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TEEN: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Frontier Justice

A man with a golden gun
Joined
Apr 6, 2021
Messages
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Preferred Pronouns
he/him
In a world where humans have all disappeared for hundreds of years, Pokémon explore what humanity left behind on the frontiers while trying to figure out what happened. A lone human appears, unable to remember how he got there. Armed with a revolver and his wit, he has to figure out how to get back home while making sure the world he's in doesn't fall apart.

Contains: Violence/Gore, Swearing, some trauma, substance use
 
Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land New
A man with a golden gun
Joined
Apr 6, 2021
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Preferred Pronouns
he/him
Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land

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There I was, just having a wonderful day on patrol in Houston… when it happened.

“Oh- and there he goes…” I frustratedly muttered to myself as I broke into a sprint.

Some guy just jacked a woman’s purse and I happened to be looking in their direction. I can’t believe I even caught the act at first, I stood there stunned when I should’ve been running to stop it. Now he has a head start.

The suspect practically flew into an alleyway with me rapidly catching up. I shouted after him with frustration creeping into my voice. “POLICE, STOP WHERE YOU ARE.”

My words did not elicit any kind of reasonable response. He kept running like I never said anything at all, the purse bouncing up and down as he continued to resist his inevitable arrest. At least my higher ups can’t say I didn’t try.

Something began to pound intensely in my head. I wanted to stop running, finding myself unable to control my body. Every footstep started to echo and blend together into one as the world around me started to slightly blur.

The suspect abruptly stopped and pulled a knife from out of his pocket, the world seemed to return to normal as I whipped out my taser. “Drop the weapon and put your hands above your head.”

Blur overtook my vision again, the pounding drowning out anything the suspect said. I felt like I was being watched from everywhere at once, the throbbing pain like something was tearing into my mind with claws.

The blur and pounding abruptly stopped. I found myself distant from my own body despite seeing things through its eyes, like I was watching things in a theater. My body moved of its own accord, escorting the now handcuffed suspect into the patrol vehicle while one parked just behind mine.

Another officer approached. He grimaced slightly. “You have everything under control?”

“Yes, dad, I have everything under control.”

“Alright,” he leaned against the door of his car. “Did you do everything to protocol?”

I nodded wordlessly, unable to see his features as the feeling of being distant seemed to grow.

“Is… something wrong?” he asked.

A sigh escaped me as I shook my head. “I’m just a little-”

Everything blanked out as the pounding returned. Raw unbridled pain barreled through my mind, the feeling of being unable to move followed right behind it. I wanted to scream and yell but found that not a sound could be made.

Only the steady rate of my heartbeat could be heard. I clung onto it desperately, trying to take my mind off of the agony I was feeling.

Something shifted in my mind as I felt myself breathe in...

“So, dad, what exactly were we going to do today?” my voice asked. Everything was blurred, my hands refused to raise themselves to my will.

I heard heavy footsteps on pavement. My ability to see anything was seemingly turned off, I wanted to panic but could only listen to my father’s deep, gruff voice. “After we hand this stuff in, we’ve got the entire day to mess about at the range.” I heard him chuckle heartily.

“Then I guess I’ll use my Remington, since I got that new scope and suppressor.” my voice said, still against my will.

I heard a car door open before my dad chuckled. “Heh, let's get going.”

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Some days, the healing section of the Guild couldn’t be more busy even if it tried. Today was one of those days. It hadn’t been two seconds since I cleared my last patient when I spotted an Emolga clutching its left arm. Still unattended to by anyone else here.

“Has no one come to help you yet?” I asked worriedly as I approached.

The Emolga shook its head. “No…”

Guess my plans for the afternoon would be a little delayed.

“I’ll help then.” I gestured to the door behind me. “Follow me please.”

The Emolga nodded wordlessly as it fell in behind me, wincing in pain from its arm. I could tell it was broken. Poor guy probably busted it up trying to glide. Maybe he wouldn’t notice if I stole a look at the memory of what happened… but me being a Gardevoir of respectable reputation stopped that idea before it could take hold.

We walked past a few other Pokémon before arriving where we needed to be. The room’s wooden walls didn’t do much to muffle the noises from the outside of it, much to my despair. Alas, a doctor such as me cannot be too picky over my environment, so long as it is clean and workable.

Especially here in Narkin, a frontier town so out on the fringe you’d miss us if it wasn’t for the popularity of our port. Exploration teams frequented here because of it… and that brought its own set of problems.

“Oh, Kira!” I heard from behind us. An Audino rushed up to us, a smile on their face. “Ace wants to see you in his office.”

I looked between the pained Emolga and the Audino and sighed. “Can you handle this for me then?”

“Of course!” The Audino bent down to the Emolga’s level. “Let's get you fixed up.” The Emolga nodded his head and followed behind her.

Briskly I walked down the hallway while stealing one last look at them. I turned the corner into the main hall for the Guild, greeted to the sight of the general crowd of Pokémon going about their business.

Some were at the job board, browsing the selection there. Others were at the front desk, signing up to undertake more dangerous ones. I weaved through them all, as I went down another hallway to where Ace was waiting.

I opened the door, greeted to the sight of an Inteleon sitting on a chair behind a desk while looking out a window. He turned to me as I entered.

There were always a few chairs readily available, I sat in the one closest to him. “Why’d you drag me away from my duties this time?”

“Lloyd or Ronin never gave me that report of where you went last week still,” he chuckled.

“Of course he didn’t…”

He rolled his eyes with amusement. “What's the short version of what you found?”

“Nothing, I’m afraid.” A disgruntled sigh escaped me. “Lloyd thought we finally got a lead on something substantial, I know he’s still mad about it.”

Ace facepalmed as a grimace drifted across his face. “I’ll spare him any more grief at this point then. You’re dismissed.”

I got up and went to leave. “See you around then, Ace.” I waved tiredly as I went. He wordlessly nodded as he turned back to the window before the door closed.

“So what’d he need you for this time?”

I spun around, seeing the form of an amused Gallade rolling his eyes. I shook my head. “Nothing important, just that you and Lloyd didn’t give Ace the report from last week.”

“My mistake then, allow me to make it up to you-” he pulled out a slip of paper with a job on it. “I got all three of us a quick and easy job to do out in the woods..”

Ronin handed it to me. The note detailed the account of a Bidoof who wanted their berry bag recovered from the woods after they fled because there was screaming and a series of deafening bangs.

I couldn’t help but squint. “You’re not at all intrigued at what the-”

“Well, why do you think Lloyd agreed to take it?”

“Ah, so it was the tactical choice for the excuse to do nothing?” I smiled smugly. Lloyd’s curiosity had once more gotten the better of him.

Ronin shook his head. “Well nobody takes those kinds of jobs, the mystery surrounding it is it’s own thing. Something I am quite worried about if I’m being honest, good doctor.”

“Then lets pack some basics up. Some of the Guild teams that came in today said something about a feral Houndoom leading a pack in the forest.”

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My eyes caught light seemingly at the end of a tunnel, rapidly expanding across the darkness. Feeling returned to me as I opened my eyes. My body finally bent to what I told it to do, my hands coming to rub my face.

I isolated what I felt to separate feelings.

An aching head. Bones that feel like they just got hit by a freight train. A sense of unfamiliarity with my surroundings and the feeling of being watched.

“For hell's sake...” I muttered as I slowly raised myself to my feet.

The cool nature of the place around me took hold as I glanced around the area with all manner of surprise on my face. It appeared to be a heavily wooded forest, the scale of which I knew nothing about.

How could I have even ended up here? Last I remember I was doing my normal routine of monotonous errands that seemingly had no end. Whether it be at the Police precinct with my dad or home was... fuzzy.

I checked my pockets and found everything to still be in order in how I left them. My ID was in perfect condition, showing my name with my birthday below it and citizenship. I still had some money in my wallet. My phone was still in my pants pocket as well.

My hands drifted to my hip, feeling the cold iron and grip of my custom Colt Python revolver still in its holster. I had a particular ammo type on me, signalling that I definitely wasn’t doing something according to protocol. That being subsonic ammunition.

Odd, I should’ve had my glock on me instead if I was supposedly on duty. I even had my other bits of equipment with me... was it somewhere around here?

I pulled my phone out and tried to contact anyone, each time resulting in the same ‘no signal’ popup. I grunted as the pain, my legs were screaming at me with every nerve in them. Exerting to borderline unbearable levels like the bones were shattered with a sledgehammer.

Nothing made sense at the moment, it's like I was kidnapped and put out here without any evidence to support that hypothesis. Getting dragged and dropped out here doesn’t explain my phone, nor that my money and ID are still in my wallet and that I’m still alive. If it was some form of kidnapping I’d be stripped of anything valuable.

But I should’ve been thankful, that meant I still had my custom Colt Python. Despite my longer barrel, it still kicked, and it still barked pretty damn loud. But my ammo of choice for it was much easier on the ears...

A small pond caught my attention.

The reflection showed me in detail, from my dark brown hair and cyan colored eyes, to my now wobbling legs-

I collapsed to the ground, my legs now feeling like someone was stabbing them with a dagger made of fire. Leaving me to stare at my pitiful reflection, seeing I was wearing a light grey button-up sweater on the top of my black shirt, my usual uniform. For some reason, I lacked my usual kevlar vest, that was worrying. I also noticed my sweatpants didn’t have grass stains on them, suggesting that I wasn’t out here very long at all...

It's like I appeared here without warning. Dropped into a strange land that I know nothing about. I’m not getting anywhere fast at this rate with my legs, and I desperately need to know where I am.

I couldn’t help but laugh because this whole thing was playing out like it was a dream. Maybe it was… just maybe. However having doubt at this point will only make this situation worse, I have to stay cool and collected in order to survive this mess.

Slowly, the feeling of unfamiliarity was overtaken… by familiarity. Why was I starting to recognize this place? I’ve never been here beforehand, and I would be willing to bet on that. The feeling wasn’t mine, it couldn’t be mine, it made no sense for it to be mine.

But how could it not be mine? What were the other possibilities?

The bushes rustled. A deathly silence came over me as I got to a crouched position, my revolver now loaded with the subsonic ammo. I patted down my sweater hastily, feeling a tube on the inside. I fished it out, lo and behold it was the suppressor for my glock.

I hastily put it back, maybe I’d find it out here somewhere. I cocked the hammer back with its ever satisfying click, a chill sent down my spine as the silence returned. I found myself hoping that whatever came out of the bushes wasn’t looking for blood.

Something blue exited the bushes. It was humanoid, and was reminiscent of something I’ve seen before-

My mind jumped to it being a Greninja the very second I noticed the weird scarf it makes with its tongue around its neck. It was looking right at me with an intentful stare. Should I be scared of it? It also had a weird badge and purple bandanna around its left bicep. Clothing items? Seemed rather oddly specific to hallucinate with a Pokémon of all things.

Tentatively, I stared at it with my mind wanting to crack in two. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Pokémon by any means, I simply kept up with some aspects of it. But from what I did know, this situation is either going to be the last time I’m seen alive, or I’m high off my mind on drugs or something and nothing is actually there.

Pain rippled up through the lower half of my body.

I elected to ignore the ‘Greninja’ and looked back to my legs after pulling back my pants. Nothing looked wrong visually. Whatever was wrong might’ve been internal, which would be worse for my situation. I had no medical knowledge besides how to make sure nothing gets infected and how to prevent myself from bleeding out should I lose a limb. I was out of my league with this type of injury.

The ‘Greninja’ had seemingly gotten closer while I was turned away from it. The paranoid side of my mind howled at me to do something about it.

“Are you real? Or just a figment of my imagination?” I angrily half-yelled at it. My patience was starting to wear thin like a strand of string. Whether it be because of my lack of options, or that I was starting to suspect that it was real.

It changed into a battle ready stance in surprise. My revolver remained trained on the ground in front of it. No sudden moves, even if it was fake, I couldn’t risk it. I had ammo to spare.

More rustling in the bushes caught my attention.

“Hello?” someone called out as they exited the bushes.

A whole-ass Gardevoir and Gallade exited the bushes, either I really lost it or I was in really big trouble. They both had a purple bandana wrapped around their left biceps along with one of the weird badges on them.

They caught sight of me and mimed the expression that the Greninja had. Panic welled up in me, everything inside me clicked that this wasn’t going to end well if I didn’t at least try to get away. I kept glancing around, looking for anything to help me get out of here.

As quiet as I thought the Greninja would be, I heard something from its direction. In one movement I rolled backwards onto my knees with my revolver now trained directly on it.

“H- ha -hands ups.” I said in a much more panicked voice then I would have liked.

Its expression intensified, until it finally spoke in a deep voice that I wasn’t expecting. “Just, uh, calm down...” It trailed off, taking another step.

The crack of a shot going off echoed throughout the area as the Greninja staggered back in some form of shock. It glanced behind itself, seeing the bullet having punched a hole nearly through the entire tree. The Gallade and Gardevoir froze, both starting to suddenly look extremely fearful.

I missed purposely, hopefully that’ll keep them away from me. The hammer clicked again as I nearly stammered. “Stay at a safe distance away and nobody gets hurt... do you understand?”

It shakily nodded. “W- what happened to you?” the Greninja asked.

My mind kept trying to come up with potential consequences from telling them my situation. Despite it begging me to do literally anything else, I pushed past it. “Can’t remember, I just ended up here without any memory as to how and why.”

“... What is that thing anyway?” the Gardevoir asked in a tone laced with fear while slowly pointing to my weapon.

I ignored its question. “I want to know where I am.”

The Greninja spoke. “In a… uh, forest south of the town that we currently work from.”

“I’m talking about the region’s name.”

“The region is Etyth.” He pointed behind himself. “And the town is a seaport known as Narkin.”

I really did end up in a different world to my own, that was a simultaneously intriguing and terrifying thought. The panicked side of my mind realized that maybe it would do me good to be a little more friendly with them. I carefully put the hammer back into a safer position as I lowered it, still keeping it in my right hand for the time being.

The Gardevoir had a bag hanging from its shoulder, and I wondered why it hadn’t tried to use its psychic powers yet. Maybe it didn’t know the extent of my weapon, or was unfamiliar with what a human was. Either one gives me somewhat of an advantage. I’d hope they knew nothing about me, while I on the other hand know enough about Pokémon to know which ones I should run on sight from.

Gardevoir and Gallade being two types of Pokémon I’d run away from, but alas my legs were hurting even worse than before. I’m stuck with them until further notice. And the Gardevoir did ask about my weapon…

A howl suddenly pierced the tense silence from behind the trio of Pokémon.

Their expressions and tone shifted immediately, like I wasn’t even there.

“Be on guard and steel yourselves” The Gallade’s arm blades shot outwards as he turned around towards the bushes.

“Well this is just wonderful… Kira, Ronin, how many are there?”

The Gardevoir’s powers flared up as she took beside the Gallade. “Can’t tell, I’m guessing they’re dark types.”

The Greninja turned around, and looked me up and down. “Can you, uh, stand?”

“My legs are busted,” I said as the hammer clicked into place again. “But I’m most certainly not defenseless.” He slowly nodded as he took position with the others while still keeping somewhat of an eye on me. I don’t blame him, I nearly shot him after all.

One by one, about seven Houndour led by a Houndoom jumped through the bushes.

“Keep ‘em busy,” the Greninja said in a tone that seemed to radiate annoyance as he disappeared from sight.

They had some semblance of a plan clearly, how deep it was is to be determined. “You three know what you’re doing?” Guess I should ask why these Pokémon are different from them later.

The Gallade’s blades began to glow. “Yes we do, just stay low and away from their flames.”

“But I can’t fucking move…” I muttered to myself as I took aim. The Houndoom let out another fear inducing howl that rallied them to start their assault. Should be similar to fighting against wolves, just keep a cool head and aim true.

Ronin, who I guessed was the Gallade, charged up a bright blue ball of something and threw it hard at an approaching Houndour. It sailed through the air, blowing up in its face and blasting it into a tree.

Kira, the Gardevoir if I logically finished the name game. Charged something similar up except it appeared above herself. What looked to be a blast of light slammed into two of the Houndour and knocked them down.

The one that was half inside the tree didn’t even look alive, the other two got to their feet and continued running mindlessly at us. I wanted to start laughing-

Flame jumped at us and knocked them further out as two more Houndour jumped in front of me, cutting me off from the others.

Smiles that could best be described as malicious were planted on both their faces. They thought I was defenseless. A sudden look of confusion took precedence as they realized I wasn’t afraid of them.

I raised my gun as they attempted to slowly approach with what looked to be Firefang, active and ready to incinerate my sorry immoble ass. A grin grew across my face as the shot lined up.

The hammer fell as the first shot rang out, stilling the battle for a second as the noise ripped through the area. The Houndour collapsed to the ground as the bullet ripped through its skull, the blood decorating its friend in the shower of red fluids.

If these were wolves, that would’ve been a deep flesh wound. Guess I should be counting my blessings.

I narrowed my eyes and pulled the hammer back, peering down the iron sights as the second Houndour charged. The Houndour jumped to the side as I pulled the trigger, the shot rang out, the bullet hitting nothing but air.

Pain riddled up my ribs and legs as I was knocked back several meters. It’s jaws clamped down on my shoulder, the adrenaline in my system clawing at my mind to fight back. I clawed its eyes desperately, it yelped in pain and threw me to the side.

I grunt in pain as my breath is knocked from my lungs, a tree breaking my momentum a little too fast. The Houndour growled in anger and slowly approached, but stopped short… An orange glow in its maw, I had an educated guess what that meant...

I launched to the right, flames billowing at my previous location. Heat washed over me in all its intensity as I steadied my breathing. My legs refused to allow me to stand up despite the adrenaline coursing through my body.

I could hear its rapidly approaching footsteps as I twisted around with my weapon aimed directly at it. The clack and bang of my gun ripping through the battle once more, the Houndour yelped as the bullet ripped through its neck. Blood dripped from it, looking at me as the life faded from its eyes and dropping dead.

Battered, bruised, and now bleeding out of my right shoulder with my legs crippled for reasons unknown. I could feel everything throbbing with some form of pain. My breaths ragged and short with my vision beginning to blur.

But I was resolute, staring at the battle that was still raging in front of me. Most of the Houndour were taken out, only two remained with the Houndoom. Ronin was fighting them off with the Greninja, Kira was missing…

“Need some help?” I jumped in surprise from the voice. I saw it was Kira, and she looked the least beaten up out of everyone. She glanced at my two no longer alive combatants, something akin to weary satisfaction flashing across her face.

I didn’t have time to think about why. “Would be much appr-”

Fire blasted in our directions, deflected by an unseen force. Kira tensed her arms as the flames cleared away, a glow in her eyes and crystal in her chest. She must have used her psychic powers. I wonder if she saw it coming or was just that quick to react.

Ronin looked to have been knocked back by the blast of fire, hitting a tree and not getting back up. The Greninja jumped over the Houndoom and landed between it and Ronin, getting into a defensive stance while conjuring some sort of water projectile.

The Houndoom seemed disinterested, turning to see me and Kira. It barked loudly, the two Houndour charging against the Greninja as it charged us.

She looked down at me briefly, the glow in her eyes intensifying as she snapped her fingers.

