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Frontier Town Founder's Square

Odette made a face at Gladion. “Sounds like you haven’t gotten there yet. Okay…”

Sighing, she shrugged. “Yeah, Nebby evolved into fucking Lunala out of nowhere. Honestly, it caught us all off guard, but they saved our asses. Lillie didn’t think she had it in her to partner with a legendary, but Nebby didn’t want to leave her. So. Yeah. Running around with Lunala in her back pocket. I’m kind of proud of her, honestly.”

She shifted again. “And…yeah. A little. These types that had your mother and my father so invested aren’t for the faint of heart whatsoever. They uh…they get their power from their trainers. The blood of their trainers so to speak. And in the wrong hands they have the propensity to get nasty. You know, fun stuff.”
 
What the hell? Was every world out there worse than his? Did he land in some kind of notably less shit than average world? He’d had plenty of gripes about his but they all felt petty in comparison. He was glad that Gladion had ever gotten his sense of bodily autonomy and identity under control because he wasn’t sure he would have if his Lusamine had escalated this far.

“Great. I love blood parasites glad to know there’s a version of me out there living his best life. Sounds like a fucking blast. Frankly I’m surprised she trusted me with one, Fourteen year old me was pretty categorically the wrong hands as far as she should be concerned. I can picture it clearly, some other fourteen year old sycophant in training tries to be creepy at a gala, only to be met with the gargling of blood as his heart explodes. Not to mention her life expectancy if she tried to get me into a cute outfit afterward.” He laughed. “I feel like she must not have gotten to take on me if she’s alive…”

And any trace of mirth disappeared again just as quickly as it had appeared. “Shit, that’s why she moved on to Lillie, isn’t it? And then… If she also needed Guzma does that mean she was safe? Did they get it to work at all? Sure fucking hope they didn’t.”
 
Odette grimaced. "I wouldn't say she trusted you with one...more that she just used you as an experimental vessel. Lillie and Guzma too. She kinda bounced between the three of you. Lillie got it longer because she refused to leave until much later. Then Guzma went back..."

She clearly didn't like talking about it, so she shook her head. "It didn't work how Lusamine wanted it to, if that's what you're asking. You guys didn't exactly come out unscathed, but in the end, no, overall it was a bust."
 
“That’s… I mean, it’s better than the alternative. Would suck more if they did get blood parasites to bind to anyone…”

He raised a brow. “Given all that, I’m honestly surprised you’re willing to get back into dealing with sycophants. Guess the two of us run on different wavelengths… Just keep yourself outta trouble. I may not be the Gladion that’s your friend, but if you fuck up I’ll have to worry about you. On his behalf, you know?”
 
She sighed and rubbed the side of her face tiredly. “Yeah, you’re speaking for the both of us,” she huffed. After all the shit she’d been through, why she was so willing to jump back into undercover work was beyond her. She decided, that at her core, she was just that fucking nosy.

“Finessing information out of others is just something I’m good at. So I can’t get away from it,” she said. She then glanced in his direction, somewhat startled by his comment. That almost sounded friendly. Had they really just made up? Just like that?

She snickered. “My goal is to not fuck up, so if I can just stay on plan, you won’t have to. But…thanks.”

Well, that was one less person to vehemently dislike around here. Honestly, she liked it this way.

<><><><><><><><>
 
[Ch04] A Simple Conversation [Andre and Gerome]
Andre had been wandering through town talking about the upcoming festival in Little Scriven, getting the word out for morale and general event comings and goings. It had been a quiet affair so far and he was met with cordial nods, though few seemed to be immediately interested. Perhaps, with time, they would think about it more and talk with others.

But curiously enough, this time, someone approached Andre first...

Gerome, the great Tyranitar of the Wanderin' Zera. There was something surreal about seeing him outside of that place, but it wasn't like they hadn't seen him out and about before.

"Hello, Andre," Gerome grunted with a nod.
 
"Oh, hello," said Andre, pausing for just a moment to deduce who this must be before continuing. "I'm guessing you're Gerome, the barkeep of The Wanderin' Zera? I've heard of you, and it seems you have heard of me, but I don't think we've met. It's a pleasure." Andre smiled, extending a vine in a handshake.
 
Gerome nodded and leaned forward to shake Andre's hand, but it was a very brief handshake. His hold was oddly delicate and light.

"I was curious," he said, "about what you Wayfarers have been doing recently. Haven't heard much in the bar. I was thinking about helping."
 
