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!
Flashing lights and fancy holographic advertisements adorned the sides of the buildings near Scintillia’s main spaceport. Gaster had been to many large Outer Rim settlements, but none felt as much like a city on a Core Federation or Alliance world as this one did. The former smuggler knew Scintillia was the most developed planet in Sector 24— one of the most developed in the entire Outer Rim, even— but he hadn’t been expecting it to be this developed.
“Hey, check it out,” Gaster heard Ace say beside him as he looked around. Turning to the android, Gaster saw that he was pointing out a large holographic billboard displaying a stylized yellow Noivern logo flanked by two lightning bolt designs. “Look familiar?”
“Yeah,” Gaster said as he read the words flashing on the billboard. It appeared to be advertising some sort of music festival.
Thunder Fest starts today! the sign read. An epic Pokemon battle tournament showdown and live music event! Fight for a chance to face off with Sector 24 Gym Leader Silas Stormshredder and the Tunderbats live on stage!
“Oh boy,” Taraka said from Gaster’s other side. “We haven’t challenged a gym in a long time. Let’s do it.”
“I’m not so sure about this,” Gaster said apprehensively as he watched the group ahead of him and his crewmates in line to sign up for the Thunder Fest Pokemon Tournament register with their Pokedexes. “There’s still a bounty on my head, after all.”
Once the group had registered, they moved off, clearing the way for Ace, Gaster, and Taraka. Before approaching the registration table, Ace turned and looked back at Gaster. “I’m sure it’ll be fine,” he said.
“There a problem?” the guy behind the table asked.
“Our friend here is just nervous about turning over his Pokedex,” Taraka explained, not entirely untruthfully.
“What’s the matter, stage fright?”
“Something like that,” Gaster muttered.
“Don’t worry, pal,” the man said. “We just need your ID for registration purposes. We don’t make any personal information public.”
“Alright then,” Gaster said, stepping up to the table. He then proceeded to hand over his Dex alongside his crewmates.
“Here’s the deal,” the man began to explain as he started registering them. “The qualifying round is today here at the arena. The winning teams get to fight in the main event tomorrow at the big venue up in orbit. Each team member may enter up to six Pokemon in the tournament, but each team only gets to have four out per battle.”
“Sounds fair,” Taraka said.
The man nodded. “Be sure to bring your best pokemon,” he said, breaking into a laugh. “You’ll need them.”
The sounds of a local band playing Rim rock music in the distance filled the air as Acid sprayed across the battlefield from where the Tentacruel held position behind the line of Toxic Spikes it had thrown out in front of the Maverick crew’s Pokemon. The Jellyfish Pokemon’s attack drenched Taraka’s Tangrowth, but it wasn’t enough to effectively eat through her defenses. The opposing Spearow then dove down to strike at the Tangrowth, but due to the dizzy and dazed state the monk’s other Pokemon had left it in, it missed its mark, crashing to the ground in a heap.
After the opponents’ rush, Taraka was quick to command his two Pokemon to counterattack. “Umber, put that Geodude to sleep with Hypnosis!” he shouted to his recently acquired Gastly before turning to his Tangrowth. “Roma, regain your strength! Use Giga Drain on that Spearow!”
Before the Spearow could pick itself up, Roma launched her attack. Sapping away the Tiny Bird Pokemon’s energy, the Tangrowth healed up the wounds she had sustained earlier in the battle. Meanwhile, the Gastly put the opposing Geodude asleep, allowing Gaster’s Spiritomb the time to move in and attack.
“Ereshkigal, use Dark Pulse!” the former smuggler barked. The ghost Pokemon fired off a beam of dark energy at the Geodude, waking it up, but also leaving it badly damaged.
“Sentinel, Aerial Ace!” Ace followed up with a command of his own, focusing on the last of the opposing team. The android’s Doublade floated up to the already heavily damaged Charmeleon and slashed at it, bringing it down.
“Crap,” the Flame Pokemon’s scrawny teenaged trainer mumbled as he recalled it to its ball.
So far, the first qualifying battle was going well. It seemed the Maverick trio had been matched with a pretty easy team of opponents. They were two brothers, a middle-aged dark haired man with a red and white baseball cap and a heftier bearded man in a green jacket, and their respective sons, the teen boy who had just been knocked out of the fight and a younger kid with spiky dark hair.
The elder of the two brothers, the one in the red hat, had his Tentacruel attack Roma with another spray of Acid and Taraka had his Gastly blast it with a Confuse Ray to keep it from harassing his Tangrowth. Meanwhile, Ace’s Doublade finished off the kid’s Spearow with a Night Slash. With two opponents down and another dazed, the monk had a feeling the fight would soon be over.
