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Frontier Town Mayoral Residence – Ground Floor

In hindsight, perhaps Nip should have stayed out of the gala. Even taking up the role of a humble servant, he found it hard to fit in to somewhere so... Fancy. More than once, he'd caught himself staring at the party goers, and had to hastily make himself look busy.

He spotted other Pokemon from his group: Nova and Koa amongst them, as well as the oshawott, rockruff, zorua, and ralts from before.

As he passed by the zorua, he offered her a nod of acknowledgement. He'd gotten her letter. Hopefully she'd keep to her word. But for now, he was ready to intervene however necessary. Whether that meant fighting bandits, keeping the uninvolved safe, or even trying to break up a battle if needed. Not that he had high hopes.
Kalas looked at the everything around him with a strange mixture of envy, amazement and disappointment. Certainly the place was big, the food and wine was also big, and the party seemed to be even bigger. If there was anything to be said about the ego of the host, Kalas pondered for a moment, it would be that it was probably disappointed that the Empoleon statue right in the middle of town would be considered small. Anyways. Amidst the "it" of it all, at least he would be little and easy to miss if needed. As he intended.

That said...

"This is unfair!" he almost-yelled to no one in particular. "The last time I had to stakeout the Houndour Mafia mafia it was from inside a rice silo!"

He realised he had raised his voice and looked around, hoping no one was paying him too much mind.

Well, no point wallowing in his suffering. The Spearow tidied himself a bit and made sure his blue tie was presentable. He also headed for the nearest mirror to make sure it was the blue tie; his red tie was hidden under his wing, just in case the chance came to use it. Hey, since the mayor's son was so willing to lend the group some credence for money, he would use it for what the Empoleon had told them to do: play security guard.

Which meant, he had to be ready to play.

Where are you? Can you hear me?

Kalas looked around. He saw no one that was addressing him directly, at least.

Am I dreaming awake now... Or...?

He had heard voices before, and in this world he could not discount that a feature of the landscape, like let's say a cloud, would talk to him. Narrowing his eyes, he headed to the nearest large cactus pot or other blocking feature of the room, spoke in a hushed tone.

"H-hello? Is anyone out there?"

Kalas couldn't shake the sensation that enough weird things were about to collude that the party was going to end in chaos. Just like the Artificer Mothim case.

He sighed.

Oh well.

Earning the daily worm had never been easy for him.
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Espurr wasn't a stranger to voices in her head. Which meant she could tell when one was sticking around. It didn't seem to be one of the crazy and/or evil ones, which meant it was welcome to stay and speak up when it was ready, she guessed (not that she really had a choice either way; in her experience they tended to come and go as they pleased). Hoping it would get through, she thunk a silent message back:

I can hear you... can you hear me?

If she'd thought the sun-stone saloon was ritzy, this was a full-on palace. And everymon in town seemed to be attending--just around her she could catch sight of several familiar faces from the portal. The other heroes were here too, and now that she was looking, it seemed like there were a lot of them...
Isidora kept close to edges with a glass of water, trying to avoid drawing too much attention to herself. Not out of a need to be stealthy, but a feeling of misplacement. She hadn't been able to find anything any fancier than what she already had, at least nothing she were willing to actually wear. To be fair, this hat's of pretty nice make. Even if leather's a bit cheaper here, its gotta count for somethin' right?

That was her thought process, but seeing the way other 'mon had dressed, even some of her other groupmates, she had quickly realized how wrong she was. Every now and then, a guest with some well-put-together outfit would shoot her a dirty look, and she'd have to fight the urge to shoot a look back. Assholes. Being so out of place, surrounded by pretentious moneyed types, it all reminded her of an event from a long time ago. Back in private school, right? How did that go again? She tried to recall, but for some reason the details seemed to escape her, outside of some vague feeling of familiarity. Well, whatever.

She stared distrustfully at the table of maus. Why were they here? Look at the way they're talking, they have to be plannin' somethin' sinister.

