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. This contains spoilers for the main series, so you should get caught up on our canonical adventures here first!
Nerva’s sun hung low in the sky as Shandra and Alex made their way back to the Helix. Hand in hand, the pair walked across a raised walkway connecting two massive skyscrapers in one of the icy marsh world’s large metropolises. Dmitri and H had already returned to the ship to bring back the crew’s recently purchased supplies and to help Diane, the Pokemon tutor the crew had hired on this planet, get settled in, but the two girls had decided to take their time in joining them. As they walked along, Shandra contentedly listened to Alex go on and on about the latest Pokeball technology. With the craziness of the past few days, they hadn’t had much time to spend together and now that the meeting with Mr. Silver was drawing near, Shandra wanted to savor the moment while it lasted.
“Wow, it’s so beautiful,” Alex suddenly said, stopping briefly to gaze out at the skyline. Shandra smiled as they approached the end of the walkway and called the elevator.
After a short ride, the pair arrived back at the docking bay where the Helix was docked. “I’ma go see if Morgan still has that extra dawn stone lying around,” Alex said excitedly as they stepped back aboard the ship. “I can’t wait to evolve Elsa into a Froslass!” the girl continued excitedly as she bounded up the stairs to the upper deck.
Shandra smiled, then turned and headed off to the warp lab. It was barely a moment after she walked through the door that an ear-splitting scream of terror echoed throughout the ship; it was Alex. Within an instant, Shandra had warped to the girl’s side.
“Alex!” Shandra shouted, frantically scanning the room. “Are you oka-”
Her eyes fell to Alex, crying on the floor over Morgan’s still body. What? She looked up to see a few knocked over bottles of medicine, spilling out their contents across the desk and floor. How could this happen? She rushed over to Alex’s side, gently pushing her out of the way and shaking Morgan, begging her to wake up.
Shandra felt disconnected from her own whirling emotions. She was screaming, but she didn’t know what. She was terrified, and she didn’t quite know why. Her friend was lying on the ground in front of her, and wouldn’t wake up. Realization dawned on Shandra as she realized that she probably never would. Morgan was dead; she had taken her own life.
For a very brief moment in time, Shandra forgot that Alex was right there beside her, and as soon as she remembered, she pulled her into the tightest hug she could. Her cheeks were wet from crying and, right now, all she needed was someone to mourn with. As Alex’s face buried into her shoulder, she could feel the cold dampness of the poor girl’s tears, in addition to her own. After the longest time, Shandra finally felt comfortable enough to look up at the sound of footsteps that had followed them into the room.
H was frozen in a comical state of disbelief and anger. It seemed as though some major function of his personality was stuck on repeat as he tried to process the scene. Given his new condition, that may have been more accurate than she knew. It looked as though he was going to pop a vein in anger.
Everyone recoiled as he shouted, loud enough to set off an adjacent ship’s alarm.
“HOW DARE YOU MORGAN?! YOU STUPID, ARROGANT…”
“...I MEAN WHY WOULD SHE? ALL THIS TIME I HAVE BEEN SAYING THAT WE ARE TOOLS FOR EACH OTHER…” H continued his rant, now approaching near the thirty minute mark. Alex was barely even registering the words anymore. The girl was in the mess area, along with the majority of the crew, who were emptying what little stores of alcohol Armstrong still had. Despite her age and Sinai’s general stigma against drinking, Alex herself cautiously sampled a small sip of some of the disgusting beverages, wondering why the hell anyone would even want to drink this stuff.
She kept replaying the scenarios in her mind, trying to find a reason. Why couldn’t I see? Looking back, all the signs were there, and Alex couldn’t figure out how she could have missed them. It was clear to her now that ever since that confrontation in the warp lab, Morgan had been slipping down a dark hole. The fact that Alex didn’t see it coming only made it hurt even more. I should have known. I should have been there.
Suddenly, Shandra snapped and shouted at H to shut up, causing Alex to look up from the hole she had been staring into the floor. “It’s disrespectful to the one person who needed it most. It’s shit like this that fucking killed her!”
H didn’t even notice, and continued on with his rant, oblivious to the feelings of those around him. “...AND TOOLS ARE NOT MEANT TO BE THROWN AWAY! THE MERE FACT THAT THEY ARE TOOLS MEANS THEY HAVE VALUE, THEY ARE USEFUL! WHY COULDN’T SHE SEE THAT?”
The room got unusually quiet. H stood there, taking a number of deep breaths in what was surely an attempt to regulate his emotions. The silence didn’t last, and the cyborg quickly jumped back into his tirade.
“I WAS NEVER WORRIED ABOUT HER BECAUSE SHE NEVER GAVE US THE INCLINATION THAT ANYTHING WAS WRONG! WHY WOULD SHE HIDE SOMETHING LIKE THAT FROM THE VERY PEOPLE WHO COULD HELP HER WITH IT? WHAT POINT COULD IT POSSIBLY HAVE SERVED HER TO BREAK UNDER HER OWN EMOTIONS INSTEAD OF COMING OUT WITH IT, MAKING HER FEARS KNOWN INSTEAD OF GIVING IN TO THEM?”
