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Frontier Town The Wanderin' Zera

"Oh." Floinsa's frills seemed to shrink in disappointment. "That's a shame. I always wondered if demon blood had a different taste to it."

Gerome chuckled, actually chuckled, in response. "She has a fighting spirit in her," he remarked. "Don't mind it. She's a real fighter when she wants to."

Floinsa giggled. "Well, I also love gardening."

"Hello, Wes," Lucis greeted. "I am Lucis, the greatest inventor in the world! ...In training. Watch!"

From a little pouch by his hip, the little Helioptile produced what appeared to be a miniature gun for his size.

Which he then aimed at Wes, approximately toward his forehead. "Now, hold still!"
“Taste?” Wes threw her a baffled look, all thoughts of manners and first impressions out the window. “You make it a habit of tasting people’s blood, or something?”

Wes then blinked at Lucis’s bold greeting—the kid was clearly unbothered by Wes’s bluntness, which was nice—and was about to return it when suddenly Lucis had a godsdamn gun pointed at his head.

Wes froze, wondering if he should actually be ducking under the counter instead. “What—what in the hell are you doing?”

Insane. All of them were insane. He didn’t know why, but he’d sort of expected Gerome’s family to be somewhat normal. It was a hell of a way to be proven wrong.
"I heard that you had some demon encounters," Floinsa added, leaning forward with interest after Gerome served them all their drinks

The question caught Kimiko off guard and left her blinking at the heliolisk. "Er... I've only had one encounter, and I don't remember if we even drew blood from it... but I can tell you for sure that my own is red..."

She had no idea what to make of the concept of tasting it, though. And she didn't really get an opportunity to ask...

“Name’s Wes. By the way. If you wanted to know.”

...because a presence appeared at her side. Her head shot around as the lycanroc crept up next to her, first in surprise, then settled into something more cordial. "Wes? Oh gods, I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you! Congrats on evolving! You'll have to tell me that story some time."

Which he then aimed at Wes, approximately toward his forehead. "Now, hold still!"

Well, this situation had certainly gone from zero to sixty in a flash. Neither Floinsa nor Gerome reacted to the little gun-like object, so Kimiko figured it was harmless. Probably.

"What do you call this one?" Kimiko asked the little helioptile, giving Wes a pat on the back with a vine, that she meant to be reassuring. Unlike Grace, he apparently hadn't had much experience with children.

It was, indeed, a gun. And it fired straight at Wes... at first. He was sure the muzzle was pointed precisely at him. And yet, all Wes felt was an intimidating gust of wind to his left cheek, a bit of fur and rock harmlessly nicked. The bullet itself embedded itself into the dirt a few feet behind him.

"Ha! Perfection!" Lucis declared. "It is my Homing Intimidating Shot Pistol!" And so came another babble... "It fires precisely next to the body, making sure to get a bit of fur or some other distant piece of the person, meant to intimidate someone without any legal liability perfectly! Once it goes through standard testing procedures, at least. Thank you for being a part of it!"
And just like that, Kimiko went from being impressed to juuuust a little bit terrified.

The 'Homing Intimidating Shot Pistol' was somewhat impressive, despite that. How did it work? Was it able to pick up on the aura of the target and swerve out of the way? Gods forbid the thing broke somehow, though... She sent a now-more-concerned sideways glance at Wes before turning her attention on Floinsa for... well, any sign of a reaction. Somehow, she wasn't expecting one.

Regardless, she'd once again address Lucis. "That must have taken some very... fine tuning! Good job. What, uh... what else have you got?"

Okay, perhaps asking to see another device wasn't the smartest idea - she was suddenly kind of concerned over the shockingly escalating hazard risk - but in the moment, she just... wanted him to put the gun down.

Wes’s entire body jolted, then a stream of involuntary curses flew from his mouth. At least half the words had to be wildly inappropriate for a kid this age to hear—maybe. Probably. Wasn’t like Wes had any idea of what was normal or not, but he found he didn’t care either, because what was definitely not normal was pointing a gun in someone’s face and then pulling the damn trigger, gods in a scorching goblet—

“Word of advice, kid,” Wes said tersely, hoping the adrenaline rush wasn’t evidence in his voice, “Don’t go around pulling that shit on strangers. Won’t make you many friends.”
"Friends don't help you with inventions!" Lucis explained promptly. "And I'm hardly a kid anymore. I'm at least a teenager, even if I may be very small!" But to Kimiko, he sighed and said, "Unfortunately, I was not able to bring most of my supplies here, and the rest of what I have is for later."

Gerome and Floinsa both did not seem to react to Lucis' antics beyond Gerome saying, "Mm, just be careful with those bullets. Looks like you've been doin' real well with those inventions."
For later, huh? Kimiko wondered what that was supposed to mean. Gerome, at least, gave him a soft reminder to be cautious.

"So, what got you into inventing things?" she asked instead. It was always good to encourage young ones and express interest in their hobbies. Even if this one was - supposedly - in his teens.
"My natural talents, of course!" Lucis said. "My body naturally makes metals react to me... Enchanting them instantly! So expensive, yet trivial for me. The sheer opportunity to learn how it all works..."

Gerome hummed, nodding. "He's got a bit of talent to him. And the brains for an inventor, too. The perfect storm, and who are we gonna be t' stop him from learnin' what he's got? Be as wrong as tellin' a bird not t' fly."
"Well, I admire your passion, Lucis!" Kimiko said, beaming at the young helioptile. She also admired Gerome's patience, but she wouldn't say that aloud. "You keep this up and you'll be famous some day for sure!"

