Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the fifth entry in a multi-part anthology series where each entry follows a different character in the Spacemon universe. You can get caught up on our previous adventures here!
It was a quiet day on the Helix. But not that creepy quiet like after we left that weird Mirror Planet. It was the good kind of quiet. The sort of quiet I didn’t get to experience enough on the Helix. Don’t get me wrong, though, I quite liked the job. The pay was good, I got to travel to some rather interesting places, and my employers … well, I liked them well enough, but they could be a bit … intense. It was nice to have them off the ship for a few days. It was almost like I had the place to myself. Dr. Wi kept to himself for the most part and Dr. Armstrong … well, let’s just say he was too drunk to leave his lab most of the time. There were the Red Suns that were looking after the ship, but they mostly stayed in the security room they set up. So, yeah, I basically had the place to myself.
Like the day before, I woke up at what was the middle of the night according to local time, but, as a pilot, I was used to operating at strange hours since day and night aren’t a thing in space. After climbing out of my sleeping pod, I made my way to the back of the ship to grab something to eat and take my daily dose of nine different medications and dietary supplements. Then, I settled myself down on the small couch in the living quarters, kicked my feet back and began browsing the television channels. Since the Helix was docked on Parisia for a few days while upgrades were being installed, I really didn’t have much else to do.
I spent the next couple of hours jumping from station to station, from one mildly entertaining program to the next. There wasn’t anything that great on at the time, but what else was I gonna do? Parisia was a place for high fashion and touristy crap, neither of which were my cup of tea. Watching boring garbage on TV was definitely a much better option.
“You actually enjoy this crap?” I suddenly heard a voice behind me. I turned my head to see Luke, the Red Sun in charge of looking after the Helix, walking out from the bathroom.
“Eh, not really,” I answered. “But what else am I gonna do? Not exactly much to do around here.”
The large, dark-skinned mercenary crossed the room and leaned his hands on the back of the couch. “Well, you could come hang out with us in the security room,” he said. “We’re playing poker if you want to join.”
I glanced over at the TV. While I was quite comfortable on the couch, I had to admit that I was a bit bored. I turned back to Luke and shrugged. “Eh, why the hell not?” I said as I stood up. “There’s nothing good on anyway.”
“Looks like I win again,” Luke said with a devilish smile on his face. He laughed as he swept up the pile of chips from the center of the table.
“Remind me never to play cards with ya again, ya sly bastard,” Aidan, the lanky, red-haired Genevan, responded.
“What’s wrong, McMahon?” Luke asked him. “Afraid of losing?”
“Losing my credits, certainly, lad.”
I simply smirked. “Maybe you just need to invest your credits in a better poker face instead of blowing them on gambling,” I suggested.
Kendall, the only other woman in the room, laughed. “You gonna just take that, McMahon?” she teased from across the table.
“Oh, be quiet, Carter. If I wanted yer opinion I would’ve asked fer it.”
“You’re not still mad about that business on Minaria, are you?” Kendall asked.
“You only bloody shot me, lass, why would I still be mad?”
I raised my eyebrow. “What happened on Minaria?”
Luke laughed. “Carter here shot McMahon right in the ass.”
I raised my other eyebrow.
“It was set to stun,” Kendall said.
“So what? My arse was sore fer a whole week!”
“Sounds like there’s a story there,” I said.
“A good one too,” Luke said. “It was a Federation contract. They’ve got their hands full with the war, so they needed our help to deal with some pirates out in Sector 31. Of course, the boss had us all busy with recruitment, so we had to go in with a small team. It was just me, these two, and Martinez over there.” He pointed over at Danny, their tech guy, on the other end of the room who was still fiddling with the security system they had set up.
“Obviously the four of us weren’t gonna take on a small pirate fleet on our own, so we played it smart,” Luke continued. “We tracked ‘em down to Minaria and infiltrated their base while they were out raiding. Rigged their landing pads to blow, and waited for ‘em to come back. Then, boom!” He slammed his fist down on the table, causing the chips to bounce slightly.
