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  #26    
Old February 20th, 2017 (1:40 AM). Edited February 23rd, 2017 by Afterglow Ampharos.
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Afterglow Ampharos Afterglow Ampharos is offline
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    Ascent and Downfall

    "Ay! Fur man! What you see up there?" Frag shouted out from the ground.

    Out from a tree popped a small Furret head, still with bandanna wrapped firmly about his mouth, "There's a mountain off in the distance. A few birds here and there. We get on that mountain and we'll have a clear view of the whole island. We can find the best spot for our base there." The tree branch shook as the Furret dropped to the ground, rolling into the fall. "Should be a straight shot."

    "Ugh, mountain?" Frag groaned. "Friend, Frag only have one foot. Is going to be difficult," he whined, looking down at the stuffed boot which took the place of his amputated limb. But hey, he'd gained something good out of it at least. "Bah, who care! We go!" the Chespin exclaimed enthusiastically, pointing ahead dramatically and marching forward.

    Samuel just shrugged as he too made his way forward. "Lots of ridges we'll need to climb as well. Be prepared for that. I don't see any fires or smoke so far."

    It took the two around half an hour to make it to the base of the mountain. Samuel glanced up, then back at Frag, "Think you can manage?"

    The panting Chespin flashed him a weak thumbs-up sign before collapsing to the ground in a sweaty, exhausted mess. "Frag too.... overdressed for this..." he wheezed, rolling onto his back. He had already pulled back the hood of his outfit, exposing his green quill-covered head with the broken right spike. "Can we... take breather...?" he asked, looking behind him at the Furret.

    Sam stared at him, "... Catch up when you're ready." With that he braced his legs and leaped up, gripping onto a ridge, soon scampering up a bit, "You'll be fine down here, right?" He asked as he peered down, "If not..." He glanced about, "... Gah, the captain will be in my face about this." He dropped back down. "Once you are rested you CAN climb this, right?"

    "Wh, wha?" Frag replied absentmindedly, as if he hadn't even noticed Sam's departure in the first place. "Climb, no climb, yadda yadda, we rest now, think later. Da?" he waved him off. "Come, come, sit. Pile of spiky rocks very comfortable here." He patted the sharp-edged stones next to him.

    Samuel crossed his arms, "No. Not at all." He stated, "Why are you wearing such heavy clothes? You realize we're going to visit some warm places in the future, right? Just take it off if it's bothering you so much."

    "What?" Frag sat up, frowning. "Frag never take this off while on duty! Is all Frag stands for! First score." he added smugly. "Also to hide injury. So bad guys not know that Frag is hurt. Is called morale controllage, yes? Just like on AFN ship! They never know what Frag packing under this!" he said, smacking his belly. "Maybe bomb? Maybe gun? Maybe hurt, yes, but also maybe something to hurt them. Yes?" He grinned expectantly.

    Samuel stared at him for a moment, then cautiously took a step away from the crazy Chespin, "Uh... sure."

    "Oh, oh, speak of which!" Frag piped up excitedly. His energy had somehow miraculously come back, and he turned around to lie down on his belly. "You know... Frag not tell anyone except captain this, but there was other pirate on AFN ship. He is one who do the crashing on the castle! Or maybe she. Sometimes Frag not good with sex knowing. Like Rock Lady, Frag think she is Rock guy entire time! Hah, best joke." he cackled at his own joke.

    Samuel looked away at that, "... Another pirate...?" He asked. "What do you mean?"

    "Maybe was another pirate, maybe just some rogue. Charmeleon, yes? Very red lizard with the fire tail. But this Charmeleon was special, yes? Was using very strange moves. Blobby, yucky moves, and also very strange tattoo on arm." the Chespin noted. "Frag always wanted to get tattoo. Ladies think tattoo make man sexy, yes? You got tattoo anywhere?" Frag questioned.

    Sam fell silent, "... I saw him too. On board. He was only attacking marines, I think."

    "Hm. Maybe." Frag mused, rubbing his chin pensively. He hopped back to his feet. "Maybe is wanted list man like captain. Frag good at making wanted friends." the Chespin noted, looking upwards at the mountain. "Why we stop? We need to climb mountain, yes? Lazy is bad, fur man! Let's go!" He took off down the path excitedly.

    Samuel let out a loud sigh, rubbing at his temples. He just had to endure for a while longer. Who knew? Maybe no one could notice if he happened to push the Chespin off the edge of the mountain? For now he just followed along, using his acrobatics to make his way up.


    ***


    The sun slowly rose in the sky, a reminder of the passing of time. A celestial timekeeper. While creatures climb, trek, and toil below, its ascent continued: too slow to watch, too fast to ever catch up to.

    But one was watching its movements. And in a way, she kept pace with it, as well.

    At the edge of the mountain's peak -- not the highest peak on the island, but it would certainly do -- two talons rested on the rocky ledge. With wings folded across her front, an elderly Xatu stood, her body facing toward the rising sun, her long beak pointed toward it like an arrow.

    Her eyes were fixed in place on the sun, but it was not what she was looking at. Other things passed in front of her vision: some dark, some as bright as the sun she stared at. Some hazy, some vivid. Some had already come to pass, some had yet to become reality.

    One vision -- hazy, yet familiar -- reminded the Xatu of how she came to be here. She watched herself plummet through the sky, with no way to spread her wings and fly. She could practically feel the air whisking past her face, through her feathers, at a speed which made it feel like blades. But that sensation, she can't rightly tell if it's the vision, or her own memory, introducing that tactile feeling.

    Another scene appeared, this one clear, and pushing the previous one from her attention. Her old home, on a rocky cliff much like this one, but ever so far away.

    Its appearance was too fleeting to linger on long enough to become nostalgic. The Xatu saw a cascade of golden light wash over the clouds and the sea, a spotlight in the dark night. Its rays of gold lined up with the rays of sunshine which the Xatu's eyes were actually fixed on.

    For a time, this is all that appeared to her. She allowed herself to become enveloped in this scene. It was an awe-striking, if eerie sight. When she remained in it, allowing herself to be “present” in this moment that was not in the present at all, she found herself feeling at peace.

    She exhaled all her breath through her nostrils, and slowly filled her lungs again. The air was thinner at this elevation, but she was accustomed to it. What she wasn't accustomed to was that salty scent of the sea, though faint. On an island this small, you were never far from it.

    In silence, she gave thanks for this vision, the present moment, the past and the future ahead. She gave thanks for the feeling of peace that she felt.

    "YYYYAAAAAAAHH!!!"

    An exasperated exhale left her nostrils.

    Frag bellowed triumphantly as he finally reached the top of the mountain, looking onwards victoriously at the rest of the island. "WE IS KING OF ISLAND! TOP OF THE WORLD!" he bellowed, raising his arms.

    "Frag, would you shut up!? We're not sure what's up there! If I get trampled by a Rhydon I swear to Arceus I will punt you off this mountain!"

    Though aware of the presence of others coming near, the Xatu did not shift her gaze or her stance.

    With his tirade directed at the Chespin done, the Furret turned his head toward the Xatu. "... You aren't king, someone already beat us up here." he muttered.

    "Wha-?" The Chespin turned around, confused, before mouthing an 'oh' as he noticed the immobile Xatu. He looked at Sam, then back to the bird. "Should we, ah, try talking?" he asked hesitantly.

    Samuel was silent for a moment, then slowly made his way forward, "Friend, or foe?" he asked.

    The Xatu stood still, even her eyes unmoving from the object in the sky. If it were not for the winds tousling her feathers, she would seem a statue, or perhaps a totem. She remembered her meditation training: Acknowledge the noise and stop fighting it. What you resist, persists. She observed the sounds of these noisy Pokémon, then returned to her breath.

    Frag scratched his head, even more confused now. He quickly walked up to the flying-type. "Is you okay? Hangover, maybe?" he waved his hand in front of the Xatu. "Maybe bird lady smoke some plant here." he said, turning to his Furret companion.

    That was a sentiment that the old bird couldn't help but resist. Her eyes narrowed, and the moment that Frag turned his head away from her, she whipped her head down to look at him. "I am not high--" she began to yell, her voice coming out in a bit of a squawk. When she heard her own tone of voice and realized her feathers were ruffled, she took a moment to calm herself. "I am -- I was, rather -- meditating." She was calmed, but not without a twinge of annoyance, evidently. Needless to say, her visions had left her by now.

    Frag was a little shaken by the sudden outburst, momentarily stepping back. At least she wasn't aggressive, so that was good. "Ah! Mediting, ya, ya, is good! Good for brain!" he proclaimed, nodding half-knowingly. "Uh, name is Frag! And Fur Man here is Samuel! We are pirates, from blue band crew, led by Captain Jonathan Fury!" he said. "Number sixty-four." he added smugly. "And you is?"

    "Pirates," the psychic breathed quietly, turning away from the cliff's edge to look between the both of them. Distracted from the previous subject, she instead latched onto this one. "So... you are them, then," she commented, perhaps more to herself than to the boys. "You two must be visiting from across the seas. Well, you are welcome to stay for a time and converse. I haven't had the opportunity to speak with any sentient Pokémon in weeks. But, when I do, they typically call me The Oracle, or The Seer."

    Frag looked at the rest of the island, the most of which was clearly visible from atop their spot on the mountain. "Hah, Frag get it, seer, because easy to see from mountain, hah! Best joke!" The Chespin slapped his knee. "And, uh, can you, maybe, uh- is for my friend Samuel here, he doesn't understand what 'Oracle' is. Maybe, explain?" he asked hopefully.

    "Close, dear," she said, a thin, patient smile on her beak. Notably, she looked at Frag while explaining, not Samuel. "That title is linked with clairvoyance, an ability gifted to my kind, Xatu. I am able to see visions of the past and of the future, especially when I meditate, as you just saw me do." She spread a wing in gesture toward the sun she'd been gazing at.

    "Meditating and visions is pure bullmuk," Samuel muttered. "Never did anything for me except pain and misery. Whatever you're seeing is a pile of filthy rotten lies." The Furret sneered, far more aggressive than usual. "Just stay out of our way, and we'll stay out of yours."

    The Xatu looked at Samuel for a moment, with... not quite a frown. "I suppose you won't be calling me Seer, then." She turns to the other. "Frag, may I ask why you and your fellow pirates came to this island? And what brought you to this mountaintop?"

    "Uh, captain wants coconuts maybe. Or base. Frag memory not good." The Chespin scratched his head. "Oh! You should come and meet!" he suddenly exclaimed. "Captain Monkey man very nice guy. He surely want to meet future seeing person like you. Don't mind Fur Man Samuel, he is a little..." Frag leaned towards the Xatu. "...unhinged." he whispered all too loudly.

    In an instant a knife was pressed against Frag's throat, the Furret now next to his 'crewmate' thanks to a Quick Attack. "Want to repeat that?" he asked softly.

    "Gah! Nothing, nothing!" Frag croaked out. The Chespin and Furret both found themselves pushed backward along the rocky ground a short distance, by an invisible force -- one that wasn't too difficult to discern the source of. "Now, now," the bird tutted. "I know you two are pirates, but--"

    Frag felt his heel leave solid ground, followed shortly by all but the tip of his boot. He'd reached the edge of the cliff, where the bird had been sungazing moments earlier. With his other leg simply a facade, he couldn't catch his balance. His arms pinwheeled, and a shout of "WHOAAAAOUH!" caught the Xatu's attention, just as his body tipped back and fell out of sight.

    With a quick curse reserved only for the inside of her own head, the avian ran -- moving from her spot for the first time since Sam had laid eyes on her. Running straight off the ledge, she pointed her beak and her body down, keeping her wings tucked to dive after Frag. As she dove over the cliff's edge, Frag was already bouncing off the first of the cliff's outcroppings. All the while Samuel stared down, a smirk hidden under his bandanna as his eyes twinkled at the sight. Each bounce looked awfully painful, but they delayed his fall long enough for the Xatu's plummet to catch up. Her wings and her talons extended simultaneously, her talons closing around his arms in an almost painfully tight grasp. She pulled up and leveled out with her wings, pulling Frag away from the cliff's face before he could collide with the next stony outcropping.

    Samuel's gleeful expression changed to one of disappointment.

    The Chespin was still hollering unintelligibly. He was heavier than she anticipated, and for a moment she wondered what all he's carrying in that pack of his. She didn't think she could gain enough altitude to go back to the mountaintop while carrying him -- not at her age. Maybe in her younger years. Instead she settled on gliding forward, making the nearest treetop her destination. The two half-landed, half-crashed into the cushion of leaves and the scrape of branches.

    "Oof... I must apologize, dear," she said as she tried to reorient both Frag and herself onto a stable branch. The best she could do in the circumstances was sling his arms over a branch, while she clasped her talons around the same one. "I didn't mean to push you back quite that far. Are you alright?" She reached one of her talons out in a gesture which eventually Frag recognized as an offer to haul him up.

    "Wha..." the grass-type mumbled, groggily taking the bird's claw. "What just happen...?" He looked around in confusion. "Oh. We not on mountain now. Muk."

    "You two alright down there?" Samuel called down, "You should have bounced a bit more, then you could have landed on the ground with a far softer landing!"

    "I'm fine," the Xatu called, raising her voice and hoping it would project all the way to the mountaintop. "And your friend is battered." She lowered her beak as well as her voice. "Still in better straits than he was with your blade, though."

    "Oh..." Samuel's voiced dropped to a mutter, "Just... great."

    The bird's attention turned back to Frag, trying to keep him steady atop the branch. Not everyone has the gift of clasping feet. "Are you alright, dear?" she repeated, concerned. "Let me have a look at your head." She reached for his hood, but found it was already down. "Oh! Y-your quill!" she announced with distress, noticing one of them was broken right off.

    "Hm...? Where? Oh, you mean spike." Frag said, looking around in confusion before realizing she was referring to the snapped thorn on his head. "No no, is always like this from before. Childhood accident." He waved off the concerned Xatu, still groaning in pain.

    Meanwhile Samuel was scampering down the mountainside. "Well, that was a fun show, but we should be getting back. I saw what I needed to up there." he said to the two. "Well... at least Frag and I should be."

    In a few moments, Frag was airlifted down to the tree's base by the Xatu's wings. "I am very sorry, again," she said, shutting her eyes and bowing her head after she'd landed on the ground. "I only meant to separate you two." She looked up at them again. "Frag dear, do you need any help returning to your ship? You took quite a bruising on your way down the mountain... perhaps more than a bruising." She gestured a wing forward, offering her help.

    "I think we're fine," Samuel said as he grabbed Frag, frowning a bit at the weight. He set him on the ground and grabbed his hood. "See ya and all." He began dragging the Chespin along the ground while tugging on his hood.

    The Xatu's wing folded to her front again, frowning as she watched the pirate treat his comrade so... without empathy. "Farewell," she bid them, knowing they'd meet again.

    Pirates are a rough lot, she'd decided.

    What had she gotten herself into?
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      #27    
    Old March 3rd, 2017 (3:02 PM).
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    Ray Maverick Ray Maverick is offline
     
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    The End of the Day


    A few hours after the sunset, Jonathan and Cook were treading under the last clump of palm trees between them and the sandy beach. The trip for their return was less eventful, and easier than Jon expected; he didn't have to strangle or launch any attacker to the other side of the forest. The only threat they encountered was to their ears: the distinct and constant sound of Kricketots hiding in the shade was coming from all directions, and they were forced to listen to it for the entire trip. Those bugs were everywhere in the forest, and during summer, they just wouldn't shut up. Jon ended up wondering if he'd have to hunt down the bugs around his base to earn some peace.

    Apart from the Kricketots, luck had smiled upon them and their crew, as the whole moon and stars shed their pale light upon the island, making their way brighter.

    Once Captain Jon saw the Crow's Nest of his ship amidst the treetops, he got excited and made a final rush through the thicket. The sand beneath his feet had quickly lost the warmth of the sun, but the feeling it gave was that of relief, after a long day's walk.

    The Safe Journey's wood and blimps glistened like steel in the moonlight; the ship was rocking a bit with the waves of the bay, Jon noticed, not like when he had left. She had been unstuck from the sand thanks to the tide brought by the moon, but the anchor was keeping her safely in place. However, with the sea that had expanded, Jon could no longer reach the ship with a leap without getting his feet wet. He stopped just before the dark sand hardened by the waters that were lapping on the shore. "Cook mate, you mind giving me a lift?"

    "Hm? Oh, er," the Hydreigon hesitated only momentarily before turning his back and floating closer to the ground. "Not at all, captain, climb aboard. Do mind the hat, my friend."

    Once they were near enough the ship, Jon leaped at the railing. "Damn, we're a bit late," he said, and glanced around for any 'mon from his crew, but saw no one. "But so are the others. Gods, I could use some ale right now," he said as he headed inside, "I'm going to my quarters to drop this and grab me a slug, Cook." By this, he meant the coconut-like berry he was carrying for the entire journey. "You go rest, or whatever."

    After half an hour the sound of bushes being whacked could be heard, as Nick and Kayri made their way back to the ship. "Oh, rich," Nick muttered in irritation, noting the small distance from the shore to the boat, now floating off the shore. With a grunt of annoyance the Scrafty dropped his pack on the shore, tightening his black belt over his waist and wading in the water. "Guess we gotta go swimmin'," he said to Kayri, hopping into the ocean's embrace without a second thought and making his way to the ship. The Ground-Type gave a begrudging sigh. She quickly slipped her boots into her bag before hoisting it up over her head and stepping into the water. From what could be seen of the expression on her face, it was obviously not a pleasant experience for her at all.

    Captain Jon was preparing to crack the coconut when he heard splashing outside. He instantly jumped out his chair, tireless it seemed even after a long day's trip. "OY!" he shouted once he glanced off the port of the Safe Journey. The waters of the bay reflected the moonlight, making it clear as day who it was, swimming to his ship. Jon grabbed a rope and threw it overboard. "Nick! Brother, did you run into some Fearow?!"

    Nick grabbed the rope, heaving himself up to the deck and shaking the water off his body. "Fearow? No, but I think you're gonna like what we did find." Behind him, Kayri clambered up somewhat more clumsily.

    Jon got excited at the notion Nick suggested, but made sure to back away from the Scrafty so no droplets would touch him. "You found a good spot?"

    Nick nodded, bringing a hand to his head and wiping off his crest. "Huge tree out there. Bigger than any tree I've ever seen. Cleared out some of the space in front of it, built a little foundation. Figure, with enough time and resources, could hollow it out and build on the inside of it."

    "Aye," Jon let out, "Like a dream come true! Hope there's a place there proper to land our ship. Cook, bring us food and merriment! C'mon mates, rest while we wait for the others..." Jon didn't show it, but he was concerned. If Sam and Frag didn't arrive in twenty minutes, he'd go out looking for them.

    "What-ho!" Cook called from inside the ship, emerging from belowdecks soon after. "The others are arriving? A pleasure to see you! Say, does tea count as merriment, captain?"

    "Tea?! This is no time for tea!" Jon shouted. "I want ale!" The bottles he had found in his quarters were all empty.

    "I understand if you fancy ale, captain," the Hydreigon replied, a small chuckle escaping him. "But there's no need to resort to such ridiculousness as implying there is any inappropriate time for tea! Why, it- goodness!" Cook paused to exclaim as his eye caught the state of the engineer and the boatswain. "You two are a tad soaked, I do apologise for not noticing earlier. I should fetch some towels, or some such - Jonathan, do you think we should move the ship closer ashore, that the others may board easier? I've no time to act as a ferry if I'm to be preparing supper, I'm afraid."

    "Oh muk," Jon exclaimed, instantly getting up. "We should." He gestured towards Kayri; before they flew, they'd need to fire the engines. "Let's go. And keep the engines running." She followed his orders promptly, leaving soggy footsteps in her wake.

    In a few minutes, the Safe Journey was floating gently a few inches above the sandy shore. It touched down softly, with a slight tremor, and Jon leaped from the railing of the bridge to the deck, where he was. His belly was rumbling. "Food!" he shouted.

    "Foooood!" Cook echoed jubilantly from the kitchen.

    "We're back." Samuel announced, calling up from the shore. After dragging Frag all the way back, he left the Chespin sitting in the sand. "So, doc, come and look at him. He fell down a cliff. A very tall one. With lots of sharp rocks."

    Jon landed on the sand next to the two to check up on them. Frag seemed to be unconscious. "Muk," Jon said, "How'd he fall? Did you get to see any Fearows?"

    Sam blinked at the captain, ".... No we didn't see any Fearows. A Xatu pushed him off of a cliff side. She was one of those hippie folks." He shrugged again, "He bounced a few times so not sure how shaken up he is. Had to drag him given I don't really have long arms."

    "Seems I'm a tad late," Allen announced from behind the group as he stumbled toward the group, a bottle clutched between his hand. "Did I miss anything exciting?"

    "Hey Rags!" Jon shouted. He pointed at the unconscious Frag. "Our boom boom pew pew guy don't look too good. Can you make him ok?"

    The doctor wandered over to Frag's larger body, examining the 'mon at a few points. "I suppose that's one way of defining exciting," he murmured. "What happened to him?" he inquired as he checked points of his body. Allen reached into a satchel on his side, grabbing a few berries and crushing them in his hands before he applied it to the 'mon.

    "He fell into some rocks," Jon said, glancing at Sam and nodding, as if to confirm the notion.

    "Don't throw up on him now," Nick called out derisively.

    "I don't make a habit of relieving myself on wounded 'mon," Allen responded to Nick, before he snorted. "Fell on some rocks? I suppose that sounds about right," he stated with a bit of ridicule undertone. He applied the berry ointment across the 'mon's body and into his mouth, before he took another drink of his bottle. "So, what's new and exciting that's going on?"

    "Cook and I chased some birds who were spying on us, found a big bird who was their leader and he told us there's another big bird on the island that's wild and mean. Guess I'll hafta go teach it a lesson if we're to live on this island. Hey, come to think of it, Samboy and Frag also found a bird..." The Monferno seemed to ponder on it for a bit. "What the hell, this island's full of birds!" He suddenly let out an epic yawn. "It's bed time for me lads. Get Frag up on board and let's get some rest."
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      #28    
    Old March 6th, 2017 (8:16 PM). Edited March 6th, 2017 by Afterglow Ampharos.
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    Afterglow Ampharos Afterglow Ampharos is offline
    Ampharos are the ultimate kid's bed. They have a built in nightlight and everything.
       
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      Ground to Air


      Jon rose from his comfy bed early for another sunny summer morning. He rang the bell on board for everyone to wake up, and headed straight for the wheel. In less than a quarter of an hour, they were soaring up in the sky, with breakfast nowhere in sight. Jon glanced off the starboard down on the ground, and after a bit of searching, he detected Raphael's big tree... and the looming grey mountain of the island. He didn't see a sign of the Fearow yet.

      I can't fight her in the air, Jon thought, it's her domain, and it's too dangerous. I'll have to find her on foot and make my stand there.

      He set course for the mountain, and in less than five minutes, they were at its foot; Jon found a small extent of flat rock for the Journey to land on, and hopped off the ship. "Oy! I'm gonna lay the smackdown on that fear bird! You all guard the ship till I'm back." With that, he jumped on some rocks to begin his hike on the mountain.

      Jon had his eyes on the sky the entire time. Fearows and other such birds liked to hunt in the morning.

      He thought he heard cries from the other side of the mountain, so that's where he elected to head towards; he searched every cave he came across, without much luck - many of them weren't large enough for a bird of her supposed size anyway. In an hour's time, the Monferno came across the very cliff Frag fell off from. The same cliff the elderly Xatu was found standing on, looking up at the sky. And as it turned out, she was a creature of routine, found in the same spot today, her gaze fixed up on the rising morning sun. Perhaps there wasn't much else to do, living alone at her age. Or, perhaps this cliff was chosen just for this activity.

      Jon spotted the Xatu, and knew instantly that she was sentient. But then he also remembered the incident that happened the previous night: Sam said that Xatu had thrown Frag off a cliff. "Hey!" he called out as he was climbing to a higher spot. "You're that Xatu who hurt my friend!"

      Though not as loud as Frag had been, Jon's accusation drew the Xatu's attention more easily. She turned her head toward the sound, blinking her eyes out of her "trance," and looking down. Spotting a monkey Pokémon climbing up her mountain, she leaned over to get a better look at him. "Ah -- do you mean the poor Chespin fellow?" she asked, and waited for Jon to scale his way up to her.

      "Yeah, that Chespin!" Jon shouted back. With his natural agility, he was at the top of the cliff within seconds.

      The bird was impressed. His agility wasn't unexpected, given his species, but it was still impressive. "I do apologize for that, again," she said, her almond-shaped eyes showing concern, regret. "His Furret partner became unruly with a knife, and I only wanted to separate the two. But I pushed too far, and the Chespin fell from the edge." Her gaze moved toward the edge of the cliff Jon had just scaled. "I managed to catch him in my talons when I dove after him, but he was still injured." She brought her gaze back up to Jon. "How is he doing now?"

      Jon thought he got ahead of himself. That Xatu didn't seem like an enemy, and she probably wasn't if Sam was at fault for what happened. "I think he's fine," the Monferno said. Frag had been sleeping so easily that Jon knew he wasn't really hurt. "What are you doing here?" he asked without much care for manners.

      "I certainly hope so." She moved her beak toward the sky again, gesturing simply with her gaze. "I stand here to watch the sun, to meditate and to receive visions." Her eyes came back to rest on him. "Something of a... tradition, for my species. And doing so from a high mountaintop is all the better."

      "Yeah, I know about that thing Xatus do," Jon said impatiently, "I meant what are you doing here on this island? You come here for meditation?"

