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Frontier Town Main Street

Gladion narrowed his eyes at the poster. He knew from Lovrina that even the most bizarre Cipher admins weren’t to be taken lightly, but… “Is that… hair? On a bird?”

This world continued to find small new ways to push the boundaries of what made sense to him. He’d seen what Quaquaval were supposed to look like before, and this was quite the deviation.

“Whatever. I’ve met Lovrina, he can’t be any weirder than that. And she was dangerous in her own right, too. I’ll make sure not to assume anything if I run into him.”

Gladion shuddered at that memory. “I did evolve, yeah. We were in the lab at the time. Feels off adjusting to not having it, even though it’s a pretty small change. Must be odd for the ones dealing with larger changes in form.”
“Believe it or not, it used to be twice that size,” the Dewott deadpanned, “But someone cut it while we were escaping.”

Archie actually hadn’t interacted with Lovrina any. Dakim had been the Admin he’d felt he’d developed the closest thing to a rapport with, and so when it came time to question the Admins, the Darmanitan had been the one he’d prioritized. But, he had no reason to doubt Gladion on that front. And it was good to hear the Graydian wouldn’t take the bird lightly, should he end up encountering him.

But, was he hearing that right, though? That Gladion had evolved while they were in Terminal Two? That sounded like quite the story.

“I… Heard Graydians were a friendship evolution?” He said, “I know it was a pretty big deal for Nova. It was, uh, the same for me! I also evolved while fighting the Admins.”

He tried to remember who’d ended up running off with Gladion when their team made a break for the elevators, but he was having a hard time picturing it. To be honest, at the time he was mostly focused on worrying about Seth rushing into a room full of peons by himself. And he didn’t want to just outright ask Gladion who his friend was! But he couldn’t say he wasn’t interested in hearing what had happened down there, all the same!
“Good for you,” Gladion offered, “Hope it didn’t out too much of a damper on the memory of your experience.” Or had for him, but only because he had an expectation of what his evo should have looked like. For whichever kind of battle or maturity evo Oshawott had it might be less surprising.

“We are supposed to be friendship evolutions. Was down there with some friends— Nova, Laura, Jade, kind of Odette, that’s one’s complicated. And… they had another Null there. Sage. Lovrina was running shadow experiments on them, I— we all wanted to save them. That was when I evolved.”

Finding himself lost in that recollection, Gladion trailed off.
“Uh, yeah!” the Dewott nodded, deciding he’d spare Gladion the whole story about how he’d hemmed and hawed over evolving, until he’d finally been forced to make the leap he hadn’t yet been mentally prepared to make. Besides, the story of what had gone on in the labs under Terminal Two was much more interesting. ‘Null’ was not a term he was familiar with in this context, though given the significance Gladion placed around it – Lovrina had ‘another Null’ – it didn’t seem like too much of a reach to connect it to the two Graydians. Another term for themselves?

“So you evolved because you wanted to save this Null?” the Dewott asked, “It was, actually, similar for me, again. The Admins we were fighting had just gotten some kind of crazy Shadow power up. Wes got knocked out momentarily, and, I just had this thought where, if I didn’t do something, they’d hurt him worse. So…”

The Dewott held out his arms, presenting himself to the Graydian. “How are they now? The Null, I mean. Doing okay now that they’re free?”
“They seem better than I’d expect they actually would be doing. Nova’s living with them to make sure everything’s going alright.”

It took Gladion a moment to parse Archie’s gesture, mostly because for a moment it panged familiar in the way Silverbell would ask for uppies, though Archie was a grown man and not a young Sneasel and therefore definitely not doing that. Just demonstrating this evolved form.

“Nice work. Thanks for keeping an eye on Wes, too. I like that guy. Good time to evolve, glad it worked out that way. Everyone got out, at least. Heard we’re even up a Lycas.”
Something about the way Gladion said that made Archie chuckle. The Graydian ‘liked that guy’ did he? Well, it was straightforward, he had to give it that!

“Yes, I’m rather fond of our Wesley, myself,” he said, with a further amused huff. Still, it was good to hear this other Graydian was doing well, and also nice to hear Nova was watching over them. Maybe that was why he hadn’t seen Nova around the Bulletin Board lately? Actually, where was he? Hopefully not with Mewtwo again, that man was waving so many red flags he might as well have been communicating in semaphore. “Where are they staying, if you don’t mind me asking? “

Actually, speaking of the third Lycas, it was impossible not to notice the one very obvious difference between her, and Seth and Wes. It wasn’t his place to ask questions about that, but he had considered the possibility that she and Gladion might have something in common. Maybe he should encourage the two to meet? Or, maybe he was being an ass, assuming they’d want to be friends just because of that? Well, he could lay it out for the Graydian and let him decide if he wanted to approach her or not.

