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Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Dining Hall

Nip waited for the treeko to finish (and she made good points he had to admit) before saying his piece.

"I'm sorry, but I cannot abide by any plan that puts her in danger of capture. I am fine with keeping her away from this... Gala." He said the word slowly, unfamiliar to his tongue. "I can believe that there's good reason to do so. But if your plan involves catching her, then I will not help."

He almost wanted to say that he'd stand against that. But he didn't want to start a fight, nor did he want to sabotage any chance of their plan working.
Corey went quiet and mostly just listened in to the discussion for a time. Bellatrix's plan seemed to have merit... if also a great deal of risk, but it seemed a few of the others still had either their reservations over the plan... or were particularly concerned about remaining on the good side of these bandits, which, frankly, puzzled Corey quite a bit.

"Uh... Y'know, I can't speak for how things work where the rest of you come from, but I believe there's an old saying from my homeland that there's 'no honor among thieves'. I hate to sound too abrupt or whatever but... who cares if we get on the bad sides of this gang? You really think that'll shut us away from the criminal underworld entirely? You know there are probably numerous other ways to get that kind of info, I doubt this Sonora and her posse are exclusive holders of it all. Frankly all I care about is that they aren't killed... If they run off with their plans completely foiled and we never see 'em again, that's a-ok with me. We'll just find other ways to learn about the inner workings of this place."
“This isn’t about if she or the mayor is more useful to us than the other, this is about stopping a power mad Empoleon from murdering a bunch of people,” Archie said, flatly, to Mhynt. Even if it wasn’t the most useful course of action, even if it got them in trouble with the law, it was the right thing to do. He was interested in Bellatrix’s idea because it would guarantee that Sonora and her gang would be spared further attempts on their life at least until she made her survival known. But, if they couldn’t think of a way to make the plan work without a hitch, then it was back to his original idea of springing any members unfortunate enough to get captured on the night of the gala.

“We need a solid plan, and I’m not convinced there is one yet,” Archie said. “We need to be ready to move fast if we are going to try and fake her death, and we’ll need someone who’s able to convince her to trust us to begin with. I doubt the mayor will wait long before hanging her.”

This all was assuming they would even be able to capture her at all on the night of the gala. Archie, at least, considered her and her gang escaping into the night to be a win, even if there was still the chance of her getting captured another night.
"If she comes to the gala, it is very likely she will be captured, if not by us, then by another," Mhynt said to Nip, speaking evenly. "If you want to save her, then you will have to get to her first. Battle her, perhaps weaken her, and convince her to reverse whatever plan she has that will be too much for her to handle. The same goes for the rest of her gang, whatever they are. Putting her in the clutches of the law at all is useless with our current power, unless we plan to break her out of bondage."

She shook her head.

"We are in no position to be standing purely on our principles," she said to Archie. "Do you think this world cares about us? About anything but their own selfish wants from a corrupt politician? No. And we do not yet have the power to matter to them. We cannot afford to get on their bad side. Not yet. Faking her death, while still performing a capture, is too much unnecessary risks when most of us aren't even in our fully evolved states."
"Okay, come the fuck off it, you're judging him for having priciples now?" Corey was starting to have enough of this treecko's cynicism. Yes, there was merit to being realistic about how the world worked, one could say it was downright necessary, but she seemed to believe that the only way to actually convince anyone of their good intentions was to gain more power, and power alone. The worst part about all this was that she'd earlier made a point he agreed with, that they would have to reach these criminals first and convince them one way or another to bug off before the authorities got to them if they didn't want to see them hanged... but it was so hard to remain in agreement with someone who seemed to believe that moral scruples were a hindrance or a nuisance over anything else.

"Whether or not you believe it, power isn't the only way to sway the views of these people. We can't just be going in there and bullying our way into influence... how would that make us any better than the current administration, huh?"
"Oh?" Mhynt asked, cocking her head thoughtfully. "Tell me, then. What way can we alter the opinion of a selfish politician with our current cards? Without, of course, the risk of putting ourselves at a disadvantaged position in the process. He can probably defeat all of us effortlessly should he so choose, or send someone who can.

"As we are, we are nothing to him but pawns. We should act like pawns until we are not, and work in the shadows. Principles are just fine... if you have the power to defend them against the corrupt. Otherwise..." She gestured to the illusion. "You have to get creative."
“For someone who claims to want to save the world you have some really shitty opinions about the people who live in it,” Archie snapped at the Treecko. Sure, Archie wasn’t exactly free of negative opinions of the locals himself, but he wasn’t the one claiming he was going to save the world, just that he wanted to help the people he could help. And he wasn’t going to stand aside and let a bad Pokemon hurt others just because they were too weak to be able to go beat him up.

