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!
The cold air was still as Taraka, Axel, and Roland drew near the ruins on Freyeon. The trees began to thin out, giving way to much more rugged terrain. Coming upon a steep cliff face, Taraka spotted a staircase built into it, leading up through the rocks to the ruins.
“Finally,” Axel said.
“Don’t tell me you’re tired, sir,” Roland said.
“Not at all,” the mercenary replied. “Just sick of walking.”
As the trio approached the stairs, Taraka spotted several sets of tracks in the snow that looked like they had been made quite recently. “Someone else has been here,” the monk said, pointing the tracks out to his crewmates. “By the looks of it, they were carrying something quite large,” he continued, pointing out a trench through the snow that appeared to be caused by an object being dragged.
“That’s just great,” Axel said. “Do you think it’s our assassin friend?”
“I do not believe so,” Taraka replied. “This looks like several people, and it sounded like he works alone.”
“Hmm,” Roland said. “Then who do you think—”
“Get down!” Taraka cut the merchant off, suddenly spotting a man with a rifle peek up from behind a rock next to the stairs. The monk dove behind a nearby tree, and just in time too; a shot impacted the snow where he had been standing seconds prior.
“Good heavens!” Roland cried out as he too hid behind a tree.
Axel, however, stubbornly held his ground and sent out his Charizard just as another shooter popped up on the other side of the stairs. A shot rang out, and a rapidly accelerated metal projectile impacted Ritsu’s scales. The Charizard let out a mighty roar, then lifted off. She flew at her attacker, spewing flames from her mouth, but the man ducked down behind the rock and out of harm’s way.
From the safety of the tree he was taking cover behind, Taraka threw up a psionic barrier to protect himself and his crewmates as well as their Pokemon, then released his Togekiss. “Sirius, get up there and use Fairy Wind,” the monk commanded his Pokemon. Sirius flew up towards the man who had shot at her trainer and unleashed her attack. Unfortunately, he was protected by the cover of the rocks.
The other gunman, meanwhile, began to fire off short controlled bursts at the two Pokemon overhead. The Charizard and the Togekiss kept avoiding the incoming fire, so the man changed targets and opened fire on Axel. Fortunately, Taraka’s psionic barrier protected him from significant harm.
“You’ll pay for that!” Axel shouted as he trudged forward through the snow. “Ritsu, use Flamethrower!” Heeding her trainer’s command, the Charizard touched down atop the rock the shooter was hiding behind and unleashed a massive surge of flames, melting right through his armor. The man fired a few shots back, wounding Ritsu, but that only served to further enrage her. “Finish him with Flame Burst!” Axel ordered. In one last explosion of flames, the gunman dropped dead. Ritsu let out another roar, then turned her fierce gaze upon the remaining shooter as he tried to line up a shot on Sirius.
Reaching the base of the stairs, Axel pulled out Ritsu’s Pokeball. “Ritsu, come back,” the mercenary said as he recalled his wounded Charizard. Even though he was mildly annoyed with his crewmate for his earlier antics, Taraka appreciated that Axel truly cared deeply for his Pokemon.
From the safety of cover, Taraka focused, pouring his energies into his barrier to strengthen it. He was just in time too, as what would have otherwise been a lethal shot hit his Togekiss. Taraka quickly ran out from cover to come to his Pokemon’s aid. “Use Fairy Wind!” the monk shouted as he closed the distance.
Sirius unleashed her attack as Axel began moving up the stairs. The mercenary drew the gunman’s fire, allowing the Togekiss to fly back to her trainer. After recalling his Pokemon, Taraka ran up the stairs just behind his crewmate and took a swing at the gunman with his staff, but he dodged out of the way. The gunman struck back, slamming Taraka with the butt of his rifle. The monk’s barrier absorbed most of the impact, but it still hurt like hell. Taraka then took another swing at his attacker. This time, he found his mark, but his staff did little more than bounce off the gunman’s armor.
“Get him, Ryner!” Axel shouted, releasing his Alakazam, “Use Ice Beam!” The Pokemon unleashed his icy attack, blasting the gunman backwards. Axel then followed up with a burst of his flamethrower, knocking the man unconscious.
Taraka breathed a sigh of relief. The fighting was over, at least for now.
“Get up, you coward,” Axel barked as he stood over Roland, who was still cowering behind a tree.
“Please, I mean you no harm!” the merchant cried out, not realizing it was Axel. He tried to shrink away as Axel reached out to grab him, but was unsuccessful.
“It’s me,” Axel grunted as he pulled Roland to his feet.