A bright light took my vision, I took a deep breath and found myself a little further away from the battle. If I was remembering correctly from what little experience I had playing Pokémon with their types and advantages, Kira should be able to win this with relative ease through a fairy-type move…

The Houndoom grinned maniacally as if it was imagining ripping into us with its fangs. A ominous purple smog started to form around its mouth. My heart dropped, that was a poison-type move. I opened my mouth to yell at her to watch out as she teleported behind it, the purple smog exploded from it in a radius.

Kira fell back, wavering in her stance as she broke out in a coughing fit. Panic swelled across her face as she tripped and fell over. I started crawling closer, the dirt beneath me not giving me much resistance. I needed a better place to shoot from, the closer the better.

The Greninja sailed through the air, throwing something sharp at the Houndoom. It yelped and growled, seeing its two Houndour not able to fight. Kira got up slowly, trying to back away. Something was messing with her powers and I had a feeling it was the poison.

It howled as fire exploded from itself and struck both of them to the ground, the Houndoom pounced on the shocked Greninja with its fangs bared. Perfect timing, I was just close enough for a shot or three. I grunted in pain as I lifted my revolver up, it felt heavier than usual.

“HEY,” I shouted at it to get its head to turn in my direction. The hammer fell as one more crack of a bullet tore through what little noise there was. It yelped in pain as it stumbled back, the bullet having created a sizable hole in its neck.

It seemed afraid now, something unveiled across its face before it ran in the opposite direction. I breathed a sigh of relief, a small smile on me as I sat up properly. The Greninja shakily got to his feet, wiping off some of the blood from the Houndoom.

He glanced at me, an odd mix of surprise, dread, and relief spreading across his expression.

Kira appeared to have healed herself with something. The poison seemed to no longer be affecting her, judging by her posture. She tossed a berry at the Greninja, before going and waking Ronin. He was battered quite badly, after being given a berry though… it’s like all he needs now is rest.

“Are you okay?” I heard Kira ask me.

She seemed worried about me, though I was more worried about if killing these things was the bad call. Didn’t want people crying bloody murder when I only just arrived after all. “One of them messed up my shoulder and burned me a little.”

My head began to throb, a headache starting to fester. I didn’t think berries could fix that.

Instead of tossing me one, she put a hand on my shoulder as it began to glow brightly for a second. The wounds on my shoulder dissipated a little. Providing some much needed relief from all the throbbing.

Kira examined my legs, her expression changed to one of shock briefly before she regained her composure. “Your legs are… broken, to the point where only a psychic with healing abilities can fix it with intensive treatment. I know we’ve asked this before, but what happened to you?” she asked in a surprised tone.

“My head... for lack of a better term, is majorly fucked up right now.” A single question came from the recesses of my mind. “And why haven’t you just looked into my head? Can’t you do that?”

“Who said I haven’t been trying?” she said in a neutral tone. “I’m only trying to see memories that are related to how you got here, but there’s nothing there.”

I sighed wearily. I wasn’t going anywhere fast because of my legs, and I had nowhere to go either way. I was stuck here alone. The scale of my situation was starting to kick in, dread once more clawed at me from the depths of my mind. What did they want with me? What could they want from me?

My revolver’s cylinder whirled and clicked as I took out each of the four spent bullet casing. Tossing them to the forest floor as I carefully inserted four live rounds in their place. I spun the cylinder around, its metallic clicking all too familiar to me. I clicked it back into place, deciding to still hold my gun in hand just in case.

“Did you have somewhere to go?” Kira asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.

“Look, I’m going to be really blunt here…” I stared into the ground, wondering if what I was about to say was the right call. “Why do you want to help me?”

The wounded Gallade gestured to their purple bands and the badges on them. “We’re a Guild Team, it is our job to care. And for you specifically… well...” he trailed off as a darker look came over him. The dread in my mind festered, I could feel it spreading into my demeanor.

“He means that you’re a more out of the ordinary case for us, not that it changes much.” Kira assured.

“I just want to go home,” I said bluntly. “What did you see anyway? You said that you were checking my recent memories or something.”

Kira sighed. “Truth be told, I could ask you questions all day about the things I can see in your memories. But we need to get back to Narkin to fix your legs and recuperate first.”

“It's not like I’m in any position to say no.”

“Hey, looky here,” the Greninja said in a gruff voice, approaching with what looked like makeshift crutches made of the branches of the nearby trees. “We don’t know what happened, and you can’t even remember that yourself anyway. Your only option right now is us, unless you want to be in this forest after dark with broken legs.”

I raised my hands in defeat before putting my revolver back in its holster. “My name is Mason.” I said to the Greninja as he helped me to my feet with the crutches.

He shook my hand briefly as I started getting balanced. “Mine is Lloyd, and thank you for saving me.”

I kept silent, only nodding at his thanks.

Lloyd left me alone to my thoughts. I saw Kira was helping Ronin with his more serious wounds, he got messed up pretty badly by the fire it would seem. However I was somewhat worried for Kira herself, she was poisoned and I don’t know the truest extent that it can go to. But maybe she already cured herself since she seems to be the resident healer of the group.

The Geninja seemed to be talking with them, probably about what to do with me. I just hope that this world doesn’t have a thirst for human blood. Because if it does, I don’t think I have the bullets to take all them on.

I was working my job as an assistant to my dad in various police and detective stuff not even a few hours ago. And now I’ve somehow ended up here and already killed three Pokémon in the span of around twenty minutes. This whole situation was insane, unpredictable, and quite frankly dangerous.

Yet I felt like those things had to be ignored if I wanted to survive.

I noticed that Ronin had approached me as Kira and Lloyd seemed to intensify their conversation. He seemed disinterested in what they were talking about.

“I never did ask if you even lived around here, did I?” he asked lightly.

I shook my head, there was no easy way to even begin to describe what I had. “Before I answer that, would you mind answering something that has been nagging at the back of my mind since I saw you three?”

“Sure.”

“Do you even know what I am?”

Ronin looked me up and down, he seemed slightly in awe of me. “A human, if I was to guess anyway…” a darker tone emerged. “Do you not know of the dangers that await you here?”

“No, what exactly here is so dangerous?” I asked curiously.

His voice lowered to a whisper. “Most will be wary or curious of you, but there are reasons to keep your head low. Some Pokémon really don’t like you’re kind, and there isn’t much talking to be had with them.”

“Why would anyone be interested in me?”

“It was a long time ago...” He took a deep breath. “A war between a sect of Pokémon who claimed to be on the side of Arceus himself and humans took place hundreds of years ago. Eventually the first Guild Federation was created to combat them.” Ronin narrowed his eyes. “Though it was in vain, humans were gone. Up and vanished. Only rumors to speculate where they all went, until… well, you showed up.”

I shook my head. “I don’t exactly have any answers to your questions regarding where humans went… I’m not from around here.”

“Then what is it like where you’re from?”

He seemed very defensive about this, like he knew much more than he was letting on. Although I didn’t really see a reason for anything he said to be a direct lie.

“Pretty good,” I pulled my phone from out of my pocket. “This thing looks like a useless piece of junk... until I tell you that under normal circumstances I can talk to someone across the entire world so long as they have one of these and a stable connection.”

“Connection to what?”

I sighed, realizing the can of worms I just opened. Though an analogy came to mind that might simplify it. “Imagine being able to connect psychically with anyone, no matter where they were so long as a few conditions were met. This thing allows you to do so. That is the butchered explanation, I cannot explain the more complicated parts even if my life depended on it. Afraid such things aren’t what I’m good at.”

Ronin slowly nodded. Maybe the idea wasn’t as big a deal as I had first thought. The less I have to explain, the better... I guess.

“Going to guess and say that you don’t have any natural affinity with the elements,” he pointed to my revolver. “Weapons aren’t particularly popular amongst Pokémon.”

I unholstered it, the revolver’s cold metal briefly pinching my skin. “Eh, this thing is in a class of its own. But if I’m being honest, hands down I’d trade in guns and ammo for the ability to mess with other people’s heads.”

Ronin narrowed his eyes again. “Tactics like that will only earn you dishonor, holders of the power over minds must keep their integrity even against our enemies. Lest we be like them.”

“Honor bound huh? So you can’t read my mind without proper reason?” I asked.

“Not exactly, though there are exceptions and even then… it's just hard to explain. Especially to an outsider who doesn’t have such abilities.” He seemed a little annoyed at my comment. “Though I must ask, what other weapons do you use?”

I remembered that I still had my typical equipment with me. From my nightstick and taser, to my stun-gun and pepper-spray. Electricity was strong against water, right? I wonder if it would be able to bring down anything here. Though I couldn’t exactly get new cartridges for my taser out here...

My stun-gun was something I could show relatively easily. Ronin seemed curious about it, whether because of the word ‘police’ along it’s center or how it looked was to be seen. I flicked on the switch and briefly pressed the button. The cackling of electricity surprised him, taking a step back as Kira and Lloyd briefly turned to see what the noise was.

I chuckled a little. “This thing won’t kill anyone, though it’ll hurt. Meant to subdue people when using a pistol isn’t justifiable.”

“So you’re a peacekeeper?” Ronin asked as I put the stun-gun back.

“We call people who keep law and order the ‘police’ but that technically is the job description. I’m not exactly the most… disciplined at it.” Still fresh, working with my dad helps quite a lot.

I didn’t exactly know why I was telling him this. Pokémon don’t exist in the ‘real’ world outside of entertainment through various media. Dear gosh I wasn’t having that conversation with them right now. And according to Kira, she read my mind and already knows...

Ronin opened his mouth to respond, stopping short as Lloyd and Kira joined us. Lloyd spoke in an even voice. “So uh, Mason… since you’re a little new around here and everything… me, Kira, and Ronin have come to a unanimous decision to help you should you accept.”

“What’s the catch?”

“There isn’t one.”

I squinted a little. “What about after all that?”

“Well…” Lloyd looked at everyone else, who nodded silently. “You could go on your way, do your own thing. Or you could possibly make or join a Guild team if you’re looking for work.”

I sheepishly shook my head. “I don’t know a single thing about how your cities and stuff work. Let alone laws, jobs, and stuff like that-”

Kira sighed. “With your current circumstances being as dire as they are, and due to you fighting alongside us… Lloyd also wanted to extend an invitation to join our team.”

A small look of shock briefly invaded my calm demeanor as I contemplated the proposition. This is the best case scenario, no doubt about it in any way. Other than my legs being busted up this whole thing might not be that bad.

In the back of my mind, the headache that was settling in seemed to get much worse. “I’d like to join your team then, if I’m welcome to.”
 
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Chapter 2: Headache New
A man with a golden gun
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Chapter 2: Headache
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Lloyd briefly smiled and looked to Kira and Ronin, who both touched their badges and started glowing. He took his badge off and flicked it into the air briefly. “Just, uh… don’t panic when you appear at the Guild’s lobby area. We can explain how it all works later.”

I nodded as he touched me with it. A bright glow took my vision as everything dulled and blurred away. Quickly my vision returned, but my balance still absent.

I found myself flat on my ass. My only comfort being Kira’s soft giggling and Ronin with his hand extended. My head felt like it was killing me, already growing from before. Lloyd was strangely absent.

“You’ll get used to it,” he said as he helped me to my feet.

The floor was wooden with white marble pillars jetting up into the roof, where a small skylight resided. Letting the afternoon sun shine through into the entire room. It resembled a lobby area of sorts, a large door that probably went outside was currently closed but appeared to not have a lock. Some small windows were on the stone and wooden walls, allowing me to see out into the city of ‘Narkin’ itself.

I realized we weren’t alone. Other Pokémon I couldn’t name noticed our arrival, giving me an odd look or two. Some continued to stare. All of them had a badge and bandanna somewhere on themselves, all different colors, must’ve been how they showed what ‘squad’ they were in.

I didn’t know what they thought of me, and I’d rather not ask. What Ronin had told me was still fresh in my mind.

My legs were throbbing and it was beginning to get hard to stay balanced with the makeshift crutches Lloyd fashioned for me. Reminding me of the all important question. How in hell's name did I break my legs out in the middle of nowhere with no damn idea as to how I got there. Maybe Kira would know, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Thoughts swirled around my mind, paranoia once more staking its claim in my thought process. Their stares almost felt like a smoke cloud around me. I couldn’t defend myself properly because of my injury if they were to try anything, I was at their mercy until my legs could support me again.

A feminine voice suddenly pierced through my mind along with the emotion of concern flowing into me through some kind of connection. [Are you alright?]

[Just… nervous…] I tested the waters of this odd bridge that was created between us. It felt odd and unnatural at first, I struggled to get the words across. But I could tell it was different from just thinking random things in my head and her just being able see them.

[You’re safe here in the Guild,] Kira assured. [Nobody can do much other than stare or talk to you.]

I tore my eyes away from their gazes. [What... law... is... stopping... them?]

[One of decency, and I think we both know that people from either of our worlds do not care for such things.]

Ronin glanced between me and Kira, probably figuring out that she was communicating through telepathy. He shrugged and walked off towards a counter that seemed to be where you’d register for entry or something. He waved back at me to follow him.

Slowly I started to work my way over, looking mostly to the ground to avoid eye contact with anyone else. I really didn’t want to answer anyone elses questions while I figured things out. The Malamar behind the counter seemed to be studying me as I approached, its tentacles neatly behind its back.

Yet another Pokémon I knew would be really bad to get in a fight with. My headache only grew at the idea, flowing with ideas of horrible deaths.

Its voice was much more refined and regal than what I was expecting. “You know, it's been a while since I’ve seen something or someone new show up here. What’s your name?”

“Mason… uh, yours?” I said as calmly as I could muster.

It smiled brightly while putting away some pieces of paper into the desk draws. “Merek, I run certain things around the Guild. Speaking of which, I’m going to guess you’re new to the Guild stuff in general, right?”

I nodded, still unsure of whether it was going to read my mind or not despite what Kira told me. Despite that idea, this growing feeling of calm and the headache I had killed it on the spot. I’d rather come off as cautious, not paranoid.

“Well, what brings you here to Narkin Guild?” Merek asked while writing something more down on the paper.

“They did.” I gestured to Ronin and Kira. “Said something about fixing my legs up, and joining their team.”

Merek gestured to my legs and crutches. “Was the incident that broke them an accident? Or something more… malicious?”

“I’m afraid he can’t remember,” Kira explained. “We’re going to try and find out what happened after.”

He nodded. “Hmm, well, I’ll get everything in order for you to become a Guild member then, Mason. Were you going to create a team or join one?”

“They invited me to join theirs.” I pointed to Ronin and Kira again.

“Ah, you’re quite lucky then. A lot of Pokémon would love to be on the same team as one of Narkin’s best doctors.” he commented as he pulled some pieces of paper out and wrote with a quill and ink. I didn’t want to know where he got the ink.

Ronin folded his arms. A more serious look coming over him. “Kira and I pitched the idea to Lloyd since he had nowhere to go. And with recent happenings… it's not safe to be alone in this town.”

Paranoia flared once more inside me, the stares I was getting now starting to feel like they were pressuring me to run. The pounding of my headache drowned it out. Leaving me to simply ponder on what they could’ve been talking about.

The front doors flew open as three Pokémon entered. Each looking like they just fought their way out of hell. A normal looking Ninjask, followed by a Medicham with a bag on its shoulder, and an Aggron with an eyepatch.

The Ninjask and the Aggron went down a hallway, while the Medicham started coming over to the front counter. I tried to ignore it, facing back to Merek and praying that it’s just signing in or something.

I could feel its stare boring a hole in my back.

“I see your team is back so soon, I thought you’d be out longer?” Merek inquired.

The Medicham stood beside me, sighing while putting a piece of paper on the counter. “We decided that the, eh, bounty for this guy isn’t worth the hassle. Not even Viggo can really keep up with the guys fightin’ style.”

“Hmm, I see. Well it's no matter... did any of you get hurt out there?”

“No, we’re just tired- and can I ask where you came from?” The Medicham tapped me on the shoulder.

I sighed, sending a glare towards him as my paranoia flared up again. “I can’t remember.”

“Oh, er- sorry to hear that.” He put his hands together and slightly bowed his head. “I’ll be taking my leave, goodbye Merek.” I kept a watch on him from the corner of my eye as he went down the same hallway his team went.

I sighed and looked at the paper, written in a language I did not recognize, but could understand. The headache spiked, much to my displeasure.

“Bounty?” I asked while reaching for the paper. The paper levitated into the air, my pounding head convincing my body to recoil back as it slowly made its way over to me. I shook my head and reached out for it.

Merek hid a snicker beneath a tentacle as I grabbed it. “Yes, a bounty for this Zoroark named Luson. He’s responsible for a few thefts, and possibly the disappearance of a Kirlia. Although don’t quote me on that last one, it's only a rumor.”

“I’m going to guess these ‘bounties’ are only part of the amount of jobs that are available?” I asked while reading over the details. I wanted to know where I learned to use this language, it having appeared seemingly overnight.

“Yes, there are a plethora of things to do besides hunting down criminals. Although I’m guessing you’re going to be taking a liking to bounties specifically.”

I squinted a little bit as I looked at him. “I’m used to dealing with criminals... I’ll give you that.” I said defensively.

Ronin read it alongside me. “Maybe we can do this after you’ve completed the dungeon run.”

A swoosh echoed around the room briefly as someone teleported in. Lloyd was back and he had a black backpack with him, something that looked like it belonged to me given the modern design.

“Seems that you… dropped this out there.” He handed me the bag before going around to the side of the counter Merek was on. I took the bag in hand, spotting something hanging from it. It was a tag of some kind with someone's name on it.

‘If found, return to Mark Miller.’

A pit formed in my stomach as dread quickly filled it. It wasn’t my bag. The name was familiar, maybe I was driving… maybe this was a suspect's bag. Better in my hands then someone else's. I tore it off and put it in my pocket.

It did not help that the language the tag was in was still English. My pounding headache continued to stop my ability to think any further than the surface level. Even trying to take things slowly down its potential train of thought hurt my head. I was still outright missing my glock as well, and I was starting to get deathly worried about its whereabouts.

Lloyd took the paper that Merek was writing on and started down a hallway that was behind the desk. Ronin followed behind him, for what I could not tell. I couldn’t help but stare at the backpack, wondering if I should open it here.

I jumped a little as a hand was placed on my shoulder. Kira giggled a little at my nervousness. “There is no need to be afraid, you need to see the guy in charge before we fix you up.” I slowly followed after her past the squid-like psychic.

“Goodbye for now, young Mason.” Merek called down after me. I waved back, finding myself oddly fond of him. It was like a weight was lifted off of me, or a pressure just released. The stares from before faded out of my mind, calming the headache ever so slightly.

I followed Kira through a door on the left side of the hallway. A worried sigh escaped me as the door closed behind us.

There were four chairs facing a desk with one chair on the other side, occupied by a Pokémon I couldn’t quite make out. The walls were adorned with paintings and badges, a single window was putting light into this room from behind the desk.

Lloyd and Ronin sat in two of the chairs, gesturing for us to take a seat beside them.

The fancier chair swiveled around, its squeaking parts unnerving me. The Pokémon revealed was blue and lizard-like, ‘Inteleon’ rang in my head from somewhere I couldn’t remember.

