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Frontier Town Sand Veil Archives

Tlalli clicked her tongue and dipped her head to one side.

"The Soja' is only governed at all in the most limited way, and then usually by local authority. The Commonwealth has very little control even in Commonwealth towns like this one, let alone in places like Sunward or the northern reaches. When I was a ranger, at least, we didn't have much of a relationship with the Commonwealth itself. There was an understanding with Empoleon Ignatius that the rangers left Frontier Town business to him, and he would not interfere with ranger patrols elsewhere, and that held up for some years. I imagine Chief Ayda will want a word with whoever becomes the next mayor."

The Gliscor rubbed her chin with one pincer.

"You said 'authority to make arrests'. Anyone can make a citizen's arrest by Frontier Town law. Elsewhere in the Soja', whether an arrest is legitimate or not is down to the common law of the local land. Common law usually holds that rangers may make arrests, of course."
Isidora's ears prickled with shame, laying flat against her head. "Well, yeah." She shrunk over her notes, looking down at them and away from Tlalli. "That's what I meant..." She didn't need that explained to her, did she? Did my words come out wrong, or am I just a dumbass? In the moment it felt genuinely difficult to tell.

She focused on her notes instead.

'North limit - Tundra. South limit - Old border. West limit - Coast. East limit - Mining town. Volunteer organisation. Little pay. Subsides off of donations from communities. Weak relationship with government.'

She paused, suddenly unsure of her ability to continue the interview. ...Just ask something easy.

Tentatively, and without taking her eyes off her notes: "So um... is it a good job?"
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Tlalli laughed, softly.

"It's a fulfilling job. It's challenging, honest work. It takes you from place to place, seeing many people and places. If you have the right temperament, you will earn the respect of common 'mon. You will grow strong, if you value that. And of course, there is little guilt in saving innocents, is it so?"

She gestured out towards the main entrance.

"My daughter is proud to follow in my upwash. In my footsteps, is how you may say it. And I am proud of her. I do not think of money. I may worry about her safety – I cannot help that I am a mother – but I trust that she will succeed where I did, and the Rangers will have her back."
"I see."

Tlalli had been so kind and non-judgmental, and here Isidora was, trying to figure out if there was something secretly screwed up about the gliscor's old job she was proud in. Obviously she knew she wasn't going to get that from this, that's why she'd been hesitant about it. But it seemed like the Ranger Union was actually pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Too small to assume bad faith: if the organization had weaknesses, it was likely a natural consequence of their limits. In fairness, I guess you could say the Traveler's Guild was like that too. To an extant, at least. For a moment, she wondered if she had ever been all that fair to them...

Isidora kept her eyes on her notes, her pen placed down on top of them. The clarity of her own, actual Liberian script seemed more real than anything she had read in long while, and the words burned their way into her skull. "I've been wonderin' a lot. About what I should do, since I came here, and..."

What am I doing? She scratched under her ear. She wasn't sure how to proceed with that sentence.
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"Since you came here? To this library?"

The librarian sounded like she was making a joke. Tlalli rested her cheek on one pincer and smiled warmly. As warmly as a Gliscor could manage, anyway.

"You sound like you are asking for advice," she remarked, gently. "Lots of 'mon come to Frontier Town from far away, looking to seek their fortune or escape their past, and maybe they find something that they live for. Maybe they drift away. These 'mon from other worlds, you know about these, is it so? I have heard that they don't know exactly what they are here for. I spoke with one of these not long ago, and I said to her that anyone restless enough to step across the stars needs a purpose for their paws, is it so? And so, maybe she should look to those who travel the land with a purpose to do good."

Tlalli clicked her tongue, and leaned forward a little.

"Dear Sneasel, I have this advice for you. If you join the Soja' Rangers, and you come to regret doing this, you may leave. You will never find a calling that is certain and sure of working out right for you. You must leap forward with faith."
"I won't stop you, but it would be a tragic waste of talent if you kept flitting from branch to branch. Ask yourself: what do you want?" Someone asked this once. The answer seemed to change every day.

Dammit. Why does she have to be right?

Isidora pushed herself away from her notes until she sat up straight. She didn't bother covering them anymore, instead anxiously flexing her claws close to the edge of the table. "...Thing is, I used to do similar work once," she admitted. "So it's not like this is foreign to me or anything. And it was always going to be a temporary thing..."

A sigh. She needed to pull herself together. Play it cool. "Things are just too damn complicated lately. I'm just lookin' for somethin' stable. A chance to build myself back up, and make things easier, y'know?" She looked away. "It's not like I have a lot allies right now..."
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Tlalli nodded sympathetically, and hummed a few notes to herself.

