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Frontier Town The Wanderin' Zera

Gerome sighed, looking at the bar's patrons. Most were distracted or not within earshot. Nobody important.

"Yeah," he said. "I learned a little about him. Figure his daughter's gonna do just fine... Worried about 'er, though." He set the glass down and pushed it back onto the shelf. "Kept those guys off me, that Jesse. Decided I'd keep a low profile after that. Keep my wife and kid safe. In return, when those folks came askin' me like I'm a normal barkeep... pointed 'em in the wrong direction."

He grabbed another used glass from the bar and started cleaning it.

"Can't say I know where he is now, though."
He glanced back at Grace so as not to leave her totally lost. “Jesse Stranger, former sheriff, human-turned-Delphox, left town five years ago, had a daughter with the chief of the Escarpa Clan who’s also missing and possibly being chased down by a group of human supremacist pricks.”
Grace blinked at Dave for a moment, then collected herself. "Oh... well, shouldn't we deal with the group before we go looking for them?" she asked quietly. "I'd want to make sure that we don't lead the group to them, or put them in more danger by finding them too soon..."

Then she watched Gerome for a moment. "I'm glad your family is safe, though," she said to him.
"Mm." Gerome offered a simple nod in reply. "That Jesse and his kid, they'll turn up when you come across 'em. Chasin' down, investigatin' the same folks... Yeah. You'll cross paths."
Well, at least she immediately had the right idea about racial supremacy organizations. He raised an eyebrow. “Well, yeah, we want to deal with that group. This guy Stranger seemed to have had run-ins with them and was trying to fight them. That’s why I’m asking Gerome if he learned anything.”

Speaking of, the big guy seemed to have missed his drink order. He nudged his coins further towards Gerome on the counter, for good measure.

He looked around for whether anyone seemed to be listening in and lowered his voice. “We met with one of them the other day. Wanted to work together on research into people like that Charmander, who’ve been going missing and then showing up, frenzied, attacking people. Not exactly a huge fan of helping these dipshits with anything, but on the other hand people up in Blaguarro are getting fucking abducted and murdered.”
"Mm." Gerome finally took the coins and started to make the drink, putting a modest amount of alcohol in it this time. However, Dave, by now, knew that this was deceptively enough for his new body, tragically enough.

"So, basically," Gerome went on, "you're decidin' between try'na go solo against them... or maybe cooperating until this Shadow stuff is dealt with?" he clarified. "If y'want my opinion, any cooperation should be coincidental."
Grace tapped her non-existant chin in thought. "I know I'm not particularly caught up, but I do think we shouldn't try to give any impression about what 'side' we're on so soon," she said worriedly. "If others catch wind of our team siding with some unsavoury folks because it was convenient at the time, it might get difficult to, um, convince them we're not with them. I don't think a few nice words or a party will be enough if they're already angry at us..."

Shadow Pokemon? A cult? Stars, she'll have some catching up to do later.
"Mm. Keepin' neutral is the safe route... until things get dicey. You'll have to pick a side one day," Gerome warned. "Ev'n if it's gonna be a side you carve yourself. Just make sure you got the strength to back that up when the time comes."
She nodded, though her whole body moved with her. At least it was getting easier to drink. "Are there other sides we should worry about? Maybe it  would be safer to carve our own alliance with the folks we can trust..."
“Nobody’s talking about siding with these assholes, just holding their noses while we use their info to stop people from getting mauled and zombified. Not a huge fan of sitting there rejecting information that could save lives, either. It’s not about helping them, it’s helping the people who are getting attacked.”

Dave took a sip of the cactus whiskey and shuddered at the taste. As fucking advertised.

“As for sides, let’s see. Apparently there’s an organization called the Vanguard that’s fighting against those pricks, who challenged some of us to a battle the other day but didn’t offer any help. And the guy we talked to seemed convinced this outlaw called The Wolf is behind the Shadow Pokémon. We investigated up in Blaguarro and found out how and where people are getting kidnapped. No sign of The Wolf. Guy thought he was a former human and that he’s a Shadow Pokémon himself.”
"The Wolf, eh?" Gerome echoed. "Can't say I heard too much information about that one, but I'll keep an ear out for it, sure. Lots of conversations you hear at a bar."