Finally, something inside Alex snapped; she couldn’t take any more of H’s incessant yelling. “Can’t you just shut up for one second?!” she screamed at the cyborg. “You say not to give into your fears, but it’s not that easy! I’ve been through this before, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in my entire life! Yes, others can help you, and I know that now, but at the time it felt like the entire Universe hated me, even myself, and there was nothing I could do about it.” Alex started crying as she choked on her own words. “Morgan… Morgan probably went through something similar, but without anyone to help her.”
H stared speechlessly at Alex. The girl could feel the attention of the room drawn to her, and quickly realized just what she had told the crew. She felt almost an immediate pang of guilt knowing that she had just told everyone within earshot the one thing she tried to keep secret. Guilt turned to rage as she continued to stare H down; he was the one who caused this outburst to begin with.
“We were supposed to be there for her!” Alex shouted when she realized that H didn’t even have a response. The cyborg opened his mouth, but no words came out. “Are you done now?” Alex asked H furiously.
After a few tense moments, the cyborg finally bowed his head, his pointy cybernetic hair drooping ever so slightly with guilt. “Yes.”
“Then please stop talking.” Alex stormed away from the room, leaving them in stunned silence. Further down the hallway, she leaned against a wall and slumped down to the floor, still crying. The girl’s hands were trembling from standing up to H, and she was shaken down to her core by everything that had happened. Curling up into a ball, she whispered to herself, “There is no darkness without light.”
Alex sat in her room, tinkering with a great ball. A pile of once broken Pokeballs that the crew had used over the past several days sat in a pile on her desk, all of them now repaired. The girl had been working for hours upon hours; it was all she could do to keep her mind occupied. Even now, days later, the pain had yet to subside at all. Working on Pokeballs was something that always helped her to relieve stress, and after everything that had happened, she needed it now more than ever.
Rotating the ball around in her hands, Alex looked it over, trying to figure out exactly which parts were damaged. Seeing no damage to the outside, the girl reached for her screwdriver and popped the casing off. Alex immediately recognized the craftsmanship inside. Morgan made this herself. Her hand began trembling as all the feelings she had been trying to suppress came rushing on. The ball slipped from Alex’s fingers as she broke down into tears.
It’s not fair. Why didn’t I help her? Why couldn’t I save her? It was so painfully obvious to Alex now that Morgan had been suffering for a long time. It should have been so clear to her that her friend needed help. Now that she’d had time to think, the girl couldn’t help but blame herself. She had tried to escape her guilt the only way she knew how and now even that wasn’t working anymore.
Alex suddenly felt so alone. It was a familiar feeling to the girl; she was no stranger to loneliness after all. Ever since leaving Vandia, Alex had finally felt like she had found somewhere she belonged, but now it seemed that misfortune had followed her once again and was trying to tear her new friends away. This must be how Morgan felt, the girl thought. I know it’s how I felt when I was in that position…
Alex tried to shake the thoughts away. She didn’t want to feel alone. She didn’t want to be alone. The girl stood up and exited her room. She needed to be with the one person on the Helix who had always been there for her.
Thud, thud. Thud, thu-thud, thud.
Irregularly timed pounds came from a corner of the warp lab, as Shandra was punching a newly purchased sandbag from some martial arts store on the planet. It was only slightly less painful than punching a wall, but the sandbag had some give to it, and it wobbled around on its dangling chain as she fed it blow after blow.
Thu-thud. Thud, thud, thu-thu-thud.
She had to admit, this was certainly one way to cathartically deal with her feelings.
Her hands had started bleeding after a few minutes of venting her anger. Her form was bad, not that she knew, but she had enough sense to get some gauze from the medbay and wrap her bloodied knuckles, containing the bruises and protecting them from further abuse. She paused briefly as she passed by MARIA. It was a painful reminder of what had transpired— exactly who was currently under a bedsheet in her own untouched room.
Shandra opened various drawers and cabinets, to MARIA’s constant warnings, looking for a roll of gauze. While part of her wanted to let it deal with the problem as it was programmed to do, she didn’t want to face the one remaining piece of Morgan’s personality on the ship, if it could even be called that. Morgan had explicitly given it as little personality as possible, and while Shandra had understood her reasons for it, she desperately wished that she had given it more. It was very close to everything the crew still had of her, and it almost felt like a piercing stab in her chest that even after her death, Morgan wanted to leave as little of herself behind as she could.
Wrapping her fists in bandages, Shandra left the medbay and headed back to her punching bag. The throbbing pain in her hands kept her mind off of her anger while it subsided, which currently was all that she could ask for. Right now, her mind refused to process anything else. She hated herself, wishing that there was more she could have done, but wishes didn’t bring people back from the dead. Right now, all she wanted to do was to hit something.
She entered the lab to find Alex sitting in her usual spot, which happened to be near the dangling column. She was looking at it almost quizzically, but her empty expression made it clear that she didn’t really care about what it was. More than likely, she already knew. Either way, there were more pressing Donphan in the room.