“If you’re feeling too powerless to help then don’t, I’ll cut the ropes by myself if that’s what it takes,” the Oshawott said, “but you need to ask yourself how complicit you’re willing to be. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.”

With a huff, he returned to his breakfast, not interested in getting into a philosophical debate with Mhynt with everything else that was going on. Still, they really didn’t have any good plans. Even if they managed to free any of the captured gang members, they still had to smuggle them out of town. Keeping them out of sight was going to be difficult at best, impossible at worse. If only they had some way to…

Wait. In his mind’s eye, the Oshawott suddenly pictured a Kirlia, blinking out of sight only to appear somewhere else in the guild hall. Archie nearly choked on his food, before whipping around to face Corey.

“Corey! You’re a Ralts!” He said. “Can’t you Teleport? Could you Teleport someone out of town with you?”
Dave had followed along warily when Bellatrix had claimed they had received a request and she would explain. She'd led him and the entourage of others from the Nexus with her to the dining hall, and he'd wondered if this had something to do with this human supremacist organization they were supposed to be fighting or just something off the magic bulletin board or what.

Once she felt that enough had gathered, she looked up from the posters with a serious stare. "I get the impression that we will need to get ourselves on the same page regarding this matter as soon as possible," she began. "So, first and foremost, do you intend to keep your word to the mayor?"
What the fuck was she talking about. The mayor?

The Oshawott rested his elbows on the table, like some kind of heathen, his gaze drifting from Mhynt to the Sneasel and back again, before quipping, in a dry, displeased tone, in answer to the Treecko’s question, “Highway robbery, for which the punishment is death.”

(Not really a surprise, was it, in a fucking cowboy times world. But it was also talking Pokémon cowboy times world, and yet, in that ridiculous cartoon setup, they were hanging people, because of course they fucking were. What did they even do with the many Pokémon that didn't have any fucking necks?)

He didn't realize he was baring his fangs. "Death? No, not interested. What if he wants to... Eat them or something."
Eat them? Where the fuck did that come from?

"So ah... let's say the gallows just never get fixed..." he suddenly piped up between bites. "Let's say something happens and it becomes unfeasible to put them back together or build new ones... Wouldn't the mayor be forced to reform the system somehow?"
Okay, he snorted out loud at that one.

"What use is she to us?" Mhynt asked. "If we can find an excuse to keep her alive, perhaps she could be an asset in other ways. What use is the mayor to us if 'skeletons' are also something for us to deal with instead?"
Jesus Christ.

"This seems to be a matter of neither side being desirable, but we can't afford to alienate either. I doubt the politicians of town will be useful for whatever we're trying to save, otherwise surely they already would have put things in motion with their influence. But they will also become trouble for us. However, the underground knowledge and dealings of a thief's life... that could provide more useful information. I used to deal with those kinds of things. Politicians know the general problem, but are clueless about specifics. Those who lurk in the dark are the ones who can point us to exactly where we need to be. For a price. Or some persuasion."
"Okay, what the fuck are you talking about?" he said at last. "We can't afford to alienate this particular group of random fucking highway robbers? Did I miss where we had some sort of obligation to these people? Has everyone gone fucking insane?"

Everything about this meeting was giving him a headache. Maybe tonight was the time for Gerome's cactus whiskey. "Look, if you want to play along with the local hanging judge in order to screw him over and take his money, be my guest, but I'm not exactly dying to suck up to a bloodthirsty self-worshipping lunatic for a few extra bucks. And no, somehow I don't think the guy's just going to shrug and let them live or overhaul the justice system if the gallows get knocked down. This whole plan where you arrest them and then somehow we the group of a couple dozen low-level toddler Pokémon pull off a master illusion that magically fools everybody to fake their deaths is fucking bonkers. If you don't want people to get executed, then maybe start by not helping to hand them over to the goddamn executioner. Jesus Christ."
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Mhynt deadpanned. "I can Teleport," she pointed out to the Oshawott, waving the knife that spontaneously appeared in her hand again. "Perhaps I didn't make it clear what I meant by creativity. If you want to cut the ropes, then please, by all means, explain how you are going to achieve that in your diminutive form without being picked up and placed under the arm of a security guard like lost luggage."

