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Frontier Town Frontier Town Outskirts

Grimacing he glanced toward Odette. "We should follow," he said uneasily. He wasn't sure if he didn't trust Wes, or if... Shaking his head, he started after him as Odette did, being careful to give Wes a wide berth. Pausing, he looked toward Archie. He wanted to say something more, but eventually settled on what he hoped was an encouraging nod before continuing to follow Wes.
Odette nodded toward Koa, and as she scrambled for Jawile’s chains, she stood up and took the lead on the walk over. She glanced around at the rest of the team, taking more note of who was there. She about jumped when she got a better look at Steven, stuck in the ground, and was about ready to go over and help. But, the galarian ponyta was on it, as was Archie, it seemed. And she’d promised to stay with Koa, who looked like he definitely needed someone with him right now. If they needed her, they’d call her.

She watched Wes scramble off into the thicket with a cringe on her face. Even with his back turned, she could practically feel the shame wafting off of him. She wanted to say something, anything—but comforting words were not her move. She bit her tongue as she followed after, on the hunt for whatever the fuck had Seth’s boxers so twisted.
"Like it or not, you're not really shielding us from any danger by staying quiet. Fate's a harsh mistress like that."

Seth gave a barking, mirthless laugh. "I'm not shielding you idiots. I just wanted you to fuck off, but no, you gotta stick your fucking noses in everything. I hope you think it was fucking worth it."

“Shut up. Don’t act like you know me. Of course you won’t talk. If you’re not gonna cooperate, then we’ll just uncover it ourselves.”

"It's nothing you need to know about, and you aren't gonna be happy about it," muttered Seth, darkly. "Guess this is happening, though."

The red Lycanroc hauled himself into a seated position, one paw limply hanging off his knee, and stared into the dark as the Wayfarers pressed on.

Those that did would find a patch of disturbed earth, and a long spade, sunk into the ground not far away.
A spade. Disturbed earth. Like a ditch, then. That Seth must've dug.

... If only Nova had a ground memory. Stupid helmet.

"You guys might want to fall back." He looked back to make sure someone was still keeping an eye on Seth. "I'm... just going to see... if this is what I think it is."

The null slowly approached. Claws were... not the best for digging. Fortunately, his hind legs ended in paws. So Nova dug them into the disturbed earth. Slowly. He had no idea how deep this was...
No? He wasn't even gonna try? Okay then, Leaf supposed. Seemed like the least the guy could've done after all... that, but if he still needed to put himself in time out for now then whatever. Still, she couldn't help narrowing her eyes at him a little as he walked away. Long as he did something to make up for it at some point.

Anyway. With both of the psychics pushing and pulling at the same time and Archie maybe widening the gap a little, that'd probably be enough. One last all-over shake and then she stood, steadied herself, and thought as hard as she could on three. The force of it sent her staggering back some, but at last Steven popped out of the hole like a cork out of a bottle. Maybe with more awful, grating, stone-on-metal sounds than an actual cork in an actual bottle, ow. But he was free again, and that was what mattered. "Everything in one piece?" she asked him, just to be sure.

The valley, then. It looked like the others were starting to gather by Swearwolf's secret... patch of dirt. That was all? Oh, no, wait, wait, look out— there was also a shovel. Oh, wow! That sure seemed like it was worth getting freaked out and kicking the tar out of a bunch of people who'd just come by looking for answers.

Looked like Nova was determined to dig it up, whatever it actually was. Hopefully it would, in fact, be an answer. To something. She'd take anything at this point, really. She wasn't gonna be much help at digging, not with horse hooves and her head still aching a little much to try swinging the shovel, so instead she took a few minutes to circle 'round take in the rest of the area, just in case there was anything else of note nearby.
Wes stopped short at the sight of the earthy mound, stomach filling with dread. Perhaps it was the moonlight, or his exhaustion was getting to him, or the million other thoughts in his head were clouding his judgement, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that this looked like…a grave.

Did he really want to dig this up?

He shook his head and stepped forward. No. They’d fought tooth and nail—and each other—for this. He wasn’t going to turn back now.

Squaring his shoulders, Wes stepped up beside Nova and began to dig.
Koa paused to make sure Steven really was okay (or as okay as anyone was he supposed) before edging closer to listen in to Seth and Wes. With fire and heat and the fervor of battle gone Seth looked surprisingly pathetic and defeated. Served him right after what he'd done to Archie the first time. He bit back his irritation. Focus.

