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Old 06-14-2021, 07:10 PM   #1
Prof.Enigma
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Lucario The Trainer Only Nightclub: No Pokémon Allowed!

Not far from the mysterious Tree Grove is a giant building with bright lights and enticing music, advertising a place for trainers to relax and socialize with other trainers without the stress of having to watch over Pokemon and keep them out of trouble. Perhaps in direct reaction to the ban on trainers, or perhaps out of a potential business opportunity, the proprietors of this establishment have a strict no-Pokemon policy. It is rumored that the owner, a gentle but insistent young man in his late twenties, once owned a club that was Pokemon-friendly before a Swalot not only ate all the food he had but ate the entire club, as well! Unfortunately, that particular Swalot just loved the taste of his last business and proceeded to eat the next three establishments he built until he finally created this one. It is also rumored that the mere mention of Swalot sends the owner into panic mode, so it is advised that you avoid discussion of that particular Pokemon.

The Trainer-Only Nightclub is the perfect place to dance the night away, and the DJ is open to nearly all music requests. Of course, if dancing is not your thing, why not sit down and enjoy some food and drinks at the appropriately-named Wallflower Pub that's taken residence directly inside the Nightclub? With a perfect view of the action on the dance floor as well as a lovely window to the beautiful forest outside, you can escape from the madness with a nice beer (or soda if underage) and a bite to eat, or simply fuel up before another round of dancing.

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Old 07-12-2021, 09:32 PM   #2
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The Trainer Only Nightclub. A somewhat well-known location in the Fizzytopia region. Nowhere near as well-known as the famous Bar, even if that place tended to go through its own slumps in this day and age as well, but respectable in its own right. This nightclub's big claim to fame, of course, was its strict no-Pokémon policy. And it wasn't without basis, either- many might doubt the stories of a Swalot eating the owner's previous establishments, but then you had people like Keith Masters who would speak of the time his then-Gulpin and someone else's Aron raced each other to see who could eat more of an entire abandoned city, a Poison-type master who routinely fed his Swalot blocks of concrete with ranch dressing, so who was to say, really? Pokémon really were incredible creatures, capable of the most unbelievable feats sometimes.

Regardless of why the rule was in place, however, the fact remained that it was indeed in place. And so, when Terri Alph set foot in the place, in what was a distinctly unusual circumstance for her, she had none of her Pokémon on hand- her girlfriend was back home helping to take care of them. Why was her girlfriend not here with her? That was also fairly unusual, after all. Well, put simply, said girlfriend was also a Pokémon- a Froslass, to be exact.

"It really is a shame," Terri murmured to herself as she walked inside, dressed as she so typically was, complete with apparent disregard for the notion of footwear. "Laugh's the one who told me about this place, and yet I never had the opportunity to come here with her... maybe someday they can change their mind about the rule," she considered. She shook her head as she walked towards the Wallflower Pub- her goal tonight was not to complain about the rules of the place, after all, but rather to see if she could make any new friends, or maybe even see anyone she'd previously met since coming to Fizzytopia. And besides, it was somewhat interesting to her, to set foot in an establishment that didn't let Pokémon in. In the world of Pokémon, there weren't so many of those around, after all. This was her first time actually going into such a place.

Taking a seat, Terri smiled at the bartender that approached her. "I'd like a cheeseburger with sliced Enigma Berries, please," she said, while glancing over at the menu for the non-alcoholic beverages. "...And, um, what berries go into the Three-Berry Smoothie?" she asked.

"Oran, Sitrus, and Leppa by default, but you can substitute any of them, we have a wide variety you can choose from," replied the bartender.

"In that case, I'll have that, made with Kasib, Colbur, and Tanga Berries, if you have those, please," said Terri.

The bartender nodded. "Coming right up," he said, before walking away to work on the beverage, leaving Terri to just sit there, relax, and wonder if anyone else was going to come in soon, or even at all that evening.
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Old 09-27-2021, 09:47 PM   #3
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If you want to catch a criminal in Fizzytopia, the Trainer-Only Nightclub is the place to do it. Not that they'll tell you that - oh, no. They advertise this place as being fun. Freeing. Exciting. A place to socialize without Pokemon to get in the way. That's what they'll tell you. And it's not that they're lying, per se. There is something to be said for socializing without a Swalot eating your barstool or an unattended Squirtle drinking your overpriced Vodka Tonic when you're not looking, or having a talking bird desperately attempt to dissuade you from making horrible life choices. They tell you the truth, but not the whole of it.

See... If you want to catch a criminal, you want to find them when they're unarmed. No matter what cute names we give them, or accessories they wear, or cherished memories we share with them - Pokemon are our weapons. They are our greatest defense against those who would seek to do us harm, yes, but the greatest tool for harming others, as well. Needless to say, undercover Fizzytopian cops infested the Nightclub like roaches. Anyone with any sort of infamy knew better than to stick their face in the nightclub - or face immediate arrest.

Tonight's roach was in his mid-30s, tall, well-built. Military haircut, dark sunglasses, leather jacket - stood out like a sore thumb, this one, and yet, there was something about his aura that suggested that he didn't care if he wasn't blending in. His presence was a dare to anyone who would be so foolish as to disarm in the face of the law when they've something to hide.

Minerva recognized him immediately.

At great personal risk - of being recognized, of being hunted, of being arrested herself, despite her protections from the Nightwatch - she sashays in with her usual seductive posture, taking the seat right beside him. She makes no attempt to hide the fact that she's listening in on the conversation the undercover cop is having, even going as far as to lean in a bit to the cop as he grills the bartender in whispered tones for details on his latest target.

"Has she mentioned this... Laugh to you, at all?" The cop asks, chuckling darkly. "Laugh... it's a... laughable name, wouldn't you say?"

The bartender doesn't laugh. There was nothing charming about mocking the nicknames others lovingly chose for their Pokemon. As for Minerva... her laugh is not one of appreciation for the joke, but one of cruel recognition of the cop's attitude.

"Not as stupid a name as Coselle Ette... Or Marion Ette, for that matter," Minerva counters, practically hissing as she speaks.

The cop sits up with a start as he realizes that he is being addressed by a familiar face... Only for a grin to spread, as if he had won some kind of jackpot.

"Well, well," he begins, looking Minerva up and down. "Look at you. A lot has changed since we took you in as a bratty faux-human Banette for mind erasure, hasn't it? Looking like a right human, now... a right pretty one, too, if you don't mind me saying so."

Minerva doesn't respond right away - but a grin of her own begins to form. He matches her posture, leaning in, letting his words hit her with their full weight. He continues, speaking with a tone that suggests he loves the sound of his own voice -

"What a shame... If you had only taken the gift we offered you. A new start at life, free of your pain - free of this horrible, sinful desire of yours. But you're a stubborn one, and now..." He sighs. "You're just a beautiful piece of trash to him, huh? Thrown away by the trainer who you claimed had loved you so much - that you fought so hard to remember." He reaches a hand out to her, gently touching her face. "A man of the law would not be so careless, you know-"

Fighting the urge to recoil immediately, she leans in slightly, words barely above a whisper. "Who were you asking about then, sir? What sinner has your eye that would take your attention away from me?"

"Attention? Hah! Don't flatter her," he responds, practically spitting with disgust. "Some Froslass-loving freak who hasn't gotten the memo that romantic relationships between humans and Pokemon are forbidden. Well, she's here walking around barefoot, without a care in the world, like she's done nothing wrong. And if word around the precinct is to be believed, you of all people would know how wrong she is..."

"I know where her path leads," Minerva responds, eyes narrowing. "I would know, better than anyone, how to deal with something like this. That is why this particular case is under Lacunosa Nightwatch jurisdiction. Your presence isn't needed."

Minerva flashes her badge to the cop, who merely raises an eyebrow.

"Heh... You think that means anything to me?" He leans so close to Minerva that she can smell the stink of cheap beer and cigarettes on his breath. "You think I trust you to do the right thing when you're just as much of a freak as she is?" He chuckles, baring his teeth. "Or are you just jealous that this one catches hers and keeps the Pokeball, when yours just released you out into the wild without a-"

The sentence is cut short, as a hand from the shadows grabs the man by the throat and slams him mercilessly against the table - to the shock of both the undercover cop and Minerva herself.

An olive-skinned, wiry-framed, bearded man in his early 40s, with long, dark hair tied in a ponytail, baggy circles under his eyes, and thick glasses, drags the cop clear from his barstool with surprisingly minimal effort. Despite initial impressions of his physique, the man possesses a near-unearthly strength, as he slams the cop repeatedly into the nearby wall.

"How ya doin'?" Slam. "This is CAELUM-" Slam "- MOTHERF***ING -" SLAM "- MYSTEWIND -" SLAM "AND THE LACUNOSA NIGHTWATCH IS ABOUT TO MEAN SOMETHING REAL IMPORTANT TO YOU!"

SLAM


Minerva watches in sheer, unbridled shock as her calm, level-headed Commander - who, up until this moment in time, she had assumed was back in Headquarters - loses his absolute mind on this cop with no warning.

