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Frontier Town Frontier Town Outskirts

The others seemed to think it was the best option... "Okay," Koa murmured, fighting back the uncertainty and rising panic as the darkness drew closer. What if he was just handing Drapion over to someone else to be controlled? He couldn't even begin to decide what to make of this Giovanni.

He dipped his head to Mewtwo, his grip on Drapion's pokeball tightening. "You may keep an eye on them, as long as agree not to do anything to them. Or take them anywhere." Especially Drapion.
The Rangers were Bellatrix's personal choice for where to put the recovered Shadows but with time running short, she doubted that it would be feasible. "We should leave," she said, looking at the horizon, beginning to turn towards the town. "I imagine that this arrangement will be temporary in the grand scheme. Until then, take them and ensure they are secured in a place where they cannot easily be reclaimed by anyone else. I will be interested in questioning Ignatius later, but until then, prioritise your own safety."
Mhynt shook her head at Grace and Nova. "You gave me courage. I'm sure... that will have an effect on Owen. I know we got through to him... just a little. It means something. It... has to."

She disappeared, reappearing atop Nova.

"I'd... appreciate the help."

Meanwhile, Giovanni took the Pokeballs with another kinetic wave, gingerly placing them in Mew's satchel.

"You know where to find me," he said.

Mew touched Giovanni's shoulder. In a blip of light, they were gone.
"... Well, wasn't this just de-fucking-lightful?"

Nova glanced over his shoulder. "We should go now. That way when Alexander shows up, the best he can do is throw a hissy fit."

This was the last thing any of them needed on the heels of the whole Terminal Two raid. But it happened.

"That obnoxious Cipher admin. Lovrina, I think?" Nova's hackles raised just from thinking about the tinkaton. "She and her murkrow buddy had some sort of way to shield themselves from shadow energy. I blew up their shadow harvester, spilling artificial shadows into the room, and they shrugged it off like it was nothing.

"You think that, after their little brush with death, they might be open to giving us that equipment? Or at least telling us how to make it for ourselves?" He clicked his tongue. "I got a bad feeling that the only way we're taking Alexander out for good is on his turf..."
Bellatrix was already well on her way to the town, not waiting for anyone to follow her. "I will need to visit the Rangers soon anyway," she called back, just barely hearing Nova. "I can question her about it then."

As she walked she wondered if there was any possible way to not just shield themselves from Shadows but to dampen them as a whole, thinking of the corrupted Cipher admins. Although for now, with their current goals and resources, it would have to be a thought experiment for another time.
Koa's gaze lingered on the spot Mew and Mewtwo had disappeared, before he turned to Odette. Victory, he guessed, but the sting of not being able to save Owen lingered. At least they had won, and this time without even getting terribly hurt. They were getting strong.

"Ready to get out of here?" he murmured to Odette. Healed or not, he wasn't looking forward to seeing Alex again. Although he did wish he could see the look on that stupid Zweilous's face when he realized he'd lost two of his pawns.
All things considered, the scouting mission had gone horribly and amazingly all at once. They nearly died, again, or perhaps worse if they fell into Alexander's clutches. But at the same time, they'd come out of it with two rescued Shadow Pokemon...

Wanting to avoid Alexander's ire more than they already had, the team shuffled away into Frontier Town. Thankfully, Alexander did not follow.

They knew the nature of their enemy--and that they could stand up to his fringes. But fighting within his realm was another battle entirely.

Perhaps another time... For now, they celebrated their victories with somber planning in the air. Tomorrow was another day.

Ch05: Stronger [Mhynt & Bellatrix] New
A Grovyle had laid claim to a small expanse of sand and dust, marked by the countless grooves in the dirt and footprints left with every Teleport.

She had a set of rocks in the center of this portion of the field. Her Leaf Blade carved several of them into the size of garden rocks at this point, and she was working on another. The sun beat upon her body. Her leaves were shriveled. Nearby, her water canteen was half-empty, and an umbrella-like structure was set up for her to hide beneath if she started to overheat.

But with the setting sun, she had to do that far less often. To the Wayfarers, her presence was clear... Based on how long she had been there, she had skipped lunch, and it was already well into dinnertime.
The next time Mhynt turned around, she would have noticed Bellatrix sitting on a nearby boulder watching her. Coincidently, Bellatrix's own preferred training spot was not too far from Mhynt's own and hearing the sound of another training Wayfarer had summoned the zoroark's attention She had clearly just arrived, as she was still dusting off her gauntlets yet she had already taken a great interest in Mhynt's own methods.

"You are quite well-versed with that blade," she observed after a few moments, "How long have you been using one for?"
Mhynt staggered a little from the sudden input, but she nodded and righted herself shortly after. Took a breath. And sighed, Teleporting into the shade while maintaining a conversational distance.