“How are you holding up?” Shandra weakly asked as she approached the bag and began beating it again. Alex shrank even further into the ball she was already curled in.
“I’m not,” the girl replied, her voice quivering. “I’ve gone through what she did; I should have known…”
Shandra stopped her new favorite workout and sat down next to the girl as she continued, “I wish I could have been there, I wish there… I wish there was more I could have done.”
Shandra stared past the far wall and sighed. “Me too.” She put her arm around Alex and pulled her close as the two just sat there in silence, giving each other comfort as they mourned the loss of their friend together.
Alex sat staring down at her feet. The girl could hear voices talking around her in the dimly lit funeral parlor, but she wasn’t registering any of the words. She felt so numb. How could this happen? Why would she do this? Why couldn’t I see? Alex was still asking herself the same questions but the answers still hadn’t changed. This is my fault. I should have been there.
“Are you alright?” a voice suddenly asked. Alex looked over to see Rena, Arlon’s lieutenant, sitting beside her, a concerned look on her face. The girl was surprised that she even remembered the Parisian’s name.
Alex didn’t answer and simply stared down at the floor again. Do I look alright?
“You were close, weren’t you?” Rena asked.
It was clear that she wasn’t going away, so Alex decided she might as well say something. “We were like family…” The girl trailed off as she thought her words over. “At least, I thought we were. What kind of family am I for not seeing what she was going through?”
“You can’t blame yourself for things like zis,” the genevan woman said, placing a hand on Alex’s shoulder. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“Maybe she would still be here if I had been there for her…”
“What’s done is done,” Rena said. “But you can be ‘ere for ‘er now.” The Parisian motioned toward the open casket at the front of the room. “You ‘aven’t moved from zis spot since you got ‘ere, and we don’t ‘ave much time left. I think zat you will regret it if you don’t say goodbye.”
She’s right, Alex realized. Most everyone else had gone up to at least pay their respects, but she hadn’t. The girl was afraid to let go, but in her heart, she knew it was time to say something. “Thank you,” Alex told Rena. The Parisian woman nodded. Alex stood up and made her way to the front of the room.
As she kneeled in front of the casket, Alex noticed how peaceful Morgan looked. At least her pain is gone now, she thought. It still didn’t make it hurt any less. Alex sat there for a long time before she finally found the strength to speak.
“Hey… hey there, Morgan,” the Sinai girl said softly, fighting to hold back the tears. “I just wanted to say… I don’t know if you knew it, but… you were like a sister to me, y’know? I wish I could’ve told you that…” Alex shut her eyes as droplets began rolling down her cheeks. “I should’ve been there for you… and I’m sorry that I wasn’t. I’m sorry for the things I said… Wherever you are now… I hope you can forgive me.”
Alex sat there a while longer, letting her tears out. She didn’t want the others to see her like this. After enough time had passed, the girl was able to regain some semblance of composure. She slowly stood up and made her way over to Shandra. Alex needed her comfort now more than ever.
She found Shandra on the far side of the room, discussing things with Arlon and Dmitri. Seeing Alex approach, Shandra gave the girl a slight smile then continued speaking. “She wouldn’t have wanted an open casket,” she mused. “At least she’s going to be cremated, and hopefully we can take her home after we face Mr. Silver.”
“I don’t think that’s an option anymore,” Arlon replied. “Sector 9 is completely shut off. With the leadership dead, the Romanovs conquered the Europa System before anyone even knew what happened.”
“Yeah… It’s real bad.” Arlon’s expression turned even more serious than it already was. “We can’t afford to waste anymore time. The longer we wait, the less likely it is the Federation will be able to help us. Not to mention the more likely it is that Mr. Silver will be on to us. Delaying the meeting was bad enough, but… it was important that we did this now.”
“Right. We should get this over with.” Shandra agreed. “We’ll see you at the meeting.”
“Aye. Indeed we will.”
Silence permeated through the empty corridors of the UAS Helix as the ship moved through warp space toward its destination. In light of recent events, the members of the crew were somberly making their final preparations for the confrontation with Mr. Silver that was drawing ever nearer.
Alex sat in her room, turning the dusk stone that Arlon had left for her over in her hands repeatedly. The girl gazed upon the purplish stone as she ran her fingers over its smooth surface. It seemed to give off a faint glow in the pale light cast off by Lumiera, who was floating nearby. Alex gripped the stone tighter as she looked up at her Lampent; it was time.
“This is for you,” she said to her ghostly friend, holding the stone out. “That Arlon guy left it for us so that you can evolve.” Lumiera let out a cute sound as she floated over to Alex. Despite the circumstances, the girl couldn’t help but smile a little bit as she watched her Pokemon began to glow brightly.
The light died down, as did the glow emanating from the stone. Alex looked up from the now-dark stone in her hand at her newly evolved Pokemon. “Wow, you’re so pretty,” the girl said softly, pulling the Chandelure into a hug. “And now you’re gonna be much stronger too. We’ll take on that Mr. Silver guy together. We’ll do it for Morgan.”