"Cal -"

"Oh, one moment please," he says to Minerva in a friendly and polite tone, adjusting his glasses, before resuming his rage-filled slamming of the Fizzytopian cop into the wall a few more times, and decking him across the face for good measure.

As he crumples, bruised and bloodied, to the floor, Commander Caelum Mystewind flashes his badge to the bartender, reverting back to his usual, authoritative yet slightly socially-anxious self.

"I, uh... please don't worry about the mess. We'll clean this up in a jiffy. It's like the lady says - our Eyes are on Terri, as well as on the trash we're about to take out." He indicates the trash by using a foot to nudge the cop on the floor.

"Oh -" Minerva raises a finger, as if to protest - "I was just flashing the badge to -"

"To what? Falsely claim jurisdiction? You wouldn't admit to your commander that you would do such a thing... Would you?" Cal tilts his head, smiling.

"I..."

"Then the case is officially under the jurisdiction of the Lacunosa Nightwatch, as I said," Caelum puts his hands on his hips, puffing his chest a bit. "And we will investigate together."

Cal wraps a friendly arm around Minerva, and the white-haired woman sighs. "What are you even doing here?"

"I could ask the same of you, fellow Cyclops. A little bird told me that you were about to make some bad choices with regards to keeping a low profile, avoiding psychologically triggering situations, and - well - just in general," he says, matter-of-factly. "I'm here to help!"

Minerva couldn't help but smile a bit, in spite of herself... and in spite of her sudden desire to have a few choice words with Oroitz the moment she returned to her hotel.
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Old 09-27-2021, 10:39 PM   #4
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Things were quiet in the Nightclub that evening, in or out of the Wallflower Pub. Well, at first, anyway. For the longest while, Terri simply sat and sipped her smoothie, watching idly as what little bit of activity the Nightclub was seeing that night happened. The man who walked in was certainly a sight that would draw attention, and it didn't seem as though he particularly gave a Patrat's ass about this. Very clearly law enforcement of some sort, with a presence that just friggin' dared lawbreakers to show their faces in this place, but if any of this was at all concerning to Terri, she hid it well. As the man sat at the bar and began interrogating the bartender, she glanced over with an expression of vague curiosity, a little far away to be able to hear the conversation exactly. Whatever it was, the cop clearly found it funnier than the bartender. Then, she saw the woman come in. Saw her sit down next to the cop, catch his attention- clearly, there was some history between them. She didn't think much about it- that is, until the whispering had somewhat died off, and the term "Froslass-loving freak" reached her ears. Now Terri frowned- this was about her.

But before Terri could even decide on a course of action, almost before she'd even finished assessing the situation in the first place, a course of action was quite abruptly decided without need for her input. A man came seemingly out of nowhere, and in spite of what his wiry appearance would imply, was able to yoink the offending man clean off his barstool, and slam this cop into the wall several times over, to general shock. He seemed perfectly friendly and polite to the white-haired woman, however, suggesting they too knew each other, albeit on decidedly nicer terms. The cop, of course, was not so fortunate, and collapsed to the floor, his injuries capped off with a punch in the face.

And yet, Terri's expression betrayed no hint of shock or surprise. As ever, her face proved quite hard to read. She was regarding the man, and especially the white-haired woman now that she could get a better look at her, with what seemed to be curiosity. "Huh," she murmured, with no indication of what she meant by this. After a few more moments of apparent consideration, she made her decision. Leaving her empty smoothie glass where it was, in addition to payment and a nice tip (the bartender, after all, didn't seem to take very kindly to the cop's interrogation), Terri walked over, delicately making her way around the unsavory cop. "Excuse me," Terri said politely. "I'm getting the feeling I owe you thanks for that," she said to the man with a glance at the unconscious cop. "So... thank you," she said. "I would introduce myself, but from what little I heard, you might already know who I am." She said this with her trademark mysterious smile right in place on her face.
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Old 09-28-2021, 05:50 PM   #5
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As Terri approaches Minerva and Cal, she is likely to sense something... strange about the Commander's aura, in particular. The air around him spoke, in hushed whispers, of a certain darkness. Not evil, mind you, but in the sense of the obscure, the concealed, the cover of night which shrouds where light would normally emanate from a human presence.

He grins - practically Cheshire-cat wide, almost inhuman - as Terri approaches. Picking the cop's body up with one arm, Cal bows towards Terri, listening politely as she provides her thanks, and as she remarks that the pair are likely to know who she is already, based on the events she witnessed and overheard.

Cal looks a bit sheepish in light of the appreciation. "Oh, well, don't worry... Really, I'm just sorry you had to see that." He quickly, with one, fluid motion, pulls keys out of the officer's pocket. "Aaaaanyway, I'm dumping this one back in his poorly-disguised cop car. Once he comes to, hopefully he'll have forgotten all about this little incident. But, if not..." Cal taps his head with a free finger on the hand holding the keys, "I've come up with a plan. Just hang tight!"

As he momentarily leaves the Nightclub, cop in tow, Minerva purses her lips, finding it difficult to hide the suspicion in her expression. Aura aside, this was... not typical Cal behavior, by a long shot. While the Commander certainly had a bit of an anxious streak, he was also highly disciplined, and would never strike without being physically struck first. Even then, he would use his words as much as he possibly could. Not only that, but he was also supposed to be back at HQ in Lacunosa. She had just spoken with him an hour ago, in fact, and he had said that very thing. Certainly, he had the means to travel rather quickly if necessary - his Pidgeot was one of the best in the world - and yet...

If Minerva doubted her Commander, she did not say as much. Instead, she turned to Terri, a troubled expression on her face. "So, Terri... Listen. Lacunosa Nightwatch primarily handles supernatural incidents which could cause significant endangerment to life and property. I know we've announced jurisdiction here, but this isn't our usual type of case... and this sure as Hell isn't Unova. Not that we always see eye to eye with the Chief of Police over there, but there's a mutual respect, and we work together well enough. Fizzytopian Cops don't give a crap. The road ahead is... well."

Minerva gestures to the stool beside her, where the cop once sat. "Would you like another drink? I'm buying this round."
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Old 09-28-2021, 08:01 PM   #6
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Terri tilted her head slightly as she approached. Indeed, she did sense something strange about this man, and she wasn't quite certain what to make of it just yet. A certain darkness of some sort. Not in a necessarily evil way, though it certainly seemed to Terri as though there was more to him than met the eye, more than he was willing to let on. And as Terri knew, this sort of thing wasn't necessarily for any sort of nefarious reason. Hell, hadn't he just made quite a good first impression on her by, however forcefully so, stopping that cop from arresting her? Not that any resultant charges would stick, of course- Terri knew the laws of the land well enough to know that, circumstances being as they were, she was actually quite within the right. Still though, she couldn't help but notice the look of suspicion that Minerva had utterly failed to conceal- even she, who seemed to know this man far better than Terri did, seemed to suspect something. "Hm," she murmured to herself as Cal carried the unconscious cop away, promising to dump him in his cop car and to enact a plan of his if he still remembered this incident upon regaining consciousness. Even his grin had been wide, almost unnaturally so, upon seeing Terri approach. Of course, she'd seen that sort of grin on the face of one Keith Masters from time to time, too. In any case, it was tough to really say whether any of this was of any genuine concern just yet, but she would certainly try and pay close attention to how things proceeded here tonight.

Minerva, however, did not talk about any of that, did not voice whatever suspicions were so vividly shown on her face. Instead, she spoke to Terri, informing her that while this case was currently theirs, it wasn't their normal fare. Usually, the Lacunosa Nightwatch's sort of case was more along the line of supernatural incidents that posed a great danger to life or property. Certainly not the sort of descriptor that could be used for something like Terri's love life. Also, this was most obviously not Unova, where they typically operated. They had a sort of mutual respect going with the Chief of Police over there, but here in Fizzytopia... Terri gave a small nod at the mention of the Fizzytopian cops. Much as she always liked to see the good in others, she'd heard a story or two about Fizzytopian law enforcement that she dearly hoped would never make their way back home.

But for right now, before anything more could be said, Minerva was offering Terri the seat that the cop had so recently and reluctantly vacated, stating she would buy this round of drinks. Terri smiled appreciatively. "Thank you," she replied, taking the seat as indicated. "I'd like that very much." She was ready to request the same smoothie as before from the bartender, as well as hear out whatever Minerva might have to say.
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Old 09-28-2021, 08:34 PM   #7
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As the bartender comes around, Minerva waves to grab his attention.

"Rusty nail for me, please," Minerva says confidently, knowing she was making a huge gamble. Caelum Mystewind - the TRUE Caelum Mystewind - explicitly forbade mind-altering substances of any kind on duty, including alcohol. In truth, Minerva hadn't touched the stuff in years. Even so, she needed something to take the edge off - and, if her suspicions were correct, she would need it.

~*~

Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, the one calling himself Commander Caelum Mystewind makes quick work of setting the cop up in the driver's seat of the poorly-disguised car, taking a moment to study his face.