"...In this way? Five hundred or so years," she replied. "It's a part of... my battle methods when I need to use them. After a time, I got sloppy, since I tended to dwarf everyone else around me. And..." She swung her arm. "This body is... heavier than I'm used to. The motions are off. I need to get better if I want to stand a chance against Alexander and..."
"It's easy to notice the differences in another body, yes," replied Bellatrix, nodding along to Mhynt's words. "And easy to lose that momentum if you have no need to use it."

She eyed Mhynt's handiwork. "Don't we all?" she then asked. "I trained tirelessly when I first evolved as the sooner I got used to this form, the better. How long have you been here?" She flinched slightly when her mind traced back to the battle she had with the Escarpa but she very quickly brushed it aside. "And," she continued, "how fast do you think he is going in terms of gathering strength compared to us?"
"I don't know how long he's been gathering power, but I don't think he's been outpacing us as of recently. We were closer than the time before, and if Owen is any reflection of Alexander's power, we've caught up. Still... I don't think we're close to winning." Mhynt looked at the sky. "As for how long I'd been training... I started with breakfast. Had a quick drink at the Zera. Came here." She trailed off. The wind blew. "...What time is it?"

Now that Mhynt was closer... She looked awful. Covered in dust and nicks from stumbles and rocks. Cut leaves, cut scales, a sagging posture from fatigue...
"I see. Well, it is at least better than the alternative."

Bellatrix glanced at the horizon. "Almost nightfall," she answered. "So you have been here for quite some time then. And I thought that I had intensive methods of training," she said, tapping the hilt of her own blade with a small chuckle. However a small frown was quick to replace it. "It would be hypocritical of me to criticise, though not-too recent spar with a certain luxray has gotten me reconsidering them just a little."
Mhynt looked shameful when she glanced away, though only for a moment.

"...It never felt like enough," she said. "Even with every cut, even if I reduce something to only rubble, it... it's nothing compared to what we've already seen Alexander do. Let alone the minion he'd turned Owen into."

Her hand trembled, though it was hard to tell if it was from fatigue or fear. She gently rubbed her leaves, producing a slightly minty scent in the air, to her namesake.

"He's a lich," Mhynt whispered just loud enough for Bellatrix to hear. "A harvester of souls to empower himself. Any wayward cretin in this world, any downtrodden pauper... they're all vulnerable to his draw."
"Yet they can be retrieved, can they not?" Bellatrix countered. "Ignatius, the drapion, those two guards, all out of his grasp. Would that not dent his power?"

She felt little need to point out how they handled the direct encounter with him, seeing that the rescued souls made for better, more tangible proof that they stood a fighting chance against him.

Although the mention of Owen reminded her of something. Now that they weren't running and fighting for their lives against a massive wave of shadows, there was time to consider what she and Odette had heard. "And if Odette is to be believed, Owen may not be as far gone as he appears. Alexander certainly seems far more invested in keeping him in his clutches compared to the others." She looked out into the distance. "Easier to control that way, perhaps?" she asked rhetorically.
"...Perhaps so," Mhynt said, her nerves calming again when she sat down to analyze the situation and give her legs a rest. "Even the Void Shadows that follow his standing orders seem to prioritize making sure Owen is not someone lost to him. Perhaps because he's like us--Wayfarers, or similar to us and our circumstances. A greater potential to grow... and rebel. So he leaves little to chance.

"Or," Mhynt said with a bitter laugh, "he simply wants to revel in the fact that Owen is finally under his control. He never got to do that back home, you know." She glanced away and murmured, "Not yet, at least..."
"So there is history between those two," observed Bellatrix. "It certainly would make sense if Owen was a persistent thorn in Alexander's side although I do not see why both would not be motivating factors," she then added. There was a small pause as the implication struck Bellatrix. "However, if Owen is like us, wouldn't that imply that he was also called here by Betel but got lost on the way, so to speak?"
Mhynt looked uncomfortable again. "Mm," she started. "...We were in around the same area. And as far as cosmic concerns go, we were intertwined in many ways. Perhaps... in the process of taking one of us, all three came along instead. compared to many of your worlds, mine has a lot of... tears and high spiritual power on the face of it.

"But... why, then, did Alexander take Owen? I don't remember any of the transition... Did... he simply choose Owen over me? Was it luck?"
"I cannot say I know what he thinks," Bellatrix replied, nodding along to all the concepts Mhynt was throwing at her. At this point, learning about these sorts of things was just another Tuesday for her. "Perhaps Betel had a strong grip on you or Owen was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever it was, it was enough to leave them absent from the Nexus, though I doubt time or space follows any linear structure there." She shrugged. "I do not know, you seem to be more knowledgeable on this topic than I am."
"Only in theory," Mhynt muttered. "In practice... I haven't had much of an opportunity to explore Ultra Space as a Lunala or dabble in any of my cosmic powers. Bit of a fledgling Light Beast, in a way." She ran a claw along her cheek. "Been far too long since I could truly unleash that form anyway, what with being condemned to the void for so long. Most of my life. Big quotes on 'life'."
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