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Frontier Town The Wanderin' Zera

Odette nodded. "I can do that. Virgin leppa cider."

Her face fell again. "Virgin means non-alcoholic, just a little bar trivia for you in case you didn't know, I wasn't--"

Another breath. Another deep, long breath. She opted to just focus back on the main topic at hand instead of continually digging herself into the hole that was this sudden side conversation.

"That doesn't shock me, if I'm going to be honest with you," she said. "Whether we want to acknowledge how creepy it is or not, those moves are powerful. My only reservation is how shadow might match up with shadow. Shadow moves clearly ignore all matchups between regular typing, but does that apply when its turned on itself? Something to test, but I'm not exactly sure how without..." she trailed off at the thought, realizing what she was going to say. She shook her head. "We'd need to get stronger with it first, though. Start with basics and work up to the complicated."

Cutting her gaze back to Koa, she studied him for a beat before sighing. "I'm no stranger to discovering a new type category and having to learn to utilize it. It's scary either way you look at it, and it's certainly not something that happens overnight. Especially when you're talking about something that seems so inherently...dark."

While she was speaking to Koa, it was hard for her to tell whether she was saying it for his sake, or hers.

"But dark doesn't necessarily mean bad. It more matters what you want to do with it. And more importantly, who's using it."
Koa chuckled lightly at Odette's awkward explanation. "I had no idea," he said teasingly, then listened intently as she continued to speak, thinking back to everything Alex had said, and how they'd used attacks on him. "I think that shadow isn't really effective against itself. Or at least, it didn't seem to do much against Alex... And he mentioned that the way to resist shadows is to wield them." It was more hypothesis than concrete but he supposed they could try and test it soon.

Her final words still swirled through his mind. It was about who was using it. Just like catching a legendary. It was about who was doing it. And what they wanted to do. And you really think someone like you can do it right?

"But yeah you're right. If they are organic, then the shadows are a power. We can use them to do good, or at least protect ourselves from getting corrupted." Saying the words out loud brought a small spark of hope back to him. He had to believe it was true. With or without Alex, they could learn to use the power for good.

If there was one thing he did know, it was that running or hiding or hoping it blew over wouldn't do any good. It would only give evil more space to act.

"We have to," he added emphatically. I have to.
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Right, from what Koa had said, Alex had had them use the power against him…but he was a self-proclaimed offworlder and not anything like the drapion they’d fought. Would it prove different against something feral? She assumed not but she wanted to test all her theories if she could.

“So maybe we’re looking at wielding Shadows for resistance and this Radiance stuff to fight back,” she mused under her breath. “If we can even get ahold of Radiance, which is a whole other can of worms…”

Shaking her head, she huffed again. “Bottom line is, as long as it’s in good hands, I don’t imagine Shadow powers could do us harm. It might just take us some getting used to. But I won’t subscribe to any concrete view until I see it or use it for myself.”

Her beak crinkled in disdain for a moment. “And maybe if I see Alex again I can pick up on whether or not he’s telling the truth about what he says. I could tell in our first meeting he was lying about something, so maybe I’ll have similar luck.”

Time would only tell how that meeting would go, but at least she’d have something to think about until then. However…

“One more question,” she said. “Just because I’m morbidly curious. He unchained his second head, right? Did it do anything particularly weird? Anything of note aside from the obvious?”
Anything weird? He thought back to their encounter. "I think maybe Xander has something to do with how he controls his shadow?" Koa ventured. "I'm not sure. When he untied it, it spoke in a different voice. Archie thought he might be the shadow voice we've heard in our dreams but I don't know." He felt like he'd been saying that far too much lately. The more he tried to find out the less he felt like he understood anything.

"But it almost looked like... Like he channeled all of his shadows into that head. Or the shadows were coming from that head." He shuddered at the memory of how Xander had spoken.

