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!
Axel stepped into the Maverick’s cargo hold as the ship touched down in the spaceport on the planet Zintau. The ship’s crew had been to the jungle world before, back when they had been waiting to for the go-ahead from Jun Azarov to strike Maelstrom’s base. As he joined up with the rest of the crew near the cargo ramp, Axel thought back on the moments he’d shared with Persephone during that time.
The mercenary hadn’t been able to return to Insipia to see her since finding out she was carrying his child and he was anxiously waiting to be able to do so, but right now there was a job to do. Gaster, Kasey, and Taraka had explored some ruins the last time they had been on Zintau, but there hadn’t been time to mount a full scale salvage expedition at the time. That was no longer the case.
“You guys ready to head out into the jungle?” Axel asked as he walked up behind Gaster and Taraka.
“As ready as we’ll ever be,” Gaster replied.
“Good luck, boys. Be sure to bring back some cool tech for me to study,” Kasey said. “And watch out for snakes.” The scientist wasn’t coming along this time, not keen on running into another snake Pokemon in the jungle. Axel was going to be taking her place; they needed him for the heavy lifting anyway.
“We’ll try,” Ace told her. The android would be joining them as well. Taraka had said the place had reminded him of other ruins sites they had been to, including the location where they had found Ace, so it stood to reason that the android might be able to find some answers about his past there.
“Alright, guys, let’s get moving,” Axel said, giving Gaster and Taraka each a slap on the back. With that, the four members of the Maverick’s crew descended the cargo ramp.
“You crawled in through there?”
“We didn’t have many options,” Gaster said, glancing over at Axel, who was staring at the hole Jimothy had made in the wall of the ruins the last time they were here. The mercenary didn’t seem particularly keen on using the precarious entrance the former smuggler’s Krokorok had created.
“It’s fine,” Taraka said before climbing through the hole into the basement of the structure.
Gaster simply shrugged at Axel, then followed the monk inside. Ace soon joined them. Gaster could hear Axel grumble to himself before finally following the rest of his crewmates inside.
“Alright, now which way?” the mercenary asked.
“This way,” Taraka said, waving for the others to follow him down the corridor that led to the stairs up to the courtyard.
As the four members of the Maverick’s crew made their way through the underground passageway, Gaster looked around, checking to see if anything had changed since the last time he was here. It had only been a couple of weeks, but that was more than enough time for other explorers to have found this place or a dangerous wild Pokemon to have made it its den. All he saw was minor signs of Pokemon activity, but he couldn’t help being on edge. Ever since Markovic’s betrayal, the former smuggler had been rather paranoid.
Eventually, they arrived back at the courtyard at the heart of the ruins, then passed the statue and ascended the second set of stairs to the upper levels of the structure. Soon they were standing outside the door they had forcibly pried open to access what had appeared to be some sort of laboratory.
“What happened here?” Axel asked, eyeing the bent and broken door.
“We did,” Gaster said with a chuckle, hitting his fist against the mercenary’s armor. “Now come on, let’s see what else we can find in this place.”
Moving past the damaged doorway, the group headed further down the corridor to check the next door. Gaster hadn’t noticed last time, but this door seemed to be more secure, made out of a more heavy-duty metal.
“Whatever’s in here must be valuable,” the former smuggler said. “You don’t install a door like this unless you’re trying to keep something safe.”
“Let’s find out what it is,” Axel said, a grin appearing on his face. “Ace, open the door.”
“What do you want me to do?” the android asked.
“I want you to open the door,” Axel replied. “I just said that.”
“I think he means that you might be able to open it because these ruins seem like the ones we found you in,” Taraka said.
“I see,” Ace said, stepping up to the door.
“Anything about this ring a bell?” Gaster asked, glancing over at his robotic crewmate.
Ace shook his head. “No.”
“Try saying open sesame,” Taraka suggested in a somewhat joking manner.
“Open sesame,” Ace said.
“There must be some way in,” Gaster said, examining the area around the door to see if there was some kind of console or panel they would access.
As the former smuggler was taking a closer look, a loud bang caused him to jump slightly. He glanced over at the source of the noise to see that Axel had punched the door in frustration.
