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!
Everything was quiet aboard the Corsair.
The Alliance-make heavy frigate flew through warp space, full of an air of uncertainty; none of its passengers knew what fate had befallen the Halcyon. All they could do was wait until the ship reached its destination. Shandra sat in an occupied seat on the bridge, gazing out into the Warp and holding Alex, who was seated on the front edge of the chair, tightly. The Sinai girl had said very little over the past few hours and it was quite obvious to Shandra that she was rather shaken up. Shandra, for her part, was feeling a bit more relaxed, but she was still worried about all the people back on the Halcyon.
Suddenly, Shandra’s view changed as the Corsair dropped out of warp space. Arlon immediately began flipping through the galactic news stations for information on the Conference. The sounds of panicked reports and wild speculation about the incident flooded the bridge; things did not sound good. Shandra stood up, allowing Alex to slide back in the seat, so that she could see the viewscreen. She felt herself fill with horror at the chaos unfolding before her eyes, which had begun welling with tears. The region of space once occupied by the Halcyon was scattered with debris, bits of ships warped— no, glitched— together. No whole ships remained. Horror turned to anger as Shandra fell to her knees. “What have I done?”
“If you ‘adn’t done what you did zen zere would almost certainly be nothing left,” Rena told her in an attempt to comfort her. Despite already knowing this, it helped a bit to hear someone else say it.
Rena’s words were followed by a thud as Arlon angrily punched the wall. “That still doesn’t change the fact that all those people died!” The Red Suns’ leader stormed off the bridge, kicking the door frame on the way out; his steel-toed boot clanked loudly off the hard metal.
“What crawled up his ass?” Matt asked, eliciting cold looks from the rest of the room.
“You are such a-” Rena stopped herself. “I ‘ad best see if ‘e is alright.” She walked off the bridge after Arlon, leaving the Helix crew to sit in silence with the remaining lieutenants.
In the long silence, all Shandra could do was stare at the news reports. You did what you could, she kept trying to tell herself, but the thought of all those lives lost still hurt. Eventually, Shandra was able to pick herself back up off the floor. She walked back to her seat and settled down with Alex, who immediately clung to her arm. Shandra had no idea what to do next and, judging from their faces, her crewmates and the remaining Red Suns didn’t either.
Finally, Morgan broke the silence. “Do you mind if we contact our ship?” she asked, looking over at Kiril and Petra.
“Go right ahead,” Petra told her. The Romanov woman nodded in the direction of the communications console and Morgan walked over to it. The communications crewman stepped aside and allowed her to call the Helix. Shandra watched from her seat as Minerva’s face appeared on the viewscreen. She calmly remained silent. Given the situation, the Helix’s pilot refrained from one of her typical quips.
“Minerva?” Morgan asked.
“Mhm?” the pilot responded.
“We need you to come pick us up,” Morgan told her.
“Alright. Send me your location. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
Morgan transmitted the Corsair’s coordinates to Minerva, then hung up. Shandra watched Morgan turn away from the console, then, after briefly looking at her Pokedex and scowling, wander off the bridge. The Corsair’s bridge fell silent once more as Shandra leaned her head on Alex; it was going to be a long few hours before the Helix arrived.
Arlon leaned against the wall in the Helix’s mess area, waiting for his former crewmates to get settled so that he could discuss their next move with them. The mercenary glanced around at his old ship. Even though they had only had the Helix for a short time before he left to rejoin the Red Suns, Arlon couldn’t help but feel a bit sentimental. It hadn’t been that long ago that Arlon had first met the ship’s crew back on Gigan Station, but so much had happened since then that it felt like a lifetime ago.
The Red Suns’ leader looked down at the cyber-weapon in his hand. Hopefully this thing can finally end all this, he thought. Arlon knew he would be able to rest a lot easier once Mr. Silver was dealt with.
At the sound of clanking feet on the ship’s metal floor, Arlon looked up to see Morgan and Shandra walking into the room. Arlon was a bit surprised that the two women were the only members of the Helix crew to join him, but, regardless, it was time to get to business. “First things first,” the mercenary said as he stepped forward and placed the cyber-weapon on the table. “Let’s figure out how this bloody thing works. You’re the technology people, what do you make of it?”
Shandra picked it up off the table and looked at it for a few minutes. “It looks like it can extract data somehow,” she concluded. “I’ll know more if I can get inside and have a look.”
