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Spacemon: Red Winter - Part 3

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Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the third part of a five-part standalone miniseries that is the perfect jumping-on point for those who have never read Spacemon before. If you’re interested in reading more, you can get caught up on the entire Spacemon saga here!

“I hate this.”

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Inspector Viktor Gorovich had paired up with Captain Deva Zheleznaya to investigate a lead in Nolnaya City’s southeastern residential district. Having previously concluded that a Pokemon possessing the move Fire Blast had been used during the last abduction, he had compiled a list of every registered Pokemon in the city that knew that move.

Fortunately, that list was very short.

Now the two of them were walking down the empty street over to their destination, wearing plainclothes so as to avoid arousing suspicions. An outfit that the Captain had taken issue with, apparently.

“I wish I was wearing my uniform,” she scowled as she glanced down at the standard civilian garb Gorovich had supplied her and shuddered.

“Granted, those naval uniforms are quite stylish,” Gorovich admitted. “But come on, it’s not that bad. I’ll have you know, that is a very nice coat, was a very popular style last year. You couldn’t go two blocks without seeing one just like it; perfect for the task at hand! Besides, it actually looks pretty good on you.”

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That had earned him a nasty glare. “It’s not that,” she replied, her eyes quickly glancing away. “It’s … I just feel so … exposed like this.”

“Again, not sure what you’re talking about. That outfit offers way better protection against the elements than your uniform, plus you’ve got a ballistic vest under there. And don’t tell me you think it’s too revealing or something, it’s a winter coat for Christ’s sake.”

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“It’s … a military thing,” Zheleznaya sighed. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“You know, before I was on the police force I was a grunt in the army. This was way back, back during the Revolution days. Heh, back when I was actually young. Try me.”

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She seemed to reflect. It was another half a block before she actually answered. “My uniform is … it’s like my armor. Maybe not in the physical sense, but,” she frowned. “I’ve earned it and it means something. It’s an extension of myself.”

“You’re right,” Gorovich confessed. “I don’t understand. I give up.”

Her answer made no sense to him. Still, he was curious about her; he was a proper detective, after all. Besides, it beat walking in awkward silence.

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“So tell me, Captain,” he probed. “You’re young. About thirty, maybe less, even, although far be it from me to ask a woman’s age. You’re a fairly high ranking officer. First Rank of Captain, right?”

She nodded.

“How do you do it?” he asked. “You have quite the career going, especially for someone so young. What gives?”

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“I went through a special forces pipeline very early on where Command would force through promotions ...”

“Impressive,” noted the Inspector.

“ ... then a few years later I transferred to officer training. I suppose my dual aptitude scores for ground and space tactics must have impressed someone high up. A couple years after that, and now here I am.”

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“Here on Mir Zimoy ...”

“Do you not like it in the capital?”

“You kidding? The people are just fine, but the planet is colder than my ex-wife!” he let out a laugh. “I’ve been trying to get transferred offworld for years.”

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“Were you born here, then?”

“On Mir Zimoy? Nah. I’m originally from Prague, a tiny little colony further out in the sector, very rural. Came here during the war. I actually volunteered to come here, can you believe it? Said I wanted to ‘serve in the big city in the center of all the action.’ Boy was I a stupid kid, or what? Been stuck here ever since.”

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“You thought Mir Zimoy was urban?” Zheleznaya asked incredulously.

“Well yeah, at the time. All I knew was endless mountain ranges on Prague. So what about you, where are you from, Captain?”

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“Troyva.”

“See, now that’s the planet I should have asked for … alright, this is the place.” he said as they walked up to the address, and gave the door a few hard knocks.

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Not long after, a man answered the door. He was wearing a thermal vest and cap, but his thick arms were completely bared, displaying perhaps the edgiest looking set of skull tattoos Gorovich had ever laid eyes on.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“Inspector Viktor Gorovich,” he flashed his badge. “Nolnaya City Police Force. I’d like to ask you a few questions, may we come in?”