      "Oh. My mistake," the bird said with a blink of surprise. "Well," she started, looking over the cliff to the landscape before them, "I came to the island purely by chance, unless of course you put your belief in divine intervention. I needed a place to get away to. I... ran into a great deal of trouble with the law," she admitted, with some reluctance. Her eyes moved back to Jon. "If you can call them the law," she added, a hint of resentment in her tone, but her expression even. "Why do you ask, dear?"

      Jon sized her up. She didn't look dangerous, or a criminal, so he was going to assume that by them she meant the ANF. It was them who would make a criminal out of anybody who crossed them.

      "We're in the middle of nowhere," Jon commented. "And I thought this island was deserted. I'm looking to build a home here."

      "I believe it is. Deserted, that is. You and your two friends are the first Pokémon I've seen here capable of holding a conversation." She brought her wing up, running it along the bottom of her beak with a nod. "I'm sure you'd do well to make a home here. I've been trying to do the same." She unfurled her wing toward him in gesture. "The Chespin -- ah yes, his name was Frag -- he mentioned he's a pirate. You, as well?"

      "I'm their captain," Jon said proudly.

      "Well then, well met, Captain," she greeted with a nod.

      Jon grinned, "You look like you've been here for some time, have you seen a Fearow around these parts? Haven't seen her myself, but a bird told me she's made her nest on this mountain."

      Her eyes widened slightly when the Fearow was brought up. "Why yes, of course. She's never spoken to me -- perhaps she's incapable -- but she regularly attempts to chase me away from this mountain range. Very territorial. Very difficult." The old bird looked up toward the taller mountains. "I'd much rather make my home up there, but whenever I do, she attacks me. Technically, I'm not even safe on this mountain, she may yet still spot me."

      Jon nodded in understanding. "Lucky for you, I made it my quest to rid this island of her. You know where her nest is?"

      The Xatu smirked a little, playing along. "Oh, lucky indeed." She didn't mind his confidence, rather she found it endearing, amusing. "I haven't seen her nest myself, but I've surmised where it is, while trying to establish a foothold up here. I should be able to show you there." She paused a moment, something he'd said coming back to hit her. "Now, when you say you want to 'rid' the island of her..." she began to ask, narrowing her eyes and leaning in Jon's direction.

      "If she's as wild and mean as I heard she is, there's only one way to go about it," Jon shrugged. "I know how to negotiate with wilds, but some of them just don't wanna. All they can understand is brute force."

      "I understand that. I've been exchanging blows with her as well, whenever she initiates. But, I would not advocate for ending her life, bully or not," the Xatu said. She started to walk past Jon's side. "Like I said, I can take you there, but we should watch for her. She may be in the area, ready to intercept us and start a fight." Her wings began to unfurl, and she looked over her shoulder at him. "You'll be able to follow me from the land, yes? You came across as quite the agile gentleman, earlier."

      "Don't worry about it," Jon said, waving a hand.

      Her wings spreading and flapping, the Xatu took to the air, heading in the direction of the tallest peak of the mountain range. She could only imagine the Fearow had an ego to her, and only the biggest mountain would do. The Xatu kept an eye on her destination, but also on the surrounding area, should the Fearow appear, and of course, kept another eye on Jon below.

      As Jon ran on the ground, he noticed they were taking the route he had come from. Damn! he thought to himself, I must've passed her nest on my way here!

      "You don't seem to be too afraid of her," the Monferno shouted.

      "I'm still alive, aren't I?" she shouted back from the air, before returning her attention to the mountain. She wished she knew exactly where the nest was, but she knew it must be somewhere near the top of this peak. She climbed in altitude, scanning the rock for any recesses that looked suspicious. While she began to circle around, Jon had some time to make his ascent.

      The green bird was almost out of sight when she called down to Jon. "I may have found something!" She regretted her shout immediately, reminding herself that the Fearow may actually be home, or nearby. Still, she had to say something, didn't she? Extending her talons for a landing, the Xatu found herself at the mouth of a cave set high into the mountain's side. Tentative steps and a lean forward offered her a view into the cave, little by little. She could see bones. That was promising, if morbid. Something carnivorous had certainly lived here.

      Jon caught up to her quicker than she'd expected.

      The Monferno glanced over the bones at the entrance of the cave. He fell on all fours, as he was closer to the ground that way, and less likely to be seen. Once he got closer to the bones, he examined them... he couldn't tell much by their shape as to what kind of Pokemon they belonged to, but their size made him think whatever that Pokemon was, it was huge. So the Fearow must be even bigger to take down that kind of animal.

      Captain Jonathan stood still with his back against the mouth of the cave, listening, but nothing was to be heard. The cave was silent as a grave. [i]She wouldn't make her nest too deep in there,[i] he reflected, birds don't like going that far down and into holes. "She's not here," he said to the Xatu. Jon felt compelled to check out the insides of the cave all the same, so he stepped into the dark without fear.

      "You're certain?" she asked in a quiet voice, falling into step behind the Monferno, though there was no way she would be able to get so low to the ground as he was. She liked to believe she was not fearful either, just cautious. "I should remind you once more that she is highly territorial," she said, uncertain about trespassing. "Is there something you are hoping to learn about her in here?"

      He didn't answer the Xatu's question right away.

      It got too dark once they took a few strides within the cave, so Jon held up his tail to light the way. The grey rocks were warm and dry, and the air was dusty; no plants like fungi or moss seemed to grow there.

      "Just got a bad hunch," Jon whispered. "And I wanna find out if it's true. I've lived in the wild for a big part of my life and I can tell you, there's a reason 'mon like Fearow make their nests where they make them. If she's in a cave, she's hiding something."

      His sensitive ears brought him very faint sounds from up ahead; he didn't think they could be caused by something large, but he was still preparing for a fight.

      It wasn't long till they stopped, as the light of the burning tip of his tail fell upon what seemed to be a white rock that was almost as large as Jon himself. "Muk," he breathed immediately, and turned his tail elsewhere. Another white rock in the corner, and then two more of those placed on the floor of the cave. "Eggs!" As he said that, his eye caught movement. Some of the eggs were slightly shaking. "And they're ready to hatch!" The size of the Spearows that would come out would be monstrous. "We need to get the hell outta here."

      "A mother, of course," the Xatu breathed quietly to herself. She agreed with Jon's sentiment immediately and wordlessly, turning with him and making for the mouth of the cave, her wings out to either side as she ran as well as she was able, ready to take flight once they reached the open air.

      The Monferno and the Xatu exited the cave safely, but they didn't have much time to think things through, as they heard a terrible cry coming from afar. "That's her," Jon said, "See if you can spot her!"

      After soaring practically straight out into the air, as if the cave's mouth were a cannon, the old bird almost reflexively looked up to spot the Fearow, given her past encounters with the fellow bird of prey. But no -- this time she heard the cry from below. "Captain!" she cawed in alert. "Is that your ship down there?!" At the foot of the mountain, the Safe Journey rested, a large brown bird with a red crest circling it.

      "Uh-oh," Jon said to himself then shouted, "Yeah, that's mine!"

      The Xatu circled back around to Jon with haste. "I'll get you down there!" Her talons reached out, and closed around Jon's biceps. In a blink, they were both gone.

      And in the same blink, Jonathan was suddenly present on the deck of his own ship, the Xatu's talon's releasing his arms right away to let him get his bearings.

      Jon only had time to look up in the sky, a bit disoriented from the quickness of the teleportation, before the giant Fearow dove down to their ship with a cry that tore the forest. The wild 'mon fell upon the bow of the Safe Journey with her talons; she was so strong she snapped it in half, making Captain Jon howl in a wordless fury. He dashed across the deck, leaped on the ropelines at the side of the ship, leaped again at the updeck and wall-kicked his way on top of one of the two blimps of the Journey.

      The Fearow must've noticed him, as the next time she descended, she headed straight for him, using the same Drill Peck she used on the bow earlier. "STUPID BIRD!" Jon's angry shout echoed all across the forest. Jon sidestepped out of her way the last second and tried to grab the Fearow's thick neck as she went past him to unleash his Counter technique, but he couldn't wrap his hand around it and only managed to knock her off course. He cursed again as he saw her gain height and fly out of his reach.

      A second bird whisked past Jon on its way up, alarming him for a moment before the green, white, and red plumage identified her as a friendly. She flew after the Fearow but kept her distance, focusing not on getting to the giant bird physically, but mentally. After a few moments, she'd worked her way into the Fearow's mind.

      From below on the blimp, Jon heard the Fearow shriek, and saw her jerk her wing and falter in her flight, losing altitude. It looked as if she had been struck on her left wing, but the Xatu had been nowhere near her.

      The Fearow disappeared in a cluster of palm trees, several dozen feet away from the ship. Jon was about to go after it, but when it recovered from whatever kind of attack the Xatu had used, it flew away at a great speed farther into the jungle. "Rot!" Jon shouted, jumping down on the deck and from it onto the ground. "I'm going after it!" he yelled. And the psychic went after him in turn, high above.

      The Monferno took to the trees, leaping from branch to branch with his eyes fixed on the Fearow. He hadn't ran the way he was now in years. His breakneck pace through the jungle matched that of the Fearow's flight.

      Once he noticed the Xatu was following, he yelled, "Friend! Just hold her in place if you can! I'll do the rest!"

      For a split second, the Xatu was touched to hear Jon calling her "friend" so soon. But she really hadn't the time to dwell on it. She kept in aerial pursuit of the Fearow, halting her flapping and relying just on gliding so she could focus more of her mind on the larger avian. Reaching out with a telekinetic grasp, she "took hold" of the bird. The Fearow let out a cry, flapping her wings with more fervor, but she was no longer able to move forward, instead halted in place.

      Once Jon saw the Fearow was held in place by the psychic attack, he stopped on a treetop of a palm tree and glanced around in a hurry. Sure enough, he found what he was looking for: the coconut-like berry. That one was larger than the one he'd found before, and with short, sturdy spikes on its tough skin. Last night, he had tried to crack the one he'd found and failed - those things were somehow harder than rocks.

      His tail reached his leg, setting it ablaze, as he glanced up one more time at the Fearow to make sure he was in range. Then, with two steps he built speed like a goalkeeper and kicked the coconut with all his might. The fruit shot like a comet up in the sky, having caught on fire. It struck the bird directly in the head, and once the spell was done, the wild dropped into the jungle. Jon couldn't help but laugh.

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        #29    
      Old March 27th, 2017 (4:42 PM). Edited July 22nd, 2017 by Turnip.
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      Turnip Turnip is offline
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        Woah Boy There's A Thing And You Can Eat It If You Want



        Later in the day, the Blue Band crew reached the hut in the jungle with Nick and Kayri's direction. Jon had landed the ship on the flat ground next to the tree the hut was built on, and he quickly began starting a fire just outside the hut for food to be prepared.

        "Cook!" Jon said, and sat on a patch of grass near the fire. "Let's do it!"

        He had invited the Xatu he'd seen earlier too, since she had helped with the catch. She'd decided to have a look inside the hut, interested in its appearance practically overnight.

        All the while Samuel leaned against another tree, his eyes glued on the hippie bird while he had remained silent. There was a slight glimmer in them all while he looked to be as ominous as possible.

        Allen slumped onto the grass beside Jon and examined the fire, though he seemed more concerned with the beverage choice to go with the food rather than the food itself. He tightly clung to a bottle in his hand, taking the occasional swig of it while he observed the others.

        "Egads, friends!" Cook exclaimed as though it were a surprise, floating over with an assortment of plates, cutlery, napkins and various other dining-related items clutched in his arms. "There is cooking afoot! A duty that surely falls to me, any and all picnicking aspirations brushed aside heroically for the time being, yes? Do take whatever you need of what I have brought with me - and indeed, enjoy yourselves!"

        Nick simply stood near Jon, eyeing the Xatu as she examined his makeshift hut. It wasn't anything too impressive - only the sheer speed by which it was built gave it that description - but at the least it got the job done.

        "So, who's the bird?" Nick asked curtly to Jon, keeping his voice a bit low.

        "Found 'er up in the mountain," Jon said between bites; he was busy munching on the pieces of bread that were served as appetizers. He looked back at the Scrafty with his mouth full to the brim. "She's a psychic. I knew some Xatus back in Guntama, they're good people."

        "If you say so," Nick replied. "She tries to read my mind, she goes overboard, yeah?"

        Jon chuckled loudly, "Be fine if she could, that'd make us alotta money." He turned towards the hut, where he'd last seen the Xatu. "Hey! Come over here, bird! I wanna introduce you to my crew!"

        "We've already met." Samuel muttered angrily. "Also query. If she gets too close to me or does that meditation muk around me I can stab her, right?"

        Summoned by Jon's voice, the Xatu walked back to the area the men had gathered in for pre-dinner chitchat. "The same crew that constructed that hut, I assume? Very quick work, quite solid." Her face brightened. "A shame you boys hadn't been here when I arrived. I could have used a hut of my own in the mountains." She gestured a wing toward Jon, who was about to say it wasn't too late to build that hut for her. "Have you already made introductions, or shall I?" Surely at least some of them had seen her when she and Jon teleported aboard the ship, earlier.

        Jon shook his head and made an easy gesture towards the table and the crew. "Nah, go ahead."

        She obliged and took a place at the table, though she remained standing. Spots near the captain were predictably taken, so she took one next to Nick. "Well, let's see, what's there to say. I am known as an Oracle, a Seer, and as people came to know of me by that role, that is how they referred to me. You and your crew are welcome to do the same." She swept her eyes across the faces at the table. "Your captain found me atop one of the mountains, interested in finding the Fearow who was making a menace of herself in those parts. We found her nest together, but it seems it distracted us from an attack on your very ship in the meantime. Perhaps some of you could explain what happened there?"

        Samuel kept his eyes locked on the avian, "We had it covered. That's all you have to know."

        Ah yes, that must be why you needed your captain to come finish the job for you, the Xatu thought to herself, resisting the temptation to roll her eyes.

        Nick shrugged, only halfway paying attention. Great, a seer he thought to himself. He didn't want to have to deal with mystic nonsense during their time together. "Wouldn't know, wasn't there," he said plainly.

        "Hoho! A bloody feast!" came a voice from above, prompting Jon to look up. He was startled to observe the Toucannon, large as a boulder, flying towards them. Before, Jon wasn't even sure the Toucannon could fly, obese as he was. His great wings kicked up dust when he landed, and the grass waved with his arrival. His Pikipek servant was flying behind him in a hurry. Nick was about to fight the intruder, until Jon spoke up first.

        "Raphael!" Jon said, jumping up from his seat on the table.

        "Ahoy, Captain Jonathan," Raphael said, and the Pikipek carried the monocle over the Toucannon's eye so he could see what and who was in front of him. "And this is your crew? Well met!"

        "This is the big boss of the island," Jon explained to the others. "Met him earlier with Cook, we'll get along, you'll see."

        "Big boss?" the Oracle parroted, confusion in the furrow of her brow. "What do you mean by that?" she asked Jon with a glance, before returning to examining the Toucannon's significant... presence.

        The Toucannon reacted before Jon could speak by chuckling, his massive beak raised in the air. "Hold, now! When I first came to this island, I was the strongest 'mon on it! It took me months, years even, but I chased off most of the monsters I found myself. So when you reach the top, you're the boss. But luck be that stronger 'mon arrived, it seems! My children told me of what happened, Captain Jonathan." The Toucannon raised a wing, as if to salute. "You taught that bird a lesson. You're more fit to be the boss of this island than I."

        "Then you be its protector," Jon decided. "I ain't planning to stick around here for long. As for the bird, don't let me get all the credit. I had some help." He nodded towards the Oracle.

        The Toucannon tilted his head, "Dear me, fellow fowl! And who might you be?"

        "Hm! If you'd come a bit earlier, you could've heard my introduction," the Xatu chuckled. "I best not repeat the whole thing, or I'd bore the crew. I am the Oracle, and I came to this island a couple weeks ago. I wished to live on the mountains, and the Fearow attacked me regularly." Her smile changed out for a curious frown. "Quite unusual that I've been here that long and traveled the whole island by air, yet I was convinced there were no other Pokémon here capable of speech. How did I manage to miss the 'boss' of the island?"

        "I don't do outings anymore," Raphael admitted, "The comfort of my home has grown on me too damn much, I say!" The Pikipek that was carrying the monocle landed on Raphael's shoulder and seemed to be secretly telling him something. "Bloody hell!" Raphael cackled, and the smaller bird returned to his position. "Riki tells me we didn't miss you! I may have forgotten I was told this. Old age, aye... but more so that I don't mind if you came here peacefully. So, you may have encountered my children." His Pikipeks were all over the island, after all.

        The Xatu tilted her head for a moment while the little woodpecker chirped in a hushed tone, perhaps even in a tongue she wouldn't understand anyway. "Well yes, certainly. Pikipeks all over the island, to be sure, but none who have spoken with me."

        She changed the subject, turning her head toward the monkey. "But as for what you said before, I think the good captain may have done more than simply 'teach the Fearow a lesson.' "

        "He straight up slaughtered the beast." Samuel spoke up with a meek shrug. "Though our captain will have to make sure next time to let us know whenever he makes alliances with other beings." Jon rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, and was about to mutter something about how it all happened so fast, when someone else spoke up.

        From the fire came a drawn out cry of, "Dinner's ready!" As Cook ceased his barrage of flames against the crew's dinner.

        Jon immediately shot back at the table. "Woo!" he shouted. "I haven't eaten all day!"

        "Will you be joining us for dinner, Raphael?" the Oracle asked. "And Raphael's little Pikipek aide, of course," she added with a nod toward the small bird.

        "Yeah, come over," Jon said, motioning at the two birds. "I won't take no for an answer."

        Raphael happily obliged; he settled at the edge of the table, sinking into the grass as he settled down. His aide Riki sat on the bigger bird's head, the monocle never leaving the eye. It didn't look like he was trained to ever let up this exercise. Floating a little unsteadily over to the table came the Hydreigon chef, wielding a huge tray that despite its size could still barely contain its massive contents. With some effort, Cook heaved the meal onto the table before stepping back to wipe his brow and admire his handiwork.

        "What-ho, folks! Pardon me," the dragon said. "Blimey, what a feast! A shame the thing couldn't be tamed, but I suppose I can only hope I've done the beast justice in the culinary sense, yes?"

        Eyes narrowed in a clear wince, the Xatu leaned back from the table and the meal. Its shape was unmistakably fowl. Her head turned next to Jon. "You had your chef cook her?" she asked, incredulous.

        The captain seemed surprised that she'd ask such a question. "Yes." He let a hint of a smile show. "Be a shame if we killed her for nothin'. I don't like wasting food."

        "Waste not, want not, friends!" Cook concurred. "Though I'm sure I could whip up an alternative if the meal isn't to your tastes. Merely give the word!"

        "You saw the nest full of twitching eggs as well as I did, captain. She was a mother. Doesn't this seem a little tasteless?" The Oracle looked up, noticing Cook's sudden crestfallen expression. "Ah, sorry -- poor choice of word." Cook seemed to bounce back quickly. The Xatu looked back to the captain, her wince gone by now, a motherly -- perhaps grandmotherly? -- frown of disappointment on her face. "We ought to show some level of respect."

        Respect or not, the green bird was holding up the meal, perhaps not the wisest choice in the presence of a crew of hungry pirates and a hot dish this size.

        Jon frowned in turn, "Oy, I don't respect wilds as they don't respect me!"

        Raphael didn't seem to mind the Fearow serving, although he himself didn't have a plate and utensils in front of him, and likely wasn't going to touch it. "Blimey," he said, "That Fearow didn't show my children respect, either."

        "Oh yeah!" Jon shouted, suddenly remembering. "You said she fed on your birds!"

        Raphael nodded gravely. What he didn't say was that he couldn't have been too distraught if his army of hundreds of noisy trouble-loving woodpeckers was a bit lesser.

        "See," Jon said, having lost his smile and scratching the side of his jaw skeptically. "Wilds die as wilds live."

        "I can't deny your points," the Oracle conceded, shutting her eyes, "but at the same time, I cannot help but think of the chicks."

        "They won't even know her," Jon said, shrugging. "C'mon, Cook, carve it for us and we'll get started."

        "Indeed, by this point we'd best not waste food when a restocking of rations may not be guaranteed," the dragon added, raising a blade in Xavier's mitted mouth and bringing it down upon the carcass. Cook didn't seem entirely sure where to cut, but once the bird had been separated into chunks of roughly reasonable size the Hydreigon declared it carved and floated off to grab some napkins.

        Jon plunged both hands into the pile of meat. What ensued was a flurry of grunts and grumbles as he ate with a speed that matched the way he bolted through the jungle. "Mmm, Cook, this, this is a masterpiece," he mumbled, although it looked like he was eating too fast to actually taste anything.

        The Hydreigon chuckled, his back momentarily turned. "It's quite nice of you to say so, but- egads, Jonathan!" Cook shook off his surprise at how quickly the Monferno had dived in, rolling his eyes and handing out the retrieved napkins to everyone else at the table. As he passed each 'mon, he advised them discreetly, "Do reach in and help yourselves, dears, but do be weary of the captain's hands if you stick a fork in there... or just in general, I suppose. We'd best avoid seeing what happens if he were to grab one of us instead of food, hm?"

        "I'll be sure not to add any additional drumsticks to the meal," the Seer said with a laugh at Cook's jolly nature.

        "Aye, good job, Cook," Nick said, smirking lightly. "You didn't incinerate it completely this time."

        "Ha-ha," the chef laughed good-naturedly, sending a wink the Scrafty's way. "Indeed. Medium-rare, as per your specifications, young Master Nicholas."

        The Monferno was looking at the Oracle as he picked a huge bone clean. "So, Oracle," he said, "You predict the future? And muk?"

        She looked up from her own portion of the poultry, appearing rattled by those last two words. "Well. Not quite, but close."

        "Not quite?" Jon repeated, somewhat unconvinced. "You either do or you don't, no?"

        "What I do is I see the future. Predictions are educated guesses based off of current trends. My visions show me, rather literally, what will happen. No guesswork." She shut her eyes, shook her head. "Sorry, I suppose that's me being a persnickety old bird when it comes to wording." She opened them again, looking to Jon once more across the table. "I have visions of events from the past, as well."

        Jon didn't look like he comprehended every one of those words. "The past?" he said, scoffing slightly, "Who'd wanna see that? The past is the past!"

        "Yes, that's true, it's not quite as important as the future," she conceded, her eyes back on her food. "But there is still a lot to be learned from the past. Seeing parts of it with my own eyes certainly beats reading it in a history book," she added with a smile tugging at her beak.

        The Monferno swallowed and stopped eating for a second, as if pondering on something. "How far back have you seen?" he asked, willing to believe she had truly done it before.

        "Hm! An interesting question." The bird took a few moments to finish her mouthful and think back on this. It was interesting that the captain swept the conversation in this direction, and not toward visions of the future, which most people were more interested in, in her experience.

        "Alright, here's an example." She looked up at Jon again, but also swept her gaze across his crew. "You've heard of the ancient battle between Megistea and Atlandea, yes?"

        Jon hadn't had proper tutoring when he was younger, and history was something he'd never learned much of, but he at least knew about that battle. It was regarded as the most important battle in the history of the Known World. It was supposedly the battle which tore the landmass into two, creating Sonara and Antara, as Groudon and Kyogre each fought for their factions with disastrous results.

        He nodded. Everyone knew about that story.

        The Xatu took a break from her meal to play storyteller. She spread her wings, just enough to illustrate her point, without getting her feathers in her neighbours' plates. "These two cities were superpowers at the time. It was a time just barely before the Known World, which historians simply dub the Ancient World. Now, Megistea and Atlandea, to augment their armies, they each decided to use the Legendaries themselves as their weapons, pitting one against the other. Having these Legendaries fight for them."

        She looked to and fro across the table, checking that she had the Blue Bands' attention. "Even one strike from these creatures could bring down a mountain. Waging an entire war with them brought immeasurable fallout. As you know, the very continents were changed. Individual cities, they... They were devastated.

        "One of my ancestors was a guardian of one of these ancient cities. A Sigilyph, whose name I never did catch. I have seen him, darting about the ruins of his city. Fresh ruins, at that." The Xatu's expression darkened sadly. "Fresh bodies, as well. His role, it was guardian of this city, but I could feel his despair, he could find nothing left to guard, no one left to... to protect."

        Her beak dipped, her eyes closed. "I watched him search the city he lost for some time, but it never bore fruit. Eventually it became too hard to watch. I don't know what happened to him after that."

        Jon seemed skeptical about it, having abandoned his food. He couldn't think of something to say about her story. He had heard of Xatus in Guntama performing miracles - the locals there revered them as prophets - so it was possible she was being truthful that she had glanced at the past. Xatus were powerful creatures after all.

        "That was long, long ago," the Seer said, noticing Jon's expression. "One of the oldest visions I've had. Not one of the brightest."

        Nick leaned on the table, looking at the Xatu with an expressionless face. Any other day he might make a sarcastic quip - never one to believe in any kind of 'hocus-pocus' as seeing the future, or even the past - but the way she carried herself caused him to show her a smidgen more respect than usual. "Eh, the past's the past. Ain't nothin' we can do about it, yeah?"

        She nodded. "Nothing but try our best not to repeat it."

        "Say," Jon said, licking his fingers nonchalantly, "What is it you're doing on this island? So far from civilization? You don't seem wild-born."

        She shook her head. "No, no, not wild." She narrowed her eyes slightly at Jon, as if assessing something. "Hmm. Before I answer, remind me: your crew came to this island for what reason?"

        "We're here to make our hideout," Jon said. "Perfect island for it."