It studied me for a moment, trying desperately to keep its face straight. “So you really weren’t kidding after all…” It shook its head. “S- sorry about my behavior, what’s your name, chap?”

“Mason, and are you the ‘boss’ around here?” I asked in an even voice.

The Inteleon smiled a little, taking the paper from before off the table and reading it. “My name is Ace, and yes, I run this place. With the rest of my team... although they're currently away right now, sadly.” he sighed quietly as he put the paper down. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

Ace shifted in his chair. “Pardon the bluntness of this question… but do you have any reason for being here outside of, well… your current situation?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…” he sighed wearily. “Your kind has been effectively wiped off the whole world. I’m sure you’re aware of that already. Your appearance here isn’t… natural. I want to know if you have any connections with, well, anything.”

My head started to throb. Something in the back of my mind desperately wanted to be remembered, but it was kept back like it was imprisoned inside me. I shook my head. “From what I can remember, I’m not connected to anything.”

Ace nodded as a silence grew between all of us. He shifted his look from one of cold and calculated in origin, to one of concern.

“So you can’t remember everything?” Ace prodded.

I grimaced as the headache I almost forgot about ripped into me yet again. “I can remember everything fine, just not the reasons on how I got here.”

In the corner of my eye, I could see Kira with her crystal slightly glowing. I could only guess what she was doing.

“So I’m guessing you want to remember, right? And figure out what happened to you?”

I grinned, hoping to lighten the atmosphere. “That’s my plan.”

“I should warn you then, before you go…” He wrote something down on a piece of paper. “That you’re going to have quite a lot of Pokémon being very curious of you here in the Guild.”

“I’m gonna guess some of this attention isn’t going to be good for me…”

A small smile appeared on Ace’s face. “You’d be correct. But for now it shouldn’t be a huge deal. Anyways, after you heal up, we can get you properly made a member along with the other rookies.”

My head went numb, the pain becoming unbearable, I put a hand to the back of my head, feeling warm blood drip from my fingers and onto the floor. The feeling of it running down my neck coming to the forefront of my mind.

I got up and put my hand out, the blood dripping more onto the floor as I tried to speak. I opened my mouth, nothing but a slurred bunch of words came out. My vision blurred as my legs gave out. The wooden floors were cold, far colder than they had any right to be. I wish I could move, even if just an inch to flip myself upright.

I tried to not close my eyes like my dad told me, I found the idea more enticing as I drifted off closer to…

I could hear something echoing in my head… A voice? A memory? Or… was it both?-

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“He’ll live…” I said to my on edge team. A collective sigh of relief came from them both. “But since no one here is familiar with human biology, they can only do the bare minimum in certain areas other than his legs. Which are similar enough to some Pokémon to manage.”

An Audino nodded reading off a clipboard. She looked me in the eyes, a calm yet curious expression on her face. Much calmer than when she first saw him. “We can handle it from here, Kira.”

Despite her reassurance, my mind ablaze. How did I miss such a head wound when I initially healed him? I’m supposed to be a doctor… yet I let that happen.

Lloyd was leaning against a wall beside the human, Mason. He shook his head. “How’d he not feel it ‘till the last second? Maybe he’s little… tougher than I thought.”

I put a hand on his forehead, feeling his pain briefly before everything opened up for me to see. Every injury sustained I didn’t heal I could feel on him, but most importantly, his legs. Somehow completely fractured on the inside without any indication on the outside.

No swelling, no blood, no external wounds even. Something even felt off with his very aura, like someone tried to already get inside his head and failed numerous times. He’s been through hell and can’t even remember it.

“Humans are resilient,” Ronin began as he approached. “If the legends are anything to go by.”

I rolled my eyes and faced him, a pang of guilt festering. “The legends never spoke of their powers or weapons, take them with a grain of salt, Ronin.”

“Well… I doubt he even has powers. He used this weapon of his and nothing more, nearly killed me with it…”

“In self defense,” I retorted. “Never once did malicious intent cross his mind beyond just defending himself. Besides, he’s alone, why wouldn’t he be scared?”

He woke up alone and afraid, nothing familiar to him at all. Even the sight of us sparked curiosity, like he’s never seen a Pokémon even. His memory was completely blank in the area that mattered most. And at this point, I was surprised he was taking it that well.

The Audino hushed everyone. “I’m afraid you’ll have to take this outside, this is disturbing our patients.”

“Sorry, let's go get the base setup for his arrival then.” Lloyd said as everyone gathered around me. I waved my hands around as everyone began to glow, everything disappeared from view as the process completed and we popped into our base.

Light brown wooden walls, dark flooring, and a skylight that was overtop of the kitchen and small living room we had. Basic decoration, some paintings and flowers that I was barely able to keep alive. There was a set up stairs that went up to where we slept, and that was about it. It was simple, it was quaint, but it was home. Just the way we liked it.

Lloyd waved to Ronin and me. “I’ll go get some materials to make a bed for him.”

“Sounds good, me and Kira can finish that job we were doing before then.” Ronin said as a bright light came over us again. I felt his hand guide where we were going. The deafening silence wrapped around us as the light died.

We were where Mason was. The surviving Houndour had gone, leaving behind the bodies of each of them killed by his weapon. The deafening crack still slightly echoed in my ears, my gaze seeing the small hole in each body where blood used to gush out of.

I gazed around the area, the patches of scorched earth and grass everywhere. “Do you think that the Bidoof’s berry bag is really out here? What did he say that he was scared from here by again?”

“A loud bang and screaming…”

I felt heavy emotion tied to the area, not just the Houndour intent. But something else, something far more malicious. Like someone didn’t want to be found out here and tried to cover their tracks in a hurry.

I found myself drawn to the center of the area, unseen forces guiding my mind to see the pond. I could see two objects foreign to it. A piece of bloodied clothing I was unfamiliar with, and a badge. My eyes widened as I realized what badge it was. I clenched my hand into a fist hard before I threw it at one of the bodies.

Ronin noticed my anger, I cut him off before he could say anything. “Lycoris members were already here. I think Mason killed one, these bastards are everywhere.” I angrily hissed. One more reason to hate these Pokémon out of the hundred I already have.

“If they were here, then we need to leave in case some show up.” he then pulled out a small bag full of berries. “I found the Bidoof’s bag as well, let's hope Mason’s condition stays low profile for now.”

I tapped my badge, a small light coming from me as the Guild badge did its magic. “Agreed.”

We appeared in the guild, the sound of an argument was echoing around the room. “I already told you, that is Guild business. Now get lost before I remove you from this lobby myself,” Merek declared angrily.

A Hitmontop with a Zangoose were at the front desk with a very angry Merek staring them down. “We don’t want to know where the guy is, we just wanna know if a human is actually alive-”

“Again I say, Guild business by decree of Ace,” Merek asserted while bending down to look them closer in the eye. “Last chance to leave without incident.”

“Fine then, be like that, we’ll leave,” the Zangoose said as they both hastily left. Slipping past all the Pokémon staring at them.

I glared at them as they passed us. Ronin shook his head, taking my hand in his as he coaxed me to walk with him. I softened my gaze for him and followed behind him.

“What was that about?” Ronin asked Merek who took the berry bag and gave us the reward for its return.

“They wanted to know about the human, as you heard they didn’t get anything from me. But I’d be careful of another team potentially telling them. They didn’t smell of being from around here and they certainly reeked of suspicious intentions.”

I gazed out the window, seeing them going down the hill and towards the dock. Hopefully they take a ship out of town and never sail back. “Did they say who they were?” Ronin asked.

“No,” his tentacles writhed a little. “But I doubt they’ll ever come back.”

Something stirred in the back of my mind. I felt drawn back to where we just were, my mind telling that something was still amiss. “I’ll meet you at home, Ronin. I’ve got something I need to check on first.”

He nodded before turning back to Merek, probably to continue their conversation. I channeled the memory of the location through my mind, the light surrounding me quickly fading away. I was back in the field. The bodies were now gone, dragged off by some nocturnal predator probably.

One more thing evaded me, I could feel it still here. My powers guided me near the pond again. Something felt off in the nearby tall grass. I reached in and felt two items, a part of me surprised that they were here. The first was a blue piece of clothing that looked like it could sit on my head with a small badge in the center that had two letters of an unknown language on it. It must’ve belonged to Mason.

The second was just a badge, but it seemed to have a name on it. One in the same foreign language as the clothing piece. Both definitely belonged to him. I stretched my mind over the area once more, feeling little out of place. The emotion was fading, but I could still feel it…

I noticed a bunch of holes on a tree, one with blood coating it. I counted nine holes in the tree, like Mason shot it with his weapon. But from what I saw of his weapon… it only had six uses in it before he had to ‘reload’ it.

Something was still amiss.

With what I came back here for in hand, light briefly flashed around me as I pulled myself to home. It faded away, leaving only the moonglow slipping down through the skylight. Illuminating the stairs up to where we sleep.

“You alright?” a deep voice asked. The Greninja was sitting on our couch, reading something.

I put a hand to my head, the frustration creeping into my demeanor. “Physically, yes. Mentally, no. I missed a damned wound on Mason, and he almost died because of it. Then I went back… and found these.”

I showed him the objects I found. Lloyd stared at them briefly, squinting a little before turning his attention back to his book.

“If I had to guess… they probably belong to Mason. Maybe tomorrow when you go check on him you can leave them with him, just in case.” He flipped a page, its edges slightly torn with wear. His demeanor shifted. “Ronin told me about, the uh… other thing found out there…”

I scowled, my mind having to resist the urge to yell out. “They’re behind this, they have to be. Like everything else that goes on in this town- it's always them.”

“For a Gardevoir, you are rather quick to anger, you know.”

“I have every right to be angry,” I huffed quietly. “Especially as of late. First it was Team Shade barely having gotten back on the brink of death, then it was that Eevee…” my voice faltered as the anger was replaced with distraught. “And now it’s… a human. An actual Arceus damned human still alive, and they’re after him.”

The Greninja sighed. “I think right now you need some sleep. We can figure this all out tomorrow, as a team.”

“Fine,” I conceded. Carefully walking up the stairs decorated in moonlight. I saw Ronin in our bed as usual. I climbed in, seeing one waiting for its owner.

I stared up into the stars above as I fell asleep, seeing their brilliant shine. I wondered what Mason thought about them, hopefully he was sleeping as peacefully as us.
 
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Chapter 3: The Crimson Blade New
A man with a golden gun
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Chapter 3: The Crimson Blade
--------------------------------------------------------------

The voice inside my head had long since gone silent. I heard… something. A name echoed out inside my head, Arwin. The name felt personal, like it belonged to me. But that left me with more questions than answers. Faintly I could recall the shattered remains of two other names, one beginning with an F, and the other that ended with a K. I could not tell if it was spelt in English or this mysterious language I know now. My mind could not recall who they could’ve been, but they sounded like friends.

A part of me suddenly felt wrong.

I couldn’t tell what, but whatever I could feel creeping along my entire body was not natural. Something didn’t fit right, like someone was with me. Inky blackness stretched out forever, I stood amongst it. I assumed it to be my dreamscape. But it didn’t react to my thoughts or will... like something else was here.

I could feel its presence everywhere, overbearing like it was on-top of me, only for it to disappear as suddenly as it came. Was a psychic type trying to get into my head? Trying to catch me with my guard down?

The feeling of helplessness already staked its claim in me. I didn’t let it go beyond the back of my mind, keeping it prisoner so it cannot affect me. I needed to focus.

[You are not safe here.]

The voice had echoed out all around me. I couldn’t feel where it was coming from, or who was speaking to me. “Who are you?”

[You will see when I wake you up…]

Something gripped around my head, a burning feeling erupting through me as light flooded my vision. I gasped awake, finding myself on a bed in a small room. The warm air wrapped around my bare chest and back.

Where the hell was my shirt?

I stopped myself short of climbing out of bed, having seen a sword floating right next to me. I already knew what this one was. A Honedge. But this one had a red ribbon, not blue. I wanted to admire the shiny, some questions already brewing inside my mind. I pondered if they were outcasts or revered, or maybe they weren’t treated much differently.

“First order of business, my name is Scarlet. Do you remember me from the forest or did they hit you that hard?” its voice was oddly feminine. I shook my head. I’d remember a sentient red sword if I saw one. Her voice sounded concerned. “Arceus above, what do you remember?”

“Nothing,” I answered. Keeping a careful eye on the sword.

She made some metallic sound that seemed to be like a sigh. “You and one other human appeared suddenly in a flash of light and saved me from some Pokémon who were harassing me. Truth be told I have no idea if you both even understood a single thing I was saying. They took your friend, you got attacked and ended up collapsing. I chased them trying to get him back and failed. And I guess you woke up and got found by a Guild team…”

“Who was I with?” I asked. The name ‘Mark Miller’ coming back to the forefront of my mind.

The floating sword staggered back a little. “Male, I think… Taller than you by a bit, and had a weird blue thing on his head with a badge on it.”

Another officer was with me? But I didn’t have a partner yet. They could be someone else, maybe a friend... or my dad... but I don’t remember driving with him. Much less even seeing him around the time my memory stops.

“Listen, you saved me from those freaks, and your friend got taken because of me. I feel bad, therefore to relieve myself of the guilt I wish to help you get him back. Sound good?”

I carefully got out of bed, my legs felt much better to stand on. I saw my T-shirt draped over my newly acquired backpack. The question surrounding its owner was still on my mind as I picked both items up and put them on the bed.

“How do I know you’re on my side, Scarlet?” I asked as I inspected my shirt, expecting blood to be on it. A small smile grew on my face with the realization that someone cleaned it for me.

She made another metallic sigh before floating to the door and peeking out of it, she sounded and looked very paranoid. The red sword shook a little as she closed it, coming back over to me with annoyance on her voice. “Because if I was not, I would not have woken you up. I would have instead grabbed your arm with my ribbon and dragged you off through a shadow. By the time anyone noticed you were gone it would be too late and I will have successfully gotten away.”

“How do I know that would even work?” I retorted, facing her as I put on my shirt. “Surely someone here would wisen up before you can get away for good-”

A metallic shing interrupted me, I froze in place at the sight of Scarlet’s blade hovering mere millimeters from my neck. “Some part of me is getting rather impatient, and very annoyed. Think about it, human, I’m right here am I not? If someone detected me already, they would have been here by now. You. Are. Alone. And completely at my mercy.”

“Then what do you want?” I hissed as I narrowed my eyes. Seeing my revolver beside me on a desk.

Slowly her blade went back to face the ground, her crystal that must’ve acted as her eye still close to my face. “To help you rescue your friend, and keep you safe in the meantime.”

I shook my head as my paranoia finally had the entire stage inside my mind to command all to itself. At first I didn’t want to believe a single word she said, the sentient sword could very well have been lying to me this whole time.

But at the same time, what she said did make sense. Slowly, I began to accept that she was telling the truth.

“Fine, I believe you.”

“Well, we may not have a lot of time-” she stopped talking and faced the door again, unsheathing herself again to reveal her crimson blade. I could see a looming shadow on the other side of the door, standing there.

I took my revolver off the nearby desk, completely loaded and ready to go. Just as I left it. I unzipped the backpack, finding that someone put my sweater and police equipment inside. Along with my ammo.

“They hired a Zoroark. That's all I know, also, did you make friends with those Pokémon that got you out of the woods?”

I nodded. Getting ready in case the door was breached. She suddenly wrapped her ribbon around my wrist, I tried to yank back but stopped when I heard her voice in my head. [Stay calm, if it is listening it will use what we say against us as illusions. You said that you made some friends right? Name some random Pokémon that are not them, if they show up, it will be obvious.]

“Yeah, a Tsareena named Kira, a Bisharp named Ronin, and a Toxicroak named Lloyd.” I said calmly. Her ribbon went back to holding the sheath. Three knocks echoed through the room from the door.

I tensed up, hiding my gun behind my back as Scarlet stuck her blade into the wood above the door. Smart move. A voice came from the other side. “Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

The door opened and revealed a familiar Gardevoir who entered and closed the door behind herself. “Glad to see you’re already on your feet, but you should still rest.”

My mind was panicking, did the Zoroark know who I made friends with? Or was this some lie on Scarlet’s end. Or was this just the real Kira…

“Hi, uh- Ruby... one of the doctors or something right?” I asked while smiling.

She shook her head while a concerned look flashed over her face. “No, it's Kira. Does your head hurt? Are you experiencing any pain right now?” I mentally prepared to duck some sort of punch or claw on her approach. ‘Kira’ looked attentively around the room, not noticing the crimson sword right above her head, I dared not look at Scarlet for fear of giving her away.

“Why are you so tense as well?” she looked me in the eyes with a soft glow. “You’re… afraid of me?”

She reached her hand out slowly. I jumped away and pointed my revolver to the ground in front of her. “Scarlet, I want to fact check some things if you don’t mind.”

‘Kira’ looked confused and fearful, widening her eyes when she saw Scarlet land beside her. I knew Scarlet was real and not a Zoroark, but I didn’t know whether she was telling the truth or not. If Kira is real, then she can see if Scarlet is lying.

“So, Scarlet, can you confirm whether she’s not an illusion or not?”

‘Kira’ pointed at Scarlet while taking a step back. “Who are-”

Scarlet slapped her across the face with her ribbon. Hard. My heart dropped in my chest. Nothing changed in Kira’s appearance besides her fearful expression turning to anger.

Now I’ve got a potential liar and an angry Gardevoir in the same room as me, with possibly a Zoroark waiting for me to be alone. I really couldn’t allow any sort of fight to break out right now…

Kira took a big step towards Scarlet with her powers starting to rise in an aura around her. “I WILL RIP THAT-” I stepped between her and Scarlet despite my mind crying out for me to just let it take its course. She stopped, her glare intense enough to make me regret it instantly.

“I swear I’ll explain if you calm down…”

Either she had some good self control, or she felt my near-crippling fear. Her expression slowly softened. “What's going on?”

“Some unsavory Pokémon want this human and I do not know why,” Scarlet began, sheathing her blade again. “A Zoroark is involved, I do not know much else. I’m here to pay him back for saving me in the woods.”

Kira widened her eyes a little in surprise. “Was it against Lycoris members?”

“Lycoris?” Scarlet and me asked in unison.

She showed us a badge made of metal. It was round and had a weird skull of some Pokémon surrounded by what looked to be flowers. While the badge was foreign to me, I knew that lycoris was a kind of flower found in Asia. Not much else came to mind. “Did they have these badges?”

Maybe those were the Pokémon that killed off humanity here. Sounded like a cult, perfect. I really was just out here fighting for my life. She took a step towards me, and showed me a much more familiar badge..

“Does this belong to you, Mason?” Kira asked as she handed it to me...

It... was a police badge... with my father’s name on it. Along with a police hat that must’ve been either his or mine. I fell backwards onto the bed, unable to keep balance with the idea of my dad running around out there alone.

Scarlet was telling the truth after all. Kira put a hand on my shoulder. “Is something wrong?” she asked softly.

