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Frontier Town Mayoral Residence – Ground Floor

A torrent of water washed Leaf's legs out from under her mid-charge and sent her sprawling to the balcony floor. Arctic cold clawed around her chest and then her vision, the ballroom getting smaller and smaller and smaller until it all went black.

Then the world snapped back to its normal size. She was... on her feet again, somehow, even though she couldn't remember standing. The... growlithe? was holding her up??, at least until the ballroom's occupants stopped spinning around her like the most nauseating possible waltz. There was some kind of bitter aftertaste in the back of her mouth; absolutely wretched, like what the hell???, but hard to ask for a better wake-up, at least. "Hngh... thank you...?" she managed, and did her best to give the bandit an apologetic smile.

Well, dammit. She'd been hoping that Rich Boy Ignatius was too prissy to get his hands dirty, (flippers, whatever,) but apparently he hadn't made it all the way to empoleon by just sitting on his ass and bossing people around. (Only mostly that.) More and more of the "heroic spirits" were fighting their way past the guards, though, and more of the guests were clearing a path at Koamaru's insistence. There were even deep-red chains lashing out from the white zorua; she wasn't exactly sure what that was, but hey, if it was holding him or distracting him or making him look like a pathetic man-baby in pathetic man-baby jail then hell yeah.

"Do me the courtesy of not pretending you can challenge me," hissed Ignatius. "Not one of you can compare to my strength."

"Dunno if you forgot how to count without your dirty ledgers," she snapped, lunging in low to dodge the wings and take out his waddly little legs, "but there's a lot more than one of us here."

Leaf (38 STM, 0 TMP, +0 SPD, +0 ACC)
- Tail Whip @ Ignatius (-14 STM, Sure Hit, +2 TMP)
- **Spotter T0:** Intel @ Ignatius's defenses that hopefully don't matter
- Trailblaze @ Ignatius (-15 STM, +2 TMP)
- Double Kick @ Ignatius (-9 STM, +2 TMP)
- **Bonus Action:** Item (Oran Berry)
- Walk to North Mezzanine
Net change: -38 STM, +6 TMP
Net totals: 0 STM (11 after regen), 6 TMP

1. Andre and Kalas
2. Mhynt
3. Bellatrix
4. Leaf
5. Nip
6. Dave
7. Archie
8. Corey
9. Koa and Wes

Andre: Support +1 Mag @ Corey
Wes: Brawler Rock @ Ignatius
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It seemed like they were closing in, but that Escape Orb... had her nervous. She didn't think she had the means to steal it just yet, though. But perhaps she could get in the way somehow.

She didn't have her weakening abilities yet. But maybe, if she just went for the right points on his body...

Mhynt blipped off of Gerome's head. Disappear, reappear, in little dazzling flashes of light. Then, with a swift motion, she recalled some weak points Empoleon had. She wasn't strong. But she could impair for the others who were.

"Sorry if a wretch like myself," she said behind him, "is too impure to touch your holy feathers."

She disappeared again and then jammed her fists against his body in known pressure points.

Rogue: Paralysis!
There was a flash of pain in Gladion's back as Rin's blade came down on his spine. Trading hits, indeed. That one knocked him over as he whited out from pain, just in time to see the Sneasel go down too. That was bad.

"If you're smart, you won't get up," she told him, her steel voice cutting through the din and cry.
Unfortunately for Gladion, his body agreed with him, he was finally approaching the limits of what even his new body could tolerate. Back home it'd have been a good idea to sit still to avoid agitating any possible spinal damage, but apparently accidents like that weren't really a thing here. The Sneasel had already gotten back up for a last stand while someone he hadn't seen yet distracted it... He wasn't gonna get a better chance than this, and really, it's not like taking advice from bad people about what was smart had ever done him any good.

It felt like every cell in his body protested as he forced himself back up onto his feet, but that Sneasel had maybe seconds tops before Rin made things ugly for them again. He reared up behind Rin. He had one shot.

"I can't—" He brought his weight crashing down. It was a hit. A hit. That one counted for something. "—leave these guys out to dry. You wouldn't understand."

He laughed, and bopped her again on the head, before staggering out of immediate stabbing range in the event she kept fighting. Once content he was outside the murder radius if Rin got her own second wind, he let himself half-lay-down-half-collapse. One last thing crossed his mind:

"Hey, Nova, at what point does pain become medically concerning for a Null?"

