Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is an alternate universe story with one key difference that shifts the entire narrative in an interesting way. You should get caught up on our canonical adventures here first!
Shandra waited patiently as the escape pod slid to a halt in the Helix’s cargo hold. She was eager to return to her physical form, but there wasn’t any room until her crewmates exited the cramped quarters of the pod, which was definitely not meant to hold so many people. She was glad, at least, that the architecture of Alex’s Pokedex was more comfortable than the awkward positions the others contorted themselves into in order to fit in the escape pod.
Once the pod came to a standstill, Shandra’s crewmates began the process of vacating the cramped vehicle. After several minutes of concerted effort, they eventually managed to get themselves out, finally allowing Shandra to return to the physical realm.
As soon as Shandra jumped out of Alex’s Pokedex, she was met with a confused, yet intrigued look from Meta. “Weren’t there only five of us in there?” the hacker asked.
“Nobody said we were the most normal batch of rescuers,” H told her in response.
Shandra hesitated a moment before giving her own answer. She wasn’t sure how much she wanted to tell Meta. Ah, what the hell? She seems trustworthy enough, she eventually decided. “This might come as a shock, but I’m able to go inside computers,” she explained to Meta.
The hacker responded with a look that Shandra could only describe as envious. “And how do you do this?” she asked.
“You see, it’s kind of hard to explain,” Shandra told her. Here goes nothing. “Partly, because I’m an AI.”
“Really?” Meta asked. She seemed very interested now. “Fascinating. And you can go inside machines?”
“Yes, I can.”
“So far, that I’ve encountered, yes.”
“Pokedex,” Meta continued. Shandra noted that she seemed to be thinking aloud more than asking her about her capabilities. “Ship mainframes. Cybernetic augmentations.”
“Haven’t tried that,” Shandra interrupted. “And, honestly, there’s nobody here that I would be willing to try that with.” That wasn’t entirely true. Alex was the only one she would be willing to try something like that with, but she didn’t have any augmentations, and Shandra knew that there was no way she would ever want to get any. At the very least, however, that level of trust did exist between them, unlike with those on the Helix who did have augmentations.
“Alright. You’re not into that. I get it,” Meta said. “Are you even into that sort of thing?” Shandra wasn’t entirely sure what she was talking about.
“Hey, back off,” Alex suddenly interrupted before Shandra got the chance to say anything. The girl grabbed onto Shandra and gave Meta a mean stare.
The hacker simply rolled her eyes. “Oh, relax,” she said. “I’m not into girls.”
Shandra put her arm around Alex, as she realized what was going on. “And besides,” she said, leaning her head against Alex’s. “I told you, we have a good thing going here. I’m not gonna ruin it.”
Shandra felt the girl relax in her arms. “Good,” Alex said, the jealous tone in her voice now absent. She leaned in close and planted a kiss on Shandra’s cheek.
“So, uh, now that that’s over with,” Meta said. She paused and looked around for a moment. “This is a pretty nice ship you’ve got here. Who wants to give me the tour?”
“Now hold on just a minute, luv,” Arlon said as he walked out of the escape pod. “You were in enemy captivity for well over a month. You could be compromised for all we know.”
“That is a fair point,” Meta conceded. “And you are right to be precautious. I know I would be if I were in your position, but the best I can offer is a promise. I’m not up to anything.”
Shandra thought it over for a moment. Meta had been helpful so far, and she hadn’t done anything to make her suspicious. What’s the harm in a little tour? she thought. “Well, Hondo and Rodriguez seemed to hold you in high regard,” Shandra told the hacker. “So I don’t see a reason not to trust you.” She then looked over at Arlon for confirmation.
“Your ship, your rules,” the Red Suns’ leader said. “But, if it’s all the same with you, I’d like to keep an eye on her.”
“That’s fine with me,” Shandra agreed. She looked back at Meta.
“That’s a fair request,” she said. “So, who wants to show me around?”
Arlon watched Meta intently as the two ascended the stairs to the Helix’s upper deck, accompanied by Shandra and Alex. It was hard to get a read on the hacker, and that made him trust her even less. It was bad enough that she kept her identity hidden, and that Hondo announced that he suspected the station had been sabotaged shortly after they had released her, but the fact that it was almost impossible to tell what she was thinking was the worst part. Until proven otherwise, the Red Suns’ leader would view her as a potential threat. There was no other option; he had enough experience with Mr. Silver and his agents, such as I, that he knew he couldn’t afford to take any chances.
“So, this is the bridge,” Shandra said as she lead the group to the front of the ship. “And that’s Minerva, our pilot.”
“Hi, I’m Meta,” the hacker introduced herself.
“Minerva,” the pilot responded.
“Hey, Minerva, set course for Harmonia,” Shandra told the pilot. “It’s about time we got Arlon back to his base.”
