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Old 07-04-2022, 12:42 PM   #126
Marion Ette
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Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

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Marion Ette - Something about watching Minerva and Oroitz banter seems to touch the fair Lady’s heart, as even after administering such a grim task, she finds it in her to have a bit of laughter.

“I must say, you two certainly make an interesting pair. I would love to talk more over tea, but for now I’ll simply keep it warm until you return,” she remarks with a kindling warmth in her voice, adding a curtsey as she sees both of them out the door.

As Minerva leaves Darning’s abode, she finds Bunnelby sitting atop the railing outside. Rather than listening in on their conversation, they seem somewhat preoccupied with staring up into the sky—for hanging up above is a gibbous moon, whose azure gleam is blotched by the passing of dark clouds.

Consequently, the human’s return proves to be a bit of a startle—the moment they hear her voice, they let out a shrill scream as they rocket into the air, nearly colliding their stuffed noggin against a low-hanging branch. Thankfully, the critter she went to such extremes to save neither knocks themselves out, nor falls to their (presumed) demise before she can even ask for directions, let alone guidance.

“O-Oh! I didn’t expect you back so soon!” Bunnelby says, standing at attention as they listen to Minerva explain the situation. Of course, the news that they’re going to be repairing Mightyena is taken with a bit of trepidation, as the rabbit’s foot begins to thump anxiously against the balcony, perhaps uncontrollably.

“Well, I suppose if that’s what Lady Darning wants, then I’ll help you out...” they respond with a sigh, turning towards the rope that leads back down to the forest floor, “the meadow’s not too far from here, just follow me like you did before and we’ll be there in two shakes!”

---

The trek through the woods is rather uneventful—much to do, and little time for idle sightseeing. Dodging snagging roots and slippery moss, Bunnelby leads Minerva downhill from the Lady’s domain, until eventually they break through the treeline once more...

A large clearing stretches out before her, now. Wherever her eyes look, the rolling hills are awash in flowers, with only a handful of trees breaking the immaculate scene. Though the darkness saps at their hues, she can tell by the moonlight that their colors are both varied and vibrant, a fact only highlighted by the surreal palette that paints this world.

Yet, it seems her search for some daffodil will not be so easy as to just pluck it from the earth. When Minerva takes her first steps within the meadow, she notices that the flowers around her seem to recoil in her presence. Stems droop, petals wilt and become dull in color, rendering them useless for picking. As if to spite her further, the moment she gains some distance from them, they all seem to return to full health.

After some wandering through the withering lea, a pungent aroma hits Minerva’s nostrils from upwind. A heady mixture of floral and spiced scents, it reminds her of a strong mead, or perhaps a smidge too much riesling. Whatever it is, it’s the type of smell that isn’t easily shed.

Ah! Off in the distance, she spots another craftwork Pokemon sitting beneath a lone tree. Even from afar, she notices that the creature’s squat body is not like the others she’s encountered. It shimmers in the moonlight like glass, and in fact, the nearer she draws, the more she realizes that the creature itself seems to have been crafted from a perfume bottle. Oversized felt petals are clipped around the stem of the bottle, mottled with sewn-on spots of eclectic sizes.

It’s hard to tell, given its eyes are literally just glassy beads crudely glued onto the side of the bottle, but given its lack of reaction to Minerva’s approach, the smelly thing seems to be sleeping.

What will she do?
Minerva smirks slightly at the Lady's choice of adjectives to describe her relationship with Oroitz. "Interesting" was a loaded word - one which did not inherently imply good or ill, but which could carry significant weight one way or the other, depending on context - and, when it came to her bond with the cranky crow, observations of their bond ran the gamut of implicit definitions. There were days when their strange, yet undeniable closeness inspired interest in others, as something to emulate - and days when their disagreements made it very "interesting" that they somehow managed to stay friends in spite of it all.

Oroitz preens himself with irritation, clearly ready to take Lady Darning's comment in the most bad-faith interpretation he can imagine, before Minerva cuts him off -

"Thank you, Lady Darning - I very much look forward to our tea. If it pleases you, Oroitz and I could tell you all about our travels together."

"Yes, yes. I'm sure it will be lovely." Oroitz makes an impatient motion with his wing, imploring Minerva to end the conversation. "Let's be off, then."

"Right. We'll be back as soon as we can," Minerva takes the hint, giving a quick, yet respectful bow to the Leavanny as a show of appreciation for her hospitality, before leaving her abode to meet up with Bunnelby, whose contemplations of the moon are interrupted by their early return - leading to the poor creature screaming and jumping in fright, head hovering mere inches from an overhead branch.

"Apologies for startling you," Minerva begins, breathing a small sigh of relief that the bunny's leap didn't end with a concussion. She then provides a detailed, yet succinct explanation of all that transpired in their discussion with Lady Darning, including their plan to repair Mightyena - a plan which, understandably, makes poor Bunnelby quite visibly anxious. Still, the plush rabbit reluctantly agrees to assist the pair on their quest, beginning with Daffodil petals from the Meadow.

---

As the duo follow Bunnelby through the woods, Oroitz recites their path softly to himself, recalling snippets he read in the Archives.

"A grove of fallen trees, a meadow atop the hills, a misty waterfall, and a mossy cave... finally, a large tree, where something magical happens." He turns to Minerva, eyeing her carefully. "You recognize it, do you not?"

"That's the path Lady Darning asked us to follow, right?" Minerva responds, sensing that Oroitz expected something more... but upon searching her memory and finding nothing, she shrugs her shoulders, to the Honchkrow's immediate anger.

"I knew it," he hisses, swirling around Minerva's head in close circles. "You had an episode and did not think to inform me, hm? Oh, I KNEW this was a terrible idea. We should get you home right this-"

Before he can continue his rant, however, Minerva darts off, having spotted an abundance of flowers through the treeline which look ripe for picking. Oroitz shakes his head and follows with no shortage of grumbling under his breath, though these muted grumbles quickly become clearly-voiced exclamations of frustration in response to the behavior of the blossoms surrounding them. Seeming to recoil at their very presence, they drain of color - only to restore themselves to their bright, beautiful selves the moment Minerva was out of reach.

Minerva's shoulders slump, her expression turning sullen; she cannot help but feel a strange sense of rejection from the flowers, as if they were shunning her. Oroitz, sensing her drop in mood, returns to his place on her shoulder and rests his head on hers. He coos softly, encouraging her to keep her spirits up. The young woman lifts her head proudly with her friend's encouragement, and in doing so, catches a whiff of a pungent scent off in the distance. The trainer decides to follow her nose, the scent leading her to another craftwork Pokémon. This particular species seems to be crafted of glass and felt, a perfume bottle serving as the basis for the creature's body. Despite being unable to read the creature's expression, its lack of reaction seemed to imply that it was sleeping... Minerva couldn't help but wonder what kind of dreams such a creature would have. Did craftwork Pokémon dream of plush Mareep? Minerva could only wonder.

"It would be rude to disturb them," Oroitz remarks in a whisper.

"What choice do we have?" Minerva responds, in the same quiet tone. "We don't have the luxury of time. We can't just sit and wait until it wakes up." With a sigh, Minerva carefully kneels in front of the glass creature, speaking gently, but audibly.

"I'm so sorry to wake you," Minerva starts, "But we're friends of Lady Darning's, and we are trying to assist her with something. Would you be willing to help us pick daffodils in the meadow so that we can be on our way and leave you to your rest?"
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Old 07-07-2022, 09:19 PM   #127
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Missingno. Master - Ekans rears his head back and lets out an intimidating hiss—he may be a Little Cup contestant in comparison to his foes, but even a Fighting-type like Machoke knows better than to discount those venomous fangs!

Maribel relays her orders, and her Pokemon spring into action! Draconic flames wreath the poisonous snake as he lunges forward, whipping his foes with the full force of a Breaking Swipe!

Machoke throws her arms up to block, but the blow lands with enough force to make her go staggering back! The flames burn away at her very strength, working in tandem with his intimidating presence to undo the benefit of her Curse.

Mr. Mime, on the other hand, is completely unphased. The fell flame meant nothing to a Fairy-type, rendering the tail null against him. Looking smug as he mimes swatting away a mosquito, he conveniently leaves his guard wide open for Ekans to coil around him!

Of course, he’s not the only one interested in mimicry, here—Koffing enjoys Machoke's opening move so much, she decides to take it for herself! Filling her body with eerie power, she barrels forward through the air with sparks pouring from her, well, pores!

As she crashes into Machoke, Maribel can hear someone from the crowd yell out:

SMAAAASH!!

Observing her opponents, Maribel notices right away that they seem bewildered by her Pokemon’s attacks. Breaking Swipe, Zippy Zap... They fall upon the guard’s ears as though they’re some arcane incantation.

Even so, a couple of strange attacks won’t cause them to yield just yet! Owing to the obvious experience gap between their Pokemon, Machoke and Mr. Mime are still standing strong—the clown a little more than the bodybuilder, granted, but not for long if Ekans keeps squeezing the life out of him.

“A guard never leaves themselves without a shield! Use your signature move, Mr. Mime, and lay these foul things to rest!”

Unable to power his way out of his bonds, Mr. Mime instead waggles his fingers to work his magic. A plume of smoke erupts around him, spurring Ekans to coil tighter to prevent his prey from slipping out... wait, what is this!? Why is Mr. Mime all fuzzy and squishy!?

