Topic: Lillifuture Thread
A thread for cataloguing the events that took place in the alternate future the Lillianna, Lex, and Salvador currently in the OU are from.
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A thread for cataloguing the events that took place in the alternate future the Lillianna, Lex, and Salvador currently in the OU are from.
[spoiler]Something Tangent convinced me to do from the original Futurethread.
-A man who is currently wearing a turquoise hat and suit with hair and beard also turquoise is sitting at a desk in a decently-sized room-
-The turquoise man looks out a window to see the sun beginning to set-
Turquoise man: "Been kind of quiet today."
Mightyena: <It's better than the alternative, though.>
Turquoise man: "True..."
-Some knocking is heard at the door-
Turquoise man: "Come in!"
-The door opens and a thuggish-looking man and an Arbok come in the door-
Turquoise man: "You have anything to report?"
Thug: "Well, we did manage to find one of the Sevipers' hangouts. It's on Block 7."
Turquoise man: "Ah, that's helpful. Good job for finding this out."
-He goes over and pats the thug on the shoulder, while the thug responds with a non-amused expression-
Arbok: <We altho thought we should tell you we found two new recruitth.>
Turquoise man: "Oh? By all means, have them come in."
-The Arbok nods, then goes to open the door with the thug, letting in a Punk Girl and her Koffing-
Punk Girl: -to the turquoise man- "So, you're in charge of the 'Krows, then?"
Turquoise man: "Indeed I am. I hear you want to join?"
Punk Girl: "Yeah. I heard you're good with getting things forgiven?"
Turquoise man: "You could say that. What would that happen to be, exactly?"
Punk Girl: "A couple robberies."
-The turquoise man glares somewhat-
Turquoise man: "If you've heard of us before, I think you know we don't take particularly kindly to thieves."
Punk Girl: "...But you named yourself after Murkrow."
-The glare continues, though the girl feels it getting worse-
Turquoise man: "Anyway, if you're joining, I hope you can start making amends for your past actions."
Punk Girl: "Yeah, yeah, sure."
-The Mightyena's gaze goes toward the Koffing, who had been silent up until now-
Mightyena: <I assume you want to join us too, then?>
Koffing: <Huh? I thought that was a given.>
Mightyena: <Just wanted to be sure that you were fine.>
Turquoise man: "At any rate, we have two new members. I propose we have some beverages."
-While this has been happening, the thug has been preparing some sort of liquid for everyone in the vicinity, including the Pokemon-
-He hands them out, presenting the one to the Koffing last-
Koffing: <...I don't have any hands.>
Thug: "Just tell me when, then."
Koffing: <...Okay?> ...Not going to ask how the human understands me.
-The Punk Girl has meanwhile been watching the proceedings with a puzzled and somewhat suspicious look on her face-
Punk Girl: "...This isn't poison or anything like that, is it?"
Turquoise man: -sounding somewhat shocked- "After we just welcomed you in? We here view trust between each other very importantly and we drink this sort of stuff normally anyway."
-As if to illustrate his point, he begins drinking while the Mightyena starts lapping up his beverage, the thug and Arbok soon joining-
Punk Girl: "...Alright, guess it's okay, then."
Koffing: <...Uh, now's okay.>
-The thug tips the glass for the Koffing while the girl drinks of her own accord-
Punk Girl: <Well, glad to be working here, then.>
Arbok: <And we're glad to have you.>
Punk Girl: <Tha- Wait, who said that?>
-The Arbok waves a tail at the girl, who notices he appears taller than before-
Punk Girl: <...Wait, what happened to->
Koffing: <...Uh, Rose?>
-Rose turns to look where her Koffing was and finds a Murkrow staring at her in her place-
Rose: <Wait, Koffing? What happened to->
Murkrow!Koffing: <...You might want to look at yourself.>
-Rose indeed does and sees where was once skin is now black feathers-
Murkrose: <...Okay, what's going on here? You said you drank this stuff.>
Turquoise man: "We do."
-The sun sets and moonlight fills the room-
-The turquoise man and Mightyena transform into Honchkrow while the thug and Arbok change into Murkrow-
Murkrose: <...I don't know what's going on anymore.>
Turquoise Honchkrow: <Well, hopefully you'll get your bearings soon enough. In the meantime, Ropey and Pecher will get you oriented.>
Murkrose: <...What kind of names are those?>
Murkrow!Pecher: <Don't get too comfortable, you two are getting ones like them, too.>
Murkropey: <And I might ath well thay you're going to need more expereienth before you change back and forth.>
-Rose gives a sigh as she and Koffing are lead somewhere by Ropey and Pecher-
Turquoise Honchkrow: <Well, we should probably get ready for dealing with those Sevipers, eh, Gogie?>
Honchkrogie: <Probably, but I'm still unsure...>
-The Turquoise Honchkrow goes over and drops the voice he was using in favor of a more familiar one-
Honchcrow: <You think all this is still too much?>
Honchkrogie: <...Maybe if things had gone differently
We wouldn't be dealing with all of this.>
Honchcrow: <This? Gogie, we're helping peoplemons.>
<Those two that just joined will make up for what they did and become valued members. And if it doesn't work out, we can cure them and send them on their way.>
<We're clearing up the streets of other gangs like the Sevipers and teaching them the way we'll teach her. These people will have it better than before we came.>
Honchkrogie: <...Then why haven't you told anyone else?>
<Gogie, you know while we are helping people, we can't tell the others...>
<They could see this the wrong way...>
<Then they'd try and stop us...>
<And we'd have to teach them why what we're doing is right... And I wouldn't want to see old friends among the reluctant recruits.>
Honchkrogie: <...The others and I, we're all worried, Crow.
If you can't tell the others, why go on?>
Honchcrow: <Because I want to help people, Gogie. And this is the best way I know how. It's probably not where I would have seen myself when we started off for the Saffron Gym, but it's the best way I know now.>
Honchkrogie: <...Well, even so, I'll still be beside you.>
Honchkrow!Triton: <But we should probably be checking on the rest of the mob now.>
-Gogie gives a nod and the two head out where the four Murkrow went before them-
-In her bedroom, a teenage girl is sat on her bed with her knees pulled up to her chest. Her body is beginning to show signs of malnutrition, and her unkempt brown hair is tangled into clumps. She stares at the glowing television screen in front of her without truly watching it, her eyes almost glazed over.-
Newscaster: ...the owners of a prominent martial arts dojo were found dead in their home in Unova earlier today following signs of a violent struggle. Local authorities believe this case to be linked to the recent string of so-called "Avenger" murders across the region, but have no leads on the killer's-
-The sound of someone making their way up the stairs snaps Lillianna out of her reverie, and she hastily scrambles to her feet, switching off the TV. Sure enough, the door is opened a few seconds later by an adult Lucius, far taller and broader in the shoulders than his teenage self ever was. His usual drab attire doesn't appear to have changed one bit, with the exception of the crimson stains marring the front of his sweater. He glares at Lillianna with bloodshot grey eyes that have long since lost any traces of warmth.-
Lucius: ...What are you doing?
Lucius: Oh, yeah, right. "Nothing". You don't know how easy you have it, you know. Back when I was your age, when I was going through hell at the hands of people that were supposed to be my friends, I would've killed to be doing "nothing". And yet you still feel the need to lie to your own father, even after everything I've done for you.
-He suddenly seizes her by the scruff of her shirt.-
Lucius: I'm doing this all for you, just so you're aware. I'm turning this shitty little hellhole of a world into a place that's safe for you to grow up in. I'm getting rid of everyone who got away with evil deeds once before and think they could threaten you because of it. Every single sacrifice I make is so that you don't spend the rest of your life thinking of justice as some kind of sick joke. So the least you could do is be grateful for it, you petulant little brat!
-Lillianna's eyes are drawn to the dark red stain on her father's shirt before dropping to the ground.-
Lillianna: ...Yes, Father. I'm sorry, Father.
Lucius: Hmph. Good.
-He releases her, and the two spend the next minute or so sitting together in uncomfortable silence. Eventually, Lillianna works up the courage to speak.-
Lillianna: ...Aren't you forgetting something, Father?
Lucius: Huh? What are you going on about?
Lillianna: You... you are aware what day it is, don't you?
Lucius: Of course I am. It's Monday. Why are you asking me such a stupid question?
Lillianna: ...Never mind.
-She bows her head, her hands balling up into fists, before standing up suddenly and wheeling around to face Lucius.-
Lillianna: I want to see Mother again.
Lucius: ...You what?
Lillianna: You heard me. I want to go and stay with Mother again.
-Lucius stares at her incredulously for several moments before sharply backhanding her across the face.-
Lucius: Don't you dare mention that whore again in this house, you hear me? I feed you, I clothe you, I care for you, and what do I get in return? Nothing! Absolutely damn nothing except for an endless barrage of shit like this! Is what I do for you not enough? What do I have to do to make you happy? I... I just don't want to lose you like I did her, Lillianna. I can change the world without destroying it... prove that my father was mistaken. You understand, right?