“You got it,” Minerva replied. “Harmonia’s pretty close, so it shouldn’t take very long to get there.”
“Great,” Arlon told the pilot. “Thanks, luv.”
With that business taken care of, Shandra turned to leave the bridge, but Meta plopped herself down in the co-pilot’s seat and began chatting with Minerva. Arlon leaned against the wall and listened in, just in case Meta let something slip. The hacker seemed quite interested in Minerva’s piloting skills, which struck Arlon as a little odd. Maybe she was just genuinely curious, but there was also the chance that she was fishing for information.
Eventually, the conversation took an interesting turn. It turned out that Minerva had a pretty serious blood disorder. Arlon had to admit that it was pretty impressive that she had pursued a career as a pilot despite her condition, but that condition also made her vulnerable. The fact that Meta seemed particularly interested in Minerva’s condition did nothing to help Arlon shake the feeling that the hacker was plotting something. I’d best come up with a plan, then, the Red Suns’ leader though. Just in case.
After several more minutes, Meta finally got up and headed for the door. “Shall we continue?” she asked Shandra, briefly glancing in her tour guide’s direction.
“Sure,” the blue-haired girl replied.
While the others departed, Arlon hung back. Once he was sure they were all out of earshot, the mercenary approached Minerva and tapped her on the shoulder. “Excuse me, luv,” he said. “I need to ask you a favor.”
After leaving the bridge, Shandra led Meta through the living quarters. Meta poked her head into the various rooms, but she seemed rather bored. “So, what about the labs?” she asked. “I’m sure they’re much more interesting.”
“If you call H’s stupid projects interesting, yeah,” Alex chimed in.
“Well, they certainly can’t be as boring as your bedrooms.”
“Hey, you asked for a full tour,” Shandra said with a slight laugh. “But I suppose we can head down to the labs next.”
The trio headed down to the lower level of the Helix, then toward the back of the ship. Shandra pointed out the labs as they passed, but Meta didn’t seem to show much more than mild interest. They moved down the corridor, passing the Pokeball workshop, Bill’s lab, and then Armstrong’s lab before looping back around into the cargo hold.
“And everything over there is where H does … whatever it is that he does,” Shandra said as they stepped out of the corridor. She pointing to the door on the starboard side of the ship that led to H’s labs.
“We don’t really need to go there, though,” Alex added.
“I see,” Meta responded. “And what’s over there?” she asked, eyeing the matching door on the port side.
“Just my warp lab for now,” Shandra informed her. “And a couple empty rooms. Dmitri is planning on setting up a lab of his own in one of them.”
Without being prompted, Meta started heading in that direction. “Okay, I guess we’re going this way now,” Shandra said as she followed after her a few steps behind. Meta walked into the empty room adjacent to the warp lab and looked around. “Is this room in use?” she asked.
“Not yet,” Shandra told her. “Dmitri’s setting up in the next room over.”
“So it’s right between your labs, then?”
“Well, yeah, but—”
“Great!” Meta said enthusiastically, dropping her bag on the floor.
Shandra raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing?” she asked.
“Well, I’m gonna need a room, right?”
“Aren’t you planning on rejoining Hondo and Rodriguez?”
“The rendezvous isn’t for another week,” Meta pointed out. “And I’m not gonna sleep in a hallway.”
“And what are you gonna do, luv, sleep on the bloody floor in here?” Arlon asked as he stepped into the room. “It might as well be a hallway.”
“He’s got a point,” Shandra said. “We’ve got plenty of room in the crew quarters, and if you’re only staying temporarily it’d be much easier to sleep there.”
“Well, I like being around labs and tech, personally,” Meta said.
“What, so you can sneak a look at what these guys have been working on?” Arlon asked. “We still don’t know if we can trust you yet.”
“Alright, you got me there,” Meta said. “But once you figure out that we’re on the same side, maybe you’ll let me stay down here?”
“We’ll think about it,” Shandra told her.
“I guess that’s as good an answer as I’ll get,” Meta said. “But, in the meantime, shall we continue the tour?”
“I suppose I can show you the warp lab,” Shandra told her.
Shandra led the group into the next room, and Meta began taking a look around. Shandra walked up to the small warp drive in the center of the room. “Oooh, fancy,” Meta said. Shandra observed that the hacker seemed quite interested. “Genevan model?”
“Yup,” Shandra said as she reached out her marked hand to the warp sphere the drive created. The mark began to glow as she focused her will, and the sphere began moving around the room.
“This is fascinating,” Meta reacted. “I’d love to get some data on this,” she continued, pulling out her Pokedex. “Do you mind?”
“Might I ask what sort of data you’re looking for?” Shandra asked her warily. She was fine showing Meta around, but she was apprehensive about letting the hacker, or anyone else for that matter, collect data on her like some kind of research project.
