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Frontier Town The Wanderin' Zera


Dragon Enthusiast
Heartache staff
Near the edge of town, valiantly defending other buildings from the dusty windfall, was a small, rickety saloon called The Wanderin' Zera.

According to legend, it was named after some odd fellow who had once passed by the place and had the largest order they'd ever given. The new owners changed the saloon's name to that wanderer's honor.

Traditional clay and stone made up the building's walls. The rooftop had a hole that an employee had patched up with their tightly woven fur a long time ago. The wooden doors creaked upon entry, operating as an alert to the barkeep of another possible customer.

The barkeep was a rugged, dusty Tyranitar who moved with care so he didn't accidentally whip up sand in his patron's food. Every movement was deliberate. Despite his gruff stature, he had a delicate touch when he washed the glass of cups and the ceramics of the plates.

A harsh stare showed most rowdy guests the door. A blast of sand awaited anyone too drunk to listen.

It was a peaceful saloon on the edge of town, sometimes rescuing wanderers from heading too far out, sometimes offering a warm drink to a traveler wandering in.

Soon, they would be greeting much more than mere wanderers...
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Ch01: Let's Drink To Heroism

Today was a harsh and particularly dry afternoon. Most patrons were drowsy Pokemon having their lunch in the form of a heavy and strong drink. The barkeep, Gerome, made a few extra coins when he recommended some bread to help settle the alcohol.

Gerome glanced out the door, seeing heat lines, but that perplexed him. The heat lines were inside the bar.

No. No, those weren't heat lines. They looked like the distortions of psionic energy. But not quite the same...




And then, an eclectic squad of Pokemon appeared where the distortions had vanished. Astrid--a little icy Vulpix once more -- landed on a table where a half-drunk patron yelped and fell onto his back. Another two--Kimiko and Archie, now a Snivy and Oshawott, landed by the shoulders of a snoozing Granbull who grabbed them as a pillow on instinct. And finally, Eco, a Grubbin, appeared on the shelves that held clean glassware. Two of them fell, shattering on the hard floor.

The others were fortunate enough to appear simply on the floor near the tables.

Gerome growled, which sounded like cement rubbing on sandpaper. He exhaled, creating a tiny vortex of sand in his palm, and then exhaled flames into the palm. The sand morphed into glass, which he carefully molded into a similar shape as its fallen brethren.

As he molded the new glass cup, he stared at the intruders with his usual, harsh glare.

"Yer payin' fer that."
All a blur. No simple string of events tied Astrid from then to now — only loose memories, fuzzy vibes that didn’t quite register right. Deja vu she couldn’t explain.

One overwhelming difference did strike her right away: a third of her tails had been ripped off, but no pain. She was smaller. She was a…

“Paying for wuh…?” She gurgled out her words, looking around. Rubbing the smudge out of her eyes helped her take it in, if only a little — it was a saloon, well-kept, clearly in the middle of business hours. Several Pokémon like her scattered around, from that dream she’d had. And several more wearing bewildered stares.

Finding her balance was a fool’s errand at first, but she eventually staggered to her feet. “Hi,” she said, voice sharper this time. She was unsure who to even address, so the massive Tyranitar in charge was the default. “I’m Astrid. Who’re—uhm, I mean, where is this?”
(From Forlas Nexus)

Teleportation was never a fun experience, even when one knew where they were going. Being pulled into the unknown didn't help, either.

She didn't get to see where she landed, because in the seconds after she'd reappeared - disoriented as usual - something grabbed her and squeezed her tight. Panic flared and she tried to wiggle free, but whatever had hold of her easily had a both a physical size and a strength advantage.

But the thing didn't seem to be doing anything else, just... holding her. She took a deep breath (well, as deep as her lungs would allow, given they were currently being compacted) to calm herself, then managed to twist around to see her attacker.

A... sleeping granbull. So perhaps it hadn't been an attack at all? Still, this wasn't quite the welcome she'd been expecting. Nor was she the only one caught; the oshawott had the same misfortune.

Well, they couldn't stay here all day. They'd all been brought here with a job to do.

With little other recourse, Kimiko extended a vine (pleased with herself that using them already felt natural at this point) and tapped the granbull on the head a few times - hopefully hard enough to wake it, but gently enough that it wouldn't, like... eat her or something. The last thing she needed immediately after arrival was to get into a fight she knew she wouldn't win.