She gestured to Dave. "I also agree with Poochyena's point. Right now, ideally, I want nothing to do with this gala while we're trying to actually strengthen ourselves for what matters. But making ourselves comfortable will speed that up, and income is part of that. But falling into the corrupt dealings of politicians, or these archaic killings of thieves, is not something we should delve into, either. Hence this discussion on how to play both sides."

Then, she glanced at the others. "At least, that's the impression I'm getting, since we have displeasure toward both sides of this debate of what to do about this wanted poster."
"Teleport?" Unfortunately such a move didn't seem to be coming to mind yet... He knew ralts learned it eventually, but clearly he hadn't reached that level yet. "...Wish I could, still haven't quite figured it out, sorry..." he said rather sheepishly before a particularly bitter sounding Poochyena suddenly barked out his angry two cents and the Treecko, after admitting she could teleport already, went off on another snarky rant of her own, once again about how weak they all were.

"Ah, the two grumpy bastards are in agreement, sounds about right..." Wow, did he really say that out loud? Okay, maybe he was getting a little two annoyed now...

"Look, if you don't want to deal with the gala, that's your call, but some of us have actually dedicated ourselves to the mission already, so that's not a choice we can make. No one's putting a gun to your head to help us, are they? If you think it's a waste of time, you can just say so and butt out, save us the trouble of having to argue over something you don't even think is worth it."
Mhynt sighed and shrugged. "Clearly I need to speak in fewer riddles if I'm just looking grumpy. I'll spell it out. I do not want to help. However, I recognize the need to help. So, I will. And I am now making recommendations on how to do this while making as few enemies as possible, pleasing the mayor while sparing the thief. Does that make sense?"
"How about playing neither side? Who said we need to please either of these people? Did the mayor actually threaten to kick us out if we don't catch his robbers? And if he did, any actual reason not to say fuck this town and take our business elsewhere?"

Dave glanced at the Ralts. "Like I said, be my guest if you want to fuck with the dickhead mayor, but I'm not going to sit back while you seriously plan to help people escape execution by arresting them. Their best chance at not getting executed is to get the fuck out of here."
As the chaos and arguments began to ramp up in the hall, a loud BANG on the table reverberated through the hall to quiet everyone down, several of the maus made a few startled squeaks. The Sonora illusion was now sporting a cold glare. Now was not the time for petty squabbles. Being put in more youthful bodies was not a good enough excuse to act like children - she should know.

"If you missed it, the reason I bring any of this at all was because I and a few others were hired by the mayor to protect this gala, and it's not something we cannot just not do seeing that we'd agreed to his terms to repel the gang from the gala." Of the lot, Mhynt seemed like the most competent of the bunch and the illusion nodded along to her words. "We want to remain on his good side because some of us still rely on his help to get by and there is no telling what he will do if we get on his bad one. Unless of course, you'd like your own wanted poster and trip to the gallows."

Towards the rest, Bellatrix shook head. "Again, simply repelling her will just leave it so that someone else will take that bounty and there's no telling if they will choose to bring her in dead. On the off chance she is brought in alive, we wouldn't have any time to stage an escape or heist - you are begging for her death that way unless of course, once again, it's suddenly fine if someone else does the dirty work for you."

The illusion looked at Dave then Archie blankly at what he said next, however. "Who said anything about faking deaths or elaborate escapes? I am not deluding myself into believing that I am capable of that in the slightest and neither should the rest of you. What I am suggesting is subtle sabotage and stalling for time which does involve stroking the empoleon's ego. Those are the rules you abide by then you play the game of politics."
"Subtle sabotage," Mhynt repeated with a hum. "How do we... subtly do this? Perhaps the first thing we need to decide is how we would repel this thief without subjecting her to these backward laws."

She was beginning to think about some of the outlaw notices on the mysterious bulletin board. Those didn't have 'dead or alive' clauses. In fact, the phrasing was entirely different from what the town did.

That ruled out any officials doing it in secret... presumably. But that was for another time.
The zorua did have a bit of a point, as much as Nip hated to admit it. He wasn't good at those sort of mind games. They made him feel queasy, stirred up bad memories. Even if it was for a good reason. This time.

Taking a long breath, he closed his eyes and took a step back. "I get what you're saying. But I'm sorry. I can't see it as a good enough solution. I know what happened someone manipulative like this wants someone dead. If you come up with a plan that doesn't involve capturing them, come find me. Otherwise, count me out."
Ugh... this was all becoming a big headache. Some of the more negative vibes in the room were really messing with Corey's head, and that only made it more difficult for him to follow the discussion of tactics and strategies. He resorted to simply finishing his meal and hoping some consensus would be made that he'd not entirely hate. At this point, that was all he could really ask for.
Towards the rest, Bellatrix shook head. "Again, simply repelling her will just leave it so that someone else will take that bounty and there's no telling if they will choose to bring her in dead. On the off chance she is brought in alive, we wouldn't have any time to stage an escape or heist - you are begging for her death that way unless of course, once again, it's suddenly fine if someone else does the dirty work for you."