“Roma, use Mega Drain on the Tentacruel!” Taraka commanded his Tangrowth. Despite its dazed state, the Jellyfish Pokemon managed to avoid the attack, but it then tripped over itself before it could counterattack.
Ace was quick to jump on the opportunity. “Sentinel, Aerial Ace!” the android shouted. Floating over to the Tentacruel, the Doublade struck it as it attempted to pick itself up.
Meanwhile, the Geodude squared off with Gaster’s Spiritomb. The rocky Pokemon threw rock after rock at its ghostly opponent, but it was no use. Unfazed, Ereshkigal fired back with an Ominous Wind, nearly bringing the Geodude down.
“Umber, finish it off with Lick!” Taraka ordered his Gastly.
And just like that, it was four versus one.
“Ereshkigal, use Hypnosis!” Gaster directed his Spiritomb after the final Pokemon on the opposing side. The Forbidden Pokemon put the Tentacruel to sleep, but it woke right back up.
Before the Tentacruel could make a move, Ace’s Doublade slashed through it on his command, putting an end to the battle.
“Good job, everyone,” Taraka said with satisfaction, looking around at his crewmates and their Pokemon. As his eyes fell upon his Gastly, the Gas Pokemon began to glow, evolving into a Haunter.
“Vex, use Poison Powder on that Milotic!”
Damn it, Gaster thought as the opposing Venomoth released a cloud of poisonous powder down on his Pokemon. The Full Heal he’d just applied to remove the effects of the Stun Spore that annoying bug had used on Francisca earlier in the battle had been a waste.
As Gaster grumbled about his decision making, the second of the two opposing trainers commanded his Pokemon to attack. The muscular trainer’s Kingler swiped at Taraka’s Tangrowth with a Metal Claw attack and his Magmar tried and failed to land a Fire Punch on Ace’s Doublade. Taraka had his Tangrowth counterattack with a Vine Whip, but the Kingler’s hardened shell mitigated the damage of the super-effective strike. Even so, Taraka seemed to have it under control. As for the Magmar ...
“Francisca, use Water Pulse!” Gaster barked. His Milotic blasted the opposing fire Pokemon with a jet of water, taking it down.
Meanwhile, the other trainer, who was proving to be a trickier battler than his trigger-happy friend, continued his spamming of status moves. His Drowzee put Roma to sleep with Hypnosis, but Taraka had his recently captured Geodude wake the Tangrowth back up.
Deciding the Drowzee could be a problem, Ace commanded his Doublade to attack it, “Sentinel, Shadow Sneak!”
Not taking kindly to that, the Hypnosis Pokemon’s trainer had his Venomoth douse Sentinel in Stun Spores. He then commanded the Drowzee to strike Gaster’s Milotic with a Headbutt attack. The attack was a direct hit, but Gaster wasn’t concerned; it was nothing the Aqua Ring surrounding her couldn’t heal.
Viewing the Venomoth as the bigger annoyance, Gaster decided to focus on it instead of the Drowzee. “Francisca, use Blizzard on that bug!” he commanded his Milotic.
Despite the power of Francisca’s attack, the Venomoth managed to survive it so Taraka ordered his Geodude to attack it as well, “Ferberite, use Rock Throw!” The magnetic Rock Pokemon lobbed a small boulder at his target, but the Venomoth dodged out of the way.
“Claw, hit that Tangrowth with Metal Claw again!” the other opposing trainer shouted. The crab Pokemon landed a good hit, cutting through several of Roma’s vines, but it didn’t matter. Taraka had his Pokemon strike back with Giga Drain. The super effective attack drained away the Kingler’s remaining energy, using it to fully heal the damage.
“Damn it!” the Venomoth’s trainer cursed, his teammate now fully out of the battle. “Vex, use Poison Powder on that thing and mitigate its healing!” Flying overhead, his Pokemon released a dusting of poisonous powder on the Tangrowth, but it had no effect.
“Powder moves don’t work on grass Pokemon, dumbass!” the eliminated trainer shouted at his friend.
“Shit, I forgot,” the Venomoth’s trainer realized his mistake. It ended up not mattering in the end, though.
“Sentinel, Night Slash!”
Fighting through her paralysis, Ace’s Doublade slashed through both the Drowzee and the Venomoth with her dual blades. In one fell swoop, the Sword Pokemon put an end to the fight with a double knockout.