As much as she wanted to keep on eye on them, she was here for a different reason, and the more she waited, the more she knew it was time to start acting. The ground floor was too crowded to offer a good entry point. So, she placed her glass down on a table and wandered inconspicuously towards the nearest staircase. And once she was sure no one would give her any special attention, she walked right up them with calm, nonchalant steps, like she were meant to be up there.

Hopefully I can find my accomplices...
It's the same old shit. Chin up, chest out; nothing has changed just because you're not a human.

She had to give herself credit, though. She cleaned up well for a lowly Earth-hopping mawile. The purple gown she'd picked out at the shop complimented her pink hue well. Paired with the costume pearls she used when she performed and a matching pair of shiny black gloves, the whole look was tied together just as neatly as the chains around her second jaw. Perhaps not the most sightly part of her ensemble, but if there was a time when the things needed to remain muzzled, it was now.

She adjusted her glasses as she scanned the immediate area, hunting for any signs of something going awry. The party had just started, so she wasn't anticipating anything to happen so soon, but one could never be too certain. She caught sight of Bellatrix and Blueball nearby and some of the others who had been at both meetings she attended. Good, seemed like nobody was backing out just yet.

"Well, they do galas the same in every world, I guess," she muttered to herself, feeling the nerves starting to trickle in. However, she caught sight of a few familiar faces; those of the richy-rich folks who took up lodging at Sun Stone and attended some of her sets (and enjoyed them). Good starting points as she worked her way back to where she was supposed to rendezvous with the others on Team Sonora.

Adjusting her bodice, she looked over at Steven. "Shall we go cozy up?" she asked. She instinctively held a hand out to him and realized the grave error of her ways about half a second after she should have. She tried to play it off by abruptly bringing her hand back to adjust her glasses while she cleared her throat, but she started to scream internally as some condensation took form on the lenses.


She quickly searched for a way out, her eyes landing back on some of the familiar faces. She began to walk toward them with a confident yet speedy stride.

"Scizor Barnabus! Swellow Felicity! Is that you?" she called, desperate to move the focus. "My goodness, you both look absolutely dashing this evening!"
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Arriving with Gothorita Morgan, Andre gave a silent sigh at all the luxury around them. Such a pointless show of wealth. Good to know rich people weren't any different in this world. He already suspected that mentioning his family had some money to its name back home was a plus to Morgan.

Not that being with Morgan was entirely a bad thing - while he had the general faults of rich people, like disinterest in the struggle of the common people, he was otherwise nice enough company. He seemed to take an interest in Andre's artistic background and had sympathy for his 'teleport accident induced' motor control problems, and his creative writing projects seemed interesting. Not to mention how glad Andre was that, unlike in the Old West back home, being gay here seemed to be utterly mundane.

Oh, he'd been on edge before, wondering if Morgan really had been coming on to him or if it had been some perfectly heterosexual 'just two bros hanging out' thing, but the moment he asked him to come as his plus one, the intention was clear. Unless... unless Morgan really was straight and this was still just a 'two bros hanging out' thing? No, no, that was paranoia talking. Besides, it's not he was going to initiate any kissing here, anyway. This place seemed too uptight for PDA.

After spending some time with Morgan and the rich people he talked to, Andre excused himself, saying he wanted to take a look around. Really, though, he just wanted to get away. The other rich people weren't nearly as palatable as Morgan. Instead, he took to the buffet and the fondued berries, briefly wondering if deerling could digest cheese without... issues before seeing a tauros with a top hat have some on his own. He dug in, enjoying the flavors and watching out for his little white collar and black tie he'd purchased for the gala. He'd paid a pretty penny for those to be sure he wouldn't get bad looks from the guests for not wearing clothing refined enough. And they matched Morgan, which pleased his artistic self.
Dave had been to these sorts of fancy events before, but usually he was not a single fucking foot tall. Mayor Voclain was there mingling among the other pretentious fucks, and he felt his hackles rising at the sight of him, but he stood there contemplating the prospect of having to crane his neck up at a guy who could probably barely see him at his feet, and God, this place really was Hell.