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“Look, pal,” the man folded his arms. “Whatever Vladdie says, I didn’t steal no exam answers. He’s just a jerk and a sore loser at battles.”

Interesting, but not why I’m here,” observed Viktor, pulling out his notepad. “Now just to clarify, you are the resident of this address? Ren Moroi?”

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“Yeah, and I’m not in the mood right now. I’ve been having a shit week, so if you don’t mind, buzz off,” he responded, his eyes shifting back and forth between them.

“Actually, I do mind, so tough shit for you. Now, I did ask nicely, but, quite frankly, it’s cold as balls out here, so I think I’m just gonna step inside anyway,” the Inspector replied, pushing his way past Ren.

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“But—”

“No buts. You see how hard it’s snowing out there?” he ushered the Captain inside behind him. “Goodness, you young people today. No sense of hospitality anymore. Now, where were we?”

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“Fire Blast,” Zheleznaya reminded him.

“Ah yes, thank you, Captain. Our records indicate you have a Pokemon with Fire Blast. Two, in fact, is that correct?”

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“Who wants to know?”

We do …” the Inspector rolled his eyes. “Police Force, remember? He’s not exactly the brightest guy, is he?” he asked the Captain.

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“If this is any indication of his academic performance,” she replied. “Perhaps he might be better off in boot camp than in a classroom.”

“Hey, fuck you guys! Maybe I don’t wanna be sent to die the next time the Federation invades.”

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“Come on, diplomatic relations aren’t that bad,” Gorovich said. “The Federation’s friendlier with us than they have been in decades … despite the complete ass-whipping we gave em at last year’s Championship!” He let out a soft chuckle.

Meanwhile, the Captain simply glared at Ren.

“Anyway,” the Inspector steered back on track. “Mr. Moroi … why don’t you tell me where you were last night?”

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“What’s it to ya?”

Captain Zheleznaya was losing her patience with the man, it seemed, as she grabbed him, pinning him to the wall. He let out a short grunt as his back hit the plasterboard.

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“I’ve got this crime scene, you see, big scorch mark from a Fire Blast. That’s a rare move out here … you can imagine how this looks from our perspective,” Gorovich said as he walked over to Ren’s other side. “If you just cooperate and you’re innocent, then we can move on and we’ll be out of your hair.”

“He doesn’t care about helping us,” said the Captain as she lifted the man higher up to eye level. “And we have no time for this scumbag’s bullshit!”

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Ren let out a scream that was two parts frustration and one part panic as he struggled in her grasp to reach the Pokeball at his waist.

He’s going for—

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Suddenly there was a flash of light as the man released his Pokemon between himself and Zheleznaya, its forming shape forcing her back as it claimed space. Gorovich feared it would knock her over and land on top of her, but to her credit, the Captain managed to push off against it and land a couple meters back in a ready stance.

“You alright?”

“I’m fine.”

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The pair looked forward at their adversary as they reached for their own Pokeballs: it was a Houndoom, and it barked aggressively at them as it made more space for its trainer. The Captain and the Inspector backed up before sending out their Pokemon, a Lucario and a Murkrow, respectively.

“Houndoom, huh?” the Inspector cocked his head slightly, then turned to look at the Captain. “What do you think, a ‘Cerberus’ or a ‘Hellhound?’”

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“... excuse me?”

“Oh, right. My usual partner and I have sort of a running bet over which overused Pokemon nicknames get thrown at us.”

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“Now is not the time for that!” she snapped back at him.

“Right, then. Watson!” the Inspector called out to his Murkrow. “Use Nasty Plot!”

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“Hellhound!” Ren cried out. Gorovich had to suppress a smirk. “Use Fire Blast!” The air in the room got hot as the Dark Pokemon built up an incandescent flame and unleashed the telltale fivepoint blast towards the Murkrow.

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“Dodge it, Watson!” The bird Pokemon tried to fly up to avoid the attack, but had little space inside under the low ceiling and was grazed by the edge of the blast.