With their second victory, the trio of Maverick crewmates clinched their spot in the main tournament round and another of Taraka’s Pokemon evolved. This time it was his Geodude. As the bright glow died down, Ferberite emerged a Graveler.
“That was some good training today,” Taraka said to his crewmates as the three of them made their way out of the battling arena. “Not one, but two of my Pokemon evolved.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Ace responded. “I don’t know if entering your weaker Pokemon in the tournament for the sake of training them was a good idea. The guy at the registration table did say to use our best ones.”
“That’s what Roma’s for,” Taraka replied confidently. “I’m not worried.”
“If you say so.”
While his crewmates chatted, Gaster remained silent for the most part. His eyes drifted toward the battling ring they were passing by, where a qualifying battle still raged. The two trainers, a guy wearing a martial arts uniform and a guy who looked like a mercenary, were tied with two knockouts each. The former had a Blaziken and a Toxicroak left and the latter had a Crobat and a Seviper. At this point, it looked like it could go either way.
“Hey, don’t we know that guy?” Ace suddenly asked, pointing out the mercenary trainer.
“I don’t recognize him,” Gaster replied.
“It was before you joined the crew,” Ace explained. “We met him on Paso when we were preparing for our attack on Rooker’s base. Remember, Taraka?”
Taraka nodded. “I do. We went to a battling gym for some training and he was the strongest guy there. What was his name again? Something with a ‘B.’”
“Blackwing,” Ace said.
As they continued their conversation, the Seviper slashed through the two opposing fighting Pokemon with its razor-sharp tail, knocking out the Toxicroak and leaving the Blaziken badly injured. Despite its wounds, the Blaze Pokemon still appeared to have some fight left in it and its trainer commanded it to attack. With a powerful Blaze Kick, the Blaziken took the Seviper out of the fight, evening up the score once more. It was a short-lived tie, however, as Blackwing’s Crobat flew in and ended the fight with a super effective strike.
As the final blow landed, the small crowd of spectators on the sidelines watching the battle broke into applause, Gaster’s two crewmates among them. It had been an exciting display, after all.
“Nice job, Blackwing,” Ace complimented the mercenary.
Hearing his name, Blackwing glanced over and saw the three members of the Maverick’s crew. After a moment, a look of recognition appeared on his face and he approached them. “Hey there,” Blackwing greeted them. “I remember you from the gym on Paso a few months back. Fancy meeting you here.”
“Indeed,” Taraka said. “How are you, friend?”
“I am well,” the mercenary replied. “How about yourselves?”
Before either Ace or Taraka could answer, Gaster interjected himself into the conversation. “So is this one of you guys’ actual friends?” the former smuggler asked. “Or the kind of friend that tries to shoot us repeatedly?”
“No, he’s cool,” Taraka told his crewmate. “Like we said before, we met one time before and had a friendly battle.”
“Okay, that’s all I needed to know,” Gaster said, relaxing a bit,
“The name’s Bartrand Blackwing,” Blackwing said, offering his hand.
Gaster took the mercenary’s hand and gave it a firm shake. “Gaster.”
“Say, where’s your hotheaded friend with the fire pokemon?” Blackwing asked.
“He’s got a kid to take care of now,” Gaster informed him with a roll of his eyes.
“I guess you could say he’s simmered down,” Taraka said with a chuckle.
“I see,” Blackwing said, letting out a slight laugh at the monk’s joke. “So what brings you here?”
“We stopped here to refuel and restock and we saw the ad for the tournament so we decided to enter,” Ace explained. “What about you?”
“My story’s pretty similar,” Blackwing said. “I’m here on Scintillia chasing a bounty and decided to enter the tournament while I wait for the target to surface.”
“Might I ask what kind of bounty your chasing?” Gaster asked, getting defensive. With a bounty on his head, he couldn’t help it.
“Ever heard of Moric Gulyas?” Blackwing asked.
Gaster shook his head. “I can’t say that I have.”
“He’s a Romanov hitman,” Blackwing said. “One of the best, I hear. They say he’s wanted for sixty-two murders, and those are just the ones they know about. Pretty crazy, huh?”
“Wait … Romanov hitman?” Gaster asked, his tone changing from defensive to worried. He did not like the sound of that. “And you think he’s somewhere near here?”
“That’s what my intel says.”
“That’s … good to know,” Gaster said, trying to hide his concern.
“Yeah, he’s after some guy called … What was his name again? Jameson? I think that was it.”
Shit. Gaster felt a pit form in his stomach. This was the exact news he didn’t want to hear.
