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Frontier Town Founder's Square

"Perhaps you can train a little more after... you take care of that." She gestured to the body. "...Should we... go somewhere with that? Before it... presumably starts to smell."
"I'm taking it to Lucien," Nova said. "He asked us to figure out the Wolf's deal, presumably before the election." He started off from the fountain. "And, well, deal found. Bounty said dead or alive."
Mhynt stared at Nova for a few more seconds, probing him silently for information, but then she broke her gaze away. "Alright," she said. "I suppose you have that taken care of for yourself, hm? Or would you like me to accompany you... not that I know much about everything that happened."
"You can come." Nova continued forward. He didn't feel the need to add anything about her keeping secrets, figuring it a laughable notion.

Quieter, he continued, "Powehi mentioned it in the dream: Cipher. Some human group that can make shadow 'mon on their own." Nova adjusted Fein on his back. "This guy's one of 'em, apparently."
"I see." Mhynt frowned, pensive. "How very... curious, that name. The same name as the capital of the Voidlands back home. Cipher City. Ruled by Alexander. I wonder how much of a coincidence that really is..."

She shook her head.

"No. He couldn't have established it here. He must have arrived... around the same time we all did. Perhaps a little earlier. That's how it'd work, right? Same for Owen..."
"They’re humans," Nova reiterated. "And they have their own portal-making abilities." He had no idea if that could’ve contributed to what happened with Owen or the zweilous.

"They’re probably the source of the problems in Blaguaro. And it’s possible Ignatius was indirectly dealing with them."
"Wonderful," Mhynt said with a low grumble. "Humans... They were fabled creatures in my world, usually with positive connotations. From what I've heard from others, it seems some worlds give them more... mixed connotations. What of yours?"
"Most humans are just people trying to get by in life, same as most pokémon," Nova said. "Some of 'em are trainers who work with pokémon. Others aren't."

He shook his head. "But it seems like the humans with the worst intentions always manage to find their ways into positions of power and influence." Nova's mask muffled a slight huff as he pressed onward. "Including the one who made me a shadow 'mon back home. So, yeah, can't say I'm the biggest fan of them. And there's a nagging little voice in the back of my head that tells me the fact that us natural 'mon are vastly outnumbered by ex-humans in our group could come back to bite us at some point."
"Mm. That's true, isn't it?" Mhynt hummed, looking at the tarp to make sure it was properly adjusted and not leaning anywhere. "Being a natural Pokemon has... an appeal. Thankfully, if you set aside the mannerisms, it looks like being a former human doesn't have an obvious giveaway."
"Well, I'm not sure how 'manufactured 'mon' sits in this world," Nova said. "Whether to the natives or the Covenant or whatever else might be causing enough problems around here that we'll have to look into it."
"You could always play up the 'escaped experiment victim' card," Mhynt theorized. "That earns a lot of sympathy points in the stories, at least. It must have some merit with the people here." She idly kicked at what she thought was a clump of dust, only to realize it was a discarded coin. She picked it up for later.
"That implies I actually escaped," Nova said. "I don't know what this summoning did to actually get hold of my spirit, but it's just gonna get locked away again when I'm sent back."

He stopped, then started forward again. "In some respects, it's like getting brought back from the dead. Except you don't know how long it'll last."
"Mm." Mhynt nodded. "Enjoy it while you can, I suppose. And hope one day that may change. There's... little else to do sometimes." She glanced at the leaves on her wrist, pensive. "...Well. In any case. I'm just glad to be in the sun again even if it's... dry. Maybe after you deliver that body, we can train to get that mask off. It's close."
"Sun's nice enough I guess. I've got a full body of scales under this fur." Nova brushed one of the visible scale patches on his right thigh against a wooden post. "And, uh, sure. I just have to—"

The null stopped. He looked right, blinking several times. "Hey, uh, is my eyesight finally going or does that say that's a coroner's office?" Nova pointed where he was looking.
"...Oh. How about that," Mhynt hummed. "You know, bringing the body there would be significantly less suspicious than taking him to the next mayor. You know, the optics of that would be... curious, considering who came before."
"Yeeeeeaaaah," Nova said, blinking slowly. Why would a town like this even have such a place? What sort of equipment could they possibly have for doing autopsies? "I guess I'll just, uh, drop him off for now and then go talk to Lucien. Maybe they can give me some sort of, uh, statement acknowledging it's there." He slowly headed toward this mysterious coroner's office.
Mhynt nodded and followed him inside for the time being. A large Pokemon like Nova carrying in a body would... probably need someone to vouch for him. Just in case.
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Heading inside, Nova wondered exactly how this would end up shaking out. And just what, if anything, was next for him in this bizarre desert land that just seemed to keep getting more bizarre by the day...

[Ch04] Unmasked
Nova managed to sleep through the night. It was a small relief given everything from the night before. The back of his head was tingling again when he woke up, but the mask's usual limited view greeted him as it always did.

With a sigh, he got to his feet and went over to the board to collect a couple of jobs. Then, Nova set off into town again.

A final step. His gut was telling him there was just a little more that he needed. The only question was what, exactly, would offer that push? Maybe it did have to do with battling, like Grace suggested?

But what was Nova supposed to do about that? Training was one thing, but all he was doing in fights was just bumbling around. He wasn't even sure he could say he protected anyone with the limited abilities he had on Forlas.

"Maybe an escort?" Nova mumbled aloud, walking toward the town square. People were up and about, as expected. Some stared at him in confusion. Perhaps because of his dusty pelt more than his piecemeal appearance. "Or maybe a trip to the river's in order instead," he muttered, sighing.
As Archie set out from the Haus that morning, he was feeling… Well, cautiously optimistic? The breakfast chat with Dave and Koa had gone probably about as well as he’d imagined it could. So he felt like maybe he would be able to talk to the others about what had happened at Silver Ravine and, well, not have it all blow up horribly in his face, at least?

So, as he walked, the Oshawott tried to think to himself who would be best to approach next, and how. He still wanted to hold to his original plan of telling as many people as possible before Betel made a general announcement, even if after what had happened with Seth, and then with Powehi last night, the cat was well and truly out of the bag. Still, he felt like he should deliver the news personally. He owed it to the others.

One person he wasn’t actually expecting to find on his walk through town though, was Nova. Seeing the chimera in town somehow always surprised him, after he’d been so obstinate about not coming back when the Oshawott had asked. He looked like he hadn’t had a good shower in ages. But, the thing that more immediately came to Archie’s mind at the sight of Nova, was something he’d said while fighting Seth last night. Something about having been a Shadow Pokemon for a very long time. Maybe they could unpack that a little more, reflect on their last talk about all this. So, without thinking much about what he planned to say or how he was going to say it, he peeled off his route to approach the chimera.

“Hey, Nova!” he said, before faltering somewhat, “Uh… How are you, since, you know, everything?”
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