“I’ve just never seen a warp drive this small,” Meta explained herself. “I’d love to understand how it works, especially since you don’t normally see warp drives doing non-ship-related activities. I don’t think one’s ever been pushed in quite this way, at least, not that I’m aware of.”
“Right, I did have to customize it a bit after we got it,” Shandra told her. “To be quite honest, I’m not really sure what I did. I just sort of took it apart and put it back together.”
“I could help with that.” Meta glanced back at her Pokedex. “May I?”
Shandra thought about it for a second. Meta didn’t seem interested in collecting data in the way Shandra was cautious about, and she really didn’t seem to have any ulterior motives.“Sure, go ahead,” Shandra told the hacker. What’s the worst that could happen?
Shandra continued to play around with the Warp while Meta began recording data from the drive. Occasionally, the hacker commented on some of the readings. Using her recently acquired knowledge from Giratina, Shandra created a stable portal, just larger than her palm. Alright, let’s see what we can do with this. She pulled out a Pokeball and threw it through one end of the portal. The ball immediately flew out of the other portal and bounced onto the ground.
“Awesome!” Alex shouted excitedly.
“You’ve certainly come a long way, luv,” Arlon added.
Meta walked up to one of the portals and took a good look at it. “This is Fascinating,” she commented as she poked her finger through it. “Can you put one on the ceiling and one on the floor and create infinite acceleration?”
“I can try,” Shandra replied. She had to admit, she’d never thought of trying that one before. She aligned the portals as requested, then threw the Pokeball in again. The ball fell through the portal in the ceiling, right back into the one on the floor. It went through this loop continuously, gaining momentum until it reached terminal velocity. It was interesting to watch, but Shandra could feel it taxing on her.
“If you drained the air from the room, it could accelerate infinitely,” Meta commented. “And then you could try to find a way to power the drive with this. Infinite energy.”
Something within Shandra snapped at that comment, and she instantly relocated the portal in the ceiling, deliberately causing the Pokeball to fly out and smash into Meta’s face. “Ow!” the hacker shouted. Shandra heard a snicker escape from Alex’s mouth.
“What the hell?!” Meta demanded. She put a hand up to her now-bleeding brow. “What the hell?! The last I checked, infinite energy was a good thing.”
“It may not actually be infinite,” Shandra told her. “It takes a lot of energy, both from the warp drive and myself, to maintain something like that.”
“Well, you didn’t need to hit me in the face. You guys are mean. I’m gonna go tour with someone else.” And with that, Meta turned and walked out the door.
“Not without me, you’re not!” Arlon called after her as he followed her out of the room.
Shandra simply shrugged and turned her attention back to the warp portals. She didn’t care enough to go after Meta, and besides, Arlon was keeping an eye on her. She continued to play around with her abilities while Alex sat and watched silently.
After several minutes, Alex eventually spoke up. “Hey, can I talk to you about something?” the girl asked.
Shandra powered down the warp drive and turned to face the Sinai girl. “Sure. What’s up?”
“Well … it’s about H.”
Alex stepped out of the warp lab feeling no less reassured. Ever since they had encountered I on that ship, she had been worried that H was compromised somehow. She had seen enough movies to know that a situation involving clones like this was bad news. Alex had brought her concerns to Shandra and, while she didn’t outright dismiss the notion — Shandra would never do that to her — she didn’t think H was planning on betraying the Helix crew, no matter how much she might dislike him.
That had not been enough to convince Alex otherwise. Shandra had suggested that she talk with Dr. Armstrong to clear up her concerns about clones and I using mind control, so now that was where she was heading. Hopefully Doc knows something, she thought as she stepped out into the cargo bay.
As Alex crossed the cargo bay toward Armstrong’s lab, she saw H slink out from the corridor leading to the back of the ship, looking rather suspicious. What’s he up to? she wondered.
“Yes?” the cyborg asked, noticing the death stare Alex was giving him.
“What do you want, Murderface?” she asked in return.
“To know why you have a murderface,” H answered.
“What? You’re the Murderface! Not me!” Alex shouted.”You just want to kill everyone!”
“So that we can attain ascension. You either move forward, or get left behind.”
“You’re just as bad as the other you!”
“True, I’m a lot like I in many ways,” H responded. “But, at the same time, he tried to kill you and I haven’t.”
Alex’s eye twitched with anger. “But you did!” she shouted. “And how do we know you’re not planning on killing us all right now?!”
“Because it doesn’t benefit me yet to have you dead. As usual, you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” H replied. “You should try doing some research for once.” And with a swish of his lab coat, the cyborg turned and briskly walked off.
“I am doing research, you jerkface,” Alex grumbled under her breath as she watched him leave. She knew there was something weird going on, and she was determined to figure out what it was. There was just something about the way H had been acting since they escaped I’s ship that was bothering her. The idea that H might be collaborating with I was seeming more plausible by the minute. With a renewed sense of urgency, Alex hurried toward Dr. Armstrong’s lab.