“Ouch,” the mercenary said.
“What did you think was gonna happen?” Gaster grumbled.
“Open, you son of a bitch!” Axel shouted, ignoring his crewmate’s comment. He then tossed out a Pokeball, releasing the Feraligatr he had caught back on Pyraxia. “Yogani, rip this door down!”
The red-scaled Pokemon stomped up to the door and dug her claws in. However, she couldn’t get a good grip and simply left a scratch mark gouged into its metal surface.
Gaster shook his head. “I don’t think that’s gonna work. There’s no way we can get this open by force.” The one-time smuggler sighed, then glanced back at Ace. “I think you were onto something with having Ace open it.”
“I’m not sure how I’m supposed to do that,” the android replied.
“I don’t know,” Gaster said. “Just put your hand on it and … glow … or something.”
“Why don’t you just try to blow it up?” Ace suggested.
“Because whatever’s inside might be really important and we don’t want to risk damaging it,” Taraka said.
Ace nodded. “That makes sense,” he said. “Then we need to figure out a different way of opening it.”
“If you have any ideas, I’m all ears,” Gaster said.
“If it’s not opening, perhaps it’s because it isn’t powered,” the android offered. “Maybe we just need to turn it on.”
“Alright then,” Axel said, reaching for another Pokeball. This time he sent out his Luxio. “Krieg, give this door a good zap!” the mercenary commanded his Pokemon.
The Luxio shot the door with a bolt of electricity, but nothing happened.
“Not like that,” Ace said. “We need to find the power source, like a generator or something like that.”
“And where might that be?” Axel asked.
“I’m not sure,” Ace replied.
“What about back in that lab we found last time?” Gaster suggested, glancing back at the pried-open door down the corridor.
“Worth a look,” Taraka said, nodding in agreement.
The four crewmates walked back over to the open door and stepped into the lab. Gaster peered around the room; everything seemed to be just as they had left it, but he didn’t spot anything that he thought might be a power source. Fortunately, his crewmates weren’t relying on his technological expertise.
“There,” Ace suddenly said, pointing to a panel on the far wall. “That looks like a maintenance panel of some kind.”
“Think we can use it to open the door?” Axel asked.
“Maybe,” Ace told the mercenary as he approached the panel. “It might allow us to route power to it.” He grabbed the side of the panel and attempted to pull it open, but it didn’t budge. “If we can get it open, that is,” the android said.
“That’ll be no problem,” Axel said. “Yogani, you know what to do!”
The mercenary’s Feraligatr lumbered up to the panel and grabbed onto it, sinking her claws in. She then began to pull. Unlike with the door, the panel creaked as it slowly bean to bend at the corner where Yogani was gripping it. Suddenly, the whole thing ripped off the wall and clattered to the floor.
“All yours,” Axel said, waving his Pokemon off.
Gaster walked up behind Ace as the android knelt down to get a good look at what was behind the panel. “See anything?” the former smuggler asked as he peered over Ace’s shoulder.
“This looks like it might be a capacitor,” Ace said, pointing out a specific component. “If we can charge it up, it might power something.”
“Well what are we waiting for?” Axel asked. “Krieg, zap it!”
“Wait a second—” Ace attempted to protest, but he was too late.
Ace and Gaster barely had time to jump out of the way before Axel’s Luxio fired off a bolt of electricity at the exposed circuits. Gaster was about to tell his crewmate off for acting recklessly when several of the components began to flicker. The flickering was then followed by a mechanical whir as the long dormant structure powered up. A glowig pulse rippled out along runes on the walls as power was restored.
“That’s exactly like the ruins where we found Ace,” Taraka stated as he followed the pulse with his eyes.
“Hurry,” Ace said, motioning toward the door. “I don’t know how long that charge will last.
As they all exited the room, Gaster noticed that a piece of machinery that had been next to the door the last time they had visited these ruins was now gone. He hadn’t noticed it coming in. However, he didn’t quite process its absence as they were in a hurry.