He eyed Dave. Despite his stony face, there was a hint of amusement in his tone. "Want some Pecha juice to cut it?"
"Fuck no. I ordered this to forget about the nearly being mauled to death last night, remember?" He took another emphatic chug from the glass, throat burning, and the stuff successfully expelled every thought out of his head. Practically cleansing. "God. Fuck."

He coughed, eyeing Gerome again. "You hear anything about this Vanguard organization?"
"Mmff... can't say I know anything definitive. Just rumors that they're a bundle of troublemakers... and not in the cute way, either. But I dunno how true that really is." Gerome nodded. "All rumors from people out east. So, not exactly a common story around these parts."
"I don't have much information myself," Grace murmured, sounding a bit lost. "I was just on a scouting mission from that bulletin board, but I definitely should have stuck around, I think was an error on my part..."

She gave Dave a wry smile. "I'm sorry Dave, I'll make it up to you, and everyone else I came here with-- I'll do my best from here on out!"
Dave squinted at her. "The fuck are you sorry for? Not being here? Not like we're some kind of military organization that's going to try you for desertion. You're free to do what you want. Nobody stopping you. Or you can join in with our bullshit and get fucked up by more frenzied killing machines."

Another healthy sip of the glass "Ugh."

He supposed it didn't say much that people in the east thought the Vanguard were troublemakers. Why wouldn't they, when every civil rights movement ever got painted as a nuisance. Could be a bunch of weirdos or a bastion of sanity, who knew.

"Don't suppose you've heard anything about Shadow Pokémon, or about a power called Radiance? Someone called the Wandering Light?"
She tried not to flinch, perhaps not expecting his abrasiveness, but Grace was quick to brush it off. She had a friend back home that was rough around the edges, maybe Dave was like that?

Shadow Pokémon... Radiance? For some bizarre reason, something sounded familiar about those, but why? Those terms meant nothing to her home. Mmm... maybe she'd heard them while scouting?

"Regardless... it does seem like I have a lot to catch up on! I came here for a reason. I just want to make sure I'm pulling my weight is all."
Gerome shook his head. "Can't say I know a whole lot about either of those, but... mm. Radiance... You know, I hear that about the sun now and then. But not in the... scientific way. Seems more reverent." He shrugged. "Dunno beyond that, though. Seems religious, and not one I've read up on."
Dave scowled. Radiance had better be real, right? Betel had been very self-assured in saying legendaries existed and had this power, but maybe even if they were real the Radiance bit was just stories. Nolan had put it like it was just fanciful myths.

Grace seemed like the unhealthily chipper sort, but at least she was determined to be helpful. He lifted his glass in her direction. "Well, there's lots to tell, if you're interested. For example, the mayor of Frontier Town was this Empoleon called Ignatius Voclain, real dickweed who was blackmailing half the population and itching to hang people for petty crimes. We went to this gala at his mansion, big fancy thing, beat him up and revealed his crimes like a bunch of kids' superheroes, and then everyone just stood up and fucking clapped. Figuratively speaking. No one bats an eyelash that we physically beat up the mayor." He chuckled, sipping the whiskey. "You, uh. You from a world where that sort of thing happens? Because that sort of thing definitely doesn't happen in mine."
That was when Grace gave Dave a smirk. "Heh, that does sound like something I've done," she said with a chuckle. "One of my friends-- kind of reminds me of you, actually-- his father was trying to prevent our world from changing for the better. We'd just discovered the Fae type, and his efforts were hindering that. Hee was also a bit of a jerk, but my friends and I put him in his place, and then our world was allowed to change."

She finished her drink with a happy sigh. "I supported from the side, kept my friends going, but that doesn't mean my role was any less important."
Dave raised an eyebrow. "Gotta love guys who want to stop the world from getting better. Definitely got those in my world."

Maybe all these talking-Pokémon worlds were just like this. Cartoon logic to go with cartoon biology.

"So if you were discovering a type, are you a natural sciences person?"
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