"The Rangers have each other's back," she said, echoing herself. "If you want direction and allies, you could do worse. I can't recommend any better, though you could try your luck with the Obstine monks, I suppose. The Wardens and the Escarpa might take a promising enough recruit, though they tend to be insular. But only the Rangers are accustomed to many different kinds of folk from many different cultures working together. You won't fit in any worse than the rest."

Isidora picked up her notes and gave them another glance over. "There's still a ton more I'm curious about..." She sighed again. "But yeah, I'll admit it, I was only doin' the research 'cause I was plannin' to join 'em."

Slowly, she got up from her seat and tucked her notebook under her arm. "Thanks for the interview. I'd have more to ask, but I think I need to think some things through." She lightly scratched her arm. "Though I'd still like to see some of those records you say you have. And some other things too. Probably later."
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Tlalli nodded, and stood from her seat as Isidora did.

"I'll gladly show you to our records, Ms Sneasel. Whatever we have available, I hope it shall be useful to you. Please do ask me your questions when they come to you – it is entirely my work to do!"

The Gliscor smiled again, and lifted from the ground to glide towards the records wing of the building.
Isidora put her stuff back in her bag and followed her, several things still on her mind. And now that the interview was over, one, small, nagging question floated up from the back of it. It was so inconsequential, really... But as soon as she caught up and felt she had the chance, she went for it. "A-Actually, there is one other thing."

"I noticed there's a section in here for fiction..." she started. Her eyes immediately wandered elsewhere. "...Any good recommendations?"

Ch04: Other Selves and Rescues [Jade and Gladion]
Gladion was back at the archives again, this time with a new idea— still a long shot, improbable if not impossible, but something he had to try anyway. At least it felt different from his aimless searches from before. He had a new term to look for: When before he’d only looked for Nulls or RKS Chimeras, he knew now that even in the slim chance they were documented locally, it would be as ARK Units.

Still, it was a long shot that was probably the least time-sensitive thing he had going right now, so when he saw Jade there as well, it seemed a good time to take a break and talk to someone. They’d fought together several times, it only seemed right to.

“You’re Jade, correct? You here for something you’d want a hand looking for, or about something else? Not gonna bug you, but if you want a hand or ear, I figure we’ve helped each other out before.”
Jade jolted slightly at the sound of her name and then turned to see one of the chimeras--Gladion, she was pretty sure. She couldn't help feeling suddenly self-conscious about the way she'd been halfway to dozing off while reading again. Then again, she had been looking for a chance to chat with him, but just had never been quite sure how to open a conversation, outside of the obligatory team meetings or missions.

"Oh, um, sure--I was just looking through some of the newspapers from the past year," she said, shuffling some papers around to make the table look somewhat more organized. "What about you?"
He’d kind of walked right into that one, and honestly Gladion felt a bit self-conscious about admitting how unrealistic his search was. “Found out Betel knew an older name for my species here and said one was around about a year ago, and given we’re supposed to be looking for information that’d help us find Luz anyway I figured I could multitask a little. That what you’re here for? Or—”

That dream prodded at his mind. Sierra had told them about someone else, too. The Litten, Starr… Was it not Jade who’d been so sure she’d been the one to get Betel to summon them all? There had been a lot going on and being exposed to the abyss of all worldly sufferings could be distracting, so he wasn’t quite sure.

“Someone else?”
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Jade blinked in surprise. "Oh wait, so--that species does exist here after all? Even though it's... like that?" Artificial, she'd meant to say artificial, but she'd got caught up in thinking back to the conversation with Nova, and how that type of chimera was actually robotic on his world. Not that a genetic experiment existing on Forlas made much more sense.

Right, they were supposed to be looking for Luz. And Jade had done a bit of Legendary research with Koa a few weeks ago, but not since the search for Luz suddenly became more relevant. "And, uh, yeah... I got a bit distracted by other stuff." It felt stupid to admit, but...

"Just, seeing if the previous hero got into the news at all, although it doesn't seem like it," Jade said quietly, tail swishing. "I guess that makes sense, since the townsfolk didn't seem to even know her name." She wasn't sure what she'd been hoping for, just... something.
“It was worth a shot…” As much as there was good tactical reason to look for Start, Gladion wasn’t so lacking in emotional skills as to mistake that for the only reason. “Guess being closer to the Escarpa kept her shielded from the town’s press cycle. Was probably better for her even if it makes our life harder.” Right up until it wasn’t.

