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Frontier Town Sand Veil Archives

Gladion laughed. “Nah, I get what you mean. One of the appeals this place held for me was a chance to leave all the baggage behind. Feels a lot more precarious now that other people here know ‘me.’ Would’ve been nice to talk about the bits of my life I’d be cool with if not for people putting two and two together, but I guess it was silly to act like I could ever have outrun my past…”

He couldn’t help but be curious about Mewtwo though. This was the second time she’d brought it up now. Last time they were just infamous in her world, which he could just as easily say himself, but this suggested she might know more of the story than he did.

“Funny thing is, though, there is no natural Mewtwo here. The one in Forlas is an offworlder too— I’m pretty sure he was a human guy before ending up here. Would it count as prying if I asked about yours? Might be someone who tends to crop up around that… convergence, too. But I’ll back off if it’s touchy.”
Jade leaned her head against a paw. "Well, it's not like you could have known that anyone here would recognized you from their world. But... I know what you mean--I know I'd be feeling more self-conscious if anyone here knew a version of me." Why Gladion? Was there something about him that made it more than random chance that the others would know a version of him, or was it really just his connection to the Null project?

She listened to the talk of Mewtwo with intrigue, ears flicking forward. "Okay, I'm kinda relieved that there's no natural Mewtwo here--that would've raised even more questions. Though I guess it makes me wonder how he got here." Ever since meeting him in that bunker, she'd had no idea what to make of him. Being a human explained the suit, at least.

"And, well... the Mewtwo from my world was pretty different. He escaped from his creators and caused a lot of damage to their headquarters, which was in my hometown." Didn't escape--you freed him. "And then there were a couple other incidents with him a year later, so the League was pretty desperate to see him captured." Jade winced. "Team Rocket was pretty desperate too--they're the ones that made him." Nova had been familiar with Team Rocket, but she had no idea whether or not anyone else would be.
“Haven’t heard of that group, but those events sound roughly familiar. I think the one in my world gave them the slip, but I’m not sure given it wasn’t very public. I wonder if the name’s translating weird because the name sounds… ill-fitting of a group like that. Probably is, if I’m from Alola and you’re from… it was Cinnabar where I’m from, though I shouldn’t assume it’s the same for you.”

Gladion realized too late he’d kinda missed the part where you express sympathy when things like that happen to people in their hometowns. It just felt like everyone else had weird shit going on in their lives. He was almost one of the less weird people here, though Jade seemed to have him beat so far.

“Hope everything’s going alright with them back there. Y’know. Disaster-wise. Guess that might be another reoccurring event alongside the Null project. And someone else here knowing of a shadow project in their world. This world just can’t seem to catch a break, they’re getting all our problems at once.”
"Cinnabar, huh..." Jade mused. "Well, not that far off--still Kanto, just Viridian. Er, that is, he was made in Celadon, but broke free and wrecked a few blocks in Viridian." She wasn't sure if any of these city names would mean much to Gladion--it wasn't like she could pretend to remember which Alolan islands were which. Still it was at least a point of familiarity that his world had a Kanto and an Alola. Like Leaf, Koa, and Laura, it seemed like their worlds had some similarities. (Had someone made a Graydian back home too?)

She forced a smile at the well-wishes, unsure how to respond. "Thanks. It's, uh... well, it's a lot, but we were getting by alright before I came here. I guess I shouldn't be surprised if there are similar recurring problems across all of us--might have something to do with why we all got picked." She gave a bit of a sheepish laugh. "I mean, I've always felt pretty ordinary, but the average person back home isn't exactly mixed up with Team Rocket and genetic experiments." And Legendaries.

Jade rubbed the back of her head. "Gotta say, the Shadow Pokemon are a new one, though."
Gladion returned his own equally-sheeting laugh in lieu of knowing how to hold an actual normal conversation. “This place is so strange I can’t help feel normal. Though I also have to make a hypocrite of myself being involved in genetic experiments does make you definitionally pretty abnormal. Can’t judge, of course, given… the obvious.

“You talked to Laura at all yet? It does seem like we have a lot more people with ties to genetic engineering than should actually exist at random. She’s another one.”
Jade nodded. "Yeah, she told me that she'd been trying to rescue her Purrloin from some kind of lab. So, uh, that's three of us. Plus Nova's whole deal." And then Leaf had said that she rescued one of her Pokemon from some sort of experimentation by Team Rocket, so... maybe there really was some kind of connection, even if Betel hadn't been conscious of one.