Suddenly, the view outside the viewport changed as the Helix dropped out of warp space. “We’ve arrived,” Minerva’s voice sounded over the comms shortly thereafter. Alex recalled Lumiera into her ball, then made her way to the bridge.
As the rest of her crewmates slowly filtered onto the bridge, Alex watched out the front viewport as a large and very advanced looking ship drew nearer. The ship hailed the Helix and a man appeared on the viewscreen. “Mr. Silver is expecting you,” he said, then transmitted docking instructions.
“This isn’t creepy at all,” Minerva said as she flew the ship into the hangar. She pulled the Helix in next to the already-docked Corsair and set it down.
Alex followed H, Dmitri, and Shandra off the bridge, and, together, the four crewmates stepped off the Helix where they are greeted by Arlon, Rena, and Kiril. “I remember the last time we met like this,” Shandra said with a slight, half-hearted chuckle.
“A lot’s changed since then,” Arlon said solemnly. Alex noticed the mercenary looking across at the space between where she was standing and Dmitri. It was where Morgan would have been standing if she had been with them.
After a moment of silence, Arlon turned his gaze toward the door on the far side of the hangar. “Let’s do what we came here to do.”
Alex clenched her fists tightly. It was time to take on the mysterious Mr. Silver that she had heard so much about.
Shandra felt a wary anticipation building up as she traversed the immaculate corridors alongside her friends. It was not long before she found herself standing outside Mr. Silver’s office. The doors slid open and Shandra stepped inside, followed by the three Red Suns and what remained of the Helix’s main crew. A familiar silhouette stood, back turned, facing the viewport on the far wall.
Arlon and his two lieutenants hung back as the Helix crew stepped further into the room. Shandra noticed Arlon lean his back against the wall as she passed him by and moved her way to the front. “It’s been a long time, Mr. Silver,” she said.
“Indeed,” the mysterious man replied as his puppet Mr. Mime turned to face his guests. Shandra watched a massive amount of data scroll across the screen-face, and she processed it almost as fast as it was moving: the current activities of the Red Suns, the current activities of the Helix crew, a dossier on Alex. That’s where it stopped. Shandra glanced over at the girl to see her staring in horror at the cybernetically altered Mr. Mime.
“Ah, Alexandria Hawthorne,” Mr. Silver said, turning his attention to the girl. “Age: seventeen, planet of origin: Vandia, orphaned daughter of Dr. Robert Hawthorne, PhD., expert on ancient archaeology, current location: unknown. I do believe this is the first time we’ve met.”
As he spoke, data on Alex’s life flashes across the screen: her Spacenet presence, photos of her, articles on her father’s disappearance. Shandra looked back at Alex. By her expression, it was clear that Mr. Silver was getting under her skin. “H- how can you… possibly know all that?” the girl managed to stutter.
“I know many things.”
“Leave her out of this,” Shandra told Mr. Silver fiercely as she reassuringly grabbed Alex’s hand.
“Hmm. Interesting.” For a brief moment, Shandra saw an image of herself and Alex together appear on the screen.
“Enough of this; you already know why we’re here,” Shandra said forcefully. If Mr. Silver had eyes she would be staring them down in cold anger. “Let’s skip the formalities and get straight to business. The skull.”
“Of course,” Mr. Silver replied. “It is most unfortunate that your colleague is no longer with us. She did seem quite interested in it.”
Shandra could feel her hands curl into fists, but tried to stay in control of her emotions.“It’s been long enough. You should know what it is by now, and even if she’s…” Shandra hesitated with the words. “...gone, we deserve to know as well.”
“Naturally. I suppose there is no harm in telling you at this point. It is the first Pokemon.”
“And what, exactly, does that mean?”
“You’ve been in contact with Gilgamesh. Surely he’s told you by now.”
“So, tell us something we don’t know,” Shandra responded coldly. Enough of this bullshit.
“And how much do you know?” Mr. Silver asked her in turn.
“Something tells me that you know more about us than we do.”
“Oh, of that, I have no doubt.” Images of Shandra and the Gardener Sphere flashed across the screen. “But how much do you know?”
“I would say ‘more than you think,’ but we all know that’s a lie.”
“So, have you figured it out yet?” The screen-face asked. The question seemed rhetorical, almost patronizing. “I know you have the sphere.”
“We have figured it out,” H suddenly cut in, walking forward arrogantly and interrupting what Shandra was likely about to say next. “I am the chosen one. We already discussed that last meeting. That’s old news. You already knew that, so why even ask that question? We’re wasting time.”
“Ah, yes, Experiment #1749XQR5Z-H,” Mr. Silver said, turning to face the approaching cyborg. “How has Armstrong been treating you lately?”
“Quite well,” H responded.
“Certainly better than the others.” The knowing tone of voice seemed to suggest that Mr. Silver was smiling, if he was even capable of smiling.
“Of course he would,” H responded, coming to a dramatic stop in the center of the room, just in front of the desk. “I am the one that stands. I am the last. I am the chosen.”
“You really believe that, don’t you?”
“I would not be standing here if it were not true.”