Overwriting the prelim Burn from Clover with Toxic bc plans changed

Gladion (44 STM, 21 TMP, +0 SPD, +0 ACC)
- Helping Hand @ Kimiko (-8 STM, +2 TMP)
- CRITICAL Body Press @ Rin (-16 STM, -20 TMP, +3 TMP)
- Tackle @ Rin (-4 STM, +3 TMP)
Net change: -28 STM, -12 TMP
Net totals: 16 STM (27 after regen), 9 TMP

Note: 99.9% sure that Tackle's getting redirected, in which case let's just pretend it doesn't exist for flavour purposes. Just death insurance.
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Lyle got swept up by the frigid water and into a table and spat up some water with a disgusted groan. Ignatius just had to be one of those petty magistrates that was actually strong in their own right and not some blowhard hiding behind a title.

"We need not fight, you and I," he declared. "You may think me merciless, but you have yet seen little of this lawless frontier. It takes vision and strong will to bring the light of civilisation to this wilderness. Throw aside the shackles of principles and pity; you need to make the hard choices!"

Lyle felt his fire on his back roar to life and burning anger in his stomach as Ignatius went on a bit about how they were out of their league. He'd heard this same sort of garbage more times than he could remember from various guards and soldiers who treated their position as a license to lord over those below them.

He didn't need to run away this time. He had teammates, more than he could've ever hoped for back home.

And like them, he'd had heard just about enough of this bird's crap.

"Screw your 'civilization'! We'll make our own without you!"

He lunged ahead in a blur, hoping to throw Ignatius off-balance with a strafing blow.

Lyle (Aux Rogue/Brawler)
Brawler Strike @ Ignatius
Felin unsheathed her claws and ran up a wall. She waited with bated breath for an opening. Ignatius busied himself parrying attacks and she saw her chance.

Felin sailed through the air in a green blur and struck Ignatius hard on his beakside. She grinned ear to ear at him, climbed up his head and launched away before he could retaliate.

"You can make the world a pretty place, Iggy, but it don't mean shit if you're doing it all for yourself!" Felin taunted at him.

Felin (Aux Brawler / Defender)
Brawler strike @ Ignatius
The mabosstiff may not have been all talk, but it was clear he couldn't handle everyone at once. At that moment, she felt an implicit understanding: Astrid can handle mabosstiff from here. Go for the head.

She took her chance, ran for the closest stairs, and dashed up their length, carrying her attack into the mayor's back while he was distracted. She backed off and shouted to get his attention. "Hey 'Bastard King!'" Wait, did that insult make sense for Ignatius? Who cares?!

Isidora glowered at him, claws turning black as they were coated with dark energy. "Things are lookin' bad for you. I'd tell you to surrender, but it looks like you've already blown it."

Isidora (32 STM, 12 TMP, 0 SPD, 0 ACC)
- Receive Call (+3 TMP)
- Dash to East Mezzanine (-2 TMP)
- Quick Attack @ Ignorus (-6 STM, +2 TMP)
- **Bonus Action:** Focus (+5 TMP)
- Leer @ Ignabus (-14 STM, +2 TMP)
- CRITICAL Feint Attack @ Ignateus (-8 STM, Sure Hit, -20 TMP, +2 TMP)
Net change: -28 STM, -8 TMP
Net totals: 4 STM (16 after regen), 4 TMP
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Pain. Pain. Pain.

Wes hadn’t ever thought that water could hurt before, but apparently things were different when you were a Rockruff. And squaring off against an angry giant penguin. And you just ate an entire face full of freezing cold water from said angry penguin.

When his senses returned to him, he was lying on his side, sprawled across the marble tile, coughing and shivering. He cursed weakly through chattering teeth, feeling as though all the strength had been sapped out of him.

I’m gonna kill that bird.

With a groan, he pushed himself back to his feet, staggering and slipping on the sopping wet tile. Not yet. He couldn’t…give out…just yet. He shook his head and tried to clear his blurry vision—whether it was from weakness or the water, he couldn’t be sure. He’d worry about that later.

“Ssson of a—” he slurred and swayed on his feet. “That was a real dick move, asshole.”

