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Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Guest Rooms

The maus gave a few eager nods at the mention of Drungfield, pointing to those still standing, back at those being carried away, and then back again at the standing. As for the drapion, one of them attempted to trace the form of a jail cell in the air while another attempted to mime being behind bars.

The sound down the hallway grew louder and then skidded to a stop. The source? A familiar ghostly zorua whose fur and mane was sticking out in all directions and coated in a thin layer of dust. ears pinned to the side of her head the moment she got a clear view of the aftermath of the carnage.

"Valour's fangs," she muttered beneath her breath, "I wasn't hearing things after all..." She didn't appear to be in the mood to ask questions, she appeared to have gotten the gist from the sights alone. "Straight to Drungfield's, all of them," she told the maus, though they didn't need to be told twice. She looked at each of the injured, worry breaking through her otherwise neutral countenance. "I heard Betel and I came as quickly as I could, but I wasn't near the Haus," she said quickly. "When I arrived, I had to find and alert the maus about... this..."
The thing was down. Or... not down exactly, but spent, struggling to keep its balance. It really hadn't known what hit it. Beneath the sheer exhaustion of going at it with everything he fucking had, a rush of hormonal triumph was rising in his chest, dumb instincts real pleased with victory like they hadn't just nearly fucking died.

Betel told them to knock it out, or else try to 'reach its heart', whatever the fuck that was supposed to mean.

Apparently Koa thought it meant approaching it like a frightened horse and telling it that it's okay.

A fresh jolt of adrenaline spiked through him as the Drapion twitched in response, baring its mandibles. "Hey!" Dave barked. Wes was yelling, too. "What the fuck do you think you're..."

The Drapion didn't actually move against Koa, though, just stood there, tense, wary. Dave trailed off as the Oshawott whose name he wasn't sure of joined in. Then Kimiko, looking like seven kinds of shit, managed to step up and sing it to sleep. Well, shit. That was one way to deal with it, he supposed.

And then a deluge of Tandemaus popped up. Jesus Christ, where'd they been this whole time? They handily picked up everyone who was down, ridiculously miming that they were taking the Drapion to jail. Yeah. Probably the best place for it while they figured out what the hell to do about it, assuming the jail could hold it.

He turned back to Odette and Dave, both of them looking as awful as he felt. “Don’t suppose any of you feel up to making the trek to Drungfield’s to alert her?” Maybe she can even Teleport…gods, I hope so. “If not…I can go.”
Dave exhaled slowly. "You know what, I think we could all use a fucking doctor right now. What the shit. Let's just get over there."

And then he could hit the goddamn Zera. Great time to try Gerome's cactus whiskey.
Kimiko's song was a much-needed balm after the horror of the evening. Listening to it, Ridley felt the tight knot of panicked emotion in his chest start to uncoil.

He eyed the shadow drapion's fallen form warily, but the fear and anticipation thrumming through his body was slowly being replaced with a tentative hope. If that monster struggled upright again for a third round of fighting Ridley didn't have high hopes of their group living through it, but...

Maybe it was actually over.

"I'm fine," he mumbled, about to protest that he didn't need a doctor. He'd only been hit by a couple of pin missile spikes; all he needed was to yank those out and sew up the new holes in his disguise. But... if he tagged along, he wouldn't have to let anyone out of his sight.
He really didn't want to be alone right now.

Ridley thought he'd been scared during the fight, but that had been nothing to what he'd experienced watching Koa approach the shadow drapion, speaking to it in low, soothing tones. That was a dumb move even by Ridley's standards; at least when he'd approached the shadow charmeleon he hadn't known what it was capable of.

He shook his head, trying not to think about how easily that could have gone wrong. "Hey, Betel," he muttered instead. "Are you still there?" Any sense of readiness for a fight had left the room; maybe Betel's presence had faded with it. He raised his voice a little, addressing the group as a whole. "I think that was the same skorupi we met in Blaguarro. I'msure it recognised us."
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Bellatrix sighed, trailing the maus from behind as the carried the injured away. There didn't seem like there was much to comment further on, as everyone was either too shaken or unconscious at the moment (not to mention that Bellatrix was never much of the chatty type). As they left for Drungfield's, the rest of the maus began tidying the mess left by the attack, although it seemed that the haus would be down a room for a while. Thankfully, there had been a couple extras, although whether or not Steven would be sleeping alone any time soon was a different question entirely.

Just how did the skorupi get here and why did Bellatrix look so guilty about it?

