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Frontier Town Civic Courtyard

Koa wasn't sure if he felt better or worse after the team meeting. At least everyone was sort of on the same page. But on the other hand paw the meeting had opened more questions than ever, especially with all the apparent talk about groups of evil humans and pokemon fighting them... He didn't know what to make of it all. His brain felt scrambled, but he was too worked up to even think about training.

So he'd somehow found his way into the now rather pleasant courtyard are near the mansion. Without the worry of the gala or Ignatius it was surprisingly charming. It almost reminded him of the mansion back home in Sinnoh, just a little.

A movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention and he turned to see Odette poised with a rock in her hand. What the heck? Was she aiming at him!? That made no sense. He hadn't even done anything, and he barely knew her. Why would she want to throw a rock at him?

Biting back an instinctive flash of anger, he relaxed, noting she had stopped short. Mistaken identity maybe? "Trying to use me for target practice?" he called light heartedly, angling to walk towards her. Curiosity replaced his momentary anger.
Turning her head, she saw that her familiarity wasn't unprompted. It was that kid electrike from the meeting. And the gala. And who was on the wagon. Gods, he barely sounded like he was half way through puberty and he went on that fucking wagon trip? She didn't know whether to feel completely sympathetic to him or totally annoyed that anyone would even allow that to happen.

She didn't realize how long she was looking at him until their eyes met, and she felt her breath hitch. Fuck that was not the least creepy way to get someone's attention. Especially when it involved kids; they would either take it as an invitation to come over, an invitation to get scared, or an invitation fight. Never an in-between, from her experience.

This one seemed set on the first one, which she would take. Her shoulders settled, until she registered what he asked. Using him for--?

Oh my gods. I'm holding a fucking rock, she realized.

Yeah, throw it at him; dogs love playing fetch.

Ignoring the intrusion, all she felt she could do was look down hopelessly at the rock, mouth open and ready for words that wouldn't come. "No, it's not--" she managed. "I wasn't--"

She looked back up again to see he'd gotten closer, and by that point all she could do was laugh to herself.

"No," she said in a sigh. "This was actually for that bush over there." She nodded in the direction of her intended target. "I was just blessed with this thing called awful fucking timing."

Shit, wait. What's the rule about cursing around children?

"I'm sorry, I don't exactly have a filter either. The whole package."

What's the rule about cursing around children and then striking up a conversation with one?

With a quick aim, she flicked the rock into the bush, settling back in contentment once she heard the leaves rustle. "I didn't mean to give you the wrong idea. I'm definitely not the type to go around throwing rocks at people, I promise."
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What a weird person. His gaze reflexively followed the rock as it flicked through the air and into the bush. Should he retrieve it? Mentally shaking away the nonsensical thought he looked back at Odette. She seemed antsy, though he couldn't tell why. Maybe she was just like that? She hadn't seemed like this at the team meeting though.

He tipped his head. "No filter? Is that why you have that?" he asked curiously, nodding to her jaws. "Or is that just how Mawile are on your world?" By now he was never sure what to make of other members of their groups home worlds. Nothing seemed to operate the same, except when it did. If it wasn't for the fact they were here to help save this place he would have loved to learn more about the other worlds... Hadn't she mentioned something about different legendaries? Maybe she came from somewhere entirely different world.
She had to have looked like an absolute lunatic. Her wild first impressions just seemed to be hitting true, no matter who she spoke to. She took another deep breath, calming herself down. She could work past this. They were just talking. Didn’t matter how old he might have been.

When he regarded her jaws, she glanced over her shoulder for a moment. “Oh, no. Where I’m from, the jaws of mawile are just appendages they can control, they usually don’t talk on their own. I just got lucky. Hence the chains,” she said with a shrug.

“Also, I’m sorry. I’ve seen you all around town but I don’t even know your name,” she added sheepishly. “I’m kind of bad with them, so please bear with me.”
"Koamaru," he replied after a moment. "I'm uh... not great with names either. Odette, right?" He really only remembered because it was hard not to remember her from the team meeting and the jaws. He couldn't help but wonder why it was like that for her. Somehow he was able to use Mach Punch here, so what had made her become a Mawile with jaws she couldn't control? He considered asking, then decided against it. Best not to get personal.

He studied her for a moment, recalling what she'd said at the team meeting. "You really think we can infiltrate this Covenant?" It was partway between a statement and a question. She'd said she had experience. If they could pull it off...
Koamaru. That was a very interesting name, though she couldn’t pinpoint where it might have come from. Actually, she wasn’t even sure what kind of world he was from, let alone if he was a former human.