Mr. Silver just bowed his head, shaking it dismissively. “It is because you are a leftover.”
“Yes, I am the leftovers because I have been chosen by fate. If it is not the design of some madman such as yourself, choosing and manipulating from afar, then it is that of something even further up— higher than yourself. It is inexplicable, but I am here. I am the last of my brethren, and I will succeed where they have failed.”
“You are a leftover because there was no further use for you.”
If Mr. Silver was getting under H’s skin, the cyborg certainly was doing a good job of hiding it. “If you don’t have a use for me, that does not mean the Universe does not have a use for me.”
“The Universe does not, in fact, have a use for you,” Mr. Silver said, moving purposefully around the desk to counter H’s position in front of him. “You are a footnote, a stepping stone. Your time has already passed.”
“Well, then I shall follow the path of the fool, the path to claim what is not even rightfully mine, regardless, for, in my eyes, I will be able to claim what I see as rightfully mine. Only fools can change history.”
Mr. Silver tilted the screen to the side, feigning incredulity. “You don’t know the purpose of the experiments, do you?”
“I do not, nor do I care, for, as you said, they are but a footnote. Now, let us get back to the reason we are here today: so we can give you information, and you can give us the information you did not give all those months ago: the warp matter, the Earth, the skulls and skeletons and fossils…”
“I would have thought Earth would have been obvious by now.”
“It was for the skull,” Shandra told the mime, slightly relieved to be getting back on topic. “Obviously.”
“Indeed. I must thank you again for providing it. It has been most helpful.”
“What, exactly, have you done with it?” Shandra asked, as the Helix’s remaining crew moved in behind H. There was about a meter and a half between them and the puppeteer of the Galaxy, and nobody was feeling completely calm.
“I don’t believe that was our arrangement. Your friend Morgan asked what it was, and that is precisely what I have told you now.” Mr. Silver paused for a moment. “It’s a shame really, you not remembering. So, how about this?” He trailed off as the screen-face slid open partially, revealing a port. “You want to know who I am?” He seemed to be beckoning Shandra inside. Shandra quietly and respectfully put her hands behind her back, secretly gesturing to Arlon, out of Mr. Silver’s sight.
“Don’t do it,” Alex said, gripping Shandra’s arm tightly.
“There is only one way to find out,” Mr. Silver continued. “Naturally, I wouldn’t expect you to feel comfortable with this… Know that I only offer you this opportunity because, at this point, there is nothing you can do to stop me.”
It was at that moment that Arlon stepped forward. “I suppose the reason for this meeting was quite obvious then,” the Red Suns’ leader said. As he approached Shandra’s side he discreetly slipped the cyber weapon into her hand. “You know we don’t trust you. You probably know that I have never trusted you, mate. So stop playing these games and just fucking tell us what we want to know.”
“It would be easier to show you.”
Shadra looked at Alex and gave the girl a reassuring nod. Alex’s worried expression relaxed a bit and she allowed Shandra to pull her arm away. Shandra approached the Mr. Mime, still concealing the cyber-weapon. “If you say so…” Mr. Silver barely had time to react as Shandra stabbed the liquid blade into the port, and the mime’s body began spasming uncontrollably as data rushed across the screen. “...but I like this way so much better,” Shandra said with a wicked smile as Mr. Silver’s body fell to the floor.
The lights flickered as the wall-sized window behind the desk revealed a massive secondary screen. A torrential flow of data filled the screen, impossible to follow quickly enough, as scenes of planets, dossiers, and news reports flooded the screen and were as quickly deleted, only to show up on the output of the cyber-weapon. Glimpses of the Angels— or at least beings that bore an uncanny resemblance to Alex’s descriptions— flew by faster than they could be recognized. Eventually, the windows of information faded as they were left with a view of what appeared to be a holographic room, flush with the current one, but virtual. The dark walls coursed with pulses of cerulean energy along angular and circular pathways, and in the center stood a single, humanoid figure, similarly translucent and silvery blue. It was clapping.
“Impressive,” the figure said, its voice now resonating all around them through the room’s speaker system. “I underestimated you, Gardener. It seems your time with the Humans truly has changed you.” Images and memories flashed through Shandra’s mind as she gazed upon Mr. Silver’s true form. Something about him felt so familiar. It reminded her of the form she had been in before the Sinai researchers made her who she now was. How can I possibly know that? Unlike the state Shandra had been in when the researchers found her, Mr. Silver seemed whole— undamaged and free of human reconstruction.
“What the bloody fuck is this?” Arlon asked.
“This...” Mr. Silver said, gesturing to the digital cage around him, “...is my true form. And judging by your colleague’s reaction, it used to be quite similar to hers as well.”
Shandra flinched, then approached the screen and slammed her fist against the reinforced glass. “What the fuck do you know about me?”
Mr. Silver spoke condescendingly, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Not that it would break under that flimsy amount of force, but on the other side of that glass is still hard vacuum. It would mean quite a painful death for you if this ship were to lose atmosphere.”
Shandra stepped away, grumbling as Mr. Silver continued, “Nevertheless, I am still quite amused that you seem not to remember your purpose. Our purpose.”