"Uh... excuse me..." she choked out. "Do you mind?" Even if he only let up the pressure, she figured she could probably worm her way free...
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Kimiko had little difficulty getting out of Granbull's hold, and thankfully all she had to deal with was a little sleep-slobber afterward. It had a faint scent of old berry juice.

Mhynt adjusted herself and stood with a pensive frown, scanning the environment from the spot she'd appeared just beneath a chair far too large for her.

"Welcome to The Wanderin' Zera. A bar in Frontier Town," Tyranitar replied with a skeptical gaze.

Mhynt walked to the nearby bar stool and hopped onto it, taking a cross-legged seat. "Then, I will have a simple apple cider," she said. "If you have an odd job or dishes to clean, then I will do that as payment."

"So you don't have money," Tyranitar said. "How d'you come all the way here with nothing on ya?"
Frontier Town?

More deja vu. Just out of reach, no matter how she strained. Had she heard of it? No, surely not. And yet…

Astrid hoped this wouldn’t be a trend.

More pressing matters at hand, she shuffled over to the bar and sat one stool down from the Treecko with clasped paws. Thrum thrum thrum went her digits on the polished wood.

“…Beats me.” Only a half-truth, but hopefully her honest discombobulation sold it well. “I just woke up here. Dunno why, but um, what she said.” She nudged her head sideways at the Treecko.
Escaping the granbull's grip turned out to be easier than she'd expected; her prodding was all she needed to cause him to shift his sleeping position, allowing her to slip free and scurry away, while the granbull remained asleep.

She grimaced at the drool. "Charming..." She did her best to wipe it away with a vine.

Now that that was over, she had a chance to properly look around. An old saloon of some kind? Yes, the hulking tyranitar at the back had confirmed it... he must be the owner. What, had she been sent back to ancient Orre? Kimiko felt out of her element here, in more ways than one.

Looking around, she only recognized a handful of the other pokemon dotted around the saloon, stirring mild panic within once again. Where had the rest of that group gone? She was certain she hadn't been in the first wave to leave the void, surely the rest had to be waiting somewhere? Maybe they'd already been settled... no, saloons were not inns.

A few of the pokemon she did recognize were already getting their bearings. The vulpix and treecko had engaged the tyranitar behind the counter, and... hell, the treecko just casually sat down and ordered a drink, as if they were a regular here! With a quick look around to make sure the few familiar pokemon from her group were - more or less- in one piece, she sauntered over to the counter.

"Can I get a water, please?" she inquired, snatching up a napkin. She intended to use the liquid to help sanitize herself, but wherever this was, the heat was rather intense, so perhaps saving some to drink wasn't a bad idea, either. "Actually... we could probably use a few glasses," she added with a worried look back towards her companions.

But then there was the issue of money... most places didn't charge for just water, did they? Then again, in this heat... "We're... not from around here," she offered, intentionally vague. She looked around the surprisingly-not-so-dusty saloon again. The treecko had volunteered to do work in exchange...

"I, um... I can sing, if you think maybe your patrons would enjoy that." She would have to come up with some songs more suited to the setting, but that was a problem for later.

"Oh, and have you... seen any other travelers today?" she added hesitantly. Stupid question, surely a saloon got dozens of customers a day. "Like, ones you didn't recognize? Perhaps twenty or so?"
"Oddly specific number," Tyranitar said.

"G-Gerome, hang on!" cried a Machoke in the corner of the room. "You can't be serious! These people randomly appeared smack dab in the middle o' the bar, through weird little ripples in the air! Ripples! Do you know what that means?!"

"Shaddap, Dayle," Tyranitar Gerome muttered.

"It means it's finally happening! The Psychic war! It's gonna begin!"

Gerome, finally finished with the first glass, set it aside to cool as he conjured sand and heat to forge the other. He prepared a simple glass of water for Kimiko and a basic cider for Mhynt, setting the glasses in front of each, as well as for Astrid.

"There is no Psychic conspiracy, Dayle. They're just Pokemon like any other."

