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Frontier Town The Wanderin' Zera

"And hey, Gerome," he said. "On top of everything else, there's... Did you know the other day someone bumped into someone disguised as you?

"Hm." Gerome listened to their explanations. "No. Can't say I have. But leavin' a skittery trail? Rules out Zoroark, and I'd imagine Zorua, too. Must be some other Pokemon that can do disguises... Can't imagine what, though." He shrugged. "Not one that transforms, since then they'd leave normal prints, too. I say next time you get suspicious, give 'em a good whack. That usually gets rid of disguises. I'll think about it, too."
"Mmh... maybe it's one of those Mimikyu guys?" she thought aloud, tapping her chin. "And if Nova saw another copycat... are we dealing with one, or two of them?"

Grace glanced around the bar, looking around for Floinsa and Lucis. Hopefully they'd be back soon so she could check on the helioptile...

"In any case... is coming to Gerome with troubling news the only thing we do?" Grace asked, cracking a smile. "I feel a little bad about it."
"Ain't a big deal," Gerome grumbled. "Just lots on the mind nowadays. I figure it's that way for a lotta folks."

He looked at them again. "Well, what's it to all of you?" he asked. "Busy savin' other parts of Forlas, yet? Not sure what that voice of yers has in store after this. Blowin' up a lab's a pretty big accomplishment."
"Not sure if feels right to call it finished when there's still more to be done," Steven said, idly spinning the cup the barkeep had placed in front of him.

What had Gerome served him anyway? It's not like he'd ever ordered a drink at the Zera, let alone something regularly. Wait. Was it... Nightshade tea? Oh. From the day he met Silver. His wistful smile reflected back up at him.

"I've taken a few trips to Blaguarro since, to check how they're doing in the wake of the raid. So many people were affected by what Cipher did. Destroying the base and leaving the town to clean up on their own doesn't sit right with me."

"In any case... is coming to Gerome with troubling news the only thing we do?" Grace asked, cracking a smile. "I feel a little bad about it."
Steven's smile drifted towards the togetic. She did have a point. He gave a small hum and turned his attention to Gerome with a new topic of conversation.

"Speaking of, how are you and your family holding up? I've heard your son is quite the inventor!"
"Mrm. Yes. A very good inventor with a very active imagination... and a great many little talents for his outlets." Gerome sighed tiredly. "Lucis. That boy ain't right sometimes. His aura's special, y'see. Personal theory is it's got to do with my influence, bein' the father, but we're try'na keep that one a secret if we can. But his aura... activates things passively. The sorta thing Pokemon usually need to maintain carefully for work, stuff you only do in theory? He just... does it. So if he needs some activated tech, he doesn't need any widgets or whatsits. Just needs himself.

"Really makes him a god of machines, if y'ask me. He tells 'em to do what he wants and they do it."
"A 'god of machines', eh?" Ghaspius hummed in thought as he idly stirred his drink with a tassel, "Reminds me of an old phrase Roya said the humans used for their stories. What was it again...? 'Days extra mach in em'? Somethin' like that."

Each of his gemstones glowed in sequence as a smile pursed his lips. "Makes me wonder what he's gonna do someday. Maybe if there's a machine to purify shadow out there, he'd be able to just miracle it to life, eh?" He let out a chuckle. "How old is he, anyways? Y'all have any troubles with raisin' him given his gift?"
"Personally, I've been liking to think we were summoned to deal with these human supremacists you mentioned," Dave said. He reached for the extra drink Gerome'd provided. "Not that there isn't other concerning shit going on here at all times, whether it's the fucking mayor or the Escarpa tensions or the Shadow Pokémon or whatever the fuck went on at the quarry last night. So if you've got anything to add to the list, fire away." He spread his paw out in a half-shrug.

He'd heard about Gerome's family by now, but not yet met them. He furrowed his brow at Gerome's description of his son. "Huh. So... normally Pokémon would need some aura-attuning shit to activate technologies, but he doesn't? What sort of tech does that extend to?"
"He's a prodigy at what he does, but he's still only... how's it been... nineteen, now," Gerome said with a nod. "Young at heart. And body. Late bloomer, probably because he doesn't go out and get enough sun, despite his species... Figure the time here will help that along. As for the tech..." Gerome tilted his head left and right. "Orbs are a big one. Anything in a room, he can probably activate, deactivate, tamper with just at a glance. Had a nightmare of a prankster phase when he was a youngin', flickerin' Luminous Orbs and turnin' them red and haunted..."
"Well that just sounds like fun!" chirped Grace as her usual cheer started to perk up again. "I didn't know he was  that talented, though. That's a kind of skill you have to nuture and protect."
"Fascinating. And impressive," said Steven, tilting forward where he sat. Such a naturally gifted talent at such a young age. Gerome may have sounded dismayed, but there was genuine love in his words. A wistful smile crossed Steven's expression. "I'm sure you're proud of him, regardless of the kind of mischief he causes."