A quick glance around told him he wasn’t the only one worse for wear; Ignatius and his goons had delivered quite the beating. Wes spotted Gladion some distance away, looking a little like death warmed over, and felt a mix of fury and concern. Then his stomach dropped as he suddenly remembered the little flash of blue beside him as he’d landed his latest blow: the kid.

The kid had been right next to him, right before that chilling blast, but Wes couldn’t see him now. Fear and rage burned within him. Self defense was one thing, but a blow like that wasn’t mere self defense—Ignatius didn’t care who he hurt, or how badly, to get out of this. Even if it meant using dangerous force. Even if it meant pummeling the snot out of a damn kid.

Anger and adrenaline gave him strength. Wes faced down Ignatius with a furious snarl. He launched himself at this prick of a mayor, this disgrace of a person, his claws somehow managing to find purchase on the slippery floor to propel him forward once more. Energy coursed through his veins and channeled into a rocky formation that cemented around his paw.

“I’ve about had enough of your shit, you damned coward.”

Wes flew up to level with that smug, insufferable face once more, drew back a paw, and slammed it into the side of Ignatius’s face with merciless vigor.

Wes (Aux Brawler Rogue)
Action: Brawler strike (Rock) @ Ignatius
Boss Action: Raul's Fire Fang hit everyone in the zone!

The fire fang passed harmlessly over Ridley's actual head, only leaving the top of his disguise singed and blackened. It felt absurd to care about something which hadn't even hurt him when half his squadmates had been knocked down, but he couldn't help making a noise of distress as he realised the damage.

"Do me the courtesy of not pretending you can challenge me," hissed Ignatius. "Not one of you can compare to my strength."

...he wasn't wrong. Ridley was out of his depth here. He wasn't a fighter; he'd just signed up to help Sonora because he thought wrecking a fancy party sounded like fun, and now the situation was way more serious than he'd ever anticipated it being.
But, well, there was more than one of them here, and Ridley didn't doubt his fellow travellers for an instant. Determination was plain to see on all their faces as they struggled back to their feet. If they got knocked down then they'd just get back up again, as many times as it took to finish the job.

The problem wasn't strength. It would be nice to think that all they had to do fight this one battle and then Ignatius would go to jail for blackmail and everyone would cheer, but Ridley had spent too time following the Macro Cosmos controversy and the Rose trial back home to believe that mere evidence would mean anything in the face of wealth and good PR.

But hey, you know what? Fuck that guy, and fuck this guy too. Ridley might have been second-rate as far as heroic spirits went, but spite was a powerful motivator.

"Hey!" Ridley called to his teammates. "Let's smash this asshole's fucking face in!"

Ridley (Aux Rogue/Spotter)
- Call @ Isidora
Silver didn’t see it coming, and even if he did, he was confident enough on the speed and agility of his body to avoid incoming attacks.

Boy. How wrong he was.

The Bisharp came charging like a speeding Tauros, striking the group as a whole. Silver didn’t even have the time to shriek in pain that a downward slash struck him, shredding his kimono and fur.

That was too much for his frail body. Wobbling uneasily, Silver’s eyes lolled to the back of his head and gravity pulled his unsteady body downward. White-hot pain shot through his system as soon as he hit the floor, then darkness swiftly overtook his vision and noises blurred to a buzzing flatline…

Cold. It felt so cold. So unbearably cold, and lonely.

“Hey! What’s going on?! Can anybody hear me?”

Silver didn’t expect an answer. He was already worrying that all he would have gotten was more silence. And yet, a reply rang loud and clear, much to his astonishment.

«…I can hear you.»

A golden flame materialized out of nowhere, dispelling some of the oppressive and unfeeling darkness. It drew nearer, bringing both light and warmth to the startled teenager. Only once it was close enough, Silver could make out its true aspect.

A golden feather.

Was he dreaming? Was he hallucinating? Was that really happening? …Was he dying again…?

«Fear not. You’re going to be alright.»

The feather moved through the darkness in straight lines, recreating a shape vaguely reminiscent of a star. And then, the pattern was completed. A familiar silhouette materialized behind the mystical lines, and a faint energizing aura burned inside of Silver’s chest. The darkness slowly gave way to light and consciousness, but one last message resonated within Silver’s spirit…


«Never give up, lad, because you’re never truly alone. You’ve got new friends that count on you, and you can count on them, too. Now wake… wake… wake…»

With a strained gasp, Silver jolted awake, his body tensing. He breathed heavily and coughed, cringing at the disgusting taste of copper in his mouth. It took him a good second to realize that one of the bandits was by his side, and she quickly helped him back to his feet.