-Lillianna is silent, her cheek glowing with pain. Eventually, Lucius turns and staggers back out of the door, mumbling under his breath.-
Lucius: She left me, just like all the others... but she'll pay... they're all going to pay for what they did to me, every last one...
-As he goes, Lillianna sighs and curls up into a ball on the bed, giving a sigh before murmuring quietly to herself under her breath.-
Lillianna: Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me... happy birthday dear Lilli... happy birthday to me...
-The sound of the door opening again startles her, and she hastily closes her eyes, feigning sleep. Instead of the sound of Lucius making a furious reentrance, however, a set of quiet footsteps approaches her bed and remains there for a moment before turning and leaving the same way they came. Slowly, Lillanna opens one eye, then the other, and notices a modest brown parcel sat next to her pillow with a note attached.-
I know that this present is a poor substitute for a proper celebration, but sadly this was all I could get my claws on at short notice. My apologies for being unable to do more.
-Lillianna stares at the note for a moment longer, before slowly and quietly opening the parcel and taking a look at the contents. Inside is a small pendant with a gold chain and a round gem clearly recognisable as a Key Stone embedded in the centre. A small, almost conspiratorial smile finds its way onto Lillianna's usually impassive expression.-
Lillianna: ...Thank you, Bishop.
-The crashing sound of something falling over.-
-Footsteps stumbling toward the door.-
-The smell of alcohol. Vodka, specifically.-
-All these greeted a certain malnourished teenage girl as she knocked on the door. The door opens, and a bony thirty-something woman glares momentarily at her visitor.-
Sarah: I told ya, I don't want yer damn...
-She blinks blearily, and her expression softens.-
Sarah: ...Lilli... is that...?
-Lillianna gives her mother a concerned look-
Lillianna: ...Mother... what's happened to you? You've been drinking... you never drank...
-Sarah sighs, leaning her forehead against the door frame for support, staring outside with tired, sad amethyst eyes.-
Sarah: Damn right, I've been drinkin'... what the hell could it hurt, I already lost everythin'...
-Lillianna stays silent as her mother slumps against the door frame, closing her eyes and generally looking as if she hasn't gotten sleep in several days.-
Sarah: So... I guess the bastard finally let up, huh...
-Lillianna looks down at the ground.-
Lillianna: ...Not exactly... I left him. While he was off on... Avenger business. I'm leaving for good.
-It takes a moment for it to click, but when it does, Sarah's eyes widen.-
Sarah: Lilli... oh, Lilli, sweetie, no, you can't, no, he'll be so angry--
Lillianna: Mother, you know that he makes hell for every Arceusdamn person he meets. I've had to suffer through seventeen years of it. He's angry no matter what I do, so what should I care what he thinks? I won't be around to see what he thinks anyway.
Sarah: ...Seventeen... you're seventeen already... the years pass so fast...
-Sarah stumbles forward to pull Lillianna into a hug. Lillianna does her best to ignore the stench of old alcohol on her clothes and hugs back.-
Sarah: I'm so, so sorry I missed your birthday... it was... oh, when was it...
Lillianna: Last week, mother... It was last week. Monday.
-Sarah holds her daughter close for a moment. After several seconds of tender silence, she suddenly starts bawling into Lillianna's shoulder. Lillianna blinks and gently pats her mother, somewhat unsure of how to react.-
Lillianna: ...Mother... you can come with me, if you want. You'll be free, safe, anything...
Sarah: I-I'll just... I'll just hold y-you b-b-back...
-She holds Lillianna at arms length-
Sarah: J-just... look at me... I'm an old, weak, miseral... mis... miserable wreck... I'm an Arceusdamn alcoholic pile of wasted flesh! What the hell would you get out of draggin' me around!?
-Sarah glares at Lillianna again, before sighing and letting go of her, collapsing against the door frame again.-
Sarah: ...Could you... stay a little bit...? It's been too damn long since I've seen my li'l Lilli... Way too damn long...
-Lillianna manages half a smile-
Lillianna: I would love to. I missed you, Mother...
-Sarah smiles what could be the first smile she's had in years as she steps carefully backward, letting Lillianna inside-
An older teen with ash grey hair in an outfit reminiscent of a sky trainer's enters the police station, the desk guard looking up at her from the newspaper he was reading.
"The usual visit?"
The woman nods her head. The guard puts the paper down, and grabs his keys. A Herdier gets up from his nap as he notices the guard moving, and follows.
"This way." He leads the woman into the cellblocks, the metal door sliding shut behind her. As they walk past the other cells, some of the inmates call out to her.
"Look who it is. The ice witch's daughter," one remarks
"Don't look her in the eye! She might freeze you." Him and his cellmate laugh to themselves.
Valerie ignores them, keeping her gaze pointed forwards. Eventually they round a corner towards the second area of cells.
"So how've you been, Valerie? It's been a while since your last visit."
"Busy...Things to do. You know."
"Some of us were beginning to wonder if you had just stopped visiting. Didn't seem like you, but you never know with visitors."
He opens a door labeled "Special Containment" and motions for Valerie to head inside. "Here we are. Same as always, you get 20 minutes." He closes the door, remaining outside in case something goes wrong.
Valerie steps forward towards the glass containment cell. Inside is a teenage boy, about Valerie's age, with the same ash grey hair as her. He notices Valerie approach and turns to face her.
"Hey sis. It's been longer than usual."
Valerie shakes her head. "Oh, no it's been about the same."
"No. It really hasn't. Trust me." He points to the stains on the left side of the glass, appearing to be a sort of tally.
"...Look, I've been busy. Things have been kinda hectic for me."
"I can imagine. Being a courier must be so stressful." He rolls his eyes.
"You're one to talk, you're the one who got himself locked up for going all vigilante. It was exactly what Mom didn't want you doing with your powers. "
"Whatever." He sits down on the floor in front of Valerie. "So have you come to lecture me or visit me?"
"Icarus, if I wanted to lecture you I'd have done it a long time ago. Not almost 2 years after the fact."
"Right, right, sorry." Icarus makes a purple obscura snowball and throws it against the wall, it fizzing out. "So how is Mom, anyway?"
"She's been doing fine. She misses you though."
"Of course. I bet she's finally told you who Dad is."
Valerie shakes her head. "Actually no. She still refuses to tell us. I don't know why, it's not like we're 5. We're almost 20 for fuck's sake."
"Wonder if she'll actually tell us when I get out of here. Another year isn't that long when you think about it."
Valerie gives him a look. "C'mon, I know you're lying. Don't pull that shit with me. You're dying to get out of this glass box."
Icarus shrugs. "Guess I should know better than to try and guilt trip a psychic."
"I didn't need to be a psychic to figure that out.
The guard taps on the door, signalling that time is almost up.
Valerie glances at her watch. "It hasn't been 20 minutes..."
"Probably doing something that they don't want a random person being in here for. Just go, I'll be fine."
Valerie smirks. "Liar."
"Goodbye Icarus." Elise waves to him as she is led out the door.
"See ya, Valerie." Icarus returns to lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling.
Valerie opens a Pokeball, releasing an Altaria. "Skuld, let's go. We've got work to do."
Skuld opens her wings and Valerie climbs on, sliding her goggles off of her head and onto her eyes as she takes off.
The bright lights of Lumoise City illuminate the streets and drown out the moonlight as they always have, but one feels that the lights now have a feeling of dullness about them. They don't seem as bright as they used to be.
On this night, a young man in his early twenties is walking down the North Boulevard. A ghostly figure, he towers at around 6'5 with his black and red marked cowl flowing around him. His long hair trails behind him like a snake, braided with cards and beads. A waxed leather brim hat sits on his crown and a silver processional stave adorns his back. All of this points to the man being an ordained member of Yveltalian Orthodoxy. A rather old, if woefully misunderstood, cult.
Though, he expected that his religious affiliations weren't the only reason people were going out of their way to avoid him in the streets.
It was well known that he was the child of the former Neo-Flare Leader. The Mad Dog of Kalos. A hateful, spiteful, twisted man who nearly brought the nation to it's knees if things hadn't gone horribly awry at the last, crucial moments. The aftermath of his failure left him weak and helpless, so pitifully pathetic that during his trial he was let off the hook and deemed to be no longer a threat to society. Which, of course, upset a lot of people. Hence why at the first opportunity he high jumped out of Kalos and made his way to [India], where he could shed that reputation and settle down with a family in a place where his offspring wouldn't be tarnished by his reputation.
At least that was the plan. Like always, nothing ever went right for him. Two years after the birth of his first child and failing health brought him back to Kalos under the care of his uncles and wife. Despite his rapidly deteriorating health, he managed to have three more perfectly healthy kids before dying. Surprising everyone and baffling both conventional wisdom and medical science.