As the smoke clears, Maribel can clearly see a Substitute doll in her Pokemon’s grip. In those crucial moments of Confusion, she spots a psychic aura wracking Koffing’s body and mind!

“Form up! Machoke, soften them up with Leer, then hit the serpent with your strongest attack!”

Cracking her knuckles together, Machoke shoots the Poison-types a deathly glare. She lumbers forward, then breaks out into a full-on sprint. Her arm pulls back, pouring every ounce of her strength into a single strike! Surely, nothing can withstand the power of her Mega Punch!

These guards are no mere random encounters, that’s for sure. With just a single move each, Ekans and Koffing both come out looking Injured—not in immediate danger, but if their opponents are allowed to empower themselves further, it could be trouble.

How will Maribel respond?

Last edited by ShadowDRGN; 07-07-2022 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 07-08-2022, 08:35 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by ShadowDRGN View Post
Missingno. Master - Ekans rears his head back and lets out an intimidating hiss—he may be a Little Cup contestant in comparison to his foes, but even a Fighting-type like Machoke knows better than to discount those venomous fangs!

Maribel relays her orders, and her Pokemon spring into action! Draconic flames wreath the poisonous snake as he lunges forward, whipping his foes with the full force of a Breaking Swipe!

Machoke throws her arms up to block, but the blow lands with enough force to make her go staggering back! The flames burn away at her very strength, working in tandem with his intimidating presence to undo the benefit of her Curse.

Mr. Mime, on the other hand, is completely unphased. The fell flame meant nothing to a Fairy-type, rendering the tail null against him. Looking smug as he mimes swatting away a mosquito, he conveniently leaves his guard wide open for Ekans to coil around him!

Of course, he’s not the only one interested in mimicry, here—Koffing enjoys Machoke's opening move so much, she decides to take it for herself! Filling her body with eerie power, she barrels forward through the air with sparks pouring from her, well, pores!

As she crashes into Machoke, Maribel can hear someone from the crowd yell out:

SMAAAASH!!

Observing her opponents, Maribel notices right away that they seem bewildered by her Pokemon’s attacks. Breaking Swipe, Zippy Zap... They fall upon the guard’s ears as though they’re some arcane incantation.

Even so, a couple of strange attacks won’t cause them to yield just yet! Owing to the obvious experience gap between their Pokemon, Machoke and Mr. Mime are still standing strong—the clown a little more than the bodybuilder, granted, but not for long if Ekans keeps squeezing the life out of him.

“A guard never leaves themselves without a shield! Use your signature move, Mr. Mime, and lay these foul things to rest!”

Unable to power his way out of his bonds, Mr. Mime instead waggles his fingers to work his magic. A plume of smoke erupts around him, spurring Ekans to coil tighter to prevent his prey from slipping out... wait, what is this!? Why is Mr. Mime all fuzzy and squishy!?

As the smoke clears, Maribel can clearly see a Substitute doll in her Pokemon’s grip. In those crucial moments of Confusion, she spots a psychic aura wracking Koffing’s body and mind!

“Form up! Machoke, soften them up with Leer, then hit the serpent with your strongest attack!”

Cracking her knuckles together, Machoke shoots the Poison-types a deathly glare. She lumbers forward, then breaks out into a full-on sprint. Her arm pulls back, pouring every ounce of her strength into a single strike! Surely, nothing can withstand the power of her Mega Punch!

These guards are no mere random encounters, that’s for sure. With just a single move each, Ekans and Koffing both come out looking Injured—not in immediate danger, but if their opponents are allowed to empower themselves further, it could be trouble.

How will Maribel respond?
The battle had well and truly gotten underway! Ekans's Breaking Swipe forced Machoke to stagger backwards, though Mr. Mime was unfazed. If anything, all the Breaking Swipe did to it was make it smugly mime the action of swatting away a bug. This moment of overconfidence, however, was exactly the opening Maribel had been hoping for- an opening for Ekans to coil around the mime, incapacitating it with Wrap!

Koffing, meanwhile, use Curse just like Machoke had done, though followed it up with a powerful move in Zippy Zap. Benefiting from Koffing's heightened Attack power, and since the move always struck first and for a critical hit, it totally ignored Koffing's reduced Speed and Machoke's increased Defense! Maribel had well and truly thought out her opening moves, and indeed, she observed that her opponents were good and bewildered. Particularly, she noticed, as she called out certain attack names. Breaking Swipe and Zippy Zap didn't seem to be moves the guards knew anything about... moves, perhaps, not coded into the game? Well, at least they were working well enough regardless.

That said, the guards weren't just gonna stand there and take it. They gave quite vague commands, but the Machoke and Mr. Mime knew damn well how to respond. Mr. Mime had managed to slip out of Ekans's grasp with a Substitute attack, and then Koffing took a super effective Confusion attack! Meanwhile, Machoke fixed the pair of Poison-types with a frightening Leer, before smacking Ekans with a Mega Punch!

"Ekans! Koffing!" Maribel called, her Pokémon reeling from the hits they just took. "Are you two OK?"

"...Ekanssss!" Ekans hissed determinedly, righting himself as he shook off the Mega Punch as best he could.

"Koff, Koffing!" Koffing chimed in, still floating steadily in midair.

"That's the spirit," grinned Maribel. As she said this, she was thinking fast. Ekans and Koffing had taken some considerable damage thus far, and while they weren't in any real trouble just yet, things could get all the worse if their opponents were allowed to power up even more...

...if they were allowed to power up...

It dawned on Maribel in a great, glorious flash of inspiration. From what she'd seen thus far, the guards loved their status moves, loved to set up! If this was gonna be a pattern moving forward in the battle, then surely their next commands would be for more moves cut from that mold- more moves for setting up, boosting power, all that good stuff. And she, Maribel, had the means to yoink that power right out of her opponents' grasp and make it her own.

"Ekans, use Snatch," she said in a bit of a whisper, loud enough for her Pokémon to hear at least. "Then hit Mr. Mime with a Stone Edge! Koffing, hit Machoke with another Zippy Zap, but then trap it with Fire Spin!" If indeed Maribel had figured out the general idea behind the guards' strategy, then Snatch was the perfect move- not only would it deprive the enemy of their own setup moves, but it would give all the benefits of said moves to Ekans instead!
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Old 07-14-2022, 10:11 PM   #129
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Marion Ette - Though hesitant, Minerva ultimately decides to approach the glass creature. After wading through the withering flowers, it perhaps comes as a relief to see that the craftwork Pokemon does not itself languish in her presence...

Her soft-spoken words cause the creature to stir, their body gently clinking against the bark at their back, “hmm? Who’s there...?” they ask in a pitchy, noble lady-like voice.

The perfumer’s gaze turns as Minerva explains her predicament. Whatever kind of Mareep they dream of, it seems they’re still leaping before her eyes for a few moments—at least, until the name Lady Darning comes up. The Pokemon’s felt petals burst into bloom, filling the air with a spritz of heady, rosy perfume.

“Oh! You’re helping the mistress make some Spirit Thread, then?” they ask, tilting their head-for-a-body to look over the woman’s shoulder. The trail of wilt that the flowers were still recovering from captures their attention, “mm, the flowers are shy around you, are they? Hold still for a moment, dear—”

Suddenly, the Pokemon brushes one of their petals against her arm. Their reaction is almost instant, as though the mere touch of her skin repelled the saccharine creature, leaving them stunned as a disturbing revelation dawns on their face, “oh, my! Well that explains it... oh... how to put this... I think the flowers are hiding away from you because you reek so terribly of blood.”

Leaving that rather blunt assessment hanging in the air, the creature begins pacing back-and-forth beneath the tree. They mutter unintelligibly to themselves, occasionally stealing glances at the strange woman and her crow. They seem well and truly rattled by the gruesome vibe they gleaned from Minerva’s ‘scent’, but it’s clear that Lady Darning’s wishes are quite important to them, as well.

“No... No... Maybe... Yes... Yes, that should work...”

After a painful amount of deliberation, the craftwork Pokemon turns to Minerva once more, “I’m afraid you’ll have to pick the daffodils yourself. The ingredients are fickle about being handed off to someone who didn’t work for them, you see,” they explain, “ah, but I can still help you! Just a few drops of my perfume, and that noxious stench will all but disappear!”

It’s a neat-and-tidy solution, but Minerva can tell that an asterisk is just waiting to tack itself onto the end of that statement. In 3... 2... 1...

“Ah, but you haven’t stopped by the waterfall yet, have you? The fellow living there can’t stand my concoctions, absolutely flips their lid. I’d imagine they’d be all over your... natural aroma, though,” they add, visibly wincing at the thought.

And with that, it seems Minerva has a choice to make: A hassle now, or a hassle later?
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Old 07-24-2022, 10:43 PM   #130
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ShadowDRGN - Gossifleur's true passion shines through in the elegant twirls and practiced, spirited leaps of her pen across paper, the sketch appearing more like a choreographed dance in her graceful hand. Her eyes gleam with inspiration, her formerly daydreamy expression replaced with determination. In sharp contrast to her previous blushing and giggling, she doesn't even so much as smile at Goto's little joke about capturing his good side; instead, she regards the tailor with complete concentration, her face as motionless as her pen is wild. Seems Goto's instincts were right about the little actress' heart being elsewhere - instincts which were likely drawn from his own childhood experiences.