Carolina did the same for Silver, crowing, "The bird's goin' down!"

Silver blinked slowly, still fighting to stay awake, before giving a slow nod. “R-right… That damn bird’s gonna pay!” He took a few extra breaths, then gave a small smile in appreciation to the green critter. “…Thanks.”

Nova jumped back and signaled to Silver. "She favors one side!" He gestured with his helmeted head. "The other one's her weak spot. Strike it!"

If Silver had thumbs he would have showed a thumbs-up, so as an alternative he flashed a victory sign with his claws. ‘Gotcha!’

Gathering the remaining strength he still had in his body and with more adrenaline pumping through his bloodstream, Silver bounded toward the Bisharp, taking advantage of the distraction to get closer. And then, they gazes met. The cold, glowing glare of the young Sneasel meant only one thing: He was thoroughly pissed.

Silver used Leer! Bisharp Rin’s Defense dropped!

“You’re in for a world of pain, arsehole!” hollered Silver, before jumping on the Bisharp with a feral snarl and throwing fist after fist. Even as his claws dulled and the metal on the Bisharp’s body bent, the explosive rage and adrenaline rush kept him going. All he could think was smash, smash, smash!

Silver used Rock

It’s a CRITICAL hit! Bisharp Rin’s Defense dropped further!

But in a brief flash of lucidity, Silver took his distance from his prey, just as the chimera dropped on the Bisharp with all his weight. He chuckled in delight at the sight, before wincing and dropping on his knees, the pain and fatigue finally taking over his wracked body. “S-serves you right…”

Silver (28 STM, 15 TMP, 0 SPD, 0 ACC)
- Receive Call from Nova (+3 TMP)
- Receive Call from Aige (+3 TMP)
- Receive Helping Hand from Arctozolt
- **Bonus Action:** Focus (+5 TMP)
- Leer @ Bisharp Rin (-14 STM, +2 TMP)
- CRITICAL Rock Smash @ Bisharp Rin (-11 STM, Sure Hit, effect, -25 TMP, +2 TMP)
Net change: -25 STM, -10 TMP
Net totals: 3 STM (15 after regen), 5 TMP
Ghaspius's ghostly cloth was singed as his ears rang. A chillingly familiar situation despite how searingly hot it was. At least this time he wasn't alone. "Astrid, show this swollen headed penguin and his lap dog what they'll have left with all their malice."

He struggled to sift through his bag, but managed to find the berry mixture he had prepared for himself just in the nick of time. "Leave 'em with nothing!" With the flick of his tassel, he doused the icepix with his concoction praying it would work as intended.

Ghaspius (Aux Rogue/Support)
Support @ Astrid (+1 Mag)
Fire danced across Odette's skin, and for the briefest yet longest second of her life, she was no longer in the ballroom.

She was in the woods, on her back. Stale groundwater had soaked into her tracksuit, which was already heavy with her own sweat.

The sun had long gone away, and the moon's beams barely made it past the thick canopy overhead. The only light was coming from the Houndoom clamped around her left forearm, as fire surged from between its fangs. The pain had long subsided, as her nerves no longer had the endings to pick up on it, but the flame was still too much to bear.



She was on her back again, but now she could see the fancy chandeliers again. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears, but whether it was from fear or her own anger, it was hard to tell.

Fire is deadly to a steel type. Fire is deadly to a human. Nothing has changed.

All she could say at that moment was thank the gods for her bout of confusion while she had been upstairs. Recalling how the vault had almost been burnt down while she was in it had tears prickling the corners of her eyes. Feeling the flame against what was left of that burn of hers had one slipping down her face as she sat up to nurse it.

Time moved in slow motion; the chaos happening around her almost didn't seem real. It felt like a vignette around her own injuries, around her own tainted memories. All she could think about was fire, fire, fire, fire.

And suddenly, she was furious. Violently furious.

Her voice melded together with that of Jawile's, creating one single outraged cry.

