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Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Dining Hall

Dave blinked at Archie. "Well, shit," he said after a few seconds. "That's pretty fucked up. What happened, some kind of natural disaster or what? Anyone you know escape with you, or just...?"

"Could be some kind of skill thing, like making sure there's a bunch of different people with different knowledge. Or some kind of compatability thing? Did you do anything crazy back home?"
Dave raised an eyebrow at Koa. "Depends on your definition of crazy, but yeah, definitely got a pretty different skillset from anyone else here, near as I can tell. But, you know, meanwhile it sounds like we've got several plucky teen Pokémon trainers."
Archie gave Koa a weak smile. He didn’t seem too willing to pry further. Dave, on the other hand, was interested in the nitty-gritty.

“A monster ate the sun,” he said, “Ate all the light in the universe, really. And… I don’t know of anyone else who escaped. I don’t think anyone else did it the way I did, at least.”
"A-ate the sun? What could even do that?" Koa gaped at Archie, then quickly reigned himself in. Dave apparently didn't have any problems prying. His mind couldn't help but turning to wonder about what could have done that. It had to be something else, otherwise the only answer for something with that kind of power would be... a legendary.

He fell silent for a moment, wishing he could do more for Archie than sympathy and platitudes. "That's awful," he murmured. He wasn't at all sure if Archie wanted to discuss what had happened, but he felt instinctively bad for him. He studied Dave for a moment. "But yeah I guess we do have a few trainers. Me and Leaf and Jade are all trainers and the same age I think... If you're not a trainer, do you have experience with pokemon then, like Archie?"
"Jesus fuck," Dave said. There were no other words for monsters eating the fucking sun. How was every other universe so fucking batshit.

He took a long breath. "That's... I'm sorry. Jesus." Had he managed to at least build a decent new life as an Oshawott in the new universe? The guy didn't seem super enthused about being probed about it. He tried to imagine the fucking world being destroyed and portaling into a Pokémon dimension alone. All the morphs dead, poof. Just a fucking Poochyena forever. He'd have just jumped in the nearest goddamn lake.

"I mean, I've done experiments with Pokémon for medical research - not people-Pokémon, they're not sapient in my world - but that's probably not what you're thinking of." He sighed. Should he go for it? Tell this kid all about his Pokémorph kids? Be received with the usual disgusted, prejudiced shit and have to patiently explain all of it? Not right now. He'd had enough depressing fucking conversation for a day.

"Done some amazing fucking research, though," he just said, picking up his coffee again.
Experiments? A couple months ago he might have been horrified but... Dave's world sounded pretty different, and he'd explained it was for medical research. So probably not trying to create some kind of perfect being that coud defeat legendaries and secretly working for an organization trying to sell pokemon. If it really was to help people, then that seemed decent of him.

"Sounds pretty sick," Koa said amiably after a few moments. "Maybe you were chosen for that, if you're trying to help people back home as a doctor or scientist."
What kind of monster could eat the sun? It was… It looked like… Suddenly, Archie remembered something, something about Mhynt at the Spirit Nexus. A looming shape behind her, something that made him feel a sense of dread he couldn’t quite place. Then he realized, the Monster That Ate The Sun looked like a bat. Not all the time, but sometimes. Sometimes, it looked like the thing he’d seen behind Mhynt.

He shivered involuntarily, then shook his head. He couldn’t think about that now. There was too much else on his plate already. That uncomfortable revelation would have to be saved for later.

“S-sorry,” he said, “Not the most pleasant breakfast conversation, I know.”

He sat up straighter again, and gave both his present companions another smile, “Like I said, I only remember bits and pieces. So, most of the time, it’s easier not to think about it.”

It seemed like the shadow made him think about it a lot more than he usually did. Maybe it was a weakness of his it was exploiting, to drive him to further negativity? Maybe that was a sign he should open up about it more. Maybe if he was more open, it wouldn’t have so much power over him. But he’d said enough, for now. And thankfully, the conversation topic was moving on anyway.

“That could be, you know. I don’t think any of the rest of us are trained doctors or anything like that,” Archie nodded after Koa spoke. As a Trainer and a Ranger, the Electrike and Oshawott were very well used to the physical labor required of their current job. Koa was also likely an experienced battler, if he was traveling his region, and Archie had picked up combat training of his own as an Adventurer. But, they were both lacking in higher education. Dave brought that to the team in ways neither of them could.
Dave couldn't help but smirk a little at their innocent enthusiasm. Things sure were different when he wasn't someone who'd get recognized in the street as the Pokémorph guy. "Not that kind of doctor, I'm afraid. But yeah, I've basically spent the last decade trying to ensure some disadvantaged kids can have a decent life and fighting the array of systems and individuals determined not to let them. If the universe wanted to give me a pat on the back for that, cool, except for the bit where how is a universe supposed to be sapient. God. At least my universe should not be fucking sapient."
A small smile graced Koa's muzzle. Dave definitely sounded like a nice guy. "Well I guess even if it was sapient you could go your whole life not knowing," he mused out loud.

