Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is a spinoff of the sci-fi space epic played using the Pokemon Tabletop United (PTU) system, this time GMed by yours truly. You can get caught up the entire Spacemon saga here!
“Thank you for your assistance, Samir,” Taraka said, bowing his head. “Your information is most appreciated.”
The younger monk he was speaking with bowed in turn. “You are quite welcome,” he said. “I hope it helps you to find what you are looking for.”
Taraka smiled. “As do I.”
With that, the two monks parted ways. Taraka turned and descended the nearby stairway back down to the market streets. He stepped back into the throngs of people milling about between the various stalls, browsing the wares of the merchants and traders.
Taraka hurried on his way to meet up with the rest of his crewmates as he did not wish to hold them up any longer. It had been two weeks since they had taken Rooker down and things had returned to business as usual on the Maverick. Between jobs, the ship’s crew had come to this world, known as Khalimuck, in order for the monk to pursue leads that might lead him to the next stop on his pilgrimage and he did not want to keep them waiting on his account. Khalimuck was one of the most populous planets in Outer Rim Sector 33 and was a melting pot of cultures due to its close proximity to both Sinai and Alliance space. Due to its location, Khalimuck saw lots of Sinai monks and Outer Rim traders, merchants, and explorers passing through.
Taraka had come here hoping that someone might be able to provide him with information on ruins in that region of space. The monk’s gamble had paid off as he had met a monk by the name of Samir who had come across ruins in the surrounding areas during his own pilgrimage. As was common amongst monks on their pilgrimages, Taraka and Samir had compared notes and shared information that the thought might help each other along their individual journeys. As Samir was telling Taraka of the ruins he had visited, one particular site in Sector 34 caught his attention. The younger monk’s description perfectly matched that of the ruins on the planet on the other end of the sector where Taraka and the rest of the Maverick crew had discovered Ace as well as those on the swamp planet where Taraka had received his first scroll vision.
With this new information, Taraka was eager to get back to the ship and inform his crewmates that he had found a lead. As he made his way through the market, the monk spotted Axel speaking with a merchant at one of the stalls and walked over to him.
“If we find anything, we’ll be sure to let you know,” Taraka heard the mercenary say as he approached.
“Much appreciated,” the merchant replied.
Axel nodded at the man, then turned to walk away and spotted Taraka approaching. “Any luck?” he asked the monk.
“I may have found something,” Taraka explained. “I was informed of some ruins that sound like what I’m looking for.”
“Good to hear,” Axel said. “Because I may have found us our next paycheck.” The mercenary nodded in the direction of the merchant he had just been speaking with. “This guy is looking for rare artifacts and ancient tech from ruins,” he elaborated. “Said he’s willing to pay handsomely.”
“I’m sure the captain will be happy to hear that,” Taraka replied as the two made their way through the crowded market.
“Oh, I’m counting on it,” Axel said, slapping his companion on the back.
Axel gathered with the rest of the Maverick crew near the front of the ship as it got close to dropping out of warp space at its destination. Moments later, the mercenary felt the Maverick lurch as it did just that.
“We’re here,” Anya’s voice sounded from the cockpit.
Axel glanced out the viewport only to see the vast vacuum of space. “Where is it?” he asked. “There’s nothing here”
“You’re looking out the wrong window,” Ace said. The android shook his head and pointed to the starboard viewport.
Looking out the proper viewport, Axel saw a mostly green and brown planet. “That’d do it,” the mercenary said, laughing.
“Alright, let’s see what we’ve got here,” Cyrus said. “Ace, man the scanners and see if you can find our ruins.”
“You got it,” the android replied. He walked over to the appropriate console and fired up the scanners.
For the next several minutes, Axel watched over Ace’s shoulder as the scanners did their thing. There really didn’t seem to be much to this planet.
“Got something,” Ace eventually announced. “Here, in this canyon,” he said pointing to the readout on the screen.
“That’s got to be it,” Cyrus said. “Anya, bring us down.”
As the ship descended into the planet’s atmosphere, Axel got a much better look at its surface. It was mostly covered and wide sweeping plains dotted with rocky outcroppings and canyons. Once the ship was close to the ground, he caught sight of a herd of Rhyhorn grazing. Their heads perked up as the Maverick passed over them.
