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Frontier Town Main Street

Odette watched the zorua shift into the look of a murkrow with an impressed shake of her head. Not perfect, but close enough. She watched her join the murder, then turned to Ghaspius with a nod.

“I can certainly give it a go,” she whispered back, keeping her gaze on the various eyes that now looked in her direction. Bellatrix could only do so much to keep them at bay, and she would have to do the rest with her own tone and word choice. Though, this wouldn’t be like a standard interrogation—these things were mimics, not coherent speakers. If she could perhaps say something to trigger them to recite anything damning, that might be enough.

She silently cleared her throat and took a breath. “Coven?” she began gingerly. “Covered wagons to Blaguarro? Blindfolds? Terminal Two? Experiments?” She paused to give them a moment, though she didn’t move a muscle. “Skorupi? Charmeleon?”
A murkrow clacked its beak at Odette then said, 'No need for wagons... Too risky. Have enough.'

'New sightings in Frontier Town,'
a pair echoed back, it seemed that this was said by the same individual who mentioned the "hole of a town". 'Doesn't matter,' it then continued. 'Escarpa will lock it down.'

After the pause, another murkrow cawed, 'Already escaped! On the train?'

'On the train!'

Bellatrix repeated in a close approximation to Odette's voice, trying to blend in.

'Escarpa! Escarpa! Escapra!' crowed several murkrow in tune.
She lowered her brows. That damn clan name again.

"Have enough wagons? Why?" she pressed. "Escarpa on the train? Why? Know about Terminal Two? Blaguarro?"
Ghaspius whispered to the others. "Voice is gonna be too deep to make that noise. Ask 'em why Frontier Town is gonna be gone, if y'all can."

He hummed. "And if they think Escarpa might have ties to the shadows."
'Destroy the damn rail. Been a thorn in our side,' they chatoted back. 'Nothing comes in or out.'

'Stop the demons! Stop the demons!'

'Frontier...collateral. Lockdown Blaguarro.'

Bellatrix looked around. 'Demons?' she asked, still trying to pass herself off as mimicking.

'Against Escarpa!'
"I... guess they're sayin' the Escarpa clan and the shadowed Pokémon are in some sort of 'war'?" Ghaspius surmised as he passed a furrowed brow to the others. "And somehow this town is gonna be destroyed in the wake of that while they tear up the rail to contain the shadows...?"

He placed a tassel to his head. "This is all so confusing." The Misdreavus wiped a bit of sweat off his brow. "Right, ah, maybe we ought to ask for a date?"
Odette was having a hard time getting a grip on what the murder was trying to say. Something something Escarpa, something something Shadows, something something the town was…collateral? Collateral damage?

Still, she tried her hardest to keep her face straight, as to give no sign she was bugged by this. However, she was grateful Ghaspius was around to play footnote for her. His attempt at clearing things up did wonders for her brain at the moment.

“When? A date? Lockdown by?” she pressed again. “War? Fighting? Collateral?”
'When we're ready.' Was the reply. 'Destroy the rail! Destroy the rail! Stop the demons! Stop the demons!'

Bellatrix looked around before walking back to the front of the murder to whisper to the group below. "I believe the Escarpa is trying to stop the spread of these 'demons' by any means necessary. And given what we know, I assume that 'demons' refers to shadows which means whatever they're doing will be focused on Blaguarro. Whatever they're doing there may or may not impact us here. Why focus on the railway, though?" she wondered.

'Rail?' Bellatrix chatoted back.

'Thorn in our side. No escape. No escape.'
Odette nodded along with Bellatrix’s explanation. So it sounded like these Escarpa’s were way more involved in this than she realized. Though she was a little perturbed at the thought that they might resort to any means necessary to stop the spread. Something about it felt apocalyptic. Zombie-like. She resisted the urge to shudder at the thought

“No escape why?”
'Lockdown. Destroy the rail. Won't find way out. No escape,' they replied with a clacking of beaks.
“If you wanted to leave the town, then the rail sounds like the fastest way to do it,” mused Espurr. “And the hardest one to control. Once you leave, who knows how far the trains go? Stop the rail, and you make it much easier to keep an eye on who gets out—or stop anyone from leaving.”

“Destroy rail when?” She asked, trying to mimic the birds’ calls. “Escape? Lockdown who?”
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The situation had gradually become more and more worrying. "So the Shadow-ness is contagious," Andre whispered, mostly to himself. "I wonder how much contact you need to get infected. I did get my ass bitten, but Betel said the taint in our aura would pass..." He looked at the ground in thought. "I doubt these murkrow would know the answer, though. I don't know how you'd even ask." He looked back up. "But they might know what kind of shadow mon are running around. Try to ask what kind of demons have been sighted."
Odette nodded. “Demons? Other demons? Charmeleon? Skorupi?” She paused again, then huffed. “Zweilous?”
'When ready! Lockdown Blaguarro!'

The clacking of their beaks continued. 'Many, many! Against Escarpa! Escaped! Escaped!' they replied to Odette. 'On the train! On the train!'

"The skorupi..." Bellatrix said slowly. "I thought I'd heard something on the way back from Blaguarro but dismissed it as a product of my imagination when I saw nothing out of the ordinary when we arrived. Of all the times to be wrong..." she added with a mutter.

The murkrow seemed confused at the mention of a zweilous.
Ghaspius made a few quick mental notes to pass to Betel. He could only pray they could relay the message to everyone on time.

"One last question from me: Which Escarpa member will be 'locking things down'? What species?"
Bellatrix heard and repeated the misdreavus' question back to the murder. They looked confused for a moment but then...

'Houndoom scout. Houndoom warrior. Move at dawn,' they cawed. They flapped their wings, growing more restless. 'At dawn, at dawn, at dawn.'

Bellatrix nodded, humming. "So sooner than what we may have been led to believe," she murmured. However, something else began to bother the zorua, something that Ghaspius had brought up that wasn't asked by the others...

'Escarpa? You Escarpa?' she asked with a clack of her illusionary beak.

And then, the cawing and flapping of wings stopped. The murder focused all their attention on Bellatrix, every one of their heads tilting.

'No?' she asked, quickly growing uncomfortable at the murder's undivided attention. 'Where from then? East? East?'

They froze and stood in total silence. Like something had simultaneously grabbed hold of all their minds. Only the sound of night echoed through the street.

And then, they all flew off. Their wings battered Bellatrix, knocking her off the building and breaking her illusion.

The zorua quickly sat herself up, shaking the dust off herself while looking pensive in thought. "Did you get all that?" she asked the group. "What do you think we should do?"
Ghaspius nervously brushed his own tendrils. "A Houndoom scout from Escarpa will arrive at dawn to... destroy the rail in order to stop the shadows from Blaguarro, but Frontier Town may be wrecked in the ensuing battle," he said, trying to make sense of everything he heard. "Right?"

He looked to the others. "We need to tell the others, right away. Someone get in touch with Betel and have them relay it!" The Misdreavus adjusted his scarf and looked around. "I'll... let Drungfield know that we got a tip for somethin' big comin'. At the very least, we can get some medical supplies prepped up. I just hope those Murkrow are exaggerating..."

He shook his head. "What are y'all gonna do?"
"I'll also help spread the word," said Espurr. "If the attack is tomorrow, then everymon needs to know as soon as possible!"
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