"If the team does decide to meet with him we should be careful. He's strong, and he knows a lot about shadows."
Wouldn’t that be fucking special, Odette thought. The voice out of Alex’s second head being Beelzebub? If that ended up being that case, she’d probably put her own head through a wall. But, truthfully, she’d sooner believe Beelzebub was actually the natural source of Shadow—whoever or whatever that ended up being. But without any evidence, she couldn’t say for sure.

She visibly perked up when Koa mentioned that Alex had seemingly channeled the Shadow into his second head. Somehow that made sense and felt smart, even. If Shadow came from the negative, or was somehow tied to strong negative feelings, then channeling it into the head that embodied her biggest negative emotion yet might work in her favor.

“Noted,” she said, nodding slowly. She didn’t want to undermine whatever Koa had seen that spooked him so with her incessant ramblings on channeling Shadow into secondary heads and whatnot. She decided to just leave it at that.

“Well, thank you for telling me this. Regardless of what the rest of the team does, I’ll be there to meet him with you. And we’ll figure out how to proceed from there. In the meantime, I just want you to be more conscious of any fuckheads you might run into. There’s certainly going to be more where he come from.”

There, she popped a half-smile. “But in the meantime, how about that leppa cider?”
Too bad he didn't have a second head... When (not if) the time came, would he be able to control it? You'll spoil everything, like always. It's just a tool, he reminded himself. Like legendary pokemon? A force he could use to try and help, to do good. Like Odette said, dark didn't have to mean bad.

He bowed his head and nodded at Odette's words. "I will be careful," he said somberly. His gaze was serious, and his tone mixed with bitterness and an apologetic regret. "I'd gotten so caught up in wanting to help the team I didn't think through all the angles before. But I don't intead to repeat that mistake." No more trying to go off alone, and no more trusting anyone blindly - even Betel or his team. Not because they were ill intentioned, but they weren't infallible. Even him.

Only a few moments after he'd finished speaking, a waiter came over with their drinks. Koa was all too pleased for the distraction.

He picked up his mug, blowing on it before taking a few sips. He savored the sweet spiced flavor. For some reason, he could believe for just a few moments everything would be okay. That whatever the team would face, they could figure out how to overcome it, and they could save Forlas.

As he stared at the mug in his paw again, his mind wandered, momentarily fixating on the way he could hold an object just by focusing. Somehow. Anubis definitely couldn't do that. Maybe it was an aura thing... "So do pokemon your world have this weird uh... object holding power?" he asked, grinning.

Odette's response ended up spurring the conversation in a lighter direction with Odette and him swapping trainer stories from back home, and enjoying the drinks. At least whatever lay ahead, he was glad to have had the chance to talk to a friend.

Ch04: Gerome's Family
The atmosphere in The Wanderin' Zera was a little different today.

It was full of people as usual in this afternoon lunch rush, but it was starting to clear out. Dayle was in the corner muttering about some new conspiracy about how the Shadow Pokemon were actually the wrathful damned returning to get their dues.

But the real oddity was that Gerome seemed to be... visibly happier than usual. His steps were a little springier and he had a lot less to say in the way of snark and dry commentary. And that meant something was wrong... especially after the explosion at the jail. Surely, he'd be more serious, and yet...
After their search sprung up nothing, Grace heaved a sigh and walked into Gerome's bar. She'd promised to come here when it seemed like the jailbreak pursuit turned up nothing.

Besides, Gerome's current visitors had her attention and curiosity. What was Gerome's wife like...?

"Um, hi, Gerome!" Grace chirped, waving a paw. "I'm alive! Oh, and Koa is too, the electrike that was with me. Didn't find anything, though..."
The Zera was always a nice place to come when Kimiko needed a change in atmosphere. Sun Stone was great, but every so often it could feel stuffy, and the Zera offered a bit of fresh air, so long as one could ignore whatever Dayle was rambling about on any given day. Plus, the food was good.

She usually kept to herself; Sonora was busy working and they'd exchanged greetings, but never really had a proper conversation. The same could be said of Gerome. Since their initial meeting, in which Kimiko still felt some gratitude for, she'd stopped trying to pry information out of the tyranitar, regardless of nature.