        The Xatu smiled. "Isn't it, though? I find myself here for the same reason." She shut one eye, wagging a feather at them. "And seeing how you all are pirates, I suppose I can afford to tell you a little more. You see, this island is my little escape. An escape from the eyes of law enforcement."

        "You're wanted by the law? Good!" Jon said happily. "Are you a pirate?"

        "Well, technically, I was arrested. And I escaped. I believe this makes me a pirate under the ANF's current definitions, even if I don't swashbuckle and sail the open blue." She continued to smile, and even joke. "I don't exactly look the part."

        "You wanna join my crew?" Jon asked in his straightforward way. "We could use a psychic."

        "And someone with brains..." Nick muttered under his breath.

        "Oh?" the Xatu asked with a perk in her posture. "Well, now I'm curious. What does a pirate crew need a psychic for?"

        Jon scratched his chin with his index. "For one, making use of our barriers. We've no idea how to set them up ourselves and we can't go to battle without 'em. No idea how to make use of the other features of our ship's Spirit Core either." The Spirit Core was often considered the battery of an airship, as it was thanks to it that the engines operated. Usually, only psychic could tamper with its energies to activate certain weapons or defense mechanisms the cores carried.

        "Ah, I see." With a gesture of her wings and a little concentration, the Xatu made a small horizontal screen of light, no bigger than her plate, and lifted it a few inches off the table. The flat shining surface carried what remained of her meal, into the air. "I have experience with small barriers like this. Well, bigger than this, but you catch my meaning. Perhaps with your Spirit Core, I could master shields large enough for your ship, as well?"

        Jon seemed very pleased with that notion and busted a great smile. "I already think you'll make a good fit."
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          #30    
        Old April 6th, 2017 (2:10 PM). Edited April 13th, 2017 by GastlyGibus.
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        GastlyGibus GastlyGibus is offline
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          Counting Coin

          The day after the crew had eaten and drank well with Mr. Raphael and the Oracle, preparations started to set out on the next journey. Jon was sitting on the mast, watching the light of the setting sun dancing on the waves of the sea around him. He'd had the ship anchored just a few steps from the sand; the shores of Antigua beckoned him, and he thought the island might be sad they were leaving next morning. He had spent his day out in the jungle, gathering all sorts of berries. He had especially targeted that spiky fruit and amassed a pile of them in the hold - he wasn't certain why, as he couldn't crack them yet to eat what was inside, but it did prove useful when taking down a big bird, if nothing else.

          Nick down below had brought his tools and wood near the prow of the ship to fix the bow that was broken by the Fearow. The broken piece, a dozen feet long, was right beside him on the prow. "Yo, Nick," Jon shouted, "Need some help with that? C'mon, I'll raise that for ya."

          Nick turned to the Monferno, raising an eyebrow and smirking lightly. "Just don't fall in the water, yeah?"

          "Yeah, yeah," Jon said and jumped on his feet. He sprinted across the upper deck in the middle of the blimps and leaped on top of the frontal mast. A few steps forward and he was right above the bow.

          Nick threw him the rope tied around the broken bow, and they got to work. "Just hold 'er steady while I re-attach it," he started, reaching for his tool belt and pulling out a few nails and some adhesive. "You trust that seer girl?" he asked idly.

          "Yeah," Jon said, not as confidently as he could have, pulling the rope backwards. The bow was heavy, but he didn't complain. "I've a hunch she's from Guntama, the place I'm from. People love Xatus there, they're almost holy."

          "She said she was running away from the law or something, yeah?" Nick asked, shaking his head lightly. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I ain't too peachy with the Marines either, but a seer? Makes you wonder what she did to get them angry at 'er. You said it yourself, people think 'em holy, so what does a seer have to do to get the law mad at 'em?"

          Jon said nothing for a few moments, concentrating on his breathing and keeping the wood steady in the air. "True," he said, "But she's nice, so it can't be that bad."

          Nick groaned softly. "Well, 'least she can't read my mind," he said quietly. With a steady hand, he began to apply the adhesive and nail the bow back into place. His rough nature seemed completely gone while he was working, the Scrafty intently focused on his work and using precision in his repair, as if he had been doing this for decades. "Almost finished, just keep 'er steady."

          Jon had felt the wood stabilize a few minutes ago, so him pulling the rope back seemed like it had no effect now. All the weight had gone as the bow had been re-attached. "I let go now?" he shouted.

          Nick stared at the bow intensely, before finally nodding and looking back to Jon. "Yeah, she's good, let 'er go."

          Jon let the rope fall with a grunt and glanced down to see what had been done. It seemed Nick had patched up the wyron wood with regular wood. "That's gonna hold up?" he asked, uncertain.

          "Yeah, just wait a few days," Nick said modestly. "Wyron Wood's special like that; if you patch it up with regular lumber, eventually it latches on and seals itself back. Kind of like healin' a broken bone."

          "Never knew it could do that!" Jon exclaimed, "I knew wyron was rare but not like this. This type of wood would be world famous."

          Nick just crossed his arms and shrugged. It should have been world famous.... "Yeah, it would be," he said quietly, suddenly growing a bit sullen at the thought.

          Jon noticed immediately. "Something wrong, brother?"

          The Scrafty seemed to shrug off the question. "Eh, don't worry 'bout it, it's nothing."

          Jon frowned for a second, but decided not to press on. If Nick wanted to tell him something, he knew he could at any time. "Help me out," Jon said, motioning towards the hatch that led belowdecks. Let's sort out the gold we got, will make it easier to fence it when we hit port next." The Scrafty shook off his thoughts for now, the mention of gold perking him up, if only slightly.

          The Monferno and the Scrafty descended upon the hold, where they were keeping their catch from Modistra's Castilio. Most of the furniture had been emptied and the gold placed in a corner, so Jon picked a drawer that was still full, and Nick picked another one. "Let's sort things out," Jon said cheerfully, and yanked open one of the drawers. "Oh, sweet shine," the Monferno chimed. "The Governor knew his jewelry." He glanced upwards, where the gundeck was; that's where they had been keeping the Governor chained.

          Nick rummaged through the drawers, picking up a gold ring that seemed to be engraved. "Fancy," he said to himself, before turning to Jon. "So, how are we gonna sell this stuff?"

          "Going to Kuai island next," Jon said idly, looking through the shine and pulling out chunks of it. The drawer was full of it. "Kuai's in the Novayas, if you haven't heard. Lots of pirates there, we'll find us a fencer at the port and all this stuff's out of our hands and into our pockets."

          "Kuai..." Nick said. He'd never been to the place personally, but his family had often done business with folks from the island. Dockworkers and sailors needing wood and repairs for their ships. A long time ago, he'd considered going there himself to get a temporary job. "Heard of that place. We stayin' there long?"

          "As long as it takes to get us some good equipment for our ship and install it. Less than a fortnight."

          Nick thought for a moment. "Say Jon, when we get there, you mind if I take care of some things real quick? Shouldn't take more than a day, if that."

          Jon threw the last handful of jewelry he'd found on top of the pile with the rest, then glanced back at Nick. "Yeah, whatever. But I need you to help install the new hull and make holes for new guns on the gundeck. If that gets done, do what you want."

          "Of course," Nick said, counting out a few coins and setting them neatly aside. He'd hoped Lucas' contacts were still following, and that he could get in talks with them on Kuai.

          Jon wiped his hands off with a great smile spawned by greed. "Done," he declared. "Good job, brother," he said, patting the Scrafty on the side of his arm. "It must be late. Let's get some sleep. We're sailin' early tomorrow."

          Nick pulled out one last drawer, the handle feeling heavy and weighed down but inside was only a simple necklace. He picked it up and felt it in his hand, light as expected. "Huh... heavy wood..." he muttered before nodding at Jon's suggestion. "Yeah, sleep sounds nice right about now."

          ***

          A few hours later and they both had retired to their cabins. Nick, however, tossed and turned in his cot, trying to find some sleep and failing spectacularly. After what seemed like an eternity of restlessness, he finally got up and decided to simply explore the ship for a while. Maybe go back belowdeck; counting coin could help take his mind off things.

          Soon enough he came back to the piles they had made, beginning to reorganize them into neat stacks, dividing them by type, necklaces in one pile, rings in another, just trying to do something monotonous to hopefully induce sleep. After a moment, he went back to the drawers, making sure they hadn't missed anything. Pulling out the drawers, he came across the same heavy one from before, still empty. He pulled it out and pushed it back in, repeating the motion a few times, then pulling on the other drawers to see if they felt the same. They didn't.

          Nick raised an eyebrow. "Just what're you hiding?" he murmured, pulling out the drawer completely and inspecting it from ever angle. It felt like there was something in it, but he heard no noises. He pondered for a minute, before taking the entire drawer and throwing it to the ground, smashing it into pieces and revealing the source of the weight. A small, hidden compartment, affixed inside the drawer itself, with rolled up coins lodged tightly against the sides, keeping them from rolling around and making noise.

          "Clever little bastard," Nick commented. The Governor liked to keep his secrets, it seemed. It was then he noticed one last thing in the compartment; a rolled up piece of paper. Curiously he reached forward, fingers clutching tightly at it and opening it up. His eyes scanned the parchment, before immediately running back up to Jon's quarters.

          "Hey, Jon, mate," Nick said, not too loud but loud enough to wake the Monferno, gently jabbing him with his hand. "Jon, wake up, take a look at this."

          Jon was snoring with his mouth wide open before he woke. "Hunh?!" he let out, snapping out of it. He opened his eyes. "Are we being attacked?!"

          But then what Nick said about looking at something registered in his mind. The moonlight that found its way into the captain's quarters through the windows fell on the pale piece of paper the Scrafty was holding. Jon rose half-way, putting his back against the pillows on the wall behind his bed, and had a look. His eyes read back and forth. Coordinates!

          "Where'd you find this?"

          "Secret compartment in one of the drawers," Nick answered. "Governor must have hidden it before we found 'em."

          "Lemme see," the Monferno said, grabbed the piece of paper and jumped off bed to head towards the table, where all his maps were open as of late. Tracing the coordinates from that paper, his finger landed on the Long Blue. His fingers tightened around the paper and his eyes threw sparks. "Muk, hang me," he shouted. "This really is Apolucia's schedule! I thought the Governor ate it! Oh, that scoundrel's just pretendin', ain't he!"

          Jon stormed out of his quarters and rushed to the gundeck's storeroom, where they'd been keeping the governor confined. Nick followed after him.

          Once Jon kicked the storeroom's door open, the chain-bound Lickylicky woke and let out a muffled cry in terror.

          "Oy," Jon said angrily and held up the map, "You've any idea what's this?"

          The Lickylicky must have instantly recognized what it was, and such was the fury he saw in the Monferno that he broke down and cried, "Apologies, sir Duncan! I needed you to help me, and you wouldn't if you found my map!"

          "Help you?" Nick asked incredulously. "Gettin' tied up and kidnapped is your idea of bein' helped?"

          The Lickylicky's eyes were wide open in fear as he uttered, "Oh, yes, trust me, the alternative is much, much worse. I wouldn't want to be in the hands of the Government. Anything but that!" He noticed the way Jon's eye blazed in fury. "Please don't kill me! I can lead you to my treasure!"

          "Then you'd better start singing, bud," Nick said, pounding his fists together.

          "Hold on," Jon said, "I ain't falling for the same trick a second time. Adrian woulda known if you had a treasure." The governor of course was in Captain Adrian's pocket - his income, in fact the whole of Modistran economy, was regulated by the Head Crushers. The fortune Governor Edvin had amassed under Adrian's law was located in the Castilio - part of it was confiscated by Air Marshal Basil, and most of it was stolen by the Blue Bands. The Head Crushers would know if the governor was hiding profits from them, so he couldn't have possibly hoarded any other kind of valuables to form a hidden treasure. "This fella's messing with us, brother. You want to get beaten, governor?"

          "No!"

          "Then stop tryna trick us! Next time you do, it won't be easy for ya! I'm gonna spare you this time, since I'm happy I found the schedule in written form and I don't have to rely on your fat ass to find what I'm looking for. You're gettin' off my ship first thing tomorrow morning." Jon turned to leave.

          The Lickylicky let out a sweet sigh of release, his eyes turning to the ceiling. "Thank Arceus."


          __________________
          "Johnny rocked that golden circle, and all those VIPs, and that music that had freed us became a tired routine.
          And I saw his face in close-up tryin' to give it all he had, and sometimes his eyes betrayed him, you could see that he was sad.


          And I tried to rock on with him, but I slowly became bored
          Could that man on stage with everything somehow need some more?"

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            #31    
          Old April 7th, 2017 (5:04 PM). Edited April 8th, 2017 by Afterglow Ampharos.
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          Afterglow Ampharos Afterglow Ampharos is offline
          Ampharos are the ultimate kid's bed. They have a built in nightlight and everything.
             
            Join Date: Jul 2016
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            The first day of a new journey...
            30/6/1076


            The Blue Band flag that Raphael's children sewed was flapping on the mast of the Safe Journey. Jonathan looked up at it and his chest filled with pride, much like how the sails swelled with the wind. As their base in Antigua was now established, the captain thought to use the time they had before Apolucia's scheduled journey to fit the ship with proper equipment. And to do that, the next place to go was Kuai island in the Novayas. As the island was remote, and a place frequented by pirates, they would be doing good business there, as well as fence the goods they had stolen from the Governor.

            The former Governor was left behind in Antigua, as Raphael insisted that he would like a new pair of hands to help him cope with life. Jon laughed and agreed, thinking it was some sort of poetic justice to see someone who lived all their life in the cream of Modistra's top, to be condemned into a life of hard work. Surprisingly, Governor Edvin didn't mind... he didn't mind that he was going to part with the jewelry the Blue Bands had stolen. He only looked glad to be alive.

            After gazing beyond the yonder into the open blue, as he often did, Jon went belowdecks. He wished to check upon the newcomer on board. He entered the engine room, and from there, he knocked the door to the Spirit Core's room, where he supposed he would find the Oracle.

            "Come in," came a familiar female voice. Jon found the bird in a small and simple room, made a little more comfortable with a series of windows, as the room was positioned at the stern of the ship. Her head turned from the Spirit Core toward the Monferno when he entered. She smiled. "Knocking before entering, aboard your own vessel?"

            "Oh!" Jon was caught off guard by the comment. "You seem to like the place, that's all. Do you want to stay here?" His gaze fell on the radiant, calm Spirit Core, a sphere of white energy with clouds circling gently around it. Adrian's Psychic, Fergus the Grumpig, was known to have been addicted to the psychic powers of the spirit core, to the point where he didn't leave the room for months at a time. Jon had heard of other psychics who made their home in the Core's room, and he wouldn't be surprised if the Oracle did so as well.

            "Hm." The Oracle cast her gaze about the room for a moment. "That's certainly an option. I suppose having a place to myself for privacy would be a welcome blessing." She looked up to him again. "Not that I don't wish to become better acquainted with your crew, of course. But plenty of time for that at meals and at work, yes?"

            "Yeah, of course, anytime," Jon said happily. "So," he said, walking closer to the Spirit Core, "Did you have a proper look at this? We're lucky we found you, 'cause I've no idea how to work this thing."

            She looked toward the Core with him. "Yes, yes I did. The clouds are so captivating, aren't they? Almost as if the Core has its own atmosphere." Then her gaze turned back his direction. "They weren't using this to power ships back in my day," she chuckled.

            "I suspect it'd be difficult to figure out for a fighting type," she continued. "From what I've gleaned, the Core is..." The Xatu paused to consider her explanation. "Like a tool, of sorts. I still use my current working knowledge of psychic techniques, but with this extension, that can be put to use on a large scale toward the ship itself. A Pokémon with no psychic ability cannot use it."

            She looked toward the Wyron wood of the ship, envisioning the exterior. "I should be able to make psychic shields large enough to cover the ship on any given side, with this. I may be able to do large-scale telekinesis as well, it would require some experimentation." The Seer looked back to Jon. "What do you think, captain, should we test the shields?"

            "Let's do it!" Jon said excitedly, and looked out the window. The first time he'd been in this room, he was surprised to see there were windows on it, as this part of the ship was underwater when at sea, but no luxury seemed to have escaped the list of the wealthy merchant who ordered it built. Jon would bet the view from those windows would be amazing in the crystal clear waters of a beach, where they could have a look at a reef or the golden sand...

            Now what they could see from the windows was the sky and the ocean.

            "Good, good! Why don't you go up on deck, to watch it materialize, if all goes well?"

            When Jon turned to go, the Xatu held out a wing. "Actually. If you'd allow me, I could connect with you up on deck, telepathically. Then it would be quite easy to communicate above and belowdeck."

            Jon ran up on the deck and looked expectantly at the skies that surrounded the airship. The wind fondled his hair and flowed through his jacket. Aw-right he thought, does this work, Oracle? Do you hear me?

            "Aye, captain," came a voice in Jon's head, sounding a tad playful. "I can even get a small sense of that nice breeze up there. Now, the protection shields I know are Light Screen and Reflect. What're my orders, o captain?" the Xatu's voice asked, perhaps having a little too much fun in her new role.

            Let's test the shields all around the ship.

            "Both, then? Stand by!" came her reply. With that, Jon saw something take form in the air just beyond the deck, starting at the bottom and materializing swiftly upwards. It looked something like a thick pane of glass, though it curved with the shape of the ship, and great streaks of white light reflected across its surface. Once the first had fully taken form, another pane of light began to materialize, again from the bottom to the top, layering with the existing shield like a double-paned window. The second shield was clear as well, but it reflected light with swirls of rainbow, like you'd see on a soap bubble's surface.

            "One layer for physical attacks, one for special attacks," the Xatu's voice summarized, just as the second screen materialized all the way up and curved to make a roof over their crow's nest.

            "Awesome," Jonathan hissed.

            Nothing will get through those things! Jon thought, more for himself than the Oracle. We can get the third layer in there too, Barrier, if you know it. Do you?

            "Barrier? Sadly, no," came her reply. "Hm. This isn't nearly as taxing to keep up with the Spirit Core's help."

            Jon imagined that for a psychic, holding up those shields without a Spirit Core was the equivalent of a fighting-type like him holding up a boulder of considerable weight. You can drop them now, he thought. That was awesome! We'll see if we can get us Barrier installed to the Spirit Core through a technical machine, if we find one on Kuai. What else can you do?

            Both the Light Screen and the Reflect shield begin to disintegrate, much the same way they had appeared. "Well, I can do this, which you're hearing right now." The sound of her chuckle could be heard in Jon's mind. "I also make use of telekinesis to move objects through the air, and use teleportation to move myself from place to place. But I'm not yet certain how many techniques would translate through the tool of the Core. My apologies -- I'm more experienced in flying under my own two wings, than standing on a deck."

            Don't mind that much, I'm just glad my ship has shields now, Jon thought happily.

            "Speaking of on deck. Have a peek behind you, dear." When Jon turned around, he found the Xatu had joined him up top, showing a smile that echoed his celebratory feelings. Jon cheered in amazement and clapped his hands; it was like she had shown tricks to a half-wild Pokemon. With a laugh, she gestured with her wings to calm down, she had merely climbed the stairs. Jon stared at her comically, as he'd first thought she teleported, then chuckled shamelessly.

            "Actually, I do have some additional techniques, as a Seer. I don't know if they could be amplified with a Core, but they may be worth mentioning. They are based around vision."

            "Vision? Like?"

            "The first is called Mark of Vision. I admittedly don't find frequent use for it, but after connecting to someone's mind, in much the same way I did to speak to you over a distance, I can essentially see through their eyes.

            "The second is what's colloquially known as the move 'Confuse Ray'... an opposite of the first, in a way. Here, I stimulate another Pokémon's brain, and basically trick them into seeing strange things that are not real, or disorienting flashes of lights. It's very much related to psychic attacks -- do you remember when I wounded the Fearow's wing? That was a similar trick of the brain, but used as an attack called 'Psychic.' She felt as if something had struck her: I created the feeling of pain, where there was no real injury. Tricking the eyes is similar," the Seer explained. "Of course, when it comes to Confuse Ray, vision isn't the only way to do it. I could simply scramble their thoughts instead. Either way, it causes a state of confusion."

            The Xatu digressed. "The third is called Miracle Eye. This allows me to look at things that are very far away, or beyond my confined space if I'm in a room. This one isn't all that easy to explain through psychic means, I believe it is more tied to being a Seer. Think of it as... hm." She lowered her head in thought, struggling with an explanation. "Perhaps I should just show you?" she offered, looking up at Jon again, who nodded eagerly. "Yes, actually, that's perfect. Just a moment."

            She bowed her head, and her mind appeared to wander. It was, in fact, navigating to another location entirely. After a moment of waiting, the Xatu projected an image in front of Captain Jonathan, materializing in the empty space between the two. It looked like the view he had just earlier, when he opened the door to the Spirit Core's room. He could see the room's layout, the series of windows, the slowly swirling clouds around the Core itself. Jon shouted with awe, throwing his arms in the air.

            "First time I ever seen this trick!" His eyes reflected the vision in front of him. "How far away can you look with this?!"

            "I would say... several miles, though I've never had help from a Core. We'll just have to see." The projection begins to fade from view, gradually instead of all at once. "So, what do you think? Might have some use for this old lady?" she asked, a smirk on her beak.

            Jon busted a half smile and readily said, "Hell yeah! You can do things I never thought possible! Glad to have you aboard."

            The Oracle unfolded a wing in his direction. "Now that I am aboard, may I ask a little bit more about this crew? The Blue Bands, I believe you called it?" Her glance went toward Jon's upper arm for a split second, before returning to his face. "What are your current goals, captain? Short term, long term, anything really."

            "Oh, right," Jon said, "I wanted to talk to you about that. We recently formed up, got us the ship we're on. And got a good prize too, much of it is in the hold, you can go see it for yourself. As for our goals, we're hunting another prize, you see." The Monferno's face lit up as he talked about it. "Apolucia, a Trade Prince's galley, ever so fat with gold, will be sailin' through a path in the Long Blue in a couple of weeks. We got a map for this path, and we're going to Kuai to get us equipment that'll help us deal with that kind of situation."

            "Wealth, then," the bird summarized, lifting her beak up and sporting something of a smirk. "Funny, you didn't strike me as the type to be driven by greed." Whether it was psychoanalysis or just intuition, it's hard to say. "...I'm betting you have a purpose in mind for these ill-gotten goods."

            Jon put a hand on his hip, rubbed the back of his head and looked to the side, giving it some thought. "I know Nick's doing it for his family, but I dunno what the others will wanna do with their share. That's their business. As for me, I dunno what I'll do with it either. I guess I'll hafta think about it when I'm there." Both hands now on his hips, breeze flowing through his jacket, he smiled smartly at the Oracle. "And what will you do with it?"

            The bird looked surprised at his question. "Well. I can't say I was expecting to come into a large sum of wealth, unlike yourself."

            She looked thoughtful, her eyes moving away from his. "I'll have to give it some consideration, as well."


            ***


            The journey to Kuai would be an easy and fast one. The Blue Bands had found a seasonal skyway that cut across Carajol Sea; the air currents formed only during the summer and they were so strong that the crew had to pull down the sails and let the skyway do its thing. Jon was on the Crow's Nest day and night, despite the strong winds, scanning the horizon for ships, and he saw many, friends and foes alike. Their lesser foes like merchants were following different skyways that led to other places, in a whole other direction. Those avoided their vessel like the plague. The stronger foes, the marines, were seldom seen, but when Jon spotted one of their airships he sped up and lost them with the great speed of the current they were riding. The sudden bursts of speed consumed a great deal of fuel, and they had almost ran out by the end of the journey.

            It took three and a half days to reach Kuai, the Chinchou Island; Jon thought it must've been a record time, and his chest filled with pride for his ship.

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              #32    
            Old April 8th, 2017 (10:59 AM). Edited April 12th, 2017 by Ray Maverick.
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            Ray Maverick Ray Maverick is offline
             
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            Landing on Kuai
            2/7/1076








            Jon and crew now knew why Kuai was known as the Chinchou Island: as they sailed into the small port, Chinchous lit the crystal clear waters and surfed alongside the Safe Journey. Jon's eyes fell upon the other ships that were coming and going and his chest filled with happiness and the scent of brine, to see fellow sailors and pirates at work. It felt good to be back at civilization. Ships with the black flag hailed them with air horns, and Jon shouted and waved back. The 'mon from the port looked at their ship curiously; some fishermen by the pier as they regarded the Safe Journey, their interest piqued. It wasn't often that a ship of that caliber would sail to their waters.

            The port was a safe haven for the pirates who frequented the Novayas, and a historic location in the first age of piracy. Kuai's history was one of the pirate tales Adrian used to tell Jon when he was younger; according to legend, the town had been founded by a pirate going by the name Fayn. The circular cove served as the best hideout for him and his crew, who used it often to escape the marine's detection. After a while, they had grown accustomed to the safety and settled down; that was when the first houses started popping up, and under Fayn's protection, a small community outside the Government's law was built. However, when the marines caught wind of what was happening in the small Kuai cove, they raided the place during a dormant, moonless night, and Fayn danced the hempen jig in the very town he had helped build.

            The town grew and grew through the centuries, and its quiet and friendly citizens remained much the same, neutral to the ongoing conflict of the marines and pirates in Carajol Sea and welcoming any vessel that sought refuge in their port's waters. The first place Jon wanted to visit was the Captain's Ire tavern, one of the most interesting locales, and popular among pirates - popular enough so that the pirates in Modistra knew of its fame, or rather, ill repute...