"̴̺̥̃͝T̸̢̏H̶̼̹̄̃A̴̝̪͆T̴̞̀ ̴̻͌̏H̷̘̋U̵͉̼̎̀R̸̨̅͂T̵͉̀,̶̭́ ̶͓̙͊̉A̶̫̫͑S̸̻̬͑S̵̳͗ͅḨ̸̲́̈O̵͉͗Ḻ̷̳̃Ȩ̶̅̍.̷͍͎̈́"̴̻͋

But the Mabostiff was on its last legs, and someone was on him already. That left the real target open.

Odette was up and running toward the mezzanine before she realized her body could move. Using whatever strength she had left, she kicked off a pillar and launched herself up to the gated balcony.

"You fucking rich types really...

She angled her body toward that shitbird.

"...like your fire, don't you?"

And she dove at him.

Odette (12 STM, 2 TMP, +0 SPD, +0 ACC)
  • Bonus Action: Focus (+5 TMP)
  • Dash to East Mezzanine (-2 TMP)
  • Quick Attack @ Ignasty (-6 STM, +2 TMP)
Net change: -6 STM, +5 TMPNet totals: 6 STM (16 after regen), 7 TMP
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Andre watched from downstairs as all the heroes fought the mayor. The target sure had changed quickly, huh. The floragato they'd been fighting was now on their side, and the guards were against them.

Would they win? The opponents seemed strong, but there were a lot of heroes fighting. The Voice seemed to believe they could do it. But if they did it, what then? Would they be outlaws? Would they be driven out of town? What about their mission? How were they supposed to help this world when the law was against them? And if they didn't win, what then? Would they all get hanged? What would happen then? Didn't the Voice say they might get sent home? 'Might' wasn't great...

No, focus. As long as he was breathing, he still had a chance. And a responsibility. He'd keep sending energy. It seemed to be working. Anything to help take down that scumbag of a mayor...

Scumbag. The word he used for them. Those that deserved to die. Did the mayor deserve to die? Did he know enough about him to make that judgement? Yes, he did. The mayor was a rich bastard who would attack people for making accusations against him instead of defending himself in a court of law. That wasn't the behavior of an innocent, so that added blackmail and fraud to the list of sins. A thoroughly rotten individual. One that deserved no mercy.

But if they killed him - something that seemed to be difficult given that pokémon here seemed to be extra durable - they would surely be viewed as the villains. No, if the mayor were to die, it'd have to be in secret. But he couldn't pull that off. Not by himself, anyway. Would any of the other heroes here be willing to...?

A thought from before returned. You're not a murderer in this world, and you want to keep it that way.

His stomach turned. He'd let his worse side get the better of him again. No, he did not want blood on his hands - hooves, vines, whatever - in this world. He wanted to stay innocent.

You're being selfish, growled the other side. You know what you are. You know your duty.

His stomach turned another way. It was true. He was putting his own purity before the needs of others.

What needs, though? While there was no guarantee the mayor would be brought to justice for all his crimes, it was at least unlikely he'd get to keep his position as mayor through this fiasco. Things would become better without the need for murder. If he thought about the needs of others, there was no need for the mayor to die. It would not be unethical to abstain from murder. And he should. To do otherwise would only complicate things.

Coward, he heard the other side hiss, but he let it be.
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Lucien said:
"Whatever happens. Hm. Steven, do you know your own father? Is he is an individual of importance, in your world? If so, I should very much like to know whether you have entirely shucked the legacy you would inherit."
It took Steven a moment to process what Lucien had asked. He couldn't believe how calm he sounded. Especially with the chaos of battle all around.

They were far enough out of the way to avoid harm, but Steven could hear cries of pain and anger rising over the din. He should be there helping. He shook his head. No, this was helping, too. They had to get to the bottom of this in ways that blows couldn't solve.

"I'll indulge you if we can talk about your father after."

He regarded Lucien for a moment. No sense in playing coy. It seemed that their secret was the worst kept one in all of Frontier Town. "Correct on all accounts. Sharp and detail oriented. It seems to run in the family..."

As soon as he said it, he winced. He hadn't meant it as a jab. "Despite our differences, I think we're rather alike, you and I. It's what spurred me into trying to find you at a time like this."

"To answer your question though, my father is..."

Steven faltered slightly, gaze falling as he fought to find the words.

"He's head of the largest corporation in the region. My family is wealthy, and I lived a privileged life."

'But I wasn't happy.' The words never left his mind, but the silence hung between them for a beat too long.