“Hey, Doc,” Alex said as she walked into the room. She looked around and spotted the man sitting in a chair, holding a bottle of whisky, looking almost comically like drunken characters she had seen in movies. Armstrong started babbling about something, but she couldn’t really tell what he was saying.
I don’t have time for this. “Hey, listen,” she said to the scientist, causing him to snap to some sort of attention.
“Yes, what is it?” Armstrong asked.
“Do you think I could be controlling H somehow? Like, a clone hivemind or something?”
“Hiveminds … Hmm … Interesting.” Armstrong began rambling semi-coherently, theorizing a potential hivemind society.
“No! No! No!” Alex whined. “That’s not what I want to know!”
“Then … I’m sorry, what … were we talking about, again?”
“Is it possible that I is controlling H with, like, some clone mind power thing?” Alex asked.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any sort of link of control involved,” Armstrong replied, this time sounding very coherent. “That probably couldn’t happen. But they are similar. They were all cut from the same cloth, after all. Who knows? I have no idea what kind of tech I has put inside his head since the last time I saw him. I cannot say for sure. Good luck!” He took a large swig from the bottle, then waved Alex out of the room.
Well, that wasn’t reassuring at all, Alex thought. Armstrong had said nothing to quell the girl’s fears. In fact, he had done the opposite. In her mind, it now seemed all too likely that I somehow had control over H or had convinced the cyborg to work with him. I have to do something, she told herself.
Determined to put an end to whatever H was up to, Alex set out to find the cyborg. She didn’t have to go far, for, as she stepped out into the cargo bay once more, Alex spotted him slipping out of the corridor leading to his lab, looking just as suspicious as before. Alex unholstered her pistol and pointed it right at H. “Stop right there!”
Arlon sat in the Helix security room, his feet up on the table, watching Meta fiddle around with her Pokedex. The hacker had finished looking around the ship, but Arlon still wasn’t sure about her. That meant keeping her in sight at all times. One thing was certain, though; Meta looked quite bored.
The Red Suns’ leader himself was starting to feel the boredom as well. There was a lot he’d rather be doing than babysitting, but it was necessary. “So, did you learn anything useful about I while you were imprisoned?” Arlon asked.
“Not really,” Meta answered without looking up from her Dex. “Just that he’s willing to do a lot to get what he wants.”
“What a shame. I was hoping we could learn a little more about him.”
“Well, If I knew anything else, I’d tell you.”
“Would you now? You could be working for him for all I know. Now that I think about it, it did seem a little too easy to rescue you. Maybe he wanted you to escape.”
Meta looked up at the Red Suns’ leader. “There’s not really anything I can do to convince you otherwise, is there?”
Arlon paused a moment to think. “Probably not, luv.”
“Well, this is going to be a fun week.” Meta put her Pokedex down for a moment to poke at the cryo-bandage on her injured forehead. “What are you gonna do, follow me around the whole time?”
“If I have to, yes.”
Arlon let out a slight chuckle. “Think of it this way, luv; by the end of the week — assuming you’ve got nothing to hide, that is — we’ll be best friends.”
“Yes, we’ll be the best of friends.”
The hacker’s sarcasm was not lost on Arlon. “Oh, come on, it won’t be that bad.”
“Whatever you say.”
Meta looked back down at her Pokedex, and the pair fell back into silence. Arlon was realizing that it was harder to get anything out of Meta than he thought it would be. She wasn’t going to do anything suspicious while he was watching her, but leaving her unsupervised was a bad idea. He needed a way to keep an eye on her from a distance.
That’s when the mercenary’s eyes fell on the security monitors. Assuming Meta hadn’t hacked them, they would work nicely. As he looked at the monitors, a sudden movement on one of them caught his eye. “What in the hell?” The monitor showed Alex pointing a gun at H in the cargo hold and shouting angrily.
“What is it?” Meta asked, turning to see what he was looking at.
Arlon stood up. “I need to go deal with this,” he said. “Just stay here,” he added as he headed for the door. “And don’t touch anything!”
The Red Suns’ leader knew he was taking a risk leaving Meta unmonitored, but he also knew it was his best chance at gauging her intentions. He just hoped his gamble paid off. Now to figure out what the bloody hell is going on down there, Arlon thought as he headed for the stairs.
Shandra stood in the warp lab, playing around with the portals, seeing how far she could push them without putting too much strain on herself. So far, she hadn’t made much progress. Her mind was elsewhere instead of being focused on her task. She was still thinking about her conversation with Alex. The girl had long since left to speak with Dr. Armstrong, but Shandra was still mulling over the things they had discussed.