“Oh,” Roland said, realizing he was no longer in danger. “Is it safe?”
“Those gunmen are dead, if that’s what you mean,” Axel said. “But that doesn’t mean you’re safe. What the hell were you thinking?! Our Pokemon wouldn’t have gotten hurt so bad if you helped us!”
“Please, sir!” Roland cried. “I am no fighter!”
“Axel, let it go,” Taraka said. “We made it didn’t we?”
“Alright,” Axel agreed before releasing Roland from his grasp. “But there might be more inside. Bringing him won’t do anyone any good.”
“Did you say more?” Roland asked.
“Let’s call the captain and ask for backup,” Axel said, ignoring the merchant.
Taraka nodded. “A good idea.”
“Understood,” Captain Cyrus Drake said into the comms. “We’re on our way.” It seemed his crew had run into some trouble and needed some reinforcements.
“Roger that, Captain,” came Axel’s reply.
The Maverick’s captain turned to his pilot. “You heard the man, Anya. We’ve got an emergency insertion and extraction to perform.”
The Romanov pilot nodded and fired up the ship’s engines. “Preparing for takeoff,” she announced.
The Maverick lifted off the snowy ground, and began flying in the direction of the ruins. “There won’t be anywhere to land, Captain,” Anya said. “Just so you know.”
“Then I guess I’ll just have to fly,” Cyrus replied. “Hold the ship in position above their location and I’ll take care of the rest.
“You got it,” Anya said, nodding.
After a brief stop in the med bay to grab some potions, Cyrus made his way to the cargo hold as Anya flew the ship into position. “Lowering the cargo ramp now,” he said over the comms before hitting the release button. The cold Freyeon air rushed into the cargo hold as the ramp deployed. Cyrus began walking down the ramp and looked down. He could see the three members of crew below.
“Let’s do this,” the captain said to himself before grabbing his Braviary’s Pokeball from his belt and sending him out. “Alright, Aguilo, I need you to fly me down there.” The large avian Pokemon flew to his trainer and gripped his outstretched arm with his powerful talons. With a few powerful flaps of his wings, Aguilo lifted off, then began descending to the ground below.
“Nice of you to drop in, boss,” Axel said as Cyrus touched down.
“Well, I can’t have my employees dying on me,” the captain replied with a chuckle. He then turned his gaze to Roland, who looked quite shaken up. “You don’t look like you’re in a state to head into the ruins,” he said. “Especially if there’s more mercs inside.”
“Most certainly not, sir!” the merchant replied.
“Alright, Aguilo, get him out of here,” Cyrus commanded his Pokemon. The Braviary let out a caw, then flew over to Roland. Grabbing the merchant by the shoulders, Aguilo took to the skies, flying Roland back to the safety of the Maverick. A moment later, the Pokemon returned and Cyrus recalled him.
“What a coward,” Cyrus heard Axel grumble to himself.
“The Rim’s not for everyone,” the captain said.
“These are for you two,” Cyrus said, changing the subject. He pulled out the potions he had taken from the med bay and distributed them to his men.
“Thank you, Captain,” Taraka said as he accepted the potions.
“No problem, boys,” Cyrus said as he watched Taraka and Axel heal their injured Pokemon.
“Alright, let’s get in there,” Axel said once his Charizard was back in fighting shape.
Cyrus drew his pistol as he took a step toward the stairs the led up to the ruins. “Be ready for anything, boys.”
“Looks clear,” Axel said as he led the way through the entranceway to the ruins. The layer of snow that had blown in from outside crunched beneath the mercenary’s feet as he stepped forward.
“Keep your eyes peeled,” Cyrus said as he followed behind him.
“Don’t worry, Captain,” Axel said with a chuckle.
At the end of the entrance passageway, the Maverick crew stepped out into a large open room. The three of them stood upon a wide upper terrace that wrapped around the entire chamber. A pair of staircases, one on each side of the entrance passageway, led down to the lower level.
Axel approached the guardrail and peered over it to get a better look. He was greeted by the sight of a bunch more mercenaries. By Axel’s count, there were at least ten of them. As he continued to observe them, he spotted a familiar-looking individual.
“Shit,” Axel cursed quietly.
“What is it?” Cyrus asked, walking up next to the mercenary.
“It’s that Dane Lory guy again,” Axel replied.
“He wasn’t so hard to deal with last time,” the captain said.
“He didn’t have so many men with him last time,” Taraka pointed out, joining the pair.