At the return of the mysterious tape measurer, and Flabebe's sudden reaction, Goto springs from motionless model to man of action, releasing Mercury and Hanten without hesitation. Just as Goto assumes a defensive stance behind the wedding cake, the Clefairy and Snorunt are given orders to raise their defenses and evasion, respectively, with Cosmic Power and Double Team. The clothier was not one to attack without sufficient provocation, but he was also certainly not one to be caught unprepared. Mercury's twinkling, protective glow, coupled with Hanten's ninja-like speed and evasiveness, makes the trio's intentions clear; they would not simply ignore the unseen phenomenon stalking them. Attempting to catch sight of said phenomenon, Goto is unable to see the creature clearly from his vantage point, but he can see what appears like a small, translucent branch...

Gossifleur doesn't miss a beat, repositioning herself to get a better angle of Goto and his Pokémon. Undeterred by the motion and light, she fervently continues her task, while Goto catches the sound of Flabebe arguing behind the stage with a voice... The first voice in this place that Goto understands.

"My loveliest of blossoms, there's no need for you to strain your voice so with such terrible shouting! We are very much behind the deadline, and - ACK, there's really no need for me to waste time making introductions. Besides, it is excellent pra - OUCH - practice for creating intrigue, which you KNOW I - AH! Oh, fine, just let me get dressed and prepare a little something for - please, please don't tug on the kimono! It took me ages to - ow! Oh, fine, you can tug on the branch, just not the lea - ow - OW!"

The sound of the voice draws the attention of the entire Pokécrew, who immediately stop what they're doing and gather around to witness the dramatic entrance - which is more of a dramatically unceremonious dragging by Flabebe of one of the branches attached to the head of a small Phantump, who happens to be dressed in one of the most beautifully designed kimonos that Goto has ever seen. Rich, royal purple fabric embroidered meticulously with designs of acanthus and heliotrope, without a single stitch out of place. The kaku obi has been cut and embroidered to resemble ivy wrapping around the little ghost's waist, the fabric bearing the same sheen of foliage - the threads resembling veins. Despite the awe-inspiring garb, however, the little Phantump's sheepish, guilty expression is a bit less inspiring. Even so, all the Pokémon of the film's crew seem pleased at this Pokémon's appearance, despite the indignity of his entrance. The Phantump seems to be carrying a package of some sort, wrapped in the same fabric as his elegant kimono.

With a satisfied smirk, Flabebe lets go of the Phantump and makes a motion to Goto, speaking quickly in her native language to the ghostly grass type, who nods in understanding.

"Most sincere apologies, my mortal friend..." the Phantump begins, bowing deeply in Goto's direction. "My intent was to instill curiosity, not fear. Please, I mean you no harm." He pauses a moment, nodding to Flabebe. "My lovely co-star here tells me that you are the screenwriting assistant we sent for, and that your work thus far has been most impressive."

How will Goto and his team respond?
A potent mixture of vigilant focus and confusion paints Goto’s face as he carefully peers out from behind the banquet table. He’d caught the branch in his periphery just a few moments ago, but the sneaky little bastard isn’t making a move...

Before he can prolong the standoff, however, a voice catches his attention—a human voice, or at least something that can mimic one. He briefly wonders if they were playing another sample for him, but he quickly rules out the thought. No... he can feel the sound reverberate throughout the stage in a way that a recording never would.

The rather one-sided bickering disarms the tailor, who stands up just as the well-dressed perpetrator is dragged out into the limelight. As it turns out, his hidden admirer is Trevenant Wiseoak himself... or perhaps more accurately: Phantump Wiseoak.

Realizing that the illustrious director is under the pen-name equivalent of a fake ID, Goto finds himself with his face in his hand, chuckling the hardest he’s ever had in years. Of course, part of that laughter is reserved for himself, reacting so seriously to such a stupid, yet fascinating twist. A Pokemon that can talk like a human—no matter how many times he encounters it, it never seems truly out of the realm of a manga.

Then again, even this biographical world is penned in pulp, so perhaps it’s best to just go with it.

“It’s no trouble, Mr. Wiseoak,” Goto replies, motioning for his own very confused Pokemon to stand down. He turns back to Phantump, a wily grin still plastered upon his face, “my little stunt isn’t going on the blooper reel, is it?”

Beneath his calm promptness, though, he can still feel his nerves tingling, his fingers twitching against an invisible trigger. Part of him also wants to break character, and warn the little Ghost-type that if there’s one thing he should never do, it’s sneak up on him. Even so, this feeling will pass, and he figures that Flabebe’s already talked some sense into his ear about frightening his guests.

The man bows deeply, intent on letting small talk take his mind off the incident, “Giuseppe Goto. Apologies for making you come to me, but I was passing by and thought I should introduce myself to your crew.”

As he rises, Goto finds his eyes drawn to the Phantump’s kimono once more. Having primed himself with that affront to god he saw on the book’s cover, it comes as a shock to him to see the Pokemon adorned in something so... masterful. He’s captivated intensely by the way that the flowers are so elegantly depicted, their cool violets and sea-greens evoking the rich meaning of each plant: Toxic beauty, around which a crown of thorns is woven to commemorate sin and rebirth.

“I have to say... I’m more than a little impressed by your kimono,” he utters. There’s a distinct humbleness in his voice, the tailor too caught up in admiring the dress to engage in his usual acerbic ways, “and judging by your presence earlier... would I be correct in assuming it’s your own design?”

Last edited by ShadowDRGN; 07-24-2022 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 07-29-2022, 01:47 PM   #131
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Missingno. Master - Honing in on the guards’ status-based strategy, Maribel whispers a devilish idea to Ekans, masking it beneath the loudness of her other orders. The trap’s been set; now to see if these guards are really that predictable...

Koffing launches herself forward in a shower of sparks, clearly aiming to strike the finishing blow on an injured Machoke! The muscular Pokemon narrows her eyes, wisened to the girl’s strange off-type attacks—a look she shares with her Trainer, as well.

“Machoke! Dodge it with Detect, and pump yourself up for a one-shot kill!!”

Ack! Machoke’s eye gleams a moment before impact, and the Pokemon flawlessly sidesteps the incoming Poison-type like a matador dueling a Tauros! As if taunting Maribel and her Pokemon, she flexes her muscles hard enough to make them bulge—but what’s this!?

No matter how hard she tries to Focus Energy, she doesn’t feel anything change! Leaving herself wide open yet again, Koffing turns around and unleashes a torrent of fire from her pores! The flames encircle her foe, slowly sapping her strength, and making an emergency switch-out impossible.

Having stolen away the enemy’s buff, Ekans wastes no time putting it to use! He whips his tail forward, shredding through Mr. Mime’s Substitute with a salvo of razor-sharp stones! Clouds of stuffing fall upon the hall like snow, amping up the crowd as the Psychic-type becomes visible again, and much to the dismay of his Trainer.

“She tore through it in one hit!? Quickly, Mr. Mime! Send that snake to sleep and make it fear your Dream Eater!”

As the dust settles, Ekans sees Mr. Mime emerge from the debris, swinging his hands back-and-forth like a pendulum. Using the powers of Hypnosis, he lulls Maribel’s Pokemon to rest his head and sleep. The clown smirks impishly, closing his hands like he’s holding a fork and knife. As he mimes the action of twirling pasta, he sucks up a pastel-colored mist from the sleeping serpent’s mind—sweet dreams for the taking!

The draining attack leaves Ekans Badly Injured and fast Asleep! It seems they’re far from out of this fight, and more equipped to handle their tactics being used against them than Maribel thought!

What are your orders?
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Old 07-29-2022, 07:52 PM   #132
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Missingno. Master - Honing in on the guards’ status-based strategy, Maribel whispers a devilish idea to Ekans, masking it beneath the loudness of her other orders. The trap’s been set; now to see if these guards are really that predictable...

Koffing launches herself forward in a shower of sparks, clearly aiming to strike the finishing blow on an injured Machoke! The muscular Pokemon narrows her eyes, wisened to the girl’s strange off-type attacks—a look she shares with her Trainer, as well.

“Machoke! Dodge it with Detect, and pump yourself up for a one-shot kill!!”

Ack! Machoke’s eye gleams a moment before impact, and the Pokemon flawlessly sidesteps the incoming Poison-type like a matador dueling a Tauros! As if taunting Maribel and her Pokemon, she flexes her muscles hard enough to make them bulge—but what’s this!?

No matter how hard she tries to Focus Energy, she doesn’t feel anything change! Leaving herself wide open yet again, Koffing turns around and unleashes a torrent of fire from her pores! The flames encircle her foe, slowly sapping her strength, and making an emergency switch-out impossible.

Having stolen away the enemy’s buff, Ekans wastes no time putting it to use! He whips his tail forward, shredding through Mr. Mime’s Substitute with a salvo of razor-sharp stones! Clouds of stuffing fall upon the hall like snow, amping up the crowd as the Psychic-type becomes visible again, and much to the dismay of his Trainer.

“She tore through it in one hit!? Quickly, Mr. Mime! Send that snake to sleep and make it fear your Dream Eater!”