“Which is?” Shandra asked, annoyed. She looked over and saw Alex hyperventilating, backing herself into the corner where the other Red Suns stood.
“Have you ever asked yourself… why Humans and Pokemon?”
“A very difficult question to ask when the only one who can answer it is yourself,” Shandra pointed out, rather annoyed with Mr. Silver’s skirting questions. Just get to the damn point already.
The room shifted as Mr. Silver willed information into existence, and something resembling a circular timeline appeared floating in its center. “I will say you’re making this harder than it needs to be with that weapon I designed,” Mr. Silver stated, looking at the group with disdain. “I would be able to show you so much more without constantly needing to fight its pull.”
“So, what exactly are we looking at here, mate?” Arlon asked.
“First, I will ask you this. What hints have you gathered throughout your journeys? Artifacts, ruins, and the like?” Images of Armstrong, Bill, and other unfamiliar faces appeared along the timeline as Mr. Silver populated it with information. “Your scientists... have been researching ancient lifeforms.” The images were replaced by those of the Genesect, the golem-creature on Prague, the Storm Leviathan of Messina, Darkrai, and Giratina. “Tell me, what conclusions have you reached?”
“The only conclusions that we’ve come to...” Dmitri said, pulling the attention of everyone in the room. “...Is that ancient life forms such as the Genesect… are physically incapable of reproduction.”
“And as a direct result of which, they cannot give life to themselves,” H continued. “Meaning that there must be someone, or something, higher than them to give them life. Since we can assume this doesn’t happen often, we can therefore also assume that their lifespan is significantly longer to compensate, potentially indefinitely so.”
“You are… partially correct in both assumptions.” Mr. Silver said, before motioning to Shandra and himself. “You see, we are the methods of their replication; we are the stewards of the coming generation.”
“Just get to the point already,” Shandra said.
“That is the point.”
“So… how exactly did we go about doing that? Perpetuating their generational cycle?”
“The plan is straightforward, by our standards at least. You plant the seeds, and I reap the harvest.”
Shandra clenched her fists in anger at Mr. Silver’s words. Her mark glowed a violent shade of purple.
“Are you telling me,” Arlon fumed as he approached the screen. “We’re just supposed to sit around and wait while you destroy the entire bloody Galaxy?”
“No.” Mr. Silver said, smiling. “I’m saying I already have. By the way, have fun with the silent alarm.”
“I’ve heard enough,” Arlon said, acknowledging that the cyber weapon had finished downloading the network’s terabytes of data before he ripped it out of the lifeless mime’s screen. “It’s time to go,” he said.
The screen disappeared, and the doors opened as a squad of guards rushed into the room.
“All this information seems to suggest that there’s something important at these coordinates,” Arlon said. The Red Suns’ leader pointed to a location in Alliance space on the Helix’s navchart. “They’re sending gear, tech, even that bloody skull. We already know that damn thing is important, so if that bastard sent it there, then I’m willing to bet that there’s something big there.”
The Helix and the Corsair sat docked with each other in orbit around an uninhabited planet in a small Outer Rim system between Mr. Silver’s ship and the Sector 29 warp gate. It had been a few days, but some of them were still nursing injuries received during the recent escape from Mr. Silver. However, in the meantime, the crews of both ships had tirelessly poured over the data they pulled from Mr. Silver’s network. Most of the data was mostly low-level operation reports and shipping manifests, but it finally seemed that they had come across something big.
Finally, some good news, Shandra thought as she looked at the screen. “Sounds like that’s where we need to go, then,” she said. “Let’s get moving.”
“Let me get this straight,” Minerva butted in. “We’re going to the creepy, mysterious coordinates without backup?”
“We’ll be going with you, luv,” Arlon told the pilot.
“Oh, great. We have an extra ship. That makes it so much better,” Minerva replied, her sass turned up to maximum. “Okay, we can go now.”
“Bloody hell, you’re almost as bad as my own pilot.”
“More backup couldn’t hurt though,” Dmitri pitched in.
“Why would we need backup?” H asked.
“Oh, I don’t know… maybe so that we don’t die horribly,” Minerva retorted.
“We won’t die horribly, H said confidently. “Well, you might, but I won’t!”
“Well, I like living… and I’d rather keep living.”
“I think we all would,” Shandra said. “What about Graves? She’s helped us before.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Arlon agreed. “We have no idea what we might be walking into.”
Shandra nodded, then walked over to the comm systems. She attempted to contact the FNS Halberd, but the call didn’t go through. “I can’t get a hold of the Halberd,” Shandra informed the others.
“I was afraid this would happen,” Arlon responded. “Graves is my only contact in the Federation navy worth a damn, and I’m guessing she has her hands full fighting the Romanovs. Looks like we’re on our own for this one.”
“Well, that’s just great,” Minerva responded. “Have fun getting yourselves killed.”
“Relax, luv,” Arlon told the pilot. “We can handle ourselves.” The mercenary then turned to the rest of the Helix crew. “Well then, let’s get moving. I’ll see you on the other side.” With that, Arlon departed from the bridge and returned to the Corsair.