Swallowing he turned to see whatever it was Seth had been so bent of driving them away from... dirt? He narrowed his eyes. Oh.

Nova and Wes had already moved towards it and begun digging. Unable to help himself, Koa moved closer, sniffing the air as he angled to see, though still mantaining a wary distance, one eye on Seth. And ignoring everything else in his head.
Cold earth came away easily in their paws, piling up around the site. Digging wasn't hard for a dog like Wes, and his new body was larger, stronger for a task like this. Nova's claws weren't made for moving soil, but he'd become physically strong from industrial work and would not tire easily.

It wasn't long before someone's claws met fabric.
It was getting harder and harder to breathe, and Wes knew it wasn’t because of the flying dirt. Dread steadily mounted within as he dug, and once his claws struck fabric, it flared and evolved into outright fear.

Instinct screamed at him to stop, just stop, go no further, you don’t need to know what’s there, you don’t want to know—

Moving almost mechanically, as if his mind were separate from his body, Wes dug on regardless, the terror in his mind like distant background static.
Archie frowned. That Steven didn’t exactly seem keen on Wes helping wasn’t surprising in of itself, the man had proven himself to be anxious by nature. That Wes wasn’t even willing to try was so much more frustrating. If the Lycanroc was going to insist on treating himself like he was going to explode again any second, it was only going to reinforce that feeling in everyone else. And now Leaf was glaring daggers into the back of Wes’s head. Dammit all…

Well, Archie’s soft paws weren’t exactly made for digging, but seeing as how Nova and Wes – he’d do this but not help Steven? – had both set into what reminded the Oshawott disturbingly like a grave with their claws, he grabbed the nearby unused shovel. With a few clumsy thrusts on his part to widen the opening a bit, Leaf and Steven were thankfully able to combine their psychic energies to yank the Beldum out without too much extra fuss.

Further in, it sounded like Nova and Wes were making progress with their own dig. Archie really wasn’t interested in seeing what it was they found, however. This all seemed way too morbid for his liking. So he kept his attention on the Beldum for the time being.

“You’re not hurt, are you?”
The moment Nova's claws grazed fabric, he stopped. His suspicions were growing, but that initial interest had faded. Nova... figured there was a reasonable to get an answer without having to look directly. But Wes kept digging.

Damn mask. Maybe... maybe Nova still had a decent enough sense of smell left to tell if there was really a body there, instead of belongings. His digging had slowed while he sniffed at the area.
Odette frowned at the sight of the spade, feeling something cold claw up her back. Was that a…?

She’d wanted to hang back, give the other two room to dig. But she started to hobble closer as the hole got deeper. Curiosity had always eviscerated the delcatty, but she felt it pooling in the back of her mind and driving her to feel an absolute need to see what was in that hole. Even as the fabric was pulled up, and she felt a nervous bead of sweat building up on her temple, she didn’t move back.

As the other two sniffed around, she took another long, hard look around the area. Just in case they missed anything…
The static in Wes' mind would only grow as the appearance of the thing in the ground became less abstract, more visible, more specific. There was something stiff, with a complex shape, beneath the cloth. It came away, just a covering over the thing beneath. The full moon illuminated the arm of a coat, its colour unclear in the silver light, but the features of which were familiar. The leather texture, the high collar...


There was a furred body wearing the jacket.

Upright, like Seth himself, or a human. A dark pelt, matted with soil and blood. A face... wearing a silvered visor just like Seth's, or his own. Plausibly canine, too... but not a Lycanroc, though. Something else, practically the colour of the dark soil, with an enormous mane behind pointed ears.

A Zoroark corpse, wearing Wes' own outfit.

What had happened here? What had they dug up?
Wes stared. And stared some more.

Some part of him, the buzz of static in the back of his mind, was screaming at him to get the hell out of there, that’s a godsdamn corpse and you just dug it up—!

But the rest of him could only stare at the jacket. At the visor. How…? What…in the scorching—?

“Seth!” he barked, raising his voice to be sure the Wolf would hear him from the edge of the thicket. “Get over here and tell me what the hell this is!”
"He had the largest bounty of everyone..." Nova's voice trailed off and he looked closely at the zoroark. And what he was wearing. With a sigh, Nova stomped back over to where Seth was seated.

"I'm going to a venture a guess that ain't a third you lying in there," he said.
Seth trudged through the thicket, a strange expression on his face. Half despondent, half manic.

