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Frontier Town The Wanderin' Zera

Judging by the tone of voice, this was Silver.

"Go ahead," Nova said. Though now there was that personal awkwardness of someone else having to see him open the small hatch in his mask to sip at his drink. Nova made sure it happened quickly. "Where'd you run off to after meeting with Lucien? I heard a bunch of people hoofed it to the Escarpas."
Silver nodded a thanks and got himself comfortable in the seat. So far, so good! He brought his glass to his muzzle, but paused when he saw Nova doing… something, and some of the liquid in his glass disappeared. Did it vanish through the mask, or…?

…Better not think too hard about that. Far too many things made little sense as is, and he didn’t need yet another mind-boggling mystery bouncing inside his mind. Silver dismissed what happened with a casual shrug.

“Yeah, they did, but I wasn’t one of ‘em. Far too busy juggling between sparing money, finding more info about Radiance, and trying to track down that Wolf guy.” He huffed and shook his head, appearing displeased with himself. “Unfortunately, I had little luck with the last task, but well! At least I’ve got enough supplies for a long trek, and I’ve been planning to check out the abbey with other folks.”

Silver took a few licks of his tea, his eyes shining in relief as he did so, and shot a curious stare at Nova.

“What about you? Got something interesting to share?”
Silver stared at Nova in dumbstruck, his head feather twitching and his eyes wide. It was a good thing he had put down his glass before that revelation, or he would have been a sputtering mess. Though, he didn’t know whether to be more shocked that the Wolf had been murdered, or that Nova mentioned the event like they were talking about the weather.

“…Ah. The Wolf is… dead.”

Silver blinked slowly, barely believing he had just uttered those words, and licked furiously at his tea. He needed some time to sort through his frantic thoughts… and a much stronger drink, preferably.

What the HELL?! I know they wanted the Wolf dead or alive, but still! Crap, crap, crap… That wasn’t part of the deal, Betel!

“Hmm… Right, huh, okay. One less problem to take care of, then… Good riddance and all that jazz,” he muttered at last, staring blankly at the swirling liquid.

What else could he do or say, anyway? What was done was done, and at least there was one less killer around. That was… good, right?

“And, hmm, what was he plotting when you found him? D’you… find out that, at least?” He tapped absentmindedly on his glass, making it ding rhythmically. “Like, did he smuggle the Shadow Drapion into town, or what?”
Nova expected the initial disbelief. He figured his initial impression that, despite Silver acting like he'd done some underhanded stuff before, he wasn't that hardened.

So his response was quiet. Especially with the mask muffling him. "He was a member of that Cipher group Powehi brought up in the lucid dream." Nova undid the hatch to take another sip of juice. "Ones making shadow 'mon. Coming over here through a portal. He was a zoroark. The Wolf alias was because he was framing the actual lycanroc Powehi mentioned for his crimes. That's all."
As soon as Nova mentioned Cipher, the mindless tapping on the glass ceased. Silver narrowed his eyes, and a soft growl reverberated in his throat, which soon turned into a disgruntled snort. Whatever sympathy or dismay he might have fostered toward the Wolf had faded away.

“Hmph! Cipher… Right, that bunch of losers!” he harrumphed, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, I know ‘bout their whole Shadow Pokémon business. My world had to deal with their messes, too. They aren’t the first nor the only ones who pulled off that kinda stunt, but they sure as heck made the most noise.”

Silver leaned back in his seat and scratched his chin in thought. Something about Nova’s summary picked his interest.

“But hold on! You said that those scumbags created, what, some sorta Stargate to travel to other worlds?” He paused, then began scratching his chin in thought. '…What for? What’re they aiming at? Are they looking for more Pokémon to shadowfy, or…?'

“Well, darn, that’s concerning.” The now-Sneasel huffed and leaned forward once more. “I mean, if they have a technology powerful enough to open a hole across dimensions and did enough damage to get the attention of the literal embodiment of negativity, then who knows what else they could pull off…”
"So, your world has one, too." Nova shifted in place. He glanced at the window out of habit.