“This is a police badge with my fathers name on it...” I could barely stop my body from freezing up in stress. That means the person these Lycoris people took was him. I glanced at Scarlet. “So you were telling the truth after all…”

Scarlet froze up a little, realizing the true extent of her failure. Kira seemed to get angry again, balling her fist up and turning away briefly. “Let’s deal with the Zoroark, then I’ll ask my questions. Am I clear?”

“C- crystal,” Scarlet said in a faltering voice.

Kira’s powers flared up again as she closed her eyes. I felt a new feeling in me, one I couldn’t quite describe, but it seemed to be anger. Maybe she didn’t know she was sending me the feeling.

She shook her head a little. “It’s already inside, heading this way…” Kira opened her eyes and started towards the door, waving for us to follow.

I cocked my revolver again, putting the backpack and stuffing the badge into it for later. Carefully I put the police hat on, swearing to keep it safe until I could return it to its owner. She led us down the hallway at a careful pace.

I found that we were in the hub area again, back where Merek should be. I could hear Pokémon talking amongst each other, but I couldn’t see a single thing. Was this the power of a Zoroark?

“Your eyes are lying to you right now, Pokémon are here. Don’t make any sudden moves on anything that just ‘reappears’.” Kira stated sternly.

We followed her carefully, matching her weaving the way around the invisible crowd. For all we knew, they couldn’t see us either, which may be a big problem.

Between the time it took for me to blink, Kira vanished.

We should’ve never left the room.

I heard a muffled cry to my left, I dashed in its direction hoping to catch this Zoroark by surprise. I nearly yelled in pain as a wound spread out across my lower arm, blood dripping down it. Scarlet’s crystal went wide eyed as she unsheathed herself and prepared for another attack.

The flowing blood seeped onto the floor, an idea floated up to the surface of my mind.

I whipped my arm around, getting blood on a few things nearby, one of which was invisible and coming right towards me. It stumbled away, its form becoming seeable. I must’ve gotten it right in the eyes.

I saw Kira with a gag in her mouth with her arms tied behind her back, the Zoroark with a claw to her neck in their position. We both froze, this was no illusion this time.

“Nice trick, human, you think on your feet.” he wiped some of the blood off his face. “It's respectable even though it's not enough. I’m afraid it's gonna be her life for yours, heh.”

I raised my weapon, the idiot wasn’t even trying to conceal his head. “What's stopping me from popping your head open like a grape from back here again?”

“I know of your weapon, nasty little bugger. But I’m afraid since everyone else can’t see each other, you’re going to hit someone else as well. Plus there’s always the chance that this position I’m in is just an illusion. Ya know, it's just the basics.”

Scarlet was looking at the floor weirdly, I realized the shadows were showing his true location. “Are you Luson?” she asked calmly.

“Must’ve seen the considerable bounty on my head, maybe I’ll clean up a loose end or two later…” he looked down for a second too long.

Scarlet’s ribbon briefly flashed purple as a shadow suddenly took her away. Luson widened his eyes as she reappeared behind him and slash horizontally. Some of his illusions fizzled away as some blood came from a slash now going along part of his face.

My wound throbbed, but my adrenaline was kicking into full gear. A loud bang echoed through the room as blood spurted out from his left shoulder. A pained yelp came from him as he threw Kira at me. I grunted in pain as we both tumbled to the ground, my gun clanked along the floor away from me.

Scarlet launched forward in the blink of an eye, slashing rapidly at the backpedaling Zoroark. Luson chuckled darkly. “What’s a Chosen such as you doing out here on the frontier? Aren’t you a little far from home?” he taunted before disappearing once more.

“Show yourself, wretch,” She yelled as she stopped her assault in shock. Twisting around looking for something I doubt she’d see. I ripped the gag off Kira and loosened the rope. I grabbed my gun and frantically looked to everything around me that could give him away.

Scarlet made a metallic scream as she was thrown towards us with scratch marks all over her. Her ribbon tattered as she fell unconscious. My jaw went slack as I grimaced at the unconscious sword.

I was looking for blood, shadows, anything that could possibly tell me where he was. I focused, and could hear his labored footsteps. Every part of me screamed to take the chance and shoot where I thought he was. The gun in my hands was beginning to shake, I couldn’t start panicking now of all times.

“Can you teleport us out?” I asked Kira as I carefully gazed around us. Pokémon were yelling about what just caused the noise and were finding the blood everywhere.

She nodded, shakily standing up as we began to glow. I held my breath out of reflex, expecting some last ditch attack from anywhere around us.

The light overtook my vision, leaving us in silence as it all disappeared. I breathed a sigh of relief, we were safe. For now anyway.

We were in what looked to be the front room to a house, a kitchen was on my left while on my right seemingly went into a small living room. Stairs wrapped around some trunk-like structure that had no railings or safety measures at all.

Kira wobbled, nearly collapsing as she stepped forward. I reached out and supported her. Barely catching her in time before I carefully let her sit down on what looked to be a couch. I glanced back, seeing Scarlet was still sprawled out beaten nearly to death. I hesitantly grabbed the handle and put her in a chair.

The beaten and exhausted Gardevoir slouched back into her chair as she was surrounded by a light green glow. “Maybe it's best we go after big bounty targets with a whole team...” she moaned tiredly.

“What if he knew we would end up back here?” I asked nervously. “He seemed calculated enough to have accounted for us running away.”

“Under normal circumstances I’d agree, but you and Scarlet messed him pretty… well….” she trailed off as she fell unconscious. The light green glow having healed most of her wounds.

I swung my backpack onto the ground and unpacked my revolver ammunition. Finding it tucked just underneath my sweater and vest. I took a single bullet, my revolver clicking as I unloaded the spent casing and put the new one in.

With Kira unconscious, and Scarlet probably beaten within the reach of death’s door, I decided to count my ammunition. My head was on a swivel, so much as the slightest sound sent me to my feet with my gun already in hand. But even after every single round I’ve spent… I still had another sixty to use and abuse.

But at the rate I was using them at, they’d be gone within a week. I needed a reliable source of bullets from somewhere… or maybe just a new weapon that doesn’t need ammo.

It felt like hours had passed as I sat there alone. I didn’t know what to do with the cut on my arm, it didn’t hurt much anymore and the bleeding had practically stopped. I sat there twiddling my thumbs and hoping that Kira and Scarlet were okay. I nearly dozed off, the sudden sound of the front door opening easily sending me to my feet.

“Perhaps our dear doctor would-” Ronin walked in first, looking between me and Kira in shock. “What happened?”

Lloyd followed him, staring blankly at the scene. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Remember that Zoroark you said we could get after I officially joined your team? Well he got hired to kidnap me for someone else. We barely got out of there after he nearly killed Scarlet the Honedge right there.”

Ronin rushed over to Kira and held her close, sitting right next to her. Lloyd crossed his arms and looked tentatively at me and Scarlet. “Oh… are you alright?”

“Gave me a cut on my left arm, but other than that… the damage is just mental.”

The Greninja grabbed something out of Kira’s bag, pulling out what looked to be a roll of something white. “Wrap this around it for now,” he said as he tossed it to me.

The material was soft, but I couldn’t tell what it was made of. I wrapped it around my cut, the bleeding now completely stopped. I tied it up and broke it off from the rest of the roll. I put it down on the low table between the seats and couch.

“So…” I squeaked out. “What's the plan?”

Lloyd narrowed his eyes. “Well if he is coming after you… we’re going to need a phrase or word that only us will know.”

“How about something German?” I asked.

“Urm, is that a human dialect?”

“Yeah, it's one of many,” I clarified. “The specific word I had in mind is ‘ketzer’ since I doubt anyone here knows what it means.”

Ronin was staying deathly silent by Kira’s unconscious side. Not moving at all except for the small rapid breathes he was taking. Lloyd nodded his head. “Sounds good, Ronin, tell Kira the ‘password’ when she wakes up.”

“What are we gonna do with the Scarlet?” Ronin asked as he gestured to the unconscious sentient sword.

A metallic shriek echoed out as Scarlet suddenly burst from her position and pointed her blade around the room. A pained groan following as she sheathed herself, realizing we were safe. “What happened?

“Luson got you,” I said with a grimace. “I don’t even know how you’re alive after that…”

“I have taken worse beatings, but never that fast. Hopefully that evil beast bleeds to death from both our shots at him.” She adjusted herself onto the chair again.

Ronin broke his silence in a low voice devoid of emotion. “Do you know where he-”

“Nuh uh, Ronin, not again.” Lloyd interrupted. “Your only job right now is to make sure Kira wakes back up safely. You’re not going on some crusade by yourself, no matter what you think it’ll accomplish.”

Ronin reluctantly conceded, picking Kira up and making his way upstairs. “I will gut that Zoroark alive when he finds us then.”

“You can do whatever you want to him then and then alone.” Lloyd turned his attention to me. “I’m no doctor… but uh, I think you should rest. There is a bed upstairs for you.”

I nodded as I climbed the stairs, finding Ronin and Kira sharing a bed, both embracing each other with each other's arms. I saw a bed that had my name on it, carved into a small wooden plate in the new language that appeared in my head.

It was quite comfortable, despite how it looked. I gazed up and saw the stars. Entire galaxies worth of them up through a skylight. My mind began to unravel and relax, embracing the moment of respite. Slowly I found myself drifting off to sleep… hoping that Kira was sleeping as well as I was.

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A Zoroark growled in pain as it yanked a bullet from out of a wound on its left shoulder. Cursing under its breath as it tossed the piece of lead away onto the forest floor. The tree branch he was on squeaked as he repositioned himself, desperately trying to find a place that gave comfort and balance.

He popped an Oran berry over his face, its effects numbing the throbbing pain from the slash across it and jumpstarting the healing process. A sly smile grew on his face, that human could’ve killed him if he placed that shot better.

‘Guess the Honedge threw him off…’

The blood-caked Zoroark laughed to himself. Remembering the Honedge’s attempt at his life, and how pitiful it became after it landed its first and only hit. The slashing was fast, furious, but lacked any restraint and flow.

“I’m glad one of us is having fun,” a voice said from above him.

Luson brushed the newcomer off. “I’m enjoying the moment, heh, just feeling out our prey before I actually try.”

The form of a Decidueye slowly revealed itself from the shadows. “Why must you be so stupid? Now they’ll be on guard for us.”

“Correction; they’ll be on guard for a dastardly Zoroark. Not a big bad birdy with a bow.”

“You fool…” the Decidueye sighed in frustration. “You do realize that the Greninja will recognize me immediately, right?”

Luson rolled his eyes. “Just kill him first then, I fail to see what the problem is.”

“Believe me, I tried that.” the Decidueye snarled.

“Clearly you didn’t try hard enough-”

The angry bird let loose an arrow, hitting just above the Zoroark’s head. “I’m done with you, meet back up with our employers and we’ll see how to proceed from here. Oh, and do NOT engage with them until told. Understood?”

“Yeesh, don’t have to ask me twice.”
 
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Chapter 4: Sharp wits and a Sharper Mind New
A man with a golden gun
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Chapter 4: Sharps wits and a Shaper Mind

I was beginning to feel my ribbon properly again after some sleep. The chair was comfortable enough to allow me to rest easy, even if I’d prefer something else. Right now, all me and Mason have to do is recover. Thankfully his arm is healing up nicely. I was surprised it isn’t scarring given how large it was, he said something about humans having really good healing naturally. Maybe that might be playing a factor.

Mason had left for a while, doing something with Kira and Ronin. I didn’t bother to ask. I had assumed that it was private, seeing as I wasn’t in their team. They returned not too long later, a tired expression plaguing the Gardevoir and Gallade.

The human however, seemed unamused.

“I was expecting much worse if I’m being honest.” Mason said as he walked up the stairs.

Kira slowly came up after him, I could see the exhaustion in her eyes. “Ronin considers that a more intense session.”

“Oh...”

Ronin smiled, calling up after him. “Don’t feel sorry for her. If she wishes to come with me on those runs, she will feel the wrath they incur on the unprepared.”

“You don’t have to be so dramatic, dearest.” Kira retorted back down.

“So… where do you hail from, Scarlet?” Lloyd’s voice snapped me away from the scene. I turned to the Greninja, seeing him getting comfortable in his seat as Ronin took his.

“Up in the northern Etyth mountains, they say steel-types like it up there. I never did.”

“So then what brings you down to Narkin of all places?” Lloyd narrowed his eyes. His voice remaining smooth. “It's not every day you see a Honedge in these parts, especially a… uh, Chosen.”

I rolled my eye, my color was more of a hindrance than anything. “I wanted to just get away, everything is just so boring up there. Going on an adventure to the frontier sounded nice so long as I could find Pokémon to do it with.”

A flash of light permeated around the room briefly, revealing Kira as she sat down beside Ronin. She looked almost frustrated and angry. I was no psychic, so I couldn’t really tell beyond just her body language unless I touched her with my ribbon. Her voice was eerily devoid of the emotion I heard in it before.

She looked briefly at me, a mix of frustration and anger washing over it. “There is a new complication that Scarlet had brought to me and Mason while we were at the Guild.”

“What may that be?” Lloyd asked.

“Mason wasn’t the only one, his… father, is also here.” the anger she was feeling seeped into her voice like a stream. “We need to deal with Luson fast, and hopefully get enough information out of him so we can find where these bastards took him.”

I felt obligated to help him, they both saved me from this ‘Lycoris’ group and it's technically my fault that they made off with Mason’s father. My blade rustled in its sheath, restless and desperately wanting action. I could never wait for very long, patience just wasn’t my thing. I know we need to rest and recover, but I just didn’t care at all.

I had no royal guard to call upon, and that suited me just fine. I didn’t need protection anymore from my own mistakes. Just the cold iron will to right them.

Lloyd sighed and shook his head. “I know what you’re thinking, Scarlet and Kira, but we can’t be, uh, aggressive when it's someone who is good with illusions.-”

“What breaks a Zoroark’s illusion?” Mason’s voice echoed out as he carefully came down the stairs.

“Urm, usually the breaking of their focus, or touching them. Hitting them hard with something does the trick usually… I know from experience.”

“Does the person creating the illusion have to be aware of things like walking through light smoke causing it to move in order to hide it?” Mason asked. It sounded like something they’d need to be aware of. Although Zoroarks aren’t exactly the most common sight where I’m from, I wouldn’t know the specifics.

“Yes they do,” Kira answered. “However Luson would know to cover his tracks properly through that sort of obstacle.”

“Same thing with mirrors I assume, right?”

Kira sighed heavily. “Yes, he’d have to be aware of everything that can give him away. We can catch him off guard but that's only useful if we’re already aware of him.”

“What about rain? How hard would that be to get through?”

Ronin leaned out of his seat in deep thought as Lloyd stared through the skylight. A pillow beside Ronin started to slowly rise into the air. “Rain would be hard for him to deal with. Lloyd could create a storm in the area, but he just can’t keep it going for very long. He’d need help.” the pillow dropped back down to the couch as he ended.

“What if I could help him?” I said with newfound energy. “I too can summon storms, I just need some practice before I can do it again. It has been a while since I have done it properly.”

Lloyd got up and walked past us, looking out the front window. “Well… that's great, but right now we need to find him. I can call in a few favors... specifically a Lucario. Aura will be our best bet at locating this guy. Since Mason is his… uh, target, all of us are at risk if we leave this building and he knows who is harboring him. We’ll unfortunately have to either split up, or stay together and maybe get some unwanted attention.” he turned around, facing Mason with weary eyes. “Look, I doubt you’ll make any trouble, however you won’t have to. It’s already looking for you.”

“I’m fine with either, don’t let me clog up your decision making. I’m the stranger here.” Mason replied dutifully.

Kira smiled. “If anyone was to get hurt, I’d prefer if all of us stuck together. Plus I’ve got a Zoroark to bind in rope now after what happened in the Guild.”

“And bash into the dirt repeatedly.” I added.

My blade felt dull in areas, only adding to my feeling of restlessness. I needed to sharpen it if I wanted to return to full health and it needed to happen soon. Waiting around feels like we’re wasting time. Precious seconds that Mason’s father probably doesn’t have.

Time that could be better spent sending this scum straight to Giratina.

Ronin looked just as restless as me, probably wanting revenge for Kira. He flexed his blades as he spoke in a deep voice. “We should stick together. But for now we should try and get Mason entirely accepted into the Guild. Currently all he has to do is a mock-run of a dungeon and everything should be fair as day.”

“Dungeon? Am I raiding a castle?” Mason jokingly asked.

Kira rolled her eyes as she pointed to a map on the wall. It depicted the layout of the land, and marked various points, including mystery dungeons. “No, we call them ‘dungeons’ or ‘mystery dungeons’. Places that have been cursed to forever change without exceptions, Pokémon explore them to find treasure or to rescue Pokémon who wander into them. Ferals populate them, and the deeper you go, the more… strange things begin to happen.”

“Define strange.”

“Visions of the future, past, or locations foreign to this world, voices in your head. Some say that they find curiosities that don’t seem to be from this world… and there are more effects and things still discovered to this day. It’s a frontier, one that I doubt has an end. Makes me tired just thinking about it.”

Mason looked at the map, pulling a weird looking rectangle out of his pocket. It seemed to glow for a moment as he pushed things seemingly on its glowing surface, before it suddenly went black. He put it back in his pocket, what was that? Some sort of human thing?

Curiosity took hold, beating down my restlessness for now. “What did you just do?”

“Oh uh… where would I even begin…” he took whatever it was back out of his pocket. It started to glow again as he seemingly pushed things on its flat surface again, before stopping, and gesturing for me to come over.

I looked confusedly at it, the map on the wall looked to be now on this weird rectangle. Smaller, but still readable. He then turned it around and looked to push something else. My eye hurt for a second as a bright light came from this strange object.

Mason turned it around again, I widened my eye in shock as I stared at what looked to be me. Like a painting, but done instantly in some kind of light. Every detail was perfect, including the area behind me.

“What is that- thing?” I asked in wonder.

“Human technology at some of it’s finest, can’t explain to you how it works though without confusing you more… I’m only comfortable using it because I found something else in my bag that will be able to charge this thing. Otherwise, know that this thing can run out of energy. And then it becomes useless.”

“How does someone even be able to begin to make such a thing?”

He put it back in his pocket, an embarrassed look on his face. “Afraid I don’t know, I'm just an average guy. All I can tell you is that it's fragile, and that it costs way more to buy one than what it costs to make them.”

“You won’t need such a thing,” Kira began. “However, you are allowed to bring it and whatever you else want.”

“So I’ll be doing it alone?”

Lloyd got up, along with Ronin and Kira. “We’ll have to ask Ace when we get there. Odds are you’ll have a team of three or four though. And I would expect a fight if I were you, should probably bring whatever human-made weaponry you have. Just don’t do anything that I can’t heal.”

“Roger that,” Mason started going back up the stairs but stopped short. “Hey wait, Scarlet, have you done this test before?”

I remembered I hadn’t, mostly because I had to reason to for most of my life. Better late than never I suppose. “No, perhaps I could try and do it with you. I might need the badge and benefits later.”

“Eh, alright. I'll be right back after I decide what I'm bringing along for the ride then.” Mason disappeared upstairs, probably wondering which of his human contraptions to attempt to impress us with next.