"Well, it sure looks like some dead Zoroark guy to me," he said, voice dripping sarcasm. "What do you make of it, kiddo?"

The doppelganger took a moment to enjoy his counterpart's expression before continuing.

"Guessin' you haven't met Fein in your world, yet. Don't worry, you're gonna. You might not realise it at first, though; Cipher bastard was a master of disguise as a human, too."
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The hell kind of name was Fein?

... Oh, right. Orre. Guess a culture of terrible naming choices transcended worlds. Cool.

Well, if Seth was actually going to be generous...

"It's my understanding Frontier Town's given you quite the rap sheet." Nova tapped a claw against the dirt. "How much of that you reckon we can chalk up to tall, dark-type, and six meters under over there?"
Holding back a gag Koa jerked away. His nose wrinkled and he stepped back, glancing between Seth and Wes, feeling too many sensations he couldn't identify. He stood stiffly, swallowing again, forcing himself to keep his composure. A zoroark. Masters of illusion... and it was dressed with that same visor.

Who was Cipher? The name rang a vague kind of bell but he couldn't recall anything specific. And if this was someone from Seth's world then did Wes have one...?

"Did you do that?" he snapped, glaring uneasily at Seth. "Care to explain more? Like why you're hiding this and who Cipher is? We're willing to hear the truth out," he added with a pointed growl.
Odette's nose wrinkled in dismay as she stepped back from the grave. Of all the things she could have been right about, she'd really hoped it wasn't going to be that. So, what, they'd just come upon the scene of a murderer burying their victim in a shallow grave? But, then why the actual fuck was he guarding it? Wouldn't it be smarter to do the normal serial killer thing and bury the body and bounce?

Not to mention, the way the body was dressed. And the way Seth and Wes were talking about it, like Wes recognized it and Seth was mocking him for it. They came from parallel versions of the same world, right? Was it a Pokemon version of someone they knew? Fein? Cipher? Was that an organization from their world or something here in Forlas?

"Just throwing it out there, and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but part of me is willing to believe you didn't kill this guy yourself," she said toward Seth. "If you had, I highly doubt you'd be doing so fucking much to guard the grave, because the killer thing to do would be to bury the body and leave. Hell, even as a passerby, why stick around and take the weight of that suspicion? Or maybe I'm wrong and you're just the absolute shittiest murderer I've ever met in my life."

She crossed her arms over her chest, wincing as they ached with the movement. "But if I'm on the right track, clearly this corpse has something about it you don't want anyone touching. You know this dude, yes, but what the hell was he doing here?"
“Don’t be cute with me,” Wes snapped. Gods, he was so exhausted and sore and felt like shit on about ten different levels. He really did not have it in him to deal with this bastard’s snark anymore.

He deflated a little, trying and failing to hide the weariness that seemed to permeate all the way down to his bones. “You’re right, I don’t know a Fein.” How was Seth so sure that Wes would encounter him in the future? “But even if I did, that doesn’t explain why he’s here. And why he’s dead.”

Wes raised his head and met Seth’s eyes, a firm question in his own. He was no longer accusatory, simply…tired. Confused. Desperate for answers.

“What is this, Seth? What have you done? And why? I know you hate our guts, and frankly, the feeling is mutual. But we have the same goal, to take down whoever is behind this—whether it’s Cipher or whoever—and we need to know what you know.”

He let his words linger for a few seconds, then, in a hoarse, defeated murmur, he added, “Please.”
A dead guy? There was a dead guy in there? Leaf pushed her way over to the hole to see for herself. Definitely looked like a zoroark down there. Definitely completely motionless. No clue what anyone was on about with ciphers or feigns or whatever, but also definitely had a vizor that looked a helluvalot like the one the Wolf was wearing. Wasn't creepy enough that someone had friggin' died, was it? Nope, all this... whatever other weird stuff just had to get piled on top, too. Thanks, that was great, just fantastic, keep up the good work. A shudder made a quick run down her back, though it was probably hard to see with the way her tail was lashing with general agitation.

The others were grilling the prick now, as they damn well ought to be. Hell, as she ought to be, by rights. She couldn't quite get her head around any questions to ask, though; she wasn't really sure why. Apparently she couldn't take her eyes off the corpse. Not what it was wearing, just some jacket or whatever, but, like. Could you see what had actually... done it? What had happened to them? Any sign of injury, or anything like that? ...Anything that looked like a huge shard of sharp stone had come launching at him out of nowhere?
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