“Usually Gulyas is really hard to find,” Blackwing continued. “But I heard word that he was here and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity. The Federation’s offering big bucks to whoever brings him in.”
“Yeah, uh … We’ll let you know if we, uh, meet him or something,” Gaster said nervously. “I have a bad feeling that we might.”
Taraka nodded. “We’ve got that kinda luck.”
“Ha ha, I see,” Blackwing laughed. “Perhaps I’d better stick with you guys then,” he joked. “I was about to go grab a drink if you care to come along.”
“Sounds good to me,” Gaster said. “I could use a strong drink right about now.”
Freya stood watching over her Dewgong in the training room of Team Vogue’s ship. She pressed a button on a control panel that caused a mechanical target to zoom across the floor. “Skjut det igen!” she shouted. A jet of water shot out from Kyla’s mouth, striking the target dead on. Freya repeated the exercise several more times with the target moving at various speeds and in multiple patterns. The confrontation with the Maverick crew was coming soon, and she had to be absolutely perfect. Anything less would be unacceptable.
It turned out the intelligence they gathered from the other bounty hunters had been correct, and Moric Gulyas was, in fact, here on Scintillia. Team Vogue had been in orbit around the planet for the last eight hours, desperately trying to figure out where the Maverick and her crew might be. They had a lot of ground to cover to make up for Gulyas’s head start. Hopefully, he had been delayed or at least distracted by his location being leaked.
Freya was going through a few more exercises with Kyla, this time using flying targets, when there was a knock behind her. She turned to see Marie, who had a concerned look on her face. “Mademoiselle? You’re going to want to see zis,” she insisted. “We … found Gaster.”
Freya followed her to the bridge without delay. Sure enough, the video on the monitor had been paused on a shot that fairly clearly showed Gaster Jameson with a few of his other crew members. They seemed to be engaged in a pokemon battle of sorts.
“Zis is ze qualifying match for a tournament tomorrow,” Marie explained. “It is a music festival, and ze winner gets to challenge ze sector gym leaders.”
Team Vogue’s captain scanned the image, trying to find what Marie was worried about. Then she noticed a small logo in the bottom right corner of the screen. Shit. “Marie, how important is this tournament?”
“It is a pretty big deal,” she confirmed.
“This match was televised, wasn’t it?”
“... oui. Not ze whole thing since it is just qualifiers, but our target was pictured multiple times during ze newscast.”
Anger flared up in Freya’s gut. No, no, no, no, NO! “Shit!” she yelled. “Doesn’t this idiot know he’s being hunted!?” This was very bad. Their strength had been having the other rival bounty hunters chasing Moric Gulyas, rather than Gaster. Now that the moron had shown his face on planet wide television everyone was going to refocus their efforts. ‘Everyone,’ unfortunately, included all of the bounty hunters they had lured here with the news of Gulyas. This was about to turn into the Troyva job all over again.
There was no time to waste. Team Vogue had to strike now. It felt too early; they didn’t even have a proper engagement plan in place, but any later would almost certainly be too late. It was a gamble, but it was their only option left.
“Marie, take us out of orbit and land us as close to that stadium as is legal,” she ordered. “I will make sure everyone else is ready to take down these Maverick bastards the moment we touch the ground.”
Notes: This was a fun little chapter to write. The intro was the last few minutes of session 50 which was a little teaser for the tournament, but for the writing it made more sense to open this chapter with it. Then it’s on to material from session 51. For the beginning of the session, I threw some random trainers with generic generated Pokemon for the qualifying battles. Needless to say, the battles were easy (even without me forgetting that grass types are immune to powder moves). I tried some new things with the writing to keep things interesting and to keep the battles from dragging on. I started the battle scenes partway through and took an approach that described the battling from a more metagame perspective with less focus on the combat dialogue and issuing of commands. I felt like it made sense to do it here in a more professional battling style situation than the fights the party usually finds themselves in. I also had some fun with adding details about the random trainers, taking inspiration from trainer classes from the games and character classes from PTU itself. After that, I threw Blackwing, who had previously appeared early on in the campaign, at the party to convey some information to them that would begin the process of pulling them back into the remaining plotline. It was funny because when I mentioned the bounty he was chasing, they all thought he was after Gaster at first. It’s also at this point that the bonus chapters I collaborated with unknown on start to tie into things … which brings us to the final scene of this chapter, the last one that unknown wrote for Team Vogue. This time, it made sense to include it with material from the actual sessions instead of constructing new material around what he wrote. It was a great way to end the chapter and set up the next one. Get ready for an epic showdown!
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!