"You asked if I've escaped my family's legacy? Truthfully, the answer is no. No matter how far I run, I can't escape it. I'll carry it with me wherever I go. Even here. But--"

"But it won't stop me from forging my own path. I'm going to keep on trying. To do things better. I fear becoming my father, making the same mistakes he made. I fear having to shoulder the burden alone. But I don't fear him."

Steven settled a bit where he hovered, as if the conversation had physically drained him. And maybe it had. He fixed Lucien with an earnest stare.

"So now it's your turn. Tell me, why are you afraid of your father?"

Steven waited a breath to see if Lucien would react before tipping backward, far enough so the prinplup could see the notebook clutched in his claw.

"Does it have something to do with this?"
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Turn 5
Player Phase Results

The ballroom battleground was a frenzy at a glance. The mayor and his bodyguards were dispatching one fighter, then another, and then another. To some, he might have looked invincible. To one who looked carefully, and for long enough, however...

The heroic spirits were winning.

From his vantage point by a stone column, Lucien's beak twitched with the faintest, most well-suppressed of smiles.

"Does it have something to do with this?"

Lucien's eye widened just a little.

"You draw a reasonable conclusion," he said, thinly.

Even his diplomat's voice dripped with irony.

"You had best be mindful of the contents, sir," added the Prinplup, quietly. "If that is what I suspect it is, then who knows how much trouble that little book could be in the wrong claws. Merely by holding it, you are presented with a choice – will you empower yourself by leveraging the materials it contains, or shall you expose a vicious rot, at personal risk? Perhaps you would rather destroy it, and consign it to history."

He shook his head, and kept his eyes on the fighting.

"You may not have long to make your decision, Beldum Steven."

The tide had turned.

"Astrid, show this swollen headed penguin and his lap dog what they'll have left with all their malice. Leave 'em with nothing!"
Ghaspius' Support Skill! Astrid got +1 Mag!
Astrid's Powder Snow dealt 9 dmg to Raul!
Her Ice Shard dealt 7 dmg to Raul!
Espurr's Caster Wave dealt 4 dmg to Raul! KO!
Raul couldn't use Comeuppance...

The mighty hound collapsed with a pained wheeze.

"I had not thought... that you could best me," he groaned, perplexed. "Even in such numbers...!"

The team didn't linger to dwell on the Mabosstiff's surprise, though – Rodion surged ahead, bringing a torrent of elementally energised water with him.

Rodion used Soak! Ignatius type became Water!
Rodion's Slash dealt 7 dmg to Ignatius!

And so the dam of violence burst upon Ignatius Voclain.

"Hey!" Ridley called to his teammates. "Let's smash this asshole's fucking face in!"
Ridley Called out to Isidora!
"Things are lookin' bad for you. I'd tell you to surrender, but it looks like you've already blown it."
Isidora's Quick Attack dealt 5 dmg to Ignatius!
Her Leer lowered his Defense! -1 Def!
Ignatius' Competitive gave him +1 Mag!
Her CRITICAL Feint Attack dealt 11 dmg to Ignatius!

Astrid's CRITICAL Ice Shard dealt 7 dmg to Ignatius! NVE...
Her Aqua Jet dealt 4 dmg to Ignatius! NVE...
Her CRITICAL Frost Breath dealt 9 dmg to Ignatius! NVE...

Odette's Quick Attack dealt 4 dmg to Ignatius!
"Screw your 'civilization'! We'll make our own without you!"
Lyle's Brawler Strike dealt 4 dmg to Ignatius!
"You can make the world a pretty place, Iggy, but it don't mean shit if you're doing it all for yourself!"
Felin's Brawler strike dealt 7 dmg to Ignatius! It's super-effective!

"Then go! Go strive in the waste lands yourselves, where you belong!" shouted Ignatius. "Leave me to build the world of the brightest future! Foul vagabonds! Petulant little beasts...!"

Flanking from the other end of the mezzanine, the team that had burgled the mayor now did their best to do him in as well. The Empoleon was starting to look worried, even as he sent another 'mon hurtling over the balustrades, and then another...

Laura eyed him from below, and tried to keep her paws from shaking.

They were actually going to win. If they lost, which she'd been sure they would, she'd imagined begging or bargaining or bullshitting her way out, or just letting it happen and being sent home a failure, to mercifully wake up with no memory of this catastrophe. But they were winning. And that meant they were responsible for... what, arresting the mayor? Staging a coup? Howls... What would the locals think of them? Whatever came next, she didn't have time to think carefully or make serious plans. She would have to improvise. She would have to do what was right by trusting her gut, or by sheer luck, or... by having faith that they'd been sent here for a reason. Even her.