“Go ahead, luv,” Arlon told her. He knew that if anyone could figure the cyber-weapon out, it would be Shandra. The blue-haired girl nodded, then assumed digital form and jumped into the device.
As he waited for Shandra to return, Arlon looked over at Morgan. By the expression on her face, she seemed a bit agitated. Well, more so than usual, at least. It seemed like something was troubling the young woman, but Arlon remembered her reaction back on the Halcyon and decided not to press the issue.
The silence was starting to grow a bit uncomfortable, but, luckily, Shandra popped back out of the device a few moments later. “This… is some pretty advanced software,” she reported. “I’m an AI and even I don’t know how it works. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I don’t think it’s entirely Human-made.”
“Like you?” Morgan asked.
Wait, what? Arlon’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What have I missed?”
“It’s… a long story,” Shandra told him. “Let’s just say that in our travels we’ve come across a lot of evidence of a very ancient and highly advanced civilization.”
It wasn’t exactly an answer, but Arlon was smart enough to put two and two together. Clearly she’s based on some kind of ancient technology, the mercenary reasoned. Given how advanced Shandra was, it didn’t really surprise him. “And that would explain why this device is so bloody powerful,” he said aloud. “Right then, we need to figure our next move. We should strike against Mr. Silver sooner rather than later.”
“So what do you suggest?” Morgan asked.
“I’ve got a couple ideas,” Arlon answered. “Option A: you lot meet with Mr. Silver. While he’s occupied with you, my team and I will sneak to the ship’s mainframe and use the device to hack into his network there. This will divide Silver’s forces, but it will put a lot more heat on us than you. Or we go with Option B: we go in together and stab that bastard right in the bloody face with the device. Those Mr. Mimes he uses… they’re all networked together. This plan will focus all of Silver’s forces in one spot, but with our combined forces we might be able to hold them off a lot better.”
“I like Plan B,” Morgan told him.
Arlon couldn’t help but crack a slight grin. “I was hoping you’d say that,” he said. “There’s just such a personal touch to it. That settles it then; Plan B it is. Now we just need to plan to meet with him.”
“Well, there’s still that skull…” Shandra offered, trailing off a bit and motioning to Morgan.
You have got to be shitting me, the mercenary thought. It had been ages since they had traveled to Earth. “He still hasn’t told you about the bloody skull?”
“No,” Morgan confirmed.
“Well, at least now you have a reason to meet with him,” Arlon told her. It was always better to look on the bright side. “Schedule a meeting with him and then let us know when and we’ll try to schedule one in the same timeframe.”
“Will do,” Shanra replied.
“Oh, one last thing before I go.” Arlon reached into his pocket and pulled out the dusk stone that he had bought many months ago. “I bought it back when I was still part of your crew. I thought it might come in handy, but I never caught anything that required it to evolve.” Bloody waste of money, wasn’t it? “My team is set now, so I have no need for it. That girl, what was her name, Alex? She mentioned that she has a Lampent. Having it evolve might be useful for when we confront Mr. Silver.” No sense letting it go to waste.
“I’ll give it to her,” Shandra told him. She walked over to Arlon and took the stone out of his hand. The mercenary felt a slight tingle as Shandra’s hand made contact; even through his gloves, her mark felt strange. Never gonna get bloody used to that.
“Right then, I’d best be off,” Arlon said. “I’ve got some unfinished business to take care of.” That’s a bloody understatement. “Keep in touch.” Arlon turned and headed for the airlock. It was time to get back to the Corsair and start planning the next op; it was a big one, after all.
Shandra tightly clutched the dusk stone Arlon had given her as she watched the Corsair jump away. It had been great to see the Red Suns’ leader again, but she wished it had been under better circumstances. Now that he was gone, though, there were a lot of things to care of. She had to give the stone to Alex, after all. She was already planning on checking on the girl anyway; she had slinked off to her room as soon as they returned to the Helix.
Shandra exited the mess area and headed down the corridor to Alex’s room. The door was unlocked so she stepped inside to find it almost completely dark. Alex sat on the floor, slumped up against the wall, clutching her Meowstic tightly. Her Lampent floated by her head, giving off the only light in the room. She hadn’t even bothered to change out of the pantsuit she had been wearing during the presentation at the conference. It was very clear to Shandra that something was troubling the girl.
“Alex, are you okay?” Shandra asked. Alex remained silent. Shandra took a step closer and held out the dusk stone. “Arlon left this for you,” she said. “You’ll be able to evolve Lumiera now.” Alex glanced up at Shandra, but still didn’t say anything. Shandra walked over and sat herself down next to Alex. “Are you okay?” she asked again, placing her arm around the girl and pulling her into a loose hug.
