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Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Guest Rooms

"That's the hope," Mhynt agreed, looking at least a little resolute. "Thank you, then. I will... inform the others about this soon once I have my thoughts in order. It won't be easy. And I don't want to stumble over myself when presenting it."
Wes let out a short, dry laugh. “Well, that makes two of us. You’re not the only one who has to share some uncomfortable details about your past.” He paused, remembering his own fears about doing so—about coming clean and telling the whole team about Seth, about himself—and added, “For what it’s worth…I don’t think any less of you. For what you were forced to do. You didn’t have a choice, and you did the best you could given the circumstances. And I’d be a pretty rotten hypocrite if I held any of that against you.”
Mhynt smiled faintly at that, relaxing visibly. "...Thank you," she said, picking up her bucket. With a transitional sigh, she said, "Well, I suppose I'll have to start somewhere with selling this bucket," she said. "I could use the extra money. Eventually. For something."
Wes’s mouth twitched into an amused half-grin. “Hope you find some takers.” Though he honestly didn’t have a clue who would want a simple bucket, unless they had some kind of crazy idea for—

His ears suddenly perked up. “Actually—have you met Lucis? He’s Gerome’s kid. Some kind of…inventor scientist…guy.” He nearly said “nutjob,” but managed to keep that in. “He might be interested in your bucket.”
"Really?" Mhynt said. "Hm. I hadn't considered that. Last I heard, he was spotted at the bulletin board when I wasn't on shift... and then didn't appear anywhere else until later that evening." Mhynt frowned disapprovingly. "Very... curious."
The bulletin board? That was an odd place to hang out…Wes stood and turned towards the exit. “Well, let’s see what he’s up to, then. Maybe we’ll find him there again.”
"Mm." Mhynt nodded and stepped after Wes. "Perhaps we can do a more thorough investigation this time with a second pair of eyes..."

Though she wondered what good it would do so long after the fact. At the very least, maybe they could get a story or two to follow...

Ch05: Recollections (Nova and Gladion)
Gladion sat on his bed, doing something to his threadbare red bandanna he'd gotten when he first arrived. It wasn't holding up so well, and whatever he was doing to it seemed to be doing more damage to the remaining good fabric instead of fixing it. It was something to keep him busy, keep his mind from lingering too fully on what had just happened. He needed, now more than ever, a simple project to keep him occupied.

Between shadows and radiance, he'd unearthed some uncomfortable thoughts. He didn't have regrets per se, it had all turned out reasonably well, but he couldn't feel good about it either. He'd figured evolution would go differently for him. Now, the memory was stained by the same all-consuming mental ache that so many of his others inspired. Left to be as much a painful one as a pleasant one. At least they'd managed to save Ark. That was the most important part, but it was hard to call a victory when it was probably inevitable anyway.
It had been a... confusing trip back for Nova. And it didn't even have anything to do with discovering ARK and grappling with the fact that the Covenant had the means and the motivationhubris to go and build them to begin with. (To say nothing of how casually and callously they just... gave ARK up simply because they couldn't do exactly what the Covenant wanted.)

He couldn't let go of the whole Alexander thing. In fact, it got worse upon learning one of Lovrina's statements wasn't just bluster. The Cipher dolts the other Wayfarers fought actually went and made themselves shadow pokémon. Because that was a smart and rational decision. At least Nova's reckless attacking of the shadow machine was meant to do something beneficial.

And, of course, just the fact that these Cipher people had been so tough to begin with... it ate at him. For a few reasons that were crawling around the back of his head.

Upon returning to Frontier Town, though, there was one person Nova definitely wanted to check on. Even if he wasn't staying in the Haus, he could drop by, right? And he had a convenient excuse at the ready. Nova had gathered up some meats, cheeses, and berries. He carried them in a basket in his beak as he walked through the hallway.

Hopefully he had the right room. Nova knocked on the door. "It'sh me. I brought shome food." The basket somewhat muffled his speech.
Gladion tucked his project away and answered the door. He wasn’t quite sure why Nova was here, and he wasn’t sure he was prepared to talk about what happened, but he wasn’t going to ice Nova out so he’d probably end up spilling something.

“Nova? Hey. Uh, come in. But out of curiosity, what’re you here for?”