As the dust settles, Ekans sees Mr. Mime emerge from the debris, swinging his hands back-and-forth like a pendulum. Using the powers of Hypnosis, he lulls Maribel’s Pokemon to rest his head and sleep. The clown smirks impishly, closing his hands like he’s holding a fork and knife. As he mimes the action of twirling pasta, he sucks up a pastel-colored mist from the sleeping serpent’s mind—sweet dreams for the taking!

The draining attack leaves Ekans Badly Injured and fast Asleep! It seems they’re far from out of this fight, and more equipped to handle their tactics being used against them than Maribel thought!

What are your orders?
The battle raged on, with Machoke using Detect to evade Koffing's Zippy Zap, but her subsequent attempt at Focus Energy was taken away by Ekans's Snatch! Maribel grinned as the Snake Pokémon focused, sharpening his senses. Weak spots would now be easier for him to strike, and he proved this pretty well by letting fly a Stone Edge that cut through Mr. Mime's Substitute like a knife through extremely misdirecting butter. Maribel's grin widened at this, and Ekans looked more than a little pleased with himself as well. Between this, and Koffing managing to trap Machoke in a Fire Spin, things were looking to be going Maribel's way!

Alas, this wasn't to last, for Mr. Mime took the opportunity to attack. Hypnosis and Dream Eater, a classic combination. Simple yet effective. In this case, simple yet super effective. In no time at all, Ekans was fast asleep, and took major damage from Mr. Mime's Dream Eater attack. "Ekans!" Maribel exclaimed.

"Koffing..." Koffing murmured, glancing over at her teammate in worry.

"Koffing, don't worry about Ekans, I got this," Maribel declared, already digging through her bag. This search took but a few seconds before Maribel triumphantly produced the object she had been searching for- a Blue Flute. Wasting no time, she put the instrument to her mouth and began to play some classic Poké Flute music. Even though what she played it on wasn't an actual Poké Flute, it still served the same purpose, and thus would surely awaken Ekans in an instant.

Maribel grinned, ready to seize back control of the battle with both of her Pokémon raring to go once more. "Now, Ekans- Stone Edge!" she commanded, gesturing towards Mr. Mime. After seeing the carnage that ensued when that move had hit the Substitute, the same move hitting the mime itself was bound to cause some serious damage! Then, she turned her attention to Machoke, who was still trapped in an incendiary vortex. She and Koffing exchanged glances and grins- both knew what the next move here would be. "Koffing, use your Smog attack!" Maribel called out, gesturing towards Machoke. "Then follow up with Revenge!"

Koffing grinned, preparing to comply. She knew full well what Maribel was looking to accomplish here- the poisonous gases of a Smog attack tended to react in an explosive manner to fire. So by sending a cloud of such gases towards a Machoke engulfed in swirling flames (and subsequently backing up a bit after sending said Smog soaring, as a safety precaution), Koffing had just set the stage for an explosive combination, the fuel for which was literally surrounding Machoke at this very minute. And the Revenge was a good way to turn any damage Koffing herself might take this time around into an advantage. The guards were proving themselves to be more and more capable as time went on, but Maribel and her Pokémon weren't about to fall short in that department, either! And if the grin on Maribel's face was anything to go by, the young Trainer was enjoying herself immensely.
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Old 08-03-2022, 08:58 PM   #133
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Elijah stood just beyond the door that separated the world outside from the seemingly infinite halls of the Djinn's Archives. Ornately carved pillars of wood towered high above him as they plowed into the ceiling several stories up, befitting of a library of this caliber. A lone woman sat at an equally wooden and embellished desk up ahead; the former head of a group called the Ribs, if the travel guide that Elijah had been reading was correct.

"k so y r we here again?" A message flew in from the bottom of Ion's screen. Elijah was savvy enough to mute the Rotom beforehand, forcing them into a text-only mode so that they wouldn't disrupt anyone who might have been browsing the library.

He responded with a few taps on the phone's virtual keyboard: "because I just wanted to check it out? I mean since I'm going to be staying here I might as well see what's out here."

"a library? srsly? idk bro its just books." Ion wasn't too happy about this, in addition to losing the ability to speak.

"did I mention that this library has a thing where you can, like, be inside them?"

"o_O

"im in lets see wat we can find"

With Ion appeased for now, Elijah turned his gaze away from his phone and looked at the directory on the wall. Different categories of books were cordoned off into their own respective departments, of course, but each one was labeled with an extra line, presumably detailing the types of experiences that each one held within. The world history and technical studies sections were rather straightforward, but a few held rather interesting promises: fiction offered unpredictability, the arts for those who wanted something more extreme, and the philosophy section... well, he wasn't going near that one any time soon.

There was a lot to choose from—way too much for Elijah to decide on just one. Shrugging, he lifted up Ion so that they could see the directory for themselves. Ion was quick to catch on, and practically begged to go to the tech section; "its just natural 4 me", they added.

So here Elijah was, browsing shelves full of patents and textbooks and concepts that were well beyond his understanding, with a healthy dose of science fiction every here and there. His eyes scrolled through titles, passing on each one—did any of these actually appeal to him? He shrugged and peeked down a gap in between the suspiciously pristine shelves to spot a Beheeyem tending to them, and then returned to browsing. Letting loose a sigh, he eventually picked a few random titles off of the shelves and brought them to the table. Some of them definitely didn't look like exploration material, but at least that was enough to nip his indecision in the bud.

The phone-bound Ion vibrated in his pocket. "find anythin good?", their screen read.

"I have no idea, but I'm about to find out," Elijah responded, silently hoping that he actually did find a diamond in the rough of the massive archive.
blu3shift: Picking a book from the random selection you had gathered was tough. There were a few titles you could immediately rule out: The Creation of the First Pokédex sounded like a headache-you certainly didn't want to be constantly keeping Ion from crossing the timestreams by supplying your Pokédex data to the peoples of the ancient past, or anything like that. Also firmly put in the rejection pile was Torra Squadron: Dominion War. You were hardly any kind of soldier, but if the combination of the title and images on the cover were anything to go by, entering this text would land you in the middle of a brutal intergalactic conflict, which wasn't on your agenda for today. Though, you mused internally, going out into space would make for a very unique adventure that you certainly couldn't get anywhere else. Maybe it would even get Ion to behave, you mused, as the Rotom was clearly getting a little stir-crazy. With a goal in mind, you returned to your pile of selections, pushing aside titles that didn't seem to involve space, like Virals, Complete Guide to Plate Tectonics, and Evolution of Aircraft, before you came across another clearly galactic-themed text:

The Chronicle of the Silvalten Empire.

While the title itself gave no implications, the cover showed a futuristic emblem rising like a shadow over the form of a planet, a galaxy visible in the background. Oddly, the emblem seemed familiar, almost as if it depicted a Pokémon, but you couldn't place the thought at the moment. Well, now you were curious. And there weren't any space battles going on on the cover, so hopefully that meant this book was safer to enter than the Torra Squadron installment you had. Or even if there were battles, perhaps you could simply explore this galactic empire for a while without needing to be a soldier in this title. With your mind made up, you grabbed the book and looked for and quickly found the Beheeyem you saw earlier, who guided you to one of the receptacles that allowed one to enter their text of choice. You placed the copy of The Chronicle of the Silvalten Empire into it, and all at once, a glowing dimensional doorway opened before you. Instructing Ion to stay close and remain in your phone for now as strictly as you could manage, not wanting to get separated, the pair of you stepped through the portal.

On the other side, you were greeted with the vision of a fantastical world beyond your wildest dreams. The sky here was a rich golden color that reminded you of a sprawling wheat field, dotted with familiar white clouds that assured you this planet's atmosphere wasn't too different from Earth's, but the planet's surface was a whole other story. You were fortunate to have brought good shoes, because a shallow layer of water sprawled out around you for miles and miles, leaving you unsure of how it managed to not dry up under the bright and slightly greenish sun overhead. But what stood out even more was what both rose up from and was underneath the thin film of water. The jagged, craggy plain on which you stood, and the mesas you could see in the distance, seemed to be made out of a crystalline material, it's surface rough and uneven. The plains beneath your feet were a deep scarlet in color, and the lower parts of the mesas were as well. But the higher parts of the mesas had strata of lighter shades of red, oranges, yellows, and some of the highest seemed to glitter like gold at their tops, nearly but not quite blending into the sky above. In the distance, you could see Boldore and Gigalith going about their days, along with gaggles of Carbink and a few scattered Solrock and Lunatone, and when you took another look in the sky, you saw specks darting across it that you figured had to be Minior. Despite this, however, there was no sign of civilization as far as you could see. The portal had already closed up behind you as well, leaving you with nowhere to go. But before you could truly panic, you heard the sound of a loud CRACK from behind you. Both you and Ion whipped to face the source of the noise. A large spaceship had suddenly appeared in the sky, visibly bearing the crest from the book's cover, marking it as a Silvalten craft. While seemed to be heading for landing in your direction, its exact intentions were unknown.

What will you do?
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Old 08-04-2022, 12:52 AM   #134
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-snip-
An alien desert sprawled before Elijah, red crystal extending far into the wild tan yonder. Plateaus jutted out from the waterbound surface (at least, he hoped it was water; he wasn't about to check), massive mineral towers clad in gradients that faded to a glistening gold high above him. An emerald sun beat down on him, the heat momentarily distracting him from realizing that the atmosphere on this seemingly lifeless rock was, in fact, breathable. The smattering of clouds in the distance certainly helped to support this, if the fact that he was actively breathing wasn't enough already.