Salvador knew, however, that if it wasn't for the reputation of the family's prowess in natural psychic ability (for both he and his siblings developed quite prominent psychic powers, much to his non-auric mother's chagrin during the formative years of childhood) and the ongoing protection provided by the Cain family due to the current Matriarch's long standing relationship with his family. Well, best case scenario they would be deported, worst outright murdered.
Though he put these thoughts out of his head, for he had a very special person he was going to visit tonight.
He turns down the street heading to Rouge Plaza, an upscale part of the city that in it's history was known for being a rather seedy and "Bohemian" (loathe he be to use that term) area of town. It still had that reputation, somewhat. Even if the current houses of ill repute were a lot more upscale and glamorous than the historical examples from the Belle Époque.
In fact, he was heading to one such house at the moment.
Maison de la Tragédie du Chat - colloquially known as just Tragédie du Chat - is a well known burlesque cabaret parlour that serves drinks, performances and, if you ask for it, women. Frou-frou and styling itself on anachronistic mishmashes on eras of Kalosian decadence, it was often nicknamed the "Baccarat Brothel" for drawing in high paying, billionaire patrons from across the globe.
It also so happened to be where cherished youngest sibling, a spritely mademoiselle named Freyja, worked.
Initially, it was seen as scandalous and yet almost expected that a priest of the Yveltalian faith frequented a bordello with the regularity that Salvador did, and even more slander was thrown towards the young man's name. Though, it became apparent very quickly that he wasn't engaging in any of the more licentious aspects of the business, he legitimately just wanted to talk to his sister. So the rumours died down, though still cropped up from time to time.
He walks up to the red door and gives two knocks. The slide on the grille slips open as a mop of brown and whip tipped hair.
???: State ya name, cher.
Salvador: Lapin, it's me.
??? Lapin: Ah, been a while Salvador. Just a mo', cher.
After a few clinks and clicks, the door slides open, the massive bouncer moving to the side as he ushers Salvador in.
The bouncer is one Pascal Leverett, a daunting man of considerable size and mass whose soft, Cajun accent and nature seems completely unfitting for his build. Towering over even Salvador himself. Since his name roughly translates out to "Easter Hare", he got the nickname "Lapin" affectionately bestowed upon him to his vexation, not helped by the fact he tied two handfuls of his long white and brown hair into ponytails that hung like rabbit's ears. Though, after a while, he began to like it enough not to growl at people for calling him that.
He was a long time friend of the owner of the establishment, and came to Lumoise with her all the way from [Louisiana] many years back. Though they lived together and indeed cared deeply for one another, their relationship was strictly platonic.
Lapin: In! In! Bet you came t' see Freyja? Oui, cher?
Salvador steps into the establishment. The red and black architecture inspired by the likes of the Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir, as well as various other Victorian, Edwardian and Rococo pieces becoming more apparent as the pair travel closer to the showroom.
Salvador: Oui. How have things been here, Lapin?
Lapin: Nuffin' too bad, cher. Bit a' trouble a few days back with some young rich hooligans who thought that by virtue of havin' money he could have his way wit' some of the girls.
Salvador: Oh dear. Did they even realise...?
Lapin: Kokomo nearly skewered them wit' her trident construct, before they were chased out to the foyer by yer sis. Then Madame had her way with 'em. Now the Madame may be harsh at times, but ya don't mess wit' her girls. She cares about them an' their wellbein' too much.
Salvador: Sounds like Freyja to throw herself in with the... fray... And yes, Madame Soleil is ferocious when mad.
Lapin: She's a lot o' work, yer sis.
Salvador: She hasn't gotten into any more skirmishes with Norah, has she?
Lapin: Nope, thank the good Lord. Those two been keepin' it cordial since the Ma'am chewed 'em out for wreckin' a good third of the establishment in their last spat.
Salvador: Speaking of, would you inform Soleil that I'm here? You know the drill.
Lapin: 'Course cher. You jus' take a seat o'er there. Soleil will be down in a jiffy once she's done powdering her nose.
The actions is followed by a very Buneary-esque nose twitch, which emits a soft chuckle from Salvador.
Salvador: Thank you, Lapin.
Lapin: Always a pleasure!
Lapin takes his stride and begins walking up a flight of stairs. Salvador laughs to himself as he heads his way into the showroom.
The place is very elaborate. Mahogany the wood of choice, which accentuates the "red" aspect of the establishment. Frills and lace abound, the massive center stage takes up the bulk of the space, with tables surrounding filled with all kinds of patrons. To the left, a bartender serving drinks to ordering customers. Behind the stage and up the stairs, drawn red curtains that lead to the backrooms of the establishment.
Salvador sits at a table near the back of the showroom, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible and waits for the Madam to arrive.
Salvador is distracting himself while he waits, toying around with an empty glass on the table when suddenly he is snapped out of his stupor by the literal snapping of ebony fingers in front of his nose.
???: Why, hello there sugar~ Say, it's been awhile since you've been around to visit – too busy being holy and all? Though, men of your cloth have been known around these parts to be quite... randy~ Heh. Can I get you a drink or somethin', sugar?
She winks an amber eye in Salvador's direction as she takes a seat. Salvador gives a slight frown in return.
Salvador: ...Madame Soleil de la Levant. It's a... pleasure to see you again. And no thank you, I don't drink except in the case of Liturgy ceremonies.
The woman is draped in luxury. Her body covered in satin ruffles alternating between red and black flowing to her ankles, the underside of of which is a pristine white and just as flamboyant. Her puffy rococo sleeves match the rest of her outfit, fanning out at the end into more ruffles. A silver necklace with small butterflies interwove Her hair an impeccably tended afro that flared out like the sun and had streaks of yellow and red smattered throughout that gave credence to the comparison (by the madame's account, they were natural too) and was topped with a lurid red feather fascinator, fitting in with the rest of the cancan themed outfit she wore. By her side, a matching black and red laced parasol with white roses embroidered into it was folded up and currently tapping into the side of the table.
A decadent, loud and gaudy outfit to match a decadent, loud and gaudy establishment. Though, Salvador wasn't really in the position to complain about deliberately invoked stylistic choices of the bordello and its owner.
Soleil: So have you finally kowtowed to more earthly desires? Or are you going to resist the hand of temptation in pious superiority like always~?
Salvador: Madame. I can assure you, I have no intentions of ever breaking my sacred vows in pursuit of material pleasures, especially for such wanton vices.
Soleil: Such a trooper, literally going by the books. Your own mentor does not nearly possess your level of fortitude, Salvador. You should be proud of that~
Salvador: While I certainly admire and look up to Father Roux as a senior member of church with years of ecclesiastical knowledge under his belt and taught me personally in the arts and histories of the cult, that does not mean I'm not outspokenly critical of his desire to live a libertine life modeled after Roderic de Borgia when in his presence.
Soleil: It's still common opinion that you Yveltalians are all debauched hedonists. That much hasn't changed since the 18th and 19th centuries! What, with your rather intimate knowledge of the human body and all~ They even named la petite mort in your honour! And men of high position like Mordecai Roux don't exactly help that reputation~
Salvador looks away to the stage, flustered and embarrassed, in an attempt to change the subject. He looks to the stage, where some girl with a tone of skin in-between his own and the madame's is dancing on stage, performing some bubblegum pop song from decades past in a matching red and black candy themed Lolita outfit. Even her hair reminded him of bubblegum or candy floss. While she was pretty, and she was certainly putting on a good show, he could tell that she just wasn't putting her heart into the performance.
Salvador: She's new, I don't think I've seen her around here before.
Soleil: Right you are~ “Sugar Sugar” up there is one of our new girls. Just got accepted last week in fact~ She's a bit rough around the edges, but otherwise a valuable new member of the team. She'll learn, I hope~
Salvador listens in, catching the inflections of her voice.
Salvador: Is she [South African]?
Soleil: From [Pretoria], in fact.
At that moment, Soleil's smile begins to falter somewhat.
Soleil: Okay, let's stop dilly-dallying around here. We both know what you want, Salvador. And cute as you may be, I'm still not willing to skimp out on the “compensation” rate.
Salvador frowns at matron.
Salvador: Really, Célestine Delacroix. Must you be so heartless that you would demand money from a priest attempting to visit his own sister? Unfortunate, yes, that it has to be during her work hours because our schedules don't exactly line up well. But that shouldn't mean I have to pay for the luxury of being able to talk to my own family.
Madame Soleil leers when she hears her true name passing by Salvador's lips, and fold her arms in a huff as he finishes his spiel.
Soleil: Unlike some. I have a business to run, Preacher Man. Freyja just so happens to be one of my crown jewels! My high rollers! Having her out of commission for even just 30 minutes could mean a sizable dip in profits for one night on the job! Time is money in the business, and because of that, we all need to play dice. (Besides, I still need to pay off that damage from that little spat)
I do give you a heavy discount, mind you. You pay peanuts compared to the usual prices, it's not extraneous in the slightest.