“I don’t know,” Alex finally replied.
“We did everything we could, you know,” Shandra told her in attempt to comfort her. “That was quick thinking, putting the bomb in the ball. You saved a lot of lives.”
“Loki and Lumiera could have died on that ship… I let them get taken away from me… If we hadn’t got them back when we did…”
“Hey, we got both of them back, didn’t we? That’s what matters. If any of your Pokemon get taken away, I will always help you get them back. I know you’d do the same for me, or anyone on this ship.”
“Thanks,” Alex told her. The girl leaned her head on Shandra’s shoulder.
Shandra held out the dusk stone again. “I think you’re really gonna need this,” she said, giving Alex a warm smile.
As Alex reached out for the stone, her arm passed under the light from Lumiera. At that moment, Shandra realized that this was the first time she had seen the girl’s bare forearms as she always wore gloves to cover them up. In the light, Shandra noticed decorative Sinai writing tattooed on Alex’s right arm. She didn’t fully understand the Sinai language, but she knew enough to make out the words.
“There is no darkness without light,” Shandra said faintly as she read the words off the girl’s arm. She immediately recognized the phrase; Alex had said it to her only a few weeks ago.
“Um, what?” Alex asked. She seemed a bit surprised to hear those words.
“Your tattoo,” Shandra told the girl, looking back down at the words written on her arm. “It’s what you said to me before. It must mean a lot to you for you to have it permanently on your skin like that.”
“Oh, uh… yeah, I guess it does.” Alex glanced down at her arm nervously, then back up at Shandra. “It’s a reminder…” The girl’s sentence trailed off and it seemed like she was remembering something from her past.
“A reminder of what?” Shandra asked.
“I lived in a Sinai monastery for a few years… One of the monks there took me in when I was starving and alone…” Alex’s eyes drifted back to her tattoo again. “It’s something he always used to tell me. I had this done to remind me not to give up…”
“What do you mean?”
“I… It’s because I’ve given up before… I didn’t always believe him...”
“What are you-?” Shandra asked, not sure what Alex meant. Before she could finish, Alex held out both of her arms toward her and turned them over. In the dim light Shandra could see a faded, but obviously self-inflicted, pair of scars, one on each of Alex’s wrists. Her heart sank a bit as the implications dawned on her.
“That’s not the only way I tried either…”
“Shhh, I understand.” Shandra interrupted, pulling Alex into a hug to try to comfort her. “Well, actually I don’t, not really, but I get that you couldn’t always find some reason to live for; I don’t need the details.”
At this, she pulled away from the girl, holding her at arm’s length so they could look each other in the eyes. “Please don’t lose that reason, whatever it is. It would hurt all of us to see you go, myself especially.”
Alex smiled, her cheeks damp from recently shed tears. “Thank you,” she said as the two girls embraced each other once more.
Morgan sat on her bed glaring at her Pokedex’s screen. She had just watched the video she had received for the umpteenth time. Her mother had sent it shortly after the Corsair escaped the destruction of the Halcyon. Morgan had watched it many times since then— watched her mother in tears, begging and pleading for her to come home— but she couldn’t bring herself to reply. Why now? she kept asking herself. It had been months since Morgan had fled her home, but it had taken the destruction of the Halcyon for her mother to even try calling her. She didn’t really care when I was there, so why does she suddenly care now?
Once again, Morgan considered calling her mother, but, once again, she did nothing. She knew that if her mother knew where she was, she would never hear the end of it. She didn’t understand. She had never understood. Here on the Helix, Morgan had finally found a place where she felt like she belonged, where she felt that people understood her. At least, she had thought so, but she wasn’t so sure anymore. Even if some of them were still friendly with her, Morgan knew that her crewmates didn’t understand. How could they? Nobody, it seemed, was capable of understanding what she was going through.
Suddenly, there was a loud thud in the corridor. Morgan stood up and cautiously poked her head out the door. Alex sat slumped against the wall, holding the Zigzagoon she had just caught on Ventos several hours ago. The girl was giggling with childish glee as the Pokemon squirmed in her arms. How can she be so happy after everything that’s happened? Morgan wondered. Countless people had died on the Halcyon and Alex was playing around like nothing had happened.