“Vira, hit it with Aura Sphere!” the Captain commanded her Lucario. Light gleamed off its red fur as it hurled the ball of energy at its target, inflicting a wounding hit. Zheleznaya herself adopted a combat stance and reached for her gun, but felt the Inspector’s hand on her shoulder.

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“Calm down, this small fry isn’t worth the extra effort. Just focus on the Pokemon.”

“Who are you calling a small fry? I’ll have you know, I’m the toughest battler this side of Nolnaya! You’re gonna be sorry!” their opponent called back, trying to torment them. Neither of them were very impressed by his threats, although he did manage to succeed in distracting Gorovich’s Murkrow from reacting for a moment, a moment he took advantage of. “Alright, Hellhound! Close the distance and take out that Lucario with Fire Fang!” The fiery canine dashed forward, leaving behind a trail of blazing flames that set off the building’s sprinklers, tried to sink its red hot teeth into the Lucario.

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“Counter, Vira!” The Aura Pokemon moved to place its paw in between the Houndoom’s jaws, then turn its own force against it, taking a fair chunk of damage in the process but dealing back even more.

“Watson! Time to use Sky Slash!” The flying Pokemon swooped down to divebomb its opponent, but the hound ducked and avoided the attack.

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“Get behind that Murkrow and use Roar!” The Houndoom leapt into position and let out a ferocious snarl, driving the Murkrow back through the blazing fires it had previously left behind it. The bird lit aflame as it cried out in agony, too terrorized to properly react.

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“Focus your power, Vira!” Zheleznaya called to her Pokemon, as it began channeling its aura into a deadly punch. “It’s time to end this.”

“Oh, no you don’t! Hellhound, use Fire Blast! Don’t give it a chance to charge up it’s attack!”

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“Fight through the pain! Use it!

The Houndoom unleashed another fivepoint wave of flame, this time hitting its mark dead on. In a fit of focused rage, however, the Lucario simply leapt forward straight through the attack, shrugging off the damage and using its injuries to amplify its aura and deliver a mighty blow. The Focus Punch connected, bringing the enemy down.

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“Good job, Watson,” Gorovich sighed as he recalled his flaming Pokemon. “You did nothing.”

Ren Moroi simply stood there, stunned at the loss, before slumping down against the wall. He tried his best to muster his trademark bravado, but failed. “Alright, fine. I’ll answer whatever questions you wanna ask. Not sure how much good it’ll do, though …”

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“Giving up already?” Zheleznaya asked as she stepped forward, then turned her head to the Inspector. “I thought you said he had a second Pokemon with that move?”

Had,” the man spoke up. “It got stolen from me a week ago.”

Really now?” the Inspector raised an eyebrow. “And did you report this incident?”

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“Um … yeah, actually.”

“Easy enough to verify, I suppose,” said Gorovich as he pulled out his datapad.

“I still think he is hiding something,” Zheleznaya folded her arms. “What else were you expecting us to ask questions about if you had just reported a crime?”

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“He’s dumb, we’ve established this already,” Gorovich chimed in as he scrolled through police reports. “He is not, as it turns out, a liar, however. Reported a stolen Infernape six days ago. The details are scarce, though.”

“It was … weird,” he explained. “I didn’t want anyone to think I was on something or anything like that.”

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“Tell us what happened,” said Zheleznaya. “Now.

“I went with my buddies after classes to our usual hangout spot behind the old concert hall, had some battles, some food, talked shit, you know, the usual kind of thing I guess. Anyways, most everyone started leaving once it got dark, but Vladdie and me stayed for one last Pokemon match, best two of three. Of course I won, and of course he got pissy about it. That’s when someone came out of the alleyway. We heard some kind of growl and it started hailing, but not like regular weather. More like a Pokemon move, you know? Vladdie immediately ran away, but I stayed to hold my ground, since I’m such a tough battler.”

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Gorovich resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Who was this person? Can you describe what they looked like?”