Andre withdrew his vine. "Well, I don't know what the last thing you heard was, but I guess one big thing was the situation with the Escarpa. They wanted to sabotage the railroad to Blaguarro to quarantine the source of the Shadow pokémon - or demons, or witching beasts, or however you know them - but we convinced them not to, for the time being. Right now, we're looking into a power called Radiance to see if it would help us fight against Shadow pokémon or even purify them. Some people left for the Obstine Abbey to follow that lead. Then we also have some people going to Ranger HQ to discuss cooperation, and I was just in Little Scriven to help set up a warp-point of sorts operated by our summoner. I think the others are also going to set up such warp-points at their destinations. Should make travel more convenient."

He left out the part where they'd communicated with Powehi. That seemed like it was more sensitive.

"And Little Scriven is also having its autumnal equinox festival real soon," he said, smiling. "That's why I'm here, to spread the word. Are you interested, or do you have your hands -- paws -- claws full with the Zera?"
 
"You're all very busy," Gerome said neutrally. "What is that lead in the Abbey?" he added. "I think you'll have to ask me later about the festival. I've been very busy, mm." He nodded.

Gerome was always one for being laconic, but something about it seemed a little odd this time around.
 
"Well, word is that a Saint known as the Wandering Light spent time in the Abbey," Andre explained, gesturing with his hoof, "and Saints have powers of Radiance. We were hoping to find her and ask her to... bestow some of that power upon us. I think. I'm not 100% sure on the details." He lowered his hoof onto the ground. "Sierra, the chieftain of the Escarpa, had a little bit of Radiance herself, and tested to see if we were 'compatible'. We were. So hopefully that goes somewhere."
 
"Mm. Compatible with Radiance," Gerome said with a nod, arms crossed as he considered something. His stony expression was a lot less expressive today, somehow. "Do you know where the Wandering Light is now? Where would I go if I wanted to help, too?"

That alone was a surprise. Seemed that for some reason, Gerome had a change of heart on staying uninvolved...
 
Andre brought a vine to his chin. "Well, I heard that she had visited the Abbey just recently, but she could have already left. Also, Sierra said... something about the Wandering Light promising twenty years ago to visit the chieftain twenty years later. So you could either go to the Abbey or start hanging around with the Escarpa, though it's very possible that my group will already have left the Abbey by the time you get there..."

Andre then froze. "Oh, uh. Crap. That Escarpa thing might have been confidential. Don't tell them I told you, and don't start spreading that info around, alright?"
 
Gerome shifted. "Yes, of course. I won't tell anyone," he said, though once again he seemed to behave a little oddly about it. He knew Gerome was stiff, but this seemed odd for a barkeep. "I've already been told a lot about confidential things from your team. You can tell me anything. I'm your barkeep ally, remember?"
 
Andre smiled, though not genuinely. "Of course, yeah. You're the one that warned us about the human supremacists. We haven't forgotten that favor."

He sniffed. "So, I heard through the grapevine that your family's in town. Haven't had the pleasure of meeting them myself yet. What are they like?"
 
"Oh, they're wonderful," Gerome explained. "My wife is sweet and my son is a rascal but I know he does well in his schooling. That's the most I can ask for." He nodded sagely. "Well, in any case, I should get going." He took a step back, leaving no real footprint. "Thank you, Andre. It was a good talk."
 
Andre noticed the lack of a footprint. That was odd. A heavy species like tyranitar surely would leave an impression in the ground.

He hoped his glance wasn't spotted and continued speaking. "Hey, Gerome, if you're not too busy, I do have another question," he said. "You see, we recently ran into a situation where it would have been really advantageous to have some kind of item that made you lighter. Like, in weight. Do you know if there's such an item available on Forlas?"
 
"What?" Gerome asked. "...No. Maybe you should eat less."

A pause.

"I mean, maybe... you could ask around the shops for things like that."

A gust of wind blew as if to answer the statement.

"I'm leaving now."

He turned around and started to walk away -- and now that Andre was more aware of it, he seemed to be leaving no impression on the ground at all. Or, if he was, it wasn't where his feet were landing.
 
"Stop," Andre said, loudly enough to be heard, cold grasping at his heart as he realized how much he'd just fucked up. "Tell me who you really are."
 
That shout was enough to get the attention of a few people who happened to be passing by. Eyes were on them, now. Andre wasn't alone in witnessing whatever just happened.

"I'm Gerome," Gerome replied. "Didn't we introduce ourselves a bit ago? So you--"

And then he ran, sprinting as quickly as he could--which was alarmingly fast for someone his size. And, indeed, he left no footprints -- but a strange, skittering sliding trail was left in the dirt near the center of his body instead. Too small to be a Zoroark, at least.
 
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