            As they sailed through the cove, the Monferno ran to port to look at a cave; it looked like part of the town was built inside that cave, as the houses and structures dipped into its darkness until they disappeared from sight. A canal led towards the cave that swallowed the town, but it was far too narrow for the Safe Journey to go through it. The captain ran back to the wheel and guided the ship to the wooden pier; friendly folk from the port helped them dock, and Jon greeted them happily. Once they were close enough, he jumped onto the pier, landing next to an Abra with several grotesque earrings that helped them with the ropes. "Hey, hey, hey," Jon said cheerfully.

            "Ahoy..." the Abra said in a low voice. "What're ya here for, speedy?"

            Jon recognized him as one of the typical scavengers that hung around the pier in towns like this... shady people, with lots of information, looking to make coin by any means possible - any kind of coin. They loved pirates - pirates got muk done in Carajol, and that meant money was headed their way as well if they were involved. The Monferno rubbed the back of his head, glancing around warily for any government officials or perhaps marines, but none were to be found. The town was as free as it could be. "Just cruisin'," he said, seeing fit not to share they were carrying a prize, lest they got robbed. "Listen, you got any opportunities for me? My crew and I are itching to get somethin' goin' for us..." leaning forward, Jon slipped a silver berry coin on the Abra's palm, and the Abra took it slyly, taking care that nobody saw them. The psychic had no pouch or bag, but the coin had vanished in thin air within a second.

            "O' course," the Abra said with a small, toothless smile. "You look savvy, mate, and with a ready crew me thinks, so how about you let Ol' Willy let ya in on a lil' secret. 'Propriate to the size o' your... 'contribution', o' course," he said slyly. Then, he pointed somewhere towards the cave part of the town, "Tavern called the Captain's Ire." Jon started nodding his head, knowing instantly something good would follow. "Ask around, you'll find it, Ol' Willy thinks... there's a man there of many journeys, there is. Bare as bones, Lombre with a head rottin' of old age, but... he knows things. You and your crew want to go adventurin'? Buy him an ale. Might be he'll tell ya one of his favorite tales, and might be you'll end up someplace you didn't even think existed..."

            Jon nodded once again, "Alright, thanks, friend," he chimed, patting the Abra on the arm. "Stick around, we might work somethin' further out, yeah?"

            "Aye, aye..." said the Abra and slowly floated away to another part of the pier.

            Once the shady Abra with the earring was gone, Jon turned momentarily to his ship and shouted, "Oy! I'll be at the Captain's Ire, it's a tavern in the cave. Take care!" And then he bolted off.
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              #33    
            Old April 13th, 2017 (12:41 PM). Edited April 13th, 2017 by Greiger.
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            Greiger Greiger is offline
            A mad mind... hehe
               
              Join Date: Sep 2011
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              Dealing and Killing


              Given that they were finally on land once more, Samuel took the time to get off the blasted boat he had been locked on for several days already. He had taken rides in the sky before, sure, but something about this trip was different. It was one thing to be excited to head to another land for say a vacation or something along those lines. It was another to be following someone else and being on another's agenda. As it so happened, Jon was just happening to head right for the place that Samuel had to go as well. The Furret figured that there would be at least one job being roped about to potential candidates, what better time than to snatch it up? The smaller mon ran on all four legs, "Hey! Jon! Hold up for one blasted minute, will you?"

              "Oy Sam," Jon turned and greeted the Furret. He waited for him to catch up in the middle of the road; curious villagers sitting on the side of the road were looking at them both, but Jon ignored them. "You wanna come have a drink too?!"

              Samuel was barely weary. He glanced about warily before leaning in to whisper to Jon, "Listen, I have a contact here. You want to know what I do? Meet with me in there. Middle of the whole place. Just sit and listen, that's all." With that he pulled away and continued his way to the tavern, albeit at a slower pace.

              Jon didn't know what to make of Sam's secretive attitude, but he thought he should play along, if it meant a good deal was coming their way. Keeping some distance from the Furret, he walked after him into the part of the town that was swallowed by the rock. The place grew darker and darker the further they went in; music and screams and cries could be heard echoing in the walls of the cave.

              Eventually, Jon lost Samuel after the Furret took a turn. "Psyduck me," he shouted, and stopped a Slowpoke passerby. "Hey, you! How do I get to Captain's Ire?!"

              The Slowpoke, who was entirely bruised from the waist down, looked at him almost with disgust. "Follow the goddamn noise and you'll find it sooner or later," he grunted in disdain, and went on his way.

              The neighborhoods inside Fayn's Retreat were colder, more ragged and less groomed than those outside. Walls were full of moss, the pretty, dry cobblestone had turned into mud and muk, and the buildings looked ready to fall apart. Light was coming from a hole on the cave's ceiling somewhere ahead; the noise took Jon closer to that light, and he found himself wondering excitedly what kind of place the Captain's Ire tavern was.

              He knew that place was founded by Fayn himself. Hiding in the cave for weeks on end had him craving for ale and company, it was said, so part of his crew remained in the cave to build it. This part of the town was exclusively built and occupied by pirates... and that made fights even more often. So it was no surprise to Jon when he learned where the ruckus was coming from when he stood just outside the tavern, listening to the music and noise.





              Jon opened the door and had a wary look. Folks inside were at literal war. Chairs and tables were flying around, 'mon were being body slammed and floored by all kinds of attacks, drunk pirates roared, some others just sat on the floor, drinking or unconscious. A Throh was thrown out the window, and he climbed back in; a flamethrower was shot and every 'mon on its path screamed and cowered away. All the while, the Kricketune pianist never stopped playing a merry tune - he wasn't allowed to stop during a bar fight, as per the custom - and was sweating profusely as the pandemonium encircled him and he was in danger of being knocked out or worse by a stray deadly attack or an airborne chair.

              Jon had to duck to avoid a wooden mug that was flung out the door and across the street. He was pushed out of the way by a Poliwhirl who went out to get the mug and throw it back in.

              "Holy hell," the Monferno breathed, watching the chaos. The Captain's Ire was more of a battlefield than a tavern. "How in the hell am I supposed to find Sam in here?!"

              On his first few steps inside, he had to avoid several blows and push folks away from him. In general, he was being ignored, and no one seemed to attack him randomly, which was a good thing. As he walked towards the bar, he heard someone scream, "ERNIE, DON'T YOU STOP ON THAT PIANO OR I'LL MAKE YOUR FACE ONE WITH THE FLOOR!", and the Kricketune picked up the pace.

              Sam had told him to go to the middle, so that's where he went, and sure enough, a lone table was there to be found with Sam on it. "Yo," Jon shouted and laughed, "What the hell's going on here?! These folks are tryin' to destroy the place or what?"

              "It's natural." Samuel tilted his head and raised his voice to be heard somewhat over the fighting, "Don't tell me you've never been to a REAL tavern before." He smirked a bit and glanced about. If Jon would pay attention he would see that whenever someone got too close to the middle of the area there would be another mon to throw them back out to the outer edges of the tavern. Samuel glanced to the side as a lone Lopunny waitress came over, "Ah, great to see you again, Sam! Who's your cute friend?" She asked with a sly wink thrown Jon's way.

              "Let's say a new superior..." Samuel replied, "I need water for now, Carrie. And get my friend whatever he wants."

              "I'll try your ale, sweetheart," Jon yelled as he grabbed a footstool and sat at the opposite side of Sam. He had forgotten about the Lombre he was supposed to be looking for after that Abra's instruction; his attention was wholly focused on Sam, and he leaned in closer to the table, just to guard against the chaos that raged on the outer edges of the tavern. "So, we're here."

              Sam smirked back, leaning in closer, "Yeah! Don't worry about them. They know better than to bother my business!" He took another glance about, "Ah! There we go!" He made his way onto the table and turned Jon's head toward the entrance, "There's our guy! From this point you'll be referred as my superior! Just say you're new to the business and it'll go swimmingly!"

              The doors had opened, but the thickness of the crowd kept the two from seeing who had entered, that was, until five mon who had been in a tight brawl were suddenly thrown to either side, causing additional tables and seats to shatter into wooden splinters. A rather intimidating Nidoking walked right on through, snorting as he caught sight of the two. He walked on over, taking his sweet time before finally sitting down on the third seat. Wrapped about his waist was a pouch made up of fine red leather. He untied it and gave a courteous nod, "Samuel." He glanced at Jon, "And who's this?" Despite his rough demeanor his tone and voice sounded far more noble sounding.

              Samuel smirked and patted Jon on the shoulder, "My new boss! My new POLITE boss." He hissed out the enunciation, "One who would gladly introduce himself to you!"

              "Oy!" Jon said with usual excitement and passion, slamming a closed fist onto his chest. "I am Furious Jonathan, captain of the Blue Bands, A.K.A. the We Get Muk Done crew." He glanced at the Nidoking's look and laughed. "Don't know us? Well tune in the news few weeks from now and you will!"

              The Nidoking gave a nod, "I like that attitude. The name is Purple. That's all you get until you show me more. No disrespect your way, of course. Now, down to business." He opened his leather pouch and took out two items. One was a picture, the other was a piece of paper, but rolled up with a red sealing band wrapped about it. "This is the target. Her name is Penelope. It's been a while since you were here Sam, so I'll give you the scoop. She came in about... five months or so. Give or take. Pretty nice girl. And that's the problem. Most nice girls know to keep their heads down, she doesn't. She's some stinking journalist or somethin'. She comes around like she owns the place and rats out the police chief for our deal. Poor guy is stuck behind bars now, but we managed to get the new guy under contract. It's just not our group getting the harsh treatment. Old Jacky had his guys at the docks exposed too! She's so charming and nice that the front line guys are having their mouths greased with a few extra coins too! And she's getting into places no one should be getting into! Same as before, get into her place and take her out. She's bound to have evidence hidden too. Find it and burn the whole place down. The boys'll run a distraction whenever you strike. Once you get that done then you'll get this." He held up the rolled up paper, "Approved withdrawal of a thousand. I gotta warn you, she has that small town girl aura! A few guys around town are thinking they need to protect her! Stay sharp."

              Samuel nodded as he grabbed the picture, looking it over before sliding it over to Jon, "Interesting... very interesting."

              The Nidoking laughed loudly, "So, what do you say?"

              Jon took the photograph in his hands. The young lady was a Ledian in her twenties, and she looked pretty innocent. Some of his disturbance showed in his eyebrows, which became slightly frowned. He couldn't just kill a person for doing their job. Αfter several moments, he glanced at Sam with a serious look, about to say he couldn't in good conscience take such a job.

              Samuel frowned and lightly jabbed an elbow in his side before he could speak, "We'll think about it." He told the Nidoking. "My boss does have a lot of business here. I'll see if I can fit it in."

              The Nidoking nodded, "The bane of bosses, eh? Alright, give me your answer by tonight, would you? I would hate to be left hanging." He rose up, "Take care, Sam. Things have changed here a bit."

              The waitress just brought Jon's ale, and he took a big gulp while staring at Purple. "Not my taste, truth be told," he said. "But don't be gettin' ahead of yourself. Like my guy said, we'll think about it."

              Samuel waited a bit for them to be fully alone before sighing, "Listen... a thooooousand." he enunciated. "Do you understand that?"

              Jon scratched his chin with a finger, not much caring for the amount. "Partner, that girl's just past twenty. She's harmless. I can't put her down for doing her job. See if we can get another contract with this Purple guy, we'll find us some real pieces of muk who need killing, I've no problem with doin' that kinda job."

              Samuel frowned, "Okay... what if I find dirt on her? Eh? I have a whole day to give him an answer? What if I track her and see if I can find anything that dirties up that image? Would you be okay then with the job?"

              "Dirt?" Jon asked, confused. "She's just some journalist."

              Samuel smirked, "Jon... everyone has dirt. It just takes an inquisitive nose to find it."

              The Monferno looked thoughtfully at the Furret. He took a sip of the ale, which tasted more like piss, and nodded. "A'ight," he said, "You go ahead and look her up, but it'll be your own project. I've business to do on the island and we've only got a week before we need to bail outta here. I can't go sneakin' around for the promise of a thousand gold berries when we've several thousand waitin' for us soon."

              Samuel smirked, "Oh trust me, you do this with me well enough and we'll have more than several thousand more waiting for us. I'll find dirt on her. Everyone has a past and a hidden present, I'll find it like usual."
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                #34    
              Old April 16th, 2017 (2:40 PM). Edited May 4th, 2017 by Ray Maverick.
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              Ray Maverick Ray Maverick is offline
               
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              The Ghost of Captain's Ire...


              Sam had seemed interested in his new quest, so Jon and he parted ways soon after their conversation. Jon chose to stay a bit longer in the war-torn tavern, not for the ale of course as that was some of the worst drink he'd ever had in Carajol, but for the company of the bartender of the Captain's Ire whose name was Mappie, according to the waitress.

              After Sam left, Mappie was the only person that wasn't busy either trying to destroy everything in their path or eating and drinking themselves half to death. The pretty Lopunny waitress was always swerving between the drunk pirates while carrying the tankards and plates, doing her best to avoid projectiles in the perpetual brawl that raged in Captain's Ire. Jon didn't have much time to talk to her and get to know her, so he got on a stool near the bar.

              Mappie was an Osenian Meowth, of the kind that had fur of a darker hue. He held a rag, black from filth, and was casually cleaning a beer glass with it. He seemed so used to the war just a few steps away that he didn't even blink when thunder and lightning were shot; cleaning the beer glasses was his priority. Once he saw Jon on the bar, he eyed him with a mocking smile. "Someone took ya out, lad? What're ya limping over here for?"

              Jon shrugged with a small, tired smile. "Just got here from a long journey. Hey, you know where I can find a Lombre 'round here? Need to talk to him."

              Mappie laughed mockingly. "You and the hundred others that came before you. Bloody hell, who keeps sending all of you this way? Is it Ol' Willy by the port? Damn him," He let out another gust of derisive, raspy laughter. "You wasted your money, son. That scallywag tricks everyone he talks to."

              Captain Jon frowned greatly, thinking the Abra had fooled him, and that the Lombre wasn't even real. I'll strangle him if I find that psychic pest, he vowed. For now, he slumped into his stool. He was going to drink to his heart content now. "Pour me a beer, man."

              "So, long journey, eh?" the Meowth said and asked with a slightly uppity frown, "Where're you from? Sonara?"

              Jon waved his hand, "Nah. Coming from Modistra."

              "That ain't too far," Mappie said dismissively, while pouring him a glass. "Not with the summer skyways and all. Unless..." He half shut his eyes. "You took the long road, didn't ya? Too much traffic for comfort on a skyway, aye?" He chuckled quietly, and his laugh was as sinister as an accomplice's laugh. "You're a pirate. In fact, I seen your face before. You were on the news lately."

              The Monferno grinned, "Was I?"

              "Yeeeah," the bartender slid the glass across the bar and Jon caught it and immediately poured the beer down his throat. It was tangy, and left a bitter taste, but it was better than the ale at least. "Furious Jon," the Meowth continued with an impressed grin. "You took a score from the Governor's house, didn't ya. And messed with the marines, I heard... blown up their ship! Hah-hah! The media whitewashed it, to be sure... said it was a flogistron accident, but us pirates know it ain't true."

              Jon thought back on the incident; Frag was the one to blow up the ship, as far as he knew. Good job, Frag boy, he thought with a smile. The bartender kept on talking.

              "Captain Adrian was impressed with ya, I heard. You saved his island."

              "How's Adrian?" Jon asked in a laid back manner. He should've been concerned, but his confidence in the Slaking was absolute. "Any news? Last I saw him, he was out to beat some sense into some invading cloysters."

              "Ah," Mappie said with sardonic glee, "That's been the favorite story of mine lately... Captain Adrian's foe was Amadeus, a no-pirate from Liverte... a nobody, really. The two crews duked it out in open skies, but while they were at it, a storm broke out. The Head Crushers were the ones to return to Modistra... I would've said safely, but if I were to believe in hearsay... they were all pretty battered, and their captain was left in bed for several days afterwards. His crew claims he took on Amadeus himself, and the fanboys of course screech that Adrian absolutely destroyed him. It's said after their defeat, Amadeus and his crew were swallowed by the waves."

              Jon let air escape his nostrils loudly and raised his glass. It looked like Adrian was the end of that crooked Garbodor gangster, and it was a shame, because Jon wanted to be the one to kick his face in. "To Captain Adrian's health," he said, and downed his beer. "Pour me another one. I knew he'd come through. He's a beast."

              Mappie poured him another one, and glanced at him inquisitively. "So, you're back in business?"

              "Aye," Jon said, "Back in business, and with a good crew now."

              Mappie gave his sinister laugh again, returning to cleaning the glasses with the rag, but his calculating stare didn't leave Captain Jon. "You wanna give me something extra, lad? I've some hot info to share with ya for a price..." Jon didn't immediately look interested, so the bartender added, "It's about a galleon carrying the Trade Prince's gold... a big score, no lie there. It's coming to the Novayas very soon, and I've heard some tales about where it'll pass from."

              Jon took a sip from his beer, staring forwards at the dirtied, cracked mirror behind the bottles of whiskey, gin, ale and grog. He figured it wouldn't be wise to brag about knowing all about that particular galleon, including its exact path and schedule. "Appreciate the offer my friend, but my crew and I've set eyes on a score already."

              "Don't be passin' up on it now..." the bartender said in a sinister tone. Jon noticed that Mappie always seemed to be up to no good. "Furious Jonathan, my boss would be pleased to meet ya, I reckon, and you could work out a deal..."

              But Jon didn't seem much interested, as he had suddenly remembered one of the main reasons he'd come to Captain's Ire. "Nah," he murmured with his head turned away, his eyes busy glancing around the tavern, searching for a certain Lombre, but he couldn't find him, probably because he didn't exist.

              He ordered another beer, which he downed at once. The drink was muk, but the Captain's Ire felt like home, oddly, once he got used to the fuss of the roughhousing pirates, so the money was well spent. But he did feel disappointed he wouldn't get to meet that Lombre. That good feeling he had about that person was in shambles.

              It seemed like many, many hours had passed since Sam left. Jon couldn't really tell, as the cave the tavern was in was always dark, but he would've sworn it was night by then.

              "I've ta go," Captain Jon decided, his head hot from the drinks, and threw Mappie a few silver berries. "Nice talkin' to ya friend."

              "Have a good one," the Meowth from Osenia said, "We'll talk again, Furious Jonathan..."

              After Jon left the stool he decided to try going the other way and exiting from the backdoor of the tavern, as it was closer to him and he wanted to avoid going through the battlefield. He also thought he'd probably end up in some quiet back alley for a quick piss. But just before he exited the tavern, his eyes caught sight of a Lombre on one of the tables at the corner. "Damn!" he said, his voice covered by the fuss. "He really does exist!"

              The Lombre seemed to be a lone drinker, as the seats next to him were empty. The walls of that corner were covered in moss, which seemed to be his doing; it looked like he hadn't moved from there in years, and a small bed of leaves on the corner, just below his chair, convinced Jon of the notion. The Monferno hadn't noticed him before because his face was buried behind a newspaper, a newspaper that was from thirty years ago or so, but the Lombre looked to be studying it like it was from the day before. Jon got the sense of death coming from that person; he looked so frail and old that the next squall would knock him down. Dark, purple freckles had spawned on the normally perfectly green skin of his kind, and his body was so thin that his bones were showing. That person could've easily passed as a ghost, haunting that corner.

              Before Jon approached, he stumbled on purpose upon the waitress, who let a dainty yelp. "Woops," Jon let out, grabbing the Lopunny so she wouldn't fall, smiling all the time. "Bring me and my friend over there an ale, will ya?" he said, nodding towards the Lombre.

              "Sure," the Lopunny said, smiling back at him.

              When Jon went over to the Lombre's table with a merry step, a strange smell reached him, and he figured it was from the Lombre himself - his head was rotting from old age, like the Abra had said.

              "Oy," Jon said, brazenly grabbed a chair and sat on the table. The Lombre simply glanced quickly at him, and his eyes darted back to the newspaper, without him uttering another word. "You don't talk?"

              The Lombre motioned at his throat and made a sound like he was being strangled. Jon was left aghast at first, but then understood. "Listen pal, an ale's on its way. Maybe that'll help ya throat loosen up?"

              The old Lombre seemed satisfied, but didn't talk until the ale arrived. Jon's gaze lingered a bit on the waitress as she was leaving the ale, and she must've felt it. The Lombre didn't seem to notice, as he took the ale, had a sip and watered with it his pale lips. "You should drink some water too," Jon suggested, "You don't look so good, man. No disrespect."

              The Lombre pursed his lips in an exaggerated way and stared at Jon with one eye open wide, the other half-shut. Jon didn't know what to make of this look, and he got the sense the Lombre was completely unhinged.

              "Who am I speaking to?" the Lombre said, his voice dry like the desert.

              "Furious Jonathan, and who are you?"

              The Lombre, lips pursed like he'd smelt a carcass dead for a few weeks, put a finger in his ear to clean it. "You're here for me tale?" he asked, ignoring his question. "Your name is new to me, but you look strong, smart. Might... might be able to pull it off... fine. I'll tell you."

              Jon nodded, prodding him on. "Spill your guts, old man."

              "I once was a pirate. Captain of me own crew. I roamed the seas, and I saw many shores. Me name was well known... it carried with it such meaning, that it struck fear even in the hearts of ally pirates." Jon was leaning on his elbow on the table, sizing the Lombre up. This guy? he thought, doubtfully, but he wasn't going to outright question it, so he let him go on. The Lombre took a sip from his ale; Jon noticed his eyes were bloody red from the drink, and that he must've been drinking all day and night. "Don't be looking at me like that. I once was as fierce as a Pyroar. I sailed the Carajol sea, back and forth, many times. We preyed upon the weak; took their livelihoods, took their lives, took their ships, and we returned into port to wash the blood off our hands with ale. Women, I had known plenty. Men, I had killed plenty. Each journey was the same for us; we plundered, slashed and stabbed, and then we headed for port to have our fill of ale and women. These memories..." The Lombre shook his head. "If I could turn back time, I would do it all over again. I'd plunder, slash and stab every last one of those bastards."

              Jon glanced around, his eyebrows showing a hint of worry. He was willing to try to believe the Lombre, so he examined ways that his story could be true; if it was, how come he hadn't heard of him? As if to answer to Jon's thoughts, the Lombre said, "But that was a long time ago. A fine life... fine memories."

              Jon nodded, although he disagreed. He didn't much like pirates who resorted to such slaughter. "So, you said something about me pulling something off? What's that about?"

              The Lombre looked at him stupidly. The haze of alcohol was floating above his reddened eyes, and Jon realized he looked like he had been crying. "... when our crew retired, everyone got their share. But I cheated. I took more than they knew. I got meself a huge fortune, and hid it, along with me good luck charm. I wanna make a deal with you. I'll point you to where I hid me treasure; you go and find it. Keep everything, but give me me good luck charm. It's just an anchor necklace, worth nothing."

              Jon thought for a bit. As Mappie had said, a hundred others or so had met this person before him. Apparently, none had managed to fulfill this request. Furthermore, he had no clue how the Lombre expected pirates to keep their promise. He was one to keep a promise, though, so he nodded. "A'ight, I'm interested, if it means I getta keep the booty. Where is it?"

              The Lombre downed his ale and sighed. "Some ruins in the Novayas..."

              "Yeah...?"

              "The place's called Gonpa Temple. It's a flying structure somewhere in the south of the Novayas. It's always enveloped by clouds, so it's hard to find..."

              Jon frowned. He didn't know about Gonpa, but he knew nothing was always enveloped in clouds, unless... "You're talkin' about a place that's in the middle of the Cloudstream." The Cloudstream was a weather phenomenon classified as Constant & Perpetual; it occupied certain areas of the Known World forever. Clouds seemed to sprawl forth from those areas endlessly. The ancients believed the Cloudstreams were the birthplace of all clouds, before it was observed that clouds formed naturally everywhere. It was a tough place to navigate through, or so Jon had heard - sailors and pirates alike avoided those areas, and with good sense, because visibility was reduced to zero thanks to the enveloping mists, and on top of that it was hard to breathe because of how thick the atmosphere of the area was.

              "Aye, Gonpa Temple is there, hidden in the clouds," the Lombre confirmed. "Not many have seen it, but if your navigator is good, you will be able to find it. Its location is marked on maps..."

              Jon was disappointed. It was more likely the Lombre was some lunatic than who he was saying he was, and he suddenly didn't quite buy the story of a good luck charm. "Sorry pal, not interested," he said, and got up to leave.

              "My treasure's buried in a tomb," the Lombre cried, but Jon ignored him and left.

              Pissed off that he had wasted his time, he strode across the dark streets of Fayn's Retreat with a quick step, eager to get back to his ship. With his ire rising, he realized what the bartender had said about the Abra tricking people had been true.

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                #35    
              Old May 2nd, 2017 (1:42 PM). Edited May 2nd, 2017 by Greiger.
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              Greiger Greiger is offline
              A mad mind... hehe
                 
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                Looking down upon Sinners

                "Look, I don't really want to push this any further, but I will. You know I will. So I'm going to ask again, what's her schedule? This is the last chance I'm giving you. Avoid it again, and I'll just find someone else to answer the question."

                The Beedrill warily glanced down at the steel knife that was pressed against his throat, "... A-Alright! She goes to the church! She goes to the church every day before evening!"

                "Why?" The Furret asked, his eyes narrowing.

                "Gah! How should I know!? Bzzt! All I know is she heads in and comes out a while later! She's a good girl, just going for her blessings or something!"

                "Every day?" Samuel raised his brow, "I guess she must have quite a lot of sin in that soul of hers."

                "Hey man, don't drop to that level!" The bug snapped, "She's better than you'll ever be!"

                With that Sam took his other balled up fist and slammed it into the back of the bug's head, the buzzing of the wings now stopping as the flyer slumped against the floor.