“Well, it was kind of dark, but … ” Ren hesitated. “He was massive and hairy, and his legs were pretty stubby. He had this extra pair of huge arms and he slammed them down on my Infernape. I guess it was still weak from the battle before so it got hurt real bad. Then he threw some kind of fucking net at it and started dragging it away. I got the fuck out of there as soon—”

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“I don’t understand,” Zheleznaya interrupted. “Are you saying a Pokemon attacked you and took your Infernape?!”

“Yes! I mean … no. Sort of. As I said, it was very weird. It was definitely human hands that threw the net. And I could sort of make out a person’s face. But the rest of him … it, whatever … wasn’t human. It was like someone threw a person and a Pokemon in a blender. I know how it sounds, but I saw what I saw. You’ve gotta believe me!”

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“Alright, let’s say we do believe you, at least for now. Is there anything else you can tell us? Anything or anyone else you might have seen?”

“Uhh … yeah, there was a second person; I remember thinking maybe he was a trainer at first, at least until … “ he shuddered, then continued. “Kind of a skinny guy, wore a long coat. Plus some kind of goggles, I think?”

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“I see,” said the Inspector as he finished writing in his notepad. “Thank you for time, we’ll contact you if we have any further questions. Do me a favor, kid, and try not to be as much of an ass next time, I may not be feeling as lenient. Alright?”

Fine. So … can I go now?”

“For now,” the Captain said. “But stay out of trouble.”

The pair exited the building, leaving the man to shovel snow over the small fire still smoldering on the floor from their battle. “You bad-copped him a bit too hard, I think. We could have avoided that tussle,” Gorovich stated as they kept walking.

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“Lives could be on the line,” came Zheleznaya’s reply. “He chose to make himself into an obstacle. Besides, he’s fine.”

“That’s not … you know what? Forget it.”

The two were silent for the rest of the walk back to their parked transport.

“A person and a Pokemon ‘thrown in a blender,’” Gorovich said as he got into the vehicle, trying to ignore the chill running down his spine. “You maybe thinking what I’m thinking?”

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“This could be bad. Very bad.”

“Yeah,” he reached into his coat pocket, procured a cigarette, and lit it. “Yeah … ”

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“So it’s kind of this alternate history series. The premise is basically: how would the Revolution have played out if the Union had access to a fully automated military force?”

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“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty dark, but goes to some interesting places; the history is actually really well researched. Gets philosophical, too. I won’t spoil the ending, but it really makes you ponder the importance of having soldiers who can think and feel and reject criminal orders.”

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“Sounds interesting.”

“It’s called Machine Parade.”

Evening snow blanketed the field overlooked by the base entrance watchtower. Save for the wind, all was quiet here. Lieutenant Anastasia Long set a note to follow the series. “Yeah, I’ll definitely have to check it out when I have time.”

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Such were the nights and days on watch in Nolnaya, although this particular day had proven to be quite eventful earlier between the missing soldiers and the appearance of that police inspector. Still, there was not much to watch, and little was happening at the moment. It may have been an important post, but that did not mean it wasn’t a boring one. With the snowstorm completely obscuring her visibility, Anastasia kept an eye on the perimeter scanners on her console as she anticipated Captain Zheleznaya’s return to base. She had no idea how long she would be gone with the Inspector while they were off … inspecting … and so all she could do was wait, chatting with the other guards to alleviate the monotony.

Image Credit - emashiu
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Suddenly her console alerted her as the perimeter scanners picked up something approaching them. It was large, but far too slow to be the Captain’s transport. Anastasia guessed it might be a wild Pokemon wandering out from the White Waste, and picked up her field scopes to get a better view. Not long after, she could make out a vague but huge shape against the whiteout, perhaps an Aurorus. It was a rare Pokemon, to be sure, but what caught her attention was the figure— or figures, it was difficult to tell— that appeared to be riding it.