Kira seemed to notice my growing discomfort judging by the way she was looking at me. A worried expression, hand to chin, and her rapidly approaching stride. She stopped just in front of me. “Are you alright?”

“My blade is dull because of what happened in the Guild… I just need a smooth rock or something to sharpen it myself.”

She nodded before going into the kitchen area. The closest I could compare would be having dead skin for fleshy types, except it couldn’t be removed without a fight. And it would preferably be done by someone else…

“Here,” she handed me a decently large decorative rock. “Will this work?”

I bowed slightly as I unsheathed my blade. “Yes, thank you.”

I held the rock in my ribbon, not the most heavy thing, nor the most tedious thing to keep around for later should I need it. I’ll ask later if I could have one like it, or to keep it. I put the rock to my blade-

“Alright, I’m ready.” Mason announced as he jumped off the staircase and landed next to me. I nearly dropped the rock in surprise, kept only in my ribbon because of its weight. Relief flowed through me as I sighed, now I’ll have to do this on the move…

Ronin and Lloyd touched their badges, a glow started to permeate from them. Ronin flashed a smile to Kira. “See you in a flash.” their words barely made it to us before they disappeared.

“We should be going as well, who knows what they’ll get themselves into without us.” Kira giggled as my vision faded. The air became colder and less claustrophobic, the noises of the Guild’s lobby coming in full force.

“Ah, who do we have here?” a Malamar behind the counter asked.

Kira glanced at me and Mason. “Two fine Pokémon hoping to do the test today.”

“Righto, can I get your name?”

“Scarlet of the Etyth Mountain Fortress.” I mumbled.

He seemed rather shocked for a moment before writing something down on some sort of board. “So you’re… ah, I see. No matter, you both can make your way to the training area where Ace will be. He’ll handle the rest.”

The Guild wasn’t busy, few Pokémon darted through the hallways or were taking their time with whatever they had on their hands. We passed by a team that came inside from the training area, looking rather tired with whatever they were doing. I still needed to sharpen myself. The feeling was becoming unbearable.

Whatever notion I could’ve had about the training area being underdeveloped vanished as we entered. The sounds of power wrapped around us from those that were currently training or battling, occasional yelling piercing through it.

An Inteleon with a Guild Leader badge stood amongst the organized chaos, he saw Mason and smiled. “Back on your feet I see, perfect. I also see you have a new friend, there is just one thing we need to make sure of first…”

“And what would that be, Ace?” Mason asked defensively.

Ace gestured to the various training Pokémon around us. “Why the combat test of course! We can’t just throw people into the mystery dungeon without at least testing their basic abilities.”

“So… uh... who would we be fighting then?”

“Me, but I’ll be going easy on you both. It’s only a combat awareness test, the real stuff will be during the actual run of the mystery dungeon.”

Mason stared at him, mouth slightly agape. “Uh where are we doing this?”

“Here,” Ace glanced at Kira and pointed to the side. “I’d recommend you stand clear just in case.”

She nodded and walked over, leaving me and Mason standing side by side. Facing this town’s Guild Leader in a two on one battle was not something I expected from this…

Except I was STILL BLUNTED.

“Mason, can you do something for me please?”

He glanced at me, seeing the rock in my sash. “Yea?”

“Look, you don’t have any powers, and I’m currently blunted and can’t cut through anything. Can you just hit him real hard with me please and get this over with?”

He looked at me with a confused expression. “You want me to… oh, wield you like an actual sword?”

“Please do, just spare me the embarrassment.” I was getting even more impatient, at least I can guide his hand should I need to.

Mason took hold of the handle, I could tell he didn’t have a tight enough grip. “You don’t have to be afraid of hurting me unless an attack hits the area around where your hand currently is… you know what, let me help.”

I tossed the rock to Kira and gripped Mason’s right arm with my ribbon. It glowed briefly as I lent him some knowledge on how to swing a sword a little better than a rookie. Hopefully it’ll be enough, on my own I can barely do anything with a blunted blade. All Honedge are and should be taught that.

“Begin.” Ace said as he pointed a finger at us.

Mason started circling around our opponent slowly, probably waiting for Ace to make a move. He jabbed me forward at Ace’s chest as his finger began to glow bright blue. I pulled Mason out of the way of the water pulse, scrambling forward to make some pressure.

[Get this over with, just hit him in the head or something.] I impatiently said to him.

Mason shook his head. [Nearly got hit by playing aggressive, be patient, I’m waiting for an opening.] He started circling around again, keeping some kind of stance at the ready. Ace narrowed his eyes and pointed at us again. Mason charged at him but kept me to the side. What was he doing?

Ace jumped in the air again, Mason’s arm flexed, oh now I see… I let him go with my ribbon as he threw me at him. Ace’s tail grabbed me, I seized his arm with my ribbon and siphoned some energy. Bits of my blade seemed to sharpen back up, maybe I won’t need the rock after all-

The glow of a water pulse hit me, I grunted in pain and landed on the ground with a thud. I readied myself again, seeing Mason take something off his own waist with one arm as he pulled Ace towards him with the other.

Ace’s tail swung around towards Mason’s feet. He hunkered down in his stance, a grunt escaping him as it collided. Mason pulled him closer, his other hand with the weird rectangle on collision course with Ace’s chest.

A cackling filled the air as Ace started to convulse with electricity. He grunted in intense pain before the cackling stopped falling over. Arceus above this took FAR too long. The effects seemed to go somewhat away, though I could tell he would be feeling that for the rest of the day.

“What in blazes was that?” Ace croaked out as Kira healed him.

Mason had some sort of black rectangle in his hand again, though it didn’t look quite like the other one he has. “A stun-gun, one of my… tools.” the cackling of electricity came from it before he attached it back to his waist. “I have some basic hand-to-hand training, though I doubt it would’ve worked on you.”

“So I take it you’re familiar with this sort of thing, chap?”

He nervously smiled. “Well I do- did, deal with criminals as my job. I try to be efficient like my dad taught me.”

“I wasn’t expecting that, so you got me there.” he stood back up and dusted himself off. “I say it's time to get this party started, what about you two chaps?”

“Not before I ask Mason to help me with something after.” I took the rock back, Kira had put it on the ground to treat Ace’s injuries. “Do you see blunted bits on my blade?” I nearly whispered to him.

“What about them?”

“Can you scrape at them with that after we get to the mystery dungeon?” I gestured to the rock he now held in his hand.

He had an unsure look on his face. What wasn’t straightforward about that? “Uh, sure I guess… am I allowed to ask why you can’t do it yourself and right now?”

“Because it’s muckin’ embarrassing, that's why.” I hissed quietly. “It’s like an itch you can’t scratch, every second is making me more irritable and I swear now couldn’t have been a worse time for this-”

I must’ve struck a nerve, his tone blackened in tone like mine. “Alright I get it, calm down. Stop being so damn aggressive and learn some bloody patience. I’m still new to this whole thing.” With a sigh, I slid my sheath back on as he frustratedly tossed the rock between his hands.

“Sorry,” I blurted out.

“Just promise me you’ll try to keep a cool head at the very least. Trust me when I say people die when they don’t.” I nodded, earning a tentative smile from him. He put the rock in some pouch on his waist clothing. “Remind me to uh… ‘sharpen’ you later.”

“And you can trust me when I say that you will never hear the end of it.” I sarcastically answered. He snickered as he sat on some sort of seat.

I noticed that the Malamar was here, talking with Ace and Kira about something. I could only guess it had to do with the test, maybe Mason surprised him more than he initially thought. A voice appeared in my mind, giving me the instruction of meeting in the center of the area.

“That felt weird…” Mason muttered as he rose from the seat. The Malamar must’ve given everyone the announcement.

“As psychic powers usually do.”

Ace now had a small crowd of Pokémon around him, he stepped up onto something and spoke as we approached. “Gather around chaps, we’re heading out to the mystery dungeon now. Remember who you’re with. Rules are simple; get to the end and collect your badges and get out as fast as possible. If I or anyone else catch any of you cheating by taking another team’s badges or being general nuisances then you’ll be removed. Understand?”

Some raised their hands, some hollered, others kept silent and nodded. Ace carefully looked over everyone. “Good luck, see you chaps on the other side.”

A brilliant glow briefly took my vision. My sight returning to find ourselves on the side of a cliff overlooking a large swath of land that had ruins all over it.

Mason stared in shock at them. “Those are…”

“Those are what?”

He shook his head, looking a little on edge suddenly. “It’s nothing, they reminded me of something.”

Whatever was bothering him clearly stayed, Ace was talking, though I didn’t quite care. I stared more at the ruins that dotted the landscape, seeing a tall building that looked to have been created of metal and some sort of rock that was grey, covered now in vines and moss.

Mason seemed to snap himself out of his stupor, returning to the crowd. Something still was off, and it was more than just my blunted blade.
 
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Chapter 5: Scourge of the Past New
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Chapter 5: Scourge of the Past
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Tanks dotted the landscape, old time world war two tanks. Holes punched through them, rusted to hell, what looked to be the ruins for a military base scattered amongst it all. My body refused to remove itself from its position, the battlefield drawing my undivided attention to its all encompassing question...

What in the ever living hell happened here?

“Is something bothering you about the ruins?” Scarlet asked as she stared out with me.

I pointed to one of the tanks. “Do you know what those are?”

“No, I thought they were buildings.”

I couldn’t help but narrow my eyes. I wonder if Ronin knows anything about this. This isn’t even a ‘Mystery Dungeon’ according to Kira, meaning this is just straight up the remnants of humanity right here. But something wasn’t right, different tanks were on either side, like it was an actual battle ripped straight out of world war two. Something destroyed these tanks and this base, and judging by the holes in all of it, it wasn’t just Pokémon.

Was there infighting between humans? A war between two human factions and the Pokémon cult? Or were they similar to me in that they got zapped here for no apparent reason? Also was there possibly weaponry down there for me to nab… like maybe a German machine gun. Wait, were these even Germans?

I spun around looking for a certain Gardevoir, maybe she’d know what this place was. “Where is Kira-”

“Here,” she announced with a tap on my shoulder. “Did you need something before you went down?”

“I wanted to know if you or maybe Ronin knew anything about this place.” I asked with growing curiosity.

She stared out into it, taking a deep breath. “No, hardly anything is known about this place. Some say it's cursed though…”

Well damn it, maybe somebody else will know. Best case scenario, I find out what happened and snag myself a weapon and a lot of ammo to go with it. Assuming it works somehow. And I already know what the worst case scenario is, better move quickly then. Sooner we get this out of the way the better.

“Something wrong?” Kira’s voice snapped me out of my stupor.

“Eh, I’m just a little… weirded out. I’ll tell you later after we finish, it's not relevant right now.”

She nodded, waving for us to follow her. “If you insist. Anyway, I’ll be making sure nothing happens to either of you during the run. Ace needed you both as well, you’re starting everything off.”

Kira weaved us through the dense and rowdy crowd. A myriad of different Pokémon present, small ones, flying ones, metallic creatures that I could only imagine their weight. A Metagross stood amongst the metal-types, its eyes glued to me.

That didn’t bode well. Especially for the paranoid side of me that damn well knows that something bad will happen the very second there isn’t peer supervision to stop them. We walked past them regardless, it’s emotionless eyes boring into me.

Out of the crowd, Ace was slightly above everyone, though I couldn’t quite tell what he was perched up on. Merek was beside him, tentacles wrapped behind his own back like he was about to give a speech. He waved us over.

“Sorry about spreading you all out like that,” Merek said as he slightly bowed his head. “You’d be surprised how hard it is to properly coordinate other psychic Pokémon on where to focus their energy to even out a group teleport.”

Group teleports? Wonder how much energy it took, especially with how many Pokémon there were that came out here. “It’s fine, we’re both ready to go now if we can.”

“Well your job is simple, in the area you’ll be teleported to are various badges. You’re going to find one for each of you, then you’ll move over to that mountain over there and do a reset of an actual mystery dungeon…”

“Reset?” I asked. Was this referring to when they switch up their layout and whatnot?

He narrowed his eyes, pointing to the mountain. “Sometimes the dungeon changes a lot, sometimes it changes very little. But when you frequent it, you’ll notice a pattern. An event if you would, a common variable that happens every time before each reset.”

“What?”

“It's hard to explain thoroughly,” Kira remarked. “Imagine lord Dialga resetting time at a certain point. Whether or not the event that lord Dialga resets time on happens properly or not is irrelevant, only that after a set period of time it begins again from the beginning.”

“So then why does it randomize itself if it just resets?” I have a hunch, one that’ll explain the world war two tanks and battle. Is this world a melting pot for timelines? Things randomly showing up here with no explanation seems to be the norm, except for me, apparently I’m something new.

That scares me a lot more than I want it to.

Scarlet shook in her sheath, guess I wouldn’t be getting my answers yet. “Thanks for the history lesson, but can we please be going now?”

“Of course,” Merek smiled as a glow formed around his eyes. “Remember, no interfering with other other fletchling teams.”

Everything whited out as my breaths stopped for the briefest of seconds. The procedure of teleportation was something I’ll never get used to. A cold sweat was upon me, seemingly bringing up fears of unknown dangers. We were amongst the ruins and rusted tanks, far enough away that I couldn’t see the cliffside we were on. This place must have stretched out for a while if that was the case, or maybe it was just the lush green trees and thick vegetation that was preventing me from seeing them.

I took the rock out, smooth was its surface. The red Honedge rustled in response. “Oh Arceus above, I swore we’d never make it here.”

“Some patience would do you well-” she grabbed my arm with her ribbon, the handle grasped tightly in my hand. “Alright fine, where do I start?”

She wearily sighed. “To your left, near the ‘hilt’ as you’d call it.”

I saw what she was talking about, a grey splotch of metal that seemed to be out of place. I started rubbing it with the stone. It sounded like I knew it would, an odd grinding sound that wasn’t exactly unpleasant. No, it felt more like something you’d hear elsewhere, like it a blacksmith if they have those around here.

Wouldn’t it be more effective to use a grindstone? Maybe it's because their blade apparently grows chipped bits off that she didn’t mention it, or maybe they’re rare…

“Now it's near the tip, same side.” As her instructions stated, a much bigger patch was there. I started to glance around the area subconsciously as I sharpened her. I didn’t like the idea of a potentially angry Pokémon jumping out at me and trying to kill me, at least with animals they don’t have a ranged attack as an option. These Pokémon? Oh man I was probably forgetting some of the horrid things they can throw at me.

From acid, all the way up to something that’ll probably knock the soul out of my body. Guess it's a good thing nobody has guns except me, last thing I want to deal with is someone like Kira or Ronin with a gun. Truly the only thing to get me quaking in my boots at the mere thought.

I adjusted my blue police hat to block out the sun, reminded that the elements are just as harsh here as they are back home.

“Almost done, flip my blade around and it should be on the same side.” More splotchy bits of metal, localized to a single part. Should be simple still. After a few scrapes it came off with relative ease, though I wondered how much of a hassle this would have been if she’d been in worse condition.

I stopped and eyed my work, seeing nothing there but a sharp edge. “Anywhere else?”

“Thankfully no.” She unwrapped her ribbon from my arm, floating off and doing a mock cut of the air in front of her. “And everything is in order for us to continue ahead... thank you, human.”

“No problem, are there other ways you can sharpen yourself? Or is this the only way?”

A dark chuckle came from her as her ribbon glowed a purple energy. “I can sharpen myself using the lifeforce of others, like I partially did with Ace. But I wasn’t able to completely get my blade back as you saw since I didn’t draw enough energy.”

“You can theoretically kill someone with that, right?” I blurted out, biting my lip as I realized the implications.

She laughed, hopefully taking it as little more than curiosity. “It can do that… but I can also use it to just knock someone out cold. Besides, if it makes you feel any better, I’d be more inclined to keep you alive so the source doesn’t run dry.”

“Ah, so I should just worry about…” I trailed off, stopping short as I eyed the remains of a tank. It seemed sealed off on the inside, perfect place to maybe have something salvageable.

Scarlet tapped me on the shoulder, her red ribbon tearing my attention away from the remains of the conflict long gone. “Are you alright? Did something catch your eye?”

I silently approached the tank’s front, the long barrel still attached to the tank itself. It seemed oddly structurally sound, despite being here for so long. Rust had claimed it though, just like the others. I climbed to the top, hopping onto it and clambering for the hatch.

For some odd reason, I felt like I’ve been here before.

The hatch heaved as I tried to pry it open, the metal creaking with resistance. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my own strength alone. “Can you bust this open?”

“Wait, that is a hatch? What are these things?”

“Old human war machines,” I stated matter of factly, a deathly silence suddenly between us. “They’re broken, and I doubt any of them will work. But I think I can find something worth salvaging in them for… future use.”

She stood still, staring at me in a stupor. “You- you are telling me these things are human weapons used in war?”

“Fun fact, that thing you're hovering just above? That’s the main gun, and when it's fired off, whatever it’s aimed at disappears.” I swore I saw shock flash across the weird crystal that served as her eye.

“This can make things disappear? How does that work?”

“Not literally,” I sighed, remembering that I probably shouldn’t be making sly comments on things that she doesn’t understand. “It fires a projectile that explodes on impact or that punches through armor. So if this worked I could fire this at a tree, it’d be turned to little more than splinters.”

She unsheathed her blade, a glow around it as she aimed for the hinges. The creaking of metal echoed out as something shot out of the end of her blade, the hinges popped off in a cloud of smoke. With a heave, I lifted off the hatch and threw it onto the grass below me.

I carefully climbed down into it, surprised by how much better the tank looked inside. There was little rust at all, no breaches in its armor either, all the tank ammunition long since gone to who knows where. Perhaps that would be for the better, would rather not set something off.

Scarlet gasped as she tapped me on my shoulder and pointed behind me. “Is that-”

“Yes, this would appear to be one of the tanker crew. Alone, huh, normally there’d be more than one…” a human skeleton was sat against the wall. Alone and cold, its right hand clutching what looked to be a picture long faded away from the ravages of time. Poor guy.

“It took more than one human to use these things?”

“You had to load the shells manually.” I pointed to the ammo rack and barrel entrance. “You put one in there, close the mechanism up, then prayed it didn’t misfire, explode inside the barrel, or miss. So yes, having more than one person inside was the standard.”

She shook side to side, probably the equivalent of shaking your head for a rigid object. “Your kind is insane, why would you need these things? And from what you’ve told me, I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if they moved.”

“Because flesh is weak to bullets, but metal isn’t. Also they do move.”

She spun around, looking for something that I doubt she’d find. “HOW DOES A HUNK OF METAL MOVE WITHOUT A SOUL?”

“Ask the guy that created them, not me.” I started rummaging around, seeing a tarp wrapped around something beside the skeleton. “From what I’ve seen, you Pokémon have no such need for these things because you have powers and such.”

I unfolded the tarp, finding a well sealed box. “Something is off…” I muttered.

“What is wrong with it?”

“I feel like I’ve seen this before,” I opened the box, revealing a pistol. A good ol’ nineteen-eleven. Seemed to be in great condition too, perfect. I noticed some notes that were still there, in English. But one stood out, one written in one that wasn’t...

Fin, Orik, the other human artifacts are to be stored north of here, they must be kept clean and we cannot afford to lose them. Mystery Dungeons give what they want after all, and it may be ages until we ever find similar artifacts in the future. I’ll be waiting.