“Fair point. It doesn’t look like they’ve spotted us yet, so let’s just wait and see what happens.”
“C’mon, we can take ‘em,” Axel said. He was itching for a fight to get some payback for the skirmish outside the ruins.
“The odds do not look to be in our favor,” Taraka warned. “We should be patient.”
“Alright men, get these last few crates moved out of here!” Lory barked at his men, putting an end to the discussion. His words echoed in the large open space. “Our employer wants this whole place cleared out.”
It was then that Axel noticed the four large crates sitting on the floor near the mercenaries. The men began to break off into pairs and gather up the crates. “You two with me,” Lory continued, motioning to the remaining men. “We’ve got one last item to collect.” The three of them then headed down a corridor leading deeper into the ruins.
“Move,” Cyrus said quietly as the mercenaries began carrying the crates toward the stairs. He then began inching along the edge of the upper terrace, trying to remain out of sight. Axel and Taraka followed, ducking around the corner and out of sight just as the mercenaries reached the top of the staircase.
“Did you hear that?” one of the mercenaries asked the other man carrying the same crate, turning to look in the Maverick crew’s direction. Axel kept a finger resting on the trigger of his flamethrower, ready to jump out if need be. He wasn’t taking any chances, just in case they had been spotted. Luckily, they remained unseen. “It was probably nothing,” the mercenary said to his comrade before the two continued on their way.
“See, waiting paid off,” Taraka said once the mercenaries had disappeared down the exit corridor.
“Fine. You were right this time,” Axel conceded. “Now, let’s see what our friend is up to.” The mercenary stood up and began walking toward the stairs, pulling out Ritsu’s Pokeball as he approached.
Axel took point as he and his crewmates moved down the dark corridor. Their path was lit only by the light radiating off Axel’s Charizard and Taraka’s Blitzle. They had been walking for quite a while by this point, and had just ascended several flights of stairs.
“I think I see light up ahead,” Cyrus suddenly said.
Axel squinted. Sure enough, there was indeed a faint light up ahead. After moving further up, the mercenary could see that the light was coming from a fork in the corridor. Arriving at the fork, Axel looked down both passageways, both of which were lit. If he was correct, one led back in the direction of the large open room. The other, meanwhile, led deeper into the ruins.
“Now, which way do you think he went?” Axel asked.
“This way, I reckon,” Cyrus said, peering down the corridor that led further in.
“What makes you so sure?” Axel asked. “Let’s take a moment to figure this out. We don’t want to miss him.”
“Shut up, we’re going this way,” the captain replied before taking a step into the corridor.
“If you say so, boss,” Axel said before following him.
The corridor soon emptied out into an open hexagonally-shaped chamber with a pedestal in the middle. The walls were completely barren and looked to Axel like they had been recently stripped. That was the least of his concerns, however. Flanked by his two men, Dane Lory stood in front of the pedestal, grasping a red crystal that was set upon it.
At the sound of clanking footsteps entering the room, the mercenary leader picked the crystal up, then turned to look in the Maverick crew’s direction. “Not you again,” he said, recognizing them from Rooker’s base on Crion.
Axel’s eyes were drawn to the crystal in the man’s hand. That looks valuable, he thought. “Yeah, it’s us again,” he then said to Lory. “But we’ll let you go if you give us that crystal you just picked up.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” Lory sneered back at Axel, his hand moving to one of his Pokeballs.
A smirk appeared on Axel’s face. “Are you sure you wanna fight? We kind of kicked your ass last time, so how about you just give us the crystal and leave?”
“If you want it you’re gonna have to take it from me,” Lory said. “I’m getting paid far too much to give this rock up.”
“Give me that crystal now!” Axel shouted.
“Shut up,” Lory snapped back. “We’re done talking. Get ‘em, boys!” With that, the mercenary grabbed the Pokeball off his belt and released a Blastoise.
That’s going to be a problem, Axel thought as he sized up this new threat. Ritsu wasn’t going to be able to do much against it. There were still the three men closing in on them, though. “Ritsu, use Flamethrower!” Axel ordered his Charizard, pointing at one of Lory’s two lackeys. Ritsu let out a powerful roar, then unleashed her flames. The man was quickly engulfed by the attack and his screams echoed in the large open space. Then he fell silent, his charred body collapsing to the floor.
Taraka, meanwhile, focused on the Blastoise. “Blitz, Shock Wave,” the monk commanded his Pokemon. The Blitzle fired off a bolt of electricity at the Blastoise, but it didn’t seem to do much to it despite the type advantage. “It’s a tough one,” Taraka said before throwing up a psionic barrier to protect everyone.