She turned to Floinsa. "So, have you, uh... met many 'demons' recently?"
"Not a one," Floinsa said. "Which is why I was so curious to meet one, but, ahh... I suppose today won't be the day." She shook her head somberly, then giggled. "I want to... fight one. I want to see how strong they are..." Her frills sparked with energy. There was a crazed look in her eyes.

Gerome chuckled like this was normal. "One day, dear."

This was Gerome's normal life.
Grace wasn't sure where demons came in during all this, but she wasn't going to comment on it! Gerome's family looked happy, and her own wasn't all that 'normal,' either. "Where'd you hear about demons from?" she asked.

Lucis' inventions were surely going to make waves at some point... even if they were a little quirky, Grace supposed that they had their uses.
"Gerome, some words on the wind," Floinsa said idly, leaning left and right. "Real talk of the town, you know. A blight on the countryside! Pokemon going missing, possibly killed, attacks, strange auras... Isn't it exciting?!"

"Hmph, well, it's a problem for a lot of us. Hopefully, run into one, yer strong enough t' fend it off," Gerome remarked.

"Oh, and don't worry. If I run into a Charmeleon demon, I'll make sure to only restrain it!" Floinsa giggled. "I wonder if they scream any differently..."
Wes was so intent on making sure Lucis stowed his way-too-realistic-fake gun away, he was barely paying any attention to whatever the hell Floinsa was saying. But at the mention of a Charmeleon, his eyes snapped up to meet hers.

“What?” he said a little more bluntly than intended. “What did you say? What do you know about a Shadow Charmeleon?”
"Oh, from Gerome," Floinsa explained. "Like I said, I don't know much at all about things you're going through. I'd love to help, though. I'm a lot stronger than I look!"

Gerome nodded sagely. "Strength runs in the family. Even Lucis, young as he is, can pack a mean jolt of electricity."

Lucis nodded. "...Right, well, it was very nice to meet you," he said, "but I have to go somewhere soon, too."

"Ah, right." Gerome nodded. "Hope you get a good sale, Lucis."

"Mm. I will. My inventions are the best in the world!" He started to pack his things.
"It's been lovely meeting you, Lucis!, And you, Floinsa," Kimiko said, looking at each of them in turn. "I expect we'll meet again some time. Gerome's been lovely since I've arrived in town, and I hang around here a lot. I'm quite fond of it."

For a moment, she considered an offer to talk to Floinsa more about demons and the ones they'd encountered... but really, Kimiko didn't need more of that in her life. Besides, just because Gerome was stoic didn't mean he approved.
Wes had no clue what to make of Floinsa whatsoever, and after a moment’s consideration, he decided he was too damn tired to even try. Lucis at least made some sense; overeager genius with no regard for social niceties wasn’t exactly reassuring, but it was easier to follow than…whatever Floinsa’s fixation seemed to be. Did she truly just want a good fight, or was there more to it than that? Or was Wes just being needlessly paranoid?

“Trust me, you don’t want to fight a…a demon, or Shadow, or whatever you call them,” he said resignedly. “The after effects aren’t exactly pleasant.”

He doubted that would be enough to dissuade her, but hopefully she’d at least give it more consideration after hearing that.
Floinsa giggled and nodded. "I'm sure, I'm sure. I'll be careful."

It was impossible to tell if that was genuine or not.

Gerome, meanwhile, went back to cleaning cups with a little smile on his face. They'd finally met his family.

And in many ways, they were just as normal as he was.

[Ch04] Nova & Silver ~ But could we be heroes?
(Note: Takes place after Nova and Mhynt bring Fein to the coroner, but before he meets Grace by the bulletin board. And before his evolution scene.)

The meeting with Lucien had gone... decently enough, as far as Nova was concerned. Though the null underestimated how much carrying that body around would tire him out. He blamed the lack of sleep, between fighting Seth and Powehi's lucid dream. Not to mention that weird irritation in the back of his head. Mhynt said a chunk of his mask had broken, but Nova couldn't see it. Yet the irritation had gotten worse as the day went on.

Nova decided to head for one of the bars. Apparently some of the group like the Wandering Zera. Nova didn't need booze for irritation. He figured persim juice could help both with the thirst and the weird sensation. It had to be more mental than anything, right?

He purchased a glass, then took it to an empty table against the wall. Nova sat facing the door. Something he always tried to do when forced indoors.
Finally, the Wanderin' Zera! Silver marched toward the desk, his fur and tattered poncho covered in a fine veil of sand and pebbles, ignoring the trail left behind with his hurried steps. He ordered the usual cold glass of nightshade tea, wishing to relieve both the thirst and the burning muscles.

While he waited for his order, he flicked some of the tiny pebbles stuck to his fur, grumbling sourly as he did so. Of all the things that could happen while training and sharpening his claws, why did he have to punch the wrong rocky spot and earn the ire of those Sandstorm-carrying feral 'mons? At least his Fighting aura protected him from those Rock-imbued moves, but darn it! Being forced to interrupt his training session prematurely was still annoying as heck!

"...Hmph, whatever! I'll train harder and make up for the lost time tomorrow," he muttered to himself, trying to not let the change of plans get to him. But what else could he do before getting back to work? Hmm...

The faint thump of glass on wood got his attention, and Silver grabbed his drink while mumbling a small thanks. He looked around to look for a seat, but all he could find was an empty spot by Nova. The now-Sneasel tilted his head curiously. He never fancied the chimera as some bar-goer. With a shrug, he headed toward his table. Try to be more friendly, Silver!

"Hey. Mind if I join?" he asked once he was within earshot, motioning toward the seat with his head.
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