Eventually the Maverick came to a stop over a large canyon and began to descend. The ship soon touched down in a flat region between the two large cliff faces and Axel caught sight of the ruins, which were built into the cliffs. The architecture indeed looked very similar to that of the last few sights that they had visited.
“Let’s get to it, boys,” the captain said before heading for the airlock.
Stepping out onto the planet’s surface, Axel spotted a Sinai meditation sphere parked nearby. “Looks like someone else is here,” he commented.
“Another monk, it seems,” Taraka said. “Perhaps they can tells us more about this place.”
“We’ll see,” Cyrus said. “Let’s get moving.” The Maverick’s captain began walking towards the ruins with Axel, Taraka, and Ace close behind.
“Guys, let’s be careful this time,” Axel said as they approached the darkened entrance. “The last time we were in a place like this, we had to fight a bunch of ghosts.”
“What’s this?” Cyrus asked, a sly smirk on his face. “You’re actually exercising caution for once? Not afraid of a few ghosts, are ya?”
“Of course not,” Axel replied. “I’m just looking out for you guys.”
“Good to hear. Now, how about taking point, tough guy?” The captain slapped Axel on the back and pushed him forward slightly.
“You got it, boss,” the mercenary replied. He unhooked a Pokeball from his belt as he stepped forward into the darkness. He tossed the ball forward, and the area was soon lit by the light of his Charmeleon’s tail. Looking around the illuminated area, Axel determined that he seemed to be standing in a wide corridor. “Looks safe enough,” he said, turning back to his crewmates. He waved them to follow. “Alright guys, let’s move ahead.”
“You three go,” Cyrus said. “I’m gonna check out the rest of the canyon.”
“Sounds good,” Axel replied. “We’ll meet you back here in a few hours.” With that, Axel pressed forward into the darkness with his Charmeleon at his side and Taraka and Ace close behind him.
After several minutes of walking, the corridor emptied out into what seemed to be a large, open atrium that stretched up above, far past Axel’s line of sight. The flame on the end of Ritsu’s tail barely lit a fraction of the chamber. All the mercenary could see was a pair of large columns reaching up into the darkness. “Ritsu, light it up!” he commanded his Charmeleon. His Pokemon obliged and spit a large jet of flame upward into the air, lighting up a much wider area.
Suddenly, a loud screeching roar sounded from high above, echoing down through the atrium. It was then followed by a heavy flapping noise somewhere in the dark.
“Nice going,” Ace said as he sent out his Kirlia. “You woke something big up.” Taraka followed suit and released his Shuppet as well.
“Then I guess we’ll just have to fight it,” Axel replied. “Ritsu, you know what to do!” His Pokemon spit out another jet of fire, revealing an Aerodactyl circling above.
In response to the flames, the massive winged beast let out another roar and dove down at the Maverick crew and their Pokemon. The ground shook as the Aerodactyl landed, kicking up rocks and dirt in all directions and blasting the crew’s Pokemon backwards.
“Ritsu, Flamethrower!” Axel ordered his Pokemon. Regaining her footing, the Charmeleon spit out a jet of fire at the Aerodactyl. Axel then recalled her and switched out to his Alakazam.
Meanwhile, Axel’s crewmates prepared their defenses. Taraka threw up a protective psionic barrier around them and Ace activated his energy shield. The two then ordered their Pokemon to strike.
The Aerodactyl let out another ear-splitting screech as it was pelted with attacks. With a powerful flap of its wings, the Pokemon lifted off the ground. It then grabbed Ace’s Kirlia in one of its claws before flying high up into the air. “Blade, get out of there!” Ace commanded his Pokemon. The Kirlia didn’t need to be told twice. His Pokemon teleported out of his assailant’s grasp, back to the safety of the ground.
“Quick, strengthen the barrier before it comes back!” Axel shouted. “Ryner, use Reflect!” Working together, the mercenary’s Pokemon and Taraka poured their energy into the protective barrier around them, hardening it against their attacker. It was just in time too; the Aerodactyl soon dove back down at them, but it was driven back by the barrier.