[Ch04] Dark Pasts and Past Buckets ~ Mhynt and Wes
Her bucket was too small again.

She'd been lamenting this fact for a while now, staring at it thoughtfully, cursing her new size and stature. Small and unnoticeable was favorable in an environment where they'd been so weak and against so many great threats. Now she dwarfed her bucket, and getting one to fit her new self was going to be cumbersome... And she'd probably evolve all over again anyway. Kicked from her metallic, watery nest all too soon.

Alas, life was never caring for one's individual plight. She was evolved, leafy, lanky, and bucketless. She would donate it to a needy Dwebble, perhaps. Or a hungry... Well, there was probably some Pokemon that ate metal. And getting the tub of a cute Treecko probably sold high if she found the right, depraved buyer...

Choices, choices...

And so Mhynt stood in the hall, staring down her old bucket, providing no explanation to passersby.
Wes had told himself he would ask Mhynt about Alexander first thing the next time he saw her—he just didn’t really expect her to be standing in the hall when he did see her. For some reason, it was odd to see her in such a…normal place when the Treecko (now Grovyle, apparently) was anything but normal.

The fact that she was staring at a bucket like it was a lost cousin only reinforced Wes’s belief.

He cleared his throat as he approached, but she was so intent on her staring contest with the bucket that she didn’t seem to notice him. Fine, straight to the chase, then.

“‘Scuse me,” he said. “Uh, Mhynt? I have a few questions for you, if you’re…”

He side-eyed the bucket.

“…Not busy.”
"...Do you think people would pay more if I said I soaked in it?" Mhynt wondered, glancing at Wes. "Sorry, that was a strange thing to ask. Did you need something?"

She didn't seem to think much of it, glancing around occasionally at the maus in the area. Then, back at Wes. "You are... Wes. Right. I believe you have some kind of... history with Seth."
Wes stared at her. Than at the bucket. Then back at Mhynt.

“Honest to gods, I have no idea what the hell to say to that.” He blinked, then frowned. “Wait, why—are you trying to sell it? Why do you even—what’s it for?”

He suddenly wondered if he would rather not know the answer. And dammit, these were not the questions he’d come here to ask, anyway. He shook his head. “You know what, never mind. I’m…yes, I’ve got a sort of history with Seth. If you can call it that. Alternate version of me. Multiverse bullshit or whatever.” He plowed past the topic, hoping that explanation was somehow good enough. “But that’s not—I can give more details later. My question is: you asked about Alexander in that dream. With Powehi. You knew who he was. How? What do you know about him?”
"It was my bucket," Mhynt explained. "But now I can't use it. Maybe I could donate it to a Joltik for their personal castle." She nodded sagely.

Her gaze then slowly became more serious. "...I think I should inform the others about this more thoroughly in our little... mental connection," She resolved. "Alexander, Owen, and I are from the same world. At the time, we were in the same building. Perhaps we'd been taken all by mistake due to the... high energy nature of my world compared to all of yours.

"Alexander is the tyrant king of Cipher City. He has command over Shadows and rules absolutely and has no opposing power. He feared Owen because he was a hint at potential weaknesses he has. And now, he has Owen under his control. I was once his puppet, too... but it seems Owen took my place. I don't know what will happen to me if we cross paths. If he still has control over Shadows here, and he is with Powehi... I haven't a doubt in my mind he is seeking a way to usurp him and take control of those Shadows himself."
“Your bucket for…what?” Wes racked his brain and pulled up a vague memory of her standing in it as a Treecko. “Why’d you stand in it?” He was certain he’d never understand this mon.

He frowned thoughtfully as she spoke of Alexander, and his hackles bristled. Cipher City? Hells and sands, he didn’t like the sound of that at all. “You had a Cipher in your world too? Like the one here? And Alexander was part of it?”
"Not just part of it," Mhynt said. "He ruled it. He had final say in anything that happened in his civilization. I won't deny that he ran it... decently. But it was all for the motive of gathering absolute power and nothing more." She sighed. "I was... forced to be close with him, under his spectral chains. I know better than anyone what he truly wants."

She glanced at the bucket. "I'm a leafy Pokemon in a hot desert. I need to hydrate. Bucket."
Well. Wes hadn’t thought of that. He shrugged. “Fair enough,” he said.