While Alex and H had never liked each other, they had at least been able to work together as part of the same crew. They had been butting heads a bit more frequently as of late, but Shandra simply chalked that up to the stress of the last few weeks. First the conference, then Morgan … Shandra felt herself tense up as she thought of her friend. And that monster … The Helix crew had been put in a lot of stressful situations with barely a moment to rest.
That’s got to be the reason, she told herself. H was difficult, and Shandra herself wasn’t particularly fond of him, but she didn’t think that he would turn against them. They wanted the same thing, after all: to save the Galaxy. There’s no way he would work with I, is there? Alex hadn’t been so sure. The girl meant more to her than anyone else in the Galaxy, but even Shandra had to admit that her theories could be a little … out there.
Shandra sighed, then shut the warp drive down once more. She was too distracted to concentrate on her work. The blue-haired girl stepped out of the warp lab, deciding to go for a short walk. She hoped a change of scenery would help her clear her head. Shandra made her way down the corridor, then up the stairs to the upper deck. Eventually, she found her way to the bridge and was surprised to find it completely empty.
“Minerva?” Shandra called out. The bridge remained silent. That’s odd, she thought. Usually the Helix’s pilot was hanging out on the bridge, even when there was no piloting to be done. Shandra approached the pilot’s seat and checked the console. The coordinates were still locked on Harmonia and the autopilot was engaged, set to orbit the planet upon arrival. Must be taking a break. It was true that Minerva didn’t need to be on the bridge during warp jumps. It was possible that she was simply taking a brief nap or getting something to eat.
Shandra shrugged, then plopped herself down in the pilot’s seat. Might as well be helpful, she thought as she placed her hand the console. I could use some more practice anyway. She focused on the coordinates, trying to envision them through the Warp even though she had never been to the planet. The swirls of warp energy surrounding the Helix flared up in intensity, shining a vivid purplish-blue, then distorted. A mere moment later, the ship dropped out of warp space at its destination. Shandra leaned back in the chair, satisfied with her handiwork.
“What the hell did you just do?” Shandra turned to see Meta standing in the doorway, staring at her with intense curiosity.
“Being able to enter computers isn’t the only thing I can do,” Shandra explained. She lifted her marked arm up so that Meta could see it. “A little gift from Giratina.”
“Giratina? That name sounds familiar. Think I heard something about it on the Spacenet.”
“It’s the being that controls Space — well, it is Space, more accurately.”
“Just like the Eye of Aether is Time,” Shandra heard Meta mumble under her breath.
“What was that?” the blue-haired girl asked.
“Nothing,” Meta replied. “Just thinking of something.”
“What are you doing here, anyway?” Shandra asked. “I thought Arlon wanted to keep an eye on you,” she added, noting the mercenary’s absence.
“Oh, yeah … he said he had to take care of something. Told me to come find you since he didn’t want me wandering around or something.”
“Really now?” Shandra asked incredulously. It didn’t seem like Arlon would just leave her like that when he was so distrustful of her.
“Yeah,” Meta said. “We were in the security room. He saw your, uh, girlfriend and that H guy arguing in the cargo bay. Looked like she was pointing a gun at him.”
Shandra immediately jumped to her feet. “What?” She knew Alex was worried about H, but she didn’t expect her to do something so rash. She needed to make sure she was okay.
Shandra raced for the door, but paused when she noticed Meta wasn’t following her. “C’mon,” she told the hacker. “I’m not leaving you alone here.”
Meta shrugged and followed the blue-haired girl off the bridge.
“I don’t believe you!” Alex screamed, having heard H’s long and complicated explanation for his suspicious activity. She wasn’t buying any of it. “If you really aren’t working for I, why are you sneaking around like this!?”
“Because none of you would ever agree to a plan like this.”
“Of course we wouldn’t! You want to give our secrets to I! You want to take someone else’s Pokemon!”
“I never said I was actually going to take Kadabra, and I’m going to give I falsified records, but I can’t do that without the actual data. ”
“Then why not tell us? You’re just lying because I found you out! You’re going to betray us to I, I know it!”
“What the bloody hell is going on here?!”
Alex looked over to see Arlon approaching. “H is working for I,” Alex told the mercenary. “He’s plotting against us.”
“Woah, woah, slow down there, luv. What are you talking about?”
“Her usual illogical conspiracies,” H said.
“Shut up!” Alex shouted at the cyborg, her gun still pointed right at him.
“Let’s all just calm down and put the weapons away,” Arlon said, pushing the girl’s arms down. “Why do you think he’s working for I?”
“Because he said so,” Alex told the Red Suns’ leader. “He said I asked him to give him our secrets.”
Arlon cast a questioning glance at H. “Oh, did he now?”
“Well, yes,” H replied. “But that doesn’t mean I was going to. If someone tells you to shoot a pedestrian, that doesn’t mean you shot a pedestrian.”