Salvador pulls out a strange card from under his vestments and hands it to Soleil.
Salvador: It's more of the principle of the matter than anything, Soleil. Though, I will admit, you do have a very good point.
Soleil mulls over the card before tucking it away with a smirk.
Soleil: I am never wrong when it comes to matters of business, sugar~ Now, your sister is in the same room as always. Down back. Don't try to rouse the other ladies, I need them to focus and – like it or not – you're quite popular with the woman here, and the last thing they need is a distraction~
Salvador begins getting out of his chair.
Salvador: Much to my chagrin, to be perfectly honest. The lot of them are honestly very pretty, and many are quite lovely too, but none are really my type. Plus, again, I'm celibate and I have NO intention on changing that soon. Or ever.
Salvador: I bid you au revoir, Madame Soleil.
Soleil: Adieu~! Make sure Rose is being a good little girl, behaving and all that~
Salvador laughs as he begins heading towards the direction of the backrooms.
Salvador: Célestine! If you wanted a “good little girl” who “behaved”, you would have never hired Freyja in the first place.
Salvador continues down towards the backrooms. Soleil takes the sweet time to admire his male form before he disappears behind the red drapes.
Soleil: Shame he's devoted himself to a life of abstinence. He's certainly a delicious piece of eye candy, and he has a fabulous ass~!
Salvador slips behind the the velvet drapes to the part of the establishment that gives its reputation as a "house of ill repute". Thankfully for Salvador, his sister's room was quite close to the showroom area and so he didn't have to venture further down the backroom and get flustered by the noises coming from the room.
That being said, strange noises were coming from Freyja's room. Though, Salvador recognized this as the rambunctious laughter of another one of the cabaret bordello's girls.
Salvador: Oh joy.
Salvador knocks on the door, and is greeted by the sound of an over-the-top, flamboyant and somewhat sultry trill.
???: Who is iiiit~? It's rude to leave a lady waiting, you know~
Salvador: Freyja, it's me. Your brother.
There is a sudden ~*THUD*~ as footsteps thunder towards the door. Suddenly it swings open and Salvador finds himself tackledglomped to the ground by a blur of red and yellow.
??? Freyja: SALLY! SALLY! SAL-LY~
Salvador finds his cheek being nuzzled by his younger sister, the hinge of her red-rimmed glasses butting annoyingly into his skin while her waist-long, golden tresses drape over the both of them.
Freyja: It's been months, Sal! Months! Do you know how much I've missed you? LOTS, THAT'S WHAT! But I'm so glad you came to visit me, even on the job~! How are you? Are you clean? Did you visit Paddy and Mary and Maman and Oncles Pierre and Florin? If so, how are they doing?
Salvador: Uh, no. If you haven't noticed, I'm in my vestal garments. And you know how Uncle Pierre and Uncle Florin feel about being around the house without the proper precautions taken. By Yveltal, I need at least a month to prepare and cleanse myself before returning home.
Freyja stops nuzzling, notices her brothers clothing and jumps off of him immediately. Brushing off herself as if she landed in something dirty or unpleasant.
Freyja: You come to visit me in those garments? And without bathing beforehand? Wow, rude.
You're usually better than that, Sally~
Salvador rolls his eyes as he picks himself up, brushing himself off
Salvador: I'm so sorry, Grand-Oncle Florin. But I needed to see you ASAP, and you're not really going to say no to a visit from your Frere Salvador, are you?
Freyja chuckles as gives Salvador the traditional Kalosian greeting of a kiss on each cheek.
Freyja: Oh, you know me too well, Sally. Too well.
???: Are you two jokers going to come back in or what?
Salvador: The "mystery voice" is right. Are you going to let me in or am I too impure at the moment for that?
Freyja: Oh hush you. Come in, come in! We could use some more company~
Salvador is finally granted permission to enter as his sister stands to the side, ushering him into her room.
The room was as luxurious as the the showroom, and according to Freyja, one of the nicest ones in the joint. The centerpiece was the Victorian styled king-sized canopy bed covered in velvet the same two colours as the rest of the place. To the east wall lay some cabinets and a vanity covered in all sorts of different make-up. On the west wall, a door to the washroom. In the center of the room, a small rococo styled oak table with three matching chairs. Though one of them is currently occupied by another woman.
This woman is rather short in stature, only managing to be around 5'5 in height with skin the colour of wet sand. Scraggly, scruffy silver hair falls down to her ankles, with two tresses on her left side braided into long wisps and messy completely obscuring her eyes.
Her dress is byzantium purple in colour, with the skirt portion stylized to look like a wilting rose, with chains slinking around her waist with and black, rose thorn "vines" snake up her right leg and left arm; matching the thorny necklace with it's ruby brooch. A large pink rose sits at the side of her right hip. She wears a single black opera glove on her right arm. One of her boots is pulled up above her knee and decorated with a chain while her right is scrunched down above her ankle. A tattered, indian red cap with embroidered roses cover her shoulders, green carnations and violets adorning the folds around her collar. Strange considering her otherwise "wilting rose" theme.
In contrast to his sister, who was wearing a much simpler yet more raunchy attire of red fishnet stockings with a matching garter belt, red lacy boots, black panties, a loose fitting and currently unbuttoned wine red vest and a lacy black bra. Though the ostentatious red, fur trimmed mantle offsets the relative simplicity of her outfit
Well, if the bordello was going to dedicate itself to it's Belle Époque inspired decadence and debauchery, Salvador couldn't really critique for an adherence to style, and he must admit, it was a very appealing dress code.
Currently the purple lady has a few of her ungloved fingers curled around her lips, emitting a rather distinctive, throaty snicker as she observes the siblings while stirring her tea. After she calms down, she begins to chat in a voice that is quite scratchy and crackly to the ears.
???: Well, well, well! If it isn't ol' Salvador, visitin' us from the land of the dead! Don't like the realm of the livin' anymore ey, Sal? Don't tell me that it happens to be the dead are the ones to jump yer bones, so to speak?
She breaks out into more rambunctious wheezy laughter at Salvador's expression of shock before calming down and taking a sip of her beverage.
???: I jest! I jest! Only lighten up the mood here, doll! Laughter is a most brilliant thing, it is! "A world without laughter would be a terrible place, indeed!" is what a wise man once told me!
Salvador rubs his temple as he pulls out a chair and takes a seat across from the witchy woman.
Salvador: Leppas don't fall too far from the tree. Do they, Chrysanthe Wildt?
Chrysanthe gives another eerie chuckle as Freyja takes the seat next to her. Almost instinctively, Crysanthe's head lays itself upon Freyja's shoulder. Followed by a pair of wide-grinned smirks from the both of them.
??? Chrysanthe: Please, please. Call me "Morticia"! I prefer it meself, and everyone around 'ere calls me that anyway~ Only one allowed to call me by my real name is Frey.
Freyja: Rules are rules, Sally~
Chrysanthe: An' you an' Frey over here, from what I understand, are pretty much copies of your own Pops. Whether it be in talents, appearances or personality, right?
Freyja and Salvador give an awkward chuckle as they look away, Salvador rubbing his neck. Chrysanthe, recognising that she's touched an awkward nerve with the two, quickly changes the subject as she goes back to stirring her tea.
Chrysanthe: Speakin' of family an' all that. How's Grampaps? He doin' well? He behavin' himself~?
Chrysanthe follows this up with a cheeky grin, which prompts Salvador's expression to fall flat. Both of them knowing the answer to her last question.
Salvador: Father Roux is enjoying good health at the moment, even in his spiritedly old age. However, I think we both know the answer to whether or not he properly aligns himself with church doctrine.
Salvador huffs as he looks away, Chrysanthe and Freyja giggling in response.
Salvador: I respect your grandfather, I honestly do. He's been nothing but kind to me, and his worldly knowledge is unparalleled. But honestly! He's a man of the Church! He took his vows and he should be abiding by them! In Yveltal's good name. Even I, his chosen protégé, can't seem to talk sense into him...
Freyja jokingly whimpers as she wraps her arms around Chrysanthe, who chuckles in response.
Freyja: But brother! If Mr Mordecai was as loyal and pious as you, I wouldn't have Chryssie here!
Salvador gets flustered by the response with a prominent blush dashed across his cheeks, which greatly amuses his female companions.
Chrysanthe: Well, tell him to get his musty old butt down here and visit his darlin' grand-daughter one of these nights! And do tell him to bring Gilles with him! I miss that silly, old pup. Even with his doofy, Graves Disease induced proptosis infected fisheyes~
Salvador: ...Will relay the message onto him then. Father Roux is very found of his family, even though the nature of it is frowned upon by the Orthodoxy.