It sure wasn't a lifeless rock too, because it was teeming with rocks that were definitely not lifeless. Elijah could name pretty much all of them: Boldores and Gigaliths crawled in between the cliffs, Solrocks and Lunatones scattered in between, and... well... emphasis on "pretty much." The blue rock-rabbits that contrasted with the stark warm colors of the environment were absolutely foreign to him, almost mystifying him at how alien they were. He didn't hesitate to break out his Pokédex, though, just in case they weren't.

Ion was observant enough to automatically unmute themselves after they had realized that they were definitely not in the library anymore. "Oh, those? They're Lunatones. They're pretty interesting, actually! I hear that they're at their strongest during a full moon—"

"I'm talking about the blue ones."

"Ah. Gimme a sec." The phone's screen went blank for a few seconds while it accessed the database that Ion downloaded shortly before Elijah had left for the library earlier. Its screen populated with information shortly afterward.

"Okay, that's a Carbink. Those gems all over it aren't just for show, that's how they fire their laser beams. Oh, and get this—rumor has it that there's an entire colony with a queen buried underground somewhere. Not here, though. Definitely not here."

"Uh, cool. What type is it?"

"Oh, uh... Rock and Fairy."

Elijah paused for a second. He wasn't totally unfamiliar with the Fairy type, having had it drilled into his head while cramming for the trainer's license test, but actually seeing a Pokémon bearing the type came as a minor shock to him after only getting as far as memorizing the species that lived in Unova.

Ion was quick to pick up on Elijah's reaction. "Well, that's what it says! Don't ask me, I've never met one. By the way, where are we? This place looks sick."

"Dunno. I just, uh, looked at the cover and thought that this would be a little more relaxing and not ridiculous like everything else that I've been through lately."

Ion blinked. "Judging a book by its cover? Not cool, man. Not. Cool."

Elijah shrugged. "Well, I guess we could go back and check things out for a second. I mean it wouldn't hurt—wait, where's the portal?"

He had turned around to return to whence he came only to discover that his way out had disappeared on him. His eyes widened as he halfway suppressed the urge to freak out, looking at Ion while rapidly muttering a panicked "uh, what do we do now?"

"Well, what can we do? There's nothing around for miles."

No portal, no sign of civilization, no... anything. Elijah was essentially trapped on a planet that he'd never heard of with no way out. He wasn't a seasoned spacefarer, unfortunately; he was just some guy who kept getting into situations that were way bigger than he was used to. A sudden cracking noise startled Elijah out of his stupor, however. He turned to see a starship in the distance—the crest that he'd seen on the book's cover earlier emblazoned across it, falling from the skies to land somewhere, and definitely not just here to rescue him, even though it really sounded nice right now.

"Okay, don't panic, you have a plan, right Trainer?"

"...No. And don't call me 'trainer' again."

"Wait, wait—I've got an idea." Ion flew from Elijah's grasp and started flashing their screen.

Elijah gasped. Was Ion trying to put them in danger?! "What are you doing, you don't know what they're up to," he yelled over the increasingly loud noise of whatever crazy space engine the approaching spacecraft was running on. "Doesn't the word 'empire' mean anything to you?!"

"Well, they either help us or they kill us. Fifty-fifty's better than nothing, right?"

Elijah considered arguing against that—he wasn't comfortable with the concept of risking death again—but he eventually conceded after taking another glance at his surroundings and realizing that he truly didn't have a choice in the matter. He sighed, stepped back, and watched the Silvalten ship descend closer to the ground, hoping that he'd ended up on the side of the coin where it turned out that he wasn't about to get zapped by aliens that he quite literally judged by their cover.
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Old 08-04-2022, 04:06 PM   #135
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blu3shift: While you took some time to admire the scenery around you, as unfamiliar as you were with some of the local Pokémon species, you were eventually forced to confront the harsh reality that you had once again gotten in over your head once you realized the portal had disappeared. As Ion chided you for judging a book by its cover, you were more concerned with what you were meant to do in this situation, stranded on an alien planet with no means of survival, and no means of getting any. Even as the Silvalten ship appeared nearby, you felt that there was no way that it was there just to rescue you, your growing panic refusing to subside.

It was Ion who eventually took charge of the situation, floating up above you and flashing their screen in an attempt to signal the landing craft, despite your panicked protest. However, it would seem that either the signal went unnoticed, or that whoever was on board the craft didn't know any Morse Code. You braced yourself against the air currents whipped up as the ship simply landed nearby as it meant to do anyway, with no added sense of urgency. You remained on edge as a hissing sound preceded the opening of a hatch, and the extension of a boarding ramp from the craft. You could feel your heart pounding in your chest as the sound of footsteps came from within the ship. What actually came out, however, was unlike anything you had ever seen. Preceding the source of the footsteps was...a floating wall mural? Indeed, a cracked stone slab bearing the image of a winding, red grinning serpent was simply floating in the air. However, the purple eye of the serpent seemed to faintly glow, and once the slab set itself down on the planet's surface, several chunks seemed to break away, though you could see they were still threaded together by a wiry, black spectral form that vaguely reminded you of a Cofagrigus. You asked Ion for an ID, and were told that it was a Runerigus-a relative of the Cofagrigus you were familiar with, first observed in the Galar region.

More pressing, however, was what stood just a pace or two behind and beside the Runerigus. The figure before you was humanoid, sure, but where there would have been skin, there was instead purple, crablike shell that you imagined was just as tough as a Crustle's armor. Its head was likewise more crablike than humanlike, being flat and wide, devoid of hair, with two rather beady eyes at the front edges, and a mouth on its lower side, just below the eyes. Ion, startled, flitted behind you as the alien approached with heavy footfalls-either the alien or the space suit...uniform...outfit it wore seemed remarkably heavy. The crab alien said something to you in what felt like an interrogative tone, but you couldn't understand a word of it. Your expression of confusion likewise seemed to confuse the alien before you, as it fussed with something on its suit. Ion emerged from behind you, having gotten over their momentary shock, but that would prove to be a misstep. Upon sighting the Rotom-possessed phone, the alien visibly tensed. Before either of you could attempt to make conciliatory gestures, the crablike alien sharply ordered something of the Runerigus beside it. Its purple eye flashed, and you suddenly felt forced to your knees and immobilized. Ion, likewise, was frozen in place-had that been Disable? The crablike alien grabbed you roughly, and took Ion as well, dragging you both aboard the ship. Thanks to Disable, you couldn't even make a sound in protest. You could feel the Runerigus' eye on you as you were taken aboard, the crablike alien muttering something into what looked like a wrist communicator all the while, with more unintelligible speech coming from the other end.

Immobilized as you were, you couldn't exactly look around, but you could see other alien creatures populating the hallways in various shapes and sizes, though they all eyed you with clear suspicion and kept their distance. Granted, the fact that many of the species aboard looked intimidating in their own right made a fair bit of that wariness mutual. Eventually, you were placed in a room with a solitary table with two chairs, and what you suspected was a two-way mirror. An interrogation room, you realized. You were seated in the chair on the far side of the room, at which point you felt the effects of Disable lift from you, though you noticed that Ion had been set on the table, still Disabled. The crablike alien pointed at you, then gestured with its hands as if telling you to speak, though it was still fixing you with a pointed glare. Notably, though, your Bag, Ion's Poke Ball, and the Poke Balls containing your other Pokémon hadn't yet been taken from you.

What will you do?
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Old 08-04-2022, 05:59 PM   #136
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Marion Ette - Though hesitant, Minerva ultimately decides to approach the glass creature. After wading through the withering flowers, it perhaps comes as a relief to see that the craftwork Pokemon does not itself languish in her presence...

Her soft-spoken words cause the creature to stir, their body gently clinking against the bark at their back, “hmm? Who’s there...?” they ask in a pitchy, noble lady-like voice.

The perfumer’s gaze turns as Minerva explains her predicament. Whatever kind of Mareep they dream of, it seems they’re still leaping before her eyes for a few moments—at least, until the name Lady Darning comes up. The Pokemon’s felt petals burst into bloom, filling the air with a spritz of heady, rosy perfume.

“Oh! You’re helping the mistress make some Spirit Thread, then?” they ask, tilting their head-for-a-body to look over the woman’s shoulder. The trail of wilt that the flowers were still recovering from captures their attention, “mm, the flowers are shy around you, are they? Hold still for a moment, dear—”

Suddenly, the Pokemon brushes one of their petals against her arm. Their reaction is almost instant, as though the mere touch of her skin repelled the saccharine creature, leaving them stunned as a disturbing revelation dawns on their face, “oh, my! Well that explains it... oh... how to put this... I think the flowers are hiding away from you because you reek so terribly of blood.”

Leaving that rather blunt assessment hanging in the air, the creature begins pacing back-and-forth beneath the tree. They mutter unintelligibly to themselves, occasionally stealing glances at the strange woman and her crow. They seem well and truly rattled by the gruesome vibe they gleaned from Minerva’s ‘scent’, but it’s clear that Lady Darning’s wishes are quite important to them, as well.

“No... No... Maybe... Yes... Yes, that should work...”