“Ryner, use Icy Wind!” Axel then commanded his Alakazam. The Aerodactyl flew out of the way as Ryner blasted freezing cold air at it. Axel then followed up with a blast from his flamethrower, but the Aerodactyl dodged that as well. “I can’t get a hit on this thing!” he shouted in frustration.
“Let’s see it dodge this!” Taraka shouted back. “Spooperz, use Feint Attack!” The monk’s Shuppet floated up to the Aerodactyl and lashed out at it. The attack, however, seemed to do little more than anger the beast. The enraged Pokemon snapped at the ghostly Pokemon, crushing her with its powerful jaws. It was more than enough to bring the Shuppet down.
“Blade, Confusion!” Ace commanded his Kirlia. Blade blasted the Aerodactyl with psychic energy and it finally seemed to start wearing out.
Taraka was quick to seize the opportunity, lobbing a Great Ball at the Aerodactyl. The large winged Pokemon was pulled into the ball, but it quickly broke out. Good idea, Axel thought. Following his crewmate’s example he threw a ball of his own. Unfortunately, he completely missed his mark. Ace had a little more success, but as with the ball Taraka threw, the Aerodactyl broke free. Looking even angrier than before, the enraged Pokemon lashed out at the nearest thing it could reach, in this case Axel’s Alakazam. Fortunately, the psionic barrier protected the Pokemon from the Aerodactyl’s razor sharp teeth.
“We need to hit it some more,” Ace said. “Blade, Magical Leaf!” His Kirlia fired off another attack, further whittling the Aerodactyl down.
Taraka quickly threw another ball at the Aerodactyl as soon as the attack landed. With the violent Pokemon inside it, the ball fell to the ground. It shook once … twice … then fell still.
“Nice work,” Axel commended his crewmate as he watched him walk over to claim his prize. “That thing will come in handy the next time a giant Pokemon attacks us in some ruins.”
“Well, maybe if you didn’t keep waking them up,” Ace commented.
“How else are we gonna catch them if we don’t get their attention first?” Axel asked his robotic crewmate.
Axel watched a smile creep onto Taraka’s face. “He does have a point,” the monk said.
“Fair enough,” Ace agreed as he deactivated his shield.
After gathering their bearings, the Maverick crew pressed on. Axel once again took point, his Charmeleon once more at his side. On the far side of the atrium they discovered another corridor entrance that led further into the ruins. Following the corridor they arrived at a fork, one passageway leading to the right and another to the left.
“Which way should we go?” Ace asked.
“Let’s go left,” Axel decided for the group. He immediately began walking in that direction without waiting for the input of his crewmates.
Moving down the corridor, the trio came to a slightly spiraling staircase that led down, deeper into the ruins. They descended, eventually arriving at the bottom. Following a network of mostly collapsed corridors, their path soon opened up into a room scattered with pieces of ancient technology.
“Jackpot!” Axel exclaimed, a smile coming to his face as he thought of how much money they were going to make. “Let’s see what we’ve got here.”
After scouring the room, the trio determined that most of the objects in the room were merely scraps, but would still be valuable as salvage. There was, however, one piece of tech that seemed to be intact. Axel picked up the rectangular object and began to examine it.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” Ace asked.
“Of course I do,” Axel replied. He hit the object with his fist and a console lit up. “See. Now … how does this function?” He examined the object for a few more moments and then shouted, “I command you, machine, to turn on and tell me what you do!”
“Well, it’s not voice activated,” he concluded.
There was a metallic clank as Ace buried his face in his palm.
“What?” Axel asked. “I don’t see you coming up with any ideas.”
“Did you try touching the screen?” the android suggested.
“Good idea,” Axel said. He touched a finger to the screen and several symbols appeared, They were unlike anything he had ever seen. “Hey, Taraka, can you read this?”
The monk took the object off Axel’s hands and began to examine it for himself. “It’s definitely writing,” he concluded. “But I’ve never seen this language before.”
“Well, that’s not very helpful.”
“I’m pretty sure these are labels for buttons,” Taraka continued. He pointed to four distinct patterns of symbols that did, in fact, appear to be arranged like buttons. “I can’t read them, though, so I have no idea what their functions might be.”
“Whatever this thing is, it’s probably worth a lot of money,” Axel said. He placed the object into his pack with the rest of the salvage, then turned toward the room’s exit. “Alright guys, let’s see what else we can break.”
