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Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Guest Rooms

"Your entire ability to fight's gone?" Isidora huffed. "Well shit, that is bad."

A pause to think about it. "I'm not an expert on these things, but maybe it's some kinda block. Like your body got so used to fighting the way you were forced to that it forgot how to fight normally." She blinked -- "Well, maybe not your body, because it's a new one, but- you get what I mean," -- and waved it off. "The bad news is that if that's it, then the only thing you could do about it is train a bunch and fight past it, which might not be what you want to hear." She gave a quick, slight shrug. "Could always try and make it work too, but you probably don't want to hear that either."
That was, indeed, not what Nova wanted to hear. Though the mask hid his souring expression. "I have to break this thing. The mask's the problem."

He shook his head. Nova didn't want to talk about this anymore. "So then... what exactly are humans like for your world?"
Isidora's ears flicked up. "Well that's a complicated topic."

She tried to put her thoughts together. There really was a lot, and since the castle she'd been thinking about how many similarities bled between their worlds. "I have no idea how much of this'll be familiar to you, there are a lot aspects of this whole 'multiple world' thing I still can't wrap my head around," she admitted outright. "But the gist is that they're the dominant species, they've enslaved pokémon for their own purposes, and they're incredibly arrogant about it. I'm from a part of the world that was freed from them hundreds of years ago, and since then the relationship's been... complicated."

The sneasel crossed her arms. "A lot of the worst things that've happened to my world happened because humans only learn by making mistakes, and they keep managing to make them on a scale where it becomes the entire world's problem. So even though Liber's free from them on paper, we still have to deal with them, and the consequences of their mistakes, and the pokémon they'll sometimes abandon and throw on our shores, and the politics from them trying to make us part of their world. And we can't ignore them 'cause they have advanced technology far beyond anything we've got, and our entire country probably wouldn't even exist anymore if we didn't have leverage over them."

She sighed. She had almost started venting outright. "So you can see why I'd be wary of these human supremacists."
Nova tilted his head. "So, you have pokémon with... your level of sapience. In a world full of trainers?"
Isidora matched his head tilt. 'Sapience' was another weird word she'd been hearing a lot lately. "I... guess I do?" She scratched underneath her ear. "Is there somethin' weird?"
"Most of the trainers in my world... either work with feral pokémon or earn the partnership of more intelligent 'mons like us." Nova glanced left, then right. "At least, that's how it was supposed to work. Because we have places with only pokémon, and places with humans and pokémon." He paused, blinking slowly. "Not counting the humans who augment themselves with pokémon parts 'cuz they think it makes them look cool or live longer..."

Nova's voice trailed off and he shook his head. "In any case, whatever humans came here before our whole group... doubt they're all from one place. They probably have wildly different thoughts about 'mon like us. So, for them to all rally under this 'supremacy' banner..." He looked down. "Whoever's in charge must have a serious way with words."
Some of his description left the sneasel scratching her head. There are some weird worlds out there. The word feral, too: she knew that one, but something about it always seemed to rub her the wrong way when pokémon here used it.

"I guess there really is no telling what any given human might believe..." Isidora mused. Her resolve strengthened as she remembered her own words from before the fight. "That just means I'm right to think our group's vulnerable. So this meeting'll be extra important."

With a start, she realized they'd been talking for a lot longer than she planned. She pushed herself off the wall and straightened herself up. "S-Sorry, I didn't mean to keep you so long. Never even asked your name."
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"Nova," he replied. "And it's fine. Not like... I need much rest compared to the others. Didn't do much in the fight. Just tired from the hiking." Nova shuffled to the side so the sneasel could get past him.
"Nova..." Odd name. It'd be easy to remember, at least. "Mine's Isidora." She was about to tip her hat, when she realized she hadn't put it on yet. Her cheeks burned and she held her arm instead. "I-I need to get somethin' to eat. I'll see ya at the meeting."

She walked past him and tightened her scarf-bandage again. Even if she felt she screwed up in a few places, it felt good to talk to someone without worrying about their humanity. I guess he's not that bad a 'mon...

[Ch03] The Walls have Claws - Shadow Skorupi battle
It was a sign when the lines of the mayor's ledger were beginning to blur together in Steven’s vision. A sign that it was far too late into the night for him to still be awake.

With a weary hum, he closed the notebook and let his eye rest for a moment. The Haus was quiet, and had been all day. Even the Maus seemed to be taking a break from their usual hustle and bustle. But he couldn't sit idle with the meeting with Nolan looming. He needed to read through the ledger again, to make sure he would be prepared, or maybe uncover something new, something useful.

There was a slight scuffle in the walls of his room, and Steven opened his eye. Perhaps the Maus were back to work after their day off. He wouldn't have thought twice about the sounds if there wasn't something different about them.

Curious, he followed the scuttling with his eye around the walls of his room, from one side to the other. The sounds were clumsy, unwieldy… Too loud to be the Maus.