Suddenly, the Zigzagoon dove out of the Sinai girl’s arms and began running down the corridor. Alex quickly jumped to her feet and chased after the Pokemon. “Hey, Rocket, where ya goin’?” she called out. “Come back here you little rascal!”
Morgan sighed, then closed her door. Alex was still such a child. Morgan recognized the girl’s contributions to the crew, but she was still so immature. If she couldn’t understand the weight of what had happened at the conference, there was no way she could possibly understand Morgan’s inner turmoil. Morgan sat back on her bed and resumed staring at her Pokedex, debating whether or not to send her mother a message or not.
Wind whispered through the trees, darkened by the overarching canopy as the crew moved through the forests of Märchenwald. Morgan had no idea why her crewmates had wanted to come here, of all places. It was an uninhabited planet known for its thick and mysterious forests, and now that she was on its surface, she was beginning to understand why; something about this place made her feel uneasy.
Suddenly, there was a rustling sound in the distance and Alex ran ahead excitedly. Why does she always have to do that? Morgan and her crewmates picked up the pace a bit to catch up with the girl. They emerged in an open clearing where a Venusaur lay sleeping against a strange looking rock in the center with a face carved into it and a Togetic frantically flapped around in the air.
Alex stood on the edge of the clearing with her Meowstic beside her. “Loki, use Psychic!” the girl instructed the Pokemon. The Meowstic fired a powerful blast of psychic energy at the Venusaur, causing it to awaken. The large Pokemon stood up and roared; it looked very angry. It charged at Loki, but the Meowstic dodged out of the way. Morgan noticed the face on the rock shift to a frown as the Togetic began flapping more frantically and attempted to put the Venusaur back to sleep.
Something was definitely off with this place, Morgan could feel it. She moved in and prepared to attack the Venusaur with her psychic abilities. “No!” Alex shouted as Morgan fired off a blast of energy. The girl quickly pulled out a Pokeball and threw it at the Venusaur, capturing it and saving it from the attack.
Suddenly, the rock began glowing brightly and the Togetic seemed to become even more frantic. The face on the rock shifted once again, this time into a face of rage. Morgan felt her unease grow. “Guys, we should leave,” she warned crewmates. “That rock is alive!” A ghostly face rose up from the rock, revealing itself to be a Spiritomb. Memories flooded Morgan’s mind— memories of the Trevenant, of the Cofagrigus, of the Mirror. Morgan faltered as her own inner demons began to overwhelm her. All she wanted to do was flee, but she felt frozen in place.
Morgan’s crewmates remained oblivious to her fears and prepared to attack the ghostly Pokemon. “Loki, use Light Screen!” Alex commanded her Meowstic. The Pokemon threw up a protective barrier around himself and the others, but it did little to make Morgan feel safe.
Slowly, Morgan’s fear turned to rage. The face was taunting her once more and she was going to wipe its stupid grin away. “Blaise, use Fire Fang!” she commanded her recently caught Charmander to attack. The fiery Pokemon rushed at the Spiritomb and took a nasty bite out of it, leaving the ghostly monster dazed and burned. Why won’t you go away! I HATE YOU! The spectral image, now seemingly everywhere, erupted in a sinister smile more malicious than before, apparently mocking her for all of her shortcomings.
As the battle continued to rage around her, Morgan stared at the Pokemon—her nightmare incarnate— and hesitated, heart racing. Despite being immobile, the face seemed to engulf her, triggering an acute sense of claustrophobia that she had never felt before. Morgan fell to the ground struggling to work up the courage to do something, anything… but found herself unable. The true Spiritomb began to glow, sensing a new feast, and let out a wave of psychic energy. Morgan screamed, closing her eyes and covering her ears with her hands.
And then it was over. The clearing fell still and quiet. Morgan slowly opened her eyes to see Shandra picking up a Pokeball from the ground where the Spiritomb sat only moments before. She then turned her head and saw Alex kneeling beside her. “Morgan, are you alright?” the girl asked.
Morgan hesitated with what should have been an easy answer.
Am I Okay? Morgan lay on her uncomfortable bed in the only room aboard the Helix she spent much time in nowadays. She thought about that question for a minute, contemplating all of the evidence she had from recent events. She already had MARIA check her, but it had determined that she was healthy. If there was a problem, it was purely psychological. But that’s kind of expected, isn’t it? From all the stress she had been through, Morgan couldn’t deny that there had been repercussions.
She closed her eyes, focusing on all the things that had plagued her of late. The Halcyon. Despite knowing that there was nothing she could have done, she couldn’t stop blaming herself for what had happened, for the lives that were lost. She went over those pivotal moments in her head, trying to think of something that could have gone differently, when her Pokedex started beeping on her desk.