Now I don't mean to be rude, "Morticia", but I wish to speak to my sister in private. If you don't mind...?
Chrysanthe finishes off her tea and gives a cheeky grin.
Chrysanthe: -Saluting- Understood, chaplin~
She stands up and tucks the chair back under the table. She slowly saunters around Freyja's chair, tracing a finger on the crest rail, before cupping Freyja's cheeks in her hands and giving her a passionate kiss.
Chrysanthe: -Breaking the kiss- Later love. See yah on the next break~
Freyja: Look forward to it, darling~
Chrysanthe turns around to head out the door, and Freyja takes the opportunity to give her girlfriend a slap on the posterior. Salvador's face has planted firmly into the table, slightly embarrassed by his sisters very public displays of affection.
After the door closes, Salvador removes his head from the table and stares above the door frame while Freyja giggles in the background.
Freyja: Ah, l'amour~ I hope our actions didn't fluster you too much, Sal. My, you looked as red as a beetroot there!
Freyja continues her giggling until she notices that Salvador hasn't turned around. Her expression drops to a more serious one as she notices where Salvador is staring.
Freyja: It feels barren, doesn't it? You almost expect his portrait to be hanging there as it did back home...
Even after his death his presence is always... looming. As if he were judging you from on high. With that blank, dead expression he always wore.
Salvador: Those are some big shadows we live under, huh sis?
Freyja leers slightly.
Freyja: And I must admit. Not a single day goes past where I'm not envious of Padmashri and Marianne for being able to escape them by virtue of being more like maman. How I wish sometimes I didn't have his hair or his voice or his...
Salvador: Thirst for a good fight?
She digs her nails into her palms. Salvador looks at his right hand, and rubs his thumb against his fingers as if there was some sort of liquid covering them.
Salvador: If one finger brought oil...
Freyja looks down with a huff before looking back at her brother will dull, heterochromatic eyes and a hollow smile.
Freyja: Lets not dwell on the past. Hmm? I can tell by your tone here that you can to me looking for something you want. So tell me, brother.
Freyja begins toying with the Silver Wing earring hanging from her right ear.
Freyja: What do you want?
Salvador sighs with a sombre smirk.
Salvador: What I need is your assistance, Freyja.
Valerie is dropping off a few packages in the lobby of an apartment building, the doorman watching her do so, being bored out of his mind. She notices one of the names on a box.
"'Straw Aspear.' Wasn't that one of Mom's friends? The name definitely sounds familiar... Oh. I remember now. He was that guy she was in love with when she was younger."
"I believe that one's mine."
A dark haired girl about the same age as Valerie takes the package.
"You're Straw Aspear? You don't seem like him. For one, you're much too young. "
"Straw was my father. I'm his daughter, Serena. Guess the account is still in his name."
"Oh. Sorry for the confusion. Our parents knew each other. I just assumed Straw was still alive."
Serena shakes her head. "Unfortunately no. He died a few years ago."
"I guess that would explain where Mom went that one time..." A thought comes to Valerie, "Say...did your father happen to mention my mother or my father at one point? My mom's Elise Fryse."
Serena thinks. "Well...I do recall him mentioning her at some point. I think I had asked him about his friends back in the day. All I remember is that he said something happened to Elise a few years before I was born that really traumatized her. Never told me what it was though."
Valerie frowns, having none of her questions answered. "Oh...I see. Well, I should get going. Got a few more things to run across the world."
Serena nods. "Alright then. I guess I'll see you again sometime?" She quickly scribbles her number on a piece of paper and hands it to Valerie. "Here, so we can talk later."
Valerie puts the note in her pocket. "I'll make sure to add you then." She waves goodbye to Serena and goes back outside, where Skuld is perched outside, the Altaria's fluff sticking out against the city background. She hops on, and flies off into the sky.
Straw wakes up in his bed to find his wife missing again. He gets up and goes down the hall of their apartment to the living room, where he finds her standing in front of one of the windows, staring out into the early morning sky.
"Morning, Taylor. Everything okay?"
Taylor turns around to face Straw, signs of little sleep visible on her face.
"The nightmares are back."
Straw goes over and hugs her.
"Don't worry about them, that part of your life is over."
Taylor shakes her head. "No, it's never over. It's going to haunt me for the rest of my life, I can feel it."
"How have the therapy sessions been going? Are you following the advice that they gave you?"
Taylor nods slowly. "It doesn't really help though. It's not going to change what happened."
"Maybe you should try to take your mind off of it? You used to love art, why not get back into it?"
"How am I supposed to think of art when I'm worried that people are going to judge me for how I used to be? That people are going to judge our daughter because of me? I don't want her to suffer because of what I've done!"
"Use it to draw your emotions out? I'm not exactly sure how it works, but it's better than keeping it all inside of you."
Taylor sighs. "I guess it wouldn't hurt..."
A baby's crying can be heard from down the hall. Both Straw and Taylor move towards the source of the sound, baby Serena's bed. Taylor picks her up and begins trying to gentle rock her back to sleep.
"I guess we might've woken her up, a baby does her rest." He looks at Taylor. "And so does her mother."
Serena begins to slowly drift back to sleep, and Taylor places her back down. "I probably should try to sleep some more... at this rate I'll fall asleep on the floor."
Straw and Taylor leave Serena's room, the latter going back to bed, hoping that she doesn't suffer from another nightmare...
Taylor has turned a spare room in the apartment into a small art studio. Paintings of Pokemon are positioned around the room, some finished and some unfinished. Notably, all the paintings with Pokemon are very rough, as if the artist struggled to paint them with a steady hand. Aurora pokes at a bottle of purple paint, wondering if she should try and paint something herself. Taylor herself is sitting at her desk, staring down at a blank piece of paper.
"...I don't know if this is really working." She looks around the room. "All of these paintings only bring back horrible memories of all those Pokemon I put through the factory...all the horrible things I subjected them to."
Aurora crawls over to Taylor and rubs up against her arm. Taylor pets her, sighing. "I guess it's good that I can still be around you and not have flashbacks happen."
Taylor is sitting at the table, crying into her hands having just come back from trying to look for a job in the city.
"Nobody will take me...they all know about my past or someone informs them of my past. Why can't they just see that I've changed!? Hell, I'm sure the neighbors even know about it...no wonder they all avoid me. They're just like everyone else..."
Straw puts his hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sure it was just coincidence with them...and there has to be someplace that is willing to let you work for them."
"Bullshit, there's no way that's a coincidence. And you don't know these people. One place sent me out as soon as they looked me up, didn't even give me a chance... another just told me to go back to Cipher, that I'd be better off dead. Is there even a place for me in the world anymore?"
Before Straw can respond, Serena's cries can be heard from the next room. He gets up to go deal with her, leaving Taylor alone. She stares intently out the window, noticing the kitchen knives next to it. She stares at them for a few seconds, but allows her mind to move past anything she was considering. Instead she just goes into the bedroom and curls up in a ball on the bed.
Straw is on his way back to the apartment from the Pokemon Center with Aurora when he notices an ambulance near the building. He raises an eyebrow but continues on up the building via the elevator.
<"Straw...Something doesn't feel right.">
"...I'm sure it's nothing."
The elevator doors open, and they step out. As they get nearer to the apartment, Straw's pace begins to quicken until he's pretty much running. He finds the door already open, running into a gathering of police officers and a paramedic talking. One of the officers turns to Straw.
"I have some bad news for you..."
The funeral was held a week later. Straw chose to bury Taylor in Kanto, figuring that Orre wouldn't be the best place after she was disowned by her parents and the general reputation of the region in general. It was a small funeral, with few people in attendance. Most people didn't care that an ex-Cipher admin had killed herself. Serena was left with a babysitter, being too young to understand what was going on, not realizing that her mother was gone just yet.
Straw fell into a rut following Taylor's death, never forgiving himself for not doing more to try and help her. He fell into the pitfalls of drinking, eventually trying to curb his alcoholism after some convincing by a then preteen Serena. Although she was still young, she was mature for her age and was old enough to understand what Straw was doing to himself. Unfortunately, Straw still died a few years after trying to recover, leaving the apartment to Serena. By then many of Straw's Pokemon had been released or already passed on. Aurora stayed with Serena for about 2 years after Straw's death before passing on herself.
Serena closes Straw's journal, looking up at Straw's tombstone.
"...I don't know why I always come back and read this here. It just makes me wish you and mom were still around...there's still so many questions I have for you." She looks down at the back of the journal, which has a single picture of Straw, Aurora, and Crescent from a young age. She puts the journal back in her bag and places a section of a flowering Aspear branch on the tombstone.
"You're joking, right?"
Valerie is sitting at the table of her house, still dressed in her work uniform. Icarus is next to her, wearing a black and white hoodie, and Elise is across from them, a cup of tea in her hands. She shakes her head.
"Nope. I've been thinking about it recently...and you two have a right to know by now."