                Samuel knew well enough where the church lay, but first he would have to ensure that no one discovered the evidence he had left behind. The alleyway had a few trashcans where he proceeded to open one up and dump the bug inside. Sheathing his knife he took to run forth on all fours and back out into the main streets. He was a Furret with a mission as he easily ran past those who advertised their wares and slipped in between numerous mon. The church itself was easily seen from really any point in the port town, mainly due to its importance. The One Faith wasn't something that Samuel agreed on, and in his opinion, included idiotic teachings. Such as the idea that the church was to serve as the lighthouse, with a fire burning up high above the rest of the town and capable of being seen for many miles at the den of night. Oooooooo, a fire that guided ships to the port, like how the faith guided every mon to their 'home', ooooooo symbolism!

                Maybe that was why he was feeling more smug as he made his way across the bend of the island to where the church lay. Sure, you had a big fire going, whoopie doo, but even with such a harsh fire helping to declare that the church was far more important than anything else on this island there would always be those little cracks in the walls. The forgotten dark passages that would help him sneak inside. Perhaps symbolically it meant every single mon had sin in their heart, no matter how many times they threw money at the priests and prayed for dark thoughts to go away. The thought brought him SOME relief, but that quickly faded when he gazed upon the pristine front facing area of the church. Large marble columns stood outside, helping to hold the archway above the front doors up. Next to the door was a golden plate, with but a simple phrase about how the church only accepts donations. Oh yeah, no materialism here at all! Samuel made his way to the side and glanced up toward the higher parts of the walls, keeping a look out for any windows or other openings he could take advantage of. He didn't see anything that could help in that regard, given the numerous windows near the sides and back end were all sealed stained glass windows, but there was a drainage pipe that was stuck to the wall. He glanced at the pipe, then over to the nearby building, his eyes snapping back and forth as a coy smirk formed over his face.

                The church had very little handholds as the very 'paltry' donations the priests received ensured it would remain in top condition. The building next door wasn't up to the same par.

                It was a two story eatery where the worshipers could quickly head out after sermon to get a bite to eat. And it had a few decrepit handholds that he was aiming to take advantage of. It wasn't lunch time yet, so no mon were out in the back. Hopping onto a trash can the Furret braced himself and leaped up, gripping onto the edge of a hanging brick. With a grunt he pulled himself up, making sure to slip his paws into small handholds in between the bricks as he quickly worked his way up the wall and onto the roof. Dusting his paws off a bit he glanced over to the church again. If they had to tend to the fire up top, then there had to be some sort of hatch where he could easily scale down from the top. He eyed the distance to the drainage pipe and took a quick peek over the side to the road down below. A few mon there, but more than likely so absorbed in conversation or looking elsewhere. He readjusted his scarf and walked back along the roof until he stood on the opposite end. He scraped his paws along the roof and quickly ran, waiting until just the edge before leaping out. He slammed against the wall, barely able to wrap his front paws around the pipe as he aimed to slow his descent. The metal was rather chill, but that wasn't too much of a bother. Using his claws to grip onto the edges of each section he slowly worked his way up, quickly realizing that the metallic qualities worked against his usual style of scaling upward. "Stupid priests... stupid fire..." He muttered to himself as he kept on ascending. "Stupid psyducking religion..."

                By the time he reached the top he couldn't help but wonder why there weren't any stairs that led up here as well. He rested up top, seeing that the fire rested on quite a number of coals that caused him to sweat. Rubbing at his brow he moved along the very narrow walkway until he found a small set of stairs that led down to a wooden hatch. It was easy enough to pull up and he quickly moved down, closing the hatch behind him while he enjoyed the cooler air. A pair of wooden stairs led down in a circular fashion, though he would see some light rising up. Keeping to the edge of the stairway, he made his way down until finally he hit an end. The stairs were all kept inside of the ceiling. No doubt a tall ladder was used to reach this area, but thankfully he had other means to transverse. Several chandeliers hung from the ceiling placed there by the very 'paltry' donations given to the church. Several more marble columns stood against the edges of the walls, each bearing a different sin that the general public could come to repent against. He lept over to a chandelier, letting out a soft grunt as his body made impact. He gripped the metallic structure as the lights swayed every so slightly. Okay, he had a way up here, and that was good enough for now. Peering down he saw that there was a single preacher down below, but the bloke was too busy to look up. No one ever looked up.

                He carefully regarded the other parts of the cathedral, noticing that several tall marble statues of the numerous legendaries were all placed against the walls, behind each a stained glass window representing said legendary as well. Numerous red cushioned pews made up three long rows of seating. He could see another door while up top, but that looked to be a door where only priests and other church employees were allowed inside. He figured that with his basic scouting all done he could try next with figuring out who to ask questions about, possibly tracking down a groundskeeper to find out a bit more. Though that priest down there also looked like a prime target. He was here all alone, and today wasn't a holy day nor was it the typical mass day of the week. Leaping down from the chandelier wouldn't be too subtle, but perhaps he could make his way back up and come in looking like a sinner? Possibly... if no one had confessed to him about dealing with a Furret assassin yet. He would have to get rid of the scarf and his various items to just look like a typical member of the public who has so been burdened down by unimaginable sin. Of course, money would also helping in greasing the doors to heaven's inner secrets open. If there was one things priests were, it was obnoxiously greedy.

                It was then that the door opened. Unlike other doors this one was well greased as it opened with no loud creaks. Closing the door behind herself was a fluttering Ledian who had a bag hanging from her shoulder and a red cap with the word 'reporter' proudly imprinted on the front. "Leandius?" She called out, her wings buzzing a bit as she flew forward, "I gotta touch base with you." Samuel made sure to press himself down upon the chandelier, now not daring to move at all.

                The clacking of small legs was heard in the church... the priest, a Graveller, was hardly visible as he stood in a dark corner besides the altar. It was evident that he was from Osenia, as he had spikes on his arms and small parts of his body were giving off a faint yellow glow. "Hello," he said to the Ledian journalist in a deep voice.

                She glanced about, "You the only guy here?" She asked as she began to unbuckle her bag.

                "We're alone," the Graveller reassured her, not bothering to glance around. "I saw you made some progress."

                She couldn't help but give him a smug smirk, "Of course I did." She opened her bag and set it on a pew, pulling out a small white book from it, "After all, he thought I would get the best fit for the job, right? You surely have confidence that he would bring the right bug for the job... right?"

                The Graveller laughed softly. "Of course, dear, you're a star. He handpicked you for this..." he glanced warily at the door, then waddled over there, his clacking footsteps muffled by the thick carpet; after the locked the church's main door, he turned to her. "I will need to take notes, papers, documents or anything of the sort that you've made on our case."

                "Why else would I have this?" She held out the book, "This has all of my notes over these months. Everything from susceptible folks to others who are more likely to be... lenient to our cause when the time comes. I'm sure you heard about how I mucked up the dirt around that chief of police. They already got to the new guy, so I made sure to take extra notes on him too. The guy is crawling in mud, basically. With that done, I'll have to get heading back soon. As for you, just get ready for the new faces that'll be coming into town. I made sure to make a chaptered listing on everything we'll have an advantage over. Who knows, by the time this is all over you might finally get into one of his parties." Samuel felt the fur along his back raise significantly. "But most of it concerns that pesky skipper." The mayors of ports like Kuai in Carajol were called skippers, as per the custom; usually they were bosses of all the fencers on the port. They were the ones who were responsible for cleaning the Pirate Alliance's dirty gold.

                "I have a suspicion that he'll know of a few who could easily take his place," the Ledian continued. "Once I'm ready to head out I'll just happen to drop it off at the newspaper. I'm sure the editors wouldn't mind seeing their readership spike with this evidence pile."

                Sam couldn't see the priest's face from above, but he sounded like he was smiling. "They wouldn't mind, no... and the Party God knows who he would replace the skipper with." He made a gesture with his hands, as if to say me.

                The Ledian chuckled, "You would think that. The Party God tends to do his own thing. Don't be too disappointed if you don't get picked." She placed the book back in her bag, "Has he ever gotten close to inviting you to a party yet? If not, then I wouldn't have too high of a hope there. Soon enough this entire town will belong to him. I imagine it'll be a shock to these folks when their new mayor barely puts up a fight against him."

                "His letters are charming, certainly," the Graveller said confidently. "I have high hopes for this position. I've lived here for all my life. I know better than anyone in Kuai how to turn this pirate-infested mukhole into a proper town. Exactly as he plans."

                Mention of the Party God wasn't common in Carajol. A controversial figure, and a faithful practitioner of the divide and conquer strategy, he single-handedly brought all civilized islands of Osenia in chaos and ruled them to this day with deceit and the might of his pirate crew. To distract the common folk from atrocities, he invited "the best people" to parties on his paradise island resort where thousands of people showed up to celebrate his name every weekend. Poor or rich - everyone in Osenia loved him, and those who didn't love him, he removed by underhanded means.

                He effectively turned civilized archipelagos once governed by republics into a theocracy where he was the ultimate being. A brutal and ruthless pirate, his tactics earned him the contempt of the Big Five of the Pirate Alliance, who denounced him as a rogue who knew nothing of the Golden Code of Conduct, or purposefully spat on its Osenian grave, where he had slain it by turning on fellow pirates. As an egoist, the Party God raised rivalry between Osenia and Carajol; and by the looks of it, he had already began dismantling the Pirate Alliance foothold in Kuai before he moved towards conquering it.

                Samuel felt his eyes forming into a glare. Of course. Of psyducking course. He just had to encounter his agents here.

                "Oh, his looks are equally charming too." She stated. "No doubt once you get on his high end you'll get a personal invite into his chambers. If you thought his parties were the stuff of legend, then you'll be happy to see what he has ready for his favorites." She chuckled and shouldered her bag, "Do take care, Leandius. And remember, don't let all this hard work go to muk."

                Samuel glanced to the ladder and leaped back over, his listening now done with. The only problem was that his body hit against the wood as he scrambled up.

                The Graveller glanced quickly upward, standing frozen on his spot.

                The Ledian also glanced up, gripping her bag tightly as she saw but the end of a tail disappearing up. "... I'll get going then." She said. She quickly made her way out and out the front doors, just as Samuel got to the roof and saw her depart. He grit his teeth and scratched his claws along the rooftop in anger. He was sure they had heard him and his clumsiness. Now, to get back to his captain.
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                  #36    
                Old July 22nd, 2017 (2:24 PM).
                Afterglow Ampharos's Avatar
                Afterglow Ampharos Afterglow Ampharos is offline
                Ampharos are the ultimate kid's bed. They have a built in nightlight and everything.
                   
                  Join Date: Jul 2016
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                  2/7/1076
                  Post-men and Pre-cognition

                  Once they had landed at the port, anchor set, and ship rested comfortably, Nick took a sigh of relief. At least they were on land now. He didn't know much of Kuai, but it was a town, and a town meant there had to be some kind of mail service here. Somewhere. Seeing as Jon went off to the tavern almost immediately, he assumed he'd have free reign for the time being for some exploring.

                  A shadow passed over the Scrafty as he left the ship: a bird flew overhead and passed him, landing atop one of the pier's wooden poles up ahead. As she perched and stood, Nick was able to recognize her as the Xatu. He hadn't seen much of her in flight, and was more used to this view of her. Nick flinched slightly, eyeing the Xatu suspiciously as she landed. "Ominous," he said sarcastically.

                  After a quick preen under her wing, the bird surveyed what she could see from her perch, looking over the town. It looked like she may have similar exploration goals in mind. Nick simply eyed her for the time being. He wasn't comfortable with much of the crew, to be honest, but psychics especially he didn't trust. "Hey, feather-brain," he called out.

                  Her head turned to the voice. For a split-second, her eyes seemed to be studying him, trying to judge if he meant the nickname as scoffing or friendly. "Hello, Mr. Darcy," she responded, opting for formality instead, and giving him the chance to catch up.

                  The Scrafty slowly approached her, the Xatu taller than him even when she was not elevated as she was. "Up to anything in particular?"

                  "No," she admitted, looking back toward the town. "You would think that after a long travel, I'd know what I want to do now that I'm finally back in civilization. But a large part of me expected to be isolated for a very long time. I suppose I don't know where to go first."

                  "Maybe you could help me find the post office," Nick said, his tone suggesting that it was more of a command than an offer. "Since you're not doing anything."

                  She looked back at him, sensing that what he said wasn't a "maybe" at all. "I could." She shut one eye, holding her gaze. "Aren't you a big enough boy to go into town by yourself, dear?" Was that a tease? "Not that I mind accompanying you."

                  Nick twitched an eyebrow at her comment, shaking his head lightly. "Of course, but I figure if we're gonna be on the same crew, might as well get to know each other," he said as politely as he could, though still carrying a slight twinge of indifference.

                  With a single flap of her wings, the Xatu hopped down to Nick's level on the pier. "A good idea. Perhaps get to know the town a little, as well. Kuai, was it? Have you been here before, Mr. Darcy?"

                  Nick began to walk off the pier towards the town as she spoke, trying to get some sense of direction for where he was going, looking back to make sure she was following him. "If I had I would know where the post office is, wouldn't I?" he replied.

                  She kept stride at Nick's left side. "Not to worry, some local will know which direction to point us. There --" She pointed with her gaze, as well as her long beak, toward a Tepig who was milling about at the foot of a stone stairway. "That young man doesn't look busy." Nick grumbled faintly, looking towards the 'mon in question.

                  "Hey, you," he called out.

                  The small pig looked over, his curly tail bobbing once. After a quick check around the premises, he looked back to Nick again. "You mean me?"

                  "Yes, you," Nick said, motioning for him to come over. "You know this place well?"

                  "Sorta," the Tepig said, not volunteering much, and only coming a couple paces nearer. Either wary, or aloof.

                  Nick kneeled down to the Tepig's height, eyeing him with the Scrafty's unique brand of apathy. "Think you can point me and my... friend to a postal service around here?"

                  "What, I'm not a true friend?" came the Xatu's half-joking voice from up above the boys.

                  "Oh, you just want direc'ions. Sure, cummon up here," the piglet beckoned, turning and half-galloping up the steps, which separated the city streets and the piers by a level. "So uh, you want that street," the Tepig said with a point toward a lane with a fish shop facing the trio. "It's straight, if you keep goin' down."

                  "Thanks," Nick replied plainly, reaching in his pocket and pulling out a single berry, tossing it at the Tepig's feet as a 'tip' before looking towards the Xatu. "Let's go."

                  "Oh!" Clearly the Tepig hadn't expected payment, given the way his ears jumped at the sight.

                  The Xatu moved back to Nick's side as they took down the street directed. The stink of fish from the nearby shop briefly overtook the smell of salt water in the air. "Do I get the next stranger, then?" she asked, half-joking.

                  "Sure," Nick said, as if not really paying attention. He peered down the street, looking to see how far it went before walking down as instructed. "So, tell me about yourself."

                  "Alright," she agreed, slipping into a slightly more serious expression. "At which part of me are you interested in beginning?"

                  "Well, you could start with your name," Nick said pointedly. "You know mine, it's only fair after all."

                  "Sorry, dear. Oracle or Seer will have to do for now. Perhaps if we come to know each other as more than co-workers -- crewmates, rather -- then I may share. Until then, it's a secret I hold closer than most do. You understand." She glanced his way. "I could call you Boatswain in kind, if it makes you feel better. Has a professional ring to it!"

                  Nick raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't exactly build confidence, you know," he quipped. "How am I supposed to trust you? Didn't you mention on the island you were 'on the run?' Not a great first impression."

                  "Mm, sort of." She bobbed her head to the left side, then the right. "I may have... unintentionally... faked my own death. If I resurface in the public eye, I'll be wanted." She looked toward Nick again. "Not nearly as wanted as your captain, but you understand." Her gaze went back to the street. "But if I stay with a pirate crew, I should be safe, especially as some anonymous Xatu."

                  "I'll be frank with you," Nick started. "I don't trust psychics, and that's even with me being immune to your abilities," he explained. "I don't quite like your answer, honestly, but then again I don't really like much of anything, so if you don't make any trouble, we won't have any problems, yeah?"

                  "The ludicrous charge against me notwithstanding, I'm not in the habit of making trouble," the Xatu assured him. She looked reflective for a moment. "I suppose I'll have to change that, aboard a pirate crew." Her eyes returned to him. "In any case, it's a shame to hear your prejudice, but at least you recognize your bias. Is there anything I can do to begin to earn your trust? Perhaps become an exception to that rule?"

                  "Don't be like every other psychic I've met," Nick stated plainly, looking forward down the street as they walked. "Actin' all high and mighty, like you know everything, you get me?" he added. "Look, I don't really like much of anyone on Jon's crew, so not like I have anything against you personally, just don't go pullin' that psychic routine on anybody and we should be fine."

                  The Seer opened her beak, then shut it again, biting her tongue. That could be difficult, as not just a normal psychic but a clairvoyant as well. "Certainly, I'd like to come across wise, but I don't want to come across as if I know everything, in a negative way... In a boastful way. At least, I don't think I've ever been boastful about it." She sounded troubled, as if she really did want to change Nick's mind in some small way. Well, everyone would like to be liked, after all.

                  "You don't trust psychics, but you still asked me to join you on your way to the post office," she pointed out.

                  "Wanted to see how you'd react," Nick stated bluntly.

                  "Oh --" Turning her head to the side and stopping in place, the Xatu held a wing out in front of Nick's chest. "Looks like we almost missed it." The building to their right was plain and unassuming, with no particular advertisement or eyecatch. The small lettering that read "Post Office" was easy to overlook among the more vibrant shops and bars in the area.

                  "Some Seer I turned out to be, hm?" the bird quipped with a smirk on her beak, turning to head inside. The Scrafty followed after.

                  The interior design was subdued as well, but the activity a little more animated than one might have expected. A postwoman Swellow spoke across the counter with a Sentret and Dustox, though their conversation didn't seem to have anything to do with the mail.

                  "I don't think there's anything up in the north that COULD make a light like that, though," the Swellow said. "Not much up there but ice."

                  "If it's not 'mon-made, then supernaturalities are the only explanation!" the Sentret insisted, on up his tail to make himself taller as he held his paws up.

                  "Alright, out of the way," Nick said, completely ignoring the conversing strangers and politely but firmly moving himself to the front of the desk. "Got something to send out."

                  "No problem," the postbird said, shifting her attention to her new customer. "Want me to box that up for you, or already got that taken care of?"

                  Nick produced a small letter from his pocket, neatly folded in an envelope with a wax seal. "Not necessary, just this," he said, idly tossing the paper on the counter in front of the Swellow.

                  While the mailbird asked Nick to cover the small charge of the stamp, the Oracle slipped herself into conversation with the Sentret and Dustox. "Supernaturalities?" she parroted.

                  "The big light in the sky, two weeks back," the Dustox repeated for the Xatu's benefit.

                  "Looked like the sunrise, it did!" the Sentret asserted, stretching upward again. "But up in the north, and nowhere near dawn!"

                  "Folks are callin' it the Evening Star," the Swellow added, while fixing Nick's letter up with the proper postage.

                  "Sounds like a bunch of nonsense," Nick added idly, dropping the payment on the desk and looking towards the Xatu. "Well, I'm done here. You comin' with?"

                  "Just a moment," the Seer requested, looking his way. "Nick, did you or any of the crew see a light like this? From on deck, or...?"

                  "Only thing I saw was the sun," Nick replied dryly, glancing from the two townsfolk. He thought for now he'd be better off keeping things to himself, pretending he hadn't seen anything. "Maybe you two shouldn't be staring at the sky, you'll hurt your eyes like that and start seein' things."

                  "Well I am a Seer, dear. If not me, who else will start seeing things?" the bird teased, cracking a smile.

                  "Did you catch sight of this thing too, miss?" the Swellow chimed in from the other side of the counter.

                  "Yes. It was extraordinary."

                  "So? Settle a bet for us," the Dustox requested. "Fake or real? What's your take."

                  "Alright. I like a curious gaggle of minds... And a good wager, as well," the Oracle agreed. She spread one wing forward. "I'll admit this: I cannot tell you what it is. I can tell you what it is not. First, it was not the sun. Obviously." It was seen in the north, so she assumed that most everyone had figured that out by now. "I do not know what exactly caused the light, so it may well be supernatural in nature."

                  The Sentret perked up his posture at these words, long ears standing taller.

                  She continued. "But I can say with absolute certainty that it was not the Evening Star spoken of in legend."

                  "What! Come on, why not!" the Sentret objected.

                  "How can you be that sure?" the mailbird questioned, more curious than skeptical.

                  The Oracle was happy to answer. "The Evening Star in that legend is meant to rejuvenate. If it were to ever happen, every being in the Known World would feel it, even if they were not looking at it." She paused for just a moment. "What did you all feel when you saw that light?"

                  "I felt pretty excited!"

                  "Awestruck."

                  "Anything else?" the Xatu asked. "Warmth? Anything you might describe as rejuvenating?"

                  There was a short, introspective silence. Then, even the Sentret admitted, "Maybe it wasn't the Evening Star, then..." He looked up at the green bird again. "But you said it could be something else supernatural?"

                  "For now, it's a mystery to me as well," the Seer admitted.

                  "And there's no point in taking shots in the dark," Nick said curtly, before turning to the Xatu. "I'm done here, so if you wanna stick around, then by all means. I'm going back to the ship."

                  "Do you mind if I wander town for a while longer?" she asked, joining him at the door. As both of them headed out of the post office and onto the street, she cast her gaze both directions. "It's been a time since I've been among civilization. Would enjoy the time to get re-acquainted." She paused only a moment, but it gave enough time for Nick to turn to leave. "Ah, but before you go, I should thank you for getting to know me a little, despite your admitted prejudices. I appreciate that."

                  "Eh?" Nick answered, raising an eyebrow, before shrugging it off. "Er, sure, I guess. You know where to find me."

                  "That I do." With that, she bid farewell proper; one of them headed back toward water, and the other headed deeper into the town.

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                    #37    
                  Old July 22nd, 2017 (2:37 PM).
                  Ray Maverick's Avatar
                  Ray Maverick Ray Maverick is offline
                   
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                  Age: 23
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                  Public Enemy #1
                  3/7/1076

                  Captain Jon's first night at port was a tumultuous one, as the drink had hit him hard on the head and he only felt it in his sleep; on top of that, the Kricketots outside just wouldn't shut up, so he ended up drifting in and out of sleep. Laying on the bed in his quarters felt much like he was back in the jungle, sleeping on the ground. The ruckus caused by the sailors outside woke him, and he left the bed eagerly and with a headache.

                  After getting a coffee from the kitchen, he stumbled to the Navigation Room, where Nim usually slept, as he wished to talk to her about examining Apolucia's schedule and charting the course of their journey accordingly. However, the Navigation Room was empty. The Monferno looked around for a bit just in case the Emolga wasn't hiding anywhere, but there wasn't anyone there.

                  Irritated, Jon hung around the deck for a few minutes, sipping on his coffee and staring at the ships coming and going, taking in the fresh air of the port and the scent of brine, both welcome changes from the smog of Captain's Ire that he was subjected to yesterday.

                  He couldn't relax for long, though. There was great ruckus coming from the port; the sailors were being unusually loud. "Damn," the Monferno said, left his cup aside and jumped from the deck of his ship to the pier.

                  A large crowd had gathered near the front of the first houses of the dock and seemed to be interested in something on the wall. Some 'mon there seemed scared, like a shadow had spread above their heads.

                  "Oy," Jon said to a Zigzagoon at the fringes of the crowd, "What's going on here, mate? Any trouble?"

                  "Solo strikes again!" the Zigzagoon cried.

                  "Solo?" Jon said, somewhat amazed. "Ain't that the guy who sank a bunch of ANF ships?"

                  Just then, the crowd parted for a bit, and Jon was able to see what was on the wall: an array of wanted posters.

                  One of the posters was showing a dark silhouette with a question mark on it; a dozen of those were plastered all over that wall, as if one of them wasn't enough. The poster said,


                  Wanted
                  ~ Dead or Alive ~
                  Public Enemy #1
                  Solo
                  No description available - any information for their identity will be dearly compensated
                  789.000.000 golden berries

                  - The Avian Naval Force -


                  "Gods be damned," Jon muttered to himself under his breath, "Look at that bounty. Whoever catches him'll be richer than a dozen kings... the Government sure went spendthrift here."

                  There was something a bit off about the whole Solo situation. Even a couple of weeks back when Jon first heard of the story, it rang strange. Apparently this pirate, who called himself Solo, had sent letters to the Marine Headquarters proclaiming he was about to conquer them and the world, that their resistance was futile and that they should lay down their arms. Of course, nobody took him seriously... until the next day, when he sank four ANF airships. And using an item of legend no less, the Red Orb, to summon a catastrophic storm that could be resisted by nothing in the air, not even psychic barriers. The part that didn't sit right with Jon was that this person, Solo, despite never have been seen before, was made Public Enemy #1. That kind of muk just doesn't happen, Jon had thought then. In one night, Solo had surpassed pirates who had done much worse than than sink four ANF ships; Public Enemy #7, the Party God, current ruler of Osenia, had slaughtered every marine in that region he could find according to the Government report. The body count was some five thousand, and that only counted the murders of when the Party God seized power, not the ones that came afterwards. And he was still #7.

                  "What'd Solo do now?" Jon asked the Zigzagoon, a bit appalled that Solo would show up in the news again.

                  "Sank Gallagher's merchant line ship apparently, he summoned a great storm and the ship just went down."

                  "Muk," Jon said in awe. A 'mon who could summon storms strong enough to sink ships would be a tough opponent.