"Actually, I wonder if he'd be willing to take a look at something, then, as a matter of curiosity. It's a pocket watch of sorts, although I'm not sure it actually tells time. At least in any sort of appreciable manner. I still have to ask its owner if he'd be okay with Lucius taking a look at it, since he only showed it to me in confidence. However, when he asked me about its nature, I was stumped, and I wonder if your son might be the right person to get to the bottom of this little mystery."

Steven leaned back and waved a claw. "And should he be interested, I'd be happy to owe him a favor in return. Certainly no obligation to, though!"
Gerome just barely smiled in response to Grace. That was a rare one. "Yeah, a real troublemaker," he remarked.

"Who knows? Lucis might have an idea or two if you show it to him," Gerome agreed with another shrug. "Figure he'd... yeah. Never know sometimes, 'specially if he has his full kit back home. Figure I oughta visit'm sometime..."

Again, Gerome seemed pensive again. There was more to that statement.
"'Back home'?" Ghaspius asked, not quite picking up on the subtle discomfort, "Thought Frontier Town was y'all's home. Where y'all from then, if ya don't mind me askin'? I wanna see all kinds of places around!"

He gave off a blissfully ignorant smile. "It's always good to visit your loved ones! Maybe we could all go together!"
"I'm all the way out here to lay low," Gerome said, "but the family lives over in Novelux. Great place for Lucis to... you know, get his inventions going. Real brainy place. He enters invention competitions every year, or something." He shrugged as if he didn't know the intricacies. "All goes over my head. But he's a real prodigy there. Floinsa makes sure he keeps himself healthy..."
Steven was quiet for a beat, letting what Gerome said sink in. "You work here every day..." he began. "And Novalux, that's... not close to Frontier Town. Then... how often do you get to travel home to see them?"
"Novelux? Where's that at?" Ghaspius couldn't help but lean in a bit closer as he gemstones glittered with intrigue. "Would ya be willin' to show us around there? Would love to see what sorts of things they make over there! Maybe even learn a new alchemy technique or two..."

He turned to Steven. "Humans have a lot of fancy stuff too, right? Might be worth seein' what's similar and what's not!"
Dave raised his eyebrows. Gerome just lived in a whole other town than his wife and kid? That was certainly a choice. "Your kid sounds like a handful." He cracked a bit of a smirk, taking a sip of his drink. "So's mine. Not the inventing kind, just the... pranks and enthusiasm and ability to make an unholy scene. Life's a hundred times more difficult and yet you love them to death."

He put the glass down, turning it idly. "So his aura's special, and you think it comes from you? Have you got a similar talent, or is it some sort of de novo aura mutation that's just... enabled by coming from you?"
"Maybe I should," Gerome murmured. "Need to spend more time with family. Just makes it real hard when the world's got an interest in what I am. Or, certain parts of the world... In the end, I had to choose between keeping a distance or riskin' their lives. Some folks, like ol' Jesse... He took no chances and skipped town. Left it all behind." He snorted. "Didn't have it in me to do the same. I just covered his tracks."

He eyed Dave. "Dunno what a den of ovals is, but if you mean he had it in the egg, yeah. There're stories of lots o' half-human-born Pokemon gettin' these talents, bendin' the rules around 'em. Me? I've got a talent or two. I just keep a low profile about it... Most I do is my glass blowin'. But I'll let you know of a little secret."

His tail thumped on the ground.

"Foundation of this bar? That's my work. Took only a few minutes, after a buncha plannin'. The wood and all the extra stuff took... longer. But I saved a lotta coin doin' that legwork."
Grace frowned as she listened to Gerome talk on and on about all this. He lived separately to his family? Because he was being sought out by suspicious groups he wanted no part of?

She grumbled something while she sipped, then set the little cup down. "I know you don't want to put your family in danger... but is distancing yourself from your mate and son really the best thing? I, I don't want to overstep or anything, but is there a better way to handle all of this without hurting your relationships...?"
"'De novo mutation'. It's when a kid has a mutation - like some unusual trait - and it's not inherited from the parent but something new in the kid. I figure two hypotheses for unusual talents in people with human heritage would be either it's inherited directly, or the human heritage makes the genome more unstable so that more random mutations are liable to happen. Or, you know, whatever the aura equivalent would be. Nobody quite seems to understand what the fuck is going on with aura anyway."

He gave a helpless shrug. "Anyway, it sounds like he did inherit having a weird talent from you. So yours is less about tech and more about... sand and rock manipulation, I guess? Random new talent for each kid?"
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"...Dunno," Gerome said to Grace with a thoughtful frown. "But I guess soon, I'm going to really have to dedicate to that anyway..." He nodded at Dave. "Yeah. Dunno how it all works. All that aura crap's over my head. I just work with what I got."

He squinted, spotting a familiar Machoke entering the bar. He was decked out in a fancy purple scarf and a bag of... what seemed to be stickers of some kind.

"Dayle, what in Saints' name are you doing?"

"Gerome!" Dayle stomped over to the bar and pounded his fist on the table. "I need your help, Gerome! The fate of the town is at stake!"

"What is it this time?"

He spilled many of the stickers on the table. Each one seemed to be a handwritten -- surprisingly good handwriting--message of Dayle will save the day! or Dayle for Mayor! on it.

Gerome's stony expression returned. He said nothing.
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