“Her name’s Leona, I think. Leona Lycas,” he said, “A Lycanroc, like the others, and pretty badly corrupted, like Seth is. Still, she seems to be holding up well, and we’ll be able to help her with the relic we found in Timeless Oasis when she’s ready. I think she’s staying at the Ranger HQ for now?”
“Old cabin. Sierra’s daughter, Brisa used to live there before she went missing. Probably a temporary arrangement, gotta give them some time away from society to readjust.” He hoped. Because if they were able to permanently co-opt the place, that probably boded poorly for the fate of Brisa. No, it would have to be temporary, he wanted to believe she’d get the chance to move back in. If she wanted.

Leona, though, posed a more tangible question. “I hadn’t realized that she was… Hm, I wonder.” Say what you mean, coward. “Wonder if I should talk to her. If nothing else, I can at least understand finding out about a bunch of other versions of you. I’m the only one of me here, but a number of people know others. And even if not a dimensional one, I’ve got a twin I’m unlike to. Even if she’s not, y’know, still might be making the whole experience of finding out about a bunch of other versions of you even weirder.” Or she might not care, like a normal person. It’s hardly as if this stuff is as as important to most people as it is to you.
Squatting in an old cabin? Well, he supposed it made sense, they didn’t want to overwhelm the other Graydian. Still, a part of him did feel somewhat dismayed Nova was still isolating himself far away from the rest of them. Hopefully Gladion was right and it would be temporary. And, well, at least it wasn’t with Mewtwo like he’d feared.

On the topic of Leona though, the Dewott was a bit more relieved. It looked like he’d managed to hook the Graydian’s interest, without provoking his ire. He gave Gladion an encouraging smile and a nod.

“I think she could use a friend, or at least someone to talk to,” he said. “If I heard right, they rescued her from the cells in Terminal Two, and she was part of the convoy that Alex attacked right after. She seemed like she was keeping things together pretty well despite it all, but, a friendly face might do her some good!”
A worried look crossed Gladion’s eyes. That was something he was woefully unqualified to deal with. He wasn’t sure if anyone was, though. Might just have to give it a shot anyway.

“One hell of a time on Forlas, by the sound of it. Less sure I can help with that. But I’m not really sure who else would. Seth would be the most able to relate, obviously, but… That’d probably be awkward. Don’t know how I’d talk to her, though. Can’t cold open with the Lumirror stuff and I’ve never actually met one of the versions of me. Nor have I met her, or have any other reason to seek her out.”
“Just act natural, I’m sure you’ll do fine,” the Dewott said, good-naturedly elbowing the Graydian in the forelimb.

Gladion was right though, it was a hell of an introduction to Forlas. Where would someone even begin with all that? It was one of the reasons he was, admittedly, somewhat intimidated to approach her himself. The Graydian was right that it might be good for Seth to try talking to her, though. Maybe that was something Archie could suggest to the man the next time he saw him? The man already had experience with interacting with an alternate self, after all! Though, on the other hand, he wasn’t exactly the most sensitive sorts, but maybe Leona would be used to how Seth acted, if she ever acted similar?

“You’re probably right about Seth talking to her, I’ll try to bring it up to him when I see him next. Which…” the Dewott trailed off to look down at the wanted posters he was still holding on to again, “Will probably have to be pretty soon, come to think of it. Kinda worried he’s going to see these and rush off into danger again.”
"Thanks for that. I've been meaning to talk more to Wes for a while, I can bring it up to him."

Gladion eyed the posters. He hadn't med Seth firsthand, but the guy had something of a reputation, and Gladion couldn't help size up the people on the posters. Miror probably would post a threat, the others he had less faith in. "Guy hasn't gotten himself killed yet, I'm sure he can handle himself."
“I don’t doubt that,” Archie said, before folding the posters and sticking them into his coat for safekeeping. Archie had seen how Seth fought firsthand, having been on both sides of combat involving the red Lycanroc. And that was just the times the man fought for keeps, he’d been a frequent enough sparring partner for the Dewott and had, in his own way, helped him learn to control the shadow power they had been granted. No, it wasn’t a lack of power on Seth’s part that Archie was worried about.

“It’s just… He acts like he’s still a solo operation, sometimes,” the Dewott added with a sigh, “It’s hard to convince a lone wolf that he’s got people he can rely on.”

But, that didn’t mean Archie wouldn’t give it his best shot. Speaking of Wes, he should probably seek the man out himself at some point, though he’d leave the topic of Leona in Gladion’s capable talons. For now though, both the Dewott and the Graydian had matters in need of attending, and so, after Archie asked for, and received, directions to Brisa’s Cabin for later, the two bade each other farewell for the day.

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