After a painful amount of deliberation, the craftwork Pokemon turns to Minerva once more, “I’m afraid you’ll have to pick the daffodils yourself. The ingredients are fickle about being handed off to someone who didn’t work for them, you see,” they explain, “ah, but I can still help you! Just a few drops of my perfume, and that noxious stench will all but disappear!”

It’s a neat-and-tidy solution, but Minerva can tell that an asterisk is just waiting to tack itself onto the end of that statement. In 3... 2... 1...

“Ah, but you haven’t stopped by the waterfall yet, have you? The fellow living there can’t stand my concoctions, absolutely flips their lid. I’d imagine they’d be all over your... natural aroma, though,” they add, visibly wincing at the thought.

And with that, it seems Minerva has a choice to make: A hassle now, or a hassle later?
Fortunately for Minerva and Oroitz, the glass creature they've stumbled upon is quite friendly, and eager to help... Though, the ladylike craftwork's politeness falters slightly upon touching the woman's skin. Minerva's newest acquaintance in the Weaving Wood does not mince words when it comes to the problem at hand; Minerva, apparently, reeks of blood.

Upon hearing this, Minerva stands stunned for a moment, before looking at her hands with a dark expression, turning them over carefully. "Out, damned spot! Out, I say... All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

Oroitz flutters upward, landing gently on Minerva's palms, leaning his head against hers to steady her. "Be reasonable. Like as not, they reference your own blood. This is a world of plants, insects and craftwork, is it not? The living, human blood coursing through your veins is a rarity in this world, and that is likely what they..." Oroitz turns his head toward the craftwork perfumer, and shakes his head. "Sense. I doubt such creatures have traditional olfactory biology..."

Whether or not it is Oroitz or Minerva who has surmised the origin of the scent - the blood of the living, or that of the dead - it seems that there is a perfume that will sweeten Minerva's little hands, though it likely did not originate from Arabia. This easy solution to all their troubles seems a bit too easy to Minerva's cynical mind, and sure enough, there is a catch... The perfume might earn the friendship of the flowers, but the fellow living at the Waterfall would be most displeased by the scent.

At the description of a creature living in the water that would be "all over" Minerva's natural scent, the most dreadful, gory images of alligators, crocodiles and sharks play across Oroitz's mind. Shaking his head, he turns to Minerva.

"Take the perfume," he orders, and Minerva nods in agreement... Though she does so by encouraging Oroitz to take flight from her palms, extending her right hand to the glass Pokémon, while holding out the left as far away as possible.

"Oroitz, keep your distance. If you must stay by me, stay to my left. Do not stand or fly downwind of me. I will be picking flowers with my right hand, but as for the left..."

Oroitz tilts his head. "As for the left...?"

"When we get to the Waterfall, you'll know."

Oroitz nods, quietly. He'd already taken down one vicious, fanged predator in this world - if it was his lot to deal with another, then so be it, as long as Minerva would be safe.
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Old 08-04-2022, 07:00 PM   #137
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blu3shift: While you took some time to admire the scenery around you, as unfamiliar as you were with some of the local Pokémon species, you were eventually forced to confront the harsh reality that you had once again gotten in over your head once you realized the portal had disappeared. As Ion chided you for judging a book by its cover, you were more concerned with what you were meant to do in this situation, stranded on an alien planet with no means of survival, and no means of getting any. Even as the Silvalten ship appeared nearby, you felt that there was no way that it was there just to rescue you, your growing panic refusing to subside.

It was Ion who eventually took charge of the situation, floating up above you and flashing their screen in an attempt to signal the landing craft, despite your panicked protest. However, it would seem that either the signal went unnoticed, or that whoever was on board the craft didn't know any Morse Code. You braced yourself against the air currents whipped up as the ship simply landed nearby as it meant to do anyway, with no added sense of urgency. You remained on edge as a hissing sound preceded the opening of a hatch, and the extension of a boarding ramp from the craft. You could feel your heart pounding in your chest as the sound of footsteps came from within the ship. What actually came out, however, was unlike anything you had ever seen. Preceding the source of the footsteps was...a floating wall mural? Indeed, a cracked stone slab bearing the image of a winding, red grinning serpent was simply floating in the air. However, the purple eye of the serpent seemed to faintly glow, and once the slab set itself down on the planet's surface, several chunks seemed to break away, though you could see they were still threaded together by a wiry, black spectral form that vaguely reminded you of a Cofagrigus. You asked Ion for an ID, and were told that it was a Runerigus-a relative of the Cofagrigus you were familiar with, first observed in the Galar region.

More pressing, however, was what stood just a pace or two behind and beside the Runerigus. The figure before you was humanoid, sure, but where there would have been skin, there was instead purple, crablike shell that you imagined was just as tough as a Crustle's armor. Its head was likewise more crablike than humanlike, being flat and wide, devoid of hair, with two rather beady eyes at the front edges, and a mouth on its lower side, just below the eyes. Ion, startled, flitted behind you as the alien approached with heavy footfalls-either the alien or the space suit...uniform...outfit it wore seemed remarkably heavy. The crab alien said something to you in what felt like an interrogative tone, but you couldn't understand a word of it. Your expression of confusion likewise seemed to confuse the alien before you, as it fussed with something on its suit. Ion emerged from behind you, having gotten over their momentary shock, but that would prove to be a misstep. Upon sighting the Rotom-possessed phone, the alien visibly tensed. Before either of you could attempt to make conciliatory gestures, the crablike alien sharply ordered something of the Runerigus beside it. Its purple eye flashed, and you suddenly felt forced to your knees and immobilized. Ion, likewise, was frozen in place-had that been Disable? The crablike alien grabbed you roughly, and took Ion as well, dragging you both aboard the ship. Thanks to Disable, you couldn't even make a sound in protest. You could feel the Runerigus' eye on you as you were taken aboard, the crablike alien muttering something into what looked like a wrist communicator all the while, with more unintelligible speech coming from the other end.

Immobilized as you were, you couldn't exactly look around, but you could see other alien creatures populating the hallways in various shapes and sizes, though they all eyed you with clear suspicion and kept their distance. Granted, the fact that many of the species aboard looked intimidating in their own right made a fair bit of that wariness mutual. Eventually, you were placed in a room with a solitary table with two chairs, and what you suspected was a two-way mirror. An interrogation room, you realized. You were seated in the chair on the far side of the room, at which point you felt the effects of Disable lift from you, though you noticed that Ion had been set on the table, still Disabled. The crablike alien pointed at you, then gestured with its hands as if telling you to speak, though it was still fixing you with a pointed glare. Notably, though, your Bag, Ion's Poke Ball, and the Poke Balls containing your other Pokémon hadn't yet been taken from you.

What will you do?
Elijah was freaking out. Ion wasn't. He snatched the Rotom Phone out of the air as two figures emerged from the craft: a creature that looked like a Dwebble on two legs, and a few stones depicting some sort of other serpentine creature, held together by some sort of entity, its violet eye's piercing gaze unnerving him.

"Okay, if those are Carbinks, then what's that?" He looked back at Ion as the two did their business, distracting himself with a request for intel on the both of them.

"Oh, uh... that's a Runerigus. It evolves from Yamask—"

"Doesn't Yamask evolve into Cofagrigus?"

"Well, yeah, but the ones in Galar evolve into—"

"Wait, stop, what's that one supposed to be? Another Yamask?" Elijah pointed to what he thought was the Silvalten, raising his voice in frustration.

"Uh, nothing seems to be coming up for that one, so I think that might actually be an—"

Ion didn't need to finish that sentence, the alien proving themselves by stopping the bickering duo in their tracks. The phone shut off near instantaneously as it was taken by the carapaced creature. Elijah fell to his knees, paralyzed as he was dragged along as well into the vessel.

Fifty-fifty, huh, he thought to himself as hallways full of other species blurred by, shock keeping the world out of focus.

–––

The interrogation room was definitely a change of scenery: it wasn't welcome, but Elijah would have been wrong if it didn't bring him some relief that he wasn't about to be disintegrated. He glanced around the room: his phone was on the table, he still had his bag, and Crab-Man was aptly very crabby, pointing at him with narrowed eyes; the universal sign for "speak."

"Okay, you got any more ideas in your foolproof master plan?" Elijah whispered to Ion. The Rotom Phone remained completely motionless; a sure sign that they were still down because he wouldn't be hearing the end of it if they weren't. He still felt at least a little shock as he resigned to pocketing it for the time being, reassuring him that it wasn't completely dead, just... disabled, somehow.

Great, looks like they're still down, he thought, trying to come up with something to prove that he wasn't trying to steal from their mining colony or whatever was making them suspicious of him. Whatever was in his bag was definitely out of the question; his Poké Balls were probably fried as well and he didn't want to do anything even more incriminating. He eventually raised both of his arms up—the universal sign for "I surrender"—and responded the only way he knew how.