“Miraculously, their leader survived the blast and we had to chase him down on foot. He slipped out into the city, so we split up to corner him. Martinez cut him off with our skycar and forced him into an alleyway. McMahon and I converged on him, but he managed to slip by. Carter was up on the roof lining up a shot, but right as she fired, McMahon tackled the guy. He took him down, but took the shot right to his left cheek!”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little.
“Luckily, Carter had her rifle set to stun because of the tight quarters,” Luke continued. “Didn’t want to risk hitting one of us with a lethal shot.”
“Doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt,” Aidan cut in.
“It was still hilarious, though!” Danny shouted from across the room.
“How would you like it if I shot you in the arse, laddie!?” Aidan shot back.
“Ah, quit whining and deal the cards,” Kendall told him.
“That’s quite the story,” I said as I picked up my hand.
“We’ve got plenty of ‘em,” Luke replied. “But what about you? The boss has told me some pretty crazy shit about your employers, you must have a few good stories yourself.”
“They have the crazy stories. I stay on the ship where it’s safe. You’re not gonna find me diving into submerged lightning caves or exploring creepy soul-draining pyramids. No thank you.”
“The boss wasn’t kidding about the crazy shit,” Luke said.
“Oh, you have no idea. I don’t even want to know how they even find these places.”
“But no stories?”
“Well, you’ve been a pilot for a while, right? Got any from past jobs?”
I had to stop and think for a moment. He was right; I had been a pilot for a while. Surely I had to have some stories. I set my cards down as one popped to mind.
“Well … I suppose there was that one time …”
Before I was hired to fly the Helix, I was the pilot for the GCS Horizon. It was a small Genevan bucket owned by a man from Albion named Galen Jarvis. Despite its size, the Horizon was easily the fanciest ship I ever flew. As a somewhat affluent individual, Jarvis didn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops with his ship, including paying for the best pilot he could find, if I do say so myself. He didn’t even hesitate to pay for all the necessary accommodations I required. The man wasn’t super rich or anything, but he certainly had enough to be able to just fly wherever he wanted in the Galaxy on a whim.
And that’s what he did. Jarvis just wanted to travel and explore. He and I were alike that way, so it was a good fit for me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t leave the ship to explore the planets we landed on like he did, but I quite enjoyed all the exotic vistas I got to see out the viewports. The crew was good company too, for the most part. The only real downer was Jarvis’s son, Edward. He was very uptight and was always criticising his dad for spending too much money. Man, I hated that guy … But that’s beside the point.
One day we were traveling through the Arkos system out in Sector 26 and ran into some trouble. There were some weird planets out there with some pretty exotic plant and Pokemon life that Jarvis wanted to check out, so we were spending a few days in the system to visit all of them. So there we were, on this planet called Maru. It was this big grassy planet with these weird looking trees and giant mushrooms. They were easily the biggest mushrooms I’ve ever seen in my life, some even towering over the trees.
I was sitting on the Horizon’s bridge watching some Parasects skittering around underneath a patch of the huge mushrooms near where we landed. It was a very relaxing experience, peaceful too. It was calm and quiet both outside and on the ship. Jarvis and most of the crew were out exploring and had been gone for several hours by this point. I wasn’t expecting them back anytime soon, though, so I wasn’t worried or anything.
I had been sitting for a long while, so I stood up and stretched myself out. I needed a good change of position. It was at that moment that I became aware of a faint buzzing sound in the distance. I didn’t think much of it, and finished stretching before I sat back down. A few minutes later, I realized the sound hadn’t stopped. In fact, it had grown far louder.
“What the hell is that sound?” I asked myself aloud even though no one was around. I gazed out the viewport and thought I saw some shapes moving in the distance. Seconds later, I knew there was something there. Several somethings, in fact, and they were getting closer.
“Minerva, are you there?!” Jarvis’s voice suddenly came in over the comms. He sounded frantic and out of breath.