He downed the rest of his wine in a large gulp and prepared to approach the Empoleon whenever he stopped speaking to the people he was currently chattering with.
Mayor Ignatius did, in fact, notice Dave.

"Ah. Good evening – you are one of the stranded foreigners, are you not? Yes, I recall now—"

He made introductory gestures between the well-dressed he'd been speaking to, and the Poochyena who'd just skulked up to them.

"Poochyena David Ambrose; Furfrou Eloise and Roserade Thaddeus. David here is one of the newcomers ejected by a dungeon event, some phenomena we've yet to ascertain. I believe he's working with the good Professor."

"Ah, Dolliv Greenbough!" piped up the rose. "I've read her, back in Magna. Thorough work."

Ignatius smiled thinly. "Thaddeus here is an alumnus of Magna College, the Professor's backers. And of course, Eloise is an investor who I believe read economics at that same institution?"

The other dog nodded primly.

"Where were you educated, David?" she asked.
It was impossible to tell what Bellatrix was thinking throughout the duration of the party. However, she was more than happy to give Kalas a petrifying stare of admonishment. Now was not the time to make a fools of themselves when trying to remain under the radar was their top priority.

With a sigh, she shook her head to nibble on a small bite of food. Trying to keep herself alert for any signs of Sonora and her gang.


At Isidora's stare, a couple of the maus gave her a formal squeak and polite wave that became a salute. They then turned to chitter amongst each other once more.
Steven was waiting near the entrance of the manor for Odette to arrive. His decision to attend the gala was rather short notice, but all in all, he was rather pleased with his appearance for the event.

Instead of opting for fancy clothes (he still wasn't sure what he could even wear in this form), he instead went for a thorough polishing. The look was completed with a bolo tie featuring a rough hewn bunch of amethyst crystals that he'd seen in a shop window on the way back from the Zera. The sample wasn't the highest quality, which was fine because that was all he could afford, but the pale lilac color complimented the unique patterns on his body and, well, he couldn't resist. Not quite his usual attire of suits back home, but he liked it. Simple, yet refined. At least, in his eyes.

The one thing that stood out to him, besides the obvious splendor of the mayor's mansion, was how much security there was for the event. The place was fairly crawling with guards of all sorts. It was hard to imagine the bandits even getting past the front door at this rate...

He wasn't waiting long when Odette appeared. Much to his surprise, she too had picked a shade of purple for her gala look.

"You look wonderful," he said, giving a bow as she approached. It wasn't a date, (definitely not a date), but giving a lady a compliment was the gentlemanly thing to do.

Adjusting her bodice, she looked over at Steven. "Shall we go cozy up?" she asked. She instinctively held a hand out to him and realized the grave error of her ways about half a second after she should have. She tried to play it off by abruptly bringing her hand back to adjust her glasses while she cleared her throat, but she started to scream internally as some condensation took form on the lenses.

Steven gave her an apologetic look. It wasn't her fault.

As she moved into the mansion, Steven stayed close to Odette's side. He watched her gaze as she scanned the room, taking note of who she recognized. He was thankful for her help in sorting through the lively crowd, since he hadn't met many of their group. For everyone else, he did his best to make small talk, trying to gauge what sort of investors had taken an interest in the mayor's gathering. Nothing seemed amiss so far.
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Mayor Ignatius did, in fact, notice Dave.

"Ah. Good evening – you are one of the stranded foreigners, are you not? Yes, I recall now—"

He made introductory gestures between the well-dressed he'd been speaking to, and the Poochyena who'd just skulked up to them.

"Poochyena David Ambrose; Furfrou Eloise and Roserade Thaddeus. David here is one of the newcomers ejected by a dungeon event, some phenomena we've yet to ascertain. I believe he's working with the good Professor."

"Ah, Dolliv Greenbough!" piped up the rose. "I've read her, back in Magna. Thorough work."

Ignatius smiled thinly. "Thaddeus here is an alumnus of Magna College, the Professor's backers. And of course, Eloise is an investor who I believe read economics at that same institution?"

The other dog nodded primly.