Icarus sits up, having pretty much been sliding out of the chair the whole time. "Well it's about time."
Valerie nods. "I'm just curious why you waited 20 years to tell us."
Elise sighs, sipping her tea. "Sometimes there are things in life that you would rather forget about." She pauses for a moment, then continues. "Your father wasn't exactly the best intentioned person in the world...okay maybe that's being too generous. He was pretty evil, is what I'm trying to say."
Icarus raises an eyebrow. "So what, did you two just have a really terrible divorce?"
Elise shakes her head. "Hell no, we were never even married. If we were, well, I probably would've offed myself a long time ago. No, how I met him was much shadier. When I was a teenager, I made some decisions that I regret to this day. And aside from the few drugs that I was exposed to in my early teenage years, meeting your father was worse than anything I may have done then. I had been having one of our ancestors haunting me for weeks, pushing my Obscuric abilities to higher levels and loosening my sense of control. I couldn't take it anymore. Your father made me a deal. Under the guise of a man who dealt and studied the Auric spectrum, he said that he could 'exorcise' her from me in exchange for what was pretty much my eternal service to him."
Valerie blinks. "...So you pretty much made a deal with the devil."
"Pretty much. He turned out to be the spirit of a crazed Priest of Lugia named Esprit. And he had one hell of a grudge against Straw. You remember him, right?" The twins nod. "Good. Long story short, I ended up helping him create a new body for him using Straw's DNA...and at one point was forced to kill him. He got better though!"
Icarus rolls his eyes. "And that's supposed to make it any better? And this is from the one who berated me after I attacked that dealer on the street."
"It wasn't supposed to. That incident strained our friendship to the point where we pretty much avoided each other. All because I couldn't tell anyone that I had essentially become the slave of an evil priest. The one person that I did tell was Vierr...he was my boyfriend at the time. I'm not exactly sure what happened between us, but that relationship just ended for some reason. After that...I was pretty much on my own. Just me and my Pokemon, trying to figure out how to free myself."
"So how did you get free?" Valerie inquires, "Did you just get released at some point?"
"If only it was that easy. After so many attempts at taking Esprit out, he had had enough. In a crazed power trip, he...he..." Elise pauses, her voice wavering as if she is remembering old traumas. She bites her lip, and continues the story "...He did things to me that I'm sure you don't want to know about. Although...it did result in you two being born."
Valerie and Icarus' faces show varying degrees of shock and confusion, both at a loss for words.
"It took a while to get the strength to fight back after that, but I eventually killed Esprit. I don't remember how, but I remember waking up at one point with blood on the ground, his body in it, and a throbbing headache. And...that's pretty much the story behind your father, and Valerie's Psychic powers I suppose."
Icarus just looks at Elise, not sure how to feel. "Mom...I don't know what to say to that."
Valerie on the other hand looks mortified. "...So not only am I the child of an evil priest, but also the child of a rapist? And I have his abilities?"
Elise grimaces. "I...I suppose that's one way to put it."
"But...he's dead, right? Like dead dead?"
"...I'm not sure. He had never come back to haunt me or harass me after that, so I assumed that he died. But he could still be out there...oh Arceus he could still be out there. Waiting for revenge."
Elise gets up from her chair, shaking slightly.
"...I-I think I'm gonna go lie down for a bit."
Icarus goes with Elise to help her, while Valerie just sits there in her chair, her mind racing.
"If that's the case...will he be coming for me? Am I what he's been waiting for? An heir? An apprentice? And if so, what do I do? Do I fight back? Do I run? I can fight, but I don't think I can handle this..."
Momohime floats in.
<"I don't know what's going through your head, Miss Valerie, but I do know of one way you can do something about this. But you may not like the outcome, nor the method.">
"If it'll get me or Mom out of this mess, I'll do it."
<"So be it. I just hope this isn't another life changing mistake, as the Fryse family is known for...">
Valerie stands at the Entralink portals. She looks around at them, eventually moving towards a certain one. After some brief hesitation, she jumps through. The label of the portal?
Hoenn, [insert year here]
-There's a few rustling sounds, followed by the faint sound of a metal clip... and a very loud noise that can only be produced by an empty wheelchair tumbling down a flight of stairs.-
???: Oh, for the love of Mew!
-A Sableye phases up through the ground and reorients the wheelchair as Vierr comes down, slowly lowering himself on a rope attached to a track on the ceiling, hooked onto a harness he's wearing. He lowers himself back into the wheelchair and unclips the harness from the rope.-
Elysia: <You know, we could get that elevator installed.>
Vierr: And who, exactly, is going to pay for that? Not like we have any money. Besides, I'm challenging myself to get around.
Elysia: <Why do you get even more stubborn every day?>
-Vierr sighs and wheels himself over to the phone on the counter. As soon as he grabs it...-
One (1) missed call from: Alyssa▾
-Luckily for him, Alyssa calls again. This time, he manages to answer on time.-
Vierr: Hello? You called?
Vierr: Alyssa! Slow down! All I got out of all of that was "Diane"! What's going on? What happened to her?
Vierr: ...I... I'll be there soon. Hold on. Where are you?
-a woman with a pair of long green twintails approaches the front door of the Gym-
-which catches the attention of a man with long blue hair walking out of it-
Fairy Tale Girl: Excuse me, sir?
Icy Guy: If you're looking to challenge me, I'm sorry to say it's my day off.
Fairy Tale Girl: Are you Arcturus, the Gym Leader?
Icy Guy Arcturus: Yeah, that's me. Like I said, I'm not accepting challenges today.
Fairy Tale Girl: Oh, I'm not here for that. I just wanted to ask you some questions.
Fairy Tale Girl: I'm looking for someone, and...
Arcturus: Here, let's not stay in the cold.
-Arcturus leads the woman to his house-
-and pours her a cup of hot chocolate-
Fairy Tale Girl: Thank you, sir, that's much better.
Arcturus: Now then, who are you and what do you want with me?
Fairy Tale Girl: Let me introduce myself. My name is Noelle Clouter. I'm a professor of mathematics at Lumiose University. You might have read my thesis, "The Mathematical Formulae of Pokémon Battling"?
Arcturus: You're a professor? You look like a Fairy Tale Girl.
Fairy Tale Girl Noelle: Well, I actually am a Fairy Tale Girl as well. Don't be deceived by appearances and all~ Anyway, I'm doing research into a particular group as part of my spare time. Have you ever heard of the J-Team?
Noelle: Well, from what I understand, one member used to be employed at your gym, and he might be a way to connect to the others. Have you heard the name Pianissimo Morendo?
Arcturus: You're looking at him.
Noelle: Oh, that makes things much easier then.
Arcturus Pianis: Arcturus is an alias I took up after I took control of the gym. The old leader, Candice, was promoted to an Elite Four and left the position to me.
Noelle: I see.
Pianis: It's a pun on "arctic", you understand. Normally I'd never do something like that, but it is sort of a tradition among leaders.
Noelle: So, Arcturus, you--
Pianis: Call me by my real name, please.
Noelle: Sure. You and your siblings were part of the J-Team, were you not?
Pianis: Yes. -sigh- Those were the days when we didn't have a care in the world. Things have changed now.
Noelle: If you don't mind me asking, what happened?
Pianis: A lot of things happened. After the team broke up, we all went our separate ways.
Noelle: And your siblings?
Pianis: Piano hasn't spoken to me in years. She... really didn't take the news of me being a gym leader well. It was always her dream to become one, and I think she's more than a little jealous that I ended up with a position instead of her.
Noelle: I see... that's a shame.
Pianis: Forte's been missing. He was actually one of the best at keeping in contact with me, but one day he just up and vanished without a trace. If you find any information on him while doing your research, please let me know.
Pianis: Fortis was the first person to leave the team. After failing her Johto badge run, she gave up on Pokémon training completely. It's a real shame, honestly. She had a lot of potential and if she'd stuck to it, I have no doubt that she'd have made Elite Four or even Champion by now.
Noelle: What does she do now?
Pianis: Runs a bird shelter in Castelia, I think.
Noelle: Ah... and your other sister?
Pianis: Piano lives somewhere near her, but well, she's not telling me anything about what she's doing.
Noelle: That's a shame... honestly, I started this project because I always wanted to meet her in person. I was a fan of your TV show when I was younger, you see...
Pianis: Ugh, don't get me started on that show. I've tried to sue them for defamation twice and both times they just laughed it off. That's honestly half the reason I changed my name; I didn't want the Gym connected to some made-up "Team Glacier" organization. So if I were you, madam, I'd discount anything that show told you.
Noelle: Understood. Thank you for your time, Mr. Morendo. And you think I should visit Castelia City?
Pianis: Yeah. That's our hometown, so even if you can't find my sisters there, you'll find something.
Note: Violent content below.