“But you were still sneaking around the ship,” Alex pointed out. “You still collected all that data for I without telling us.”
“You did what, now?” Shandra asked as she approached, with Meta not too far behind. Dmitri showed up only moments later, drawn by the commotion.
“Look, after we met I, I decided to reach out to him,” H explained. “Surprise, surprise, I wanted to know if the only other person who had survived from the lab actually wanted to do something. I don’t know what he’s up to, and I know everyone here’s not the best of friends with me, but I figured, when it comes to an apocalypse, having someone reliable is helpful when trying to combat it, and I don’t feel like I’ve mentioned enough how unstable you are due to your constantly shifting emotions. I never understand the reasoning behind any of you, and, just when I do, it seems to change. So I did what anyone would do when encountering the last of their kind: I reached out to him, and we talked. He doesn’t trust me, which makes sense; the feeling is mutual. At least it was predictable. Logical. So, I figured I’d follow up on what he’s doing, give him everything that would make it so that he would help us, without actually hurting anybody … for once.”
“What exactly did you send him?” Shandra asked.
“I’m getting to that,” H said. “He wanted four things: our nav computer, our psychic navigator, all our medical records, and, lastly, he asked for all our research records for everything we have done up to this point. Do you really think I would give that to some random guy we just met, regardless of who he might be?! No. So, I decided the best plan was the falsify the records, maybe take Kadabra out for a spin, but I wouldn’t do that without consulting Dmitri first, since he’s the only one on this ship who actually trusts me. I figured we give it over to him, and see if we can get him on our side. So stop freaking out.” The cyborg looked back at Alex with those last words. Alex stared angrily back at him.
“May I see your Pokedex?” Shandra asked, walking up to H. The cyborg readily handed it over. Shandra looked it over for a few moments, then turned to Alex. “How tall am I?” she asked the girl.
Alex opened her mind to the flow of measurements and focused on Shandra to pick out the specific number she was looking for. “1.727 meters,” she answered.
Shandra glanced down at H’s Pokedex, then turned to look at the cyborg. “This information is correct,” she said.
“That’s because I haven’t falsified it yet,” H replied.
Shandra sighed, then handed the Pokedex back. “For the love of God, please do that before you send it.”
“It’s not like I’m sending him our private emails saying ‘hey, here’s all our sensitive data,’” H responded. “That would be idiotic.”
“Wait, you don’t seriously believe him, do you?” Alex asked.
“Alex does have a point,” Arlon agreed. “We should sort this all out before anyone sends anything anywhere.”
“Who said anything about sending?” H asked.
“Did he ask you to send the data, or deliver it?” Meta asked the cyborg.
“Right, because a simple electronic transfer wouldn’t be secure.”
“Exactly. There’s no way I’m sending my research via any sort of transfer like that.”
“Did he say where to deliver it?”
“Yes, but at the moment … Well, I guess we have to go there anyway. I’ve got the coordinates if anyone is willing to follow me there. The only problem: if he sees anyone, he’s going to flip.”
“So, the real question is: do you believe him?” Meta asked, turning to everyone else. “And, do you believe that I won’t see through falsified records?”
“No way!”Alex shouted. She couldn’t believe any of her friends were seriously considering this.
“Whether or not H is telling the truth remains to be seen,” Arlon said. “But if I is anything like him, he’d probably expect us to give him falsified information.”
“You’re right, I might see that coming,” H agreed. “But if he would see that coming … that begs the question: why does he want our medical records? To know what our weaknesses are, perhaps.”
“I’m not so sure,” Meta chimed in. “You should always ask: ‘what do you know, and why do you think you know it?’ It sounds to me like he already knows a lot about you.”
“And that begs the question,” Arlon said. “Why ask for any of this stuff at all?”
“It’s a trust issue,” H offered.
“Right. If I were I, I’d want to test you to see if I could trust you. To see what you would do. In this case, he wants to see if you’re willing to betray us.”
“Exactly,” H agreed.
“There could still be some things he wants more information on,” Meta suggested. “I could provide more input if I was able to get a look at the data myself.”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” Arlon told her. “We still don’t know enough about you either.”
“I’ll let you see mine,” H offered, holding out his Pokedex to the hacker.
“Okay,” Meta said. She took the cyborg’s Pokedex and began looking over the data it showed. “It looks to me like the most interesting thing here would be your most recent augmentations.” She highlighted the technorganic modifications that Armstrong provided. “That’s something he might be interested in. That’s what I would be interested in if I were him.”
“He probably only wants a few selected things, but it’s easier just to grab everything and sort through it later,” Arlon theorized.
“Right, so now we just need to go about falsifying this information,” H said.
“How do we know telling us isn’t part of his plan?” Meta asked the group, glancing over at H again. Alex hadn’t even considered that possibility, and now she was even more distrustful of H; it sounded exactly like something he would do.