But she'd been a regular long enough to notice when something was off. He seemed to be a 'mon of few words, but today he seemed even more... she couldn't quite place it. It as like he was bubbly, couldn't sit still. Maybe it was the unfamiliar togetic chatting with him? They were supposed to be... 'filled with happiness' or something, right?

Well, she could probably use some happiness herself anyway.

She plopped herself on a seat at the counter, just in time to hear the trail end of the togetic's words. She sent the togetic a curious glance before shifting it towards Gerome. "I'd heard you went to check on that explsion for yourself. Not often you leave the bar. Everything alright?"

Not that she expected a whole lot out of him. She'd heard about Voclain's escape and the missing drapion. That certainly hadn't been pleasant news. Naturally, some of their group had gone to check it out, but... well, what exactly would Gerome have been concerned over? There was some reason he'd gone to see for himself...
Gerome's expression hardened like it was a reflex. "Hmm? Mm. Was just fine, just checkin' out the place... Don't get explosions all to often, y'know." He grabbed a glass from the shelf. "Lookin' for a drink?"

He eyed the Togetic and got a much, much smaller glass next.

"...Guess I'm just a little protective since the missus and mini is here." His head jerked to the left, where there was a small booth to the side that seemed to be for private conversations. It seemed to be in use.

"My break's soon. Might go introduce ya. No harm... The li'l'un was interested in you guys anyway."

Just then, someone emerged from that booth... And, really, the Wayfarers wouldn't have known what to expect.

Emerging from the booth was a Heliolisk with bright eyes and a big smile. She stood at about low-belly height. She wore a little floral bracelet around her right wrist with a little white stone dangling from it. Just behind her was a tiny, tiny Helioptile who didn't even reach Gerome's knees. He had goggles above his eyes, strapped to his head, and rather than look at any of them, he had his claws tinkering with some kind of... metal sphere about the size of a large marble.

"Oh!" said Heliolisk, her voice high-pitched and friendly. "You must be the Wayfarers! Gerome told me about you. My name is Floinsa! So happy to finally meet you! Come on, Lucis, say hello!"

Lucis' brow was furrowed. "Hello," he murmured on command. He had no idea they were there and slipped his goggles on, which suddenly started to glow and lengthen while he tinkered with the ball some more. Doing... something.
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Grace let out a small squee, then remembered where she was and who she was talking to, and quickly covered her mouth to stifle it. Once she recovered, she cleared her throat. "Don't worry, I'm not here for trouble, just making sure things are okay!"

And looking at Lucis, she couldn't fight the sudden wave of homesickness.

"Nice to meet you both!" she chirped, holding out a paw and flapping her wings to be at a better height with Floinsa. "I can sense that you both make Gerome super happy!"
"Most people I know don't tend to run towards explosions," Kimiko countered casually, but then thought about the collection of Wayfarers. "Well... most people I've known for longer than a month, anyway."

She shrugged. "A drink sounds lovely, yeah. In the mood for something sweet, I think. Surprise me."

And she got a surprise all right, but not the drink she'd expected. She wasn't sure if she'd known Gerome had a family before (only that Dayle didn't have a wife). But sure enough, the heliolisk who emerged from the indicated booth all but confirmed it.

My name is Floinsa! So happy to finally meet you! Come on, Lucis, say hello!"

"Kimiko," the snivy replied. "Pleasure to meet you! That's a lovely bracelet."

She turned to the helioptile behind her, wearing goggles and fiddling with... some kind of marble? Was the kid some kind of inventor? "Good to meet you too, kiddo. What's that you've got there?"
As if on cue, that was when he made one last tap to the marble from his angle--supposedly toying with something inside--and said, "Yes!"

The marble expanded to nearly twice its diameter. A circular hole appeared on the top of the marble and out came a little rod that split into four propellers. Each one started spinning... faster and faster... and the whole thing began to float in the air.

"Ohh, Lucis! What did you make this time?" Floinsa said excitedly.