Arriving back at the heavy-duty door, they discovered that it was still sealed, but it appeared to be powered up. There was now a glowing ruinc pattern where one might have expected a door handle to be.
Taraka reached out and touched the glowing runes and the door slid open. “Did you guys know that electric doors are powered by electricity?” the monk asked with a chuckle. “Technology is wild.”
“I guess I was wrong about it being secure,” Gaster said.
“Look again,” Taraka said, pointing through the doorway.
Gaster peered inside and saw a small room containing nothing but a large, durable vault door. It was far more secure than the first door and appeared to be manually sealed rather than electronically.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Axel said. He stepped up to the vault door and attempted to turn the handle, but it didn’t budge. “Fuck this,” the mercenary grumbled. “Yogani, melt through this door!” He then sent out his Charizard, Gyarados, and Vanillish as well and gave them the same command.
Even though he wasn’t in the room, Gaster had to take a few extra steps back due to the heat emanating from the doorway. He watched from a safe distance with the others as Axel’s Pokemon slowly melted a hole through the door. Eventually, the roar of flames and the bright glow that came with it died down and Axel reported that his Pokemon had made a hole large enough for them to fit through. Taraka then sent out his Carvanha and had him douse the red-hot door with water in order to cool it down.
Stepping through the hole into the vault, Gaster noticed a light breeze. The room was full of ancient technology in various stages of disrepair, but what drew the former smuggler’s attention was a hole in the wall that led to the outside. He approached it and gazed out over Zintau’s Great Rift. This side of the ruins, it seemed was just on the cliff edge over the huge fault line.
“Well that would’ve been an easier way in,” Gaster grumbled.
“We’re in now, though,” Taraka said.
“Fair enough,” Gaster said, turning around to face the monk. “Now, let’s see what we can salvage here. Some of this stuff looks valuable.
As he looked around at all the things stored in the vault, Gaster began to notice signs that someone else had been there recently. There were scuff marks on the floor and spots that looked far less weathered than the area around them, as if something had been recently moved. Upon closer inspection, the hole in the wall also seemed to have been made recently, and intentionally.
“I think someone else has been here,” the former smuggler told his crewmates.
Taraka nodded. “I agree,” the monk said. “My senses tell me that someone took something from this place in the last few days.”
“That much is obvious,” Gaster said, pointing to one of the spots where a large piece of machinery had clearly been removed from. “But what I don’t get is why someone would go through the trouble to blow a hole in the wall to get in here and only take a few specific things when its full of all this other valuable stuff.”
“You’re right, that is weird,” Axel agreed. “But at least they left something for us. Let’s get salvaging.”
“Fair enough,” Gaster said. “I really can’t complain. I bet this stuff is going to be worth a ton of money.
“Nothing like a successful salvage run,” Axel said as he brought the salvage cart he was pushing to a halt in the courtyard. “The captain is gonna love how much we’re bringing back.”
“Indeed,” Taraka said, nodding as he watched Ace approaching with the last of the carts they had filled in the vault.
The android put the cart with the others, then glanced around the courtyard. “If you guys don’t mind, I’m going to look around a bit more,” he said after a few moments.
“Go ahead,” Gaster said. “We did bring you along for a reason.”
As they weren’t going to be leaving just yet, Taraka found a nice spot in the sun and sat himself down. This was a perfectly peaceful place to meditate. The peace in the courtyard was not to last, however. Ace had barely wandered off before a loud buzzing sound filled the air. Taraka looked up to see a Heracross flying down at him. The large bug Pokemon touched down near the statue and took up an aggressive stance.
“Looks like it’s fixing for a fight,” Axel said. “Let’s give it one.” The mercenary then tossed out his Feraligatr.
Taraka stood up and sent out his Carvanha. Gaster followed the example of his two crewmates and released his Krokorok.
“Jimothy, use Torment!” Gaster commanded his Pokemon. His Krokorok stared down the Heracross and the Heracross stared back. It was unfazed. Gaster then raised his tesla coil rifle and fired off a shot, but the Heracross lifted back into the air, avoiding the bolt of electricity as it streaked past.