“What's north of here?” I asked.

She peered at the notes. “The mystery dungeon, if I am remembering things correctly... why do you ask?”

“Somebody hid this here, along with a request to two other Pokémon to take any human artifacts to a secondary location north of here. ” I took my new pistol in hand, seeing that it wasn’t loaded. The parts of it seemed fine, not the cleanest thing, but I think it’ll shoot straight.

Scarlet looked at this new weapon with great interest. “How is this one different from your other one?”

“Easier to load and shoots faster.” A few magazines were scattered throughout the box, the bullets inside them seemed fine to shoot… I’ll trust them for now anyway. I put them in my vest pockets, sliding one into the gun itself with a few satisfying clicks.

“How… marvelous,” Scarlet paused before looking back at the notes. “How can you read that anyway? Is that some kind of human dialect?”

I turned my head to face her, the air seemingly becoming thicker. “Wait, you can’t read that?”

“No I cannot, but you clearly can.”

“Then that’d mean… wait,” If they’re speaking a different language entirely and I can understand them, but they can’t understand mine… what's going on? “Back when you first found me, was I hit with some kind of psychic attack?”

She shrunk back a little. “One was trying to get inside your mind, but I slashed at their chest before they could get through completely. You might have… broke just before that.”

“What does that even mean?”

“They got through to your head just as I got to them, the shock might have… allowed you to accidentally take some of their memories maybe.” she seemed flustered. “You said that this place was familiar, right? Maybe they stashed some goods around here and you are remembering that subconsciously perhaps.”

I shook my head, a headache starting to fester. “Hopefully I didn’t take anything more than just the guys' memories, let's go complete this damn trial. Then we can question Kira on it later.” She nodded as I climbed back out, the fresh air of the forest flooding my lungs again.

Time seemed to grind to a halt. Our search began with our spirits high, having found me my newest pistol in the tank and a possible lead. But as we trudged and marched through this green hell, I realized we had no idea what we were even looking for.

We stumbled upon what looked to be a pond, at the bottom of it, two shiny objects that must’ve been badges resided. Both of us thought it’d be easy to swipe them, she touted how she could use ‘shadows’ to do it with ease. I agreed, having remembered seeing what she did against Luson.

Scarlet disappeared in a purple glow, the ground seemingly absorbing her as the badges were taken by her ribbon. She appeared beside me, emerging from the shadow entirely drenched.

“You alright?”

She tossed me one of the badges, pinning the other to her own ribbon. “Just wet.”

“Alright,” I pinned the badge to my vest, right over my heart. “Now what do we do?”

A branch cracked behind us. [It's just me,] a voice echoed out softly in my head, stopping my hand from reaching for the weapon on my hip. The familiar sight of a Gardevoir stepped out of the bushes. [Seeing as you both found your badges, you can go directly to the Mystery Dungeon if you want.]

“Uh quick question before we get teleported… would it be possible for a psychic type to mess up some kind of process and end up accidentally giving me their memories?” I awkwardly asked.

She widened her eyes briefly, regaining her composure along. A look of worry came across her face as she slowly approached, keeping her eyes on the ground in front of her. “I don’t know what sprung this question, but yes that is possible. Did you and Scarlet figure something out?”

“The short version is that, apparently, I got hit by a psychic who tried to take my memories or something before you found me.”

“Well, that changes things…” Kira narrowed her eyes. “If you come across anything that seems familiar to you around here, be careful.” a bright pink glowed from her eyes. She outstretched her hands towards us. “I’ll try my best to keep an eye on you both while you’re in there. Just remember this; the deeper you go, the less predictable it gets. Good luck.”

A flash of light took my vision again, air stolen from my lungs as I gasped to breath. My knees collapsed onto themselves, meeting the cold rocky ground. My throat was hoarse suddenly. “That… hurt… what happened?”

“You are supposed to breathe out during a teleport, if you can breathe anyway. Or else something weird happens with the air, you should be fine.” Scarlet lifted me to my feet and dusted me off using her ribbon. A surprising amount of strength in it.

We were on the side of a mountain, I’d guess it was the one I saw in the distance from the cliffside. Trees were mostly gone, replaced by rocky encampments and patches of grass. Rock types probably called this place home, and I don’t want to know how resistant they are to my bullets.

Maybe I should invest into a melee weapon… other than Scarlet.

A cave was right in front of us, a sign hung above it on some rope.

Narkin Roost

“Why the hell would you name a Mystery Dungeon ‘Narkin Roost’?” I sarcastically asked.

Scarlet started to enter, slowly floating along with me right behind her. “Who knows, I do not exactly live around here after all.”

“I don’t even come from this world entirely, surely you have some insight I can gain?”

“You are a curious one,” she chuckled heartily. “But I guess that is a human thing. Honestly, I do not know what thought went into making that name.”

“I think you mean the lack of thought-” I stopped short, seeing two figures marching out of the darkness right towards us. I thought they could’ve been another team, but the one cloaked in a hood looked far too human to be coincidental.

Something was off in the air, like pressure was crushing me from everywhere at once. I stared into its eyes…

Like a twisted mirror, I saw that they were mine.
 
Chapter 6: Corrupted Reflections New
A man with a golden gun
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Chapter 6: Corrupted Reflections
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“W- what are you?” I called out. Bated breaths caught in my throat, my hands hovering over my guns. The figure remained still with little more than the occasional sway. Fear of the unknown began to take hold in my heart, twisting this situation into something worse then I could ever dream.

Silence took the scene as the figure remained still. It’s hand mirroring my own with the glint of another gun on its hip. My heart was starting to pound, each beat rhythmically getting faster for some final crescendo.

Scarlet was far too calm for my liking, seemingly entranced by her double. If they were to get mixed up, I doubt I’d be able to tell them apart. I stared once more into the figures eyes, seeing my own. What were these things? And are they a threat?

I swore its hand just got closer to its gun, I can’t take risks like this… I just can’t… I can’t… I…-

The echo of a gunshot tore through the cavern, I stepped back in shock, the figure’s gun pointed directly at my chest. I practically tore my revolver from out of its holster, now pointed at whatever this thing was. Ironically, it had the very same weapon I currently entered this world with.

How did it miss? The barrel was pointed directly at me, that should’ve nailed me right in the chest-

Something fell to the floor with a thump behind us, my breathing stifled as I saw the body of a Slowbro with a bullet in its head. The Shellder on its arm writhing in pain. The figure slowly started to walk towards us, the Honedge right behind it.

It tore off its hood, my own face greeting me like some messed up mirror. He looked to the second Scarlet, a grimace on his face. “I’m just faster to the draw I guess, let's get out of here before more show up.” Fake-me walked towards the exit with fake-Scarlet in tow, disappearing into nothingness as they reached the light. What did I just see? A different version of me? A possible future? Something inevitable?

I shakily put my gun away, my fingers barely able to register the action. “What were those things?”

“I…” Scarlet worriedly wrapped her ribbon around herself like she was trying to find warmth. “I can not really explain it, all we know is that the Mystery Dungeons sometimes show Pokémon visions and whatnot like Kira had said.” her body tipped forward slightly, hovering down the cave with me close behind again.

Something didn’t feel right anymore, like what I just saw was a warning more than anything else. The words nearly caught in my throat, only being uttered because the more calm side won out. “Didn’t that seem, oh I don’t know, a little too lifelike? Surely that means something.”

“Just be careful. If we are getting these now, picture what will happen further down.”

I suddenly didn’t want to be here anymore, but it could be worse. I could’ve ended up here alone and without something to defend myself with. I took my nineteen-eleven out. Hopefully that’ll curb my paranoia.

My footsteps echoed around us, darkness starting to consume all of my vision. Merely following Scarlet’s soft red glow, trusting that she won’t lead me off a cliff by accident. I found it oddly calming. Especially when compared to whatever those things were.

Some part of me didn’t want to believe what was taking place, that this was all some horrid dream that I have yet to awake from. But if this was a dream, it's a damn good one, right on the balance of both nightmare and calm. The unexplainable, and the supernatural.

It felt, dare I say… familiar.

A light was in the distance, apparently something else was here. I winced as we approached, my eyes having just gotten used to the soft darkness.

I heard Scarlet sigh, one more upbeat in nature. “We are actually here, Arceus above, finally.” We entered onto what looked to be a plateau overlooking the ocean. All of which looked to be inside the mountain, hollowed out by forces unknown.

“I never expected this to be inside a mountain of all places…” I said as my jaw went slack.

“You should see the palace up in the Etyth mountains if you think this is impressive-”

“Wait,” I pointed at her. “Are you royalty or something?”

She let out a disappointed sigh. “Just promise me something first, simply that you do not tell anyone else what you hear. Agreed?”

“On my heart.”

A little unease was in her voice, full of pent up emotion. “I am royalty, and on top of that I am revered because I happen to be a ‘Chosen’. Do not ask about the finer details, you are not getting them yet.”

“Don’t trust me?” I sarcastically retorted.

“I do trust you. Just not with that... not yet.”

“I get it, all’s fine,” We started moving along the edges of the plateau. “Lets just figure out what ‘reset’ means within the context of a Mystery Dungeon.”

This place was weird, it was sunset currently and I know for a fact it wasn’t before we came in. So something funky with time was happening. What could ‘reset’ even mean? Did it have to do with the ‘common variable’ that Merek mentioned?

Kira was talking about time like it was resetting a specific event in a localized area. Wait, are we going to stop the event? Well first we have to figure out what that event even is, and I don’t know where to start. This place is massive after all, probably goes on for miles.

But it sure is beautiful to gaze at.

Slowly I started to realize that I felt like something was watching me, I wanted to chalk that up to being in a new place even farther from home… but I couldn’t. The feeling was unshakable even as I constantly checked behind us, or stopped and scanned the area. Listening to every noise as closely as I could.

Scarlet noticed my agitation, watching behind us every now and then as we crossed over this landscape with no clear destination in mind. Eventually the feeling evolved, I could feel it seeping around me like a smoke. Wrapping around me with smokey tendrils and slowly strangling the sane side of my mind.

I had to steel myself more than ever, even if I was still shaken from what happened at the damned entrance.

“I’m not liking how this place is making me feel, it's like I’m always out of breath.” I murmured timidly.

Scarlet suddenly unsheathed herself, gesturing for me to get behind her. Her voice was frightened. “Something powerful just dropped in behind us.” an odd glow came from her gem “I felt its ghastly power pull at mine, we are not alone anymore and I do not think it is here to greet us... I think it is after you.”

“Oh, for the third time then? Perfect.” I sarcastically muttered to myself as I cocked back my nineteen-eleven. “I swear this happens every day now.”

“CEASE YOUR RETORTS, IT IS HERE-”

An explosion ripped through the area, a tree getting sent directly at us. Scarlet slashed, the tree falling to either end of us. Something stepped out into the light, and it wore my face. Instead of staring through me, I felt it bore into my soul.

I trained my sights on it, my gun tensely held by my hands. Scarlet’s double was nowhere to be found, and that scared me. Where was it hiding? Was it even here? I know this guy was, but how the hell is it physically here now?

My mind was running amuck trying to figure out a possible plan. But then again, this guy had caused an explosion that sent a tree towards us. “So, Scarlet, any ideas?”

“Hold your breath,” her ribbon shot out and grabbed my arm. My feet gave out as I went face-first into the shadow I was being dragged into. Darkness enveloped me, my only feeling being of the ribbon. A pressure inside my mind began to build up, like water was filling every orifice of my body.

The darkness suddenly ceased, spitting me out of its cold embrace. I squinted my eyes at the sudden brightness, barely able to make out what was around me. Scarlet lifted me to my feet, worriedly checking me. “I am sorry about that, but if we see that thing we need to run.”

“Why? I had it dead to rights.” I asked, frustration in my voice.

“Look,” she haphazardly waved her ribbon. “I could feel the power coming off of it like it was some kind of light. The only thing that was ‘dead to rights’ was us.”

I sighed, a part of me happy that we were away from it at least. “What even was that anyway?”

“We call them Reflections, because as you saw, they look like whoever they are going after.”

“Are they always this violent?” I asked, wondering why the hell some different version of me was at my throat.

She seemed at a loss for words, barely managing to even register my question. “I- I do not know. But for now it is better safe than sorry, right?”

“I’ll just ask Kira when I can, for now let's maybe go in the direction of-” A deep roar bellowed out from our right, the sound echoing around us. The ground shook as a Salamence marched up to us.

Scarlet hovered in front of me, unveiling her blade with a swish, already glowing with power. The Salamence didn’t stop its advance, opening its mouth with what looked to be fire building up.

“Retreat?” I asked her.

“Not from this,” she grabbed my arm with her ribbon, a forign feeling leaking into my mind as I grabbed her by the handle. Fervor flowed from her voice. “I will pull you where you need to be, you just have to worry about landing your shots.”

I clicked my safety off, along with the worried side of my brain. I’ll be fine… hopefully. My nineteen-eleven hadn’t seen action yet, and hey, I might be able to tell a great story about how I slayed a dragon with a sentient sword.

A grin grew on my face as the Salamence fired off an ember, Scarlet dragged me into the darkness of my own shadow. [Aim for the lower backside of the neck.] Light returned, finding myself behind the dragon.

I fired three shots off where I was told, two hitting directly as it buckled and roared in pain. No blood was drawn, but the scales looked almost broken…

The Salamence jumped into the sky, its wings catching the air and sending a torrent of flames down to us. Darkness took my vision again as Scarlet's fervor-filled voice spread throughout my mind. [I will smite it to the ground, just be ready to hit the same spot.]

I didn’t want to ask how she intended to do that, simply nodding in approval as I was spat out of a shadow beneath a rock. Scarlet wasn’t anywhere around me, just me and the dragon who was desperately looking for us. It’s enraged eyes finally found me, another furious roar echoing out from its now glowing maw.

A sizable rock was to my right, I dove behind it as more flames billowed out all around me. The fire licking my shoes in intense heat, I rubbed them on the ground, hoping to stifle the flame that nearly burst out on them.

Scarlet exploded into the sky, some kind of ball forming at the tip of her blade. She shouted something I couldn’t understand as it fired it off into the Salamence’s wings. It lost its air, rapidly coming directly towards the rock I was behind. I took cover, braced as the dragon crashed and bounced off of it.

It landed in front of me, I fired off three more shots into the back of the neck. A sickening crack ringed in the air as the scales broke and drew blood. The Salamence jumped to its feet, inconceivable rage fueling it now more than ever. I climbed up onto the rock, ready to jump down behind it when the maddened dragon came for me.

Counting bullets fired, I had one left. Seven rounds was the most these old time nineteen-eleven had in ‘em. I didn’t want to reload just yet, I had an angle I could take advantage of. The Salamence opened its mouth, I took aim and fired into it.

A single shot echoed out as it wrenched in pain. Gagging on lead, definitely not something I’d ever imagine witnessing. It bent its neck down, exposing its broken scales.

“This ends NOW,” Scarlet descended from the sky, her red blade stabbed into its neck where I broke its scales. Twisting around, it tried to fly away. Scarlet pushed deeper, the dragon's wings giving out as it crashed into the ground.

With some sickening sounds of her blade gushing through its flesh, she slashed at the wound with precision. More blood getting spilt everywhere. A fading roar came from the Salamence before it’s head finally fell flat on the ground.

I put the spent magazine in a pocket, a few clicks sounding out before I put a new one in and put the safety on. I looked at Scarlet, her blade now coated in a profuse amount of blood. The blade was already red, making it seem like she was dripping with some kind of power. I had no idea what got into her throughout that...

“Well,” she swept her blade side to side, the blood mostly coming off. “That sure was a fight if I do say so myself.”

I holstered my gun. “Remind me to not make you angry, ever.”

“Oh, it was not anger fueling me there, human.” she snickered as her blade clicked back into the sheath.

“Enlighten me, sentient sword.”

She stared at the Salamence’s corpse, a spark of some sort of feeling flashed across her eye. “The Salamence was one of the targets it would seem. This chaos should be enough to cause a rift.”

“Rifts?” I asked curiously, forgetting about what we just committed.

Like some kind of divine punishment, the body vanished. Leaving in its place a glowing rip in what I assumed to be reality itself. Scarlet didn’t seem phased, she turned to me with a neutral voice. “Do not resist its pull, you are only going to be hurting yourself.”

I didn't respond, my questions seemed to only land me with more questions. Maybe these rifts were how we got lower or completed a ‘reset’ around here. The badges we found started to glow a bright blue. Something was attracted to them, and the badges were absorbing it.

“What’s going to happen next?”

Scarlet laughed. “I do not know, but we are about to find out.”

“Hey wait, I thought you knew this stuff-” a blinding light cut me off, the rift grew in size and started to tug us into it. I wanted to pull away and resist, but Scarlet’s words still rung in my mind. The tug got stronger, I could feel my feet slipping on the rocky surface beneath my shoes.

Scarlet grabbed my arm, her ribbon jerking me into the rift alongside her. A tingling ran up my body, ceasing to feel anything else as I crossed into it. What awaited me was a limitless white abyss punctuated by nothing. The badge’s glow intensified, overtaking my vision with its shine.

My hands met solid ground, relief washed over me as I got my bearings. I struggled to stand, my balance thrown off by whatever that did to me. I saw Scarlet hover over to me, her ribbon shot out and helped me to my feet. We were still in the Mystery Dungeon, but things looked different. The mountain above us hadn’t moved an inch, but holes dotted the landscape that went directly into some kind of cave system.

Scarlet gazed around the area curiously. “So, human, what do you think has changed other than these holes everywhere?”

“A second Salamence,” I said sarcastically. Perhaps it was my paranoia, but something felt off and I didn’t quite know what. It was like a voice was inside my head telling me to run or arm myself, but I didn’t know what this enemy was.

Scarlet gasped, a shiver ran down my spine as I spun around. She fell to the floor, some force keeping her still. A hand grasped tightly around my neck and lifted me off the ground, air being cut off from my lungs immediately. My own face stared back at me with an emotionless stare that bored into my soul.

I kicked its face, not even eliciting a flinch. Its grasp tightened as my vision started to black out. I tried to pull for my guns, the thing ripped them off of me as I tried to shoot. My vision slowly faded out more as I felt something crack in the back of my neck.

My hands met solid ground, relief washed over me as I got my bearings. I struggled to stand, my balance thrown off by whatever the rift did to me. I saw Scarlet hover over to me, her ribbon shot out and helped me to my feet. We were still in the Mystery Dungeon, but things looked different. The mountain above us hadn’t moved an inch, but holes dotted the landscape that went directly into some kind of cave system.

Scarlet gazed around the area curiously. “So what do you think has changed other than these holes everywhere?”

“A second... Salamence...” I stuttered back. Wasn’t I just here? I drew my gun and frantically pointed it around the area. “Hey, wait, what just happened?”

“We used a rift-”

I stumbled around, looking for the danger my senses screamed to me about. “No, we were ambushed by that thing… a ‘reflection’ I think. It had me in a choke hold and had you pinned to the ground.”

“I do not know what you are talking about,” Scarlet’s gem glowed again like she was looking for it. “It is not anywhere near us anymore, dare I say it is completely gone.”

