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Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Dining Hall

We don’t bleed the same? Wes looked down at his foreleg, observing the azure fur there. Aside from the pebbles in his mane, he didn’t feel like he was all rock. But maybe he was. After all, what the hell did he know about being a rock type? Or a Pokémon at all?

He paid close attention to Aige’s advice, anyway. Intimidation. Push yourself. Put on a front to look tougher than you are. A mixture of excitement and smug satisfaction rose within him. Wes knew a thing or two about those things, and now that he had a sturdier, fast-healing form…well, there was a whole lot more he could do now than he ever could as a human. For some reason, it was thrilling to think about.

Aige was clearly dying to know more about humans, so he figured he’d humor her a little. “Well, we’re…they’re…tall. At least compared to mon as small as me and you. Bipedal with arms…longer arms than the average mon, too. Probably…about as tall as the former mayor?” He actually wasn’t sure. Size comparisons were all skewed now that he was in the body of a puppy. “They don’t have fur, but rather soft skin, like, uhh—” he paused, trying to find a reasonable comparison.

“Like…a Ralts, maybe? Or a Machop?” Dammit, now he really wasn’t sure. What the hell was a Ralts’s skin made of, anyway? He’d have made a mental note to ask Corey later, if he didn’t already know the guy hated his guts. “And they have hair, but only on the top of their head.”
Aige was silent as she formed a mental image.

"It's okay if it's not a perfect image," Aige said, "Just having an outline is good enough. Let's see... hair only on the top of their heads? Seems more of an aspect of form compared to function." The Roggenrola tilted down. "No point in guessing though. Thank you for the information, Wes!"

Aige looked around the hall, in thought. "Continuing along that line of questioning if you don't mind, what do humans specialize in? Is there something they're better at in comparison, some special niche or biological advantage they have?"

"I suppose I'm trying to figure out what the separation is here," Aige continued, "There's supposedly something special about the designation, but as far as I know, a human could be a species of pokemon I haven't heard of. It's... similar to another specialized designation I heard rather recently- the term "legendary pokemon". Would you say there's any relation?"
Wes failed to hold back a chuckle. Humans? On par with literal legends? Give me a break. Why does everybody think we’re so damn special around here?

“Nah, not even remotely the same…at least where I’m from.” He shook his head. “In my world…well, humans are the strategists, I guess. The trainers in particular. They map out possible scenarios, help their teams practice and run drills, they call shots and give commands in battle, and so on. They’re also responsible for the welfare of their team. Things like that. I suppose you could say what we lack in physical strength, we make up for with strategy and teamwork.” Ha, that was such an idealistic sounding answer, coming from him. Not all humans are like this. Most of us are pathetic, really…including me.

He decided it was better not to mention that part.

“Anyway, I’m not sure what the deal is supposed to be with humans in this world. I’ve heard from a few different sources that former humans are…supposedly stronger than a regular mon? They’re blessed with extra power, or something?” He flexed a paw. “But if that’s true, I haven’t really seen it, myself. I, for one, don’t feel like I’m any stronger than the next mon.”
"Hmm." Aige was still. "Perhaps it's meant to be something beyond a conventional application of power." The Roggenrola started tapping the ground with a foot. "Even among pokemon of the same species, there can be outliers who have almost exponentially more power than similar members of their kind. Comparing ability or even raw energy between differing species seems more of an exercise in futility than anything because there's no easy way to establish a baseline of what defines weak and strong."

"So if-" Aige paused, working out what she was going to say. "-If there is a pervasive and ingrained sense here that humans are somehow demonstrably superior to *any* pokemon in some unknown aspect, then maybe the human-legendary comparison works in the sense of unusual capabilities. At least, that's what I gathered from what legendary pokemon are supposed to be."

"Another question, as it were," Aige added. "I don't expect anything more than an estimate, but from where you come from, how many humans do you think there are? Just, in total?"
Hm. She made a decent point. Still, it was all a little beyond him. “Could be true. I guess I don’t know much about how this world feels about legendaries, either.” Not that Wes had ever paid a whole lot of attention in his own world. Legends were not a pressing concern or common topic for the average Orrean to begin with.