She nodded. “That’s me,” she said. “A pleasure.”

He didn’t waste any time getting straight to the big issue at hand, and her attempt at a break aside, she supposed she respected it. “Hm?” she hummed, giving herself a second to decide how to answer. “Oh. Truthfully? I definitely think so.” She settled back against the tree trunk again, but not before taking a quick glance around to make sure no prying eyes or ears were nearby. Then she lowered her voice. “I don’t think just anyone could do it, because if I were to be blunt with you, I’m not convinced that a lot of our group members would be capable of that kind of undercover work.”

She shrugged again. “But, I could be wrong. However, I have experience in the field, and apparently that meowth—Laura? Laura—does too. If there’s anyone else with a similar background, or who is at least capable of acting, I think we could coordinate it.”

She allowed him time to sit on what she said, before regarding him again with a kinder grin. “I don’t know where your head is after all that, but I do appreciate you taking my side. For a second I thought I was going fucking nuts.”

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"Oh uh... you're welcome. It just made sense I guess." Everything here was so different from back home. More complicated. At first he'd thought the shadows would be their biggest issue but it was sounding like this Covenant might be a problem too.

"Although it kinda felt like some of our group believe that just because things went wrong with the wagon that we should never try anything again." The muttered words slipped out without him really meaning to say it like that. He didn't want to sound bitter, but he realized that some of the things said in the team meeting had been annoying him. Especially the way it felt like some of the team seemed convinced they would fall prey to some villainous group. And of course the people complaining about the wagon issue hadn't even been there...

"Or that we'll somehow join them." The thought rankled him and make his hackles rise.
Odette hadn't been expecting him to bring up the wagon incident so willingly, but she was pretty sure kids were kind of resilient like that. Or something.

Still, that didn't stop her from electing to choose her words carefully. "It's that kind of thinking that's going to get us stuck up shit's creek without a paddle." Woops. "I mean...yeah, I don't believe the wagon plan was executed in the correct manner," she tried not to hold her breath out of fear he would take offense to that, "but it's not like that needs to be a sign that we shouldn't try anymore. We need to be careful, not complacent."

She mindlessly picked at the grass for a moment before continuing. "Besides, despite how it...played out, it's not like there was nothing to glean from it. I wasn't there, but..." Maybe she was poking a beartic here. She felt she should probably stop.

There, she became noticeably more annoyed. "I don't fucking care how silver-tongued these Coven guys are, I can't take any anecdote about them at face value until I fucking see it for myself." Woops. Woops again. "So the fact some were so convinced that deciding to infiltrate would be a bad idea regardless of how well-planned it was was just so...aggravating. Like, okay, go right on ahead and sit there with your thumb in your ass and wait for the answers to come to you. That'll do you a lot of good when a Shadow 'mon shows up to fuck you up."

Gods, I fucking give up. He's just going to have to deal.

Shaking her head, she raised an apologetic hand. She had to reel it in. "Sorry. That ‘you’ wasn’t to you,” she stressed, gesturing to him. “There was just a lot I bit back in there. I can't work with people so willing to just sit back and take shit; I need proactiveness."
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Koa automaticaly bristled, stiffening unconsciously as she began about the wagon incident, ready to snap out a retort. The plan was fine I'm sorry Laura and Steven didn't have magic psychic powers to account for a super powerful charmeleon from another world turning up in a shadowed frenzy. You weren't there, you don't get that we never could have accounted for it, that we were careful.

With effort, he kept his jaws shut. Odette wasn't Bellatrix. At least Odette wasn't parading around her opinion. And as she continued, he found some of his anger fading. Odette had a very weird way of speaking but he found himself agreeing, at least in principle. Action over inaction. Being proactive. Not doing something was just as much a choice as doing something, a fact that always got under his skin. You had to try.

"Yes, exactly," he said emphatically. "We were called here to help this world and because whoever came before us needed our help. The only way to do that is to try and do something. Learn everything we can about this world. Sitting around waiting is stupid, and I'd rather try something then nothing at all." The words came out with a forceful emphasis, a note of frustration edging his tone. They couldn't afford or expect to be able to do anything here without the stupid covenant noticing anyway. And the covenant would almost certainly try to use them, so why not use the covenant?
Odette nodded along with him not allowing her uneasiness to show on her face. She should have worded her thoughts about the wagon better, but it wasn't like she was going to fully sugarcoat her disdain just because he was younger. But, she also wasn't in the mood to fight with a kid because she'd voiced an opinion. It was true, she was poking a beartic. Surely not everyone who went on that trip would be as gung ho to hear her muted disdain for it as say, Wes was. They had to have heard it enough anyway.

