• Welcome to The Cave of Dragonflies forums, where the smallest bugs live alongside the strongest dragons.

    Guests are not able to post messages or even read certain areas of the forums. Now, that's boring, don't you think? Registration, on the other hand, is simple, completely free of charge, and does not require you to give out any personal information at all. As soon as you register, you can take part in some of the happy fun things at the forums such as posting messages, voting in polls, sending private messages to people and being told that this is where we drink tea and eat cod.

    Of course I'm not forcing you to do anything if you don't want to, but seriously, what have you got to lose? Five seconds of your life?

Frontier Town Main Street

Farin nodded trembling slightly, then after a moment, Gladion felt her connection - a bit weaker this time - return to him. 'I'm sorry, Valere would have been furious if I said that. He'll tell you the rest and will be waiting for you in a dungeon out in the wilds. Drakesday after the crossing. Bring only those with the strongest of wills and I will lead you there on the day. I trust that you can tell the others of your group for me?'

Farin spread her wings, ready to fly off. 'It was a pleasure meeting you, Gladion. I hope to see more of your group very soon.'
'It's alright. It's... a lot. I can tell that much myself.'

He looked back at Farin. 'Glad to have met you, too.'

Then... It occurred to him he'd have to try to actually make that meeting happen. That would be interesting.

[Ch03] ~ Cats Catching Up
Laura didn't really go shopping, at least not very often. But she had a job with the Gazette and she had some money and clothing here gave you a boost in combat, and there was gonna be a lot of that in her future, it seemed.

So she was in Lorenzo's shop – the tailor's – looking at scarves that might help her win fights. She was even – weirdly, distantly – a little excited about it. That part of her brain that loved to strategise, optimise, analyse fucking loved this, even if she didn't really relish the thought of getting the stuffing knocked out of her again. Howls, she just wanted to nap or something. But hell if she was gonna give a sub-par performance in her next fight.

Her ears flicked backward to catch the sound of someone entering the shop. Familiar soft pawsteps...

"Oh, hey! Jade!"

Wait, shit, did Jade know who she was? No, that was stupid, of course she fucking did. They'd met each other like, four or five memorable times already, even if some were brief or businesslike. Yeah, they knew each other, come on.

Laura gave the other Meowth a wave and a smile. "You, uh, been getting on okay? Was hoping I'd run into you before the big team meet, aheh. So, uh, it's cool that you happened to bump into me. I'm Laura."

Why was she so fucking awkward. She should ask Jade to smother her in her sleep so she wouldn't get another chance to embarrass herself socially. Fucking howls afar.
Jade had been feeling mostly pretty okay about things for a few days. The victory at Silver Ravine was definitely a bit of a mood boost. And there were plans to visit the Ranger HQ soon, which was pretty cool. She needed to think about getting some more gear if more treks into dungeons were going to be a thing from now on. And, well, she felt like she deserved to get something for herself once in a while.

At the same time, there was that team meeting coming up, and Jade couldn't help feeling a prickle of anxiety. Did something bad happen that everyone needed to know about? Or maybe the wagon disaster was the bad thing, and it was just that some people didn't know about it yet. It was a bit weird to think of the group that'd been summoned here as a 'team' since everyone was kind of off doing their own thing, and there wasn't exactly a leader or--

Movement caught Jade's eye out of the corner of her vision. Oh, it was Laura waving to her from over by a rack of scarves.

Jade waved back before walking over. "Heya--uh, not too bad, I think." There was a bit of a pause. "Hhhow about you?" she asked slowly, not sure if it was a good question or not. She recognized that sort of energy.
"Surviving," she replied, with true Galarish irony. Maybe Jade wouldn't know how to read that, though. "Honestly, it's pretty hard to get and keep my bearings a lot of the time? Feels like there's an ever-increasing pile of questions and issues and things we need to sort out."

Maybe Laura was just the type to be anxious and exhausted on any world, but it sure felt like there were more issues and questions and difficult situations by the day. She wasn't the only one fretting, that much was certain.