Working the radio in the car, the face of Caelum shifts, momentarily gleaming with pink light, forming instead the face of the cop whom he had pummeled moments before. Imitating the cop's voice at a perfect pitch, "Cal" makes a call out to dispatch, stating that the target had indeed been sighted in the Nightclub, but that extraction was complicated by suspected friends that would make arrest on premises difficult. He would wait in the car for the suspect to walk out into the parking lot, and make his arrest there, but added it could take some time to wait for her to leave.

The deception pulled off without an apparent hitch, pink light once again envelops the mysterious figure - transforming not just the face, but the entire form, into another person entirely.

"Ah... feels good to slip into something more comfortable, doesn't it?" A feminine voice comments to herself.

~*~

Minerva turns to Terri, having taken a moment to let her place her order. The white-haired woman sighs deeply, considering her next words. "I guess I should tell you... I'm not supposed to be here. Hell, I'm not supposed to even be alive." She plays with a strand of her hair, looking about as sheepish as Cal did when thanked for his services. "You, uh... you won't mention to anyone that you saw me here, will you? And I do mean anyone." She smirks. "Wouldn't want to scare the poor, innocent folks of Fizzytopia into thinking that the old witch Minerva is haunting this place again... would we?"
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Old 09-28-2021, 09:45 PM   #8
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Minerva had gotten the bartender's attention before very long, and once she put in her order, Terri spoke up next. "I'll have another Kasib-Colbur-Tanga smoothie, please," she added- she'd quite enjoyed her previous one, and was very much willing to have another. Minerva's beverage of choice hadn't tempted her- while she didn't judge anyone who did partake in it, Terri didn't touch alcohol whatsoever herself. Following this, Minerva had turned to her, and after careful consideration, spoke up, revealing that she wasn't supposed to be here. Or, uh... alive, for that matter. She took a moment to play with a strand of her hair, looking rather sheepish, before deciding to ask a favor of Terri- that she not mention seeing Minerva here. To anybody, a point Minerva made certain to emphasize, which gave Terri all the more reason to believe that Minerva already knew of her to some degree (indeed, between the conversation between Minerva and the cop turning to the subject of her, and Minerva already knowing Terri by name, could this really even be in question anymore?). Or more to the point, quite possibly knew who Terri's friends were.

If anything Minerva said or implied had surprised Terri, up to and including her name and the fact that she was believed to be (and allegedly supposed to be) dead, the young Trainer hid it well. "I get the feeling this is important to you, so I'll keep it a secret as long as you want me to," promised Terri. "Though I should mention at this point," she added with her trademark mysterious smile, "that those who have mentioned you by name to me before have had nicer things to say than that." She paused, considering what to say next herself before actually speaking up and saying it, deciding it might be better to not wait to address the Cufant in the room. "So, Minerva, you... looked a little suspicious just then," she added, tilting her head slightly. "Of your... friend? Is something about what he just did unusual for him, for a situation like that?" Terri had decided that, whatever the case may be with that man, she would very much like to get to the bottom of it and figure out if there was any need for concern, both for herself and for Minerva. Already the presence of that unpleasant cop didn't seem to bode well for Terri, and if this was looking to be any sort of "out of the frying pan, into the fire" situation, she figured it might be best to figure that out sooner rather than later. Alternatively, if it turned out she had no reason to worry, she'd very much like to know that, too. But either way, she had to know. She considered mentioning the strange feeling she'd gotten from him upon approaching, the darkness to his aura, but held off on that for now, waiting to see what Minerva would have to say in response to what she's asked thus far.
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Old 09-28-2021, 11:34 PM   #9
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Minerva practically spits her drink out when Terri suggests that those who spoke of her had much nicer things to say about her than that, though she (quite mercifully) keeps it in her mouth, rather than spraying it all over the counter. "Must be some other Minerva," she muses darkly after swallowing, though there's a defensiveness to the conjecture. After all, there was protection in believing that no one missed her after she left - and after all that she had done, it was not so hard to build that fortress around her heart. They were all better off without her. She was certain of it. She had to be.

What she was less certain of was the violent, yet polite individual who had introduced himself as the Commander of the Lacunosa Nightwatch. Unfortunately for Minerva, Terri had most certainly picked up on her nervousness, and was forthright and direct in requesting Minerva's thoughts on the matter. The white-haired woman scowls a bit, taking a strong swig of her drink before responding.

"Well, let me put it this way, Terri... I went to Cal to learn how to curb some particularly violent impulses. I've got the heart of a Banette, you see - and I'm not talking figuratively. Vengeance used to be the air I breathed. It's a long story, but that cop and I -" Minerva grimaces, gripping her drink so hard that her hand shakes, "- We go waaaaaaaaaaay back."

Minerva turns to the front door, the sound of footsteps alerting her. "Here's the way I see it - the man who taught me how to quell that amount of rage would not have lost his temper that quickly. Which means we're either dealing with a malevolent stranger with unearthly knowledge of my Commander, or -"

Just as Minerva is about to finish her sentence, a stylish woman with long, dark hair pulled back in a single, loose braid carefully makes her way through the front door of the Nightclub, looking around for a moment, before her wolf-like blue eyes fall on Minerva and Terri. Though her facial features are entirely different, the grin on her face is eerily familiar...

"...or we're dealing with a friend," Minerva finally finishes, her countenance seeming to relax a bit - but only slightly. After all, her suspicions had been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt.

Pulling her designer trenchcoat close to her and adjusting her wire-frame glasses, the strange woman walks purposefully over to the pair, sitting on the open stool beside Terri and slapping a Lacunosa Nightwatch identification in front of her.

"P-028-CS, at your service," the woman announces in a lilting voice. "P28 for short, if you please. My apologies for the deception, but... It's my job, you see."

Something in P28's smile seems... not quite right. It seems plastered on, like a mask.

Looking closely at the identification - the one she had briefly flashed to the Bartender, such that he likely would not have gotten a good look - dried blood, likely years old, is spattered across the card. The smiling woman in the photograph looks exactly like the one standing before Terri, but the smile in the photo seems of a more genuine, less ethereal type.

The name and identification number on the top reads EYE-028-C/NADIA SOLACE.

Below this identification are several other codes - Nadia's authorized Pokemon. One stands out, however - P-028-CS Zoroark. Not only because it was the first on the list - or because it matched the identification that the odd woman had given - but because it seems that someone had drawn a little heart next to P28's designation. Likely the one who carried the ID before her.

Before long, P28 snatches the ID away, the eerie smile flickering.
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Old 09-29-2021, 02:05 AM   #10
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Minerva seemed surprised at Terri's statement, to say the least. She had been a stone's throw from a comical spit take at the notion that those responsible for Terri knowing of her existence had nice things to say about her. Might even, dare one suggest, actually miss her. And she was quick to suggest they must be thinking of some other Minerva. Terri was thoroughly unconvinced of this, personally, and she got the feeling she wasn't the only one.

The conversation, however, did not continue in that direction, turning instead to what Terri considered the more pressing matter at hand. Minerva seemed displeased with how poorly she concealed her suspicions, and made a point of starting on her drink before answering. Cal was who Minerva had gone to in order to curb some rather violent impulses. Hers was the heart of a Banette, and that was meant quite literally. Terri merely nodded at this, before Minerva stated that she and that cop went way back, with more than a little insinuation that this wasn't in a good way. She turned to the front door, as did Terri, as they had both heard footsteps. A woman came walking in, entirely unfamiliar to Terri, save for that grin. Terri knew in that instant that the man who had so forcefully subdued that cop and this woman were one and the same- what she didn't know was how (and even then, with her knowledge, she had a few shrewd ideas). Minerva seemed to relax, identifying the, uh, "newcomer" as a friend.

Terri watched as the woman strode over to them, sitting on the open barstool beside her. She slapped down a Lacunosa Nightwatch identification, and identified herself as P-028-CS. Not, Terri realized very quickly, the identification number of the person on the ID, but rather the identification number of one of the authorized Pokémon. The ID so helpfully identified said Pokémon by species as well- Zoroark. That explained it to Terri. The aura of darkness, of concealment. The nigh-inhuman grin. The obvious change in appearance. Even the not-quite-right, masklike look of the smile. It basically was a mask- Illusion was what Zoroark were known for, and it was in full effect here. Terri found herself more at ease as well, albeit just slightly. This had in fact answered her questions, though it at the same time raised a few more. Why was the Zoroark carrying around its Trainer's ID? Where had that dried blood come from? What about the little heart next to the Zoroark's designation? What was the story with that? In any case, though, Terri reasoned, Zoroark with ill intent typically didn't openly identify themselves as Zoroark while under the effects of their Ability. And to do so in an establishment that expressly forbade the presence of Pokémon, no less. Well, OK, unless the idea was to gain the target's trust before screwing them over, but Terri didn't really think like that, and if Minerva had identified this Zoroark as a friend, she didn't think said Zoroark would think like that, either. Or at least, she hoped. In any case, she felt somewhat compelled to take a good, long sip of her Kasib-Colbur-Tanga smoothie at this point in time.