"...I'm lost."
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Old 08-05-2022, 01:01 AM   #138
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blu3shift: Grimly, you mentally remarked upon Ion's earlier "fifty-fifty" reasoning as you were taken in for what appeared to be questioning. Once you were seated in the interrogation room, and able to speak once again, you acerbically asked Zion under your breath if they had any more ideas, but it seemed they hadn't yet been released from Disable's effects, remaining inert on the table. While you still had your belongings with you, for whatever reason, you felt it ill-advised to bring out any of your other Pokémon in this situation. You were, after all, supposed to be a prisoner, and could feel Runerigus' gaze still. That said, you felt worried simply leaving Ion laying on the table like that, and you reached out to pocket his inert form. The crab alien reached out to stop you, and you immediately jumped back, hands raised in a gesture of surrender, saying that you were lost and merely looking for a place to go. As you spoke, you noticed a blue light come on on whatever module the crab alien had been fiddling with outside, though it shut off again once you stopped speaking. The alien gestured for you to continue speaking, and so you did, telling them more about your situation, though you left out how the Archives specifically transported individuals into books-best not start any existential crises here. Eventually, the alien held up a hand, prompting you to stop. The alien cleared his throat, and spoke, now in perfect English:

"Do you understand me now?" he said in a distinctly masculine voice. You responded yes with a nod, and his posture relaxed slightly. "Alright, the LIT system has been calibrated and can now translate for us, I'll push your linguistic data to the banks. In the meantime, you are still under suspicion of affiliation with the Splicer threat. Do you have any explanation for yourself?" the alien informed and asked of you. The accusation was so unexpected and bizarre that you couldn't do anything but stare for a moment with your jaw agape. "Well?" the alien prompted, at which you finally found your voice and explained that you had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

"The evidence is right here." the alien said, patience evidently wearing thin, and gesturing to Ion. "You clearly managed to experimentally combine this lifeform with a machine. That is a known Splicer modification." he explained, as if that made perfect sense. Once again, the absurdity of the statement took you aback, before you recalled that you weren't on Earth anymore. You slowly explained that Rotom like Ion took possession of machines voluntarily, and that no experimentation was involved. Pre-empting the alien's rising objection, you explained that you could call Ion out of the phone, but only if his Runerigus released Ion from Disable. The alien silently considered the request, but eventually decided to honor it, ordering his Runerigus to release its hold. At once, Ion sprang out of the device, and glared at the alien across from him, irritation evident.

"Incredible...my sincere apologies for the misunderstanding, no Pokemon known to inhabit any part of the galaxy has ever shown such a capability." the alien said, seemingly unable to believe his eyes, before remembering his manners and sitting back, prompting Ion to return to your phone. You took hold of him, not wanting to lose him a second time, before the alien spoke again. "Er-hem, with the rough first impression aside, I suppose proper introductions are now in order. I am Security Officer Tessell Gazami of the SFT Spitfire. I work alongside Runerigus here. Who are you, then? Where did you come from?" Tessel asked, idly pressing a few buttons on a tablet of some variety as he spoke. You lamely introduced yourself as simply Elijah, from the planet Earth.

"Very well, Elijah. I must ask, how did you manage to travel to Akibolor from...Earth, you said? We were alerted to your arrival based on the appearance of a spatial anomaly, but you were found on your own, with no craft." Tessel continued. While you had explained this earlier, you recalled that Tessel's translation device had still been calibrating at the time, so you resigned yourself to retelling the events that led you here-once again carefully omitting the fact that you were inside a book.

"So this spirit's power can open doorways into other worlds, and you had only wanted to go someplace most others had not, but now you're unsure how to find your way back..." Officer Tessel mused, turning something over in his head. "Unfortunately, traveling about the Galaxy is highly dangerous at this time. I mentioned the Splicers before...The Splicers are a mysterious force from beyond the bounds of our galaxy, and what we know of them comes exclusively from what they leave behind. They attack ships heedless of their affiliation-Silvalten Empire, Tamachul Alliance, or Rozman Theocracy, it does not matter. The Splicers abduct their ship crews, experimenting on both the crewmates and their Pokémon, physically and genetically combining them with other beings, Pokemon or otherwise, or machines-we believe they are using techniques based on stolen Imperial research, though the calamitous psychological devastation inflicted on the victims seems to be a setback...at least we hope, though the victims are still deployed in further attacks. Regardless, the timing for this incident could not be worse, as tensions between the three governments are already high thanks to border squabbles, and many fear that it's only a matter of time before a real messy war breaks out over this. Therefore, at this time, all Imperial military units have been ordered to prioritize locating and removing the Splicer threat from the Galaxy. While we could escort you to Akibolor's capital and send you on your way, we could not assist you any further unless you were to enlist. Given the ideally temporary nature of your journey here, and your extragalactic origin, you would have to join up with the Special Acquisitions Regiment, but you would be able, once trained, to join patrols and missions across the galaxy, which I imagine would expedite your search. Despite our rough introduction, I can assure you that Colonel Blaigur would treat you well. But ultimately, the choice is yours." Officer Tessel explained, leaving the weight of the choice to hang heavily on your shoulders.

Internally, you groused about your poor luck, that you had set aside one book about intergalactic conflict only to seemingly wind up in a chapter about another one, with the stakes high enough that this mighty galactic Empire would even entertain the idea of requesting your aid-either they overestimate your willingness to go to war, or they are truly desperate. Nevertheless, it would seem that the story you had entered was now laid out before you.

How will you proceed?
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Old 08-05-2022, 05:47 AM   #139
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-snip-
"Okay, look, there was a warp accident, and I just sort of landed here, and I swear that this is a completely unknown sector to me—"

Elijah struggled to keep up with himself, trying to blend in as much as possible in case he had to explain basic human concepts like libraries and books. Plus it wouldn't help if he'd revealed that all of this was merely a work of fiction—or not? The science section prided itself on factual texts from past, present, and future. For all he knew, this might have already happened or was going to happen. He was about to continue when the being across the table from him motioned him to stop, announcing that their translator had been calibrated to his language. That, and accusing him of being a Splicer.

"A... what?" Elijah froze for a moment. He had zero knowledge of what a Splicer even was, unless they were talking about... no, it couldn't be...

He was quickly snapped away from his suspicion by an accusation: he combined a living being and a piece of technology, that must mean he's a splicer! Which was definitely not true, he'd be dead before he somehow managed to create a freak of nature with his own hands.

"No, no, they're inside the machine, they're like a ghost that possesses anything with a motor in it," he defended. "I think there's another one in there that can willfully convert themselves between computer data and a physical form, but I don't think I had them out, Ion doesn't really like when they do that. Look, look, I can prove it, let me turn the phone back on and I'll get them out for you."

Thankfully the alien relented, Ion popping out near instantly afterwards, none too happy with the situation. They returned to the phone shortly afterward to speak.

"Look, punk, I dunno who you are but you have no right to mess with me like that. And I'm definitely not fused to this phone, but it would be awesome to combine myself with something else. Maybe one of those Porygons, or another ghost so I can be extra spooky, or even—"

"Okay, I think that's enough from you," Elijah said, flipping the mute switch on the side of the phone before Ion took things even further off course. "I think you get the idea." Thankfully that was enough to let the alien drop their accusations, offhandedly mentioning that they hadn't seen anything like it in the entire galaxy... which did not sound good to Elijah.

"Wait, the galaxy? Where even am I—" Elijah was promptly cut off by the alien introducing himself as Tessell, with an official sounding title to boot. When it came to Elijah to introduce himself, all he could manage was, well, something.

"Uh, I'm Elijah... from Earth... the planet... no affiliation..." He awkwardly trailed off repeatedly, realizing that he was quickly sounding less impressive by the minute.

Next came the part about how he got there in the first place—Elijah figured the translator wasn't on at that point because he clearly had an alibi ready to go. At least he had another shot at it—it was really kind of dumb—and he figured that it was better to tell the truth this time instead of trying to come up with something on the spot. "Oh, uh. There's this place there. Really big. It's like, a library full of places to go, lets you warp anywhere across space and time—I'm not too sure about the last one—and there's this... thing that runs it? I think they're called 'Hyun-pa?' Anyway, I kind of ended up there because I didn't really pay attention to where I was going... and now I'm here with no way back. And it sounds like you don't know where I'm from, so that probably doesn't help."

Definitely not; things were so tense in the galactic community that someone was bound to get shot at over either border disputes, skirmishes with mentally-ruining concatenators, or both. There were three associations to keep an eye out for, too—he was probably with the Silvaten Empire if the book's title was anything to go by. Because of this, it was either join the military or... starve? Elijah wasn't really sure what the other option was, but he had to guess that he'd be stuck up a creek with no paddle. He'd have to get drafted whether he liked it or not.

"I might not be physically... and emotionally... capable," said Elijah, lowering his voice at the last part out of insecurity, "but as someone far from home caught in the middle of a really big argument, I believe that I have no choice but to accept."

"Just a couple questions though, Officer Gazami. Not to be blunt, but... what are you? I don't think we've made first contact back home, so all I really know are us humans and a few of the Pokémon from back home. And is everyone on this ship of the same species?"

"Oh, and, uh... how long do I have to panic before you escort me somewhere else? Because I'm really not handling all this very well."
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Old 08-07-2022, 02:14 AM   #140
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blu3shift: While you expressed acceptance of Officer Gazami's offer, he seemed to deflate somewhat and sighed.

"If I have left you to feel as if you have no choice but to join us, then I have spoken poorly. While joining us would allow you to travel with us and search for your way back home with a level of protection, it is not as though we are the only ones traveling the galaxy-you wouldn't need to look very hard to find a trading vessel or some such in need of extra hands." he said. When you asked him how long you had until you had to firmly make your decision, citing that you were still dealing with your panic, his expression softened. "We have only just gotten in the air, and warp is ill-advised when not leaving the atmosphere. It will not be long until we reach the capital city, but once we are there, it will be quite some time before we finish our errands. In any case, you will have plenty of time to settle your mind and make your decision." he answered. You then asked him what manner of species was he, and if everyone aboard was of the same species as him.