“Hello?” Steven ventured, wondering who could be sneaking around this late at night. Surely they had a good reason not to simply knock at his door.
Skrrch Skrrrrch


Like nails on a chalkboard, the noises continued to echo through the walls in spite of Steven's question. Punctuated by muffled clicks, the sound of whatever was hiding in the walls grew louder, more rapid as it continued. If Steven's gaze traced the sound's passage, he would have noticed that it was travelling up - towards the maus hole at the topmost corner of the room - and once it reached the hole...

The room fell silent.

For a split second a sharp stinger that leaked with overstimulated venom flashed into view before retracting into the darkness. And then, for several tension-laced moments, nothing.

Perhaps Steven could have written it off as a product of his stress and exhaustion, a mere figment of his imagination, lest his tired mind addled itself with paranoia. There was no way—


Claws, fangs and stingers mercilessly tore away the wall with each deafening thud to create a larger opening. Venom weakened and eroded away at its structure, leaving it to resemble wet paper more than wooden paneling. Barely a second passed when Steven got a full view of the creature that had made the maus go silent as it prowled through the walls.

Mauve and chitinous, eyes bloodshot and manic, it was unmistakable: The skorupi from the watchtower; the very same one that had attacked Odette that night.

And now, with a frenzied hiss, it was focused on Steven.

Equal parts disbelief and terror made Steven's question come out in a strangled whisper.

This… this was… A shadow pokemon! Here? In Frontier Town? In his room?!

Steven was frozen with fear. He was trapped. Couldn't even run if he wanted to, the door to his room behind him was closed. But maybe…

There was one advantage to beldum anatomy. Slowly, he backed toward the door, fumbling for the knob with his claw, his eye never leaving the skorupi.

Images of Odette’s bandages, the pin missile spine, and Koa’s haunted expression flashed through his mind. He was in danger. He had to escape. He had to warn the others.

Steven's claw found the knob, and he ran out of time.
For the brief second Steven reached for doorknob, the skorupi held still, like an elastic held taut in dreadful anticipation.

The moment his claws touched the knob, it creature let out a horrid screech and sprung. Venom dripped from its fangs and stingers, spreading the foul smelling substance all over the floor. The purple liquid was far thicker and concentrated than what should have been considered healthy or natural and it appeared to be laced with some kind of substance that was blacker than black.

It tackled Steven, its claws on its tail clamped down on his sides before Steven was promptly slammed into the door. It then swung him again for good measure, splintering the door. With its prey seemingly incapacitated, the skorupi twitched and jittered with overwhelmed excitement. Steven could see a mixture of pain and feral hunger in its eyes before it drove its fangs and stingers into his metallic body.

The venom worked fast, softening and corroding away the points where it dug into his body, nullifying his steel-typing entirely. Steven would feel his entire body become awash with a horrible, cold burn as increasing quantities of venom snaked its way towards his central nervous system. The skorupi held onto Steven, continuing to pump its toxins into him like its life depended on it. It wouldn't let go, it couldn't let go.
For a fraction of a second while the skorupi hung in midair, Steven had the crazy thought that he might be able to stop its charge. If he was fast enough, he could spin and catch it with his claw—

He'd barely released the knob when he realized he in fact, was not fast enough.

The skorupi slammed into him, sending him careening into the door. Steven barely had time to groan before it pinned him there with the pincers on its tail. He tried to squirm free, claws waggling helplessly, but the skorupi's grip was too strong.

Suddenly, its tail retracted, with Steven still in its grasp.


The first blow cracked the door with his back, the second exploded it outwards into the hall in a shower of jagged splinters. Steven landed in a heap, dazed and disoriented.

He still didn't know which way was up when the skorupi sunk its fangs into him.

The pain was immediate, like white hot lances piercing into his side. His head snapped back as he screamed.

To anyone listening who had already been awoken by the sound of shattering wood and panicked beldum screeching, Steven's voice would have abruptly gone silent. Under the shadow pokemon's assault, the strain of projecting his mental communication had become too much. He screamed again as the poison began to spread, his screeches escalating to a horrible wail.

It was like someone had injected lava into his veins, so hot that it became bitter cold, eating away at his insides in a slow, unstoppable wave. His body jerked in the skorupi's grasp as he sent desperate pulses of magnetism to try and break loose, but it was no use.

His terrified struggle in the skorupi’s jaws began to cease, the poison nullifying his ability to levitate. Slowly, he sunk to the ground, his claws spasming erratically. He was losing control of his body. His vision swam, blurring at the edges like a camera trying to find its focus. The light of his eye began to dim.

He was faintly aware of a nearby hissing sound, the air filling with acrid smoke.

Under the creeping agony, he made a desperate plea, unaware that no one could actually hear his voice.

“H-hel… Be-Bee— Run… Please—”
Ridley didn't realise he was sleeping until the noise woke him up. He'd borrowed a thick stack of books from the library, with the idea that if he wasn't going to be sleeping anyway he might as well put the time to use. At some point or other he must have drifted off, because the crashing and banging and screeching had him jolting upright, his pile of books scattering over the floor.