The illusion looked at Dave then Archie blankly at what he said next, however. "Who said anything about faking deaths or elaborate escapes? I am not deluding myself into believing that I am capable of that in the slightest and neither should the rest of you. What I am suggesting is subtle sabotage and stalling for time which does involve stroking the empoleon's ego. Those are the rules you abide by then you play the game of politics."
"This guy was suggesting exactly that, if you'd been listening." Dave gestured irritably towards the Oshawott. "And I'm not following your reasoning for why your convoluted plan is somehow the best way for these outlaws not to get killed. Who the fuck says it's logically inevitable they're about to be immediately apprehended? I've been seeing these wanted posters around town the whole time we've been here; clearly bounties aren't a magic instant fucking murder button. If the rope snaps or the lever jams, how the fuck are you concluding the mayor's not going to look for alternatives? What kind of logic is 'someone else is probably going to murder her, so let's bring her to the guy who's definitely planning to murder her and wave the magic subtle sabotage wand, nothing can go wrong, lowest-risk option'?"
Wes had remained near the back of the room, content to listen and blend into the scenery rather than make a fuss. After the last few days, he was more than happy to let someone else deal with sorting out this mess. He quietly sipped at his drink, a simple non-alcoholic cider; after seeing just how far only two drinks affected his sense of reason, Wes had decided to be much more conservative with his choice of beverage.

He chuckled a little at Dave’s fiery interruptions; the guy had a point, albeit he wasn’t arguing his case in the most productive way. Wes had to agree with him about Mhynt, however; the Treecko’s cold, calculating demeanor felt deeply, inherently unsettling. He made a mental note to keep both her and Bellatrix at arm’s length. They were both the type to be either crucial allies or deadly enemies, and Wes wasn’t keen to see the latter.

Despite being content to remain silent, he frowned at a particular statement from Bellatrix and, against his better judgment, decided to speak up.

"If you missed it, the reason I bring any of this at all was because I and a few others were hired by the mayor to protect this gala, and it's not something we cannot just not do seeing that we'd agreed to his terms to repel the gang from the gala."

“Why not?” he asked with a raised brow. “These criminals are notoriously slippery, and there’s no guarantee we’d catch them even if we did try. Is it really so far-fetched to claim that we tried and were unsuccessful?”

He paused to take a sip of his cider before continuing. “Anyway, regardless of what you all plan to do with these bandits, I think you’re all missing the bigger picture.”

He leaned forward and spoke in a low growl. “Something is up with this gala. I don’t believe these thieves are staging such an elaborate infiltration just on the off-chance they’ll nab some fancy jewelry and embarrass that prick of a mayor. They’re after something at this gala, something specific, though I have no clue what it is.” He leaned back in his seat. “But it’s something that the mayor wants to keep hidden at all costs, and I, for one, intend to find out what he’s hiding.”
"Hmm. I wasn't under the impression that this would be anything more than something to puff up the mayor's feathers, and for the thieves to make away with something, and maybe knock the mayor down a few pegs." She faced Wes, noticing his cautious demeanor. "I don't know if we have the time to scout out such a secret unless it was during the gala itself. My Teleportation could help with that before we need to get down to business."
Wes studied Mhynt for a moment, trying to gauge her response, then shook his head. “If this were another highway robbery, maybe. But this? A whole infiltration mission? That’s a huge risk for something so juvenile. You don’t attempt something so dangerous unless there’s a big reward worth risking your neck for.” Trust me on that, he almost added. I know how this game works. Petty thievery was only worthwhile so long as you were certain you could get away with it.

He frowned at the next part of her statement. “You…can Teleport?” He wasn’t very familiar with her species, but that sure seemed like an odd ability for a Treecko to have. Then again, if an Arcanine could do it, then what the hell did he know. The bigger problem was that he trusted this mon about as far as he could throw her—in other words, not at all, since he didn’t even have any damn arms to do the throwing. She was one of the last people he’d trust to do an infiltration.

“It’s worth considering,” he lied. “But I think it’s too risky to leave it up to just one person. Better if we could find a way to get a small group inside.”
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