She wondered, for the briefest second, if asking him about Beelzebub would be wise.

At least Koamaru's frustration angled itself more toward the thing they agreed on. She almost wanted to advise him to take a deep breath before he popped a vein, but she was afraid she might be a hypocrite if she did.

For now, she focused on how much she agreed with his sentiments. "You're right. It is stupid," she agreed. "Especially when it comes to something as cult-like as this Covenant. Sitting and waiting for info about them is going to come filtered through the eyes and ears of biased parties who have no evidence to back up what they're saying. Your best bet is always seeing it with your own eyes, and I know from experience." She started shaking her head again as she recalled the things she remembered Isidora and Gladion saying. "Not to mention, staying on their good side for the foreseeable future gives us one less thing to deal with for now, and access to info we otherwise might not get. I cannot fathom how that's so hard to grasp." Empathy for those of opposing views had never been her strong suit, especially when those opposing views were coming out of two others she wouldn't mind feeding to Jawile.

"Well, if there's one thing I got out of that meeting, it's who I'm staying far the fuck away from when we start getting into the details of how infiltrating is going to go," she muttered. "Can't infiltrate if I'm busy reaffirming why it should happen to the ones with selective hearing."
"You're right. It is stupid," she agreed. "Especially when it comes to something as cult-like as this Covenant. Sitting and waiting for info about them is going to come filtered through the eyes and ears of biased parties who have no evidence to back up what they're saying. Your best bet is always seeing it with your own eyes, and I know from experience." She started shaking her head again as she recalled the things she remembered Isidora and Gladion saying. "Not to mention, staying on their good side for the foreseeable future gives us one less thing to deal with for now, and access to info we otherwise might not get. I cannot fathom how that's so hard to grasp." Empathy for those of opposing views had never been her strong suit, especially when those opposing views were coming out of two others she wouldn't mind feeding to Jawile.

"Well, if there's one thing I got out of that meeting, it's who I'm staying far the fuck away from when we start getting into the details of how infiltrating is going to go," she muttered. "Can't infiltrate if I'm busy reaffirming why it should happen to the ones with selective hearing."
He was glad somebody got it, but his frustration still lingered. Without meaning to, he let out an aggravated sigh. The fact that the group felt so discordant and at each others' throats was bad. Bellatrix might have kept her calm at the meeting but he still couldn't trust her. At least a few of the group felt like they wanted to be far too cautious.

If they were this at odds, how could they hope to face shadows, or the covenant, or the vanguard, or whoever they had to? Sometimes it felt as if half the group was insufferable, between whatever was bothering Isidora (he'd enjoyed her company so much before, why had she changed?) and other members of their group...

"We're supposed to be a team. If we start falling apart then we don't stand a chance at stopping whatever we were called here for." Maybe he should try to talk to someone who'd been at the vanguard fight, get all the details of what had happened... "I mean, we won't all get along but we need to be able to fight together when the time comes." I'm not sure all of us will.

Koa shook his head. "Anyway. Hopefully as long as everybody does their part it'll be okay..." he trailed off as he considered. Odette had said she had experience doing this, hadn't she? "Any advice on what to do when we try to infiltrate?"
She couldn't argue with Koamaru there, though she had to keep herself from saying anything else too biting. She had a lot of thoughts on how teamwork was going to go, and she was certain it wasn't going to fall apart by her hand alone. Some people her just seemed royally incapable of working on a team, some more than fucking others.

She was shaking her head subconsciously when Koamaru asked her more about infiltrating. This was something she would enjoy talking about much more.

Odette averted her eyes away from him thoughtfully, gnawing her lower lip as she tried to conjure a good answer. "Well," she said after a beat. "Your goal should always be to appeal to your point of entry, if that makes sense. From my experience, an infiltration has always started with a single person, and you work your way inward the more you shmooze and 'network,' to to speak. But it all starts with that entry point and getting them to like you enough to even allow you the opportunity to network at all."

Something of a cringe crinkled the corners of her eyes. "For example, when I was doing my thing back where I'm from, my entry point was..." she trailed off, trying to find a way to word it, "...an old friend, who had a bit of a crush on me. So I appealed to him by, uh...going on a few dates with him here and there." If I could downplay this any more...

