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Frontier Town Main Street

With the flourish of her wing, Torria performed a bow in return. "A pleasure, Miss Felin Boots, and to you as well, Miss Roggenrola." Though her eyes darted anxiously, some of the tension in her posture had faded. "Professionalism is always appreciated. If I may bold, Little Scriven could stand to use a bit more of it..."

She shook her head. "In any case, please gather up anyone you believe would be interested and meet me at the post office. I can escort you all to meet with Mayor Enubel herself and grant you all a bit more leeway around the town." A chuckle escaped her beak. "Wouldn't want the town starting rumor mills about strangers snooping around and asking even stranger questions, now would we?"
Aige hummed. "Depending on how you frame it, strangers asking around can be a source of excitement. A bit of mystery, no?"

"I'll defer to Felin on the specifics since she seems reliable," the Roggenrola added, "Oh um, and I'm Aige, nice to meet you both on that note, haha."
"Eeeh, this isn't really my forte," Felin said with a quick wave of her paws. "Trust me, you wouldn't want to have me deciding what to have in your festival."

If they let Felin have her way they'd set themselves up for a sprigatito themed festival and a odd dress code choice of boots. If not that then Felin would be bored out of her mind surely.

"You might want to try with some of the other folks on our..." What were they? A team? A squad? An affiliation? "... roster."
Torria shuffled her wings a bit. "A pleasure, Aige. And, truly?" She hummed to herself. "Continued delegations was not what I anticipated, but very well. When you are all ready, I will be waiting at the Post Office for the next day or so. And..."

She bowed her head. "Thank you again, offworlders. Please pass along, 'Sorry for thinking you were just kids'."

Before the others could respond, she leapt and took to the skies as she left the pair behind to gather up a crew.

Ch02: The Silent Stranger
A noivern waited at the corner of the main street. Trying to find any signs of offworlders was much easier said than done, especially seeing that the local inn, "The Traveller's Haus" as it was called was busy and she would need to check in later. She gingerly rubbed her neck. She could really use a sign right about now...

Just as she was thinking, an odd, large quadruped pokémon that looked like a mishmash of bits wearing a helmet had walked past her. That screamed "offworlder" to her. Now how to not look suspicious?

Here goes nothing.

'Hello?' Gladion would hear from the corner of his mind. 'Have you a moment?'
'Hello?' Gladion would hear from the corner of his mind. 'Have you a moment?'
That was not the cloud. Which was probably bad. A few thoughts flickered though Gladion's mind at once: Who was this person? How did they get in his head? What could they see? In the end, his thoughts crystallized around one sentence:

'What the fuck?'

That phrase was really working its way up in usage in his head... He missed when things made sense and his life sucked less.

'Seriously, may I suggest you get out of my head and start a conversation normally? Because whether or not I can come up with anything better I should be doing this moment is going to depend on that.'
'Oh, sorry! How rude of me! But I regret to inform you that this is really the only way I can converse,' the strange voice replied. Moments later, Gladion would feel a tap on his shoulder and if he were to turn around, he would see a rather sizable noivern wearing a scarf. She traced a straight line back and forth across her neck with a claw a few times. Hopefully, that would be enough for the odd chimera to get the memo. 'It shocks people the first time but I'm not a trained psychic or anything, all I can really do is get a decent enough line of communication.' Indeed, her voice was rather quiet and comparatively muffled when compared to the Voice.

She shuffled a bit awkwardly, adjusting her scarf before folding her wings neatly together. 'I'm a bit new in town,' she then began. 'I'm stopping by for a visit and was wondering where I could find where your newspapers are printed. There was something in one of them that caught my attention and I have to find out more.' A pause. 'Sorry, just excited. I'm Farin, you are?'
Strange. Did that mean they were mute? He'd just heard a Beldum talk not too long ago, which meant would probably be even less voc—

Or a Noivern. That worked too. And they gestured across their throat Sure, that could be a humanly-recognized symbol for a vocal chord issue but it felt a bit weird in a context where he, for one, hadn't exactly been noticing much of a correlation between "speech" and "presence of vocal chords." Did that suggest—

Gladion had made the mistake of thinking again. Rookie mistake, really, expecting things here to make sense.

'I... see. Yeah, I'll admit I wasn't expecting that when I started hearing things from someone I hadn't even noticed yet. My name is Gladion. I don't know where they're physically printed, but I figure you're probably looking for the Gazette itself. I'd suggest you look for a Meowth. An—'

Gladion clamped down on verbalizing that train of thought hard, hoping he'd caught himself on time to prevent a mess... Though, if she was up to date on news from the Gazette then Hoopa might be out of the bottle. '—A dark type one, which on second thought is probably bad advice. What are you trying to find out, anyway? Might have an inkling about what you're looking for.'
'Oh yes, Laura I believe?' Farin nodded. 'The one who wrote about the massive group of offworlders after the mayor was disposed of. I would have loved to seek her out myself but I'm not sure where to look, not to mention her being a dark-type makes things a little more difficult for me. But yes, I am interested in the news of the offworlders and I would love to figure out more.'