“Yeah, I’m here,” I responded. “What’s the problem?”
“Get the ship ready take off! We’re in a bit of a pickle here!”
I looked back out the viewport to see that the shapes I saw were much closer. Now I could clearly see Jarvis and the crew running back toward the Horizon with several large Yanmegas in pursuit. Now, these weren’t your ordinary Yanmegas. They were a bit beefier, and had long necks, larger, more pronounced jaws, oversized back legs, and extra spines running all the way down their backs.
“I can see that,” I said over the comms as I began firing up the engines. “Let me know as soon as you’re on board.”
Moments later, the crew was back on the Horizon and the ship itself was almost ready for takeoff. As they all came up to the cockpit, there was a loud thud as one of the Yanmegas touched down on the hull. Then there was a second … and a third.
“Hurry and get us out of here before they damage the ship!” Edward shouted.
“Just relax,” I responded. “I’m going as fast as I can.”
That was when one of the dragon bugs crawled over the viewport, its large red eyes peering in at us. It snapped its jaws menacingly and I felt my skin begin to crawl. Suddenly, the console lit up, signaling that it was okay to take off. I wasted no time, and punched it to maximum power.
“Nope! Nope! Nope!” I shouted as the Horizon rocketed upward through the atmosphere. The Yanmegas were ripped away and left in the dust as we rose higher and higher.
I let out a relieved sigh and leaned back in my chair. “How about we stay away from planets with giant, killer bug Pokemon from now on?” I asked.
Jarvis simply laughed. “Oh, Minerva, where’s your sense of adventure?”
“Getting eaten by an oversized Yanmega isn’t my idea of an adventure.”
Jarvis laughed again and I simply shook my head. Maru wasn’t the first time we got into a situation like that, and it certainly wasn’t the last.
“Now that was quite the story,” Luke said with a laugh. “Jarvis sounds like quite the character.”
“That he was,” I agreed. “He may have got us into all kinds of crazy situations, but I liked the old man quite a bit.”
“What made you leave then?” Kendall asked. “Sounds like you liked the job a lot.”
“It wasn’t my decision. Jarvis passed away early last year. He left the Horizon to Edward, and … well, let’s just say he didn’t think I was worth the money.”
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t really worth sticking around without Jarvis there anyway. And things worked out, since I ended up here. This ship’s crew might be a bit crazy, but they’re alright … just like this hand,” I smiled smugly as I peered at my cards again, then slid a stack of chips toward the center of the table.
“Now we’re talking,” Luke said. He slid an identical stack of chips in. “I’ll take that bet … and I’ll raise you another thousand credits.” The mercenary tossed a few more chips into the pot, then leaned back in his seat. “So, what made you want to be a pilot anyway?”
Now that was an interesting question.
Why did I want to be a pilot? That’s a question I got asked a lot. People with my condition don’t usual pursue careers as dangerous as mine, or even pursue much of a career at all. The way I see it, I couldn’t be anything else but a pilot. To just sit around and accept being held back by my condition definitely isn’t my style. No, I wanted to make something of my life. I wanted to see the stars.
When I was growing up on Mälaren I didn’t get to do much of anything or go much of anywhere. I had what were probably the most overprotective parents in the entire Galaxy, and that is no exaggeration. Even if I was perfectly normal, perfectly healthy person, they would have been overbearing, but the fact that I wasn’t made it all the worse. Don’t get me wrong, my parents meant well, but … let’s just say that my childhood experiences were rather limited.
The only real time I got to spend away from home was at school. If they could have, I’m sure my parents would’ve homeschooled me, but luckily for me, they both had careers and didn’t have the time. For the longest time, my life followed the same routine: go to school in the morning, then return home as soon as it ended and stay there until the next morning. Being cooped up inside all the time grew more frustrating the older I got. And so I would dream that I was somewhere else, off amongst the stars, traveling from world to world in a ship all my own.