"It's nice to meet you, P28," Terri said to the disguised Zoroark. She paused for a moment, apparently thinking. "...I'm not complaining by any means," she spoke up. "This is clearly preferable to Fizzytopian law enforcement. But exactly how is it the Lacunosa Nightwatch has taken interest in me?"
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Old 09-29-2021, 06:32 PM   #11
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"The pleasure is mine," responds P28 very cordially, with a slight bow of the head. "As for our interest... while I completely understand your curiosity, we need you to answer a few questions first."

The Bartender approaches P28, requesting her order. She calmly refuses, at first - but Minerva momentarily glares at the illusory woman before making a motion with her hand to grab the bartender's attention.

"Might you grab my emotionally unstable friend some Starf-flavored seltzer, please?"

"But I don't -"

"You will," Minerva growls, though the concern is clear behind her rough exterior. "If you want something else, you can request it, but have something. Or you'll forget. Especially after -"

"Oh, very well. I do love when you're forceful," P28 teases, which only makes Minerva shake her head in frustration... but also, with a slight bit of nostalgia.

"Y'know, Nadia used to say that all the time to me, for the stupidest things. I have no idea why. Did she think it was funny? Was I... was I just that forceful of a personality that she had to comment on it?"

P28 simply shrugs her shoulders, with an eerie little laugh that seems to echo from behind her lips. "Funny. Hah... Maybe." Her eyes flicker with some inexplicable emotion, before she turns back to Terri.

"ANYWAY! Yes. Questions. First and foremost - the records seem pretty scant on your history. We have heard rumors, yes - but we would rather hear your origin story from you. Share as much as you feel comfortable with - and then a little beyond that, if you can."

From her trenchcoat, P28 pulls a notepad out of her pocket, and flips it open, pen held eagerly to paper. Minerva simply rests her head on her hands, focused, intent, listening.
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Old 09-29-2021, 08:02 PM   #12
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They possess great insight and refuse the outside world.

P28 was understanding of Terri's curiosity, but was quick to make clear that they all had their own curiosity, and were hoping for Terri to satisfy it. There was a brief interruption in which Minerva seemed to take particular issue with P28's initial refusal to order a beverage, Minerva's outward irritation seeming to mask concern and nostalgia, P28's eyes flickering with emotion for a moment. Whoever this Nadia was, the name Terri had seen on the ID, it was becoming increasingly obvious that she was no longer among the living. A question for later, perhaps, when her turn to do the asking had come, and even then, only if Terri could be reasonably sure that this was a question P28 would be OK with answering. Old wounds, after all, didn't usually take well to being ripped back open.

But right now, P28 proved as direct and to the point with Terri as Terri had been with Minerva. They had heard rumors, and if any of those were true, that in and of itself would be mildly surprising to Terri. But what they wanted was her origin story.

Terri said nothing at first, smiling her usual mysterious smile. This was her usual response to any such questioning. But this was a different situation, she had to understand. This was not mere idle curiosity behind this line of questioning- these people had just saved her from, at the very least, some rather annoying legal hassle, and from what little Terri knew of that cop, she had a shrewd suspicion things wouldn't have stopped at the very least. No. While her past was not something she usually talked so openly about, it would not be doing herself or Laugh any favors to keep this quiet from these people. Besides, Minerva was trusting Terri to keep her presence secret. Perhaps trusting her and her friend with a secret of her own was the least she could do. How funny, she realized... the three of them really did have some common ground. Were it not for some form of effort on each of their parts, none of them would be permitted to enter this Nightclub tonight.

"It all starts with Alph," Terri began. "I trust you know the general story? In times long past, Unown and humans lived together in harmony. Unown would use their strange powers to help the humans, the humans would grow their food and share with the Unown. Help build a home for them. They were... wonderful times," Terri said, looking downright nostalgic. "But..." she added, her smile fading somewhat. "It was not to last. Humanity is not perfect, after all. Some humans figured out they could use the strange power of the Unown to their advantage. Attempted to rise to power by forcibly harnessing that power. Naturally, the Unown all resisted. And... were all horrified at this, this side of mankind. But what many of them don't realize is, many of the humans were horrified, too. Once the Unown had resisted the attempts at harnessing their power, it was an easy matter for the humans to punish the power-hungry ones for their wrongdoings. Knowing already that the Unown's faith in humanity was eroded, they left Alph and sought their fortunes elsewhere in Johto. Unown throughout Alph thoroughly distrusted humanity from that point onward..."

Terri took a deep breath. "... but I didn't," she stated. "I knew that while humanity wasn't anywhere near as picture-perfect as I had previously seen them to be, I still knew there was good to them." At this point, the radio on Terri's PokéGear came to life, and downright bizarre sounds began to emanate from it. "For many years, I tried to get this through to them. Father especially... He's one of the leaders of our kind. I knew if I could get through to him..." Terri shook her head. "It never worked," she sighed. "If anything, he was the most distrustful of humans. So... some time ago, I made a decision," she stated. "I would prove to the Unown that there is still good to be found in humanity, by going out and experiencing it for myself. You, uh... you can imagine Father's initial reaction to this," she added with a slight sad chuckle. "He loves me as much as he distrusts humanity, which resulted in him being... very, very overprotective. It's hard to resent this, as it comes from a place of love, but all the same..." She shook her head. "...But I was persistent," she stated. "I didn't take no for an answer. And at last, several years ago, I was able to convince him to let me try it. He had his clear reservations about it, but he conceded there was to be no stopping me. Also, from what I hear, some of the other Unown were starting to think my plan might have merit, and had pleaded with him in private to grant my request."

Terri was smiling again by now. "Alone, an Unown's power is not that great. Nothing unusual happens, typically," she said. "When two or more gather, however, that's when things start to happen. The more Unown, the greater a power is generated, and the more there is they can achieve with it. It took the combined efforts of every Unown in Alph to turn me human. The head of the Ruins of Alph research team adopted me- the Unown had evidently spelled out a message to him; "TAKE CARE OF HER". And so he did, until he was satisfied I could go out into the world. On that day, I was telepathically contacted by an extraordinary Swoobat, who had had a premonition of that day, and wished to get to know me. And so I headed out to where that Swoobat lived, here in Fizzytopia. That Swoobat became my first Pokémon, and I've been living in this region ever since," she finished. "Father's sent an old friend of mine in an attempt to spy on me, and sometime after, a young Unown who had only ever heard of me. Both have instead joined my team. And if they're going to report back to Father, what of it?" she shrugged. "All the better that he knows for sure that I'm happy and healthy. And more importantly, that I was right."
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Old 09-29-2021, 10:15 PM   #13
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We humans must learn to walk in harmony with them.

Both Minerva and P28 give Terri their undivided attention as she relates a fascinating story of origin to them. Both seem transfixed by the mental imagery that Terri's story weaves - the classic tale of the Ruins of Alph, and her place within it, quite literally brought to life by the power of the Unown. Though many of her kind had, very understandably, lost faith in humankind over the years - including her own father - Terri had not. With great courage, she set herself on the path to experiencing life as a human, despite her father's overprotective protestations. The path she walked made evident that she had a lot more in common with Minerva and P28 than one might think at first glance.

Minerva idly sips her Rusty Nail, while P28 slowly, casually, tries to push the seltzer away from her... only for Minerva to casually push it back towards her. Shrugging her shoulders, P28 takes a small sip, only to realize how incredibly thirsty she is, and down the whole thing in one gulp... and emit a rather unladylike belch which she does her best to conceal. Even so, despite the embarrassment, P28's grin seems nigh indestructible.

"Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is always nice to find some common ground, isn't it? Oh, but, if you don't mind me saying - as one who has served as a spy myself for many years," P28 muses, "I'd argue there's something to be said for having control over your message. Far be it from me to advise on family matters, but... maybe it would be worth having one of these messengers report back to your father, on your terms, with what you want to be communicated. Narratives have great power, after all.... and, who knows? If the message that returns to your father is one of a renewed faith in humanity, just maybe, it might inspire change for the better."

"That's... surprisingly decent advice, coming from you," Minerva comments, somewhat in shock.

"I'm full of surprises, huh?" P28 smirks, turning to Terri. "Before we continue, I just have to ask..." A spark of mischief flares across P28's eyes. "Which letter were you?"

"Oh my Giratina, you can't just ASK somebody which letter they were," Minerva groans, smacking her forehead.

"Why not???" P28 playfully scratches her chin, as if thinking. "If I were an Unown, I'd be... a question mark. I'd make everything a mystery... or, you know, just slightly more uncertain...?"

"Hm..." Minerva considers for a moment which letter she would be, before shaking her head. "You know what? I don't even care. I was a Banette, and for my sake, I'm hoping that the afterlife is not a perpetual cycle of POKEMON: GOTTA REINCARNATE AS THEM ALL."

"We have a word for that, in Zoroark language," P28 responds with a tone of mock-authority. "It's called Hell."

Minerva crosses her arms, tapping her fingers against the bartop with impatience. "Didn't you have more questions for Terri?"