“Unknown contact at the gate,” she spoke into her comm unit as she began descending down the watchtower. “Proceeding to receive.” She hurried over to the gate as soon as her feet hit the snow, then stopped before calling out. “Halt! Who goes there?”

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The Aurorus stopped several meters before the gate and its trainer hopped off of it, landed knee deep in snow, and trudged a few paces closer into Anastasia’s vision.

“So …” she said, gesturing back at the two men laid over the Tundra Pokemon’s back. “I found these.”

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Looking behind the mystery woman, the Lieutenant recognized the pair of soldiers that had been a part of the missing squadron: Drakon and Burya!

“They were like this when I found them, showing severe signs of hypothermia. I figured I should probably bring them here.”

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“My God,” Anastasia simply said as she buzzed open the gate to let them in. “We need to get those two to medical!” She waved them through and began escorting them inside the building when Drakon seemed to perk up.

No!” he screamed very faintly. It was a weak sound, but it communicated a powerful terror. “Not back inside! Not the dark place!” The man was clearly delirious from the cold, grappling with the trauma of whatever had happened to them.

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“Hush, soldier,” she said, putting her hand on the man’s shoulder and looked into his eyes. “You’re home now. You’re going to be okay.” Being reassured by a familiar face seemed to console him, and his eyes slowly draped closed to rest. She quickly led them the rest of the way to the infirmary where the medical staff transferred them to beds and began applying treatment. Drakon appeared to have slipped back out of consciousness, but Burya seemed to be awake for the moment, albeit grinning dreamily like an idiot.

“Alright, you boys are safe now,” the Lieutenant pointed at them. “So don’t you dare think about dying on me yet. You’ve got some ‘splainin to do. And as for you,” she turned to look at the stranger recall her Pokemon and pull down her fur hood. Anastasia recognized her face. “I’m going to have to ask that you remain here at the base for the time being. The Captain is going to want to speak with you.”

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“Sure.”

“There is an area you can wait in down the hall and to the left. Help yourself to something warm to drink, I can’t imagine that blizzard was very pleasant.”

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“Thanks,” the woman nodded as she turned to head back the way Anastasia directed her.

Now that she was alone with them, Anastasia turned to Burya. “What the hell happened out there?”

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“We got taken and we almost died, then we got away and we almost died, and then we almost died,” he slurred, his dopey smile growing ever wider. He would need some rest before he could give a proper report. “But then we didn’t die. Because the most wonderful thing happened, you’ll never believe it! We were saved by an angel!

“An … an angel? Seriously? ... Burya … do you have … any idea who that was just now?”

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“No?”

“You … idiot,” she said, sliding her hands down her face. “That was the winner of last year’s Galactic Battling Championship. That was the person who completely crushed Guy King in an unprecedented flawless victory! That was Isolde Gudsky!

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Isolde Gudsky, undisputed champion of Pokemon battling, sat in the waiting room sipping hot cocoa. She would have elected to add a shot of vodka, but it seemed there was none to be found, so she settled for having her drink plain. What had begun as just a typical day for the Champion training in the wastes had spiraled into a wreck, as it seemed she had stumbled into something serious.

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Not that Isolde minded, though. Her days spent in the White Waste in search of wild Pokemon powerful enough to be worth fighting had grown rather monotonous of late. It was a grave situation that she had become mixed up in, that much she was able to pick up on despite the soldiers around her saying little about it in her presence, but it was a change of pace nonetheless. Truth be told, it was actually quite a welcome one, as lately Isolde was …

“Isolde Gudsky, I presume?” a sharp voice interrupted the Champion’s thoughts from the doorway. It belonged to a towering woman, clad in an officer’s uniform who strode confidently and purposefully into the room. Setting down her drink, Isolde rose to shake her hand. “I must admit, it is something of an honor to have you here. I saw your match against the Federation’s champion. You did your nation very proud that day. I only wish we were meeting under better circumstances …”

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“Thank you,” Isolde replied. “You must be the Captain your Lieutenant mentioned. You’re … taller than I expected,” she let go of her hand. “Sorry, I mean … how can I help?”