Gladion reached out to take the basket. Nova had it in his beak, no wonder he’d sounded so muffled…

“Anything other than just food? Thanks for that, though.”
Nova hesitantly walked inside and handed the basket off. "I guess, I dunno, even though you haven't, like, been in that body for long, you got the mask off." He sat down. "That's a big deal! And I know for me... it was surreal. All these senses that were blunted coming back to me."

His cheek bolts slowly turned. "Being able to smell and taste stuff is... a big deal for me. I figured, y'know, you might like to try stuff for yourself. Now that yours is gone."
Gladion took a pastry from the basket and took a bite, giving himself a moment to savour it. He could still taste and smell fine as far as he’d noticed, but he’d still been pretty uncomfortable eating and hadn’t really enjoyed it. (Maybe it was different, then? It’s not like he’d been seeking out any nice food.) It was a relief to be able to eat freely, and enjoy the indulgence of it.

“I feel like I never really fully adjusted to having it, in sensory terms. Next time we have a fight though, then I’ll be in trouble. If I don’t break the habit of trying to take attacks on the helmet first at least, so I should probably find someone to spar with in the meantime.”

He took another bite and nodded approvingly before returning his attention to the conversation.

“Felt like I had to readjust quickly back when… y’know… At least we didn’t actually have to do any more fighting. Gonna have to break the ice before I do.”
"I, uh, could offer to help." Nova tapped a talon on the floor. "Except there's the whole 'if you hit me I'll reflect the damage back' thing." He still wasn't entirely sure what to make of that. "Then again... I could use practice trying to deal with statuses."

He looked down shamefully. "That birdbrain's Toxic sapped a lot of my strength scarily fast. I'd brought one of those protective orbs but didn't use it fast enough..."
“Wouldn’t mind giving you a hand with that, but I need to retrain my muscle memory of getting swung at if I don’t wanna lean my head into attacks. It’s already a strong reflex for me.”

Gladion paused for a beat, collecting his thoughts. “I think he got me, too. Or at least he would have if Ark hadn’t polished me off before it did much. There was a lot going on and I was paying more attention to them.”
"Think that goes for both of us." Nova chuckled. Though the chuckling faded as his gaze fell to the floor.

"Can I, um, ask you something?" he mumbled. "About that stuff you said when Ark got out of the machine's wreckage..."
Ah. That.

He couldn’t recall the exact words he used. But he certainly remembered exactly what he’d felt, so it wasn’t as if he was left guessing where this was going.”

“Alright. Shoot. I just… I mean, it’s the fifth time I know something like that happened.”
Nova's instincts got the better of him, with his turquois feathers curling up and a small squawk escaping his beak. "Fifth?"
Gladion spoke in a measured tone, one that could almost be mistaken for indifference. “The version of me from back home, yours, Laura’s, Odette’s, then me again here. Five worlds I know that there’s been some version of me who hits that beat. And those are just the people who know of me rescuing a Null in their world. Maybe you wouldn’t count yours but it sounds like the main event happened even if he lost his fucking mind afterwards.”

He winced at the memory of that conversation, but decided not to dwell on it. “Of course it’s usually Aether involved and not Lovrina, but still. It couldn’t be Aether here because they don’t exist, but we still managed to converge on that design and that event anyway, somehow.”
Maybe you wouldn’t count yours but it sounds like the main event happened even if he lost his fucking mind afterwards.
"No, that's-- I--"

Nova's head crest drooped and his feathers curled. He looked down guiltily. "I'm very sorry. Shouldn't have brought it up." He scooted a bit closer, eyeing one of the berries in the basket. "But that stuff about destiny... I was thinking about it the whole way back.

"I remembered stuff... because of the machine." Nova rubbed his forelegs together. "A different life... as a null. Where a kid with blonde hair was rescuing me from where I was made. But I fell through a wormhole... and ended up in a world like this. No humans, only pokémon."

His turquoise eyes dimmed. "I didn't know him long, but he was nice..."
Gladion’s eyes widened. So Ultra Wormholes could hop between worlds like his and this one.

“So you’re a… kind of an iteration of my partner? Except it didn’t work out that way. ‘Cause I am blond and do usually do the stealing as as a kid, so that sounds like me. Cool. I wonder if that’s a different, sixth Gladion, or the one you… ran into later.”

He took a moment to make sure he was going to phrase his thoughts correctly. “Glad you got to know a non-shit version of me, however briefly… but can you see why this is starting to creep me out? It just keeps happening. Can’t escape it. I mean, it’s a perfectly good act to define me in a vacuum, but I still have to go through whatever gets me there…”
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