“We’ll see about that,” Axel said. He recalled his Charizard, then aimed at the Blastoise and unleashed a stream of fire. The Blastoise quickly turned its back to the attack, and the flames did little more than deflect off its shell.
“Ha, you’ll have to do better than that,” Lory laughed. “Now, let’s see how you handle this.” The mercenary hit a button on his armor, which then began to release clouds of water vapor. The clouds filled the air and started pouring down rain. “Shellshock, use Water Pulse!” he then commanded his Pokemon. The Blastoise took aim at Axel with one of its water cannons, then fired, spraying him with a jet of highly pressurized water. Fortunately, Taraka’s psionic barrier kept it from doing too much damage to his armor.
Meanwhile, Lory’s remaining grunt raised his rifle and opened fire on Taraka’s Blitzle. The monk quickly moved in front of the incoming laser fire, shielding his Pokemon from harm as Cyrus began to return fire. The merc quickly dove out of the way, narrowly avoiding the incoming projectiles.
“Let’s see you dodge this!” the captain shouted. He grabbed a Pokeball off his belt and threw out his Talonflame. “Peregrine, use Peck!” he commanded the Pokemon. The talonflame let a fierce cry before diving down at the grunt. His beak ripped a chunk out of the mercenary’s armor as it made contact.
“Blitze, use Thunder Wave on the leader!” Taraka then commanded his Blitzle. The monk moved up with his Pokemon, keeping himself between her and the grunt, and continued to strengthen his barrier. Once in range, Blitze fired off a jolt of electricity at Lory, causing his armor to short out.
Seeing an opportunity, Axel tossed a Pokeball right between Blitz and Lory’s Blastoise, releasing his Shinx. “Krieg, use Spark!” he barked. Drawing electrical energy from the Blitzle beside him, Krieg dove at the Blastoise, lightning sparking around him.
“Shellshock, Protect!” Lory shouted. His Blastoise quickly retreated into its shell just before Krieg made contact, causing the Shinx to bounce harmlessly off him. “Is that all you’ve got?!” the mercenary taunted the Maverick crew.
“There’s plenty more where that came from!” Cyrus shouted before taking aim at Lory’s remaining lackey with his pistol. With the captain’s Talonflame still flying around him, the merc was unable to get out of the way in time. A few well placed shots to the shoulder quickly dropped him to the floor.
“You’ll pay for that!” Lory barked at the captain. The mercenary leader took aim at Cyrus and fired off a jet of water from one of his cannons, sending him flying backwards into the wall. Peregrine let out another fierce cry, then dived at Lory in an attempt to protect his trainer. Lory, however, managed to slip out of harm’s way.
“You alright, Captain?!” Axel called out.
“I’ll live!” Cyrus replied as he stumbled to his feet.
“Blitz, Shock Wave!”
Axel glanced back at the Blastoise to see it being hit with another bolt of electricity from Taraka’s Blitzle. The monk, meanwhile took a swing at Lory with his staff, but the impact was absorbed by the mercenary’s armor.
Gotta soften him up, Axel thought. He took aim at Lory, then sprayed him with his flamethrower, setting him on fire.
Just as in their previous encounter, Lory pressed a button on his armor, which then began to glow as it surrounded him in protective shroud of water, extinguishing the flames. “You’d think you would’ve learned your lesson,” the mercenary leader taunted. Axel cursed himself for not remembering Lory’s suit was capable of that.
“Now Shellshock, use Hydro Pump! Take out that Shinx!” Lory ordered his Pokemon. The Blastoise aimed both cannons at Krieg and unleashed a torrent of pressurized water.
“Dodge it, Krieg!” Axel shouted. “Now, Charge!” As the Shinx nimbly avoided the jets of water, he began charging up electricity. His next attack would surely be devastating.
“Peregrine, use Quick Attack!”
Lory was suddenly struck by Cyrus’s Talonflame at high speed. The captain then fired off a volley of shots as he ran back into the action, landing a few good hits on the mercenary’s armor. As Lory turned to face Cyrus again, Taraka struck him from behind with his staff, knocking him off balance.
“Blitze, Shock Wave again!” the monk then commanded his Pokemon. The Blitzle began sparking violently, unleashing her most powerful attack yet. Lory’s Blastoise was suddenly struck with a massive bolt of lightning.
“Hit him with the Blitzkrieg!” Axel shouted. “Use Spark!” His Shinx ran at the Blastoise and slammed into it whilst releasing all his stored up energy.