They'd just have to help each other, then.

"We, uh. Never got to talk about the Terminal Two scouting attempt," she said, lamely.
Jade's ears fell. "That bad, huh? Sounds kinda like the way things were for me back home. Maybe I just haven't been doing enough here," she added, feeling a bit dumb.

Then again, it honestly felt like if it hadn't been for Laura, the team would've been a lot more in the dark than they actually were. Hopefully the other Meowth could see that...?

Jade's fur bristled at the mention of Terminal Two. "Right, that was a thing. I, um. I don't think anyone could've seen that coming." Everyone kept saying it'd been a bad idea, but none of the reasons they gave had anything at all to do with what had actually happened.
Laura tensed and sighed at once, relieved to hear someone got it, even as the topic put her on edge all the same.

"No. No, anyone who reckons they could've planned for what happened is wrong, and there wasn't gonna be another chance after that night."

She'd been over it in her head a million times already, she'd talked to more than a few people about her reasoning, and the whole issue was starting to feel like nails on a chalkboard in her head, but... she'd been right. They'd had an opportunity with a limited window to act. They couldn't just have let the chance go. She'd been right... and it had gone wrong anyway.

And it'd put Jade at risk.

"But it was still my plan, and you still got hurt, and I'm still sorry."
Jade's throat clenched up, hearing the guilt in the other Meowth's voice. Laura must've really been beating herself up ever since that night...

"Thanks," she said finally, her tail swishing idly as she pretended to inspect the teal-and-green patterned bandana on the rack in front of her. "It's kind of weird being on the other side of it for once. Er, that is--back home it felt I was the one constantly worrying about plans getting someone else hurt, while also feeling like it'd be even worse if we just did nothing."

"Guess I'm just glad we can heal from stuff we wouldn't have been able to before," she added with an awkward chuckle. That made it better, right?
Heal from stuff? Were pokémon more fragile in Jade's world...? Or did she mean getting away from their own worlds let them heal from the traumatic shit they were dealing with before, or— Right, yeah. Being human before, pokémon now. Gotcha.

"Oh, oh right, yeah. Yeah, no, I'm healing off injuries ridiculously fast, too."

What was Jade getting up to in her own world that she was seriously injured more often than rarely, anyway? Making plans that risked others? Feeling obligated to get involved in dangerous stuff? It was hard to tell how old she was, but she didn't sound not young. Not that Laura felt old, herself. Howls.

She ran her paws over a series of scarves and headwraps, testing for the texture of fabric against her fur and pads, eyeing the small handwritten cards noting that this wrap augmented the wearer's agility, this garment protected against poisons, this scarf kept one out of sight...

"So, uh... What was it you were responsible for back home? I figure most of us were involved in some wild shit to get picked for this – I keep catching myself thinking I'm some exception and then every time I explain to someone that I was infiltrating a fucking corporation to find my Purrloin partner and rescue her from some kinda genetic experimentation I feel pretty dumb for downplaying it. So, go on. One-up me."
Jade coughed loudly. "Wow, that's, um--that's not what I expected." It was also way more similar to her own situation than she'd been expecting.

"I mean--I didn't think I was anyone special, either." I was--I used to have a Legendary patron. But that wasn't because of anything special about me, that was just something that happened to me.

"But I guess I was in a similar boat? That feels really weird to say. I mean I also rescued some of my team from being experiments. That is--I didn't know them before that, I met them when I was--" This wasn't exactly easy to follow, was it.

She shook her head. "Let me try again. I was part of this team, and there were a bunch of us infiltrating a gang, trying to sabotage their operations. And I ended up freeing some of their experiments." Something about saying all this gave Jade a weird flicker of déjà vu. (She hadn't already told Laura this, right?) "I guess that probably counts as wild."
She'd been hoping for stories, details, anything concrete – but that was a lot to ask for this early on. And she wasn't sure she had the energy to explain the sheer context for her own stories, which weren't all that exciting anyway, so...