The Helix dropped out of warp space on the fringes of Sector 7 in Alliance space. The ship’s crew, assembled on the bridge, were greeted with a view of a dark, starless stretch of space, devoid of anything except for a small station no bigger than the Helix itself. “Well, it’s certainly smaller than I expected,” Shandra commented.
“Looks can be deceiving,” H responded. “This is Mr. Silver we are dealing with.”
Before they could discuss further, the Corsair dropped out of warp space and immediately hailed the Helix. Shandra pressed a button on the console and Arlon appeared on the viewscreen. “What are we dealing with here?” the mercenary asked.
“Not a whole lot, by the looks of it,” Shandra told him, glancing out the viewport at the station.
“I can see that,” Arlon replied with a slight chuckle. “Right then. Let’s dock with this bugger and see what Mr. Silver’s got hidden up his sleeve.”
The Corsair moved in to dock with the station, and Minerva followed suit, bringing the Helix in to dock with the heavy frigate’s free airlock. Shandra hopped out of her seat and made her way to the airlock, her crewmates close behind.
“Welcome back to the Corsair,” Arlon greeted the Helix crew at the airlock. The mercenary turned back toward his ship and motioned for them to follow. “There’s no time to waste, so let’s make this quick,” he continued as they walked down the corridor.
“It looks like you’re ready for a war,” Shandra commented as several Red Suns hastened past, armed with rifles and heavy rocket launchers.
“Mr. Silver asked for one when he set all this in motion,” Arlon replied as he lead the crew into a room. “And without the Federation to back us up, I’m arming everyone up. That means you too.”
The lights flickered on, revealing rows of weapon racks lining the walls. Arlon quickly walked over to one and grabbed a pair of laser rifles off the wall. “These are for you,” he said as he turned back to face the Helix crew.
H turned his nose up as the Red Suns’ leader held out a rifle toward him. “This is all I need,” the cyborg declared, hefting his Pokeball cannon up onto his shoulder.
“Suit yourself, mate,” Arlon responded. The mercenary turned his attention over to Shandra.
“I’m good,” the blue-haired girl told him, holding up her electric dagger in her marked hand, which was glowing fiercely. “Though one of those pistols wouldn’t be too bad.”
“Alright then,” Arlon said, nodding toward the pistols. “The ones on top are laser pistols, the bottom ones are ballistic. Take your pick.” The mercenary then turned to Dmitri. “Here you go, mate,” he said as he passed the rifle into the Romanov’s hands. “And… hmm…” The Red Suns’ leader trailed off as his eyes fell on Alex. “Probably a bit big for you,” he said, glancing back at the rifle.
Arlon set the weapon back on the rack and picked up a pistol instead. “You ever fired one of these before, luv?” the mercenary asked as he handed the gun to Alex. The girl shook her head.
“It’s simple really,” Arlon said as he walked around behind Alex. “Just turn the safety off,” he said, pointing to a switch on the side. The mercenary then raised the teenage girl’s arms into firing position. “Then aim and pull the trigger.”
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Alex asked, hesitantly eying the weapon in her hands.
“I wouldn’t be giving you this if I didn’t think so,” Arlon assured her as he released his grip. The Red Suns’ leader turned to face the rest of the crew. “Alright, let’s get moving.”
“Charges in place.” Kiril stepped back from the sealed hatch, giving Arlon a good line of sight on the entry point. “Ready on your mark.” The Romanov held up the detonator as he flashed the Red Suns’ leader a grin.
“Three.” Arlon tightened his grip on his pistols.
“Two.” The mercenary took a deep breath.
“One.” Let’s do this.
Kiril pressed the button and the breaching charges detonated, blasting a man-sized hole in the sealed hatch while leaving the rest of the airlock unharmed. Arlon stepped through the hole into the station, then hit the button to open the interior airlock. Luckily, the doors slid open, allowing the team to board. The mercenary swiftly moved down the corridor with his fellow Red Suns and the Helix crew close at his heels.
Reaching the end of the corridor, Arlon activated the door console and the door slid open. The Red Suns’ leader stepped through into a small room and quickly scanned it with his pistols. “Clear!” he shouted upon finding it empty.
“Maybe nobody’s ‘ome,” Rena commented as she looked around the room. “It is odd zat nobody is ‘ere.”
“Or they knew we were coming,” Dmitri offered.
“Well, it certainly seems like we’re walking into a trap,” Shandra said, agreeing with her crewmate
“You know what they say, luv,” Arlon said as he turned to face the blue-haired girl. “Sometimes the best option is to spring the trap.”
“What’s our plan then?” Shandra asked.
The Red Suns’ leader looked around the room and got a feel for the layout of the station. “Alright, we’ve got three rooms. Rena, Kiril, take some men and sweep left. Luke, Petra, you’ve got the right.” Arlon then turned his gaze to the Helix crew. “You lot are with me; We’re pushing right up the middle. Let’s move!”