"Oh!!! Right. Second question. We wanted to know a little bit more about Laugh... and about Mt. Scuffle. Would you tell us more about her, and about her place of origin?"
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Old 09-30-2021, 08:59 PM   #14
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Rare was the occasion where Terri would tell her tale, and those who had asked to hear it were listening intently. The moment was disrupted somewhat with a rather loud belch from P28, but it elicited little more than a chuckle from Terri. More importantly, she listened as P28 offered her own advice- getting her Pokémon to report back to her father on her terms. Though she freely admitted she was in no position to advise on family matters such as these, Terri nodded slowly in response to said advice. "That's a good idea," she said. "I'll have to bring it up with Make and Quicken when I go home later," she said.

Following this, P28 asked a question that was more her own personal curiosity, and while Minerva groaned at the potential rudeness of such a question, Terri giggled. "I don't know if such a question ought to be considered rude," she shrugged. "I don't consider it to be, personally. My letter was T," she stated. "And it was T I was know as back in Alph. Terri is a name I picked for myself when I had come up with my plan. Partly because it begins with that letter, and partly because, if you call me 'miss Terri', it sounds a little like 'mystery,'" she grinned. "Even Father had to chuckle at that one." She smiled as P28 speculated that if she were an Unown she would probably be a question mark. "I could see that," she nodded. "You remind me of some of the question marks back at Alph in some ways." Then she turned to Minerva. "Minerva, you... at first glance, one might assume A for you, but I think G is more fitting. Underneath the anger, you care, and you give to those you care about."

Before they could really get off on any sort of tangent here, however, Minerva was quick to remind P28 that she had more to ask Terri, and so the asking resumed. And this time, it was about Laugh. Terri had seen this coming, and nodded knowingly as the questions came. They really had done the thing properly, they even knew that Laugh had perished (and was subsequently reincarnated) on Mt. Scuffle. "Certainly," she said. "In life, Laugh went by the name Laura Frosley. I didn't know this myself for a while- when we first met, she introduced herself merely as Froslass, and it was once we knew each other a little better that she was OK with telling me about her life, including the name she'd gone by. Before this, I had asked her if I could call her Laugh, because she has the most beautiful laugh. She smiled and agreed, and even after she told me her real name, she is still Laugh as far as either of us are concerned," she stated. "Her life was not the most exciting, according to her," said Terri. "She was just as shy as she is in death. Never had many friends, or any aptitude in Pokémon training. What she did have was a fondness for art. Ice sculpture in particular. That's what brought her to Mt. Scuffle one day- she wanted to take pictures of some Ice-type Pokémon as inspiration for her next work, but she underestimated the weather that day. Mt. Scuffle is not a particularly dangerous location under normal circumstances, aside from the potential for getting caught between sparring wild Pokémon, but when it snows there, it can get very dangerous very fast. One moment, she was desperately trying to get out of the snow, trying to stay awake... and the next, she was floating above her old body."

Terri gave a small sigh. "I almost met that same fate myself one day," she said. "I had made a wrong turn and ended up on Mt. Scuffle. I was trying to find my way when it had started snowing, and it escalated... pretty quickly. I collapsed in the snow, but awoke in an abandoned cabin. Laugh had found me, taken me there, and made some fires with Will-O-Wisp to help warm me up," she smiled. "The rest from there is history. She still has that fondness for ice sculpture, too. And if I do say so, more than a little talent for it," she added.
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Old 09-30-2021, 10:26 PM   #15
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P28 grins with satisfaction as Terri acknowledges her advice, and makes a mention of telling Make and Quicken when she returns home. That self-satisfied smirk grows even wider when Terri confirms that P28's question regarding which letter she was had not been considered rude.

"See?" She says to Minerva, sticking out her tongue and winking.

Terri reveals that she had been Unown T - the first letter of Terri's human name. Minerva certainly chuckles at the idea of Terri's name being a play on the word "Mystery" - P28 looks a bit more thoughtful.

"But what if you get married? Or get a doctorate? Or decide to practice medicine?"

"Some dreams are worth sacrificing puns for," Minerva wryly responds. "Marion did it, after all."

Terri agrees with P28's assessment of herself as a Question Mark, while suggesting that, while Minerva's first impression may be one of Anger, Unown G - GIVE - suited her personality. Underneath the anger, she cared, and gave to those whom she cared for.

"I... I suppose," Minerva acknowledges, shrugging her shoulders.

P28 nods her head in agreement with Terri. "I think it's a very astute assessment, myself."

Getting back on track, Terri responds to P28's question by relating the tale of Laugh, formerly known as Laura Frosley - introverted and shy, her passion had been ice sculpture, and it was ultimately that passion which led her to her untimely death upon Mt. Scuffle, due to gravely underestimating the harshness of the climate. That Laugh chose to keep the name that Terri had given to her was something that resonated deeply with Minerva, who had gone by Coselle in life. Though she had reverted back to her human name for awhile - to avoid the infamy associated with her Pokemon name - Minerva was ultimately who she was, and despite the darkness associated with it, it also bore her memories of her loving sister.

The bit about ice sculpture, too, also resonated - it struck Minerva as oddly similar to Ysayle, the Eiscue she had recently adopted. The little penguin had quite a knack for it, which was apparently unusual for the species. Minerva considered that she had dropped Ysayle off at the Tree Grove moments before making her way to the Nightclub - if Laugh had decided to go there, perhaps she and Ysayle had already met? It occurred to her that the two might get along well.

Terri relates that she, too, might have met the same fate as Laugh, had the Froslass not intervened and taken her to an abandoned cabin.

P28's eyes light up at the mention of the cabin. "Ah... So you recall having been in an abandoned cabin, hm? If it isn't too much trouble, can you tell me everything you remember about that cabin - furnishings, who was there, how long you stayed? Did either you or Laugh take anything from that cabin when you left? And, of course - have you returned to the cabin since that fateful night?"

As P28 rattles off her questions, Minerva furtively gestures the bartender over, and whispers something. The bartender nods and walks away, only to return a few moments later with a bowl of freshly salted and buttered popcorn.

P28 glares at Minerva - grabs a fistful of popcorn with one of her hands - shoves it in her mouth like an animal - and continues to glare at Minerva, crunching loudly.

"Youua sush a bissh", she says, with her mouth full. Minerva smirks.

"Yeah, yeah. Don't I know it." Minerva pauses. "When was the last time you ate?"

P28 swallows her popcorn, and thinks for a moment. "Is it still August?"

"It's October."

"Uhhhh - then I'm not answering that question without a lawyer present," P28 responds, grabbing another fistful of popcorn and shoving it unceremoniously into her mouth.

Minerva shakes her head sadly. "Unbelievable..."
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Old 10-01-2021, 09:38 PM   #16
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Minerva seemed to appreciate the intended pun in Terri's choice of name, while P28 had something of a practical concern, that being said pun relying on Terri's title remaining "miss", with Minerva arguing that some dreams were worth sacrificing puns for. Terri nodded in agreement. "I'll enjoy the pun while it lasts," she said simply. "Marriage is definitely something Laugh and I have discussed before, and will, in all probability, discuss more in the future. I'd sacrifice a thousand puns for that," she smiled.

Following her explanation about Laugh, P28 then seemed to latch onto the subject of the cabin Terri had awoken in, and seemed more than a little interested in it. Terri wasn't sure she followed here, but she answered the questions all the same. "I didn't pay too much attention to the cabin itself," she said. "Laugh and I were the only ones there- it had apparently been built on the mountain as a rest house for hikers, but when they realized it didn't offer much protection from the cold, nobody really used it," she shrugged. "I guess they hadn't really done their homework on how bad it can really get, or maybe they were just on a tight budget. Either way, it's why Laugh kept the Will-O-Wisps going even after I had warmed up, because otherwise it would've been just as cold in there as outside. The whole thing seemed to be just one room- there was a bed, a table and some chairs, a fireplace, a little kitchen-looking area... definitely not somewhere designed for being lived in," she stated. "There really wasn't much of anything to take from there. We did return, though," she added with a small smile. "It was the one-year anniversary of when we met," she recalled. "Laugh doesn't typically like going back to Mt. Scuffle. It's complicated for her- she has fond memories of meeting me there, but she also has less-than-fond memories of dying there. But this time she was all for it. I made sure to prepare more adequately this time, and the weather was nicer anyway. We spent a few hours in that cabin, just... reminiscing," she smiled.

Following this, she'd noticed the popcorn Minerva had ordered, and how P28 had dug in reluctantly yet hungrily. In the bit of conversation that followed, Terri raised an eyebrow, for it sounded to her as though P28 hadn't eaten since before the previous month. At least. That... did not sound healthy, to put it mildly, and more concerning was the fact that Minerva didn't even seem surprised at this fact, as though it was a common concern with P28. Terri was weird in many ways, but in terms of eating on a regular basis, she was as normal as anyone else. Even her Medicham ate every day, even if only his usual couple of berries. Even her Bronzor and Shedinja ate every day... somehow. Nobody could ever see how exactly they consumed their food, but they managed it nonetheless. "Not since August?" she asked in mild surprise and concern.
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Old 10-02-2021, 01:55 PM   #17
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Terri's concern regarding P28's eating habits only causes the Zoroark in disguise to laugh harshly. "I never said that," is all she says on the matter. "Anyway, I need to review my notes for a moment -"

Minerva leans in as P28 consults her notepad, whispering to Terri - "We have it under control, more or less. It's really not healthy, what she does, but she has her reasons." The white-haired woman retracts herself, sitting upright before P28 can notice her whispering.