Then there’s my parents… Despite all their calls, Morgan still couldn’t bring herself to return them. It’s not like they would miss me, she thought as the beeping eventually silenced itself. She had been over this line of thought countless times, always coming to the same conclusion. It would be better if they just didn’t know. It’s not like they know what I’m dealing with. She opened her eyes as she heard Dmitri walk past, mumbling about something that likely held little to no importance.
It’s not like anyone knows what I’m dealing with. She thought about her crewmates for a while, and was surprised to find that she was crying. The Helix had been the only place she felt comfortable in, but even now it seemed as if the crew was distancing themselves from her. Or maybe she was distancing herself from them? It’s not like the difference matters. She thought of all the happy memories she had had with them— all the ones she could remember, anyway— and wondered if anyone would miss her. Alex, probably. The rest of the crew she wasn’t so certain about, and even Alex was a hesitant mention. She felt so alone, laying there in what had for the longest time felt like a true home, where she had actual friends.
Actual friends that I let down, she thought, the faint hint of a smile quickly fading. Actual friends that I tried to kill, recalling the time she went off the deep end after their time at the Mirror Planet. She remembered the haunting, smiling faces of all of those ghosts, and this time there wasn’t any uncertainty about what their sinister expressions meant. They’re laughing at me, she thought. They’re laughing at my fears, my weaknesses. She couldn’t deny it anymore. How can anyone accept me if I can’t even accept myself? How can I possibly move forward when I’m constantly reminded of all the times I’ve fucked up?
She looked up at the bottles of painkillers she had taken from the medbay. At least it isn’t going to hurt. She slowly got up from the bed, opened a bottle and poured its contents of little white pills into her hand— far more than the recommended dose. At least it will all be over soon. Closing her eyes, she quickly lifted her hand up to her mouth...
… And then everything was quiet aboard the Helix.
Author’s Notes: There’s your divergence. It was a slow burn, but this is what we’ve been building up to since chapter 4. The funny thing is that in my original concept for Blueshift Morgan survived. After bringing on The Other Guy as a co-author, and reading your comments on chapter 4, this just seemed like the right direction to take the story in. With her out of the picture, we’ve opened up a lot of doors to different places we can take this series. We’re in uncharted territory now and anything could happen.
Going back a bit there are some more changes sprinkled throughout this chapter. It’s mainly pulled from Volume 2, Chapter 25, but I opened with the end of Volume 2, Chapter 24 which I had cut from the previous Blueshift chapter since that one was really long. It flowed nicely into the beginning of the next chapter too. Telling it from Shandra’s perspective instead of a neutral one gave an opportunity to show how the glitch explosion affected her in a bit more detail as well.
I did take out that scene between Arlon and Rena because it wasn’t really necessary for this story, but I did end up giving him a perspective scene. It just kinda made sense. It also allowed to cut out some parts that didn’t have any differences, such as the inside of the device and scheduling the meeting with Mr. Silver. It was a nice little change of pace too.
And, obviously, it’s Shandra who brings Alex the dusk stone instead of Morgan, so they get to have a great bonding moment, and as a consequence Morgan doesn’t learn that Alex once went through something similar to what she’s going through. It was also a nice callback to earlier in the series since Shandra can actually read a bit of Sinai and recognized the phrase Alex told her. I’m very happy with how that scene turned out.
The whole rest of the chapter is all about Morgan. Through a series of scenes we get to show the climax of her descent into darkness. The first was added between the first two planets we visited to fill in for Morgan not having that moment with Shane where she discussed her relationship with her parents. I put it approximately where I thought Clarissa’s second Meanwhile… post fits into the timeline as a replacement for that moment not happening either. The second was an alternate version of the scene with the Spiritomb. In this universe, Morgan didn’t get over her fears so the Spiritomb affected her greatly, and sort of served as the trigger to push her all the way over the edge. Which brings us to her end. The last scene was written entirely by The Other Guy and he did a fantastic job of ending this chapter. It’s a very powerful scene the I think says a lot about Morgan’s character, in both universes even.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed Blueshift so far and I look forward to sharing the rest of the story with you as we move away from the canon storyline faster than ever before. At this point, we’ve reached a point where way more differences are going to start springing up. Where do you guys think we’re heading next? Theorize down in the comments how you think the plot will continue to diverge.
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!