She darted over to a cowering Furfrou and the several 'mon sheltering with her.

"Hi," she said, forcing the word out at a reasonable volume. "My name is Laura Weir, I'm a reporter with the Frontier Gazette. Would you mind answering just a few questions for me?"
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Nova's Tackle dealt 4 damage to Rin! NVE...
"I think you're mistaken. One strong striker folds against well-coordinated numbers. It didn't matter what you did in the courtyard. Because your fate was always sealed."

Rin's expert footwork turned to stumbling as she lost her piercing vision.

And that was all it took for the rout she'd expected to become a decisive defeat for her.

Arctozolt Safeguarded and boosted the squad!
Aige Called out to Silver!
Silver's Leer lowered Rin's defense! -1 Def!
Rin's Defiant gave her +1 Atk!
Silver's Rock Smash, boosted by his teammates, dealt a CRITICAL 21 dmg to Bisharp Rin! It's ultra-effective! -1 Def!
Rin's Defiant gave her +1 Atk!
Gladion's CRITICAL Body Press dealt 21 dmg to Bisharp Rin!
His Tackle dealt 4 dmg to Bisharp Rin! KO!
Rin couldn't use Metal Burst...

"Foolish..." she gasped, trying to stay conscious.

Defiant to the end, the Bisharp collapsed on the marbled floor, her blades and plating scratching its perfect surface.

And then there was nothing standing between the entire group and Ignatius himself.

"Go for the mayor. Go, now!"
Jade's Support Skill! +1 Spd to Kimiko!
Prim's Caster Strike hit Ignatius for 7 damage! SE!
Tarahn's Caster Strike hit Ignatius for 9 damage! SE!
Clover's Rogue Skill! Ignatius was burned!
Kimiko used Sing! Ignatius became Drowsy...
Her Round dealt 9 dmg to Ignatius!
Her Magical Leaf dealt 13 dmg to Ignatius!
Her Vine Whip dealt 8 dmg to Ignatius!

"Damn you," spat the Empoleon. "To the Void with all of you!"

But the strength was leaving him all the same.

In extremis, pokémon and humans alike can push themselves past their previously-held limits. What doesn't kill you – though it may hurt you, though it may damage you, though it may change you – can also make you stronger. This is how pokémon grow. Through battle, through any great effort... and especially from choosing not to be defeated.

Collapsed on the ground, shivering from the now-warmthless air, Corey's aura changed.

Corey's Trace! He traced Ignatius' Competitive ability!
The Icy Wind triggered Corey's Competitive! He got +1 Mag!

It became stronger.

Andre's Support Skill! Corey got +1 Mag!
Kalas' Support Skill! Corey got +1 Mag!
"Like you know anything about being civil… You know what, Iggy? I hate that goddamn cat, not gonna lie, but fuck your so-called civilization... Fuck your ‘hard choices’... and FUCK! YOU!"

If Ignatius heard him, it didn't show. There were dozens of pokémon swarming him now, and the room was filled with shouting and the sounds of elemental attacks, attacks which would soon overwhelm him... And besides, the mayor didn't see individuals. Just opportunities.

Corey used Destiny Bond...
He used Calm Mind...
With a great effort, Corey's Confusion dealt a CRITICAL 13 dmg to Ignatius!

"Saints' bones," swore the Empoleon, clutching his head.

He turned, and saw the Ralts who'd attacked him. And saw an opportunity.

"How dare you?" he hissed. And then light erupted from his outstretched wing.

Ignatius' Flash Cannon dealt a CRITICAL 48 dmg to Corey! It's super-effective! KO!

Corey crumpled instantly to the blast of fae-burning Steel energy. Seconds later, Ignatius screeched as if scalded, and reached to tug on his trident facial crest as if in cranial agony.

Corey's Destiny Bond dealt 28 dmg to Ignatius!

There was no coming back from that.