"It counts as weirdly fucking similar to what I've been up to. So, yeah, pretty wild!"

'Wild'. She was thinking this in the literal wild west. Ha. It felt real, she took it so seriously all the time, but that was still what it was, and somehow it only felt that way when someone was talking about pokémon genetic experiments. Their technological homeworlds, compared to all this...

"It's killing me that that's what counts as comfortingly familiar in this world. Never mind the internet, this place doesn't have radio yet. Or fridges. Or industrial manufacture of fucking t-shirts. Also, the 'everyone is a pokémon' thing, still not fully over that."

When was she going to be over it? Another week or two? Never, before she got sent home? Months?

"Howls, I think we've only been here about a month. Makes me wonder how long we'll stick around – long enough to get attached?"
Somehow it felt like they'd been here ages and yet hardly any time at all. The first few days, she'd half expected to wake up back home any time. And now they were out here exploring dungeons and joining the rangers...

“I hadn’t thought about how long we’d be here," Jade said, shuffling a paw against the wooden floorboards. "How are we supposed to know when we’re done? I’m not really used to the idea of just, having a problem to fix, and fixing it, and having it be done.” Was it really that simple? Stop whoever was making these witching beasts… and then what? Back home, the Rebellion had sabotaged the Rockets a bunch of times, but that hadn’t exactly put an end to it.

“I keep missing my team. I know we’ll be sent back home when this is done, but it’s weird not knowing when I’ll see them.”

Jade's mind drifted back to what Laura had said--the one bit of information about her own Pokemon...

“You said you were… ‘trying to’ rescue your Purrloin?” As in, hadn’t succeeded yet.
Laura nodded miserably. Shame burned her cheeks and made her whiskers twitch. It wasn't like there was a way to just apply more effort to the problem. Or many opportunities for some idiot like her to waltz into a secure facility (if she could find it) and spirit away a secret project.

"Yeah. First I had to, I don't know... Become a trainer, you could say? 'Cause... Well. For a lot of reasons."

Don't babble. Just cut it down to the bare minimum, be clear and understandable...

And don't get upset.

"So, I've been on the Galar open circuit for a few months. Adopted a retired herdier to be my starter, figured out the knack to battling, alternated between travel, battles, and researching the shit out of Perihelion – they're, uh, my 'bad guys' I guess – and now I've got a sponsorship from them. Which means maybe getting to sneak around in some of their buildings, that sort of thing. I, uh..."

I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm in way over my head, and I'm scared and stupid and so so so tired.

"I'm still figuring it out. But they have my purrloin, and I'm pretty sure she's not just free to walk away."
Galar, huh. Well that was at least one human on the team who wasn’t from Tohjo. Clear on the other side of the world, more like.

"It... sounds like a lot to be dealing with," Jade said quietly, rubbing her arm. She automatically imagined herself in Laura's place, trying to find Swift, but without any of the Rebellion's leads or resources.

“So like, if you’ve been doing that for a few months, did you start late, or…?” Jade trailed off, realizing how that sounded. “I don’t mean that in a bad way,” she quickly added. “I mean, I also started a few years late, so.” She'd always assumed Laura was older than her, but if the other Meowth had been doing all that for only a few months, then that meant that Jade had actually been a trainer for longer, which was an odd feeling.
Laura laughed, but she didn't think she managed to make it sound like anything was actually funny. It was hard to hide an unhappy laugh.

"Really, really late, yeah. I mean, it's normal to start later in Galar than, say, Nippon, but even then most kids serious about training go out at like, fourteen. I wanted to do that. I inhaled battle clips and analysis, read every journey blog under the sun, I was obsessed. But my parents kept refusing to support it, saying they'd sponsor me if I graduated secondary first, and by the time I did that, the economy fucking tanked and Macro Cosmos suspended half its programs, and I was fucked."