                  "And this just in," the Zigzagoon continued, "Gallagher's in town. Did you see his frigate just off the shore?"

                  "Doubly muk," Jon exclaimed.

                  Admiral Charles Gallagher was one of the Big Five of the Pirate Alliance and the Public Enemy #3; a commander of a great fleet, his power was akin to a powerful military leader. He had taken it upon himself to provide Nautactus with the essentials like food and medicine bought with stolen gold, and regularly sent merchant ships to and fro Nautactus. Despite his contributions to the Pirate Alliance, everyone feared him, pirates and marines alike, and with good reason...

                  "I wanna meet him," Jon said excitedly, having all but forgotten about Solo. "You know where I can find him?"

                  The Zigzagoon looked at him in doubt. "Are you insane, fella?"

                  "Nope," Jon said, "I just wanna meet him."

                  The Zigzagoon shrugged, "It's your death. He's in Captain's Ire. But I hear you can't just walk there and meet with him."

                  "Yeah, whatever, thanks mate," Jon said and walked off.

                  But before he left, he glimpsed another wanted poster on the wall, a different one than Solo's.

                  It was the wanted poster of an Emolga; and it was no other Emolga than Nim. Jon immediately knew because of the eye patch. He was immediately hooked to the poster. "I didn't know Nim was famous!" he said, getting close to read the details.


                  Wanted
                  ~ Only Alive ~
                  Nim, Emolga
                  Daughter of a wealthy merchant family. She ran away from home, Seafleet. Please bring her back, by any means.
                  25.000 golden berries

                  - The Avian Naval Force & the Commonwealth of Seafleet -


                  Jon looked at the poster for a few moments, troubled. He read it a few times, worried that he had made a mistake taking her on board. Then he thought, Nim was an adult. She could go where she pleased, and her choices were her own. If she wanted to be in his crew, then that's what would happen.

                  So, Jon didn't think much on it, and went on his way to the Captain's Ire.
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                    #38    
                  Old July 22nd, 2017 (5:14 PM).
                  Turnip's Avatar
                  Turnip Turnip is offline
                  Magnificent Turnip
                     
                    Join Date: Apr 2012
                    Location: Private property what the heck are you doing here get out
                    Posts: 652
                    3/7/1076
                    It's Two People Who Wake Up And Go Out Onto Deck And They Talk About Going Outside But They Don't Quite Do It Yet Because You Don't Just Go Shopping Instantly When You Get Up Sans-Brekkie



                    The Seer perched with her talons locked around the railing of the Safe Journey's bow. Her attention was divided, between the quiet docks and town laid out before her, and the colours of the rising sun in the sky. The ship's wings and ratlines swayed lightly in the early-morning breeze, and from below deck the sound of quiet humming joined the harmony. Crockery jangling in his arms, Cook emerged and breathed deep of the surface air before floating leisurely to a nearby table and bringing the tray of tea he held to rest.

                    The bird's head turned to the noise. "Good morning, Cook. Or do you prefer Mr. Cook?" With a wing-flutter, she turned her body to face him and the table, wrapping her talons around the railing in the other direction. "My, you've prepared tea already? A fellow early riser, then?" she guessed.

                    "Oh! Hello, good morning," the dragon laughed. He hadn't been expecting anyone else on deck this early. "Just Cook is fine, and yes, bright and early with a cup of tea is the only way to start a morning, for me. As they say, the early bird gets the Wurmple!" The Hydreigon paused for a moment, wondering if the phrase was a little tasteless.

                    "I would be that early bird, then?" the Seer chuckled.

                    "Er, yes, I suppose you would! Care for a spot of Wurmple? I mean, tea?" the three-headed 'mon's centre head offered, pulling an unused mug closer to the teapot.

                    "Tea sounds much better, doesn't it?" She hopped down from the railing, and her arrival at the table was met with a freshly-poured cup. "Thank you, dear." Just a spot of telekinesis lifted the teacup to her beak, so she could enjoy its fragrance.

                    "You're very welcome, Seer," Cook nodded, pouring a mug for himself. "I do believe there is a blend of tea named after the Wurmple, so the two aren't necessarily strictly separate. Not this particular kind, I'm afraid, but perhaps they have some down at the food market in town."

                    "I was having a look in that direction. Not too many people up as early as us." She cast her gaze over the side of the ship. "Not outdoors, anyway. I suppose we technically haven't left our front door, either."

                    "Hmm, perhaps a while to wait until the stalls are all up," said the Hydreigon, sipping some tea. "I should find my way down there later today just to see what they have. While we're far from starving, it always does good to have one's cupboards full, yes?"

                    "I'd like to go as well!" she said, looking back to him. "Although... I suppose I've nothing to spend." Her gaze wandered again. "The island of Antigua didn't exactly have a currency. And the captain hasn't paid me anything but board, at least not yet. But even so, it would be nice to be in a marketplace again. After all this time." A wistful tone gently coloured her voice.

                    "Well, food is something of a necessity," the dragon hummed, lifting Francis to stroke his chin. "I'm sure what I've been given for purchasing food doesn't care much for who is doing the purchasing. Just take however much you need and consider it a... larger influence over deciding the menu, hmm? A little bonus. A Wurmple, if you will."

                    The Oracle laughed over the dragon's insisted use of the metaphor. "Either you're being very generous, or you're coaxing an old woman into helping you with the groceries." She gave him something of a smirk. "Either way, I believe I like the way you think."

                    "Why not both?" Cook chuckled. "I don't think it's unreasonable to risk as little interference from the munchkins as possible."

                    "Who, those two?" the Seer asked with a glance to each other his smaller heads. "I'm not sure how much help I'd be with that. Unless you simply want me to be your hands for you." She lifted a wing. "Well, not hands, per se." Her mind would have to do the lifting.

                    "Oh, I was just poking fun - though the offer is certainly appreciated," the dragon chortled. "At any rate, they seem to be a little dormant at the moment. Xavier? Francis?" The right head gave little more than a sharp exhale in response, while the left let out a drowsy squawk.

                    "No no, don't get up, you two," the Xatu insisted. "I accept, Cook. Joking aside, thank you for the invitation. We can fly out as soon as we've finished our tea."

                    "Ah, think nothing of it, Seer," said the cook, sipping from his teacup. "Seems a splendid idea."

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                      #39    
                    Old July 22nd, 2017 (6:06 PM). Edited July 22nd, 2017 by Jauntier.
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                    Jauntier Jauntier is offline
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                    Ends Meet

                    Throngs of Pokémon in various states of dress and engagement preoccupied themselves throughout the marketplace. The high noon sun made the weather balmy, and even under the shady canopy of a street vendor stand, the breeze still carried a pleasant heat. It was still more than enough to dew a forehead for this particular merchant, as the Golduck wiped the sweat from his brow. He cleared his throat as he continued to address the Pokémon who stood across his rough wooden counter top. He tried not to look himself in the eye, as his image reflected in the giant iron nail that stayed bored through his customer's head.

                    "... Yes," said the Golduck, attempting to keep the unease in his voice masked. "I hand-wove these myself. They'd look very good on you."

                    The Banette tapped the nail lodged in her head as she deliberated briefly, her other eye scrutinizing the set of straw hats before her. Her eye snapped back to the sweating Golduck, and she gave him a wide grin full of latched brass teeth.

                    "Why, thank you!" The lively excitement in her voice caught the merchant off guard yet again, and it showed in a slight recoil of his shoulders. He noticed that she spoke clearly through clenched teeth. "But I don't need a hat, why, it's for a few of my friends here!"

                    The Banette motioned behind her, her hand passing over the small group who surrounded her. As it swept past a sharp-eyed and cocked-grin Scizor who leaned on one makeshift crutch, and a Passimian with a cracked helmet who appeared to wince every now and then from sores, her motion landed on a profusely sweating Toxicroak and a panting Persian with a ragged tricorn on his head. The Toxicroak let out a low, ornery croak from his swelling throat as the Persian offered a formal "Hello."

                    She continued, pointing at the Toxicroak and then the Persian as she went. "That one's Enzo and that one's Barbosa. Now Enzo used to have a big, long red bandanna tied around his head, and he said it was made of a special cloth that soaked up sea spray and kept him cool, but he lost that." The frowning Toxicroak kept batting his eyes, blinking away sweat that rolled off his brow. "And Barbosa's captain hat is a big tattered mess, it is!"

                    The Persian lifted a paw and pressed it against the Banette's near-pristine white dress. "No," he solemnly interjected, his distant island accent seasoning his words. "It suits me just fine."

                    "It doesn't." The Banette's eye widened a bit as she glanced up to the Scizor. They both had chided Barbosa at the same time. She began to chuckle as the Scizor took the floor with the testy tap of his crutch on the ground.

                    The Scizor groaned, "Captain, just let Anarchy buy you a damn hat. It won't do you any good against the sun. It's got more holes than a net and you're huffing like a hound."

                    Barbosa gave a stern look to the insect, licking his chapped lips before dryly stating, "It's the sentimental value of it."

                    "It's the pride of it," the Scizor rebutted. "I thought you lost that last night with all your weepy woe talk. You're as complicated as a female!"

                    The Scizor doubled over in pain as the Banette delivered a swift boot to his abdomen before pointing to a stack of straw sun hats. The Golduck darted his eyes between the wheezing, cursing Scizor and the smiling, unaffected Ghost as she sang over croaking and a lemur's laugh: "Two of those, please!"

                    Enzo found his slick forehead now shaded by the hat he donned, though he scratched at a couple itches it caused. The Golduck counted the change in his webbed hand as Anarchy, the Banette, tried to offer her other purchase to Barbosa. The Persian shook his head.

                    "Anne," he insisted, his voice low only for her, "Thank you, but I cannot wear that hat. I have to meet the Admiral as I am: A castaway captain. This, my hat, is my status—disgraced and all. He needs to see the state in which our journey has left it—us. It is my responsibility, Anne. I have to be true the position."

                    Anarchy gripped the straw hat as she listened to her captain's words, holding it up to her chest as her face dimmed in consideration. She understood her captain's intention, but she had already spent coin on the gesture. Barbosa in truth had no business out of bed, she knew, as his state was just barely stable after Doctor Keahi and her assistant Kaipo examined and fed him this morning. With the sun beaming upon his short fur coat, he could easily become exhausted by the hot weather alone, and yet he forced himself to sneak away with Anarchy and the others when the Doctor and Kaipo were out on another emergency run. She felt it was the least she could do, but her captain was a rigid 'mon.

                    A strong palm slapped against her back and gave her a jolt. She looked up to the culprit, the Passimian, who pointed a finger at her and teased in his thick sing-song accent, "Ah-ah! Anarchy push up fire!" Anarchy giggled, remembering the Passimian's foreign phrase meant she was starting trouble. She tried to waive it off with a mock-exasperated "Emmanuel," but Emmanuel kept talking, his pointing finger now a thumb directed at the hobbled-over Scizor. "Give to Vincent, ya? He need charity-ah. You bust up his tush!"

                    The Scizor moaned with a pincer over his abdomen, "It's the least you can do for me... Ugh, nearly spit up the bit I had for breakfast... You cheeky girl..."

                    Vincent was promptly crowned with the hat. As the Scizor began to swat a claw at a teasing Emmanuel and cooing Anarchy, Barbosa curtly interrupted, saying "We should be on our way. Thank you for the hats, sir."

                    At that stern cue, Emmanuel and Anarchy returned to attention as the Golduck merchant held out the pouch of remaining coin. Anarchy reached out with a spirited "Thank you," to the hat-weaver, and took the little burlap purse, quickly sifting a thick finger through its contents to make sure the balance of the transaction was what it should have been. The count was proper, though she did withdraw a few coin to keep for herself before pulling the pouch's drawstring shut tight. She then offered the purse over to Emmanuel, who gave her an acknowledging nod. Taking his other hand, the Passimian lifted the cracked green berry husk of a helmet on his head. The matted bush of white fur felt a breeze for a bit before he sat the pouch square on the center of his cranium, pushing the helmet back on securely on his head. Anarchy had entrusted Emmanuel to keep safe the little bit of change Doctor Keahi provided her, and so he gave her a firm grunt to assure her everything was in place. As the crew said their goodbyes to the native and departed from the stand, Anarchy was quick to head the group yet again as she took back to the road, everyone else sauntering close behind.

                    Her eyes darted back and forth at all the colorful commotion that lined the market avenue. She couldn't help but twirl around on her boot to face the gang as she skipped backwards, exclaiming, "So now that that's done and over with, does anybody remember which way was the tavern?"

                    The males in the pack exchanged glances as they pointed in different directions, only to end up giving each other befuddled looks. There were groans all around as Vincent spat, "Oh Arceus, let's just get out of here!" Breaking the formation, he exasperatedly lumbered apart from the group, cutting across the road on his crutch looking almost sure of himself. The rest gave each other a wordless and partly-amused concession as he shouted over his shoulder, "Is it so hard to find a damn cave in the wall?!" The four decided to follow behind, figuring they'd lose nothing if Vincent ended up being just as wrong as they likely were.


                    ***


                    The storefront of each stall Cook and the Oracle passed seemed more colourful than the last. It was certainly an exuberant way of attracting eyeballs to one's business. Fabrics, carrying bags, footwear, rugs, and more! And the Seer had to admit, it worked, even on her usually-focused gaze. Perhaps a little more colour was all she needed, after that extended vacation of seclusion.

                    One of the colourful stops, coming up on their right, didn't appear to be a storefront at all. Instead, a square table stood in the outdoor market, and customers had gathered, standing all around its four sides. The old Xatu, giving into her curiosity, slipped away from Cook to have a look, joining the others at the table. She didn't expect to be long -- she'd catch up with Cook shortly, right?

                    The table's surface was slanted inward, a bowl-like depression at its center and all four edges raised. In its center, a six-by-six grid of coloured squares were painted. Each square had a round pit. The Xatu was just catching on that this must be not a shop, but a game instead -- when a Golem spoke up nearby, gathering the customers' attention, including her own.

                    "Alright, everyone in? On the count of three --" His arm reached overtop the table, pointing with each count. "One, two, three!"

                    Three different customers reach rolled a wooden ball toward the table's center. The three spheres rolled over the coloured squares, swirling and bumping into each other, but eventually losing momentum. As they came closer and closer to stopping in one of the pits, the participants around the table let out enthusiastic noises, pointing or balling their fists. "Oh, oh, OHH!"

                    The first of the balls settled down on its own, sitting in a yellow-square pit, while the remaining two bumped into each other again, causing them to fall to a blue and a yellow square. There was a smattering of cheering, and as the Seer looked up, she noticed the Golem both taking and giving out silver berries to different participants -- and not just the three who had rolled the balls in the first place.

                    "Alright, alright!" He kept the mood enthusiastic with his tone and his smile, even if his heavy brow and hardened exterior gave the appearance of something much less lighthearted. "Who's next? That was a good round for the golds, will it swing that way again? Bets go on the edge of the table!"

                    The Oracle felt her feathers perk up on the back of her head. Betting? The game looked delightfully carnival-esque, even family-friendly, and yet, there was money to be had here! The bird fetched out the few silver berries Cook had given her for the day's errands. If she could double them, she was sure the Hydreigon would be pleased.

                    As she moved to put her money down on green, the Golem placed his hand on the table, squarely in her way. "Sorry, ma'am," he said, catching her eye with a firm, but not unkind, gaze. "No psychics."

                    The bird's smile disappeared in an instant, and she took a half-step back from the man. "I beg your pardon?"

                    "I can't let psychics play here. Sorry. It is a game of chance, after all."

                    "What exactly are you implying, sir," the Seer questioned, frowning and beginning to feel offended.

                    The Golem let out a small sigh, one that said he'd been through this before and he didn't care much to do it again. "Look, one of two things are gonna happen, if I let psychics play here." He held up a digit. "One. They predict exactly where them balls are gonna land." Another digit. "Two. They use that telekinesis and make the balls land where they want."

                    "I am not a cheater, good sir. To even imply--"

                    "I gotta keep it fair, ma'am. You got an unfair advantage over the other players, you know? It's nothing pers--"

                    "Your implications here are that all psychics would use their powers to cheat," the Oracle said, spreading a wing toward the table as she got worked up. "You realize what that constitutes, don't you?"

                    The Golem took a defensive position, while keeping firmly grounded on his stance. "Hey, it's not like that! But some of you psys are gonna do it, and if I can't tell which ones are the bad ones, I gotta make a rule to keep 'em all out!"

                    "Oh come now! Your explanation is the picture of discrimination!"

                    With the conflict escalating in volume, the other players couldn't help but watch. The argument was beginning to gather attention from shoppers at other stalls, and passersby, as well. Some even stopped in their tracks to watch, likely anticipating something more exciting to erupt from the fuss. As more Pokémon began to collect in little groups to watch the squabble, a small levee of bystanders formed off the flow of foot traffic. It wasn't long, though, before that levee broke.

                    "Excuse me, excuse me," shouted a voice, as not soon after, a Scizor with a straw sun hat, a foot cast, and a wooden crutch shouldered his way through. "Half-dead, Arceus-forsaken castaways coming through!" The disrupted onlookers gave him puzzled, curious, and irritated stares as he shoved past. Following close behind him was a leering Toxicroak with a matching hat, a rawboned and profusely apologetic Persian with an unkempt tricorn on his head, a Passimian glancing around uncomfortably with a stiff walk, and a grinning creature in a white dress with an unholy nail replacing an eye. To the last one, there were slight gasps and the shoppers seemed much more willing to part.

                    The Scizor continued to jeer over the din as he made his way in. "Didn't mean to steal the show,'" he started, and raised his crutch as he balanced on his good foot, "But now that I've got an audience: Where in bloody blazes is the Captain's Ire!?"

                    "Fayn's Retreat," replied a voice from knee level. A Gible, raising his voice to be heard above the squawk of irritated Xatu. "Mukty neighbourhood, that! Stick around here, you lot look ill enough already without downing Ire's brew," the small fellow advised with a laugh.

                    The Scizor replied with his own scoff. "Mukty! Well break my leg a second time! I've suffered worse!" Then he peered down at the little Dragon, asking, "Which way's Fayn's?"

                    The Gible pointed down the aisle between the double line of shorefronts. "When ya clear all the shops, due left. Straight on till the streets turn to muk and the walls crumble 'round ya. As for the Ire, just follow the ruckus. Noisier than--"

                    "My mon-- my money's no good here? Do you hear yourself speaking, boy?!" an old bird squawked nearby.

                    "...Well, than a psychic squabble."

                    The Scizor's stare turned into an irritated leer as he glanced over his shoulder at a Xatu and Golem verbally duking it out. By the way the two of them almost violently knocked their arms around in gesticulation, he figured they were the original centers of attention. His yellow eyes rolled back to the Gible, as he gave a tired, derisive smile. "Great," he offered wryly. Then he raised his voice for the last time with a flourish of his pincer to the oblivious couple behind him. "Thank you all, and I leave you to return to your show!" The Scizor gave a loud whistle, catching the attention of his nearby crew, who were either intent on watching him or the commotion in which the natives seemed to be enthralled at a distance. He cocked his head to gesture in the direction the Gible had pointed to him, and began to lumber down the road. The Persian, Toxicroak, and Passimian hastily followed suit, but not the Pokémon with the flowing white dress and the single eye. That one instead trotted over to the source of the local drama, and standing herself right beside a screeching Xatu, tapped the bird on the shoulder.

                    The avian's head whipped around, putting her beak's point just in front of the ghost type's face. "What--" Realizing just a moment belated that her ire was misdirected, the Xatu reigned in her bitterness and her volume. Her feathers ceased standing on end, settling on only half-ruffled. "What?" she asked again, half-calm this time. Partially distracted by the unusual metallic disk over this Pokémon's eye, and of course partially distracted by the offensive game-stall owner.

                    As the dark-grey Pokémon pensively scratched at the stitched-up scars on her face, she whispered through her sealed zipper track of a mouth, "Don't be so fussy! You could be spending your time and money on something more worthwhile, don't you think?" Her red eye stared into the gaze of the Xatu.

                    "This is a matter of principle, dear girl!" the Xatu replied with a frown, though not as deep-seated a one as reserved for the Golem. "Elemental type discrimination isn't an issue to stand down on. As long as I still breathe, I have rights."

                    The grey Pokémon put a plush, pointed finger to her chin as her eye glanced off in thought. Suddenly, she threw up her three-fingered hands and slammed them down on the edge of the Golem's game table. Leaning over the board as she stood on her tiptoes, she announced, "Ho! Rockefeller!" The Golem snapped to attention at the almost specific-sounding, yet incorrect name. The grey Pokémon admittedly had never seen this species before, but as the creature's body appeared like a chunk of earth, she dubbed him her catch-all name for unacquainted Rock-types. "I was on the sidelines listening in on your noisy racket!" She gave a quick tilt of her head in a motion back to the other species of which she knew not the name. "Miss Beakley has been squawking about you being right rude about Psychic-types! For shame!" She pointed to her single pink eye. "Everybody with an eye can see a cheating Psychic from a mile away, anyway!"

                    The Golem responded by lodging a set of knuckles against what would equate to his hip. "Well hell, I can't tell if she'd cheat or not. I'm just tryin' to play it safe."

                    Rocking back on her feet, she poised herself on her heels and pointed a directive finger at the Golem. "Then let's make a bet, Rockefeller!"

                    "That is my business model. Whatcha got in mind, missy?"

                    The grey Pokemon picked up a ball in her mitt and held it up beside her. "Surely I'm no psychic, but I'm going to make a prediction. I'll turn my back and toss this ball over my shoulder. As I do, I'm going to call out a color. If it lands on that color, you're going to pay me double the prize—that's compensation for all the trouble you've put me through coming up with this bet! And if I lose, then I'll pay you double the fee. How's that?"

                    "So long as you don't got eyes in the back o' your head, that sounds just fine with me," he replied, amiable.

                    And the Xatu had settled down as well, watching the Banette make a deal. A couple of her feather-tips just happened to brush along the ball's surface, and the bird shut her left eye. The light contact aided her scrying ability, and a moment of the object's future flashed before the Xatu's vision in her right eye.

                    The rocky fellow was too distracted to take notice, occupied with collection of his payment. "Alright, you get your lucky shot, this is comin' back to you doubled. G'luck, miss!" He set the ghoulish Pokemon loose on the game table. All eyes were on her, including the Xatu's. In that moment, with her back turned to the table, and money on the line... for some reason, there was only one thought taking up the one-eyed stranger's mind: one color in particular.

                    "Hmm... Purple!" As the brazen grey Pokemon tossed the ball over her shoulder, it landed onto the board. When the rolling sound finally came to an audible halt, a collective gasp rose up around her.

                    The Golem called it, straightfaced. "Purple." He raised both arms, a smile breaking out. "The one-eyed stranger doubles her wager!" With that, the crowd cheered for her, and her bold bet paying off, a few of them going so far as to jump into the air. The Golem of course, used this to his advantage, even if he was handing the lady a tidy sum of coins. "Whoooo's up next, folks? Think you can match her luck? Bigger bets reap bigger rewards!"

                    For the psychic avian, she seemed satisfied for some reason now that the ghost had gotten to play. She met the gaze of the one-eyed Pokemon, who said to her with a bold grin as the grey stranger flashed coin in her hand, "Walk with me, Miss Beakley," and stepped on by.

                    The so-called Beakley tilted her head at the odd request, made so boldly without a reason given. But considering her limited options -- the gambling game wouldn't welcome her kind, and her Hydreigon friend is long gone from sight -- the bird didn't see any harm in joining her. She swiftly caught up, and walked at her side.

                    "So," the mysterious Pokemon began, turning her head to the side to get a better view of her new walking companion. The reflection of the Xatu took center on the Pokemon's huge nail head. "I've won all these pretty coins, but I'll be frank with you: I only played the game for you." With her one red eye studying the Xatu's expression now as she spoke, she held out her hand full of coin to the bird. "Consider these earnings ours. Take your share!"

                    "Well, I probably shouldn't, but little point in refusing a kind offer," the Oracle replied with a hint of a smile on her beak. The coins being offered floated into the air at her direction, and obediently joined their new friends in the small money pouch that the bird held out. "Thank you, dear. So... I take it you know, then? If you're splitting the money, that is."

                    The Xatu's strange new companion didn't answer her, instead preoccupying herself with tossing up her own coins in the air, catching them and giggling. In the middle of her third tossup, something blue swiped up the coins mid-air. With a gasp through her brass teeth and a wide eye, she turned around with an indignant look on her face and her arms akimbo. Standing behind her was the sweating Toxicroak from before. He scratched at his straw hat with one hand while he rattled the coins in his other fist, staring down at her irritably.

                    He croaked, "Anne," with a warning tone. The grey Pokemon grabbed at the skirt of her white dress and pouted, "Enzo!"

                    "Anne," Enzo the Toxicroak continued, "We're waiting. Come."

                    The odd Pokemon named Anne draped her arm around the Xatu instead and raised a finger to the bird's beak. "... Beakley. Beakley?" She then pointed a finger at Enzo. "... Enzo!"

                    "Vincent." The voice not coming from the frowning Toxicroak, an astonished Anne looked back over her shoulder to see a crutch-bearing Scizor in a straw tricorn introduce himself. "Now that we're done proper introductions," the insect said with an edge of annoyance, "Let's get to Captain's Ire. Barbosa and Emmanuel are ahead and waiting for us, Anarchy."

                    "Anarchy Anne!" Anarchy exclaimed this for herself with a proud grin as she leaned over to the Xatu to clarify, "That's what they call me, Beakley. Oh! I've got an idea: you should come with me!"

                    Both Vincent and Enzo stated, "No." When met with Anarchy's disapproving stare and her tapping boot, Vincent decided to explain. "This is private business. We can't just bring in uninvited guests to see the damn bastard, Anarchy."