He pondered her point about power within one’s own species. Would Wes need to find another Rockruff to get a more solid gauge on his abilities, then? And if he didn’t feel any stronger than other mon…did that mean his species was particularly weak? He resented that idea, and reminded himself of Gladion’s through analysis on the day he’d arrived. Gladion seemed pretty familiar with the species, and he didn’t seem to think they were weak. Perhaps Wes would need to find him and chat again…

I’ll be damned if I’m gonna be pathetic in this world, too.

He shook away his thoughts and refocused on Aige’s questions. “Um…hard to tell. I’ve met a handful that have owned up to being human, but plenty others that haven’t. Maybe about half of us?” He frowned, remembering something Ridley had said the night before. “But I’m not convinced that matters. If it did, why would only some of us be former humans and not others, you know? That would feel like an unfair arrangement if the humans had better abilities than those who have always been Pokémon.”
"I don't suppose it says anything if about half of us are humans," Aige said, "But that's not what I was asking about, sorry if I phrased it the wrong way! I meant to ask back on your world, how many humans are there in your entire world?"

"That said, we can chalk up the distribution between humans and pokemon to random chance for now, in my opinion. If I recall correctly, the voice mentioned that we were the ones who answered specifically. From who I've met so far, there seems to be a mix of ages, and as far as I know, no particular distinctions of rank, class, or achievement among us. In regards to fairness as you say, we can consider how our benefactor has thus far been clearly not at the top of their game. We don't know if they intended to bring only humans, nor do we know if they are fully aware of the beneficial nature of humanity- allegedly at least."

The Roggenrola paused to let Wes process her words. "But, we should keep in mind who is and who isn't human, since it keeps coming up. Many things don't matter in the moment, but quite a lot of things matter in a lot of separate moments! Which is why I asked how many humans there are back in your world. I'm not exactly a scientist or anything, but if there's a lot or a little, at least compared to pokemon, that might help us form a better comparison here."
“O-oh.” Wes had definitely misunderstood the question. He gnawed away at another berry to hide his embarrassment. “Well…that’s hard to say, too. I mean, the whole world’s a big place, and I’ve never left my region.” He didn’t mean for any bitterness to slip into that statement, but some did anyway. “But, well…most likely more Pokémon than humans in general, I think. I mean, there’s hundreds of mon species versus just plain old humans. My region is a little bit of an exception, but I hear others have wild mon everywhere.”

He snorted at the mention of their benefactor, the cloud-voice thing. “You can say that again. Whoever they are, they really need to brush up on their teleportation skills. And their communication.” A sudden idea pinged in his mind, and Wes perked up. “Speaking of…I’ve been having weird dreams since coming here. Where it feels like they’re trying to talk to me. And they talked a lot in the fight last night.” He paused, hoping he wasn’t about to sound like an absolutely deranged lunatic. “I don’t know…I mean, I can’t be the only one, right? You’ve been hearing it, too?”

The questioning look he gave her was almost pleading. Oh, gods, please tell me I’m not just hearing things and going insane.
“Yes, I have similarly heard so,” Aige replied, “Not very precise or ominous in their messages, but the encouragement is welcome.”

The Roggenrola swayed from side to side. “I’d imagine most everyone in the group is kept connected in the same manner.”

“Efficient sure, but maybe not the best way to go about it,” she added, noting Wes’ hesitation and apparent discomfort.

“Anyway, pokemon outnumber humans in your world, but the key is that there are humans in and of itself.” Her tone softened. “And as far as traveling goes, it’s never too late to see the world. Just go at your own pace.”
Ha, if only it were that simple. Still, he appreciated the sentiment all the same. “Thanks for that,” he said before finishing off his last berry. “And it’s a relief to know I’m not just hearing things. Wonder who it is? Surely they’ve got to be some kind of psychic type with telepathy and teleportation, right?”
“Well, let’s go over what we know and see what the best possibility is,” Aige replied.