She looked away, pretending to be interested in the price tags on the scarves.

"I'm nearly twenty."
Jade tried to keep the surprise off her face. “Oh wow, and I thought I started late,” she replied sheepishly. “I’m, uh, not really one to talk though—didn’t have anyone to blame but myself for starting late.” Should she give her age in return? It seemed fair. But she didn’t want to deal with people thinking she was too young to be involved in dangerous stuff. There’s been enough of that to deal with back home.

“I didn’t actually get my license until I’d already be training for five months. Technically illegal, but… eh.” Jade shrugged. It just didn’t feel like it mattered anymore. Not after everything.
"Eh, who gives a shit?" deadpanned Laura. "I was a couple months in before I got my license, and by then it was hard to care about it except as a practical concern, considering."

Considering she was breaking the law going after Salem anyway, probably. Considering enforcement was lax as hell. Considering she didn't really believe, in her bones, that she could make it as a trainer.

She sighed.

Anyway, Jade had been at it 'illegally' for a while, huh. Breaking experiments out... Howls, she really wanted to know more about that. Was this girl part of some organised protest movement? A criminal, vigilante, violent one?

"What's legal and what's right aren't always the same thing. Not that you need me to tell you that – if you were part of some organisation breaking into places and getting into scrapes to free test subjects, you've already done all that moral decisionmaking already, I bet. ...I say that, but you haven't told me that much about what it is you were actually up to. What's your story, Jade?"
“Well, I kinda did,” Jade said, rubbing the back of her head. “But I guess in this kind of group there’s always more, huh.” What counted as weird or unusual was pretty skewed here. She still didn't think she'd ever understand what was going on with Mhynt or Nova.

“So yeah... that stuff with rescuing experiments was all last year. The team I was on disbanded last year too." It felt like a lifetime ago, and also like it had never actually stopped. "So it was just me and my team traveling around for a while until the League—uh, I wasn’t in the League, my friends were—but then the League didn’t even happen because it got called off. So then they tried to organize an unofficial League finals, and my friend was gonna be a finalist in that but then we suddenly had to deal with a bunch of crap with that organization—the one that I rescued the experiments from—because one of their experiments got loose and has been causing a bunch of damage and... It’s a lot.”

(Didn’t “get loose”. You freed him.)
Yikes. 'A bunch of damage' could mean anything from trashing a room, to wrecking a neighbourhood, or worse. She didn't know what kind of world Jade was from, except that it was comparable to her own. She tried not to assume that 'genetic experiments on the loose' was anything like was she was up to trying to get Salem out of Perihelion. Or anything like the Mewtwo flicks she'd binged her whole adolescence.

At least Laura didn't have to deal with that kind of physically dangerous, public shit.


"That... It sounds like a lot. I'm sorry."

What did you even you say to someone who told you something like that? Laura felt daft now, realising any advice she had was probably useless, and she didn't know Jade well enough yet to speak to her life. Maybe she should just... show she cared and understood, at least a little. Ask, indirectly, if Jade was okay.

Her paw closed around the black scarf. The little card hanging beside it said it would help her avoid notice. Conceal her. Fitting.

"I've never been on a team before. Any team, but like, one doing that sort of thing. It sounds like the sort of thing that, y'know, seems badass until everything falls apart. Is, uh, being on a team like this – ours – pretty different to what you're used to, or more of the same?"
Jade leaned against the clothing rack, letting her eyes slide to the ceiling. "Pretty different, I think. We were just kids. We didn't really know what we were doing--we knew it'd be dangerous, but we didn't really get it, y'know?" The consequences had always been there, always possible, but... they hadn't felt real. Not until the Rebellion went up in flames.

"We did have someone leading us, though." Using us, for weird, arcane reasons. "So, for better or worse, our team was effective. And, well... we all cared about what we were doing, so that helped."

Her gaze fell on the scarves hanging from the rack she was leaning against. Right, this was a shop, she should probably get something...
Top Bottom