“So, then don’t we just need to make sure the data is falsified beforehand?” Dmitri asked.
“But he still has the real data,” Meta pointed out. “If I were him, my main concern would be: how do I get off this ship with all this stuff, without you noticing? I would try covering myself with a false false plan.” The hacker paused a moment to think. “First, we need to figure out if he really is planning on betraying us.”
“Of course he is,” Alex said.
“Hold on a moment,” Meta responded.”Remember, what do you know, and why do you think you know it? We have two hypotheses here. One is that H here is indeed our friend—”
“No he isn’t,” Alex cut her off.
“Let me finish,” Meta replied, sounding a bit irritated. Alex quieted down and decided to listen. “As I was saying, the first hypothesis is that H is telling the truth. The second is that he’s not. If that is true, then the reason that he is telling us anything at all is most likely part of his plan. He has what he needs and just needs to find a way out. Can we all agree that that is the likely scenario?”
“Makes sense to me,” Arlon agreed.
“Well, in that case, we have a way to test this,” Meta said. “He says he wants to get the psychic navigator … How do we know he doesn’t already have it? He could be trying to make his escape right now.”
“We can go to the drive, and see that it’s there, and that I don’t have it,” H told her. “But that’s beside the point, because, if I have a secret objective, then I haven’t told you what it is yet. The Kadabra’s presence would prove nothing because my actual tasks may already be complete.”
“I still want to make sure my Kadabra is still there,” Dmitri said.
“Let’s go then,” Meta said.
As the group made their way to the warp drive, Alex kept an eye on H, and a firm grip on her pistol. When they arrived, Dmitri’s Kadabra was nowhere in sight. “Where is it?!” Alex demanded, raising her weapon once more.
“I have no idea,” H said defensively. “But we know it was here recently.”
“What did you do with it?!”
“I do not have it,” H told her. “Feel free to search me.”
“We don’t really have any other choice, mate,” Arlon said, approaching the cyborg. “Let’s hope for your sake that you don’t have it.”
“Be very careful with the lab coat,” H warned him. “It contains a lot of volatile explosives.”
“Well that’s certainly encouraging.” Arlon thoroughly patted H down, checking every inch of his coat. It seemed to Alex that he wasn’t finding anything. Then the mercenary tapped on the cyborg’s chest compartment containing his belly-pogo. “I’m gonna have to ask you to open up.”
H hesitated for a moment. Alex noticed a slight twitch in his eye. “Do it,” she told the cyborg, her voice cold.
H opened the compartment, and Arlon took a look inside. “Well, well, well … what do we have here?” The Red Suns’ leader reached in and pulled out a Pokeball. He tapped the button, releasing Dmitri’s missing Pokemon. “Care to explain, mate?”
“H?” Alex looked over to see a cold stare burning in Shandra’s eyes. “What purpose does it serve you to knowingly tell us such a blatant lie?” Shandra asked, hand reaching for her dagger.
“What purpose does it serve me to keep answering your ceaseless questions? I knew this was exactly how you would react.” The cyborg spat. “I still have what I need.”
“Damn right we’d react this way,” Arlon said, pistol already drawn and moving to surround H, who was raising his hands. In one he held his pokédex; in the other was a primed detonator, his thumb hovering over the button.
“Need I remind you of the explosives?” Meta warned. “Rapid decompression is not exactly on my to-do list!”
“Then let’s hope he can’t trigger them!” Shandra yelled, throwing her dagger at H, who deftly bent backwards to dodge out of its arc.
“You missed,” the cyborg said smugly, turning back to face Shandra. And that’s when her fist collided with his lower jaw.
Meta bolted out as soon as the brawl started, and Arlon begrudgingly ran after her, cursing under his breath.
“Ow, that hurt,” Shandra said, recoiling from her own attack as Dmitri went in to grapple H, prying the detonator from his hand. Alex reached for her Pokeballs just as it triggered and the room filled with billowing clouds of opaque smoke, violently emerging from beneath H’s lab coat. The remaining crew members coughed as the smoke faded, but H was gone, having knocked Dmitri to the ground.
“He’s not leaving yet,” Shandra said, quickly scanning the engine room. The Kadabra was still there, kneeling over its trainer and helping the Romanov up. “He doesn’t have everything he …” Shandra reached for where her Inkay’s ball would be, only to find it missing. Fuck. “Run. Now!” she yelled, bolting to the door.
Minerva perked her head up at the sounds of combat just outside her door. She checked her console to see if the door was still locked, then silently thanked Arlon for the heads-up. This is not what I signed up for, the pilot thought. She moved toward the furthest corner of the room, hoping that whatever was going on out there would be over soon.