"Sorry if a wretch like myself is too impure to touch your holy feathers."
Mhynt's Rogue Skill! Ignatius was Paralysed!
"Is that so? I will be fascinated by what you'll have to say to your citizens after the performance you put on tonight. Then again, any publicity is good publicity, isn't it?"
Bellatrix's CRITICAL Scratch dealt 9 dmg to Ignatius!
Her Quick Attacks dealt 7 and 7 dmg to Ignatius!
Bellatrix used Embargo! Ignatius was restrained!
"Dunno if you forgot how to count without your dirty ledgers, but there's a lot more than one of us here."
Leaf's Tail Whip lowered Ignatius' defense! -1 Def!
Ignatius' Competitive gave him +1 Mag!
Leaf's Trailblaze dealt 10 dmg to Ignatius!
Her Double Kick dealt 6, then 6 dmg to Ignatius!
Nip's Rock Smash dealt 5 dmg to Ignatius! -1 Def!
Ignatius' Competitive gave him +1 Mag!
Nip's Ice Punch dealt 5 dmg to Ignatius! Frozen!
His Scratch dealt 4 dmg to Ignatius!
His Smokescreen gave Ignatius -1 Acc!
Ignatius' Competitive gave him +1 Mag!
"Hey, asshole! Want to tell me your thoughts on humans?"
Dave's Rage dealt 4 dmg to Ignatius!
Dave's Pickpocket stole Ignatius' Atk boost! +1 Atk!
Ignatius' Competitive gave him +1 Mag!
Dave's Sand Attack gave Ignatius -1 Acc!
Ignatius' Competitive gave him +1 Mag!
Dave's Bite dealt 8 dmg to Ignatius! He Flinched!
Archie's Sacred Sword dealt 7 dmg to Ignatius!
His Slash dealt 6 dmg to Ignatius!
His Water Gun dealt 4 dmg to Ignatius!
"What's wrong Ignatius, are you afraid of everyone seeing the pathetic cowardly little piplup you really are?"
Koa's Brawler Strike dealt 8 dmg to Ignatius! SE!
“I’ve about had enough of your shit, you damned coward.”
Wes' Brawler Strike dealt 5 dmg to Ignatius!
The heroic spirits dealt over 200 dmg to Ignatius Voclain!
Ignatius Voclain broke his stance...!

"Lightless... scraps..."

The mayor of the frontier staggered, still clutching his head, broken under the onslaught of countless underestimated enemies.

"Y'know," drawled Sonora, quietly motioning for others to stand back, "the thing about 'might makes right'? It only works fer the mighty so long as they don't get beat."

"You don't deserve... even to speak to me," hissed Ignatius, grabbing uselessly at his belt for a useful item.

"Don't much care what you think I deserve," replied Sonora.

She reached forward, and neatly confiscated the escape orb from the mayor.

"Would any of my new pals like to do the honours?" she asked the crowd, with a grin and a bow, gesturing elegantly to the struggling Ignatius.

[✅] Critical Objective: defeat Ignatius Voclain.
Mission Complete.
Thump... thump... THUMP...

Gerome lumbered over to the team as they loomed over the fallen mayor. He eyed all of them, then made a little "Hm." sound.

"I dunno what just happened," he said plainly, "but seems like you've got yourself up shit creek this time, eh, mayor? Now, what would have been discovered by these little troublemakers that'd have them all turn on you..."

He crouched, eyeing the mayor, before glancing at Sonata. "Mm. Seen yer wanted posters."

Mhynt, meanwhile, disappeared and reappeared until she had a good vantage point for the rest of the party. She seemed to be performing a headcount to verify everyone's safety...
"Don't much care what you think I deserve," replied Sonora.

A green paw patted Sonora's arm. It was none other than Felin grinning at her as she wiped faint blood off a bruise on her cheek.

"Well then, does this mean you're a free kitty now?" Felin asked with a short laugh. She stared down at Ignatius and crinkled her nose. "He was a tough bastard for sure. I'd kick his ass again while he's down if I was feeling cheeky tonight."
Bellatrix approached the collapsed empoleon with a cool expression. "Yes, I believe those 'threats' are not sounding as trite as you made them out to be."

She looked towards Odette and anyone else who'd accompanied her to the vault. "You found something important, I take it. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to share to the guests," she said. "Or shall we let Sonora here take the charge? I believe she can further enlighten us on the matter of her targets."

Speaking of Sonora...

Bellatrix acknowledged her with a nod. "You fight well. Even when holding back."

Meanwhile, the maus were hollering and clapping towards the party's way. A very good show indeed.
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