He inwardly cringed at Mhynt’s next words. Forced to be close to him? Wes wasn’t sure he wanted to know what that entailed, exactly. For the first time since meeting the strange grass type, he felt a twinge of sympathy for her. “I…see. I’m very sorry,” he said quietly. “It sounds like you might have extremely valuable information on him, then. If he was connected with Cipher in your world, there’s almost no doubt he’s working with the Cipher here, too. And that’s a dangerous combination.”
Mhynt nodded. "I'm sure he wants to usurp it and work under it at the same time," he said. "He... did something similar, or is trying something similar, back home. And someone like him wouldn't want to change his schemes. Unfortunately, I don't know how it translates in this world. But... he can control others. I'm sure he's controlling the former mayor and that Drapion. I just don't know... how he does it. If it was unlimited, we would have already lost to him. There must be a weakness..."
Wes’s heart sank. He’d been hoping Mhynt would know Alexander’s weakness, but clearly she didn’t. But, well, she knew a lot about him, so that was a start.

“Well…perhaps you should tell us everything you might know about him over the network,” Wes said, trying to be encouraging. “The more we know about him, the more likely we can figure out what that weakness is. Especially if we all put our heads together.”
Mhynt seemed uncomfortable at the prospect. There was a deeper fear in her eyes when Wes suggested explaining everything. "...Right. I should," she said. "I should. I'm sure... they won't judge me for it. If right now that problem is so far away."
Was there more to it that she hadn’t said? Wes shifted and muttered, “Well, if it helps, I probably should share everything about me and Seth over the network, too. Though frankly that’s the last thing I want, but…considering both of our connections with Cipher…it’s probably relevant. And the team needs to know.” His expression softened and he added, “I…I’ve done some things I’m not proud of, either. So I have no room to judge whatever you’ve been forced to do.”
Mhynt looked conflicted at first, but then she nodded quietly and said, "...I'll practice with you, then."

She seemed to be grasping something that didn't exist. Like a Leaf Blade she didn't summon.

"I was Cipher City's... elite assassin. If Alexander wanted someone gone... I made it happen. With one touch, I could steal all of their strength... reduce them to their weakest forms and siphon from them all the power they'd lost. I would make them... useless for whatever resistance they'd been forming. I was unstoppable and feared. And... I got used to it. I settled into the blood of that position and... let it all happen. Complicit because what else could I have done? If I disobeyed, Alexander would... well, the equivalent would be, he'd turn me into a Shadow Pokemon, is how you'd classify it. But worse. I wouldn't even have my mind or body, I'd... be a shapeless drone.

"I had to choose between keeping my 'self,' but operating under his orders and find ways to do the bare minimum... or lose everything I am, and mindlessly follow commands, perhaps not as effectively, but as a drone. And I... was too afraid to risk the latter. I was afraid, so I... performed. And I followed every command. Every... command." Her body language looked closed off. Her leaves betrayed her, trembling from her minute movements.

"Owen... had the courage to defy him. That's why he's a Shadow Pokemon now."
Wes felt an icy chill as he listened. He was right, he really hadn’t wanted to know all of this. But it was important—not just to learn about Alexander, he realized, but about his fellow teammate. The reasons for her eccentricities. Why she seemed not quite normal. The pieces were falling into place and the picture they made was a painfully depressing one.

“I’m…so sorry,” he said at length. “You…that’s…not a position anybody should ever be in. The fact that you retained your sense of self, though…that’s something. Really. You fought back in your own way, because he probably would have preferred you to be his mindless drone.”

He sat on his haunches and stared at the wall past her, not really looking at anything. “I know a thing or two about giving up and becoming a mindless drone. Well, not literally mindless, but—complacent. Beaten. Doing exactly what my boss wanted me to and deciding not to fight back anymore. I nearly lost everything important to me by doing that—I would have, if I’d just kept going along like that.” He met her gaze and spoke firmly. “You never gave up yourself like that, and it’s worth acknowledging.”

A thought occurred to him then. “How did you escape? Or were you still…bound to him when you got pulled here? Do you know how he turned Owen Shadow?”
Mhynt shook her head. "I can only guess. I know he was still defying him when we'd left our homeworld. And..." She looked away. "And... I was still under his control at the time. I do not know if that carried over. If it will return. I do not know if I will ever be free when I return."
Well…that was depressing as hell. Wes had his own share of problems waiting for him in Orre, but at least they weren’t that.

“Well—tell you what. You’re free here, and in a position where you can learn and do things of your own will. And you have a whole team on your side. We can figure out how to take down Alexander and save Owen, and maybe there’s a chance a part of what you learn will go back to your world with you, when this is all over.” It was…flimsy, at best, but he hoped the thought was at least a little comforting.
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