"Where were you educated, David?" she asked.
The guy sure was being real fucking friendly, wasn't he. The pretentiousness of insisting on talking about reading a subject was gagworthy, but Dave smiled his professional grant-application best, nodding at Eloise and Thaddeus.

"Grace University. Specialized in molecular biology and genetics, did a Ph.D. under Dan Hawkins." Just call their fucking bluff. What, were they going to publicly admit they had no idea where or what or who that was? At this fucking party? (Or, if they would seem to know what molecular biology was, pretty fucking likely he'd found his humans.)

"Greenbough's doing great work out here," he added. "Speaking of which, she's keen to secure some funding for our ongoing projects on dungeon berries. Incredible stuff, we've got some discoveries that could be developed towards boosting crop yields significantly. And, you know, if you like wine?" He raised his glass. "Berries that cure your hangovers in seconds. Bet that one's going to be lucrative." Research that will help people, and also make somebody money! The magic world of funding science.
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Mhynt noticed Gerome, finally, and approached to do some chitchat while things were quieter.

"...You don't seem like the kind of person to be here," Mhynt noted flatly.

"Mm. Was invited, so I'm dressin' formal."

Mhynt eyed the tiny blue bowtie that had been relocated from his back spike to his chest.

"I suppose I should dress formally, too," she remarked, relocating her bracelet her other arm.


There was a brief silence.

"Bothers you, don't it."

Mhynt narrowed her eyes and returned the ribbon to its proper place. "It's my swinging arm."


"Why were you invited?"

Gerome pointed at the glass sculpture, a centerpiece, in the middle of the gala. "Made that."

"I see."

"Ain't gonna deny free food."

"No objections." Mhynt took a drink from her glass. More silence.

Then, "Yer here t' cause trouble, ain't ya?"

"...I'm here to keep trouble from happening."

"Mmhm." Gerome picked up his tiny, tiny glass of wine. "Good luck. I'm just here for the food."
Wes caught sight of that punk kid wandering in—Koa, was it? And audibly scoffed. The hell was he doing here at a fancy gala? No way was he old enough to drink. And Wes had the distinct impression that he hadn’t managed to schmooze his way in by acquainting with anybody of status. He threw him a meaningful look that said, you better watch yourself.

He spotted a few others here and there that he recognized—Dave, who looked beyond pissed to be wearing a bow tie, Corey and Archie taking up their respective posts, and Bellatrix conducting herself with her usual haughty air. Wes glanced away from her with a tiny huff under his breath; she’d be incensed if she knew what he was planning, but that wasn’t important right now. He’d deal with the consequences later. Hopefully those bandits are at least somewhat capable to make my job a little easier.

Sure, they were probably just as scummy as your average petty thief, but if it meant ruining the mayor’s night, Wes was fine to let them have the win. Something in his gut told him that this was the better thing to do; the better side to choose. Not that I’m choosing a side. I’m just helping some stragglers knock a corrupt politician down a peg or two. That’s all.

He then spotted Gerome and blinked in surprise. The Tyranitar was conversing with Mhynt, and Wes wondered if it was worth approaching him…
Leaf hovered around the edges of the main gathering, retrieving abandoned dishes, mopping up spills after someone got a little too tipsy and their drink tipped with them. The mayor insists that the event remain absolutely immaculate at all times, the chief of the waitstaff had lectured. Yeah, yeah, when Murderbird says jump you say how high, whatever. The temptation to see how far the tray full of collected priceless crystal would fly if she launched it like a frisbee was overpowering, and she deserved an award for not giving in to it.

(So far, anyway.)

At least cleanup duty meant she didn't actually have to approach any of the snobs, and could keep a closer eye on the outskirts of the event: watching doors, hallways, windows, and especially anyone hanging around them. Plenty of obvious guards, if nothing else, though none had yet done anything more interesting than glare around the hall at large. A few scattered sightings of people she'd seen around the Haus here or there, too, but nothing immediately out of place. How much longer would it be before someone made their move? Who would flinch first?