"Ah, I suppose I forgot that part of our introductions! I myself am a Nelengus, plural Nelengi. While many of us are tinkerers, and are usually behind the invention of almost every handheld device in the Empire, we are hardy enough that a number of us also serve the military as soldiers, like myself. As for the others aboard, there are a few other Nelengi, split between the Security Division and Engineering. The real stars of Engineering, however, are the Mozoik." he said, showing you his tablet screen, which currently showed a short and stout creature that looked like a slightly shaggier (and plainer) Bibarel, if Bibarel were bipedal and had opposable thumbs. "It was their research that we believe the Splicers stole. Mozoik are engineers in every sense of the word. The stolen research in question was on the development of an artificial Pokémon-one so foundational to the Empire that it is named for it-Silvally." Tessel says, and this time you recognized the image on the tablet: it was indeed the Pokemon on the imperial Crest, but that was not all. That particular body shape had easily made international news when the research for Type: Null had been stolen from the Aether Foundation. However, Silvally was missing the bronze mask that you had seen Type: Null wearing in those articles-it would seem that Silvally was its complete state. "Silvally are created using naturally shed tissue samples from Pokémon of every type, and were created to help deal with the fact that most planets in the Empire are home to primarily Rock or otherwise mineral-typed Pokemon. But given that conundrum, finding enough naturally shed tissue samples is difficult, and taking samples directly from a Pokémon is needlessly cruel. As such, Silvally are exclusively given to high-ranking officers due to their scarcity." Tessel explained. Just then, however, a knock came at the door. Tessel asked the visitor to come in, but seemed to go ramrod straight at the sight of who walked in the door.

In the doorway was a humanoid, wolflike alien, though where fur would be was instead a rough hide that seemed to you like it was made of a strange blue-lavender rock or mineral of some kind. And if their decorated uniform wasn't tell enough, the Silvally at their side marked them as top brass. "Officer Gazami, you may return to your station. Leave the tablet, I can handle the rest." the alien said, in an authoritative feminine tone that brokered no argument. Tessel immediately stood, saluted with a simple "Yes, Commander," and left, leaving the two of you alone. Despite her appearance, the Commander's presence wasn't all that intimidating to you. "I am Second Fleet Commander Ylva Lupay. Since I understand Officer Gazami was introducing you to the various species aboard, I will pick up in his stead, starting with myself-I am a Volgan." she told you, with the tablet showing you more information-indeed, their skin was tough and rocklike. Other species were introduced to you-the Ged, red muscle-bound humanoids with horns and a preference for short hair and combat roles, the Klalite, an unnerving species with a mostly humanoid upper half, but a lower half reminiscent of a less-fuzzy Galvantula, whose silks were the base material of every space suit in the Empire on account of their hardiness once treated, and others besides. Ion, still muted as he was, watched with rapt attention. With your mind so thoroughly occupied with the subject, the panic you had felt from the gravity of your situation had slipped away without your notice. After a while, however, Commander Lupay stands.

"It has been a pleasure, Elijah, but we have arrived at the capital. If you are truly set on joining our military, then you may simply remain aboard, though I would ask that you exercise prudence as you wait. Otherwise, you won't need to look far beyond the shipyard to find a civilian crew on need of some hands." she said, before taking her leave as well, leaving you on your lonesome to fully consider your decision.

How will you proceed?
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Old 08-08-2022, 08:21 PM   #141
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blu3shift: While you expressed acceptance of Officer Gazami's offer, he seemed to deflate somewhat and sighed.

"If I have left you to feel as if you have no choice but to join us, then I have spoken poorly. While joining us would allow you to travel with us and search for your way back home with a level of protection, it is not as though we are the only ones traveling the galaxy-you wouldn't need to look very hard to find a trading vessel or some such in need of extra hands." he said. When you asked him how long you had until you had to firmly make your decision, citing that you were still dealing with your panic, his expression softened. "We have only just gotten in the air, and warp is ill-advised when not leaving the atmosphere. It will not be long until we reach the capital city, but once we are there, it will be quite some time before we finish our errands. In any case, you will have plenty of time to settle your mind and make your decision." he answered. You then asked him what manner of species was he, and if everyone aboard was of the same species as him.

"Ah, I suppose I forgot that part of our introductions! I myself am a Nelengus, plural Nelengi. While many of us are tinkerers, and are usually behind the invention of almost every handheld device in the Empire, we are hardy enough that a number of us also serve the military as soldiers, like myself. As for the others aboard, there are a few other Nelengi, split between the Security Division and Engineering. The real stars of Engineering, however, are the Mozoik." he said, showing you his tablet screen, which currently showed a short and stout creature that looked like a slightly shaggier (and plainer) Bibarel, if Bibarel were bipedal and had opposable thumbs. "It was their research that we believe the Splicers stole. Mozoik are engineers in every sense of the word. The stolen research in question was on the development of an artificial Pokémon-one so foundational to the Empire that it is named for it-Silvally." Tessel says, and this time you recognized the image on the tablet: it was indeed the Pokemon on the imperial Crest, but that was not all. That particular body shape had easily made international news when the research for Type: Null had been stolen from the Aether Foundation. However, Silvally was missing the bronze mask that you had seen Type: Null wearing in those articles-it would seem that Silvally was its complete state. "Silvally are created using naturally shed tissue samples from Pokémon of every type, and were created to help deal with the fact that most planets in the Empire are home to primarily Rock or otherwise mineral-typed Pokemon. But given that conundrum, finding enough naturally shed tissue samples is difficult, and taking samples directly from a Pokémon is needlessly cruel. As such, Silvally are exclusively given to high-ranking officers due to their scarcity." Tessel explained. Just then, however, a knock came at the door. Tessel asked the visitor to come in, but seemed to go ramrod straight at the sight of who walked in the door.

In the doorway was a humanoid, wolflike alien, though where fur would be was instead a rough hide that seemed to you like it was made of a strange blue-lavender rock or mineral of some kind. And if their decorated uniform wasn't tell enough, the Silvally at their side marked them as top brass. "Officer Gazami, you may return to your station. Leave the tablet, I can handle the rest." the alien said, in an authoritative feminine tone that brokered no argument. Tessel immediately stood, saluted with a simple "Yes, Commander," and left, leaving the two of you alone. Despite her appearance, the Commander's presence wasn't all that intimidating to you. "I am Second Fleet Commander Ylva Lupay. Since I understand Officer Gazami was introducing you to the various species aboard, I will pick up in his stead, starting with myself-I am a Volgan." she told you, with the tablet showing you more information-indeed, their skin was tough and rocklike. Other species were introduced to you-the Ged, red muscle-bound humanoids with horns and a preference for short hair and combat roles, the Klalite, an unnerving species with a mostly humanoid upper half, but a lower half reminiscent of a less-fuzzy Galvantula, whose silks were the base material of every space suit in the Empire on account of their hardiness once treated, and others besides. Ion, still muted as he was, watched with rapt attention. With your mind so thoroughly occupied with the subject, the panic you had felt from the gravity of your situation had slipped away without your notice. After a while, however, Commander Lupay stands.

"It has been a pleasure, Elijah, but we have arrived at the capital. If you are truly set on joining our military, then you may simply remain aboard, though I would ask that you exercise prudence as you wait. Otherwise, you won't need to look far beyond the shipyard to find a civilian crew on need of some hands." she said, before taking her leave as well, leaving you on your lonesome to fully consider your decision.

How will you proceed?
The sheer barrenness of the interrogation room fell over Elijah as Commander Lupay left. It was almost stifling in a way, but it was quickly pierced when he lifted Ion's silence once again.

"Man, that was a lot. Don't worry, I took notes." Ion's screen switched to a notepad detailing every bit of information from the interrogation. "Hey, just curious, by the way. How come you're a trainer but you don't like fighting? And why did you act all freaked out whenever Splicers came up? I thought you didn't know anything about—"

"Don't talk about that."

"Are you sure? I mean, they're just questions—"

Elijah whipped forward. "Don't talk about that!"

Ion blinked. "Whoa, whoa, chill. You're way too stressed out. Maybe you should go outside for a bit, that should help. Just put me in my ball, I don't want anyone freaking out at me again."

Elijah took a deep breath and complied, reaching into his backpack and recalling Ion into their Poké Ball after bracing himself just in case he had picked the wrong one again. The phone's screen went blank as he stashed it in his pocket; he was on his own now without a Rotom powering it.

The silence finally gave him a few moments to calm down and reflect on the situation at hand: his inner sense of justice drew way too many parallels to what Plasma had done in the past for him to simply ignore the problem, but he still had way too many internal conflicts over battling, even if he had pulled it off before. Joining a civilian crew was probably better for him, but there was no telling what would happen out there; if anyone knew about the many things that could go wrong during a seemingly ordinary job, it was going to be him.

Elijah got up and started walking towards where he believed that the ship's exit was, awkwardly trying to avoid the glances of its crew. If Commander Lupay was right, he still had some time to come up with something; perhaps a change of scenery like Ion suggested might clear things up for him.
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