Arlon activated the door console and moved through. After another short corridor, the group stepped into a larger room to find a tram sitting on a track that ended at a ring on the wall. “That’s weird,” Arlon muttered. “All teams, report,” he ordered over the comms.
“All clear ‘ere,” Rena responded.
“Nothing on our end either,” Luke echoed.
“Alright, regroup at my position,” Arlon ordered. He then turned to the Helix crew. “Where the hell are we supposed to go from here?”
“There is a tram,” H pointed out.
“But it doesn’t go anywhere,” Alex retorted.
“It must go somewhere,” Shandra said. “Why else would it be here?”
“I agree,” Rena said said she stepped through the door, the rest of the team behind her. “Zis tram must be ‘ere for a reason.”
“It makes no sense, but this is Mr. Silver’s station, after all,” Arlon said. “Alright, that settles it. There’s not room for all of us on that tram, so the Helix crew and I will go while the rest of you hold the fort down.”
“I don’t like ze idea of you going in zere alone,” Rena said with a worried tone.
“There’s no sense risking all our lives,” Arlon told her. “If we’re not back in an hour, come in after us.”
“You can count on us, boss,” Luke responded.
Arlon turned to face the Helix crew. “You lot ready?” he asked.
“As ready as we’ll ever be,” Shandra replied.
The team boarded the tram, and Arlon started it up. The doors slid shut as the tram whirred to life. The vehicle began to move along the track toward the ring. As the tram approached, the ring began to light up and a glowing purple mass appeared in the center. “Is that what I think it is?” Arlon asked.
“It’s a warp gate,” Dmitri said, confirming the mercenary’s suspicion.
“It’s so… tiny,” Alex commented.
“Well, Mr. Silver is just full of surprises, isn’t he?” Arlon said as the miniature gate drew near. The glow intensified as the tram came in contact with the purple energy at the center of the ring. Arlon gripped his pistols tightly as the vehicle passed through the gate into the unknown. Let’s see what you’re hiding, you bloody bastard.
Author’s Notes: At long last, here it is! Would you believe me if I told you I started this the day after the previous chapter? I made a huge chunk of progress early on and had a few parts leftover that I needed The Other Guy to help with. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a whole lot of time, and even then, when he did have some, other things had the priority. That ended up extending the time it took to finish this by a few weeks. He does apologize for the delay, and I hope the quality of the chapter more than makes up for it.
There are a lot of things going on in this chapter, and so many differences since we basically just took Volume 2, Chapter 26, completely tore it apart, then put it back together as something completely new. Last chapter provided us with the catalyst we needed to drastically change the course of this story. Before Morgan’s death all we could really do was make some minor changes to plot details, but now we can do so much more. This chapter really shows off what we intend to do going forward. Throughout the campaign and the writing process for the original chapters, there were a lot of moments where some of us would have liked to see a certain event play out a bit differently either because of a bad roll or the GM throwing something at us that not everyone was happy with, but now we have the chance to explore those what if scenarios by figuring out what moments we want to play out differently and then finding a way to justify them as being a result of Morgan’s death, or other differences caused by her death. So let’s dive in here.
First up we have a scene of Morgan being discovered. I felt like opening up on Nerva was important to remind the readers where the crew was since a good chunk of this chapter now takes place while the Helix is still there as opposed to it only being briefly mentioned. The next few scenes gave us a great opportunity to show how different characters dealt with Morgan’s suicide. H in particular was the one we thought would be the most interesting. He literally can’t comprehend it. It was also some nice character development for Alex, actually sharing some of her own demons with the crew instead of keeping them secret. We also get to see Shandra having a bit of a different personality from Shane, partially due to her being built off a different neural template, and partially due to her different circumstances. She’s definitely a lot more aggressive, even in venting her frustration. The funeral scene gave me some serious feels too. I’m not gonna lie, I teared up a little bit when I wrote Alex’s goodbyes.
All of that is what causes the rest of the differences. The meeting with Mr. Silver got pushed back a week so that they could grieve and give Morgan her funeral, which is of course makes it so that the Federation doesn’t send a fleet to help so the Red Suns and the Helix crew have to go it alone. Also, not having Morgan means the meeting itself is a bit different. In the actual session, both The Other Guy and myself would’ve liked to have just stabbed Mr. Silver in the face, but DragonStorm forced us to go the other route, even after his Batman gambit totally failed. He had basically said that he didn’t see any other way for the scene to make sense or to get us the right information. I had come to terms with that, but The Other Guy really wanted to have this scene happen the way he wanted it to so we agreed to have Shandra stab the bastard and figure out a way to still convey all the necessary information. We think we succeeded, and proved DragonStorm wrong in the process.
So, that brings us the end. We decided to hell with it, let’s have it be a tactical station sweep with a small team, because why not? It was easy to justify why the Federation fleet wasn’t there. That brings up more differences. Due to less manpower, the Helix crew had to get armed up, even Alex. The tactical breach was fun to write. I took inspiration from the opening of Seeing Red and just went from there. I love how it turned out. And with Morgan gone, that left an open slot on the tram, so Arlon has temporarily rejoined the party! That’s gonna cause a lot more changes for sure!
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!