"Well, here's the way I see it, Terri Alph," P28 finally says, after thoroughly reviewing all she had written, "Right now, all the police have on you is a sneaking - and dare I say, false suspicion that you are engaging in a forbidden relationship." P28 consults her notes. "There are a few morally grey areas, of course, that won't land you in jail but are worth considering. Though we understand that Laugh is not KEPT in her Pokeball by any means, she is assigned to one, which by its very nature creates an inequality in the relationship, even if that's not how your lives play out in practice. If you truly wish to marry her down the line, you will likely have to face the same difficult decision that Marion faced."

"In a lot of ways, it was a similar situation to yours, Terri," Minerva interjects, "though Marion was my sister rather than my girlfriend. I was by no means captured against my will - quite the opposite, really. I wanted to be her protector. In fact, when Marion removed me from her roster, I was furious. It felt like being abandoned all over again -" Minerva shakes her head at the memory of her anger. "But, after thinking it through, I've realized the importance of it. And if the two of you try to make any sort of marriage official - even if you are legally acknowledged as being able to marry - the fact that one of you is essentially registered to the other is likely to create some... hurdles."

"We say this without judgment, you understand," P28 nods. "Having never truly been human, being registered to Nadia as her Starter Pokemon since my very birth is my great privilege, though -" P28 winces, as if holding back tears, " - she struggled with it. We were twin souls, she always used to say. Practically the same being in two different bodies. She treated me with absolute respect - only using the Pokeball to retrieve me from dangerous situations in which I might otherwise have been grievously injured, or worse -" P28 sighs. "So there is some merit to having that option available to you, if Laugh finds herself in such a situation, trying to defend you."

"No easy answers, here," Minerva nods in acknowledgement. "Just things to consider."

"But what we REALLY should be considering," P28 remarks with a dark smirk, "Is the fact that all of this is just a diversion."

"Ri- Wait, What?" Minerva turns to P28, whose grin only widens at the confirmation that she was privy to knowledge that Minerva clearly didn't have. Even so, P28's expression grows serious as she turns back to Terri.

"Terri, the police aren't after you about Laugh. Well... not really. That's just the excuse they're giving. That's just what they have more concrete evidence on - even if it's ultimately false. It's really quite common for police around here to do this, actually - to arrest someone for a crime that they believe they have sufficient evidence for, only to try them for a more serious offense where they might have less to go by at that point, filling that evidence in later with... very intense questioning."

"What crime is she being accused of, then?" Minerva immediately asks.

"...One I don't believe that she committed," P28 coolly responds. "The timelines don't match up at all. And while Terri has confirmed that she and Laugh have been in that cabin before - which our friends at the precinct have also figured out, with their trained psychics and sniffing dogs -" P28 growls, "I highly doubt they were responsible for what happened more recently."

Minerva thinks hard, trying to remember if she had heard of anything recently - but Mt. Scuffle was not an area Oroitz monitored frequently, so if something had happened there, she would have no idea. What, exactly, was P28 privy to that she wasn't...?
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Old 10-02-2021, 06:04 PM   #18
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P28 was quick to laugh in the face of Terri's concerned question and immediately change the subject. While she reviewd her notes, Minerva leaned in to whisper to Terri, confirming that while P28's eating habits, or lack thereof, were in fact not healthy, they had things under control, more or less. Terri nodded her acknowledgement, hoping that whatever was going on, P28 would stop it before any potentially dire consequences could arise.

Of course, Terri didn't have time to actually say any of this in response- P28 had finished reviewing her notes, and stated that from her point of view, the police basically didn't have anything on her. A sneaking, yet ultimately false suspicion about the legality of her relationship with Laugh. Though that wasn't to say there were no moral grey areas. Terri nodded as the subject of Laugh's Luxury Ball was brought up. Laugh was not kept in it, not in the slightest. Terri could count the number of times she even entered it on one hand. And yet, that distinction wasn't enough to cancel out the fact that there was a Poké Ball in the equation at all.

Terri sighed, nodding. "The subject of the Poké Ball has come up in our talks," she said. "Laugh and I are in complete agreement- the ball is for emergencies only, and to ensure no Trainers can catch her with Poké Balls of their own." She listened as Minerva related how her sister ultimately had to remove her from her team- obviously a necessity for a Pokémon attempting to become human, but Minerva hadn't seen it that way at the time, ending with the inevitable fact that there were going to be hurdles to overcome if, when marriage was indeed looking to be a certainty, that one of them was registered to the other in this fashion. Terri nodded as P28 clarified that this was all said without judgment- she'd gotten that much, at least, and was grateful for it. One thing she'd been continuously grateful for over the time was how open-minded her friends had all been regarding her relationship with Laugh. Terri was no dummy- she knew how the general public saw these kinds of relationships, she knew she couldn't count on everyone to be like the entire population of Sludge Wave Coast. She and Laugh had seen more than their fair share of sharp, judgmental glares. Legally, due to their specific circumstances, they weren't actually in the wrong, but alas, the general public couldn't all have Keith Masters-level knowledge of Fizzytopian law.

"No easy answers, indeed, "Terri said. "Laugh's Luxury Ball... having that as an option to rescue her from dangerous situations can be useful. Has been useful," she added. "I remember when I went shopping for it- it was her birthday present that year," she added with a small smile. "I drove the poor Department Store clerk insane, I wanted a Luxury Ball that was well and truly flawless. And I wanted it to be a Luxury Ball specifically so that on the rare occasion she might have to enter it, she could at least spend those few seconds in as much comfort as possible." She sighed again. "She and I both know that marriage might mean having to break the ball. And I would like to think we'd both be OK with that when the time comes," she said. "We've never really viewed us as Pokémon and Trainer. When she and I go places together, I just take it as fact that I can only have five Pokémon on hand. I've only ever called for one attack from her, ever, and it was only because I realized a possibility she hadn't yet, during a life-or-death situation." Another sigh. "I would hate if that discussion ever gave her the wrong idea," said Terri. "I... never did like the automatic implication of subservience some people get when it comes to Poké Balls," she admitted. "My Pokémon and I are equal partners, and I would not command them in battle as I do if they did not consent to it. It's more of what Father always says- he thinks humans think themselves superior to Pokémon. And some do," she admitted. "I won't pretend otherwise. But the best Pokémon Trainers- the best people- that I know of are the ones who treat their Pokémon as equal partners. And there's a lot more like that out there than the other Unown think."

Before Terri could continue off on this tangent, however, P28 made a rather startling statement- that the whole issue of Terri and Laugh's relationship was naught but a diversion. Not the real reason the cops were after Terri. Terri and Minerva seemed equally surprised at this notion, and P28 went on to explain that it was pretty common for Fizzytopian police to arrest someone for something they have decent evidence for, with the intention of later trying them for something far more serious, managing to fill in the missing gaps of their evidence with intense questioning. Terri's mouth fell open- that sounded despicable! The implication was clear- whether or not the suspect was actually guilty of the crime, the interrogation was almost certainly going to be so brutal as to force a confession. Now that was more in line with Terri's father's more grim views of humanity. Before she could find her voice and ask exactly what the police intended to charge her with, Minerva beat her to it. P28 was quick to confirm she did not believe Terri to be the actual culprit, but whatever this crime was, it apparently took place in that very cabin on Mt. Scuffle, far more recently than Terri and Laugh had ever been there.

This seemed to stump Minerva, and she wasn't the only one. Terri hadn't heard of anything happening there recently, unless you count Gavin bragging about the Shiny Sawk he'd caught elsewhere on the mountain, and somehow, she didn't think that was it.

"...What happened more recently?" Terri asked finally, sounding more than a little confused.
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Old 10-03-2021, 03:41 PM   #19
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Minerva and P28 respectfully listen to Terri's side of the story - it was clear to the two Nightwatch members that both she and Laugh had given the matters which they were discussing no small amount of thought, and that she would always see herself and Laugh as equal partners - really, as all good trainers should see their Pokemon. Terri had even gone through the trouble of ensuring that Laugh had only the finest Luxury Ball, so that the few moments that she spent inside would be as comfortable as possible - but Terri acknowledged that, at some point, the ball may have to be broken.

Even so, this was not the real reason that the group of trainers were brought together, and P28 wastes no time in answering Terri's question.

"What happened, indeed..."

P28 reaches into one of her coat pockets, and produces three missing posters which she unfolds and sets in front of Minerva and Terri - they depict three different Pokemon, all male. A Machamp, a Kadabra, and a Bisharp. The dates reported missing range between July and September of 2021.