                    The ghoulish Pokemon replied, smirking, "I know that much, but we're just going to walk and talk, Beakley and I! There's no harm in that! Am I not sensible?" Before she could let Vincent react with a wisecrack, she added over Enzo's low and anxious croak, "Let's go, Beakley. Tell me about yourself!"

                    "Well, first of all, my name's not Beakley." She wore a calm smile, saying so mostly for the benefit of those who weren't there for the nickname christening. Her tone betrayed her age, if her eyes and feathers didn't show enough signs of it; she was most likely the elder of everyone present. She took up step in the direction of the group's destination, prompting first Anne, then the rest, to fall into Anne's recommendation. It would be harder to ditch her if they were all going the same way, after all. "I am a Seer, just recently recruited on board the Safe Journey. The vessel is stopping here in this port town for a spell." Her gaze cast out among the passersby. "I'm sure the rest of the crew is out and about as well."

                    Vincent grunted as shuffled along with his crutch. "Well, 'Seer' isn't much of a name, madame," he said. "And I've never heard of the Safe Journey before, either."

                    Anarchy excitedly cut in. "Is your crew well-known?"

                    The bird tilted her head up, running feathers along the underside of her beak thoughtfully. "You know, I'm not certain. I've never heard of them before, but I'm far from the first person to ask. The captain calls us the Blue Bands." She looked over to the hobbling gentleman next. "No, Seer is a title, a...pursuit. But Oracle is just as good, if you don't care for that particular title, dear!" she chirped, pleased with the alternative even if it held exactly the same issue.

                    "And Anne here --" The bird gave a friendly nod to the ghoul at her side. "Nice to meet you, Anne -- she broke up a spat taking place at a game stall I was trying to play." For now, she left out the fact that she was part of that spat. It wasn't exactly becoming of her.

                    "And you folk?" the Seer asked, looking across the trio. "Sky-farers as well? Landlubbers?" she guessed, before chuckling and covering up her beak with a wing. "Oh, listen to this old bird, already infected with the dialect."

                    Anarchy pursed her mouth as if she was about to speak, but Vincent quickly cut in. "To summarize," he grunted, giving Anarchy a warning side-eye that left her in a cross-armed huff, "We're a merchant crew who got ourselves into a sorry situation and now we're going to talk to our captain's captain." The limping Scizor's terse response and the low, throaty croak of anxiousness from the otherwise silent Toxicroak made it clear that the situation still left a sour taste. The Oracle sensed this, and aside from a quiet but well-meaning offering of condolences, she left the subject be.

                    Anarchy though appeared not to share in her fellows' upset and misery, as she leaned over to the Oracle and muttered behind a hand, "Don't mind them... I still know how to hold a proper conversation, haha!"

                    The ghoul made small talk with the old bird, taking their own precious time as the steely insect continued on with his crutch and splinted leg. Rounding the gabbing girls went the perspiring, poisonous frog to catch up with the lead, and they both exchanged wordless, ornery glances as they weaved through the crowd of natives on the promenade toward Fayn's Retreat.
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                      #40    
                    Old November 21st, 2017 (3:08 PM). Edited January 5th, 2018 by Ray Maverick.
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                    Ray Maverick Ray Maverick is offline
                     
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                    ...



                    Pegasus


                    Nobles from all over the world gathered each day in Centura, a floating castle in the middle of Sonara's grassy, flat plains, and only the noblest of the noble could enter the glorious throne rooms (as there were several) to see the ones sitting on them: the Eternal Stars, the religious leaders of the faith of Arceus. Their militant adherents, the Thousand Arms, were stationed all over the castle, but were never visible to guests. Only ghost-types that could sink into walls and become invisible were being recruited - or created, according to rumors that the Eternal Stars wished to be silenced...

                    A generally secretive group, the Eternal Stars always disliked the spotlight from the wider public, even though they enjoyed impressing their vassals. They did everything in their power to keep their activities and decisions quiet from the public, which knew of them as saints and nothing more. Their power far exceeded that of a king - their empire was faith, the One Faith, and it breached the borders of dozens of nations and the minds of millions of Pokemon. Kings, presidents, ministers, all secretly bent under the enormous weight of Eternal Star's invisible influence; they were but mere pawns for the Eternal Stars to push around and play with. And if some leader elected to get tough and brave on them, he was ruined and cast aside, to lose his country and his life. Nations were built and destroyed at the command of this reticent group of lords. Thousands upon thousands of people, innocents too, had perished in their grand quest for complete unity and ruthless, totalitarian rule. And their will was irresistible, as it was carried out by a number of powerful tools, most prominently the Avian Naval Force, the strongest military power the Known World had ever seen.

                    The Eternal Stars were everything the Pirate Alliance stood against.

                    A Shedinja emerged from the lustrous white marble floor, exactly ten yards away from the throne, as was the custom. The throne room was busy with nobles at this time of the day, yet none of them was allowed or dared to go within a certain, fixed number of steps from the throne.

                    The ghost, a servant and member of the Thousand Arms, bowed to the one who was perched upon the throne: a Pidgeot that deserved all of the magnificence of the rest of the castle. He was so well groomed and decorated so expertly that it was impossible to tell how old he was - he was made to look ageless deliberately. Red plumes were added into the mane of yellow feathers on his crest and his wingtips and tailfeathers were painted blue, all with the purpose of making him look like he was in Mega form (and convincingly so), while in reality it was all just for show. The star-jewel he was wearing above his head like a crown signified his position.

                    The Shedinja didn't dare speak, as he sensed that the Pidgeot was talking to someone using the psychic network, and he was to never interrupt. But the Pidgeot cast a questioning glance upon the Shedinja, as if to say, what do you want?

                    "Your Brilliant Radiance," the Shedinja said in a voice free of any emotion. "Admiral Jin Inozama is on the line." The Pidgeot didn't move his beak or a muscle, but his affirmative reached the Shedinja's mind. The ghost presented a Shellder clam. It floated on its own, crossing the distance between the Shedinja and the throne with the help of psychic power provided by the same invisible servants who were responsible for maintaining the psychic network of incoming and outgoing thoughts.

                    The Pidgeot merely looked at the nobles chatting busily at the sides of the throne room, and the voice of the Thousand Arms psychically resonated in their minds, requesting their departure, as the call was important. Without further warning, they were mass teleported out of the hall, possibly to wait in one of the grand and deeply extravagant lounges and salons of Centura. Talking to your guests by telepathy could be considered rude... if you weren't an Eternal Star. Then, it was considered fashionable.

                    When the Pidgeot turned to look at the clam that was levitating in front of him, it opened, and an image was projected in front of the throne; psychic powers were at play to show the image of an imposing, virile Thundurus on his Incarnate form, floating gently on his cloud. He was wearing the white coat of the ANF with dozens of badges on his lapel and the signature hat with the winged anchor that was traditionally blue, but Admiral Jin's anchor was grey and gold.

                    "Your Brilliant Radiance," he spoke, quickly and in a serious, direct manner, as was his usual. "Lord Pegasus, I hope you're having a fantastic day. My apologies if the signal is weak." Just as he said it, the projected image trembled.

                    "No need to apologize, dear Jin!" Lord Pegasus sang in a rather effeminate voice as smooth as silk. "I can hear you splendidly." Despite the niceties, a message was sent down the ranks of the Thousand Arms. If some lazy psychic was responsible for the weak signal, they were about to be flogged in a few seconds. "But I require an apology for the interruption, for you see, I was just talking to Kassander, and have left him hanging." Lord Kassander was another one of the Eternal Stars; Pegasus didn't even deign to call him Lord Kassander, as he should have. "Would you like to know what we were prattling about? The Mercenary King! He's about to wage another war in the floodplains." He didn't seem upset or sad or displeased; on the contrary, he was very thrilled. "I will bet on him a few hundred million berries, and one of my daughter's toy jewels. He has high chances to win this time around. Kassander scorns me and declares that the band he backs will win, he says they are cornered and more desperate, so they'll fight harder. How sad! He neglects that the Mercenary King has bred and hired hundreds of fire-types, which most obviously have the advantage during the summer! I have won before the battle has even started!" The Pidgeot said with great excitement, and the Shedinja clapped his hands to echo his master's delight.

                    War was a sport for the Eternal Stars. They cast their gaze from above, on fields of battle, suffering, pain and sorrow, and thought it was amusing. Their immense power and wealth had made them so detached from reality, their minds so corrupt, that their arrogance and debauchery knew no bounds.

                    Jin cleared his throat, trying his best to keep his face devoid of anything that might betray his disapproval. "That's good, my lord."

                    "Who do you think will win?" The Pidgeot asked.

                    "The Mercenary King," Jin said with certainty, and not just to lick Pegasus's boot. He didn't like that this was a game to the Eternal Stars, but it was still war, and Jin loved to talk about war. "He's much more organized than any opposing army in the floodplains. It doesn't matter if his enemies are desperate. Fighting hard doesn't earn you sure victory. But, my lord, I have to move on to the main topic of my call. I'm calling you to report on our operation. The--"

                    "Jin, Jin," Lord Pegasus ignored him and said playfully, smiling, "Didn't you notice my new crown?" The Pidgeot moved for the first time in a good many hours, raising his wing to show the golden star above his head. "I threw away the crystal one. Crystals don't fit me after all. They're so... transparent and ordinary, like glass."

                    The Thundurus's eye twitched. He had to force himself to get used to the aloofness of Pegasus ever since he became an Admiral. Pegasus himself seemed to enjoy goofing him on purpose. "Yes, my lord," Jin said, letting a hint of his growing impatience spill over his tone. "That crown looks amazing on Your Blessed Eternity." He supposed that the most privileged creature in the Known World could afford to take everything lightly... his job was to do the exact opposite.

                    "But go on, dear Jin," Lord Pegasus prodded him with a sassy smile, raising his eyebrows.

                    "I'll begin with the most interesting news first. We got reports of the unbridled storm, and we think we found Solo's trail," he said as succinctly as possible, so as not to be interrupted again. "The storm blasted a merchant ship to smithereens, to hear tell of it."

                    "Aww, that Solo. Such a little troublemaker. And where did that terrible, terrible thing happen?" Lord Pegasus said with concern that was entirely superficial. His voice echoed in the hall.

                    "East Carajol. There are other reports of the storm from the area, so I've flown to investigate myself. I'm way out in the Novayas right now."

                    "How nice! How exotic! Did you award yourself with a vacation? An amble on the golden shores?" the Eternal Star said cheerfully, as if he didn't care if that actually happened. The thought of a corrupt Admiral amused him greatly.

                    "I'm on duty," said Jin seriously, "It looks like I'm on the right track, my lord." Jin had been Admiral for two years now, and the first time they talked he thought Pegasus was the typical stupid noble, too privileged and nihilistic to care about the intricacies of the field work of the very ANF he commanded. Initially, he despised Pegasus for his apparent sluggishness... but then he began learning he wasn't as hideously lazy or stupid or childish as he appeared to be, and that he could talk seriously and work with him. That was the only reason he wasn't losing his patience now, and the reason he hadn't lost all respect for the Pidgeot. "All the signs are there," Jin said quickly, to lure him with intrigue, "The storm appears out of nowhere and is so catastrophic that it blows airships like they're just leaves. It prefers to show in the middle of nowhere, away from land. As if it's consciously directed by a 'mon that avoids stepping on land. We've followed what appears to be a trail, based on sporadic reports we got."

                    As he was speaking, the Shedinja got the telepathic order to produce a drink for the Eternal Star. The glass, filled with a thick orange liquid, a nectar from all sorts of berries and fruits, flew towards the Pidgeot who picked up the straw with his beak and began sucking as it floated in front of him. His large red eyes were studying Jin as he drank. "Can it be Rain Dancers?" the Pidgeot mused, letting go of the straw for a second. It was an interesting theory that just came to his mind.

                    The Thundurus brought a hand to his chin, seemingly considering it. He didn't want to offend the Eternal Star by outright denying it, but there was some merit to the idea anyway. "You need a lot of Rain Dancers to summon a storm this quick, but would it be as strong?"

                    "Stay on the area, and find out," Lord Pegasus commanded him.

                    "I'm on it. We'll catch him, my lord," Admiral Jin said reliably, appreciating the fact that Pegasus at last focused on the subject. The image trembled for a few seconds, and the Admiral seemed to understand it was happening, so he paused until it stopped. "There's also another reason I called you. Do you remember the priest of Kuai we talked about?"

                    "Leandius?" Pegasus asked, taking a sip from the straw with his gaze fixed on the Admiral, his red eyes reflecting the projected image.

                    "Yeah," Jin said, "We once suspected he sold out to the Party God. Last week I sent one of my air marshals to investigate, with no official warrant, as not to churn the waters over there, and what'd you know. I talked to him few minutes ago, and we were right."

                    Pegasus seemed to have gotten a bit more serious. The Party God was a dire threat to their government, and his expansion to Carajol from Osenia was only bad news. The Pirate Alliance could be negotiated with, but the Party God? He was an absolutely unpredictable madman.

                    That priest needed to be taught a lesson - and not only him, those who would presume to follow his example. "Make an example of him. If you can't do it, send the SI-1."

                    Admiral Jin was bewildered at the suggestion. "The SI-1, my lord? Do you think some priest in the Novayas is worth sparing the agency for?"

                    The SI-1 consisted of the ultimate, most elite assassins - only Pokemon with extraordinary talents were admitted, trained and brainwashed thoroughly with the help of psychics into serving every command of the Government, no matter how cruel and despicable it was. As one of their last tests, the agents were asked to commit suicide, and if they didn't, they were discarded, if they tried and succeeded, they realized it was all a dream, or a nightmare, produced by their trainers.

                    And they weren't trained only to kill. They were trained to undertake all sorts of tasks that the ANF, as the ultimate arbiters of the law and morality, could not be seen undertaking by the public, or simply fell out of their range of capabilities. Intimidation, impersonation, manipulation, espionage, mind reading, sabotage - the agents of the SI-1, under the command of the Eternal Stars, used any and all tactics to influence the fate of nations. Or go on a mission to humiliate a nobody in Carajol, on the whim of their masters.

                    "But of course I would spare them," Lord Pegasus sang, "They've not been doing anything interesting lately. I'm itching to see them do some tricks. Some of them can even do acrobatics with more flair than the actors in the opera. What shall I have them do next? Perhaps kidnap that priest and send him to live in Jurago Jungle, hmm? See him meet his primitive relatives and find out how long he lasts with them? Aha... aha-ahahaha!" Pegasus's melodic laughter rang in the empty hall.

                    The Admiral tightened his mouth slightly in distaste and waited out the laughter politely. "It might be too late for all that," the Thundurus continued. "The traitor Gallagher found him out first, and he beat him bloody, just over an hour ago. We think Leandius is dead."

                    "Aww," Lord Pegasus let out. "That isn't fun. Charlie, such a dreadful, dreadful man. He really is a pirate, after all. And was there a trial for Leandius, Jin?"

                    "There was nothing of the sort. Witnesses claim Gallagher burst out of his hideout and beat the man to death, or near it. He used Ice Punches, evidently taking advantage of typing weakness. He was aiming to kill, in my opinion. And he was in a rage, he kept throwing them... before being stopped by somebody."

                    The Pidgeot paused, frowning. It took a few moments for his mind to fully register what he had heard. "Someone stopped Gallagher? Who would dare?"

                    "A Monferno. We suspect he is Public Enemy #64, Jonathan Sawyer."

                    "A rookie," the Pidgeot said scornfully. He hadn't seen who or what was past the #10 on the Public Enemy list in some five years. Anyone beyond #10 was irrelevant to him.

                    Pegasus's frown remained for a few moments. Charles was once an admiral, and like all the admirals of the ANF, he was elected in that position because he was a powerhouse, and because he was cruel enough to use his power correctly. He may have been wrong in choosing Charles to be an admiral, as he deserted their cause, but he was always certain he had chosen a powerful 'mon either way. To be stopped by a Monferno, of all species... it ticked Pegasus's intuition.

                    But he was distracted by a more pleasant thought that occurred to him.

                    The Pidgeot forgot about his drink; the glass floated gently at a slight angle, like it was in space. "The foolishness of pirates never ceases to confound," he said slowly, his red eyes seeming more clever than before. It was this side of him that Admiral Jin respected. "Leandius was still beaten badly. Priesthood is sacred. For a priest to be condemned without a trial is an atrocity!" The Pidgeot didn't seem much concerned with the morality of it, but he was certainly pleased with the situation. "Oh, the people will not like that. Poor, poor Charles," he chirped in a mockingly sad tone.

                    He dropped the concerned act and said with a pleased grin, "Make everyone talk about it. Get our news to report on the story all day and night for a few months, until the peasants get sick and tired of hearing of it and talking about it."

                    "As you wish," Admiral Jin said, and turned his head somewhere on the right. Someone seemed to be saying something to him, and he nodded in understanding. When next he turned to the Pidgeot he said, "Our psychics may have picked up on a new lead on the wild storm. I'll have to end this call for now, but rest assured I'll keep you updated. Jin out."

                    "Adieu!" Lord Pegasus exclaimed loudly. He signaled for the clam to shut, and the Thundurus faded.
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                      #41    
                    Old December 12th, 2017 (4:46 PM).
                    Jauntier's Avatar
                    Jauntier Jauntier is offline
                    Where was your antennas again?
                     
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                    3/7/1076

                    The Tides

                    The sea breeze was a familiar whisper. Despite circumstance and company, it always spoke in long, drawn sighs.

                    The five sat on the beach for the longest time. They only listened as they watched the idle water's surface glint under the sun. It was early afternoon now, yet it felt as if the morning never ended. It felt as if the morning had become the rest of their lives.

                    Anarchy let the breeze tussle with the hem of her fringed, torn dress. The huddled Banette stared out into the bay with one eye as she hugged her ship nail against her chest.

                    After a time, she interrupted the breeze: "What do you think will happen to us?"

                    There was no spoken answer, just the choking surge of conflicting auras. Their negative emotions, she felt, were crushing. It forced her to turn right and stare it all down.

                    Barbosa laid beside her, dead weight on the sand. His face was covered by the shadow of his paw, his hat nowhere to be seen. He refused to speak. Enzo sat slouched into his own lap, his arms crossed on his knees. His eyes were low, moving about the sand as if searching for himself there. Emmanuel was sprawled on his back, observing the clear sky and silently mouthing words only Arceus would hear.

                    To her left, she turned to face the Scizor. Vincent's pained yellow eyes held her stare. He gripped his legs' newly scavenged, improvised splints, and replied: "Nothing. Nothing happens to nobodies, Anarchy. We're dead on this beach."

                    Then she heard Barbosa's quiet, rolling accent beside her: "There is nothing for us back in Liverte ports. Once the guildmaster finds that I've cost him not only thousands from this failure, but... likely ended his ties with his most infamous client..."

                    "Nothing happens to nobodies," Vincent repeated. "We're as alive as the crew we've lost to sea. Oh Arceus, bless us all."

                    Anarchy was still as she came to terms with the striker and captain's words. Then she asked, "And Enzo? Emmanuel?"

                    There was a solitary moment before she heard the Passimian, muttering in his dialect before sucking his teeth in disdain. "They juke us, oh. Juke with rusty nail." Anarchy gripped her iron tighter. Emmanuel continued, "No money. No labor. No bed." He closed his eyes and whispered, "No black for me, yeh? No black for me."

                    The funeral line hung in the air for some time before Enzo finally croaked his piece: "My family were Gallagher Pirates, and I've lost many. Now, I'm an orphan." He raked his knuckle across the sand. "Like Emmanuel. Like the others we left with the doctor. We've been disgraced."

                    Anarchy lifted her head, defiant in all the adversity. "No!" she rejected, rocking onto her feet to stand. "You're not an orphan! You're our family, now! We don't belong to stubborn, wrongheaded Gallagher! And—And we don't belong to a greedy, shallow Wayfare, neither! They don't know what they're missing if they guess again when we're the best!"

                    "Anne." She turned to the Persian, who whispered but didn't stir. "I've known the guild all my working life, and nothing else. The height of my career was this single job. I am reaching two score now, and in a matter of weeks, it has all come crashing down on me. This is Providence's way of cleaning my slate. I had compromised so much of my values to succeed in Wayfare. Now here I am, cast aside, with all my riches an ocean away. I captain nothing."

                    "No!" She stamped her boot as she stabbed the nail into the sand. "We still have a crew! The seas are our lives! We can start our own business—why, we have all the smarts and guts and talent to! We just need time to recover, and then we can do anything!" Her pink eye began to glisten in the light, searching for expressions behind a film of tears. "This is just the beginning, isn't it? This is just the beginning of a journey...!"

                    No one answered. Her brass grin, already pinched at the corners, faltered. She slumped to the ground, her arms in a hanging embrace around her nail. She looked away from them, batting her eye to keep it all in.

                    She heard the Scizor's wry laughter through gritted teeth. She knew his face was twisted in pain, pity, and pride. "Anarchy," he began, "you're the freest out of all of us miserable 'mon. You can still run, and dance, and fight. You don't need to eat, drink, or sleep. You have so much energy and life, but look at the rest of us. Look at me, Anarchy." She turned to meet Vincent once again, and the Scizor sat there with sobered eyes. "I'm all broken from my knees down, Anarchy. This won't heal for another three months, if I stay good. Do you know what I would give to start fresh with you? Do you know what I would give to follow you on a new journey, making new lives for us? Damn it, Anarchy, I want to!"

                    She felt something trickle down her left cheek, wet and staining there.

                    Vincent turned his head to glower at the distant boardwalk, watching colorful figures go about their day. "I want to. But I'll just be holding you back."

                    "So then I'll wait for y—"

                    "Stop!" he snapped. "I can't speak for Barbosa laying there, hopeless and withering, just wallowing in his depression—I can't. I can't speak for Enzo who hardly ever talks, or Emmanuel who always paints on a short smile, because they're pirates, and pirates are all the damn same to me. But you've got to move on, Anarchy. We can't catch up, not so soon, not like you. You've got so much time to find yourself. You have so much potential. Arceus, you can do great things, Anarchy. And you can bet that I'll catch up to you one day—and maybe the rest of them, the rest of us—but until then, don't be anchored."

                    He stared back out to the water. "Now give us time to grieve."

                    Anarchy heeded him. She joined them in their silence, staring back out to the water while the breeze sighed again.


                    ***



                    Feathered wings lifted off a wooden orb. A bird’s right eye opened again, and she pulled her head up, returning to the present moment.

                    The Xatu had returned to the game stall from earlier in the day. The earlier events had seared it into her memory, anchoring at as a surprisingly effective point to teleport. At this late hour, neither customer nor owner were to be found, and the old woman had found herself drawn to the lonely game table.

                    She’d found the very same wooden ball that the Banette had thrown before, the moments their paths crossed for the first time. Touching it helped the Xatu connect in a small way to the Banette—the object now had a history with Anarchy, if brief.

                    Her other aid was still held in her wing: a small scrap of tattered cloth from the Ghost's dress, lost in the commotion of the fight. The two items combined gave the psychic just enough focus for her scrying. The bird lifted her gaze to the sky, melancholy in light of this recent vision. Thinking of those survivors laid out on the beach, she felt heavyhearted. None of them deserved that twist of fate.

                    She felt the desire to reach out a helping wing to them. Was there anything she could say that would assuage their pain, or make them feel more in control?

                    At the very least, now she knew where they were, or at least where they had been that morning. And though she hadn't looked into the future, something told her that they wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

                    The Xatu spread her wings, and made toward the smell of the sea.


                    ***


                    As she approached the shoreline, the bird tilted into a passive dip, coming down for a quiet landing in the sand near the group. The Banette raised her eye to the familiar Xatu—the arrival wasn't expected, but it wasn't sudden, either. Following suit, the other castaway crew lifted their eyes to stare the bird down. They wore their blank expressions, distant yet waiting.

                    The Seer tucked her white wings flush with her front, as was habit. Her eyes drifted across the faces of Wayfare & Co. By what she could tell, no one had moved an inch since her vision. "My apologies for my sudden disappearance during the skirmish we were caught up in. It seems they mistook me for one of your crew."

                    Anarchy scrambled to her feet, uttering, "It's okay! It's not your fault!"

                    "You weren't supposed to come with us, anyway." At the disdain in his voice, Anarchy turned to look at Vincent. The Scizor's stare was a hard, whetted one, and they did not ease for Anarchy this time. They kept on her as he spoke past her to the psychic. "You're just some stranger who got dragged along with nothing better to do, so you didn't say no."

                    Anarchy's fingers balled up into fists as she and Vincent deadlocked glares. The Toxicroak, Enzo, let out a low, churning croak in his throat as his gaze fell back to the sand. Vincent heeded the warning and held his tongue then.

                    The Seer spoke. "Strangers at the time, perhaps, but no longer." She averted her gaze from the Scizor's scornful eyes to read the others' faces. "How are you all feeling?"

                    Again, there was the rumbling croak, though it began to crescendo and strain. When it fell silent, so too were the others, all returning back to their concentric thoughts and her disregard. All but Anarchy.

                    The Ghost turned to The Seer, leaning over her nail to whisper, "That wasn't a very keen question." Especially for a psychic, she thought, but for once she knew better. Quickly, she changed the subject. "Why are you here, Mrs. Feathersby?"

                    Though a little embarrassed, the old bird moved on as promptly as Anarchy did. "I was moved to, my dear," she answered, before lifting her gaze to the Persian nearby. "Captain Barbosa, may I share a few words with you and your crew?"

                    The Persian did not lift his head, only to quietly rasp, "You are your own."