"That's what they make you think. They're Psychics! They're making a move!" The Machoke slammed his fist on the table, setting aside a bag of coins. He stomped out of the bar. "I gotta warn my wife!"

"Your wife left you two years ago, Dayle!" Gerome called, but he already stormed out. He rubbed his forehead, making a rocky sound of stone on stone, before returning to his cup.
To be honest, he hadn’t really expected anything this… Rough. Not that he should be particularly surprised, he’d been teleported before, and knew to expect the usual sort of feeling of all his internal organs cramming up into his chest, before dropping into his gut just as suddenly. He’d never hurled yet as a result of getting beamed around like this, but it never failed to knock the wind out of him. So, much like the Snivy that appeared alongside him, Archie hadn’t even begun to find his bearings when he was grabbed.

His tiny claws tried to find some kind of purchase, but were quite insufficient for preventing him from getting dragged a short distance into the crushing embrace of a sleeping Granbull. Well, this was certainly not how he saw his first experience in a brand new world could go. Still beat falling out of the sky, though, he had to admit that. He tried to twist and squirm, in the hopes that his movements would rouse the Granbull enough to loosen its grip. Thankfully, the Snivy appeared to have a much better handle on things, and once her vines had sufficiently convinced the sleeping mutt the two of them weren’t worth keeping as bedding, the Oshawott rolled a few feet away, before pushing himself up into a sitting position.

Okay, time to take stock. Archie looked himself over, still the same species as he had been, but well, naked. He looked around, but neither his hat nor his coat were anywhere to be seen. Great; at least he still had his scalchop. Next he looked over at the Snivy, whose quick thinking had saved them from their predicament. Her color scheme, seemingly inverted from that of a normal Snivy, was certainly eye catching. At the very least, he knew he’d likely never confuse her with another of the species. He gave her a wave and a smile, followed by a simple, “Thank you.”

Let’s see, who else had ended up here? He noticed an Alolan Vulpix, who’d apparently ended up on a table, disorientated. There was a Grubbin, on the shelf behind the bar. And the Treecko. Fuck. Okay, no need to panic, that looming figure was no longer behind her now that they were back in a physical realm. If he didn’t think about it, it would be fine. No sign of Tarahn or Corey. This was distressing, as even though they weren’t the same ones he knew, he still had derived some sense of comfort from being around people he recognized, and who recognized him and turn.

Very quickly, the Snivy, Treecko, and Vulpix had all made their way to the bar, ordering drinks like they normally teleported across the multiverse in order to sample the local pints. Oh well, it did seem like they were all trying to gather some information, which was perfectly sensible. The Oshawott stepped up beside the Snivy, supplementing her question with his own addendum: “Like, a Toxel or a Ralts? Or, uh, maybe a Zorua?”

He realized now he hadn’t actually gotten that strange gray Zorua’s name. Or the name of that strange helmeted creature. Or any of these people’s names to be honest. Well, at least he still had time for those who’d appeared along with him. Who rightly knew if he’d ever have a chance with the others.

Before he could get an answer, the local conspiracy nut popped off. Something about a Psychic war? That likely wasn’t good. That kind of stuff had a way of blowing up. There was never just one kook these days. The Oshawott watched the Machoke storm off to warn a wife he no longer had. And likely to rabble rouse after that.

“Is it okay to let him go off on his own?” he asked no one specifically.
Mhynt took a drink, then looked back at the others. "Well, if we're going to earn our keep then perhaps we should do some cleaning of the bar to make up for it," she said. "Afterward, we can figure out where the others went."

"Mm. Others. You'll want to check around town," Gerome suggested, only half-interested as he crafted the second cup from glass. "Hmh. And where're you from, then? Can't've come from nowhere."
The Oshawott frowned, eyes still towards the door. He brought a paw up to his muzzle, crossing the other in front of his body, before muttering worriedly. “People like that have a tendency to make it other people’s problem.”

Maybe he was just overthinking things. This Tyranitar – Gerome – clearly knew the Machoke – Dayle. So if the barkeep didn’t think the Fighting Type was going to be an issue, Archie should just trust the Pokemon’s judgment. Oh, but speaking of the Tyranitar, he’d asked a question of the group. Archie finally looked away from the door, and towards their host.