"It helped that I have acting experience, but that by no means made it any less difficult." The understatement of the century. "Something like that involves putting a lot of your own reservations aside and, to put it simply, playing a part. Creating a character you have to get into the mindset of, and playing them to the best of your abilities. Which might include...doing and saying things you would rather not. Which is why the act of infiltrating might be so difficult for some who can't put a wall up between their own views and the views it takes to appeal to their entry point."

She looked back at Koamaru with more of a stern edge in her gaze. "All of that to say that if it's something you want to get involved in, you have to have the mentality for it. You have to be able to craft the personality needed to get in and be able to turn it on and off at will, without letting it seep into other parts of you, or in reverse, letting other parts of you seep into it."
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Koa listened intently as Odette spoke. Inwardly he found himself.... Curious, yet uneasy. It sounded like whatever Odette had gotten herself into back home was serious. Cults and legendaries and some guy who had a crush on her.

Did he have the mentality? Of course he could do it, he was more than strong enough... Right? Could he really do that? Lie, go against everything he believed, and act a part? Of course someone like you can.He wanted to say yes. And saying no made him weak. Besides if they did it as a team, that's what mattered. Surely this covenant would love an eager human helping them.

Hurriedly shoving aside his doubts, Koa nodded again. It already felt like enough of the team saw him as an inept kid, he refused to sound weak now. He didn't want Odette to start patronizing him.

Keeping a straight face, he said firmly "If it helps save Forlas then I'll do it." Whatever it takes.

"Besides..." he mused, quickly gathering his thoughts as he spoke. "You said this covenant is interested in former humans and being saviours right? I can play up being interested in "saving the world". Nolan believed you, right?"
Odette scrutinized him with a mix of curiosity and slight skepticism. Watching the slight twitches of his face as he considered what she'd said. She was on the hunt for the slightest waver, the slightest tell that he was uneasy about the prospect.

She couldn't help but quirk a brow at his response. She couldn't tell if his resolve was out of a pure belief he could do it or him being a practical child in a group of adults trying to live up to them. Regardless, she had to respect it despite her own reservations about sending someone so young into the lion's den. Actually, she didn't even know how old he was, and part of her was too wary to ask.

Another partial cringe wrinkled her beak. "I can't say he believed me for certain," she corrected him. "But I could tell he was at least interested in and/or somewhat impressed with the precedent I set, which is a step in the right direction. It's a bit of a long game before we get to the absolutes of 'he believes me' or 'he doesn't believe me.'"

There, she tucked her palm under her chin as she rested her elbow on her leg. "But yes. They want humans who want to be saviors, is what it sounds like." She supposed that answered her first question about Koamaru; he must have been a human.

Now that she was thinking about it, having an eager, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed kid running the Covenant down to join might be a character niche he could fill well. Provided he could hold up the act, which was the part she was uncertain of. She didn't know him well enough to determine how good of a liar he was, but if he was as determined as he seemed, perhaps he could be molded to it.

This is not how a responsible adult should act, she thought. She was 26 years old, for fucking crying out loud, and she was considering teaching a kid optimal ways to infiltrate a cult? Was she fucking crazy?

But then again, what Koamaru had said about teamwork made sense. The more united they were, perhaps the more progress they would make. And if she recalled correctly, minors were used in undercover shticks back where she was from...

Exhaling, she shook her head to herself. Whether she was going to regret offering this, only time would tell. "Alright. I like your determination," she said. And she did mean that. "If you're that interested in getting involved in a sting operation, maybe we could have a more thorough discussion on it. I can give you more detailed pointers; we can work through some scenarios; the works. Call it infiltration training, if you will, just to make sure you'd be ready. If that sounds cool to you?"

She had a feeling that even if she didn't help him, he'd still find a way to get involved. At least with this offer, he might have some pointers to proceed. And if he was inept, she could at least make an attempt to convince him why it was a bad idea...
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Finally. Someone who took him seriously. At least she was willing to give him a chance, and respect him, unlike Bellatrix had. "I can handle that. One of the most important things a trainer can do is learn something new. So I'm ready for whatever you want to throw at me."

Besides, he was used to lying, in a way. Or at learning to curb his real opinions. If Odette could teach him, he was certain he could learn. Although at further thought, there was the Rangers to consider... He hoped any infiltrating he tried to do wouldn't cause issues with that. Something else nagged at him more though as he considered what Odette had said.

"Did it... work?" he asked finally. "Did you stop the evil t- cult in your world?"
Odette couldn’t help but grin. Hearing that bright-eyed trainer spiel was actually rather cute, dare she thought it. The pessimistic realist in her was momentarily soothed by the sheer amount of optimism in his voice. She felt like that’s how a trainer was supposed to be. Yet, even with a title, she couldn’t relate.