Jade gave an awkward smile. "I guess I'd expect that you were involved with experiments the most out of us. Since, y'know... you ended up turning into one here." She hoped that that sort of joke would go over okay. Gladion didn't seem to hate being in that form the way Nova did, but she could never tell. "I was sorta curious what the story was there, since it seemed like you already knew a lot about Graydian--or 'Nulls'
I guess."
The difference between Gladion’s previous, forced laugh and this genuine one was clear. His voice didn’t have the weight of as much awkwardness. “Can’t really hide it, can I? Trechary of the soul… Alright, I’ll indulge you, but you gotta keep it away from the people who know mes, or some of them might start connecting some awkward dots. Laura mostly, at this point I’m 95% sure her world has one, Odette has one too to my dismay…

“Alola’s got this foundation, Aether, and I’m…” His voice caught in his throat. What the fuck was he doing? Has he finally lost his mind? “I, uhh, I guess I’d say had family ties to some of them. My father headed a lot of research. Only, during a dimensional research study, he… bit it. I… Um… Important thing is that he was running this project, too. It was a pure genetics thing back then, no electronic hacks yet, but when he died there were some unresolved issues and the new lead felt that’d be an easier way to fix them than neuroscience. And took the chance to add some stuff, it all went downhill. Absolute shitshow. And things weren’t going to well with my family either, so I just kind of… saved the last one and ran way. She’s my starter now, in an unofficial, unlicensed and technically criminal sense. I’ve been lying low for years since, and it’s been better than my old life, to say the least.”
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Laura and Odette both? And he'd mentioned Nova earlier... no wonder he was so cautious. (Did... did Jade's world have one too?)

Jade tapped her paws together. "Well, that's not too unrelatable, aha. I first got involved in stuff back home because I rescued an experiment and kept him unlicensed and technically illegally. Though it was a lot less personal than what happened with you--I didn't have any family connection or anything."

Well, it was no wonder his soul ended up being compatible with Graydian if he was partnered with one. "It's... good that you were able to save her," Jade said, trying to sound reassuring. It... definitely sounded like it'd been hard for him to open up about all that.
"Crimes..." Gladion said, a facetious wistfulness in his tone. "Honestly, seems like everyone here's committed them. Guess Betel's not a legal-moralist. And, really, I'd say you got the important beat, I wouldn't say being 'family' was what made the situation important to me. She's alright when she wouldn't have been. You did that, too, so... It's good that you were there, too."

How someone got her hands on an experiment like that without having blood ties to criminal organizations was, really, none of his business. Either she did it without being involved with them, or she'd be well within her rights to want him to think as much.

"Is your rescue still with you?" Don't think about how Odette doesn't know Hazel. That's irrelevant.
Jade relaxed a bit further in her seat. "Yeah, he is. He's called Nine, and he's a Pikachu hybrid. They, um." She was already well past the point of being discreet. "They mixed his DNA with Zapdos, before he was born. To learn more about Legendary energy signatures, or something--I think probably to prepare for cloning Mew later. He was... pretty unstable when we met. But it's been over a year since then, and he's worked some things out since then." She paused, tapping a foot against the chair. "...How about your rescue?"
“Hazel.” There was a new warmth to Gladion. “At the end of the day she’s still a Null, which as I’m increasingly aware isn’t exactly comfortable. But she takes it well. No medical issues yet, and very sweet personality. Nicer than I am, honestly. And happier, probably…”

A listless sigh. “Miss her. I’d be more content here if not that for that. It’s-” lonely “-too quiet.”
Jade couldn't help smiling--it was obvious how much Gladion cared from the tone of his voice. "Nine was in a similar spot--there were some problems that come from being a hybrid." She paused, and then added, "It sounds like you two make a good pair."

Her eyes fell to the floor, tail swishing idly. "I... I miss my team too."
Gladion’s eyes lit in a way that suggested he would be smiling, had he a visible mouth. “We do make a good pair.”

Only to be brought down again a sentence later. “I miss mine, too… I used to think of myself as someone who doesn’t need much company. I guess it’s not entirely untrue, but I think I overlooked how much I needed my team to keep me grounded because, y’know, we can’t talk to each other… Unless you come from a place where your team can, then I guess you wouldn’t know exactly that, but hopefully you get what I mean.”
Jade leaned back in her seat. "We can talk to each other now, but that wasn't always the case, so... I get what you mean. My first partner Pokemon and I met way before I was any good at understanding him." Several years of having to read each other without words... it felt so long ago.