Alex ran after Shandra, heart racing. Part of her was bitterly proud to have been right about H, but she knew that this really wasn’t the time to reflect on that particular detail. Murderface is going to kill us all. Her footsteps echoed through her head as she ran down the corridor. She was terrified; none of her favorite movies prepared her to actually deal with a crisis like this, but instincts gained from the past weeks and the rush of adrenaline were both powerful motivators. She entered the cargo bay and saw Shandra wrestling with H near the recently acquired escape pod.
Meta and Arlon both emerged from the hallway on the opposite side, both intensely focused on H. Shandra was on the losing side of the struggle, and soon she was flung off. H quickly crouched behind the pod to hide from the suppressing fire Arlon was now providing.
Alex tried to follow the action, focusing her pistol on H as he darted from cover to cover, but her hands were shaking too much. Suddenly, Meta yelled “Catch!” and Alex saw a Pokeball arcing over the pod. Hey, that’s one of mine! She followed the arc of the ball and saw Shandra at its end, just getting off the floor. “Look out!” Alex screamed, instinctively. Shandra held out her hand and Giratina’s brand pulsed with energy as the ball disappeared from view into a small disc of warp. Following the sound of electric discharge to her right, Alex saw the other end of the portal where the ball had blindsided H, stunning him temporarily in a shower of sparks. The cyborg shrugged it off entirely, but at least it was a distraction.
Now’s my chance! Alex stared down the sights, finger on the trigger. She knew what she needed to do. She knew H needed to die or they all would, but she couldn’t make herself do it. The girl lowered her gun and fell to her knees.
Then a shot rang out. And another. Alex looked up to see Arlon walking around the pod, pointing his pistol directly at H as the cyborg’s sparking body hit the ground.
Author’s Notes: Oh, boy, it’s been a good while since I worked on Blueshift, but this was such a fun chapter to write. I kept putting off working on this one since I knew approaching this chapter would be difficult. There was a lot going on at once in the original, and a lot of things had to be changed to fit the direction The Other Guy and I wanted to take it in. If anything, this chapter turned out even more complex than the original. The funny thing is that when I finally did sit down to work on this chapter I got it done really fast.
The first step was just taking Volume 3, Chapter 5 and pasting it into a new doc, then I cut out the parts I didn’t need anymore. Next, I pretty much tore the whole thing apart and put it back together. I moved some conversations and details around, and tweaked some parts to account for changes in the cast, and then added some new scenes while adding much more polish to the parts that were taken directly from the original. Then I handed it off to The Other Guy for some polish and filling in the details I was unsure about. He got back to me real quick and the chapter was done. The chapter did end up being a bit long, though. The original was longish to begin with, but with adding more detail to existing parts, and adding new scenes entirely, it added a few more pages. There wasn’t a logical place to split it into two chapters, and any split would’ve ruined the pacing, so it was best to leave it as is.
There was a lot of evolution in what this chapter would look like long before a single word was written. Way back in the early stages of Blueshift, I had suggested that H actually betray the party and either die or become an antagonist, but The Other Guy shot it down. Fast forward to months later, when Chapter 12 got posted, he made a comment saying he wouldn’t mind if H got killed off, so I decided to go with it. I’m glad I did.
Thinking back to the original, while it was a good chapter, it failed a little bit in the actual session to be exactly what DragonStorm wanted, which was everyone being distrustful of each other and having secret plans and whatnot. The reason for that was that some characters didn’t have the right motivations or mindset for plotting. Adding Arlon to the mix certainly fixed that, and turned this chapter into Arlon, Meta, and H all trying to out-plan everyone else, with Alex in particular taking a more active role in unraveling everything since this time her distrust of H was more founded. I had always said that Arlon would have kept a vigilant watch over Meta, and that he would have reacted more adversely to any sign of treachery from H, so I made it happen. With Meta having less freedom to complete her objectives for I, it gave H the opportunity to complete his and, combined with the fact that he had the right motivation for actually betraying the party in the form of Morgan’s suicide and the others’ ways of dealing with it, he actually pulled them off. And then it all culminated in Arlon pulling the trigger. I was thinking of having Alex do it, but she’s really not a killer at heart, and I had stated a few times back during Volume 3’s sessions for this chapter and the next that I thought there was a possibility Arlon would kill H in the right circumstances.
Anyway, enough rambling from me. This chapter opened up so much more deviation opportunities and we’re almost at the point where we can leave adapting events from the original chapters almost completely behind. Uncharted territory lies ahead, so stayed tuned!
That does it for this chapter. As always the Spacemon gang and I will be monitoring the comments to foster discussion and answer any questions. Feel free to give feedback and critiques of the writing so I can improve it for the future, or just leave a comment with what you think about what went down in this chapter or what you think might happen next! You can also revisit past chapters, check out the Spacemon Appendix which is a repository of information on all the lore and characters of Spacemon, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here for the next exciting installment of Spacemon: Blueshift!