"So, we'll start with Machamp. Sallos is his name - trainer calls him Sal for short, from what I understand. The night of July 2nd, 2021, Sallos wakes up in the middle of the night, shaking. He is shivering like it's the middle of winter, but he's warm in his bed and it's summer. His trainer has no translators, and cannot speak Pokemon language himself, so no one knows for sure what Sal dreamed about, seeing as Sal's trainer was the only one to see him that night. Trainer advises him to go back to bed, and he does - but the next morning, he's gone. Trainer doesn't go to search at first - he trusts Sal's judgment, and trusts in his strength, so what would he have to fear? Police aren't alerted at this time. But days turn into weeks, and now weeks into months...

Second Pokemon, Kadabra. Nickname is Mensa. Night of August 2nd, 2021, wakes up from a strange dream, shivering and shaking. Again, warm in the room he sleeps in, and a warm summer night. Trainer has some medical training, and checks Mensa's vitals - finds signs of mild hypothermia. He takes Mensa immediately to the Pokemon Center for further testing, but Mensa teleports out of the Center before his treatment is completed, insisting telepathically that he absolutely must leave and that there's a horrible emergency he absolutely must attend to - though he refuses to have his trainer contacted and insists that no one follows him, as this is something 'he alone must face.' Center obviously calls his trainer - and the cops - to make sure they're aware of the situation. Mensa never returns.

Third Pokemon, Bisharp. No nickname. Trainer is a dark-type specialist and has a Malamar who can perform translations easily. Night of September 2nd, 2021, Bisharp wakes up from a dream, shivering. Malamar is asked to relay the situation - says that Bisharp dreamed of an abandoned cabin on some mountain - can't say exactly where, though her psychic abilities place it somewhere in Mt. Scuffle. Bisharp claims to hear a young female voice calling out to him, and insists to his trainer and to Malamar that he needs to go to her - that it's an emergency - though he cannot say the exact nature of it. He vehemently insists that his trainer and Malamar do not follow him. Trainer respects this - Malamar does not. She goes right up the mountain after him, and - quite frankly - she's lucky to be alive, given the state they found her in. She claims that Bisharp turned on her the moment that they reached the cabin, but that her memories of the fight - or whether others may have assisted Bisharp in taking her down - are not clear. They bring her down the mountain for medical treatment and search the cabin, but can't locate the perp or the Pokemon. They do, however, sense physical and psychic traces of the three missing Pokemon around the cabin - and also of Terri and Laugh, though they can't put exact dates or times on any of these traces.

Noticing a pattern on those dates, right? Well, last night, on October 2nd, 2021, an unusually young Pokemon had the dream while staying at the Daycare. He refused to disclose what happened to the attendants, but they guess that he might have wandered into the ice Pokemon enclosure, and treated him for his hypothermia. His attempts to escape before morning are mercifully thwarted by the staff. His stay is set to last a few more weeks, but his trainer - or someone claiming to be her, at least - decided to pick him up temporarily after intercepting the call from Daycare intended to alert the Pokemon's trainer to the incident. Given the pattern, he's almost certainly the next target." P28 chuckles darkly. "In fact, Minerva, I think you'll recognize him quite quickly."

One of P28's Pockets begins to wiggle, and Minerva covers her mouth to conceal the gasp of horror as a little, pink head adorned with two white bows, and blinking, bright blue eyes, peeks out. A black, stubby arm waves politely to Minerva and Terri, before the little Pokemon pops back inside, sealing the pocket behind him. Though his aura only makes itself clear briefly before returning to concealment behind P28, there is the sense that the little Pokemon is with his "captor" willingly, and may have been aware of the deception from the beginning.

"You mean to tell me that Astrophel -"

"He's perfectly fine in there," P28 says with a dismissive wave. "It's nice and warm -"

Minerva stands up abruptly, rage consuming her like fire. "That's it. We are going up the mountain, and we are going to break some skulls. And then -"

"Then?" P28 grins.

"Then I'm taking my Gothita back and asking you a couple of questions, you creeper."

"Whoa, now! I'm not a creeper." P28 smirks. "I'm a spy. There's a difference, you kn-"

"I don't care." Minerva turns to storm off, but P28 stands up, and quickly grabs Minerva on the shoulder.

"You have no plan, Minerva." P28 says bluntly. "You haven't had one from the start. You just happened to see Terri being followed by that cop you recognized when you were dropping your own Pokemon off at the Tree Grove, and you decided to improvise, because there's just something in you that can't stand idly by when people are unfairly targeted for being different. Am I right?"

Minerva does not confirm or deny, but the increasing anger in her face suggests that P28 is pretty close to the mark.

"Besides... don't you think Terri - who is better connected than us, has more Pokemon, and herself has a great deal to lose for being framed - would want to help with this case?"

P28 turns to Terri, and gives her the biggest, most emotional puppy eyes she's capable of. Astrophel, too, momentarily peeks his head up from P28's pocket, with similarly big and pleading eyes.
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Old 10-03-2021, 04:46 PM   #20
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With the subject moved from that of Terri and Laugh's relationship, P28 got right down to business. Three missing Pokémon posters, she produced, all of them depicting Pokémon that had gone missing at various points earlier in the year. And their stories all started the same- awaking from a dream, feeling unnaturally cold, and feeling a strange compulsion to head out to Mt. Scuffle. The Machamp, with nobody to translate for him, never did manage to make his intentions known before disappearing. The Kadabra was able to at least convey that there was a horrible emergency of some sort that he alone had to attend to, before never returning. The Bisharp was followed by a Malamar teammate, to that very cabin on Mt. Scufffle, whereupon the Bisharp turned on said Malamar for reasons unknown. This was when the police got involved and were able to tie this to that cabin. They were able to sense that the three missing Pokémon had been there, and they were also able to sense Terri and Laugh having had been there, though of course were not able to tie times or dates to what the Psychic-types had sensed, hence Terri being their only real lead at the moment, even if it was absolutely the wrong direction.

Terri had already started to piece together the pattern with the dates, and nodded as P28 asked about just that, registering as she did so what day yesterday had been. P28 explained that another Pokémon had fallen victim to said dream, though in this case, had been safely intercepted. By none other than P28. Said Pokémon being Minerva's Gothita. That tore it as far as Minerva was concerned- she stood up, in a towering rage, with the intent of climbing the mountain herself and kicking however many asses it took to stop whoever or whatever was targeting her precious Pokémon. P28, however, proved to be a voice of reason, reminding Minerva that she had no plan whatsoever, and also that Terri would be in a very good position, not only to help, but to want to help, considering she was in very real danger of being framed for this insanity. And while that last bit wasn't the stronger of the contributing factors, the Zoroark's point still stood. Indeed, the puppy eyes were wholly unnecessary, Terri's mind had been made up by the time P28 had turned to her, let alone by the time Astrophel had popped out to give a pleading look of his own. "I'll help," she said at once, her tone serious and determined. "And not just to clear my name, either. Something bad is clearly happening and nobody deserves to be losing their Pokémon to something like this. And I know I'm not the only one who would help, either," she added. "I'm friends with some very skilled Trainers with strong senses of justice, none of whom would just stand idly by if they knew something like this was happening. Any of them would happily lend their help in this matter if I were to ask them," she stated.
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Old 10-03-2021, 05:57 PM   #21
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As it turns out, P28 and Astrophel's piteous displays were wholly unnecessary, as Terri was already determined to help - not just for her own sake, but for the sake of the trainers who lost their Pokemon - and those trainers who still stood to lose their Pokemon, such as Minerva, if this madness were allowed to continue. Terri affirms that she has many strong connections, with an equally strong sense of justice, who would lend a hand if asked.

"Perfect!" P28's smile widens from Cheshire Cat to Glasgow. "Then, what are we waiting for? TO SLUDGE WAVE COA-"

"Oh, no. No. Absolutely NOT." Minerva shudders, rage immediately giving way to ice-cold dread.

"Minerva... What else do you propose we do?" P28's tone is calm, unwavering. "If you have any other ideas, I am most assuredly listening. But surely, you aren't about to turn back now?"

"I... I... there has to be another way," Minerva frantically looks around the room, as if somehow, something will prompt an idea in her head, yet nothing comes to her. P28 chuckles a bit, as Minerva's eyes finally rest on hers.

"Well, Minerva, no one says you have to go as yourself. Have you already forgotten that I, P28, am a master of illusion?"

"This I don't doubt, but even with your skills, surely, someone on the Coast would see through -"

"Don't be so sure." P28's countenance beams with self-assurance. "You are presumed dead, after all, so no one is exactly expecting you there. And, with the right disguise..." P28 taps the side of her head, indicating she has a plan. "After all, there is someone in this world whose aura, soul signature... even looks are as close a match to yours as we could hope for."

"My sister..." Minerva's eyes light up. "YES! Marion and I are very similar, aren't we? Even if someone sensed a bit of me from her, they'd just think it's our blood relationship -"

"And not only that... your souls are inextricably bound by the infamous incident of Halloween, 2012."