Ah, there was Koamaru, out in the middle of things, staring at... someone. Wait, had he found one of the—! ...no, it looked like that rockruff was wearing the same badge she'd seen on others who'd apparently agreed to help with guard duty. He wasn't doing much of anything at the moment, either. What was that about?

She pretended to notice a dreaded stain threatening to form on the corner of a rug, ducked quickly between two chatty greedent with shining stones woven into their tails—they didn't even notice her, and if she hadn't been distracted she'd have thought it was really friggin' cool how the waitstaff sash practically made her invisible, like in a spy movie—and tried to catch the electrike's eye with a little flash from the tip of her horn. Anything?
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Koa looked away from Wes as he spotted a flash in the corner of his eye. He locked eyes with Leaf, catching her questioning gaze, and shook his head ruefully. Nothing.

He continued to slip between guests, moving closer to her as he scanned the room again. Whatever was going to go down, he had a feeling it might be soon.
[Ch01 Finale] ~ VS Sonora
"Oh, very impressive," bluffed Eloise. Thaddeus nodded, and began to bullshit Dave about Grace University and how he definitely could see his way to funding a graduate of that fine college.

Ignatius' thin smile grew a little wider. He opened his beak to say something to Dave.

He didn't get a chance to speak — a plume of smoke erupted from the bandstand, scattering the musicians and sending up a cry of alarm from the nearby guests.

??? appeared...!?

"Good evenin', folks!" said the dark figure amidst the smoke. She strode forward, bowing and waving dramatically. "Mister Voclain was so ungracious as to forget to send me my invitation to this fine shindig! Not to worry, I brought myself along to the occasion of my own accord~ Now we can have a real good time, 'cause boy, do I have a lot to say!"

If Ignatius was at all surprised or disappointed that Sonora had made her way into his party after all, it didn't show on his cold expression.

"Detain her," he commanded, without raising his voice.

The Pawniard and Patrat stationed around the ballroom stepped forward to take on the outlaw, but were met by more smoke bombs, confused shouting, and then tackles and attacks from members of Las Picaras, appearing apparently from out of nowhere. Growlithe Sera and Capsakid Carolina appeared at Sonora's side, guarding her from attacks.

Ignatius sneered at the ensuing melée, and inclined his beak towards his more recent security hires. The order didn't even need to be given verbally, to be clear.

Get rid of her.

[ ] Objective: detain Sonora...?
[ ] Objective: wait, what is happening? You are fighting a battle? Someone please explain!
Sonora ate her Reflex Seed! +1 Eva and Acc!
Sera ate her Cautious Seed! +1 Def and Res!
Sera used her Protect Orb! +1 Shield!
Carolina's Defender Skill! Sonora will take 25% less damage this turn!
Rocco's Support Skill! Sera got +1 Def!

Some of the guests fled to other parts of the mansion. Others stood and watched, perhaps stunned, perhaps entertained. One way or another, there was going to be a show.
Chaos consumed the ballroom in an instant. Koa felt a flush of anxiety, fear and adrenaline surge through him. Panicked guests brushed by Koa, while others turned towards the confusion, fascinated. Smoke and noise and a flashy, taunting voice and pack of various pokemon, already taking up attack positions and- Keep it together!

His heart hammered in his ears, but he steadied himself, facing down Sonora. So this was the infamous... (Floorgato? Same species as Felin maybe) bandit. Forcing himself to exhale, he tried to gather his wits and scramble together something resembling a plan. Stop her for now, but stop the mayor from hurting her. Easy, right?

Shit shit shit.

She had to appear here of all places!? Oh, this wasn’t good, the mayor and everyone else was watching. They were going to have to put on a very convincing show to drive her off without capturing her. His eyes narrowed on the Growlithe, apparently acting as the primary line of defense between the assembled Pokemon and Sonora. If he could weaken that defense enough, could the bandit decide to withdraw? It was what the Oshawott would have to hope for.

Archie drew his scalchop, holding the shell in both paws as he carefully moved forward, eyes on the Growlithe. He had to put on a show for the mayor, he reminded himself, no doubt the Empoleon would be watching the members of his security detail closely. Hopefully Bellatrix would remain true to her letter.
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