By the time I was a teenager, I couldn’t take it any longer; I needed to get out. Fortunately, there was someone in the family who understood, even if it wasn’t my parents. My uncle Ola, my dad’s older brother, worked for a manufacturer of high-end luxury ships based on Mälaren, designing flight systems. As a kid, I always looked forward to his visits because he would always bring me models of ships for us to build together and, unlike my parents, he actually humored my dreams of traveling the stars. Without a doubt, Uncle Ola was the reason I wanted to become a pilot.
I still remember the day I made up my mind quite clearly. I was about thirteen at the time, and my parents, being somewhat important government officials, were gone for a few days, attending a conference with Councilor Nilsson. I, of course, insisted that I was old enough to look after myself, but they didn’t see it that way, so they asked Uncle Ola to watch over me while they were away, which, in retrospect, was actually the best thing that could have happened.
It was the second day after my parents left, and I was lying on the couch, sprawled out and staring at the ceiling. It was the middle of the day, so there was nothing good on TV, and Uncle Ola and I had already finished building the model ship he brought.
“I’m so bored,” I declared. The ceiling didn’t have anything to say in response.
“Why don’t you try reading a book?” Uncle Ola asked, poking his head in from the neighboring room.
“I have to read enough books at school,” I grumbled. “I’m not gonna spend my time off reading more.”
My uncle just laughed. “Fair enough, but do you really have anything else to do here?”
“No,” I answered bluntly. “There’s nothing to do here. I need to get out of here.”
“Then get your coat,” Uncle Ola said. “Let’s go.”
I sat up and gave him a confused look. “I wasn’t being serious,” I told him. “Mom and Dad would be furious if they found out I went somewhere, and they’d certainly kill you if something happened to me.”
Uncle Ola laughed again. “Then we’ll just have to keep this between us, won’t we?”
A smile slowly formed on my face. My uncle was the best.
And so, that was the day my uncle took me to see his work. It was the most fun I’d ever had up until that point. He showed me the latest ship designs he was working on and amazing full-scale models of his company’s ships, but the best part was the flight simulator. I saw it as we were preparing to leave.
“What is that?” I asked, pointing across the room at a large rectangular object that was moving and rumbling in place.
“Oh, that’s our flight simulator,” Uncle Ola explained. “Want to try it?”
“Are you kidding? Yes, obviously.”
“Alright then, kiddo. Let’s give it a shot.”
And that was how I got my first taste of flying. I felt the excitement building inside of me as I settled into the pilot’s seat. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
“Alright now, listen up,” Uncle Ola said. “These are the main controls.” He pointed to the steering mechanism directly in front of me. I placed my hands on the controls, gripping them tightly with anticipation. “Tilt forward to go down, back to go up. Left and right to roll, and those buttons on top to change your forward vector … Now, this is to control the power from the engines.” He placed his hand on another mechanism. “Slide it forward to increase power.”
As he continued to give me a rundown of everything I needed to know, I felt my excitement continue to grow. By the time he finished, I felt like I was going to explode. And then the simulation began, and I was flying amongst the stars, just like I’d always dreamed. I knew it wasn’t real, but it was the most incredible experience of my young life, and it was then that I knew I wanted more.
“You’re a natural at this,” Uncle Ola told. I could tell he was impressed.
“You really think so?” I asked.
“Absolutely. With enough practice, I think you could be one hell of a pilot.”
Once the simulation was over, we exited the simulator and we were back in reality, but I felt different. I knew things would never be the same again.
“Thank you for this, Uncle Ola,” I said. It’s never really been my thing, but I couldn’t help but give him a big hug.
“Don’t mention it, kiddo,” he told me, ruffling up my hair. “I was happy to do it, and I’ll be sure it stays our little secret.”
And so he did. It wasn’t until much later that my parents ever found out, but for the next few years, whenever there was time, Uncle Ola would take me back to try my hand at the flight simulator once more.
The room was silent as I finished my story. The Red Suns seemed to be in deep thought. After several moments, someone finally spoke.