                    "Well. I came because... I wish to express my deepest condolences for your recent circumstances." When she spoke to the group, the elder came off quite formal, but each expression sounded heartfelt. "My heart goes out to each of you. Not one of you deserved such a result."

                    Her eyes met Enzo's. "Though I cannot claim to know the pain of losing the lives of such a number of allies…" Her eyes moved to Emmanuel. "I do know the difficulties associated with a sudden and unfair change, one that upends your life and leaves you on your own." And to Vincent's eyes. "As a nobody."

                    Though he wouldn't meet her eyes, the bird looked to Barbosa again. "Right now, perhaps you feel the scroll of your legacy and livelihood has been torn off, as I did." Certainly, the Oracle looked old enough to have experienced many hardships, but the one she spoke of now had actually happened quite recently.

                    Her gaze returned to Vincent, lingering there for a time. "Now, I am a psychic—a clairvoyant. I am no motivational speaker," she admitted. As she concluded, she looked down to Anne, the one nearest her. "But if any of you would like someone to talk to about all this... or about your future... please know that I would be happy to."

                    Anarchy raised her hand with a jump, an almost bullish eagerness returning to her. "I'll go first! I'll go!" With a strong heave, she uprooted her massive nail from the sand and swung it over her shoulder. She proudly approached the Xatu. "Tell me my future! That's much more interesting, isn't it?"

                    The others, save the unmoving Barbosa, exchanged their own silent, cautious glances.

                    The Xatu studied Anarchy's face for a time. She may have appeared to be discerning the lady's readiness, but in reality, she was just now putting together the details of that giant nail and that empty facial fixture. Was THAT what was covering her eye earlier? she thought, somewhere between incredulous and an inward cringe.

                    The psychic looked a little thrown for a loop. "Ah, well I—I expected the emotional support to precede any augury, but..."

                    The Ghost type interjected with a zippered grin. "Nothing beats a slump like knowing when it gets better."

                    The Xatu pulled herself a little more toward composed, doing her best to focus on Anarchy's remaining eye. "You seem eager. What can I see for you, dear?"

                    Anarchy hadn't thought of specifics. She was about to blurt out Anything, but she supposed her future could be too vast to sort through. She scratched at the stitched scar on her face. "What's my next step?" She looked content, as if she asked a sly question.

                    "Your next step, Anarchy, is one that you must make alone. It is a step in a different direction." She spoke with weight behind her words, despite her moderate volume. Her eyes remained on Anarchy's lone eye as she gave counsel. "But do not be discouraged, for your steps will not be alone for long. Your footprints will be among others, though the sands will be unfamiliar to you at first. Your allegiance shifts. You put your existing skills to work again, in a new pursuit. You may be surprised just what sort of parties are operating without a full crew."

                    The psychic lifted her gaze toward Vincent, and a smile reached her eyes. "Your friend there had good advice."

                    Vincent turned away. Anarchy spun to face him, starry-eyed, but it quickly dampened as she sensed a nervous storm brewing within him.

                    Emmanuel sat up, his attention finally taken from the sky when the Xatu spoke of her foresight. With a hint of awe in his thick accent, he said, "O! You prophesy like country witch, back in my vill-age. Ah!" He shook his head and flicked his hand as if he had just touched burning coal. "No, no, no. Eh-ya, please, I hold your foot," he earnestly begged. "Tell me what you see for me. Will I ever go back? Will I ever find Brother?"

                    While the Passimian and Xatu spoke, Anarchy trotted over to Vincent and crouched down before him. She whispered, "Are you happy for me, Vincent? Sooner or later, I'm bound to be on a new life adventure!" She laid her hand on his shoulder, unflinching from the searing heat his steely chitin absorbed all day. "Are you glad?"

                    Vincent peered up at her. He muttered, "I'm glad that you'll go out and make a decision for yourself to live. Not some generic, far-eyed, carnival fortune-telling nonsense."

                    Anarchy cupped his cheek in her hand, and said through her brass smile, "You're just so stubborn, and proud of it."

                    Vincent couldn't help but smile a little.

                    After the clairvoyant gave Emmanuel a reading he seemed satisfied with, she turned back to the rest of the group. She was pleased that she was able to uplift not one, but two members of the crew. She missed doing this, she realized: personalized readings that had potential to do good in a single person's life.

                    There was a soft groan that cut Emmanuel's humble thanking short. Everyone turned to see the Persian slowly rise to his weak, unsteady feet. When he found his balance and some vestige of strength to keep him, he shook his body of caked sand. He licked his dry lips, and rasped, "It's getting to be that time." Vincent, Enzo, Emmanuel, and Anarchy stared at him knowingly. Barbosa glanced over his shoulder at the city of Kuai, and so did the band of castaways.

                    Enzo and Emmanuel stood, grunting all the while from their sores as they lumbered over to Vincent's sides. Anarchy hopped to her feet, lowered her ship nail to her boot, and knocked her heel against the point to loose the end of any sand. Turning away from the others out of courtesy, she raised the nail to where her right eye once was and pushed the point right back in. It went in so smoothly as she kept her brass grin on. The nail's end cleared the back of her head and nestled into her trailing ribbon. She rubbed her fist against the flat nail head to polish it, and turned to see Vincent on his crutches, irritably pushing the Toxicroak and Passimian aside after being helped up. She couldn't help but chuckle.

                    Barbosa cleared his throat. He turned to the Xatu, and keeping his sunken eyes low, he said, "Thank you. Farewell."

                    With a toss of his head, the others began to shamble in tow. But just before following up the rear, the Banette turned back around to The Oracle, and rushed the old bird with a big hug. The small, exposed pins on the front of her dress may have accidentally pricked other's chest, but the thought didn't cross her as she whispered, "Thank you so very much, Mrs. Feathersby! You're absolutely precious to care about us!"

                    Though the wind was knocked out of her for a moment, the elder wrapped her wings across Anne's back. "Your gratitude makes it all worth it, my dear. I'm glad to see a smile return to you."

                    Anarchy pulled away, giving a big farewell wave with the sun bright in her eye. She turned and trotted after the castaways, headed for cover in the cast shadows of the city's looming terraces. There, they'd be sure not to cross the path of a wandering Gallagher Pirate.


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                      #42    
                    Old December 15th, 2017 (3:30 PM).
                    GastlyGibus's Avatar
                    GastlyGibus GastlyGibus is offline
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                      Reaping Rewards


                      Drawers, jewels, mirrors, carpets, a bed, and golden medals had been unloaded off the ship by Captain Jon, to the waiting arms of Nasty Joe at the port. Now that they were in league with them, the Gallagher Pirates fenced their many kind of treasures for the one kind of treasure that really mattered: the gold doubloons called 'berries'.

                      The Blue Bands officially shared the loot, and everyone got what was theirs, with the captain taking two prizes as per the Golden Code of Conduct. It looked like Frag would have protested, but he had learned the Carajol way by now. But before the loot had been shared, Jon drew upon a portion of it for the purpose of maintaining and upgrading the ship.

                      Over the next few days, Jon brought the dockworkers and metalworkers of the port to upgrade the ship's hull, and fit the vessel with dozens of cannons on both sides. Nick, of course, stood by to 'supervise' the 'mon as they worked; he wasn't about to let his family's pride be sullied by the careless hands of some lazy woodworker. Occasionally he'd step in to do the work himself, making sure everything was as perfect as the ship was.

                      By midday, the workers were all weary as they labored under the scorching summer sun, so they agreed to take a break.

                      Nick joined Jon, who was laying back on one of the dock's rocks, watching the work being done with fulfillment. The waves lapped at the rock, and a refreshingly cold gale blew.

                      "Yo, Nick," Jon said, "You're the expert, they didn't destroy anything?"

                      "I'd toss 'em in the ocean if they did," Nick replied bluntly, laying flat on his stomach and idly staring out over the ocean. "They're doing an acceptable job so far."

                      "Awesome!" Jon paused for a few moments, enjoying the breeze. He leaned back on his elbow so he faced Nick, and with a smile, he pointed at their ship. "Remember when it was in the cave, back in Liverte? Damn, we were kids, playing pirate. Now, here we are. And you're still working on it."

                      Nick couldn't help but smirk at Jon's enthusiasm, thinking back to when they'd first seen the ship, only partially completed. "Never thought I'd actually be flying on her myself," he said plainly. "Certainly a worthy vessel... not to brag or anything."

                      The Monferno pointed at the set of cannons that had been brought at the shipyard on the beach, where their ship was beached. "She's about to be even worthier. You see those? That's some serious firepower. Gallagher said most of his fleet's equipped with those."

                      Nick glanced over at the cannons, his shed-covered tail flicking about lazily. "Let's hope we don't have to use them," he answered. "Though after your friend's little display in the square, I think there's probably no avoiding it."

                      "Aye," Jon said, and his face was unusually impassive for him. "Wait, what'd you mean?" Nick couldn't have meant that they'd have to use their cannons... on the Admiral?

                      Nick gave a soft sigh, resting his chin over his arms as he glanced at the cannons. "You know, when we first set foot on that vessel in the cave, I'd have thought it would be a symbol of... pride, I guess?" he said, his eyes trailing over the great balloons that allowed the ship to fly. "Maybe it still would be that, but not in the way I'm thinking. Seems like fighting is something that comes with the territory. I was hoping we wouldn't be doing much of it, but what I'm sayin' is, we might not have a choice, our business bein' what it is."

                      "Can't be otherwise," Jon said, staring at the ship. "The people we want to rob won't go down quietly... and speakin' of that, in my talk with Gallagher, he said the prize we're after might not be such an easy lay after all. Those weapons can save our lives."

                      Nick sighed again. "Yeah, you're right. 'least I get to take somethin' back from that bloody Trade Prince." He thought for a moment, looking over at the cannons again, then turning to Jon. "You trust that Gallagher guy?

                      "Nnaah," the Monferno said. "He's a savage. And I say that havin' grown up in the jungle." The breeze fondled the Monferno's hair gently. "All sorts of beasts in the jungle, but none like him." He glanced at his mate. "You? What'd you make of him?"

                      Nick grimaced slightly. "He's a pirate," he replied simply. "Ain't no honor among thieves, no matter what some fancy pirate's code says. You saw what happened with that priest fella. The minute you stop bein' useful to 'em, I've a feelin' Gallagher will toss you aside without a second thought."

                      "I don't blame him for being mad," Jon said, somewhat wearily. "One of your own selling out to the Party God? Psyduck that muk. But, man, I wouldn't just lay the smackdown on him like that, damn. They took him to some cave now... hope he's still alive after all that punchin' he took. As for Gallagher sellin' us out... I wanna tryna see the best in people. Ya really think he's crooked like that?"

                      "He's a pirate," Nick repeated. "He only likes you 'cause you're in good with someone he doesn't want beef with. I guarantee you, if you stop bein' useful to him, and you have somethin' he wants? He'll be knockin' down your door the second he can."

                      "He turned on the marines first, too," Jon attested. "He's a pirate..." he repeated after Nick. "Well we're pirates too. Let me tell ya something, when I was in the jungle, I was raised by a Mankey tribe. They were half-wild, offshoots from civilization, far from being complex creatures. Yet the leader of that tribe was wiser than some of the smart people I met while here, in civilization. He told me, Mankey or Chimchar, you've ta learn to be like other 'mon. You've ta be mighty like a Pyroar and cunning like a Delphox, so that ya crush the Mightyenas when they're onto you because you're mighty, and so that ya see the traps laid before you because you're cunning. Well, I said, I'm gonna become the most mighty and the most cunning of them all."

                      He chuckled as he got up from the rock, dusted himself off and tied the blue band on his upper arm tighter.

                      Nick kept to his spot, taking a few more moments to bathe in the sun's warmth. "These other guys are after the same thing, so keep on your toes," he said finally.

                      Jon looked at the Scrafty at his side, and he suddenly remembered something. "Hey, been meanin' to ask. What're you gonna do with the loot we got?"

                      Nick looked up at Jon for a moment, before finally standing up and stretching his arms out. "Gonna send some back to my folks, help 'em out while we're out here," he said. "For me, though? Haven't really thought much of it."

                      Jon smiled, happy that the Darcy family would prosper through his and Nick's endeavors. "There's enough for a few weeks worth of drinkin'. Hey, if you're gonna mail something, let's go together, 'cause I've to mail somethin' too, yeah?"

                      The Scrafty nodded. "Lead the way, mate."


                      ***


                      Nick sat just outside the post office, putting together a small package of coins from his share of the earnings to send in a delivery back home. With the amount he'd made, he could comfortably send back half of his earnings and still have enough for himself.

                      Jon grabbed an envelope from the counter outside the office and squeezed in the piece of paper he wanted to mail. As he was doing it, he glanced next to him, at his mate. "How much you sending to your old people?" he asked, without concern for his prying.

                      "Half," Nick replied plainly.

                      Jon exhaled through a round mouth, raising his eyebrows. "Half, that's gotta be worth at least three or four months for them. See? Crime does pay."

                      The Scrafty gave a shrug. "You figure we'll keep making hauls like this?"

                      The Monferno gave him a crooked smile as he was writing something on the envelope he was holding. "Plenty of fish in the sea, my friend."

                      Nick gave a small nod. "Well, that's good. I figure I can comfortably part with half of it now. I've got enough for whatever catches my eye now, at least for a few weeks." As he finished sealing his mail, he turned over to Jon. "What're you sendin' anyways?"

                      "This?" The Monferno asked, raising his letter, which was tightly sealed now and ready to be mailed. "Just a few words back home."

                      Nick gave a small nod. He remembered Jon's dad... "To your mum?" he asked.

                      "Nah," Jon said, his smile becoming softer than a pirate's. "Mother doesn't remember me anymore. And with the path I've taken now, for the best," he chuckled. "So, no use sending letters to 'er."

                      "Ah, I see..." Nick replied. He never did see Jon's mother, though he'd thought it best not to pry. "They know about your profession now?" he asked, referring to whomever the recipient was.

                      "They know a fair share, aye," Jon said, nodding a few times with a conceding look. Nick chuckled in reply.

                      "Well, I suppose they would, Mister 64th most wanted," he replied with a smirk.

                      The Monferno puffed out his chest and thumped on it with his fist proudly. "That's me, alright. And the number's gonna be even higher after the marines find out the fast one we're about to pull!"

                      Nick couldn't help but smirk at Jon's enthusiasm, lightly jabbing the Monferno's shoulder as he placed his delivery on the counter. "Haven't changed a bit, have ya?"

                      "Hey, y'know me," Jon said cheerfully. "Anything to piss off those mongs."

                      Nick grinned lightly. "Well, pirating ain't exactly my style, but pissin' off these people?" he began, putting a fist in his other hand. "Now that I can get behind."

                      Jon laughed loudly as he handed in his letter to the Pidgey Mail Service. "I knew it, man," he said as he faced Nick and tapped his forehead. Nick chuckled again, gripping Jon's shoulder and jutting his head forward, headbutting the Monferno as he would another of his own kind, and Jon happily met the Scrafty's forehead with his own headbutt, a beaming smile on his face.

                      And with their business in the post office concluded, the two pirates made their way back to their ship.

                      __________________
                      "Johnny rocked that golden circle, and all those VIPs, and that music that had freed us became a tired routine.
                      And I saw his face in close-up tryin' to give it all he had, and sometimes his eyes betrayed him, you could see that he was sad.


                      And I tried to rock on with him, but I slowly became bored
                      Could that man on stage with everything somehow need some more?"

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                        #43    
                      Old December 16th, 2017 (5:02 PM).
                      Sweet Dreams's Avatar
                      Sweet Dreams Sweet Dreams is offline
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                      A Helping Hand

                      In the night, a haunted white dress clutched at its hem and hurried in the shadows. With no moon and only scattered twinklings in the sky, hardly any light caught Anarchy's body. She sprinted freely down the steep terraces that ran up against the city's wall, and in the distance, she saw the towering structure shape the channel and support the lighthouse at its end. As she leapt off of ledges and landed from drops that would fracture any creature with bones, one thing raced in her mind with her: help.

                      But I can't see a single soul at these docks, she thought to herself, her brass track for a mouth creased into a frown. This is nothing like Liverte. The night bustled as much as the day. I can't see how these folk tire out so easily. Maybe if I get closer.

                      After one good vault off a ledge, her small leather boots sunk into sand. Blinking away the cloud of dust that plumed over her, she immediately set off down the stretch of beach. As her head scanned the pier for signs of life, her eye caught the faint glow of floating lights that ebbed beneath the water. The memory of Chinchou lights drifting beside her raft as she rowed her crew to port made her smile. Before long, the water lights became few and far scattered, and her downward eye caught the massive hull of a ship.

                      The shipyard! She lifted her gaze to see a sight filled with vessels. It was crowded with all kinds, and all of them anchored and silent. No, don't tell me here, too. There has to be someone doing something somewhere, else the visitors are just as lazy!

                      After a few cursory glances here and there, she wandered a few steps onto a pier and beheld the standard merchant ship before her. She put her hands on her hips. Well, it's time to do a thorough check. She took a seat up against a piling, letting it prop her body up as she grabbed at the tag on her zipper.

                      Hurtling was a violent sensation, but one with which the shot of spectral energy was all too familiar. As it ripped from the gaping mouth of her lifeless body, it streaked through night sky as a tint of violet color. It gained control and awareness of the structures that surrounded it, attuning itself to the natural frequencies that radiate off the world below. It zipped up hulls, matched starboards and portsides, spiraled around decks and peaked over masts before something resonated with it. A steady, inviting beat. A singular action of moving life. When it found itself circling the iron chase of a cannon and phasing over black wood, it jettisoned itself right back across the sky. In seconds, it approached the abyss of a slacked jaw and prepared to breech.

                      Anarchy jolted awake, and like instinct, immediately zipped her mouth shut. Ooh, I still have that falling feeling in my head. After she staggered just a bit in getting on her feet, she picked up the hem of her dress once more and burst into a sprint. After she rounded the pier and passed ship after ship, her tireless legs stumbled to a halt. Before her was the boldly black ship, her eye bright as she took in its shapely contour. It was certainly intended to be luxurious, and as she stood there, another thought crossed her:

                      This was the ship I saw docked when we first rowed in....

                      She recalled now how she thought a small, sophisticated joyride voyager like that could have only belonged to the Admiral Charles Gallagher himself. She could feel a chill in her core as she stood there now, doubting herself. She had no way of knowing if this ship did belong to him. If it did and she unknowingly waved down a Gallagher Pirate, she'd put herself in immediate danger. She had to think of her options and weigh her risks.

                      A gruff voice interrupted:

                      "Can I help you?"

                      Freezing up, Anarchy's eye shot up at the distant call. Tens of paces down the hull, something starkly white hanged out of a gun port, replacing the muzzle of a cannon. The Ghost narrowed her gaze at what looked like a blanched mask. She didn't know if it was some pirate fashion or an unusual Pokemon. Just as she was about to frantically debate herself on how she should answer—if at all—she realized that her inquirer asked an actually helpful question, and in a helpful tone.

                      If they were a Gallagher Pirate, word would have already spread among them to lookout for certain Pokemon. It sounds like this one doesn't even know me, a— Well, she didn't quite know what species she was, herself. —A Ghost type. And well, I only wear the dress out of the bunch, too.

                      Anarchy crossed her arms. The nail driven through her cranium must've looked like some sort of monocle from the head-on angle, but the thought didn't cross her mind. Thankfully, she didn't cant her head when she called out, "Yes! Whose ship is this?"

                      There was a momentary pause. "This ship belongs to Captain Jon. Why do you wanna know?" The other 'mon was beginning to sound more wary.

                      Not Gallagher. "I need help, my friends and I! But I can't keep shouting like this! May we meet?"

                      Another pause. They were probably considering their options. "I can throw you a ladder, meet you up on the deck. No funny business."

                      "Don't worry!" With a big sweeping glance around the beach to make sure there were no other passing eyes, Anarchy gave herself a running start. She jumped into the air, and as if innate to a Ghost, she began to soar. As she twisted and twirled in the air towards the stranger, the faint pink lining of her own Psychic exertion became apparent over her body. Coming face-to-face with the masked Pokemon, she whispered through her brass teeth, "I'll just squeeze by right here."

                      The mask remained as impassive as ever as the 'mon moved back to make space, somewhat begrudgingly, but their tone grew sharper. "Flyin' maybe ain't funny business to you, but you ought to know that it ain't no small thing to invite a stranger onto your ship," she said bluntly. "No more powers."

                      "Well, I'll walk when I'm inside," cheeked the Ghost. In one motion, she glided in headfirst and graciously landed on her feet. She gave a salute as if to say all is well.

                      Now that Anarchy could get a closer look, she noticed that the other's mask—if it was a mask—seemed almost fused to the rest of the 'mon's body. The other 'mon reached up a gloved hand to lift up the goggles that had been covering their eyes. The 'mon's gaze scanned her up and down, lingering on her pins and whatever metal thing made up her left eye.

                      "...Well. What did you need help with?" the 'mon asked, obviously skipping over the elephant in the room.

                      Anarchy didn't notice. "Right, yes!" she hurried in rushed nerves. "My crew, we're castaways who washed up on this island. We need to get back to Liverte, where we come from. I'm up and about looking for anyone whose line crosses those ports, and has the space and the heart to let ten Pokemon on for the voyage. Oh, but we also pay." The last bit she quickly added, and she just as readily stipulated, "Well, not anyone in the crew since we're castaway, but the traveling doctor in this city, Doctor Keahi! She said she'll pay on our behalf if we can find someone fair.

                      "So how about it? Are you the captain of this here lovely ship?" Anarchy's eye wandered all over the artillery, drinking in the interior.

                      The masked 'mon blinked, before gesturing at themselves and their oil-streaked apron. "Do I look like a Captain Jon to you?" they asked wryly, continuing on before Anarchy had the chance to reply. "No, I'm just her engineer. I'd take you to see the captain, but how do I know this ain't some sort of trick? All I have right now is your word, and I don't know you for squat."

                      Anarchy shrugged. "All I have is my word. Truthfully, everything else has been taken from me." There was a distant look in her eye for a moment. After the brief pause, she asked, "What does Captain Jon look like?"

                      The 'mon looked at her considerately for a short while before finally sighing. "Well, it ain't like I don't know what it's like to wash up ashore with practically nothin'," they said, sounding almost friendly. "I'll take you to see him." As they spoke, they began to strip off the heavy apron, folding it up and stowing it away in a bag by the floor when they were done. The 'mon grabbed a large spanner that looked to be made up of solid metal and was almost as tall as they were, lifting it effortlessly onto one of their shoulders before grabbing a small lantern that was set up next to the cannon.

                      "Follow me," they said, jerking their head down the corridor and moving in that direction. Their boots thunked strangely against the wood as they began to walk, stepping over loose timber and strewn nails left over from the ongoing construction.

                      The 'mon cast a look back at the Ghost. "What's your name?"

                      "My name's Anarchy! Anarchy Anne!" Her brass teeth twisted into a broad grin as she crossed her arms. "I used to be a Navigator for a crew. What about you?"

                      "Name's Kayri," they said shortly. They both skirted around a giant wooden structure with a number of wooden spokes jutting from the center, the light from the hooded lantern throwing deep shadows over the walls. "What even happened to that crew of yours?"

                      As they walked, Anarchy recounted to Kayri her crew's entire ordeal, from their vessel out of Liverte ports, to the ramshackle raft that washed up on Kuai. She felt secure enough even to divulge about the whole situation with the Admiral, though she left out Gallagher's name and rank, just in case. If there was a bounty on her head, she didn't want to give anyone any ideas.

                      Throughout it all, the other 'mon kept silent and listened with an attentive ear. "That's quite a tale," they said when she was finally finished. The 'mon didn't sound completely disbelieving, but rather like they were filing the information away in their minds. "A storm out of nowhere. You sure you didn't just miss it somehow? It's dangerous and unpredictable out there. Wouldn't blame you."

                      Anarchy's smile faltered, and her stare grew sharp. "I couldn't miss a storm for miles of clear sky," was her retort. "I'm the best Navigator the guild put up, but you don't have to be any good to see if they're black clouds out in the sun."

                      "Ah, a craftsmon's pride." For the first time during their encounter, it looked like the other 'mon was smiling, though perhaps that was just a trick of the flickering light. "You know, there's been strange things happenin' all over the place. Somethin' must've gone wrong somewhere."

                      They made their way to a ladder that climbed up another level in the ship. "Strange things like that ghost storm?" She canted her head. "Have you braved through one, too?"

                      "Not a storm, no," the 'mon said. They popped the handle of the lantern in their mouth and climbed up the ladder. "But there's been things everywhere. Signs of wrath and chaos, or somethin' broken in the core of the world itself. Plagues, corruption... Some 'mon disagree, they say it's just natural, and that's a fair call." They almost sounded more like they were talking to themselves than addressing her, but then they blinked it away. "Still. Ain't nothin' I ever heard of that can explain the second sun that me'n the rest of the crew saw out in the waters."

                      "Second sun?" Anarchy's eyes lit up with awe and trepidation as she climbed after the mechanic. The masked 'mon held out their hand to help Anarchy up after themselves.

                      "It ain't like nothin' I'd ever seen before," they continued. "In the middle of the night, not even close to dawn, the second sun just lit up the whole sky. No sunrise or nothin'. Wasn't there one moment, and there it was the next."

                      The 'mon shook themselves out of whatever memory they were reliving and lifted their spanner off their shoulder and pointed it to a door just a few paces away. "That's our captain's quarters. I should probably introduce you so he ain't gonna think a stranger's just been wanderin' through his ship unattended," they suggested. Anarchy gave a firm nod and stayed by Kayri's side as they approached.
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