She eyed Gladion curiously. 'Are you one, by any chance? Sorry if it's rude to ask but you don't look like any species of pokémon I've seen before and I've seen my fair share all over the continent.'
Gladion laughed, though not in a way that suggested he was particularly entertained. ‘Nah, I’m a naturally occurring incidence of a completely normal local species. Can’t imagine why you’d suggest otherwise. That being said, if you did have question about our worlds I suppose I could find it in my heart to field them anyways.’
Farin covered her mouth with a wing and appeared to giggle - there was the motion but no sound to accompany it. Jackpot. 'My mistake,' she replied, playing along for a moment. 'You haven't come across any suspicious strangers, have you?' she then asked, sounding just a bit more serious. 'Ones who seem particularly invested in humans?' Wait no. That would just confirm her answer as a no. Her mind quickly scrambled for an explanation. 'It's just there's been word of more insidious activity from a particular group who very likely to almost certainly would have an interest in the news of a large group of offworlders.'

She looked around for a moment. Words could not describe how relieved Farin felt that Gladion had decided to communicate through her link. 'Apologies if that news is sudden or overwhelming but keep sharp.'
Interesting. Quite the reputation these humans had built for themselves, for a group so hard to track down. That most likely made Farin at least the enemy of their enemy, and maybe even a direct ally. Still, he felt ill-at-ease accepting that entirely. It would be too easy to pass on a warning about something they clearly already known about, then use that offering as grounds to fish for info.

'Nothing that you wouldn't have heard about already. I hope you didn't come out all this way just for that, though. It'd be a shame to come here just to tell us that, especially given that it's a bit of an open secret that they exist. We've received more warnings of them than we've seen possible instances of them, all things considered.'

Gladion tried to raise a brow. 'Is that all you're here for? Because I do hope the redundancy isn't too disappointing if it was.'
'Hm, well you can never be too careful,' Farin replied. 'Keep a look out, with an article like that in the paper, those guys are going to flock to this place like combees to honey.'

She took a couple steps forward, taking in the sights of the main street before looking back at Gladion with a smile on her face. 'Nope! While the offworlder news is super interesting and my main draw, I'm also keen to check out the town itself and what it has to offer. What do you think of it so far?'
Gladion mentally floundered for a moment, looking for an answer. He didn't have one.

'I don't know what to make of it, honestly. Obviously none of us were super fond of the mayor, as I'm sure you've read, but nobody here was. Everything else is... fine. Didn't have this helmet when I was sent here, it's not a part of my body. Long story. But it's soured my experience here through no real fault of the town...'

He took a moment to collect his thoughts, sighed, then sent another message.

'Listen. I'm sure you've got your own stuff you don't want to or can't talk about... But I can't in good conscience let you show up because of an article about us, use that tip to ask us what we do and do not know about that group, then leave without elaborating. The fact that my intuition says you're not a threat—' Half true. He believed she probably wasn't a danger, but didn't trust that impulse. '—doesn't make it any less negligent if I ignore any other possibilities. So... As far as you can share... Why come all this way to, sightseeing aside, pass on that particular warning?'
That gave Farin pause, a pensive frown flickering over her features. 'Wellllllllllll,' she began, clicking her tongue. 'It's a bit of column A, a bit of column B. I'm less getting up in your business and am more so on the lookout for that group and any potential activity they might show here, which includes whether or not they've started fraternising with you lot. Can't have that. But if you're being honest about already watching out for them, then you will have nothing to worry about! And both of us won't have to deal with a grumpy Valere. I think we'll get along great,' she added warmly.
'Sounds good to me. Mayor was aligned with them, but it sounds like he didn't have any in-roads with them and was pretty pissed about that. Of course, while I trust my source on that to be honest, it doesn't guarantee he's not mistaken. That all I know of, but the others might have their own insights, we'll be around if you want to ask anyone else. If you'll indulge my curiosity, though... Valere? Is that a name I ought to know?
'Oh, he's my associate,' Farin answered. 'I'll need to catch up with him and I'm sure you'll meet him soon since he's just as interested in you guys as I am. I warn you though, he's always in a dour mood so don't do anything to piss him off. The results won't be pretty but I'll be sure to put in a good word for you to make him only half as sour as he usually is.'

She breathed a sigh of relief. Good. It seemed that she'd managed to reach this group first and it seemed that they already had their wits about them. That would make things going forwards that much easier. 'Watch out for any strange greninja or anyone associated with him that might pass through town. He's one of them.'
Gladion's eyes widened. 'What, hold on, you know what's up with them? That's important information. We've hit a dead end looking for more information at the Mayor. We're pretty sure we got called here because they're fucking with things and that's why we're here in bulk. But we can't actually make progress towards it unless we know what's going on. So. What do you know?'
There was a brief hesitance but Farin nodded. 'There's some stuff I'm certain Valere would rather tell you but I can tell you this much:

'They're called the Coven, a group of humans who make it their mission to track down and recruit any other humans and they're good at it too. They often try to win humans over with their tech, don't know what exactly but I believe it's gotta be impressive. You think "Oh, I know about these guys, I'll be on the lookout for them, I won't fall for their tricks. You could be fighting against them until the bitter end but all it takes is an inch, one shred of charity and they'll get right into your head. That's what happened with—'

Farin abruptly severed the connection, her eyes wide and panicked.
Their... tech. Their tech.

So there was someone here with the technology required to help someone create a Null... but it was... those guys. The Coven. So anyone who knew how... must have been...

Gladion shivered— kept shivering as as Farin continued talking, right up until she cut herself off and then some more. 'I...'

He cleared his throat. No connection anymore, duh. He had to talk normally.

"I see what you're getting at... Then..." A determination took root in his voice. "Well, if there's more they'd like to tell me in-person, I'd like to do that as soon as possible. I can tell how important it is."
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