Gods. She hoped this world wouldn’t chew him up and spit him out.

“That’s what I like to hear,” she said, a little more determined than before. “We can coordinate meetups around my work schedule. And yours. If you have one.”

His follow-up question startled her, as indicated by the way she blinked at him. She didn’t mean to stare at him as long as she did, but she eventually let up and slumped down against the tree trunk.

That was a loaded question if she’d ever heard one. And she could lie, or she could be honest.

She scratched her cheek. “For a while,” she said simply, letting the words linger for a beat. “Our efforts were enough for them to halt operations for a few years. But I’d be lying if I said that the repercussions of those efforts weren’t horrifically severe on my end.” She began to rub at her left arm, almost subconsciously. The scar tissue wasn’t present on this body, which was nice for the moment.

“The thing with the cult in my world—they called themselves Enigma—was that by the time we got to them, they weren’t even a cult anymore. They were…” She averted her eyes up to the tree branches, as if she’d find the word she wanted to use printed on the leaves. “…practically their own region. Their own world, honestly.”

Now she was shaking her head. “And when something is that big, it takes a lot more than fake dating one of their leaders to break it down. And all I can do is hope that this Covenant of Light isn’t on the same level.”
Unconsciously, Koa shivered as he listened. Every world. Every region. Rocket, Flare, Galactic. Enigma. And it sounded like whatever was going on in her world also involved legendaries. Things never changed. Neither can you. And it sounded like what she had fought was worse. Scarier. Still, Odette had tried to fight it, and had made a difference.

The silence lingered for a time. "I'm sorry," he said finally. Emotions stirred inside him at the thought. Odette was someone trying to make a difference. Stand up against an evil organization. "But... it's good that you tried to do something about it. That matters." He spoke the words with vehement conviction.

"And there's a lot of us here so... even if the covenant is big, we're stronger here." Stronger than a human. And getting stronger every day. That had to be enough..
He said he was sorry. Something about it made her want to cringe and melt simultaneously. She really didn't want the sympathy--she'd had three whole years to wallow in everything she could have done better--but she'd be wrong if she said it didn't feel nice to have someone acknowledge she'd done something so astronomically difficult. Kid or not.

"I appreciate that, Koamaru," she said. She felt less certain about what he said next, but she didn't want to rain on his comfort parade. He was doing a pretty good job, and she decided to give him--and the situation--the benefit of the doubt. No fucking way the Covenant of Light could even fathom being as big as Enigma was. Is.


Exhaling softly, she picked up another rock and tossed it, lighter this time, at the bush. "Well, as much as I love hypothesizing about the deep shit we've gotten ourselves into and reminiscing about past hardships, I'm here to decompress," she said lightheartedly. "So, if you don't mind me asking, what were you like in your old world?"
"Just a trainer," Koa said, after a moment of consideration, shrugging. It was more of a reflexive answer than a real one. But then here, worlds away, surely there was no harm in being more forthcoming... And Odette had already shared some of her own experience, so it felt rude not to at least be more honest.

"I don't know what your world is like, but I'm from a place called Sinnoh. I've been training for almost a year now, and I've almost got eight badges." His heart panged. He missed Sinnoh and his team. It felt nice to talk about something more normal. "Once I get all eight I... I'd actually like to climb Mt. Coronet. There's supposed to be a place at the peak called the Spear Pillar. I want to reach it and see it. Were you trainer back home too?"
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Somehow, Koa’s answer didn’t surprise her. He definitely carried the energy of a fresh trainer. And he was close to eight badges. Her status as a Champion began to come to the forefront, and she found herself smiling warmly.

“I’m very familiar with Sinnoh,” she said. “My mum’s a Pokemon Professor and used to go on a lot of research excursions over there. Even tried to transfer her lab residency from Kalos to there. I went with her on a trip up Mt. Coronet when I was about your age and met one of my partners. A snorunt. She’s a froslass now.”

Gods, talking about her team suddenly made her realize just how much she missed them.

“Never went all the way up to the peak, though. Blizzard hit too hard. I’d have loved to have seen it then, but.” She shrugged. “When you make it, I hope it’s everything you imagined it would be. And that you can take lots of pictures.”

To his follow-up question, she nodded. Though, she suddenly seemed a little more apprehensive.

“I was,” she said. “And as of about…six months ago, I had the pleasure of being crowned the first reigning Champion of a little region called Alola.”
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