The Heracross flew over to Taraka’s Carvanha and attempted to slam down on him, but, miraculously, it missed. “Lechew, Ice Fang,” Taraka commanded his Pokemon in response before putting up a psionic barrier. Sharp teeth frosting over, the Carvanha clamped his jaws down around the Heracross’s leg, leaving a nasty wound.
“Yogani, use Fire Fang!” Axel then ordered his Feraligatr. Yogani went in for the attack, but the Heracross deflected her away. This left the Pokemon exposed, though. Axel was quick to jump on the opening and fired off a jet of flame from his flamethrower, setting the Heracross on fire.
“Jimothy, use Sand Tomb!” Gaster commanded his Krokorok before firing off another shot with his rifle. This time, the bolt of electricity found its mark. The former smuggler’s Pokemon was not so lucky.
At the very least, Jimothy kept the Heracross distracted long enough for Taraka to use his psionic abilities to send the bug Pokemon into a confused stupor. The Heracross stomped around in rage, blasting Axel’s Feraligatr with rocks that it kicked off. Fortunately Taraka’s barrier kept it safe.
“Lechew, Ice Fang again!” the monk commanded his Pokemon. The Carvanha jumped at the Heracross again and took another frosty bite. It was definitely feeling the pain now.
Axel then threw a Pokeball at the Heracross. The ball pulled the Pokemon inside, then fell to the ground. It shook once … twice … then broke open! Gaster then attempted a capture, but the Heracross broke free of his Pokeball as well!
“Let me try!” Taraka shouted before running up to the Heracross. The monk ran up and pressed a ball against the Pokemon, pulling it inside. The Pokeball shook only once in his hand before breaking open.
“Lechew, give it one more Ice Fang!” Taraka ordered his Carvanha.
As Lechew made his attack, Axel threw another ball at the Heracross, but it failed to make contact. The Heracross began thrashing around violently, attempting to shake the Carvanha off. It soon tripped and fell to the ground, where it passed out, exhausted by its burns.
“Damn,” Gaster grumbled, looking at the unconscious Pokemon, Lechew still chomping down on its leg.
Suddenly the sound of a slow, condescending applause echoed down from the balcony level. “Who’s clapping?” Taraka asked as he looked toward the origin of the sound. The monk soon spotted, leaning on the railing of the balcony, a familiar figure. It was the assassin the crew has seen in the ruins on Exun and fought in the ruins on Fraxion.
“Well done,” the assassin said, speaking in a sarcastic tone.
“Can we not do this today?!” Taraka shouted up at her. She was the last person the monk wanted to see right now. After all, the last time he saw her she had tried to kill him.
“Uh, is she a friend of yours?” Gaster asked.
“No,” Axel said vehemently. “No she’s not.”
“I see,” Gaster replied.
“We have got to stop meeting like this,” the assassin said. Taraka thought he detected amusement in her voice.
“So what brings you here?” Taraka asked the assassin as she dropped down from the ledge.
“I could ask you the same thing,” she replied.
“Adventure, obviously,” Taraka said, against his better judgement. He knew it probably wasn’t a good idea to taunt someone who was more than likely here to kill him, but they had fought her off just fine the last time.
“We’re here for a friend,” Gaster said.
“I see,” the assassin replied.
“So how’s this gonna go?” Taraka asked.
A slight smirk appeared on the assassin’s face. “That depends on what you do,” she said in an almost teasing fashion. “I’m not here to kill you … this time.” Hearing that was at least somewhat of a relief for Taraka.
“So then why are you here?” Axel asked.
“Well, if you must know, I’m here to collect something,” she said. “But when I got here, it was already gone.”
“Oh, what a coincidence,” Axel said. “We noticed some things were gone when we got here too. There was a big hole in the wall.”
“I know,” the assassin said. “I’ve been watching you stumble around making a mess of this place since you arrived, so I know you don’t have what I’m looking for.”
“And what, exactly, is it that you’re looking for?” Gaster asked.
“Well, you see, someone very naughty has been stealing specific artifacts from ruins in this little corner of the Galaxy,” she explained. “Artifacts that my employer would prefer not be taken.”