"Wait..." Minerva casts a suspicious gaze on P28. "That incident is infamous in Fizzytopia, yes. But rarely heard outside of it. How did you...?"

"I do my research, Minerva. You know that." P28 laughs. Minerva couldn't help but sense something more to P28's interest, but lets her suspicions go for the moment. Sighing deeply, Minerva grabs hold of her resolve.

"Very well... Bia is waiting outside - terrifying the customers, no doubt." Minerva seems to chuckle inwardly at the thought. "I will fetch her, and we will go... to Sludge Wave Coast. Are we all agreed?"

"Agreed," P28 says.
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Old 10-03-2021, 08:06 PM   #22
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P28 was all for the notion of enlisting the help of Terri's friends, and was all set for the three of them to head on out to Sludge Wave Coast at this very moment. Minerva, on the other hand, was vehemently opposed to the notion, to put it mildly. And Terri, personally, was not surprised. She already knew Minerva's name before setting foot in this nightclub today. She already knew the stories. And as such, she had a very shrewd suspicion as to why Minerva would not want to be recognized, especially by one particular resident of said town... so for Terri to have suggested getting her friends involved in this in the first place, then it stands to reason she did not share Minerva's opinion as to the advisability (or lack thereof) of this particular course of action.

Minerva instead readily latched onto P28's suggestion of disguising her as her sister Marion by way of the Zoroark's Illusion. The two being sisters, it made sense that it would be easy to disguise one as the other, even moreso due to the infamous events of Halloween 2012- even Terri nodded at the mention of the incident in question. It may have been before her time, but she knew the story well, being friends with one of the people who was involved. Not only did all this make Marion out to be the ideal disguise for Minerva, but also, to Minerva, the notion of heading into Sludge Wave Coast looking like anyone but herself seemed to be infinitely more appealing to her than showing up as-is, and not just because everyone there who knew her or knew of her believed her to be dead. But while a Zoroark's Illusion was a powerful, powerful thing... Terri couldn't help but wonder if it would be a foolproof solution. She herself had sensed something unusual as soon as she'd gotten close to P28 for the first time, before being properly introduced to the Zoroark, though Terri was rather perceptive to begin with... She, of course, wasn't about to blow Minerva's cover- she'd made a promise, and intended to keep it- but she wasn't entirely convinced that this was what Minerva should do.

Terri watched this exchange silently at first, her expression unreadable as she thought about all of this, keeping quiet until she had a good moment to speak up. "I get why you were against this idea," she finally said to Minerva. "And I will keep the promise I made as long as you want me to. All I'll say is, you should more seriously consider my words from earlier. I know what I said and I stand by it," she said simply, before picking up her glass and chugging what remained of her 3-berry smoothie. Satisfied with her beverage, seeming all the more at ease after having downed the last of it, Terri placed the glass gently back down on the counter, before standing up. "I'm ready to go when you two are," she stated. "You'll like Sludge Wave Coast. It's a very welcoming town."
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Old 10-03-2021, 09:58 PM   #23
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P28 regards Terri's quiet, unreadable expression with a slight, raised eyebrow. Though she certainly couldn't say for sure, the Zoroark in disguise sensed that her lie may not have gone over as well with her as she had hoped - not that it was fully a lie, of course. P28 was a master illusionist, and had been evaluated as such, back when she was well-fed, psychologically stable, and not deep in the throes of unassailable grief. Hiding these aspects of self beneath the veil took a lot of energy on her part - energy better spent on the veracity of her illusions. Were she feeling healthier, she could disguise Minerva as a rock and she could probably roll on through the Coast with no one noticing. But "healthier" was a state that P28 feared to be unattainable for as long as she lived.

Even so, the illusion would benefit from confidence on behalf of the target, and if Minerva faltered, P28 was sure to, as well. Fake it 'til you make it was an illusionist's motto, after all, and if she couldn't muster up genuine confidence, she would plaster the veneer of it over herself until it shone from within.

Minerva hangs her head, Terri's words weighing on her heart. "I don't doubt you stand by your words, but..."

"Of course we don't doubt it. My intel also seems to suggest that we will be met warmly. Isn't that right, Marion?" P28 winks.

"Right..." Minerva takes a deep breath. Looking back at the bartender, she realizes that they're eyeing P28's pocket... The group most certainly had pushed the limits of the gentle server's good graces, but perhaps Astrophel's cameo appearance was a step too far. The bartender seemed to be considering whether or not to say something, given P28's earlier outburst - Minerva places the appropriate amount of cash for the three women's orders, plus a generous tip. "Let's get out of your hair," she says with a wink, before making her way to the door, P28 following close behind.

EXIT: MINERVA
EXIT: P-028-CS
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Old 10-04-2021, 12:32 AM   #24
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P28 wasn't so sure that her feigned confidence in her illusory capabilities had been blindly accepted, though she didn't say anything, likely for the sake of Minerva not losing confidence in the idea herself. Terri wasn't thinking about any of this at the moment, though it had absolutely occurred to her that the illusion might not be a foolproof prospect. Even so, she would go with this for as long as it was feasible, and see where this course of action took them all. Right now, it seemed to be all she could realistically do.

Meanwhile, Terri tilted her head slightly as Minerva acknowledged that the former was standing by what she said. While it was clear Minerva wasn't doubting Terri's honesty, the fact remained that the former Banette still seemed to have some reservations about all of this. Not impossible to understand, Terri reasoned, though still sad to see all the same. It had been something of a surprise to Terri, to learn that Minerva was in fact alive, so she could only imagine how certain other people might react initially. She suspected it was that very thing Minerva might be trying very hard to not try and imagine. How things proceeded from here on in, Terri couldn't say. Even that which had told her ahead of time that she would meet Minerva tonight hadn't said anything beyond this. P28's arrival, the Lacunosa Nightwatch's interest here, the unpleasant cop, this insanity involving the cabin, that all had come as a complete surprise as it had been revealed to Terri. Well, OK, maybe one other thing had been said beforehand, but right now, Terri figured it might not be the right time to tell Minerva that Luna said to say hi.

No, indeed, right now was the right time to get the hell out, and sooner rather than later, for the bartender had his eye on P28's pocket. The pocket containing Astrophel the Gothita, who, save for being in aforementioned pocket, was disguised infinitely more poorly than P28. True enough, he had only stuck his head out of said pocket very briefly, but it only took one badly-timed instance to give it all away, and this was not the place for an outright, blatantly undisguised Pokémon to be clearly visible to staff. Yeah, Terri got the feeling that if they stuck around any longer, they might be asked to leave anyway, and that was the best case scenario. Terri, for one, was not willing to irritate the bartender in any case, especially recalling his apparent disagreement with the cop's questioning earlier. Minerva, likely coming to a similar conclusion, was quick to pay the bartender, complete with a generous tip, and she subsequently led the way out. P28 was not far behind, and indeed, neither was Terri. And so, the trio was off to Sludge Wave Coast. How things would go next... Terri had no clue. But it was likely to be very interesting, of that she felt she could be sure.
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Old 11-17-2021, 06:10 PM   #25
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Elijah sighed.

To most people in his situation, a club was one of the last places that they would want to go. It was far too noisy, crowded, and energetic to even consider it as a mental pit stop. But Elijah was not most people. He was more than a little desperate to take a breather, and as such when he stumbled across the club shortly after dropping off his Pokémon at the nearby Tree Grove, he treated it like he had just discovered the fountain of youth. It proved to be at least a mildly satisfying decision despite the atmosphere, the walls of the Wallflower Pub muffling the rhythmic four-by-four beats of the DJ's latest pick on the dance floor.

He had opted to not buy anything to eat or drink, instead losing himself in thought in the meantime. He welcomed it; there was a lot on his mind that he was trying to piece together after finally finding himself in a spot where he didn't have to worry about carrying the world as he knew it on his shoulders for at least a brief moment in time. And boy did he need it, as saying that a lot had happened to him over the past week was quite possibly the understatement of the century.

Elijah leaned forwards, resting his elbow on the table and propping his head up with his right hand. Day one, he'd been doing busywork to try and score a place to stay for the night. Day two, he was stopping a team of poachers in their undersea tracks. Day three, he was confronting a corrupted Arceus of all things. Day four, he tried to take a vacation but it didn't exactly end well. Days five and six... everything was such a blur that he couldn't even recall what he was doing then.

He entertained the thought of throwing in the towel then and there, but forced it to the back of his mind a few seconds later; he was several thousand miles away from home and he didn't know what would happen if he broke all the promises that he made to his friends. Not to mention the fact that he was ever so slightly going incognito to avoid drawing the ire of... well, that was definitely a different topic for a different time.

Another sigh. Elijah leaned backwards this time, staring at the air ducts snaking around the ceiling. They looked like they went on forever, almost like his own journey, but he knew that they eventually stopped somewhere. Would he end up facing the end of his own journey eventually? That was yet another thing that he'd have to come to terms with.

Needless to say, the novice Pokémon Trainer wasn't exactly having a good day.
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