“Have you ever considered writing a book?” Luke asked.
“Okay, that’s not the response I was expecting to get.”
“I’m serious. You’re a great storyteller.”
“Well, I’m flattered. I’ll keep your suggestion in mind.”
“Just be sure to give me credit for the idea if you do write one. Now, how about this game? Anyone else wanna take their chances?”
“No way, laddie,” Aidan answered. He placed his cards down on the table. “I fold. I’m not takin’ my chances with ya again.”
“Carter?” Luke asked, turning his head toward Kendal.
“I think I’ll follow McMahon’s lead,” she replied. “I don’t like that smug sound in your voice.”
Luke seemed very confident. I was sure he had a good hand, but I knew mine was better. I said nothing, and simply matched his bet.
“You’ve got some real balls taking that bet,” Luke said. “I like that, but I think I win this round.” He placed his cards down on the table, revealing four kings and a three.
I raised my eyebrow. He had quite a good hand after all, but mine was still better. I smirked as I saw him reach for the pot. “Not so fast, pal,” I said, revealing my own hand: a straight flush.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Luke said. “Looks like you win this round.”
“Damn right,” I said as I collected my winnings. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much time to celebrate.
“Holy shit. Uh, guys, you need to see this.” I looked over to see Danny looking at us with a shocked expression on his face.
“What now, Martinez?” Luke asked.
“The conference.” He pointed at the screen.
We all walked over to see a scene of carnage. The news was in a state of panicked speculation, the commentator’s speaking over the image of what was once the GCS Halcyon and a Federation fleet. The ships were warped together in impossible ways.
“Holy shit,” Luke said. “I hope the others are alright.”
I remained silent. I didn’t know how to process what I was seeing. I didn’t know them very well, but I couldn’t help but feel just a little bit worried for the safety of my employers. I’d seen their mission logs, and I knew they’d survived some pretty dangerous situations, so I had a good feeling they made it out.
“I’m sure they got out of there,” I finally said. “They may be crazy, but they’re resourceful. It’ll take more than … whatever this is to stop them.” Of course, I had no way of knowing if that was true, but I wasn’t going to count them out just yet.
Author’s Notes: And that’s another one done. This was one of the first profiles I started having ideas for when I first decided to work on this series, but I had no idea what it would look like until I went to write it. I knew I wanted to set it during the conference from the start, and it was only later on that I decided I would set it up as a frame narrative with Red Suns cameos, cards, and storytelling. It wasn’t until I went to write it months later that I started thinking about specifics. It was a bit hard at first since Minerva wasn’t a character I came up with initially and she didn’t have much established backstory to go off of, but DragonStorm gave me free reign to expand her past.
On the frame narrative itself, I knew I would be giving Luke a cameo since he was the one tasked with looking after the Helix while the crew was away, but I needed to add a few more characters. Aidan McMahon was a character I’d come up with previously during Seeing Red, but I never ended up using him so it made sense to use him here, so I did. The other two characters I just came up with as I was writing this.
The two flashback/story scenes I chose to give Minerva a bit of background. For the first I just wanted to show what she did before signing on the fly the Helix. I made the whole thing up as I went along and it came together nicely. You can thank DragonStorm for the idea to use dragon-shifted Yanmegas. It was a fun scene to write. The other scene took a bit more thought. It came out of my brainstorming of trying to figure out Minerva’s motivations as a character, and I’m happy with how it turned out. There are a lot more ideas that I came up with, but I didn’t really see a way of working them in. All in all, I’m very happy with how this profile came together and it was fun to mostly make it up as I went along.
That does it for this chapter. As always the Spacemon gang and I will be monitoring the comments to foster discussion and answer any questions. Feel free to give feedback and critiques of the writing so I can improve it for the future, or just leave a comment with what you think about what went down in this chapter or what you think might happen next! You can also revisit past chapters, check out the Spacemon Appendix which is a repository of information on all the lore and characters of Spacemon, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here for the next exciting installment of Spacemon!