In the centre of the cemetery, a funeral is taking place. A coffin is being lowered into a freshly-dug grave as a small group of mourners, most of whom appear to be police officers, watch. A black-robed priest is leading the precession in solemn prayer. Near the back of the crowd, a tall, thin man is holding up an umbrella to shield his navy blue suit and hat from the rain, his head bowed respectfully. Once the player is finished, a trenchcoat-clad man comes up to him.
Director O'Sullivan: Arceus, I hate these Yveltalian ceremonies. Too damn dour for my tastes. Mind if I have a smoke?
Shun: ...If you must.
Director O'Sullivan: Cheers.
With fumbling fingers, he pulls a packet of cigarettes out of his trenchcoat and lights one on the third attempt.
Director O'Sullivan: ...Hell of a day for rain, isn't it?
He takes a long draw of his cigarette.
Director O'Sullivan: Dunno how I went twenty whole years without one of these. My niece used to say they'd kill me, but right now that's looking a hell of a lot more tempting than the alternatives.
He looks over at Shun.
Director O'Sullivan: How many funerals have we been to because of this guy? Seven?
Shun: Eight. Five here, two in Sinnoh, and one in Kalos.
Director O'Sullivan: Oh yeah, almost forgot about the Kalos one. Poor Marchand. Only two months on the force before she ran into him. She kinda reminded me of you, back when you first joined up.
Shun casts his memory back to an image of the young rookie, and his grip on his umbrella tightens.
Shun: ...I'm not a child anymore.
Director O'Sullivan: No, you're a damn fine investigator. As was she. We coulda used more officers like her.
For a long time, the only sound between the two men is the patter of rain against Shun's umbrella.
Director O'Sullivan: So, ah, you still in contact with... y'know, our Ranger friend?
Shun: ...I've spoken to Shingeko. He's still trying to locate the Avenger, regardless of the risks. The last few killings have hit particularly close to home for him.
Director O'Sullivan: Can't say I'm surprised. You know they used to be partners once? Hell, what am I saying, of course you do. You know the guy better than any of us.
Shun: That isn't saying much. He views me as an irritant at best and an obstacle at worst. I don't believe he trusts the International Police.
Director O'Sullivan: 'Course he doesn't. Can you blame him?
He lowers his voice to a conspiratorial hiss.
Director O'Sullivan: Take a look around. How many of these guys d'you reckon are on the take? I'd say half, and that's just the ones I know about. Don't even get me started on the regional departments. Wanna know the difference between a street thug and a street cop in Hoenn? At least the thugs have a sense of humour.
A wheezing cough wracks his body, doubling him over. He scowls as he straightens up and flicks the butt of his cigarette onto the wet grass.
Director O'Sullivan: It's all getting too much for an old man like me. I'm thinking I oughta pass the buck onto someone new.
Shun stares at him incredulously.
Shun: Sir, you can't possibly be considering-
Director O'Sullivan: Damn right I'm considering it. Things were never this bad in my day. Used to be that all we had to do was show up and the bad guys would call it quits. Now my guys can't even walk down the street in Castelia. Whole city's a warzone, torn apart by the teams and the gangs and all the other scum. The world's going to shit, and nobody respects the badge anymore.
He shakes his head.
Director O'Sullivan: No, it's too late for me to make a difference. I'm throwing in the towel while I still can. I've seen enough dead cops to know I won't reach retirement age if I stick around.
Shun: ...Have you at least thought about who will replace you?
Director O'Sullivan: Sure. Whoever's dumb enough to take the job. I'm not sticking around to see their face when they realise Interpol only exists on paper nowadays.
Shun folds his arms.
Shun: If you are decided on this course of action, sir, then at least allow me to apply for the post. I refuse to give up on this organisation just yet.
O'Sullivan blinks in surprise, then groans and rubs his forehead.
Director O'Sullivan: ...Arceus, kid, I thought you were smarter than this.
Shun: Firstly, I have repeatedly asked that you stop referring to me as "kid". It was demeaning enough as a teenager, let alone as a man in my thirties. Secondly, we have a duty to maintain order. We cannot abandon our responsibilities now simply because anarchy has begun to spread. Human and mon civilisations alike have proved time and time again that justice and the rule of law will always prevail over chaos.
Director O'Sullivan: You really believe that, don't you? Whatever. It's your funeral. Or at least, it will be.
He claps Shun on the shoulder.
Director O'Sullivan: We'll talk about it back at HQ. Not before we get a couple of drinks together, though. This ain't the kind of conversation I want to have sober.
The Valley Windworks in Sinnoh has fallen into a state of disrepair. Half of the turbines appear to have collapsed entirely, and the rest are either damaged or non-functioning. The situation is little better inside, where a trio of individuals in what appear to be spacesuits are threatening a labcoat-clad man. Their leader, whose right arm is cybernetic, is flanked by two faceless, white-armoured figures with shock batons clipped to their belts.
Neo-Galactic Commander: Listen, we're getting pretty tired of waiting around. Can you or can you not turn the power back on?
Scientist: I... I c-can, but the f-facility is quite old. I n-need some time to-
Neo-Galactic Commander: We've given you enough time already. You've got 48 hours to get this place running again, or we'll kill you and give it a try ourselves. Ask your friend the security guy if you don't think we're serious.
He turns to one of the white-armoured figures at his side.
Neo-Galactic Commander: Keep an eye on him. I'll tell Nereid that we should have this place running by the end of the week.
The Commander steps away and taps the screen on his mechanical arm. A hologram appears of a woman in a spacesuit and a helmet with a glowing blue eyeslit that covers her head entirely. She speaks in a clipped, robotic, only vaguely feminine monotone.
Nereid: Commander. I trust you have good news for me.
Neo-Galactic Commander: Of sorts. The station is offline, but we should have it running by the end of the week.
Neo-Galactic Commander: Seems to me we're wasting a lot of effort on a place that's practically falling apart. Some of this stuff is ancient. There's only a handful of us to begin with, and we're-
Nereid: Are you questioning my authority, Commander?
Neo-Galactic Commander: No, ma'am, I-
Nereid: Then I would ask that you keep your opinions to yourself. You are there for a reason. We will escape this dying world and build one anew. Every sacrifice we make in its pursuit will be justified in the end. Where our predecessors failed, we will succeed. Remember that, Commander.
Neo-Galactic Commander: ...Yes, ma'am.
Nereid: Good. Report back to me when the facility is operational.
The hologram disappears.
Neo-Galactic Commander: Hrmph. She sure loves hearing herself talk...
He taps a few more buttons on his arm.
Neo-Galactic Commander: Sinope, how're we looking outside?
There is no response.
Neo-Galactic Commander: ...Sinope?
Suddenly, the door to the Windworks is blasted open, and something that might have once been a Neo-Galactic Grunt slams against the wall with a wet thud. A bloodied figure strides through the doorway. His Avenger costume lies in tatters, with only the chestpiece remaining mostly intact. His dark hair grows down to his shoulders, stringy and unkempt. His skin has become almost transculent, taking on a sickly shade of pale yellow, and beneath it snake-like varicose veins can be seen worming their way up his body.
Lucius: ...Where is she?
Neo-Galactic Commander: Ah fuck, it's him! Everybody, jammers on!
Lucius: They won't save you.
An Alakazam materialises behind one of the Excubitors, cutting him down with a Psycho Cut before he can react. The second Excubitor reaches for her shock baton, but Lucius crosses the distance in two steps and shatters her helmet with a combat knife. She slumps to the ground whilst the scientist cowers helplessly in the corner.
Neo-Galactic Commander: Dammit. You want something done right...
He sends out a Skuntank, and his mechanical arm reforms into a blade.
Neo-Galactic Commander: You wanna dance, Avenger? I'll teach you not to fuck with-
He is cut off as Lucius tackles him with startling speed and the restraint of a feral mon. His Skuntank tries to charge Sidious with a Night Slash, but the Alakazam simply teleports out of the way and pins it in place with a Thunder Wave. The Commander's attempt to stab his attacker meets with failure as Lucius pummels him repeatedly before standing up and stepping on his shoulder until the Commander yells in pain.
Neo-Galactic Commander: GARGH! Y-you-
Lucius picks him up and slams him against the wall.
Lucius: What have you done with my DAUGHTER?!
Neo-Galactic Commander: I don't know what you're-
Lucius throws the Commander to the floor.
Lucius: Sidious. Find out what he knows.
Sidious: ~My favourite part.~
Neo-Galactic Commander: Wait, no, p-pleas-
He starts to scream as Sidious lifts him into the air. Spasms course through his body and blood begins to pour from his ears. After a few seconds, his eyes roll back into his head, and Sidious lets him fall to the ground, limp and broken.
Sidious: ~She's not here.~
Lucius: Dammit. DAMMIT!
He swings his fist through a nearby console.