My breathing slowed back down, I wearily lowered my gun. Something was amiss, was what I saw some kind of vision again? Or an outcome that could’ve happened? It felt so real, I could vividly remember the cracking sound my spine made as it was crushed. I swore I could still feel that thing’s hand around my neck.

I instinctively rubbed there, finding nothing of note to even entertain the idea. I holstered my pistol, tentatively keeping an eye on my surroundings still. “Just… please tell me the very second you-”

A burst of energy exploded from the center of the plateau, our badges started once more glowing with light blue energy. The light came off the badge and started swirling around us, creating a distortion effect in my vision.

The rapid feeling of vertigo came over me, stretching throughout my body. It was strong enough to the point where I felt like vomiting, but I staved it off just barely. I dropped to my knees as the air around me seemed to get less heavy. I realized the sun was upon me once more, and never was I more glad to see it then now.

Somehow we had ended up just outside the cave entrance, with everything intact. Sweat beaded down my forehead and the stress certainly never left. Kira approached us with Merek behind her, both looked pretty impressed.

“Well done to the both of you,” Merek congratulated. “Got both your badges, and managed to do a reset of the Mystery Dungeon in a relatively speedy fashion.”

I was practically out of breath still. “Hey, uh, what's a ‘reflection’ and why did mine want me dead?”

“A Reflection attacked you?” Kira asked worriedly.

“I’ve got the memories to prove it.”

Her eyes flashed as I felt her slip into my mind. I didn’t resist, allowing her to see everything I saw, including my supposed death. She put a hand to her mouth, her face’s expression morphing to one of distraught. “Your first two encounters were definitely with Reflections, but they shouldn’t be showing up here at all. Especially with how deep you have to go in order to even find glimpses of them. You’re either extremely unlucky, or malevolent forces wish for your death.”

“No, what happened to me after that? I know you saw it,” I tensed up a little, my voice becoming shaky. “I felt myself die, I still do feel that thing’s hand around my neck.”

Kira’s face was calm again, but her voice betrayed her. “I don’t know.”

Scarlet was shocked, looking between me and Kira, realizing what I told her did happen to us. Yet somehow, we were still alive. Somehow, my neck is still intact and not broken. And yet for some odd and mysterious reason nobody knows what I witnessed.

“Could it have been a vision of some sort of possible future?” I asked.

Merek seemed to snap out of his stupor. “Maybe, but for now, young Mason, you both should rest. You’ve both clearly seen a lot today. Ace will debrief you both, then you can leave with Kira. I’ve got other places to be at the moment I’m afraid.”

“Sounds good.” I murmured.
 
Chapter 7: A Lesson in Medicine New
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Chapter 7: A Lesson in Medicine
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“So lemme get this straight,” Ace began as he looked over Mason and Scarlet, his tail twitching subconsciously. “In the time that you both were in there, you saw Reflections three separate times, and Mason got to experience his own death?”

Mason nodded, nervousness still at the front of his mind. Leaking into the world around him like a broken bottle. “I’m... still a little on edge, but other than that, we’re fine.”

“I am just worn out, but we did pass, right?” Scarlet asked.

Ace smiled and clasped his hands together. “Both you chaps have indeed passed. Though I’m astounded you took out the Salamence of all things to get a rift open, most Pokémon that travel around in there look for an easier Catalyst to beat.”

“We weren’t given much to go on other than ‘do a reset’ and whatever that meant. I still don’t understand what we even did.” Mason said, frustrated with the little information he was given. “You say these terms for things I don’t understand, and I can’t help but remind you that I literally ended up in this world little under a week ago.”

I sighed, a piece of me sympathized with his situation. “I’ll try to answer all of your questions to the best of my abilities. But only after you get some rest, I don’t want to overwhelm you in the current state you’re in.”

“Fine, fine. Maybe this whole ‘seeing my own death’ thing is getting to my head.”

“That and also the, well, other unfortunate thing that has befallen you.” Scarlet croaked out.

He stared at her, his eyes screaming of pent up frustration. He took a deep breath and ignored it. “Are we dismissed?”

“Yes,” Ace sighed as concern came over him. “But in the meantime, those badges you got will take you back to the Guild in Narkin when you activate them. Merek can explain to you how they work when you get there. Kira and I have to discuss something before she can teleport you both back to your base, something private.”

“So do I just-” Mason pushed on his badge, a bright light briefly flashed before he disappeared. Whisked away by the stolen power the badge possesses. Scarlet did the same, hopefully she’ll be able to keep him safe for a little while longer. Though Ronin and Lloyd should already be there.

Ace expression shifted to one of worry. “In all my years, an actual human… alive... was something I’d think was impossible not even a week ago.”

“Two, actually.”

“Right, right,” Ace sputtered out. “So you’ve told me anyway. How’s he held up over the past few days?”

I sighed as I stared to the stars. “He’s been good, surprisingly. I was expecting so much to go wrong, but he’s adjusted much better than I thought.”

“I’m glad. His case is quite the conundrum. Do you think that it's possible that Lycoris has to do with it?” he narrowed his eyes, his voice lowering in volume.

I nodded as anger invaded my mind. “They are certainly involved and we don’t know why.”

“Other towns and Guilds have tried to downplay these incidents. But now that Mason is here… I doubt they’ll have an excuse now.”

A silent frustration fueled my heart, infecting my voice at the mention of them. “Nobody listened, and innocent Pokémon have paid with their lives because of it.” I balled my fist. We knew the trouble they’d cause for a long time, and yet Pokémon still wish to be ignorant of them.

“The most disheartening thing, Kira, is that none of them would listen to us even now. Out here, the Guild is alone. In some cruel way I find this all being so silly, maybe Mason would have a word for it...” he trailed off and sat down, looking over the cliffside and onto the evening sky. “How many do you think they’ve killed? And for what? The war has been over for ages, they don’t even have a single reason to be doing this anymore.”

“The path of evil is decorated with good intentions,” I angrily murmured as I sat beside him. “Who knows what they want anymore, it doesn’t matter. I’m done trying to negotiate with them.”

Slowly he put a hand on my shoulder. “I’ve been meaning to ask you,” he took a deep breath as he worriedly looked at me. “Have you been alright over these past couple of days?”

“I’m not unwell enough to skip out on my duties. But the Eevee incident… not even his own parents wanted anything to do with it. I- I just sat there, staring at this Eevee who knew we couldn’t save him from his affliction. He knew how much nobody wanted him, yet he didn’t care, he just kept smiling... until he closed his eyes.” I said softly, tears already stinging my vision.

Ace bowed his head slightly as his tail curled back. “It’s always the hardest part, knowing you can’t do anything to save them. At least he rests peacefully now-”

“We couldn’t bury the body,” I hissed, punching the ground with one hand. “It’s in your report that you’d gotten the day of the incident. Lycoris did something to him, and whatever it was nearly infected everyone else.” I got up, the anger rising in me needed some desperate release.

“I know, I’m saying that you at least made him feel wanted before he left. You’re one of our best doctors here, but not even you can heal everything.”

I honed my mind onto a tree, seeing it for all it was. Every green leaf that fluttered in the slight breeze, every brown branch that stretched out from the top of its trunk, every root that kept it in place. I outstretched my hand, and squeezed a fist.

My invisible tendrils wrapped around the tree, creaking in resistance to my will. I squeezed harder, my fist now shaking in place. Strain hit my mind as the tree gave away, snapping in two as I fell to my knees. I breathed heavily as I slowly rose again to my feet, my psychic abilities dulled.

Yet still the aching of failure remained.

I looked back to Ace, he didn’t seem to care what I did. With a neutral look on his face, he stared up to the sky. “I know this is far from the first time you’ve had to go through something like that. For both you and Ronin. And for what it's worth, thank you for trying.”

“I’m just so tired, Ace... I just want it all to stop.” I took a deep breath. “Losing someone to a Mystery Dungeon is a tragic thing, but we know the risks. We know what lurks in them and we’ve accepted that. Out here on the frontier, the last thing we need is Pokémon stirring trouble amongst ourselves.” The sun finally disappeared beyond the horizon, leaving me with a chill starting to settle.

He got up and slowly walked over to me. “If it makes you feel any better, tomorrow my team gets back. They’ll have more information, I can start cracking down on them more.”

“At the rate everything is going, I’ll be making my own team's health my priority.”

“I understand, take as much time as you need,” Ace nodded. “Just be careful, and keep an eye on Mason. We’re all curious as to what he can do.”

I put my hand over the badge on my purple sash, my finger slowly going along its outline. “He’s been resourceful thus far, and is quite talented with his weapons.”

“Speaking of resourceful and his weapons, didn’t you notice he had two of them even though he originally started this test with one?”

“Mason found it before he even got to the Mystery Dungeon,” I replied matter of factly. “Even asked a question about the possibility of another Pokémon’s memories being given to him by accident through psychic powers.”

Ace’s concern flared up. “He’s got the memories of a psychic?”

“He asked me to see them, and from what I can tell… his familiarity with certain things is due to the process. I can even show you right now, if you want.”

“I’ll just take your word for it,” he sighed. Staring off into space, he seemed more invigorated now, probably by the mystery of it. “That’ll be worthwhile to investigate. Who knows what you’ll find if it involves Lycoris, just be careful.”

“I’ll see what I can do, but for now, I think it's time I left.” I said.

Ace smiled, saluting to me before he jumped up onto a nearby tree. “Well go on then, chap, your team needs you. I’ll be seeing if there is anything else out here.”

“Good luck,” my badge began to glow as I waved back. “And stay safe.” The glow enveloped me, stripping me of my senses.

Noises of the Guild echoed around me, from laughter and chatter to footsteps on the polished wooden floors. I found it odd that a lot of Pokémon were up this late, normally it’d be a ghost town right about now. Leaving only the nocturnal Pokémon to their business. Mason was leaning against one of the white marble pillars, Scarlet and the others to his right. All of them were talking to a Bisharp and a Phantump who seemed rather curious of the human.

I briskly approached, a part of me worried despite knowing the duo. “Team Shade,” I greeted neutrally.

The Phantump waved at me. “Hiya Doctor, is it true that he passed the test?” he pointed to Mason.

“He did,” I answered.

“Wowe,” the Phantump looked to him with glee in its eyes. “How fast did you do it?”

“We, uh- did it at an average amount of time… I think.”

The Phantump giggled. “That’s what everyone says about their first run. Hehe, though everyone is saying that you and her went after the Salamence.”

“It was more like, the thing came after us,” Scarlet chimed in.

The Bisharp rolled its eyes and tapped the Phantump on the head, whispering something into its ear. The Phantump nodded to it. “Looks like me and Blair have a job to do now, maybe we’ll see you five some other time.”

“Good luck and be careful, unlike last time I don’t think I’ll be awake to heal you should something happen.” I said.

The Bisharp spoke in a deep voice. “We’ll try, see ya around, Doc.” they waved before leaving out the front door. Some part of me wanted to imagine the dangers they could fall into, ignoring it was easier said than done.

Out of every team I’ve had to treat over the years, they’ve come too close to fumbling their dance with danger far too many times to count. Clumsy, at times a little dim, but charming in their own way. I couldn’t help but sigh wearily. Knowing full well the odds of them coming back without issues were next to zero.

But who really knows, miracles have seemingly become an everyday occurrence. From the poor humans getting lost here, to a recent influx of valuables starting to get the economy back in order. Maybe things were going to be fine after all.

“They sure were something,” Scarlet monotoned.

“Could’ve been worse,” Mason pointed at his weapons. “They could’ve asked for a demonstration of our ‘prowess’ together.”

“Arceus above, why do you think of these accursed outcomes?”

He smirked. “So I can convince myself that I’m an optimist.”

I rolled my eyes and made my way to Ronin and Lloyd, both of their attention focused on a conversation between themselves. “I think it's time we went home.” I announced to them.

Lloyd nodded, his eyes darting about the room. “Yeah... it's about time we left.”

“Alright then,” I felt the familiarity of the location guide my hand. “Remember Mason; breathe out.” I felt the brief strain of pulling everyone home, the sounds of the Guild left behind and replaced with silence-

Mason dropped to a knee, his breathing showing the signs of ‘stolen breath’. I put a hand on his shoulder. “It’ll pass, just breathe slowly and evenly.”

“Next… time… just… give me… a countdown.” slowly he tried to rise up, I helped steady him before he caught his balance again. He coughed into his arm. “I think I’m going to go sleep now, if that's alright.”

“For the condition you’re in, I’d actually recommend that.” I said. He made his way upstairs, disappearing from view as his footsteps faded away. Scarlet followed after him. I wasn’t tired enough to join him yet, but I could tell that it wasn’t very far away.

I sat on the couch lined up against the wall, Ronin sat beside me, putting his arm around my neck. “Did everything go well?” he asked softly.

“That is actually a very good question,” Lloyd asserted as he sat opposite from us. “Was, uh, everything alright?”

“Things got very troubling. Mason has the memories of another psychic in his head, he found a new weapon, came across Reflections of all things, and apparently witnessed his own death at the hands of them as some sort of vision.”

Lloyd leaned further back into his seat. “Well if that continues when we all go on expeditions, there’ll be problems. But for all we know, he just got really unlucky.”

“This seems a lot more malevolent in nature. I felt his memory of it, he was left still grasping at the places he thought the Reflection wounded him. He felt every bit of it. And if I had to be honest… I think something saved him.” I said as uncertainty riddled my voice.

Lloyd squinted. “Like another Pokémon?”

“It felt as though fate changed, like he was... reset- like the Mystery Dungeon.”

“Let's not be hasty with jumping to the extremes,” Ronin cooed gently into my ear. “Maybe it was a very vivid vision, or maybe he really did see something that could have happened but didn’t. My mind is telling me that we should wait and see before going in that direction.”

Lloyd nodded. “Agreed... but let's still be a little cautious of it, just in case.”

“Well in the meantime, who are you bringing in to help us find Luson?” I asked.

“Someone who owes me, someone from my… uh, previous occupation.”

“Right,” I noticed that he tensed up slightly. “Anyway, they’ll be able to help take him down too?”

He rested his feet on the table. “Yep.”

“Then I guess we can wait, do Guild missions, explore...” Ronin said.

I yawned and stretched, sleep finally seemed to want my presence. “I think I’ll be going to bed now, tomorrow morning we can figure out what to do.”

“I’ll be staying up a little bit longer,” Lloyd looked outside, staring out into the night. “You two go get some sleep.”

Ronin wrapped his arms around me and lifted me up, I wanted to protest but was too tired to say no. He chuckled a little, sensing my unamusement. “Good Doctor, it’s not like anyone is here watching us.”

“Hmph, just don’t trip on the stairs, dear.”

He chuckled again. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Carefully he made his way upstairs, my paranoid mind running amuck with every teetering motion like he was about to fall over. A falling sensation hit me before I felt something soft, the comforting embrace of our bed. Ronin quietly got on the other side, slipping in the blanket without a word.

Slowly I could feel myself drifting off, its pull I dared not resist...

My eyes fluttered open, morning light now starting to come through the windows. Ronin still laid beside me, still sleeping away. I saw Lloyd in his bed opposite from ours, the Greninja who rarely let his guard down, sleeping soundly. I felt myself wanting to drift off to sleep again.

I closed my eyes, but something felt off-

Mason wasn’t in bed, and Scarlet was nowhere to be seen.

I teleported onto my feet, not wanting to shuffle off the bed for a potential false alarm. I teleported once more to the downstairs, seeing the house empty of any other occupants. I opened the front door and peered outside, seeing Mason and Scarlet talking about something.

They both noticed me, he wore an apologetic expression. “Did I wake you up?”

“No, I got up just now.”

“Ah,” he looked out into the forest ahead. “Did you need anything?”

I wearily nodded. “Did you get any weird dreams or memories last night?”

“That is actually what we are talking about, apparently he vaguely remembers some kind of stash close to the one we found yesterday.” Scarlet explained.

“Yeah, I think something downright nasty is waiting for me to find it.”

I rolled my eyes. “Would that be another one of your weapons?”

“Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know. I just want to find it just in case it has something like that.” Mason seemed rather excited suddenly.

Well, guess I found what we’re going to be doing today. A small smile grew on my face. “Well, any ideas on where to start?”

“Near Narkin Roost, but something is off about it…”

I worriedly squinted. “What do you mean by ‘off’ in your terms?”

“Like it might be guarded by something, but I can’t remember what.” Mason twirled one of his weapons in hand. “And today, I’ve decided that I like surprises.”
 
Chapter 8: Grocery Shopping New
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Chapter 8: Grocery Shopping
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Two brothers sat back to back to a tree in the middle of a forest. Both tired from recent excursions and battles with ferals. But stress plagued one of their minds, bubbling to the surface as resentment invaded his demeanor.

“Tell me, Luson, can you even remember why we started doing this?” the frustrated Decidueye asked.

The sly Zoroark scoffed, offended that his brother would even insinuate that he forgot such an important moment. “Of course I remember, brother dear. I just don’t want it to sit and reflect on it.”

“Why not?” the Decidueye asked.

“Because,” the Zoroark’s form twisted the churned, the form of a Greninja becoming his mask. “Like you drilled into me a thousand times, we tried every other way, and this is the only one that works for us.”

Luson’s mask smiled, stretching out as he loudly yawned. The Decidueye sighed wearily with his frustration creeping away. “I worry for you... every plan I create has your particular set of skills taken into account, and yet the only constant about it is that you break it-”

“I know where this is going, Fin, and I really don’t appreciate it. All these years it has been you and me, you’d really think I’d lose faith in your decision making abilities now?”

Fin’s posture slumped. “As of late… I’m not so sure.”

“Ouch,” Luson’s original form revealed itself with a scowl present. “Has this situation been that serious to you? I find it-”

The Decidueye scowled back intensely. “Remember who hired us. Failure this time around isn’t just going to mean we miss the opportunity to get paid. No, this whole thing will get us killed if we do not exercise extreme care into our moves.”

“I was the one who got us this gig, I know of the consequences for failure. I just don’t care. You should try that sometime, it relieves a lot of pent up stress.” the Zoroark suggested.

Fin sighed, getting up as he began to walk away. “I’m going into Narkin, do you want anything?”

“Some blast seeds, please.” The Zoroark’s brother nodded silently, getting further and further away from the still sitting Luson. He slowly rose from his position, his illusions already blending him in with his surroundings.

While Fin’s brother watched over him from afar, one silently dreaded the coming storm, while the other could barely wait for it.

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My time with this human has taught me something.

That despite having no power over the elements to their name naturally, they’ll happily find some other way to get something done. Such is my experiences with his need to create things to substitute for his lack of them. Apparently he didn’t like the idea of not having a backup option in close quarters, despite already having two weapons that could outright kill a Pokémon in a single strike.

Mason had just finished eating breakfast, we had discussed what our plan for the day was going to be beforehand. Lloyd and Ronin would go scouting for the relic cache’s location while the rest of us went into town and geared up. For some odd reason, Mason immediately went into the brush the very second after Ronin stopped talking.

He came back with a sizable branch and a lot of green foliage. Saying something about ‘camouflage’ and how it’ll be amazing for a later situation. He then gestured to me with the branch and asked me if I could sharpen one end of it.