He tipped his head as he considered Dave's words. If there was one thing he'd learned it was that no matter how much seemed similar, so much could be different. "I mean people, at least in my world, are always discovering things they never knew about, right? Like gravity or... Biology. It always existed but people a thousand years ago had no idea..." The possibilities alone almost gave him a headache.
Dave raised his eyebrow. "I mean, sure," he said. "But the universe being sapient and having opinions on the actions of humans, in ways that align with human values, is not one of those things science might discover to be the case one day. Human brains easily imagine a conscious guy out there somewhere who's all-knowing and omnipotent but that only sounds like a simple or reasonable idea if you're a human thinking in human abstractions. Or, you know, a sapient talking Pokémon, apparently." He waved a paw. "Sapience is a property of tightly interconnected webs of neurons. How's a universe going to magically be sapient? It's not a system that replicates that dynamic in any way. No one's got a mechanism for how that's supposed to work. They just sort of throw it out there because it sounds nice, but that's not a reason to think or expect it might be true. You might as well propose and live your life expecting to find matter spontaneously arranged itself into a perfectly shaped teapot orbiting the sun. Why that ludicrous unfalsifiable hypothesis, out of everything you could make up?"

He exhaled in an irritated sigh. "At least my universe doesn't look like a universe with any indication that it's got an omnipotent fucking mind governing it. Who knows about any of these other universes. The bit where my mind's supposedly been transferred into the body of a dog with like 5% of a human's brain volume and it's working is still driving me up a fucking tree."
Archie listened along to Dave’s, well… Rant seemed a bit much? Lecture, maybe? Either way, it made for much more pleasant conversation then their previous topics, so the Oshawott was enjoying it! All this talk about the universe having sapience and people inventing explanations for things they couldn’t explain got him thinking about his adopted home universe again.

“It sounds like you’re describing Arceus?” He said, “Who the legends say was born from the primordial chaos, and shaped the universe with its one thousand arms. Which, you know, probably just a poetic way of saying ‘the Unown.’ Imagine actually having a thousand limbs?”

He chuckled a little. In his world, most Pokemon just took the idea that Arceus existed for granted. And, well, given that he’d somehow turned into a Pokemon to live in a world of only Pokemon, with no apparent long term repercussions to his physical or mental well being, the Oshawott had just, kind of, gone along with it! Still, as far as he knew, no one had ever actually seen Arceus, and Archie likewise wasn’t aware of any evidence that proved it existed. It could very well be like Dave said, just a convenient explanation of something beyond current understanding!

“I think, it makes people feel more comfortable imagining there’s a reason behind everything, that it’s not just all random chance,” Archie continued. A reason why things happened. A reason why they specifically were the ones brought here to Forlas… A reason he was still alive.
Koa stared at Dave, his thoughts starting to blur despite his best attempts to pay attention. No wonder science had never been his thing. Still, he grasped the basics of Dave's ramble enough to know what he was talking about. It sort of reminded him of some arguements he'd heard about legendaries in his world. Part of him wanted to protest but then, how could he know?

Still lost in thought he nodded along in thought as Archie spoke. It sounded an awful lot like Archie's world at least had an Arceus. He took a moment to think, mulling over Dave's point, then Archies. Reshiram wasn't even a legendary in Aige's world, Nova's was... Nova's and Laura talked of entire other beings. Even the saints here weren't like the legends he knew.

"I don't know... I mean clearly there's way more going on then any science in your world knows, right? Or even mine or Archie's. You must have made some crazy discoveries or new things in your time, right?" He frowned, staring at his plate of nearly finished food. "I guess if there's one thing that is guranteed, its that nothing is," he said slowly. "I mean you're both here and nothing I've seen fits anything I've heard of. The pokemon don't even act the same," he added with a chuckle.
"Well, that's what science is all about, inching forward towards greater understanding of the universe. You've just got to do it using rigorous methods that can tease out the actual truth based on factual evidence that can be observed and confirmed, instead of just believing whatever's easy or comforting or 'sounds right'." He inclined his head towards Archie. "As you say, people love to imagine everything happens for a reason, but being feelgood doesn't make it true. Sometimes horrible unfair shit just happens and good people suffer for no good reason. And that's why you can't just rely on the universe to magically make things right through karma bullshit. You have to do the work, the hard way."

Dave finished the last of his coffee in one gulp.
“Well, I think we can at least all agree on that,” the Oshawott nodded, “Even if there is some kind of higher power behind everything, at the end of the day, they can’t or won’t intervene to right all the wrongs in the world. We have to rely on each other for that.”