"So, I'm guessing you and Hazel met the others after leaving home?" Jade asked.
"Huh, interesting. Wonder what it would be like to just... be able to talk to Hazel after years..."

It was hard to picture what it would be like for that to happen. Sure, having been here made it easier to picture, but his idea of what his team was like back home was still kept separate. He knew Hazel well enough to have some idea, but not to be able to picture the details. And the idea of being able to talk to the others was even more impossible to picture, but... that was different.

"Relatively recently, yeah. Picked up a Sneasel who didn't really have a place to be, and only a couple months ago a little Zubat, too. You?"

Even if he was supposed to be doing work, maybe chatting wasn't the worst thing, either. He was content.
Gladion had relaxed noticeably in that way that, in Jade's experience, all trainers did when getting to reminisce about their team. Including her.

"My friend had a Sneasel--Weavile now--she's a total gremin," Jade said with a grin. "My first was Swift, a Pidgey. We met when I was just a kid, I found him when..."

And that was another afternoon spent chatting with someone about their times as a trainer. Nice to know that that wasn't so hard to come by, even on Forlas.

Ch05: So About That Shady Org You Infiltrated... [Odette and Laura]
After finishing one book, it was only customary to go get another one. Though, this time around, Odette wasn't quite sure what she was looking for.

She'd already breezed through the anger management books the library had had on hand (a whopping three), and couldn't find anything about how to sate secondary talking heads. At that point, she'd just opted to look for anything related to the occult, whatever that might have entailed for Forlas. Relics, witchcraft, pantheons, maybe the odd obsolete religion here and there. Just something to pass the time, and maybe help her with her continued familiarization with the land.

She'd already gathered a small stack of titles that felt like they would scratch that itch when she turned down another row of books. There was another 'mon standing there--a meowth--and it didn't take her long to recognize who it was. But, it felt like bad etiquette to strike up conversation with someone trying to browse books in a library. Even more so, what the fuck would she even say? Ideas flowed in, but none of them felt particularly sound.

In her attempt to squeeze behind Laura to get further down the row, she grossly miscalculated how close the shelves were to one another, and Jawile accidentally grazed Laura's shoulder. Offering a quick and quiet "Sorry," Odette scrambled a couple paces away and forced herself to stop and examine a few more book spines, despite them not being what she was looking for. Fuck me, she thought bitterly.

Well, that wasn't going to make things awkward. Not at all.
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Laura flinched as something brushed her shoulder, and looked around to see Odette and her Mawile maw looking as uncomfortable and awkward as Laura usually did. Kinda odd, really – Odette was loud and brash and all the rest, wasn't she?

"No problem," she said, reflexively. "Hey, um. Everything alright, Odette?"

Fuck, her name was Odette, right? Was she pronouncing that right? What was that, Kalosien? Probably. Whatever.

"Haven't seen you since the lab mission," she added, offering a point of shared connection to prompt a bit of conversation.
Were things alright? Yeah, they were alright, she was just a fucking awkward shmuck who didn’t know how to say “hello” properly, and now—“

“Hm?” she said, pursing her lips and turning to look at the meowth, hoping to play off her internal screaming. “Oh, yeah. I just don’t have any spatial awareness. And I’m…bad at striking up conversations.” Might as well be honest.

At least Laura seemed to have that covered, despite her own evident awkward stance. “Uh, right. Yeah, just been around…trying to dissect all the info we found. Trying to figure out how to beat the shit out of fuckhead hydreigons.”

She froze.

“Or you know, something like that.”
Laura blinked, trying not to stumble mentally as she worked to reconcile Odette the performer, Odette who raged in combat, with Odette the socially awkward.

"I can strike up a conversation?" she found herself saying. It was kindof true – it was anxiety rather than the words that made it hard. And anxiety...

Just a little Radiance melts all that self-consciousness away...

"Y'know, if you like."

Here Laura gestured to the table she was sat at, and the other chair beside.

"You got time? Been thinking I should get to know the rest of the team better if we're in this for the long haul. For instance, are you actually Kalosien? I've been wondering."
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