Her tone became serious. “This voice summoned us all from a variety of worlds, from different times, places and most importantly, states of being. They created bodies for us that reflect some aspect of us, and in the case of humans, some sensibility or meaningful part of themselves, at least I assume so.”

The Roggenrola shook from side to side. “We’re not suffering from any afflictions, we haven’t lost any memories, but the voice could not make us powerful. We were brought here to solve a ‘threat’ but we have no concept of the scale or danger of such. The implication inherent of us being here is that the voice cannot solve everything themselves- or alternatively is not able to involve themselves or not willing to for whatever reason, despite having the capability to bring us all here. They are capable of potentially long range and simultaneous communication through a variety of means, but don’t seem to be actively able to assist in our activities.”

“Almost done,” Aige said, “Sorry to be so long winded, bear with me.”

“They seem to be genuinely invested in our success, and eager to help in an unspecified way. I see no potential benefits to them misleading us especially given the nature of the circumstances of bringing so many unknown pokemon from different places, but this does not necessarily absolve them of suspect motive. For now though, I think they’re trustworthy.”

“I agree with your assessment that they’re potentially psychic, but we just don’t know enough to make any concrete guesses,” Aige added, “But we do have a good amount of go off of.”
Our current forms reflect some aspect of us. That statement gave Wes some pause. The hell was supposed to be reflected about him in this embarrassing form? That I’m weak?

He’d ponder over that later. He listened to the rest of Aige’s commentary and let out a begrudging sigh before rubbing at his forehead with a paw. “No, you’re right, they do seem…well intentioned, whoever they are. I guess I’m still a little annoyed with all the damn vagueness. Plus my landing was far from comfortable, no thanks to them.”

But…they had apologized rather profusely more than once. And if they were juggling a whole crew of thirty-some-odd strangers from all over the universe, then maybe Wes could ease up on them a bit. At least they seemed eager to help, even if they were atrociously bad at delivering it.

“Well, I hope they show themselves at some point. It’s a bit odd that they haven’t already.” Maybe they can’t? Hm. Perhaps they were…trapped somewhere? Being held captive? Something was keeping them from having an ideal connection, something that they didn’t seem to have the power to fix right away.

He shook the thoughts from his head again. Lots of stuff to ponder over, but he had other things to focus on today. Wes pushed away his plate and hopped off his chair. “Well…it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this, at least.” He gave Aige the tiniest smile and a nod. “I have a lot of things to take care of today, so I’ll be off, but…it was nice to meet you.” For once, he actually meant those words. “Take care of yourself, yeah?”
“You too,” Aige replied happily, “You seem like you know how you want to handle yourself more than myself, so I’ll try my best to keep up, ha!”

The Roggenrola hopped on one foot. “Don’t think too much about everything I’ve been going on about, it’ll come up if the topic is top of mind, just focus on taking care of yourself and the rest will follow!”

“I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon enough, Wes.”

Ch02: A Talk Over Some Venison
It was rather late into the morning when Bellatrix decided to come down and have a meal. Much of her night was spent laying curled awake (not that she was normally one for sleeping to begin with) questioning if she had lost her mind or if everyone but her had lost it. The infiltration plan had been a terrible idea, right? She couldn't be the only one to see what was wrong with it. Right?

Well, no matter, she thought as she began scouring the tables for food (particularly the hashbrowns, which were an easy favourite). The ill-conceived plan had failed miserably before step one was even completed and everyone who'd been on the wagon was safe, if injured. Bellatrix was hoping to check on a few on the others. Hopefully, the others wouldn't be as swinub-headed as that electrike. A small pang of guilt lingered for leaving the way she did but he attacked first and all she did in response was subdue him before he pushed himself too hard.

She deliberated over the food with a thoughtful frown, acknowledging a passing maus with a nod when it waved at her.
You don't belong here.
The voice had been echoing in Andre's head since the moment it had spoken.