“I’ve got as little a clue as you how they got tech needed to grow a chimera here as you. Apparently the design itself is something that just… reoccurs across worlds. Nova, as I understand it, has versions that aren’t genetic at all. But I can bleed here and could probably solve a captcha, so convergent design or not they’ve got some kind of biotech.”

There was something else, too, he felt would be worth warning Jade about in case she hadn’t heard. This was his chance to say it, but he couldn’t help hesitate… She probably wouldn’t want to hear it, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about dashing what could be Jade’s hope if his hunch was correct.

“…Honestly, not just species designs that happen repeatedly across worlds. Seems like there’s some people that come up over and over. Nova’s… met me. But, well, it wasn’t me exactly.”
Jade nodded distantly. "Right, yeah. Brisa didn't come up that much either, so I guess it makes sense." Was it worth mentioning? That as crazy as it sounded, Jade knew the previous hero? She was starting to lose all baseline of what counted as crazy with this group.

In any case, Gladion's words had at least confirmed one thing--the chimeras as he knew them were genetic.

Jade ran a claw along the wooden table. "I guess if there's more humans here than we originally thought, it makes more sense than there'd be human tech, but..." But then Gladion mentioned the thing about repeats across worlds, and Jade paused. "Right, yeah, Nova said something like that. There's this experiment--Mewtwo--he was pretty infamous in my world, and Nova also knew one." It was still surreal to think about. If Mewtwo had been made in other worlds, what about Nine?

The last bit... was a bit harder to process, though. "He'd met... another you?" Jade asked, unable to keep the bewilderment off her face. Somehow, that just felt instantly more bizarre than scientists in different worlds both getting the idea to clone Mew or make the same chimera or whatever.

(There was an odd hesitation to the way he'd said it. Not just because it was a weird thing to say, but like he'd thought the information would mean something to Jade, somehow. Or maybe she was reading too much into it.)
“Yeah. Not really sure how to feel about it, seems like a lot of the Null projects see…” Gladion paused, trying and failing to find a phrasing that wouldn’t sound stupid. “Uhh, ‘Gladions’ crop up on the general vicinity. I guess what I’m getting at is…”

Gladion closed his eyes. “If you’ve heard of a Starr— would not surprise me at this point— that still might not be your Starr. I’ve been on the other side of that equation a couple times now.”
The Null project... so that was what'd led to the making of those chimeras... or Nulls, she guessed. And, Gladion--or some version of him--tended to show up alongside the project, no matter the world. But then...

Then he'd come right out and said it, and part of Jade wanted to ask how he'd known, while the other half wanted to shout that it was impossible, that it didn't make any sense. Mewtwo or Null or whatever showing up across multiple worlds was one thing. But why on earth should that extend to anyone she knew?

Mewtwo. Team Rocket. Giovanni. There was a line connecting them all to...

"I, that's..." Jade could feel her fur bristling, willed it to stop. "We don't--we don't know that." And then another thought occurred to her. The one she'd been avoiding ever since reflecting on what Sierra had said.

Jade glanced away, gripping the edge of the table. "And... either way, I already knew that she wasn't going to recognize me if she'd lost her memory."
“Touché. Guess we won’t know…” Though the odds that, of every Starr out there, this one happens to be from the exact world as you must be slim-to-none.

Unfortunately, it seemed his social skills were still catching up to the rest of his brain. (Was Jade feeling the way he did talking to Laura sometimes?) Clearly, he’d crossed a line, and was gonna have to put it back together. “Even if she isn’t from the literal exact same world, she could still know a Jade. If she can’t remember everything regardless, maybe that’ll be a close enough connection…”

He furrowed his brow. “Is that too weird? I’ve had to get used to the idea by now, but saying it out loud, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s really fucking weird.”
Something about hearing it said in such a blunt, straightforward way--Jade couldn't help letting out a small laugh. "Same. It's really freaking weird, and I don't know how I'll ever get used to it." It felt good to laugh at the absurdity of it. Helped ease some of the tension.

"The funny thing is, there was almost something, I don't know, relieving about running into a Mewtwo here and knowing that he had nothing to do with the one that I knew back home. Almost like, I don't know... that nothing from back home really applies here? I guess that wouldn't be comforting for everyone, but..."

On a gut level, it'd been uncomfortable, but thinking about it now... would it be better or worse if it wasn't the same Starr? Which outcome was less painful? If it wasn't her Starr, then it wasn't really her friend in trouble here. There wasn't the pain of being forgotten. But then, was it really that much better being someone like her but not quite?
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