Wes' world. Seth's world. Silver's world. Three and counting... and with many other humans on the team. Was this some sort of constant across worlds? Humans with the worst intentions dragging pokémon, and some of their own, down in their pursuit of power?

"I think we're trying to stop their operation before it can seriously spread here," Nova said, still looking out the window. "If they were more ingrained into this world, we'd have been screwed from the get-go." He slowly shook his head. "Shadows aren't inherently the problem, it's the way humans manage to weaponize them in pokémon like me that causes issues."
A quiet sigh escaped Silver’s lips. “Yeah… I know. Some humans truly have unique ways to screw others up and be massive thorns in the butt, huh? Can’t really blame some folks for being pissed at ‘em.”

In his own tirade against human criminals, Silver didn’t register immediately what Nova was implying. But when he got a few extra seconds to digest those words, realization struck him, and his feathers twitched in surprise.

“Hmm?! Wait. So, you… used to be a Shadow Pokémon?”

That explained a few things, like the way Nova didn’t seem fazed when Archie revealed the news about their shadows. Nova was used to that, turned into a Shadow by some criminal humans, and Silver directed some spite their way, whoever they were.

“If you don’t mind me asking… How’s that like? To be a Shadow. I’ve been wondering about that for some time. Trying to pinpoint the symptoms of corruption. And it’s not like I can look for that Drapion and ask directly.” He chortled, flashing a tiny smirk. “Never struck me as a talkative guy, anyway.”
"Not used to." Nova shifted uncomfortably. "Still am." He looked down at his drink. "Back home, anyway."

The null downed the last of the persim juice. "This mask... is what got put on me when my soul was closed off. I'm a homeless wanderer. Trying to get people to give their souls up to Eternatus." He traced a claw around the rim of his glass. "I don't fight back when they attack me. I can't hit them. Just like I can't attack here. Instead they just... lose the will to fight me.

"I'm aware of what I'm doing, but not in control."
Silver winced, his feathers drooping in flusterment and discomfort. He pressed the wrong buttons and accidentally brought up some painful and horrifying memories, didn’t he? While he had no clue what an ‘Eternatus’ was, it sounded like some kind of hellish demon straight out of the darkest corners of the Distortion World, if not worse.

“…Oh. That… That sucks, man.”

As soon as Silver said those words, he mentally facepalmed and cursed his underdeveloped social skills. Was that all he could say?

…No, maybe there was something else he could add. Because Silver knew how it felt like to be trapped, powerless, with no hope or way out.

“I’m… sorry to hear that,” he murmured, tapping his claws together and his gaze downcast. “What they did to you… trapping you within yourself and forcing you to do something against your will… that’s not something I would wish to anyone — not even to my worst enemies.”

Silver exhaled a deep breath, then stared at Nova. “Is there… something that can be done about that? Maybe,” he looked away again, “there could be some way to… fix things before you’re eventually sent back to your world. At least, I hope so.”
Nova shook his head. "I don't think it's reversible." He tipped his glass back and forth on the table. "Before it completely took hold of me, I left a message for my... partner. Told him that if he ever sees me in the future, to do the right thing and take my life. That way, I can't hurt anyone."

And the person trapped with me can get out.
Silver stared intently at Nova, secretly wondering when that discussion had taken such a hopeless turn. He grabbed his own glass and drank the remaining tea in a single go, giving himself just enough seconds to figure out… well, nothing more than a hastily put together answer.

“Hm. Quite the fatalistic mindset you’ve got there,” he said, putting down the glass back on the table. “I suppose your universe must be an extremely unkind one if you must resort to such drastic measures. Can’t say I envy your situation.”

Holding his head in his paws, Silver sighed and gave Nova a faint sympathetic glance. Despite having grown more hopeful while exploring Johto, he couldn’t ignore his most cynical side, constantly reminding him to be realistic with expectations.

“I’m inclined to believe that for every problem there is a solution, but if there really isn’t a way out, well… then make your time in this world worth it. Enjoy the new life and freedom you’ve been offered, no matter how fleeting they might be. It might be very small comfort, but at least it exists.”
"That's... the plan." Nova looked at his warped, fun house reflection in his glass. "If I can make things even just a tiny bit better for someone before I have to leave this place... then maybe it'll all be worth it."
Silver flashed a tiny, neutral smile. “It’ll be worth it. Every small action counts. Alone, they might not seem much, but together they can lead to important changes.”