“Let’s try not to break everything,” Taraka said. “Let’s just keep looking.”
Axel shrugged. “It seemed more effective than trying to play nice with it.”
“It works sometimes, but you are going to end up locking us in a cave or something eventually.”
“Whatever you say, Taraka,” Axel dismissed his comment. “Now, let’s head back up and see where that other passage leads.”
After taking the right-hand passageway, the Maverick crew arrived at another staircase, this one leading upwards. Following behind Axel, who was still leading the way, Taraka soon found himself on a balcony looking out over the atrium. It was difficult to see through the darkness, but the monk could just make out the columns supporting the structure.
Opposite of the balcony, across the passage leading from the stairs, was another corridor that led further into the ruins. Moving down this corridor, Taraka saw light up ahead. Eventually, the corridor emptied out into a chamber that very much reminded him of the one in the swamp ruins where he had received his last vision. The vaulted ceiling led up to a hole open to the sky that allowed the sunlight to shine down upon a pedestal in the center of the room.
As he scanned the room with his eyes, Taraka saw something that should not be there. A body lay on the floor near the pedestal. Beside it, a shadowy figure was crouched over it, seeming to search it. The figure, whatever it was, hadn’t seemed to notice them. Taraka subtly gestured to his crewmates and pointed the figure out to them.
“Hey!” Axel called out. “Who’s there?!”
The figure immediately looked up at them. It stared at them for a few seconds, and then vanished!
Axel quickly ran forward to where the figure had been. “Where did they go?!”
“Whoever they were, you scared them off,” Taraka said, walking up behind him.
Taraka approached the body on the floor and knelt beside it. It looked to be a fellow monk, a few years older than Taraka himself. There was a deep stab wound in his chest and Taraka could not detect a pulse. Taraka had never met this man before, but he felt a sadness within him.
“Who is he?” Axel asked.
“I do not know,” Taraka replied.
“Let’s find out.” Axel began searching the body and soon pulled out a Pokedex, as well as two Pokeballs. “Shareef Patil,” the mercenary read from the Dex. “That name mean anything to you?”
Taraka shook his head. “No,” the monk said. “If I were to guess by his age, I would say he was on his pilgrimage too,” he continued. “You didn’t find a scroll on him, did you?”
“No,” Axel answered. “This was it.”
“Doesn’t it look like there should be something here?” Ace spoke up. Taraka looked over to see his robotic crewmate examining the pedestal closely.
“Maybe that person took it?” Axel suggested.
“Maybe,” Taraka said. It was certainly a possibility.
“I think we should get back to the ship and tell the captain about this,” Axel said after a few moments.
“That’s probably a good idea,” Ace agreed.
Taraka got back to his face and looked at his two crewmates. “Very well.”
“How disturbing.” Taraka watched Cyrus stroke his facial scruff as he pondered the information his crew had just shared with him. “The scanners didn’t pick up another ship either.”
“What do you think we should do, boss?” Axel asked.
“We should contact the proper authorities and let them sort this out,” the captain said.
“I would also like to inform the order of this,” Taraka said.
“Let’s deal with the Federation first, then we can contact them,” Cyrus replied.
Taraka nodded. “As you wish.”
“I’ll handle this,” the captain continued. “You three go and relax. You’ve earned it after finding all that salvage.”
“Thanks, boss,” Axel said. He then turned to Ace and Taraka. “How about we go look for some Pokemon?”
“I would enjoy that,” Taraka agreed.
“What about you, Ace?”
“I think I’ll sit this one out,” the android replied.
“Suit yourself. C’mon Taraka, let’s see what we can find.”
After wandering a ways away from the ship, Axel was starting to feel like there weren’t any Pokemon in the canyon. It was a bit sparse in vegetation, so the wild Pokemon of this world probably didn’t venture down here. He was considering turning back when a Pokemon cry caught his attention.
“Look there,” Taraka said.
Axel looked to where the monk was pointing and saw three Spearows perched on a fallen tree. “Might be all we’re gonna find,” the mercenary said.
Axel unhooked his Charmeleon’s Pokeball from his belt and sent her out. Taraka nodded and sent out his Ponyta as well. Meanwhile, the three bird Pokemon continued to pay them no mind.