What the fuck? He bolted for the door and made it out into the hall, just in time for the horrible screaming to be replaced by a horrible silence.

Help! Steven is under attack by a Shadow, in the Haus guestrooms!

Odette was already having trouble sleeping. Paired with her affinity for sleeping lightly, she heard the commotion long before Betel showed up in her head. She grabbed her gun and Jawile’s key and bolted out of her room, following the sound of the yelling as she worked at the jaws locks. It wasn’t long before she came upon the scene of the carnage, and her brain stalled on what to be horrified of first—the sight of the very skorupi that had attacked her the other night, or the fact that Steven was at the receiving end of its vengeance.

By that point, the chain was already off, and Jawile spoke before she did.

“̶E̵Y̵Y̴O̴,̶ ̶B̸U̴G̷G̴Y̸ ̴B̵O̵Y̷.̷ ̸B̵R̶I̵N̶G̶ ̶T̷H̷A̵T̷ ̸A̴S̶S̵ ̸H̸E̸R̴E̷.̵”̷

She took aim with the gun, straight for the skorupi’s head. Kill it, kill it, she needed to kill it.

But, this thing was fucking mutant. Would a bullet even do anything to it? Not to mention, Steven was right there. If she accidentally hit him, she’d never forgive herself.

“Let him go!” she spat, cocking the derringer. She inhaled a breath. “Finish off on me, fuckface.”

I have aim. I can aim. Maybe not for the head, but the body.

She turned toward its lower end, and fired.
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Kimiko had spent the day after the team meeting training at her spot. They had a lot on their plate, and she needed to vent some frustration. Perhaps she'd actually gone overboard, because she was sore the following day, and decided to lock herself in her room.

She was awoken by the sound of... well, she wasn't sure what it was. It sounded like something heavy fell over, hard enough to shake the building, along with some high-pitched screeching. She'd already been contemplating asking Greasewood about the availability of rooms at the saloon, but now she sorely regretted not doing so after the meeting.

"Not my problem," she groaned, rolling over and pulling her pillow over her head.

And then...

Help! Steven is under attack by a Shadow, in the Haus guestrooms!


Kimiko practically launched herself out of her bed once Betel's words echoed in her head.

Finding the fucker wasn't hard - a vaguely familiar beldum lay in the hallway, surrounded by what appeared to be the wooden splinters that used to be his room's door.

And there, next to it, was that bloody skorupi.

She'd hesitated at the tower, but there wasn't time for that, now. She launched a flurry of leaves, if only to get the thing's attention, for all the damage they'd do. "Get away from him!"
Koa couldn't find it in himself to sleep easily. All the issues from the team meeting not long kept him awake as he lay in bed. He'd hoped the meeting would have brought them closer together. More unified, like a proper team. And it had, but only sort of. It felt like some of the team was still not together... He'd only just begun to drift off when the Beetle's voice broke into his thoughts.

Steven was being attacked?? Here? How- Shaking himself to alertness he sprang from his bed and shot across his room, practically slamming his door open. His heartbeat spiked as he sprinted through the hallway. In his head, he mentally prayed to any legend and force he could think of that Steven was okay.

He reached the door to Steven's room in a few moments only to find Steven on the floor, something that resembled a Skorupi clinging to him. Panic flooded Koa. He had to get it off without hurting Steven even more. Sparks crackled around him. Maybe a targeted strike-? His thoughts raced to find a good solution. Maybe he could try and lure it away. "Over here, stupid bug!" he barked.
The Haus was quiet when Archie returned from the day’s fieldwork. Actually, come to think of it, it had been quiet before he’d left in the morning too, though his mind had been too distracted by other things to really give that any thought. Now though, the silence was deafening. He’d looked around the lobby, wandered around the mess hall, even poked his head into the kitchen, all deserted. It hadn’t even looked like any food had been prepared all day. So, the Oshawott returned to the dining area, and then out again into the hallways. By now, the fur on the back of his neck was standing on end, and he was desperate for anything to break the eerie silence.

Unfortunately, his wish was soon granted by the sound of muffled bangs and screams from above him. This was followed by an urgent broadcast from the Cloud, and soon after Archie was taking the stairs two at a time. He tripped on the landing, landed on his paws, scrambled back to his feet as he rounded the corner and came upon the scene.

He saw the Mawile first, at the other end of the hallway – across from the rest of the scene playing out between them. Then his eyes followed hers to the entangled Beldum and Skorupi on the floor. Kimiko and Koa were here too. All were attempting to figure out how to get the Shadow Pokemon – so this was what a Shadow Pokemon looked like? – off, but none yet had closed distance.

His feet were moving again before he’d really had a chance to think about what he was doing. He drew his scalchop and summoned the watery blade of his Razor Shell, and drove it forward, trying to wedge the weapon between the Shadow and its prey. Steven looked to be in bad shape already, if they didn’t pry the Skorupi off him soon, it might be too late!
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