And at this point, I had no reason to say no. “Sure.”

“Thanks.” he put the branch down in front of me. I could’ve sworn he whispered something else after turning away.

There was some shift in his attitude, like he couldn’t wait to show something off. Minutes flew past of him and Kira attempting to create something with the copious amount of greenery he pilfered from the forest. Something sparked in his eyes, his creation was nearing completion and the smile he wore was hard to describe.

Mason picked it up, inspecting whatever they just created. “It’s finished, and if we created this correctly…” he flew it around himself, donning the odd mix of shrubbery and moss like some kind of cloak. In one motion, he dropped to the ground and laid down flat on his stomach. “Would you be able to tell me apart if I went and hid in the woods?” he asked, his voice muffled by this odd creation.

“Not by eyesight, but some Pokémon don’t need that to find you,” Kira answered. Eying whatever she helped create with great interest.

“Oh, I know.” he rolled over and stretched out. “But if they don’t know what they’re looking at, it won’t matter.” Carefully he got up and dusted himself off.

Some part of me was curious again. Whatever this creation was, he seemed very fond of its idea. “Do you humans use these sorts of tricks a lot?”

“Funnily enough that’d be a yes, but this isn’t even close to the best sort of wearable camouflage we can create. This would normally be made as a full body suit, but seeing as I can’t exactly do that right now… I’ll have to settle for this weird mix of a cloak and sweater.”

The curious part of me realized that this was human war tactics, or did they just wear this everywhere they went? “Would you normally wear this... ‘camouflage’ everywhere you go back in your world?”

“Hell no, these things are usually only when you need to sneak up on something and not be seen, or a sniper…” he trailed off, another look flashing across his eyes. “Sniper… yeah, I think I know what I want from the ‘relic’ cache.”

“What exactly is a ‘sniper’?” a familiar voice inquired. The voice’s owner approached, the Gallade marching up with a level of careful curiosity in his eyes.

Mason crossed his arms. “The job? Or the weapon class?”

“The job.”

He smirked, making a weird shape that reflected his weapon with his fist and fingers pointing it at Ronin. “Someone who uses guns to kill from concealed locations far away from the enemy.” he rocked his hand back like it experienced recoil. “Typically they take out important targets, or cover an area.”

“Your enemy doesn’t even see you…” Ronin’s expression darkened, cringing intensely. Kira got between them. She looked into the Gallade’s eyes intently, probably talking to him with her abilities. He took a deep breath. “I’ll just go get Lloyd.”

The frustrated swordsman walked off, mumbling to himself as he went. Mason squinted. “Did I say something wrong?”

“He takes honor much too seriously for his own good.” Kira answered. Sighing a little as she came back towards us.

I would’ve scowled if I could. Honor only governed those who weren’t desperate to win. My blade rustled in its sheath, the metallic clanking drawing me back out of my thoughts. Maybe for the better, I doubted dwelling on such stupid things was good for ones mind.

The human shook his head with an emotion on his face that I couldn’t describe. “I see… what about you?”

“Oh- I just do what I feel is right. Whether it be according to how I feel or the law itself is arbitrary.” The Gardevoir doctor sighed wearily. “Ronin is just… bitter you could say. Him and Lloyd sometimes butt heads, and it can be annoying. I usually have to be the bearer of reason between the two of them. Guess my morals reflect that to some degree.”

Mason softened his look and tone. “Did… uh… something happen to him?”

“We used to be wanderers before we met Lloyd. Mainly by ship and sails, and sometimes the occasional ride on the back of a dragon. It’s how we ended up in Narkin.” Something crept into her voice. “But what happened to us stays between us alone.”

“Sorry,” the human blurted.

“No, no, it's fine. Curiosity is natural, especially in your case. And I do have a question for you of equal intrusion.”

Mason smiled. “What may it be?”

“What troubles your mind? I can tell that it's more than what happened to you and your father.”

He stared into the ground, the smile faded away. Something darker grew on his face, stirring into his thoughts. “Me and my dad didn’t always have the… best of relations. And I particularly wasn’t exactly the most well behaved kid.”

“Our past mistakes haunt us all. All we can do is try to move on from them.” Kira sighed.

“Yeah…” Mason uncomfortably shifted. “I guess…”

The human turned his head away, staring into the ground to hide something that was troubling him. He brought up his hand, pulling the weird clothing piece on his head down, trying to veil his face. A part of me wanted to ask what was wrong. I barely held off, seeing his sudden jitteriness as a sign that he wouldn’t answer anything I had to ask...

The Gardevoir’s crystal briefly glowed a soft pink. A sigh escaped her as she rolled her eyes. “Ronin and Lloyd have already departed, and we should as well.”

“Are we teleporting?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I can’t teleport us to the inside of the Guild unless it's an emergency. Plus the town is only a short walk away.”

“Why would a rule like that need to exist?” Mason asked, now awakened from his stupor.

“The odds of teleporting into someone are low, but never zero.” She snapped her fingers for effect. “That risk only goes up with multiple Pokémon and I don’t feel like gambling with lives, nor do I feel like invoking Merek’s wrath. It’s why we use the badges instead.”

Mason grimaced. “Guessing you have a few stories to tell about that sort of thing…”

“Not any good ones,” she stated in an indignant tone while staring out into the forest. A silence washed over us, one ripe with tension. I had no reason to break it. My questions were best saved for when it was appropriate, and when they were more willing to answer.

The human himself looked quite weirded out by the idea but stayed silent, the grimace from before rearing around once more. Slowly he walked towards the house, turning his head around to say something. “I just gotta put my- whatever I’m gonna call this thing back in the house.”

“Make sure you bring ample means to defend yourself. We can’t afford to be caught off-guard, especially since we decided to split up.” Kira called after him. Eliciting the thumb of his right hand to be pointed upwards towards the sky while he clasped the rest of his fingers into a fist.

What an odd gesture it was, probably yet another human thing I’d have to ask about.

Kira chuckled. “Your confusion and curiosity is almost as potent as his, though at least Mason tries to hide it under layers of wariness-”

“Silence, empath,” I demanded. Waving around the tip of my sheathed blade towards her. “Without your powers, I would remain an emotional enigma. Stay out of my mind.”

A loud sigh came from the Gardevoir. “For a Chosen… you’re rather brash and undisciplined.”

“I did not ask for my role, and I do not want it either. I will act how I wish.” I retorted while my ribbon waved in the light wind.

Kira shook her head. “You’ve come all this way, for what? To dodge your responsibilities? You can say it’s not your problem all you want, it eventually will be. And nobody will be there to help you.”

“The responsibilities I choose to take on I will follow until the end, if you are saying that I will abandon this quest. And what did I say about going into my mind?”

“I never did,” the doctor replied coldly. “Just an educated guess on something I’ve seen before. You’ve confirmed my suspicions, through your own words.”

My blade rustled in its sheath, a part of me begrudgingly in respect. “Tch, you psychics and your mind games.” I mumbled.

Kira looked to loosen up again, a smile grew back from the glare beforehand. She stayed silent, turning her gaze back to the house. My pride was laid low and with it my thoughts drifted back to her questions.

No, I will remain steadfast in what I set out to do. I will not succumb to the comments of a snarky Gardevoir that doesn’t know the half of my struggles. I will not doubt my decisions. I will not waste any more of my time thinking about it...

I noticed the human was walking back, donning some new pieces of clothing. He didn’t have the blue thing on his head, a light-grey hood took its place. What had stayed the same was the black clothing covering his legs and beneath the light-grey hood.

The metallic sheen of his weapon caught my attention, it was kept rigorously clean like some kind of religious object. Other things adorned his hip, including the ‘stun-gun’ he got Ace with.

Kira’s smile brightened, “Let's get going, if you’re lucky I might even be able to give you both a tour of Narkin.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Do you sell blast seeds by any chance?” I asked. Trying my best to ignore the bumbling shopkeeper’s clumsiness.

The Wobbuffet shook its head as it got off the floor from tripping on a crate full of berries. “Sorry, ‘fraid someone came and bought the rest I had ‘n stock.”

Just wonderful, Luson wouldn’t get off my back if I didn’t come back with some. I went to exit the quaint building, stopping at the door when I heard the shopkeeper call out. “But someone ‘n the square might be selling some, if you need ‘em that bad.”

“Thank you.” I waved back to him as I made my way out. Pushing past a few Pokémon as I got onto the main road and took a deep breath. Hopefully that moron was telling me the truth, I’d rather not go on some chase around this town for damned blast seeds.

The heavy smell of salt was in the air, I’d expect nothing less from Narkin. The harbor-town known for its lucrative materials and upcoming arts. Most of the buildings were made of wood, others had more stone in the design. I couldn’t have cared any less. My attention was drawn to the crowd of Pokémon around me, the noises all starting to blur together.

I barely noticed that I was in the town center, the only difference being the density of the crowd being distributed along the edges of the area. Temptation and muscle memory almost hand my talons grabbing at a nearby ‘mon’s loose wallet. I mentally reprimanded myself for the temporal lack of self-control.

I went stand to stand, tent to tent, building to building, finding absolutely nothing. Shame that despite the reputation this place had, I couldn’t find any blast seeds. In my disappointment I found myself just behind the square, where the main docking area was. I sat on a bench and observed everything around me.

The afternoon sun was bearing down upon us all from a cloudless sky. The blue abyss of the ocean was in sight, ships from far off regions docking and leaving to who knew where. The salty air blew around me and ruffled my feathers in a light breeze, a little cold despite the rising temperature.

Four boats were currently docked. The two largest boats had the insignia of the Narkin Guild on them, used for exploration of water-based mystery dungeons or the transportation of Guild valuables. The other two were smaller, and from the way they looked, they seemed to be merchant ships.

Frustration crept through me, the moron at the store gave me information that led to nothing and now I have no blast seeds for Luson. He probably was observing me sit here, brooding, wasting time, collecting myself. I wouldn’t give up the search that easily.

“And this here are the docks,” a Gardevoir came around the corner, flanked by a Chosen Honedge and a- human.

I didn’t dare look at them from anywhere other than the corner of my eyes. A chill went up my spine, subsiding after I remembered that they won’t know who I am. Lloyd was absent. But I didn’t know if it would stay like that for long.

The human stepped past her and gazed out across the busy area. “Pokémon use a lot of boats?”

“Not everything can be transported in bulk on the back of another Pokémon.” the Gardevoir answered.

“Huh.” The human pointed to a larger ship currently sailing out near the horizon. “Where do you think that ship set off to?”

“If I had to guess... a waterbound mystery dungeon.”

The human’s gaze briefly came over me, I kept silent as they continued. “Those exist? How do they work?”

“They are an extremely recent find, it's one of the reasons why Guild Teams are coming around from all over the world to check them out. Thus far, there have been reports of two of these sorts of dungeons, and Narkin is the closest port to them.” the Gardevoir happily answered as she gestured for the both of them to follow her.

“Ah, so you’re still researching them?” The human followed after her, the Honedge stared into my eyes.

I leaned back in my seat while I returned the glare. I kept my beak shut, saying anything right now would bring unwanted attention to me. The wind lapped at us while the Honedge continued its stare. Paranoia in my mind wondered if it knew something about me, or suspected anything. It’s ribbon fluttered in the air, but still was it’s body like it was a statue.

“Scarlet, hurry up,” the human called to it’s still companion. Scarlet finally decided to move along, leaving me alone to wonder where to go from here.

I deflated in my seat, I could very well just find some blast seeds somewhere else... but the temptation was there…

With a quiet groan I got up and kept them in view as they slowly made their way around the square. Quite a lot of Pokémon took notice of the human, their expressions ranging from fearful to shocked at its sight. I could see it shy away from them, trying to hide its own face by pulling the hood on its head more down.

A small part of me pitied it’s situation. But the rest of me knew it was only a matter of time before me and Luson would get to it, then its misery would finally be at an end. I didn’t care what our employer wanted of this human, only that my brother and I would get safe passage out of this region.

I remembered Luson joking around throughout the whole meeting like he didn’t care at all. I was stuck there, frozen, praying to Arceus that it was some cruel dream. I was thankful that our employer didn’t care at all, so long as we dealt with this otherworldly stranger as fast as possible.

That damned ‘mon, I didn’t even get to see what it was… only the name it used… Arwin.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“These scarfs and bands do different things while you’re in mystery dungeons,” Kira began as she picked up a purple scarf. “The energy in the mystery dungeons is hard to understand, but it is able to be harnessed through these runes imbued onto objects you hold or wear.”

I pointed to the one she was holding. “So what does that one do?”

“Oh, this? Absolutely nothing. But that band right there lets the holder teleport short distances, and from the face you just made, I’d wait before you ask for one. There are plenty of things that you could use. From looplets and emera, to wands and throwable equipment with more inbetween.”

I noticed Scarlet was staring at something that’d looked to go around your bicep, but with four indents on it that looked to be for something. With a shrug, I looked around at all the possibilities that surrounded me. “What would be your opinion on something that’d work best for me?”

“Probably what you first thought was good, ironically. Along with a blast wand, with maybe a few iron thorns and blast seeds for good measure. And as for you, Scarlet, a shield band will go a long way.” Kira said as she picked up a purple scarf and a red band before making her way to where a bunch of sticks with weird glowing bits on them were.

Teleportation sounded like it’d make me extremely efficient at surprising would-be assailants. And there wasn’t much reason for me to oppose anything she said, I knew nothing about this sort of thing after all.

Kira sighed annoyedly. “There aren’t any blast seeds, ugh. I think I know somewhere we can get them.”

“Are they usually a scarcity?”

“Only when you don’t want them to be,” she mumbled as she paid for everything. The Wobbuffet shopkeeper nodded at the amount she gave before she led us outside once more. “There is one place I can think of that might have them- you both should put these on as well.”

She handed me the purple ‘scarf’ that looked more akin to a bandana if anything. It had a weird insignia on it, sewn into the ‘scarf’ itself. I tied it around my neck, where my skin touched this new clothing piece… felt… odd.

I couldn’t dwell on the feeling, snapped out of my stupor by her handing me a small pouch made of… leather I think. Inside were four ‘iron thorns’ that looked like stakes. One side looked incredibly sharp, guess this solved a few things.

Kira fasted the red band around Scarlet’s hilt, the ‘blast wand’ floating ominously beside her. “Thanks for that,” the red sentient sword said with a nod.

“It’s no problem- oh, Mason, take the wand. It’s not as effective as your weapon but is still a force to be reckoned with if your opponent is not careful. It can be used outside of a mystery dungeon.” She outstretched her hand as it levitated over to me. I held it firmly in my right hand.

I felt power flowing around inside this odd stick. A smile broke out on me as I stifled some laughter. I was a wizard now technically.

“This way.” Kira motioned for us to follow. I could feel the stares from the Pokémon around me as we walked. I felt much more confident this time, but I still reflexively pulled down my hood over my face.

We eventually ended up at a more… run-down looking place. We were on the outskirts of Narkin, very close to a beach. The wood that kept its structure looked cracked in places, and the glass windows were either shattered or incredibly dirty. Just before the front door was a balcony with a rocking chair off to the side, rocking slightly.

The Gardevoir approached, her bag lazily hung on her shoulder. A wind chime sounded out as the breeze briefly picked up.

“Is there something we should know about this place?” Scarlet asked worriedly.

Kira snapped her fingers. “Yes actually, the owner is another Zoroark.”

“Oh,” I muttered with a hint of disdain present.

“It's rude to talk about someone that's right in front of ya,” a voice called out from the rocking chair. I turned my head, seeing a Zoroark with a weird white band on its right arm that had four indents.

Kira rolled her eyes and gave a friendly smile. “Mason, Scarlet, meet Salem. One of Ace’s team members.”

“Aye, that's me,” she looked me and Scarlet up and down with a toothy grin present. “If I don’t look as shocked as you’ve probably come to expect, it's because Ace already told me what the last couple of days brought in.”

I chuckled. “I’m honestly glad someone isn’t speechless at the sight of me for once.”

“Heh, well before Kira tells ya, I sell things. That can be anything from relics to more trivial stuff. Depends on how I’m feelin’ to be honest.” she motioned for the door. “So what brings you three here anyway?’

Kira followed after her. “Blast seeds, Narkin at large is having trouble keeping supply of them recently.”

I looked to Scarlet as she turned to me, I shrugged and followed after them both. The inside was not as run-down as I was expecting. The floors were relatively fine, and the walls, save for only a few planks, were completely okay.

For some odd reason, it gave off a homey feeling I couldn’t shake.

“Alrighty, how many did ya need?”

Kira brought out a few coins. “Twenty, and a pouch to put them in.”

I noticed an odd black case behind them, rectangular and rather slim. It didn’t look anything like what I’ve seen Pokémon make thus far. Maybe it was a ‘relic’ that Salem found, and she hasn’t figured out what it was yet. There looked to be a keyhole on it, one that I knew I recognized in design from modern day.

“Think fast.”

My hand shot and caught the thrown object. The Zoroark chuckled at my unamusement, leaving me to wonder how they get leather for stuff like this pouch. A small lid kept the odd looking seeds inside, I made sure it was on right before tying it to my belt.

Kira waved to Salem as we left. “Thanks.”

“It’s no problem,” Salem waved back, her grin ever present. “Stay safe you three, and human- er, Mason. If you ever want to come by and see what I got in terms of relics you might recognize, you’re more than welcome to stop by again.”

I flashed her a casual salute. “I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.”

We slowly left the outskirts behind, the sea still in sight and the salty air and slight breeze not changing. The hood on my head was becoming a nuisance to fix, so I took it off and slightly unbuttoned my sweater from the bottom up. The wind billowed in it as we walked.

Kira took us back to the square, the crowd from before still just as big as when we left. The stares were starting to annoy me instead of making me wish I was invisible. I was just minding my own business, couldn’t they just continue about their day instead of making mine that much harder?

I slowly realized not all of everyone that was staring was doing so at me. Some were staring at Scarlet… maybe I should ask her what this whole ‘Chosen’ thing is later. I was oddly satisfied that I wasn’t the only person getting this odd treatment.

“NOBODY MOVE.”

I spun around in an instant, my revolver in hand and cocked. A Sableye had an iron thorn to the neck of a Oshawott, deathly scared for its life.

The Sableye’s voice boomed again. “ROLL TO ME A WARP ORB OR THIS THORN IS GETTING BURIED IN THIS ONE’S SKULL.”

My gun was raised, but the angle I had wouldn’t work. With a deep breath… I knew what I needed to do. I’d have to either talk him down, or take the shot.

The Oshawott’s young voice cracked as he spoke. “P- ple- please just let me go-”

“Shut up,” The Sableye held him tighter. The cries of its hostage drowning down to nothing but faint whimpers.

My voice boomed out in a steady tone. “Let him go.” The Sableye turned to me, an expression I couldn’t read present. I had my angle.

“Aw, the thing wants to play hero with the Guild. What is that tiny metal thing even going to-”

The crack and boom of my weapon ripped around the entire square. Pokémon stepped back in fear and shock at the noise, I was surprised there wasn’t mass panic or shouting.

Could I please just have a normal day?
 
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