“Ritsu, use Flamethrower!” Axel commanded. His Charmeleon spit out a huge surge of flames at one of the Spearows, completely immolating it. As the bird Pokemon dropped to the ground, the other two flew up into the air, squawking angrily.
“Blaze, Ember,” Taraka ordered his own Pokemon. The Ponyta spat out another jet of flame at one of the other Spearows, landing a hit. The Spearow squawked again, then dove at its assailant. The Ponyta, however, maneuvered out of the way of the incoming strike. Taraka then threw a Pokeball at the Spearow, but it broke free.
Meanwhile, the other Spearow flew after Ritsu, striking Axel’s Charmeleon with its beak. Axel fired his flamethrower at it to drive it back, but couldn’t land a hit. He did succeed in distracting it, however. Seizing the opportunity, Ritsu leapt up into the air and wrapped her flaming jaws around it, finishing it off.
As the remaining Spearow and his Ponyta continued to trade blows, Taraka attempted another capture. Once more, the Pokemon broke free. Axel then attempted a capture of his own, but the angered bird Pokemon did not want to get caught.
Having had enough of this tussel, Axel ordered his Pokemon to attack. “Ritsu, Flamethrower!” As she prepared to attack, Ritsu began glowing white hot. The glow intensified and the Charmeleon began to change shape. Ritsu, now a Charizard, expelled the stored up energy in a massive torrent of flames that engulfed the Spearow.
When the flames cleared, only a charred husk remained. Ritsu let out a triumphant roar, then stomped forward and proceeded to devour her prey. Axel looked on with a proud smile on his face as he watched his Pokemon eat her meal. All those months of training her had finally paid off.
Notes: And we’re back! We took a two week break for Thanksgiving after the previous session, which worked out nicely since we had just finished the first plot arc. Because of that fact, I decided to have a time skip of the same length in the story as well. It ended up being a much longer break between chapter postings though; it’s been months since I posted a Frontier chapter. And so begins the next plot arc.
The first scene is synthesized from a few descriptions I provided the party to bring everyone back in. I just gave it a bunch of narrative polish here to make it all flow nicely. I wanted to get the players back into the action quickly so I gave them some hooks to send them on their way. Beyond that, though, I didn’t plan anything too in depth ahead of time because I wanted to work on my improv GMing. The planet was randomly generated and I made up the ruins as I went along, except for the final bit because it was part of the narrative of the new plot arc.
They looked for Pokemon right when they entered the ruins and rolled really well so I decided to turn the encounter into a mini boss fight. I had fun with the Aerodactyl fight even though they kind of wrecked it even though it was much higher level. It really came down to Novi getting a really fantastic capture roll of -1.
Unfortunately, not everyone was engaged. IR totally zoned out and ended up leaving an hour early. We had already discussed it a couple times before this, and after sorting out our frustrations, we amicably decided between this session and the next that he would drop out of the campaign because he wasn’t having fun and the other players and I felt that it would be better to have a player who was engaged with the game. Fortunately, I had already been looking to add a fourth player before this session and already had one lined up to join for the next one. So, this was the last session IR ran Ace. However, I had developed some plot points around Ace and knew I was going to be writing this campaign up and wanted to have a strong narrative, so going forward I reworked Ace as one of the major NPCs on the ship alongside Cyrus, Anya, and Erik. That is, until he was picked up by a new player way later on in the campaign.
Since IR left early and we didn’t know yet that he was going to drop out, we didn’t want to press on with the plot. Instead Axel and Novi opted to look for Pokemon, mostly because Axel wanted to evolve his Charmeleon. They rolled crap so I threw a few low level Spearows at them, which proved to be hilarious. By this point, Axel’s Charmeleon was a beast compared to everything, so it straight up killed all the weak Spearows. It was an amusing end to the session.
Post-Chapter Challenge: Since we haven’t had a chapter in a while, I figured we could use a challenge too. Let’s ease back in with a pair of questions. 1. What do you think the object Axel found is? 2. Who or what do you think the shadowy figure is? I look forward to your theories!
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 rest of the Spacemon saga, join the Spacemon Discord server, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here for the next exciting installment of Spacemon: Frontier!