It was tempting to dismiss it as a product of his own head, but it didn't feel that way. It felt like when the Voice had spoken to them, but with a different person. And that person knew. Knew that he wasn't a hero. Knew that he had blood on his hands. Knew that he didn't regret it.

What if they told the others? If they could reach Andre, surely they could reach the others. What if it had already told them? Instructed everyone to shun that one deerling that had arrived with them because he tortured and killed people back home? Maybe even told them to gang up on him and execute him to send him back home early?

The thought made his neck feel very vulnerable, very much like someone was about to slip a coarse rope around it and take away the ground beneath his hooves.

He shook his head and tried the best he could to bury the thought. Okay. Maybe some breakfast would get his mind off things.

He made his way to the breakfast hall, still limping after that charmeleon had tried to take a bite out of his ass, catching a whiff of the fresh hashbrowns and smiled. He walked over to the tables and extended his vines to grab a plate. He soon found himself beside that Hisuian zorua that was undoubtedly part of the group with the way she had fought with them at the gala. He sighed quietly and decided that now was as good a time as any to find out if the others knew about his hobby back home.

"Excuse me, miss," he started, hoping dearly that she was a miss, "you wouldn't have happened to have any strange dreams last night?"

Of course, it was entirely possible that the others wouldn't tell him anything so that they could catch him by surprise once the execution came.
Bellatrix's ears perked at the voice. Following its source revealed a deerling - another among the injured, though he wasn't in anywhere near as rough of a state as the others.

"Oh, hello," she greeted. Just by the sound of her voice, the zorua seemed to be one of the youngest in the group. She tilted her head then shook it at the question. "No, nothing out of the ordinary," she answered. Except the usual nightmares. "You were among the group that went on the wagon. Have you been alright since the attack?"
Nothing out of the ordinary. Oh, what Andre would have given to have his aura sense now to be able to tell if she really meant it.

Andre nodded. "Yeah, I didn't get banged up as badly as some of the others. The doctor told me my leg would heal with just a few days. Pokémon are made of stronger stuff here than back home."

He thought a bit more about the zorua's voice, even if he'd heard it before. Did she only sound young, or was she a kid like Koa? Possibly even younger than him?

Well, kids usually didn't like it when you asked them what age they were. And neither did adults. Or the elderly. He'd keep quiet on the subject, maybe try to guess her age based on what she would say.
Bellatrix nodded. "You were incredibly lucky," she said between bites of her meal. "And yes, being a bit more sturdy does make the whole event less dire." Her tail flicked. "So why did you go in the first place?" she asked. "Keeping others in line or a genuine desire to see the plan through?"
"Genuine desire, I'd say," Andre said, sighing. "Wanted to do something for the mon in Terminal Two while we still could."
A small sigh. "Yes, I can understand that," she replied. She thought of talking about how bad an idea it was from the outset but given that the deerling was an adult who likely knew how to judge things in hindsight, she let it be for now.

Bellatrix drummed her paws on the table. "It's noble but I'm not sure how much can be done about it now," she said instead. "Still, there's always the chance of being able to investigate Blaguarro itself to find the facility. It's not like it's something that's going to be ignored."
"I suppose you're right," Andre said. "Not like we were going to get inside the Terminal anyway. Just see its exterior and bolt." He frowned. "Of course, what happened instead of that raises some other questions. Mainly what was up with that charmeleon that attacked us. Some kind of magical disease? The effect of some other mon? The Voice told us it was apparently contagious to an extent, but that it would wear off, at least with our level of exposure. That we'd just have heightened negative emotions for a while. Personally, it's been hard to tell. I haven't felt good, but with what we went through, you wouldn't expect me to."

He paused in thought. Could that have been the source of the mystery voice? That would mean that the others would have gone through something similar, too. And that no one actually knew his secret. It would have been a relief, but Andre couldn't be so quick to reject the idea...

He sighed, moving his thoughts back to the subject at hand. "That charmeleon, though... I don't know about them. I wouldn't assume that they're going to get any better with time."
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