“I … would be Captain Zheleznaya, yes. I’m told you were the one who returned two of our own? I need you to tell me everything you can.”

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It was almost overwhelming. Information swirled around in Zheleznaya’s head as she sat down at her desk, processing it all. While not good news exactly, it had been very fortunate that two of her men had escaped and encountered Isolde Gudsky of all people; it meant she could finally rule out the possibility of mass desertion and focus on the true problem. Moreover, from what Isolde had said regarding the men’s ramblings when she found them, there was enough evidence to connect this to Inspector Gorovich’s missing civilians, a conclusion he seemed to concur with.

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She trusted Isolde, and she trusted her own judgement. But the girl also knew too much about the situation now, perhaps too much for her own safety. And she was still pretty young. In fact, prior to her championship upset victory, nobody had ever really heard of her as a Pokemon battler. So she had asked her to stay at the base for the time being, and Isolde had thankfully accepted, saying it would have been a little crazy trying to travel back to her home further into the White Waste in the ongoing blizzard outside.

To which the Inspector had said she was crazy for choosing to live out there in the first place. But Zheleznaya understood. She understood the discipline and the sacrifice behind that choice, that the Champion did what was necessary to hone herself to her peak, to be able to battle as she did during the championship, as if she were the unyielding and unforgiving winter of the White Waste itself. She understood all too well.

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“I need to be at my absolute best right now,” she grimaced to herself. “Anything less will be unacceptable!” She clenched her fist on the desk, pressing her nails into her palm, almost hard enough to draw blood. She kept it right at that point, hovering just on the edge. Closing her eyes, she let her anger simmer, building up until the point that she could harness it. Then she opened her eyes, focusing her wrath at the task before her like a laser.

Someone was out there taking soldiers and civilians alike, and combining them somehow with Pokemon. Someone was going to pay. A small voice in the back of her mind asked if she was biting off more than she could chew once again, but she promptly labeled that line of thinking as borderline treasonous, unacceptable. She did allow herself to wonder, however, just how big of a bite she would be taking, so that she may break things down into a plan of attack. After all, the last time anything even remotely like this had been done, as far as anyone knew, was with the ...

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“Ma’am?” the Lieutenant suddenly knocked on her door, then opened it. “There’s, um, someone new here to see you. Heh, weird, right? Busy day!”

Fuck!” Zheleznaya roared, causing the poor Lieutenant to visibly flinch. “Now who is it?!”

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They both took a moment to catch their breaths.

“I … He says he knows you, and well, he’s ...”

In walked a mountain of a man, gleaming in white power armor. “Deva Zheleznaya!” he warmly laughed through his helmet, stretching his arms out as wide as his suit could allow. “It is good to see you again!”

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“... a Knight Commando.” the Lieutenant finished.

“Major Lebedenko,” Zheleznaya gasped, standing up so fast she almost knocked her chair over. “Sir!

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“I’m … just gonna go back to my post now, Ma’am,” the Lieutenant saluted, then scampered away, leaving the two of them alone in her office.

“... having a bad day?”

“Everything is fine. I’m fine.”

“Deva,” the Major said, his voice booming yet also soothing at the same time. “You have always had your many talents. But lying has never been one of them. What’s wrong? Maybe I can help.”

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And so she confided in him, bringing him up to speed on their situation.

“Troubling,” the Knight Commando spoke, after a long silence. “But perhaps not as dire as you might fear, I believe.”

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“How can you be so sure?”

“Because of my last assignment,” Lebedenko answered. “My transport got grounded in the storm on my way back to the capital, that’s why I’m here now. I was sent out to observe … well, let’s just say it was a classified project, and—”

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“Should … Are you sure you should be telling me this, then?”

“I am. This is something you need to know,” he asserted. “In fact, gather everyone you have who is working on this. They need to hear this as well.”

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That does it for this part. 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 piece! 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!

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