Smoke began rising from Lory’s Pokemon as it stumbled backwards, but it still had fight left in it. “Take those pests down with Blizzard!” Lory barked. The Blastoise took aim with its cannons and fired off a double shot of ice and snow, striking both Blitz and Krieg with staggering force. It would have surely been a double knockout if not for Taraka’s barrier, which absorbed the brunt of the attack before shattering.
Lory then aimed his cannons back behind himself and fired them off, propelling himself forward at a rapid pace. Axel and Taraka had barely enough time to dive out of the way as the mercenary leader shot by them, riding a massive wave. Now standing in the entranceway, Lory fired his cannons at the Maverick crew. Axel quickly scrambled to his feet, narrowly avoiding yet another attack.
Lory’s Blastoise moved to trap the crew and their Pokemon between the two of them, but one last Shock Wave from Blitz brought it down. “Well, this has been fun,” Lory said as he recalled his fainted Pokemon. “But I’m afraid I don’t have time to hang out with you losers.”
Axel’s eyes narrowed. If past experience meant anything, then Lory was about to flee. “Before you run away, we’ll let you go if you just give us that crystal.”
“Ha!” Lory scoffed. “Fat chance. I’ll see you losers later!” With that, the mercenary leader turned and ran down the corridor.
“Peregrine, get after him!” Cyrus shouted as he took off after Lory.
“You too, Krieg!” Axel commanded, following after the captain.
The two Pokemon closed the distance and landed their attacks, but the mercenary aimed his cannons backwards and fired, rocketing him forward. “We can’t let him get away!” Axel shouted as he picked up his pace.
The Maverick crew pursued Lory back to the fork, then down the corridor they hadn’t gone down. The passageway opened up to a large balcony looking over the main chamber. Reaching the guardrail, Lory jumped up onto it, then used his cannons to launch himself off, down to the lower level where his men stood waiting.
“You’re such a coward!” Axel yelled after the mercenary leader. His voice echoed across the large open chamber as the Maelstrom mercenaries retreated from the ruins.
“Nothing we can do about it now,” Cyrus said, walking up beside Axel. “I suggest we head back to the Maverick. It looks like the bastards cleared this place out, and I don’t think our assassin friend is going to show up.”
“If you do not mind, Captain, I would like to look around a little more,” Taraka said.
“Sure,” Cyrus agreed. “C’mon, Axel let’s go.”
“I can’t believe that bastard ran away again,” Axel grumbled as he followed Cyrus and Taraka away from the balcony.
“Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of him,” Cyrus said. “I’m sure you’ll have your chance to get some payback.”
Axel sighed. “I hope you’re right.”
Notes: And so ends the first session of 2017. We took a two week break for Christmas and New Years’ after the previous session. When we had left off before our break, the party had landed on Freyeon and had looked for some Pokemon, with plans to investigate ruins on the planet in the next session. I used the extra time to really plan out the ruins and what would happen there. I even made some awesome maps in Roll20 for the interior and exterior of the ruins.
Of course, not everything goes according to plan. Roland’s player ended up not being able to make it, which threw off the scaling for the encounters, or so I thought. The two snipers outside proved to be very difficult for Axel and Novi to handle on their own. We thought Roland’s player was just going to be late at first, so I just had Roland cower behind a tree, expecting him to show up eventually and jump into the action. That ended up not happening, and he messaged me a little later saying he wouldn’t make it at all.
Since the fight was hard for just two, I let them call the ship for backup, having Roland return to the ship and Cyrus sub in as an NPC helper. It was easier than taking the time to rebalance everything for two players. It ended up being unnecessary, as they did far better inside the ruins. I didn’t fully account for them having electric types and they took the Blastoise down way too fast. I had a whole three phase boss fight planned with the initial encounter, a chase segment down the corridor, and finally a fight with more minions in the main room, but they wrecked Lory and his Blastoise way too quickly and my original plan just wasn’t going to work. Also, listening back to this a year after the session I found myself questioning all my choices as a GM. I used Protect against the wrong thing, I didn’t use moves when I should have, I didn’t give the grunts Pokemon, etc.
And thus Dane Lory gained the reputation of being a coward, now having fled two of two encounters with the party. It’s actually something I ended up rolling with in future encounters with him. It certainly made Axel hate his rival more. That’s what I call making the most of your mistakes. The failures definitely helped me improve my GMing for the future.
Post-Chapter Challenge: Another simple question this time. What do you think the red crystal is? Share your theories I want to hear them!
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!