Powehi certainly wasn’t jumping at the call to fix Forlas’s problems, and Betel had summoned them to do it rather than try themselves. And it was likely the case back in their homes as well. They had to be the positive change they wanted to see in the world, they couldn’t just sit back and wait for it to happen.

“So, I hope that I can rely on you two, and that you know you can rely on me, too!” he continued.
Koa managed a smile and nodded. He wasn't sure he entirely agreed with everything Dave had aid, but at the very least they were on the same page about trying to fight for a good cause. "Yeah, I agree with that. Things won't get better unless good people try to do something about it." He shot Archie a grateful look. He'd been cautious about the Oshawott before but he'd proven himself reliable and level headed. "But I've got your back as long as we're here."
Cheesy proclamations about relying on each other aside (he had no plans of relying on a child, thank you very much), at least Koa and Archie seemed basically decent. Naïve enough to drink this Alex guy's Kool-Aid and get Betel corrupted with Shadow, but well-meaning and not batshit. That was something, he supposed. Road to hell paved with good intentions and all.

"I guess we're all going to have to have each other's backs in this place if we're going to stand a chance against any of this bullshit that's going on, huh," he said. "At least this is a world where we've got more power to do something about it than I'm used to. Back in my world punching out the mayor would not have fucking worked."

He stood up from the table, raising a paw in a brief salute. "Nice to chat with you both. See you around."

Ch04: Baneful Masks [Koa & Bellatrix]
'Very well. We can speak in-person when you are ready...'

It had been about a day since Bellatrix sent that message over the Wayfarer Communications. Admittedly, she wasn't surprised in the slightest to hear that it was Koa who had that potential encounter that granted Shadow to the others. Under most circumstances, it was grounds for a rather firm lecture but she was strictly here on business today. And with a source so volatile, her displeasure could be saved for a later day.

So, the ghostly zoroark waited for the electrike to appear in the Haus' dinning hall, paws neatly placed one on top of the other on the table. Her expression betrayed nothing but thoughtfulness.
Koa wasn't avoiding Bellatrix exactly, but it was just coincidence he tried to find places to busy himself where he might not run into her...

Of all the people on the team, he liked her the least after what she'd done. Wes didn't count. And if he never had to go on a mission with her and she returned merrily to her own home without ever speaking to him he'd be fine with that.

But the sight of her sitting there (why had everyone on the team evolved?) in the dining hall, lurking, waiting for him made his hackles rise. At least this time she wasn't ambushing him in his room and attacking him.
The red chains, winding around him-

Okay. All he had to do was keep it together, get this over with, and if he was lucky not have to speak to her ever again.

Stiff legged, he walk over to her, tucking all his emotions into a neat ball. He regarded her evenly. "Hello. You had questions for me?" Calm. Cool. Unaffected.
A simple nod. "You can begin by telling me the specifics of what happened beyond what was said over the communications, then I will ask questions if I require any further clarification. I will also answer any question you have for me if I end up theorising more on the specifics."

Bellatrix's gaze was fixed firmly on Koa, like a staraptor eyeing its prey, watching out for Koa's expressions and body language as she waited for his explanation.
In the back of his mind, he recited Odette's advice. Simple, he'd just stick to facts. "Of course." He nodded in understanding. Met her gaze, kept his own aloof. They were in a public place so she'd have to restrain herself. "As I said, I was investigating the shadow Drapion with Archie."

Facts, details, nothing else. "The guards let in Alex who claimed to be part of a group investigating shadows and we were on the same side. When Betel couldn't sense anything about him we agreed to trade information away from Ignatius and the public."

And then you ran off into the wilderness. Only the specifics. "He wanted to be away from the public. Archie suggested the ravine so Betel could try and listen in. So we went."

"We sought to question him further on his motives." Betel's frantic warning they'd given then was still fresh in his mind. Fire and shadow. He plunged ahead, speaking nonchallantly like reciting a recipie. "Then he threatened us, used shadow powers, and told us he wanted to make us scream. Whatever that meant," he added with a derisive snort. "He claimed he worked for the organic source of shadow's but wouldn't name him. Obviously that must have been Powehi. Spoke about claiming the power of shadows being the only way to resist it. And he said we had already been exposed." That was it.

Letting out a measured breath, he continued, keep his gaze steady. "I'll try and tell you anything more specific you want to know but some of it you might have heard from Powehi already about shadows." If he was particularly lucky that would be enough for her, but somehow he doubted that would be the case.
"And how did you escape?" Bellatrix then asked, drumming a claw on the table. "Did he do or say anything else?" She was considering her words carefully but it was clear that she was missing a piece or two to whatever theory she was putting together in her head. She paused briefly as she thought of another question.

"Where do you believe this initial exposure occurred and do you think it to be the origin point of the Wayfarer's capability to use Shadow?"
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