He stared at his empty glass for a moment, debating asking for another drink, but ultimately opted to push it out of his sight.

“… I hope I’ll be able to leave a positive mark, too. Truthfully, I’m not a hero and I was never one, unlike some people I know who saved regions and defeated criminals and did all those things that goodies-two-shoes do. But maybe, for once, I can do something good in my life.”

And not be a total failure in the process…
"Seems to be a common theme in this group," Nova said, shrugging. "I think Betel's definition of 'heroic spirit' was a bit on the fast and loose side."
Silver smiled wider, somewhat amused by that statement. “Heh! Yeah, Betel must’ve a very lax concept of what it means to be heroic. Maybe they’ve got a thing for people who look like diamonds in the rough. Who knows?”

He rubbed his chin, his gaze suddenly turning contemplative. “But speaking of that, whatcha think ‘bout this whole hero business? Like, what d’you believe it means to be heroic? Because I’m not sure we all see heroes and their responsibilities in the same way.”
What it meant to be a hero? It wasn't anything Nova could say he'd put some solid thought into.

And when he tried to form up an answer, he kept hitting a mental block trying to describe how he saw heroes. Which meant maybe Nova needed a different angle.

"Honestly? Heroism is something other people have to apply to you. Can't really apply it to yourself." At least, as far as Nova was concerned. "Because there are going to be people who believe they're heroic and doing the right thing, but other folks will feel quite the opposite. Like, perhaps, a portion of the Covenant.

"Maybe heroes are those who try to leave a place better off than it was before. Even if it comes at great personal cost."
Silver tilted his head, his smile turning neutral. It probably would have been hard for anyone to decipher how he was feeling about the matter, and truthfully, he had a hard time deciphering his own mind, too.

“…So, basically a hero might be someone who’s willing to make selfless sacrifices for a greater good and a noble cause?” he asked to no one in particular.

That made sense, right? Everyone seemed to agree that Hibiki was a true hero, someone who put his own life on the line to protect Johto from Team Rocket. He didn’t expect some reward or recognition for his actions, either. That kid performed all those feats because he believed that was the right thing to do and wished to protect his home, family, and friends.

Hmph… Makes me wonder why he hadn’t been summoned, then. He was such an obvious choice, and yet… here I am, instead. Why’s that? Why me? Does Betel believe I can do the right thing as well?

But before he could lose himself in a hole of contemplation, he snapped back to reality and nodded back.

“Hm, yeah, I’d say so. Though, from the way I see it, it can be difficult to tell when something is right or wrong. Moralism has… far too many shades of grey to count.” He tapped his chin with a claw. “Right and wrong are subjective concepts, and everyone has their own perception of which is which. So, perhaps, a hero is someone who can tell what is the most right to do and most wrong thing to avoid?”
Nova paused at that. "It's complicated, I think. The 'greater good' feels like a slippery slope." He nudged his empty glass with his masked face. "Maybe it's more like... they recognize a problem in front of them, and find a workable solution."

Maybe Powehi was right, then. That what they'd been summoned to was not some black-and-white "good vs. evil" situation. Perhaps there were layers they'd have to peel back as time went on.

He lifted his head up. "It's certainly given me something to think about, in any case. I've gotta get going, though."
Silver hummed in thought and twiddled with his head feather. “Huh. Never considered that perspective. Finding solutions to problems…” His smile stretched into a confident smirk. “Heh! I guess that’s something I can try doing! Troubleshooting is kinda my jam!”

Having gotten the cue that the talk was over, Silver hopped off of his seat and nodded. “Alright, then! Thanks for the conversation. It’s been… very enlightening, and it offered plenty of food for thought to chew on!”

He grabbed his glass and lifted it as a sort of toast, grinning as he did so. “Well! I’m off for some extra training and contemplating. See ya around, Nova!”

And so he marched toward the desk. A tiny spark of hope shone into his heart — he was going to prove he could be a hero despite his past, and he was going to work hard to achieve that goal!
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