“Yeah, we have no idea what’s happening to your artifacts,” Axel said. “We’re just looking for adventure and for jobs. By any chance, does your employer want to hire us to help you? We’re always looking for money.”
“Perhaps,” the assassin said, her smirk growing. “Or perhaps not. If he wants to hire you he’ll find you.”
“Well in that case, I think this standoff is officially over,” Axel declared. “Why don’t we just go our separate ways and continue on as if this never happened.”
“That’s fine by me,” the assassin said. “For your sake, I suggest you don’t go sticking your noses where they don’t belong.”
“Well we won’t know until we get bit,” Taraka said, but the assassin had already disappeared.
Captain Cyrus Drake was in the Maverick’s cargo hold taking inventory of the ship’s supplies when he heard the clunking of boots on the cargo ramp. He looked up to see that his crew had returned from their salvage run. From the filled state of their salvage carts, it looked like their trip had been successful.
“How’d it go, boys?” Cyrus asked. “Well, I take it? Looks like you hit the jackpot here.”
“Yeah,” Axel said. “We found a lot of good stuff, but we had a little run-in with our assassin friend.”
“You don’t mean that woman we encountered on Troyva?” the captain asked, suddenly feeling quite concerned.
“Thankfully no,” Taraka said. “It was the other psychic-powered assassin. The one who tried to kill me on Fraxion. Don’t worry, though, she wasn’t there for me this time.”
“You know anyone who’s looking for specific artifacts in specific ruins?” Gaster asked. It was an odd question, but Cyrus assumed it had to do with the assassin.
It was also a question the Maverick’s captain had an answer to. “Come to think of it, yeah, I do,” Cyrus said. “Two things come to mind. One is the time we encountered Maelstrom in the ruins on Freyeon. I remember overhearing Dane Lory mention something to his men about their employer wanting the place cleaned out. The other time was us. Remember when we got hired to collect that artifact on Salvix for Peter Baker? I don’t know if they’re connected or not, but it might be worth looking into if this is something we want to pursue.”
“She did warn us not to stick our noses into this,” Taraka said.
“When do we ever listen to warnings?” Axel asked.
“She specifically said ‘where they don’t belong,’” Gaster said. “How do we know our noses don’t belong here?”
“That is a fair point,” Taraka said, letting out a slight chuckle.
“We can figure this out later,” Axel said, smacking his hand against the full salvage cart in front of him. “Let’s get paid for this scrap first.”
Cyrus nodded. “Alright, let’s see what you’ve got, boys.”
Notes: Woo hoo! Another interesting chapter after one of just looking for Pokemon. This chapter covers most of session 35, with the exception being the final 20 minutes, which I pushed to the next chapter because it flowed better. We took a week off after the previous session as several players couldn’t make it that week (and it’s totally coincidental that I took a week off posting a chapter after the last one I posted). Alec had to miss this one too. In fact, the previous session turned out to be his last session. For various reasons, he ended up needing to drop out of the campaign, but we didn’t confirm if it was going to be permanent until weeks later. I had plot I needed Kasey for, though, and we didn’t yet know he was dropping out, so she stuck around as an NPC for a while. Additionally, this was the last session Axel was able to attend. His work schedule changed and it was up in the air for a while if he was permanently dropping out or not, so even though I had concluded all the plot points I needed Axel the character for, I kept him around for a while too.
Anyway, onto the substance of the chapter. The party decided to return to the ruins on Zintau to bring Ace there as they had been planning to before scheduling forced us to do the Maelstrom base raid when we did. I had decided that it was a good time to throw the first assassin at them again. Taraka was due for an encounter with his antagonist character and I had worked out some plot details that she was the perfect conduit to convey to the party. I was actually fully prepared for combat just in case, but they managed to avoid conflict. This bit of RP also began this strange relationship between Taraka and the assassin where they would just sass each other every time they met. It was a fun little session to say the least.
Post-Chapter Challenge: There were some fun little plot threads introduced in this chapter, so it’s the perfect opportunity for some more theorizing. Who do you think is taking specific items from ruins, and for what purpose?
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!