Lucius: She has to be here. She has to be. She'll have come running to Sinnoh looking for her precious mother, but they'll have taken her, or she'll be hiding somewhere, or... or... I need ANSWERS, for fuck's sake!
His gaze swings around looking for something to unlease his anger on until it settles on the scientist in the corner.
Scientist: P-please... p-please, I'm not with them, I have a-
Lucius: I don't care.
There is a desperate cry, a sharp crunch, and then silence.
Lucius: Sidious. We're leaving.
The man recalls his Alakazam and walks out, leaving a building full of bodies behind him.
Inside the bowels of Neo-Galactic's headquarters, the corridors are eerily quiet. The only movement is that of automated couriers whirring through the sterile halls. At the centre of it all is a huge machine with a bank of monitors displaying live footage of events all across the world. Nereid is sat in front of this supercomputer, but she seems more focused on the clock in the corner than anything else.
She turns to a Slowking by her side.
Nereid: She should have been here by now. Perhaps something has happened to her?
Plotosus: ~Unlikely. Surveillance indicates no cause for concern. Bear in mind that it is only half-an-hour after the meeting was supposed to occur.~
Nereid: More than half-an-hour. Thirty-three minutes, to be more precise. Is it too much to ask that things be orderly? Our whole purpose here is to establish order amongst chaos by whatever means necessary.
Plotosus: ~I would ask that you do not compromise this meeting solely as a result of the other party's punctuality, or lack thereof.~
Nereid: Of course not. We will wait.
She turns back to her computer.
Nereid: After all, we have all the time in the world... or what little there is left of it.
???: Ugh... wouldn't'a hurt ya to design this place a bit easier to find my way in, would it?
-A middle-aged woman wobbles into view, balancing herself with a broken piece of a staff, one with an immediately recognizable retractable claw on the end.-
Sarah: I mean, seriously. Either that, or ya could've waited at the front door or somethin'.
Nereid doesn't turn to face Sarah immediately.
Nereid: My apologies. I have become more accustomed to dealing with machines than people as of late.
Although her face is hidden entirely by her helmet, her contempt for Sarah's condition is all too obvious as she speaks.
Nereid: That aside... Not only do you arrive late, but you insult me further by presenting yourself in a state of intoxication. Perhaps I should have placed additional stress on the import of this meeting in my invitation.
Sarah: Well, if it makes you feel better, the little girl version a' me we're tryin' to save the world for would never get drunk in the first place, if all things go good. So if it bugs you, let's just say it's symbolism or somethin'.
-She crosses her arms and leans on the broken staff-
Sarah: Besides, it's tradition for Galactic to have awful presentation in the face of disaster, innit?
Nereid: The uniform is an affectation of my predecessors. I simply maintain it. As for saving the world... that would be what I brought you here to discuss.
She turns towards Sarah.
Nereid: This world is dying. I imagine you already knew that. That's why you allowed your daughter to go back, is it not? You wanted her to have a future.
-Sarah nods, her expression slipping into something more solemn-
Sarah: Well, of course. If I had any reason, any at all, to believe she could somehow have a happy ending without going back, I wouldn't even be here with you.
Sarah: I've already seen too many people lose everything here. I'll sacrifice whatever little bit I have left to keep her safe.
Nereid: Excellent. We have common cause, then. Though I hope you understand that is an alliance between us is to be successful, such a sacrifice will be necessary. If you wish to guarantee your daughter's safety, then our own existence must be forfeit.
She stands up and begins to pace up and down.
Nereid: My study into the nature of divergent timelines began long before I came here. I have no particular attachment to Neo-Galactic. Their ideology, much the same as it was some twenty-five years ago, simply happened to suit my purposes. New recruits are told that we plan to erase this world and create a better one, which, while effective, is only partially true. I have no intention of creating a new world. Destroying this one is all that matters.
She stops and turns to look at Sarah again.
Nereid: This world was never meant to be. As long as it continues to exist, it poses a threat to the timeline that spawned it. Thus far all the entities that have been sent back are relatively benign. The past will survive their intrusion. However, what if that were to change? What if something with evil intent were to go back, such as Esprit or - legends forbid - Lucius himself? Such an event could wipe out all possible futures. I cannot allow that to happen. I must destroy this world to preserve the world that should exist. I do not ask for your support - merely your acceptance. Allow us to continue with our goals, do what you can to prevent the interference of others, and in return we shall do what we can to aid your daughter in the time we have left.
-Sarah is quiet for a long time before she speaks again.-
Sarah: ...You have my acceptance. And my support. If I'm giving up everything, I damn well better go all out. I'm in for whatever you've got for me.
Nereid's gaze remains intense.
Nereid: Are you certain of that? I want to make sure you understand the magnitude of this request. We are talking about a death toll in the millions, possibly more. They are the few that must be sacrificed to save the many. They will have families, like you. They will be trying to eke out an existence as best they can. And we must take that from them, for the sake of a world that we cannot inhabit or observe, a world that may meet with tragedies beyond our control even if we succeed.
She taps a finger against her helmet, and an automated courier comes whirring to her side.
Nereid: If you wish to avoid open association with us, we can provide you with anonymity. A name, a uniform, a mask. Some find that it helps to distance themselves from what we do. I came to terms with it a long time ago, but I still value the element of secrecy.
-Sarah responds much quicker this time, nodding.-
Sarah: I know damn well just how big this is gonna be. As far as I'm concerned, I'm past the point of no return anyway. We keep this timeline around, those millions of people are just gonna face more and more disasters, and there's no J-Team around anymore to fix things anyway.
-She watches the courier zoom by-
Sarah: As for the rest... name, mask, sure, but skip the uniform, that just puts a totally different target on my back. Lucius is probably already lookin' for me and if he finds me in a Galactic suit, I'm dead. Shit, I'm probably dead the moment he sees me anyway, but I might as well have a chance.
-Resting in the wilderness lies a temple. A ziggurat, standing over six stories tall, with steps one story tall each. At the top rests a man. But he is of no interest at present. What lies inside, fifty cubits below the sandy topsoil, is what is if true interest.-
-Here, rests a tablet. No, that's a misnomer, for that implies that it is meant to be carried by hand. This wall of stone, twenty cubits high and forty wide, carries upon it a chronicle of an empire long dead, shred from the memories of man and Pokemon alike. It tells the tale of a guardian of the masses who fought a terrible, rabid evil, before finally succumbing to the beast, but not before one of his loyal guards struck a mortal blow, ensuring the destruction of both the empire and beast alike.-
-The soldier then took the remains of the beast - weakened, but Death was unable to claim it even in such a state - and shut them away under the star's watchful eyes. The soldier then marched far, before passing upon Yveltal's hallowed steps, his name as forgotten as the empire he fought to protect.-
-And yet, not all was lost, for the emperor's spirit clung to his realm. Even though he could not influence the physical world, he could influence minds, and dreams. He entered the dreams of those who would help him, and with them he chronicled the tale of his empire, determined to not let it's memory fade by the hand of a monster.-
-That was a long time ago, too long for any mortal mind to properly comprehend the severity. Those Pokemon have long since passed or moved on, leaving the old imperial realm empty of subjects, seemingly bringing about the beast's final goal millennia later.-
-Until a man came.-
-He could not know what his destiny held, not then. But it was his, and his time had come.-
-That man now rises from his resting place at the top of the ziggurat. Brushing back his hair, he beholds the sun - endless, and eternal.-
Now go. Destiny awaits.
Nereid: We will deal with Lucius in time. He is a threat that must be addressed. I lack the capacity to face him directly, but you have done so before. For now, however...
She takes from the courier a helmet similar in make to her own, only with a red visor instead of blue, and hands it to Sarah.
Nereid: Should you find it not to your liking, I can have a different model made. This version happens to have several practical improvements of my own design. As for a name... Alternia should suffice. If Titan were still alive, I have no doubt he would disapprove, but this organisation has existed for a long time and there are only so many named astronomical objects.
-Sarah gives a humorless chuckle as she picks up the helmet-
Sarah: Heh. "Alternia". Least it fits.
-She puts the helmet on-
Sarah: Helmet fits too, looks like. So what're these "improvements" you mentioned?
Nereid: Night vision. Infrared heat sensors. Targeting systems. Fairly standard paramilitary gear. Most of it is obsolete from an Auric's perspective, but there are a couple of other features that you might find useful.
She taps her helmet again, and the automated courier begins to whirr away.
Nereid: As you will have noticed already, the helmet is fitted with a voice modifier. Said modifier also allows you to emit a piercing scream at a volume that should debilitate anybody nearby for several seconds. I won't demonstrate, though the helmet's earpieces should protect you from such an attack. Oh, and it can do this as well.
A Charge Beam shoots out of her visor and hits the courier, destroying it in a small explosion of sparks and scrap metal.
Nereid: I don't recommend using that feature often, however. It has an unfortunate tendency to fry the other systems and leave you stuck in the dark with a colander on your head.