“Treasure Town,” he said simply. He saw no point in lying outright, and it was highly unlikely the name would mean anything to anyone here. When it came to the suggestion that they do a little grunt work to ‘earn their keep,’ the Oshawott looked much more dubious. He wasn’t one of the ones who’d immediately ordered refreshments they had no way to pay for, and honestly thought trying to get a feel for where they’d ended up and looking out for any signs of the others was a much better use of their time.

Still, maybe it was better to go along to get along…

“I’m handy enough in the kitchen, can at least promise I won’t burn the place down,” he offered, jokingly. They’d all taken turns doing the evening meal back at the Lodge, so the Oshawott wasn’t completely useless in that regard, at least.
Clover popped into existence floating in midair. She quickly recovered, giggling as Kimiko and Archie were mercilessly snuggled. She looked at Eco in concern into she saw he wasn't bleeding or hurt.

"Sorry about that. I wasn't the one teleporting us!"

Kimiko had little difficulty getting out of Granbull's hold, and thankfully all she had to deal with was a little sleep-slobber afterward. It had a faint scent of old berry juice.
Clover looked slightly confused that anyone would refuse a hug. After Kimiko escaped, she wiggled in to the Granbull's side and was quickly seized. Clover smiled. This new friend was having happy dreams, it felt like! At least, they weren't *bad* dreams.
"That's what they make you think. They're Psychics! They're making a move!" The Machoke slammed his fist on the table, setting aside a bag of coins. He stomped out of the bar. "I gotta warn my wife!"
"Um, like him. I can get him to come back, and super calmed down too!
"Treasure Town?" Gerome snorted. "Great. So there's some other town that has just as many ambitions as the name of this dry corner of the world."

He eyed Clover suspiciously. "Yeah, don't bother. He's probably already across town the way he runs," he said. "Are all of you from Treasure Town?"

"...I don't believe where we are from is quite important to this dry corner," Mhynt said. "It sounds to me like this place is home to many travelers." She slid her empty glass forward. "Some water, please. My body needs the extra hydration."

"Could say that." Gerome placed the glass on a shelf in the back of the bar. "But that means it's company to all kinds. Noble travelers looking for rest, bandits trying to lay low... You'd be wise to be careful. All kinds visit this bar. You should stay alert until you know the land."

He slid a full glass of water to Mhynt.

"Cooking, huh? Alright. I'll let one drink be for free for all of you if you can prep something that'll last into dinner. Maybe I'll serve it as a special."
"I'd love to help, but..." Clover shakes the edge of her dress, "I don't have hands, or paws, or even tentacles. Maybe you could tape a knife to my horn?"

Clover looks down and notices something. "Wait, am I made out of linen? That cheapskate! I was silk before I came here!"
At the very least, he knew he’d likely never confuse her with another of the species. He gave her a wave and a smile, followed by a simple, “Thank you.”
[[plz pretend Kimiko was polite and offered a "you're welcome" in return, don't wanna go and retcon old posts, but didn't wanna ignore this either <3 ]]

Kimiko watched the machoke sprint out of the bar. Drunk, probably. Even so... being vague about their party's origin was probably smart. They didn't need to provide any support to the machoke's 'psychic war' claim, even unintentionally. Thankfully, it seemed at least the treecko was in agreement. The oshawott... well, at least the treecko dodged the topic.

Did... did Gerome want them all to cook something? Only the oshawott (she really needed to learn everyone's names at some point...) had offered that. Not that Kimiko felt she was incapable, but it wasn't high on her skill list, either.

Especially as distracted as she was. Gerome suggested looking around town for the others... perhaps they'd already moved on? She made to turn her head to the door... and spotted a shuppet, curled in the arms of the sleeping granbull. A chill went down Kimiko's spine, despite the heat. The ghost hadn't been there the whole time, had she??

Focus, she chided herself. It's one ghost.

She turned back to Gerome, hoping to keep her mind occupied. She took a breath and tried to keep her voice level. "So... what was that about? The, uh, Psychic War thing?"

Perhaps it was a silly thing to focus on, but as of yet they had absolutely no idea what they were supposed to be here to help with... might as well inquire, just to be safe.
She made to turn her head to the door... and spotted a shuppet, curled in the arms of the sleeping granbull. A chill went down Kimiko's spine, despite the heat. The ghost hadn't been there the whole time, had she??