"I call it the Powerful Disruptor Drone!" Lucis said as the done drifted idly toward Gerome. Closer and closer... "It seeks out the strongest person in the room, based on their energy signature of course, and... collides into them!"

The drone bumped into Gerome's cheek. Again... and again... and again... drifted to his spike...

It didn't seem to do anything otherwise but Lucis looked ecstatic behind his goggles.
"That's quite impressive," Kimiko said with appropriate enthusiasm for addressing a child. In truth, she was impressed the kid designed and built the device on his own (so she assumed, anyway). Nor did she have a single shred of doubt that Gerome was the strongest 'mon in the room at present, with no offense to Sonora.

As for the device's function, however... she was a bit lost. Gerome certainly didn't appear annoyed by the tiny device thumping him, but it didn't seem to be... hindering him in any way, either.

"Why do you call it a 'disruptor' drone?" she prompted curiously.
Grace stared at the drone, then giggled. "I think it crashing into them is the disrupting part!" she said. "I think its a neat little invention!"
"Yes! Yes! Togetic understands!" Lucis said enthusiastically. "If you're trying to find the strongest person in the room, this drone will immediately get in their way and distract them!"

Plink. Plink. Plink.

"It's another one of my genius inventions, right next to the full-body mood colorizer!"
"Ah, just call me Grace!" she said, forgetting that she didn't properly introduce herself. "Does the full-body mood colourizer change our colours to reflect our mood? Ooh, I wonder if I'd be cute in the colour happy!"
Kimiko looked between Grace and Lucis with a grin. The togetic knew how to handle kids, that much was certain, and Kimiko liked to think she knew a thing or two about that from raising her younger sister.

Grace asked a question that Kimiko herself had been wondering, so she remained silent to her the answer, wondering if perhaps there could be a practical use for such a device...

Of course, assuming it did indeed work.
"Well, let's find out if you ever visit Novelux! I wasn't allowed to bring it with me..." Lucis sighed.

Floinsa giggled. "Oh, my little boy... Grows up so fast. He's one of the leading inventors of Novelux, you know! A real talent!"

"Mm." Gerome nodded as the drone withdrew and returned to Lucis' little hands. "Felt like it was a fine time for them to visit. Wanted to make sure nothin' unusual was goin' on there... So far, all good."

"I heard that you had some demon encounters," Floinsa added, leaning forward with interest after Gerome served them all their drinks. "Tell me... what color was their blood?" A perfectly normal question. Gerome didn't seem fazed.
Wes sat at the bar with his usual order, that one sweet beverage he’d had on his first day here. He’d never actually gotten the name—Gerome seemed to know that this was his favorite and now prepared it without Wes even needing to ask. He appreciated it, in a way; it saved him the embarrassment of having to name the sweet drink out loud, in case it was called something stupid like “Sweet Razzle Dazzle” or something equally awful for a frilly drink.

It was his frilly drink, dammit, but that didn’t mean anybody else needed to know.

He’d been content to keep to himself, simply nodding to Kimiko as she came in and sat beside a very lively Togepi, but then Wes caught the word “explosion” and, well. That sure got his attention. Before he could ask about it, though, Gerome had brought in a few mon from the back and was chatting happily with Kimiko and her companion.

Gerome. Chatting. Happily. Yeah, something was definitely weird.

Wes cleared his throat and scooted over until he was beside Kimiko, not quite sure how to enter the conversation, but giving it his best shot anyway. “Sorry to interrupt, but, uh—”

He was distracted by a little whizzy thing flying into the young reptilian mon’s claws. And then the older mon, presumably his mother, asked possibly the weirdest question of all time. “You—what?”

Gerome seemed utterly unbothered by this mon—his wife?—asking something so out of pocket, and Wes, not sure what else to say, simply blurted out a reply. “Their blood’s normal, as far as I’ve seen. Red like ours. But why’d you want to know about it?”

He paused when all eyes turned to him. He coughed and added, “Name’s Wes. By the way. If you wanted to know.”
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