse and told Bulba where she was going, then flew off, high above the sky, to get a good clear view of the clouds. She became a little worried as she flew closer; the storm didn't look that rough, but she saw some other clouds behind it, and those looked even worse. And what's more, that storm, although probably a day or two off, looked absolutely huge.

Hurricane, she thought, suddenly afraid. I don't want to risk moving Bulba, but I'm gonna have to…no wait, I can't! What about the seeds? I have to protect them all…maybe if I just put some supports up around the greenhouse…I've gotta hurry, though! She dashed into what still remained of the buildings, in search of building materials to reinforce her little structure…despite how well it stood up against the elements so far, it seemed so small and defenseless against something as mighty as a hurricane. Bubbles hoped she could protect it in time…

* * * Two Days Later * * *

"Just hold on, Bulba!" Bubbles shouted. "Everything's gonna be fine!" The winds howled loudly outside the greenhouse. Pieces of debris from the ruined city were whirled about outside, and the whole greenhouse creaked under the enormous wind pressure…but thanks to the supports Bubbles had quickly put in, it stood fast. Still, it was scary…outside their little enclosure, everything was in total chaos.

Bubbles shook fearfully, but didn't stray from Bulba's side for a second. "I-I know, Bulba," she said. "I'm scared too…" Please, hurricane, just go away, her thoughts begged, but the winds outside actually seemed to get worse instead of better.

Part of a whole car flew by right next to the glass, and Bubbles suddenly realized a new danger: what if a big piece of debris struck the greenhouse and broke through the glass? Should she just stay inside and hope for the best, or go outside and try to stop any debris from hitting? She figured that Bulba must have understood the danger, too, because she listened for a moment and said, "If you're sure, then I'll go…" She nodded and flew up to the greenhouse door, taking a deep breath.

She slid the door open and fought her way outside against the wind, sliding the door shut behind her. The wind was so heavy…it took almost all of her strength just to keep from being blown away. Holding her arm up in front of her face, she pushed against the wind, positioning herself between the greenhouse and the direction the wind was coming from. If anything tries to get past me, she thought, I can stop it from here.

It was a good thing she decided to, because a section of wall from a building was flying right for it. She pulled her fist back and punched it as it approached, shattering it into pieces, which flew off harmlessly. A second later, an old lamppost started whirling through the air for it; Bubbles caught the lamppost and wielded it like a baseball bat. As smaller pieces of debris approached, she batted them away with it quickly.

So far, so good, she thought. If I can just keep this up, I'll… Her thoughts were interrupted when a small, fist-sized rock hurtled through the air towards her, and she didn't notice it until it was too late. The rock glanced off the side of her head…she wasn't hurt by it, but the blow caused her to reel, losing her balance, and the wind caught her and pushed her back through the air. Reflexively, she jammed the end of the lamppost into the ground and hung on.

The winds picked up…the lamppost was staying firm, but Bubbles had to use all her strength just to hang onto it and keep from being swept away in the winds. As she tried to pull herself up to get a better handhold, she gasped as she saw a whole car tumbling across the landscape from the edge of the park, heading straight for the greenhouse. She cringed and tried to blast it with her eyebeams, but she could barely see straight with all the rain and debris striking her face, and missed wildly.

The car slammed into the side, shattering most of the glass and breaking through some of the supports. In the next gust of wind, the walls of the greenhouse were uprooted, flying apart. Everything that was inside was almost immediately blown away: food, clothing, supplies…Bulba was still planted in the ground in the center of where the greenhouse, but the poor flower was flapping in the wind and rain, lying almost flat sideways.

"Bulba!" Bubbles shouted, "Hang on!" She looked around, trying to find some way of getting over to the flower without being blown away by the hurricane, but the wind was just too strong. In horror, she saw a few of Bulba's petals come loose, carried off immediately through the air.

She was about to shout again when it happened. The flower was uprooted, tearing up from the ground and hurtling through the air. Over her shoulder, Bubbles watched it slowly disappear into the distance and shrieked, "Bulba!! NOOOO!!" At that moment, her hands slipped and she lost her grip…the wind immediately seized her and sent her plunging through the air, towards the side of a building. She cried out, "Bul--…" before her head struck against the side of the building's concrete wall, knocking her unconscious…

* * * Three Hours Later * * *

Bubbles came to, leaning up against the side of the building, her head aching from the blow. The air was still, with neither wind nor rain, and the sun was shining brightly from the scattered clouds above. The surroundings seemed to be even more of a mess than they were before, if it were possible. Puddles of water were everywhere, reflecting the light from the sun. The hurricane was over…it had come and gone, leaving its mark on the land.

Curling her legs up and holding her head in pain for just a moment, she broke into tears and slowly buried her head in her arms, sobbing, "No…Bulba…come back…" She wept for a long time after that, just sitting in that spot, not moving, in mourning for her poor lost flower, the only friend she had left in the world. Now that Bulba was gone, she was truly alone…

* * * Two Weeks Later * * *

Bubbles carried on with her life, listless and saddened. None of it seemed to make sense anymore to her. Still, she stayed by the park, near the place where Bulba had once been, supplying water to the soil around it. The seeds she had planted might still have been okay, even after the hurricane. It was indeed the absolute last chance that life would have.

She spoke not a single word for the past two weeks, not even to herself. She didn't read, didn't play, she just sat, and occasionally ate. Her clothing was once again getting ragged and torn, but she didn't care. She just waited.

On this day, though, she went to go water the soil again, and blinked a few times, spotting something in the dirt. She knelt down and carefully brushed some of the soil aside…what she saw made her heart leap. A tiny green sprout was growing…she was right, the seeds managed to make it. With a little more fervor, she checked the surrounding soil, and was overjoyed…at least a dozen other flowers were coming up too.

She giggled a little, giddy with excitement, and suddenly flew into the air, thrusting her arms out and howling out in pure joy, "YEAHHHH!!" She was incredibly happy…They made it they made it they made it! she thought. I can't believe it…they're alive! I'm not alone anymore! They're ALIVE!

She flew back to the ground and lied down, facing the tiny buds and saying cheerfully, "Hi! I'm Bubbles…nice to meet you!" She knew they were too young to answer, so she just continued talking to them, "You're going to help bring life back to the world, little ones…just like your mommy! I knew your mommy…I wish you coulda met her…she was one in a million…"

As Bubbles continued to talk to them, she told them about everything she had told Bulba so long ago, about her sisters, about the people of the world…everything. She was sad that Bulba had been lost, but was happy that that bright little flower had succeeded. Thanks to the seedlings, life was secure once again, and Bubbles knew that in the future, when she would eventually watch generations of the flower spreading life back to every corner of the planet, each flower would remind her of Bulba. They would remind her of their struggles, their experiences, and their triumphs…and that despite any hardships, life would always thrive in this world.