Focus, she chided herself. It's one ghost.

Clover felt a little spike of anxiety from the Snivy. It wasn't uncommon for Pokémon to be startled by a ghost being out in the open, but this felt like maybe there was a deeper reason. And she used to be a Trainer. Maybe she just met a bad one sometime. All those ghosts making people miserable, it was mean!

Well, Clover was comfy where she was, and silliness might make the Snivy run off into the sunset.

"If you're cold, maybe you need some sun! You'd probably feel better. You too, Treecko! You might be less mopey if you had some energy!"

That should do it. A little friendliness with a clear escape route, and pulling someone else in so she wasn't singled out.

Speaking of energy, this old saloon had plenty of world-weary Pokémon for her to suck up their cares. She could last here for months before having to move on, and that wasn't counting the storms of fear and sadness she felt in some of her teammates.
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"Don't... pay attention to anything Dayle says. He thinks the world is always two days away from ending for one reason or another, and that only because of... heroes in the dark, or whatever, does it keep getting saved." Gerome sighed lowly. The ground shook when he did. "There's nothing to it. No Psychic War. In a couple days, he's gonna talk about how the Dragon Nomads are going to scour the town for pure female Pokemon and leave everyone in town alone and wifeless."

He sighed.

"Not sure why he keeps bringing that one up."

"It sounds more like he takes his personal nightmares too seriously," Mhynt muttered, though she then offered a skeptical glance to Clover. "...Mopey," she said flatly.
Why did everything feel so... large, to Eco? There were many thoughts that had immediately crossed her mind upon being spawned in this foreign location, but that question was her first fleeting thought amidst the confusion.

Groggy, Eco slowly panned her eyes over the room, attempting to take in the scenario that sat all below her. Something about wives and conspiracies, she couldn't care less about whatever that was. She supposed it wouldn't hurt to ask some questions, though. Time to fly down, as any Vikavolt would do.

...Except for the fact that she couldn't. At all. She felt not a pair of wings adorning her back, but instead, nothing. And the mandibles in front of her were nothing like a Vikavolt's, too. They were much shorter and lacked the distinct coloring of a Vikavolt's. She quickly drew to a dreadful conclusion — and it was something that felt something straight out of a nightmare.

She took a sharp turn towards the clean glasses that sat at her side, and immediately, she could feel her heart racing at the sight before her. There, instead of the reflection of a Vikavolt, was nothing more than a small, petite Grubbin. She felt stress seeping into her mind, and an overpowering feeling of feebleness that she could not discard.

Eco was weak and feeble, and this was not a dream, because everything felt too real to be one. She hated it. Every single bit of it, and she couldn't help but cry out to the new foreign world that all lay before her. A reflection of the mess of thoughts that gathered in her mind.

"...Are you kidding me?"
He hadn’t noticed the Shuppet, originally. He assumed she was one of their group, there’d been so many people at that nexus place he doubted he could’ve committed all of them to memory even if he’d wanted to. The Oshawott gave the small ghost a concerned look when she shoved herself into the arms of the sleeping Granbull, but, well, at least she seemed to be enjoying herself. Best to let her have her fun. So he turned his focus back to the Tyranitar.

“People do like to name things… Ambitiously,” he hummed. Seemed the others weren’t very interested in playing along with Archie’s gambit. Refusing to answer simple questions was a great way to pile suspicion on yourself. Or at least he thought so. Still, the only person he could control was himself. Better not to stress about what was beyond his means. “I’ll have to see what you’ve got, ingredients-wise, but cooking for a crowd shouldn’t be too big a problem.”

Archie couldn’t help but chuckle at the Shuppet suggesting the Snivy and ‘mopey’ Treecko should go get some sunlight. And, certainly, it wasn’t the worst idea. He remembered how Spencer would always seem bursting with energy when the sun shone, only to get more pensive and sedate when the rains came. “She’s right, you know. It’s important Grass Types get enough sun. Why don’t I get started in the kitchen while you two take a walk? You can join me when you’re done.”

To be honest, he’d completely forgotten the Grubbin was there until they spoke. He gave Gerome a slightly embarrassed grin, before asking “Uh, could you help them down?”
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